Kutayuddha or kuta-yuddha (Sanskrit: कूटयुद्ध ISO: kūṭayuddha/ kūṭa-yuddha, also spelt Kootayudha) is a Sanskrit word made up of two roots: kuta (कूट) commonly explained as evil genius, crooked, devious, unjust or unrighteousness, and yuddha (युद्ध) meaning warfare. While there is no exact English translation, kutayuddha is explained as the opposite of dharma-yuddha (from the concept dharma), which is in turn is explained as ethical, righteous or just war and warfare. Take ethics out of war, and you have real warfare, a kutayuddha. It is also known as Citrayuddha.
The Mahabharata is considered a war which was a dharma-yuddha; however the war itself contains practices of both kutayuddha and dharma-yuddha. The ancient Indian treatise Arthashastra (3rd century BCE), credited to Kautilya, gives a substantial amount of space to the methods of kutayuddha such as deception. In Hindu philosophy dharma-yuddha reigns and is the ultimate winner; however in practice kutayuddha is the necessary standard or way of life and war. The contrast of kuta-yuddha and dharma-yuddha is similar to what Machiavelli attempts to explain in The Prince (1532). The deception mentioned in Tacitus' book about the history of the Roman Empire also has similarities to concepts in Kautilya’s kutayuddha. Kutayuddha has been called a defensive concept as opposed to an offensive one. A milder version of katuyuddha emerged around 900 CE. Nitisara, another ancient Indian treatise tried to balance the binaries. Katuyuddha also finds its way into Panchatantra and Hitopadesha. Shukra-Niti says that if a ruler is too weak to engage in any sort of battle including an attack from the rear, then ruler must then use guerrilla warfare.
Kutayuddha is contrasted with prakasha-yudha that can be translated as "illuminated or open warfare". Asura-yuddha is a type of kutayuddha that is a more lethal and amoral in terms of outcome. Tusnimdandena, using techniques such as deception or poisoning to remove enemy leaders, extends to tushnim-yuddha (silent warfare). Components of kutayuddha include Dvaidhibhava (having a dual policy), Dvaidhibhutah (making a pact with the enemy to attack another), having patience when third parties are fighting in a kalaha (life or death struggle), promoting enmity between third parties and attacking a third party which is facing leadership problems. Some proponents of kuttayuddha include attacking non-combatants.
- Deshingkar, Strategic thinking in ancient India and China (1996), p. I.
- Roy 2012, p. xiv-xv, Glossary.
- Roy 2009, p. 54. "kutayuddha: Unjust war involving deception, treachery, etc. In such conflict, everything is free and fair. Night attacks, ambushes, tactical retreat and then launching a sudden counterattack, misinforming and disinforming the enemy, poisoning the enemy’s leadership, and harming the non-combatants of the enemy country are some of the techniques of kutayuddha."
- Balakrishna, Sandeep (6 October 2018). "The Hindu Code of War Ethics and Jihad". The Dharma Dispatch. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
- Deshingkar, Strategic thinking in ancient India and China (1996), p. II.
- Roy 2012, p. 71, 3: Kautilya’s Kutayuddha.
- Roy 2012, p. 76-77, 3: Kautilya's Kutayuddha.
- Roy 2009, p. 38.
- Roy 2009, p. 31.
- Roy 2009, p. 39.
- Roy 2009, p. 40.
- Roy 2012, p. 77, 3: Kautilya's Kutayuddha.
- Deshingkar, Giri (1996-02-01). "Strategic Thinking of Kautilya and Sun Zi". China Report. SAGE. 32 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1177/000944559603200101. ISSN 0009-4455. S2CID 143301563.
- — Deshingkar, Giri. "Strategic thinking in Ancient India and China: Kautilya and Sunzi". ignca.gov.in. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
- Roy, Kaushik (2012-10-15). Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-57684-0.
- Roy, Kaushik (2009). "2: Norms of war in Hinduism". In Popovski, Vesselin; Reichberg, Gregory M.; Turner, Nicholas (eds.). World religions and norms of war (PDF). United Nations University Press. ISBN 978-92-808-1163-6.