From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.[1][2][3] 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.[1][2] It is also known as Citrayuddha.[4]

The Mahabharata is considered a war which was a dharma-yuddha; however the war itself contains practices of both kutayuddha and dharma-yuddha.[1] 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.[5] 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.[5] The contrast of kuta-yuddha and dharma-yuddha is similar to what Machiavelli attempts to explain in The Prince (1532).[6] The deception mentioned in Tacitus' book about the history of the Roman Empire also has similarities to concepts in Kautilya’s kutayuddha.[7] Kutayuddha has been called a defensive concept as opposed to an offensive one.[4][8] A milder version of katuyuddha emerged around 900 CE.[9] Nitisara, another ancient Indian treatise tried to balance the binaries.[10] Katuyuddha also finds its way into Panchatantra and Hitopadesha.[10] 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.[11]

Kutayuddha is contrasted with prakasha-yudha that can be translated as "illuminated or open warfare".[1][2] Asura-yuddha is a type of kutayuddha that is a more lethal and amoral in terms of outcome.[6] Tusnimdandena, using techniques such as deception or poisoning to remove enemy leaders,[7] extends to tushnim-yuddha (silent warfare).[4] 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.[12] Some proponents of kuttayuddha include attacking non-combatants.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Deshingkar, Strategic thinking in ancient India and China (1996), p. I.
  2. ^ a b c Roy 2012, p. xiv-xv, Glossary.
  3. ^ a b 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."
  4. ^ a b c Balakrishna, Sandeep (6 October 2018). "The Hindu Code of War Ethics and Jihad". The Dharma Dispatch. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  5. ^ a b Deshingkar, Strategic thinking in ancient India and China (1996), p. II.
  6. ^ a b Roy 2012, p. 71, 3: Kautilya’s Kutayuddha.
  7. ^ a b Roy 2012, p. 76-77, 3: Kautilya's Kutayuddha.
  8. ^ Roy 2009, p. 38.
  9. ^ Roy 2009, p. 31.
  10. ^ a b Roy 2009, p. 39.
  11. ^ Roy 2009, p. 40.
  12. ^ Roy 2012, p. 77, 3: Kautilya's Kutayuddha.

Further reading[edit]