As regards the authorship of the Artha Sastra, it is not even certain
whether the real author of the Artha Sastra himself meant to ascribe his entire composition
to Kautilya, though it is called Kautilya or Kautilya Artha Sastra in the colophons. The
real author was a theoretician, no statesman, but perhaps an official in a State of
medium size, where he had obtained an insight into administration.
The ascription of the work to Kautilya or Chanakya was entirely due to
the myths current regarding that fabulous minister, who was looked upon as the master and
creator of the art of polity. We ought to be content to possess in the Artha Sastra a
remnant of an early age, though the hope has been disappointed of its turning out to be a
production of the 4th cent. B.C.
Meyer in his introduction to Das Altindische Buch Vom Welt und Staataleben
Das Artha Sastra des Kautilya, is likewise inclined to give a later date to the author of
the Artha Sastra. V. S. Smith in his Early History of India (P. 38) assigns him to the
Maurya period. J. F. Fleet in his introduction says The work accordingly claims to
date from the period B.C. 321-296.
In the introduction to studies in the Artha Sastra published by the,
Sanskrit Library Association, Karnataka College, Dharwar 1929, the writers have assigned
him to the third century B.C. If we consider the matter of the book, the archaic style and
the antiquated customs are compatible with an earlier age of civilization than even the
Maurya period, But as he is generally supposed to belong to Chandraguptas reign and
as there is a dispute among scholars regarding the date, we can take the book as being
contemporary to the earlier set of law-givers.