Arthashastra mentions Firecrackers?

timmy

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What do you guys think?

Kautilya in Book VIII chapter I mentions several tricks conducted by spies and magicians in order to influence the mindset of the enemy subjects and show them god like features or association with God of the conquerer king to them. One such trick involves Astrologists using firecrackers on the day of the birth star (not sure what is that) of the enemy to possibly imitate meteor showers in the sky as an omenous sign that they should accept the King as their ruler. These firecrackers are probably called Ulka.


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https://archive.org/details/Arthasastra_English_Translation/page/n563/mode/2up PG 564

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Pg 210

When i initially read this passage, i thought that he must have been talking about some supernatural stuff or some natural phenomenon, but when i read the context of it all, this doesnt appear to be hinting supernatural phenomenon (Kautilya'sarthashastra is known for its realistic material) and hence also covered by scholar J. R. Partington.

Meteor showers dont usually accompany sounds, some times they make sonic boom but its rare, but here the author speaking of drumming sounds, meanning repeated sounds, which seems artificial.

This seems like a description of firecrackers.
 
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timmy

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Here is some more confirmation

1) Chinese used them to scare their enemies (arthashastra also does the same)

2) earliest chinese firecrackers were packed in a bamboo tube (the reference to firebrand/wood on fire) and they were called exploding bamboo/ resembles the name firebrand as well


The predecessor of the firecracker was a type of heated bamboo, used as early as 200 BC, that exploded when heated continuously. The Chinese name for firecrackers, 爆竹(baozhu), literally means "exploding bamboo."[3] After the invention of gunpowder, gunpowder firecrackers had a shape that resembled bamboo and produced a similar sound, so the name "exploding bamboo" was retained.[4] In traditional Chinese culture, firecrackers were used to scare off enemies or evil spirits.[4]
 

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