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Chanakya - The genius of a man


Sep 13, 2009
Chanakya was an adviser and a prime minister[1] to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340-293 BCE), and was the chief architect of his rise to power. Kautilya and Vishnugupta, the names by which the ancient Indian political treatise called the Arthaśāstra identifies its author, are traditionally identified with Chanakya.[2] Chanakya has been considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science, having first written about the subject a millennium and a half before Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah.[3][4][5][6]. In the western world, he has been the referred to as "The Indian Machiavelli", although Chanakya lived 1809 before Machiavelli.[7] Chanakya was a professor at Takshashila University and was responsible for the creation of Mauryan empire, the first of its kind on the Indian subcontinent.


He is generally called Chanakya (derived from his father's name "CHANAK")[8] but, in his capacity as author of the Arthaśhāstra, is generally referred to as Kautilya derived from his gotra's name "KOTIL"(Kautilya means "of Kotil"). He was the master of shrewd act of diplomacy. He believed in four ways, namely, Treating with Equallity, Enticement, Punishment or War,Sowing Dissension.[9] The Arthaśhāstra identifies its author by the name Kautilya,[2] except for one verse which refers to him by the name Vishnugupta.[10] One of the earliest Sanskrit literature to explicitly identify Chanakya with Vishnugupta was Vishnu Sarma's Panchatantra in the 3rd century BC.[11]

K.C. Ojha puts forward the view that the traditional identification of Vishnugupta with Kautilya was caused by a confusion of editor and originator and suggests that Vishnugupta was a redactor of the original work of Kautilya.[2] Thomas Burrow goes even further and suggests that Chanakya and Kautilya may have been two different people.[12]

[edit] Works

Two books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra and Nitishastra which is also known as Chanakya Niti. The Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. Nitishastra is a treatise on the ideal way of life, and shows Chanakya's in depth study of the Indian way of life. Chanakya also developed Neeti-Sutras (aphorisms - pithy sentences) that tell people how they should behave. Of these well-known 455 sutras, about 216 refer to raaja-neeti (the do's and don'ts for running a kingdom). Apparently, these sutras were used as training material by Chanakya to groom Chandragupta and other selected desciples in the art of ruling a kingdom.

[edit] Legend
Silver punch mark coin of the Mauryan empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE.

Thomas R. Trautmann lists the following elements as common to different forms of the Chanakya legend[13]:

* Chanakya was born with a complete set of teeth, a sign that he would become king, which is inappropriate for a Brahmin like Chanakya. Chāṇakya's teeth were therefore broken and it was prophesied that he will rule through another.
* The Nanda King throws Chānakya out of his court, prompting Chānakya to swear revenge.
* Chānakya searches for one worthy for him to rule through. Chānakya encounters a young Chandragupta Maurya who is a born leader even as a child.
* Chānakya's initial attempt to overthrow Nanda fails, whereupon he comes across a mother scolding her child for burning himself by eating from the middle of a bun or bowl of porridge rather than the cooler edge. Chāṇakya realizes his initial strategic error and, instead of attacking the heart of Nanda territory, slowly chips away at its edges.
* Chānakya changed his alliance with the mountain king Parvata due to his obstinacy and non-adherence to the principles of the treaty as agreed.
* Chānakya enlists the services of a fanatical weaver to rid the kingdom of rebels.
* Chānakya adds poison to the food eaten by Chandragupta Maurya, now king, in order to make him immune. Unaware, Chandragupta feeds some of his food to his queen, who is in her ninth month of pregnancy. In order to save the heir to the throne, Chānakya cuts the queen open and extracts the fetus, who is named Bindusara because he was touched by a drop (bindu) of blood having poison.
* Chānakya's political rivalry with Subandhu leads to his death.

Chanakya was an intelligent saint. Once, it is said that Mauryan forces had to hide in a cave. There was no food. Soldiers were starving.They could not come out of the cave either, as there was a threat to their lives. Chanakya saw an ant taking a grain of rice, Whereas, there was no sign of food or grain anywhere. Moreover, the rice grain was cooked. He ordered the soldiers to search and they found that their enemies had been dining under the cave. Somewhat like, at the ground floor. As soon as they saw this, they escaped and thus were saved.

[edit] Jain version

According to Jaina accounts[14] Chānakya was born in the village of Caṇaka in the Golla district to Caṇin and Caṇeśvarī, a Maga Brahmin couple[13].

[edit] Death of Chanakya

Chanakya lived to a ripe old age and died around 283 BC and was cremated by his disciple Radhagupta who succeeded Rakshasa Katyayan (great-grand son of Prabuddha Katyayan, who attained Nirvana during the same period as Gautam Budhha) as Prime Minister of the Maurya Empire and was instrumental in backing Ashoka to the throne. There were three non-traditional belief paths in society those days, Jaina, Buddhist and Ajivaka. Ajivaka practising Chanakya brought about the downfall of the Nandas and their coterie of ministers. . Later on, Chandragupta Maurya took Jainism on abdicating his throne which passed to his Son Bindusara who was an Ajivaka. Even Ashoka was practising Ajivaka who before accession to throne became Buddhist. Bindusara was born before his father ever became Emperor so the below legend is definitely not true.[citation needed] Ashoka's daughter was married in 265 BC and his son Kunala was 18 years of age in 269 BC which means that even the princes married early, Ashoka was born 310 BC and Bindusara around 330 BC. Bindusara means one who encompasses all that is need to be known.

Later on, Ajivikism which was the official religion of the empire since the Kalinga War (261 BC) and for 14 years afterwards, declined and merged into traditional Hinduism. What has been left are a mish mash of contradictory Buddhist and Jaina legends which are even rejected by Sinhalese chronicles.

According to a legend which is a later jaina invention, while Chanakya served as the Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya, he started adding small amounts of poison in Chandragupta's food so that he would get used to it. The aim of this was to prevent the Emperor from being poisoned by enemies. One day the queen, Durdha, shared the food with the Emperor while she was pregnant. Since she was not used to eating poisoned food, she died. Chanakya decided that the baby should not die; hence he cut open the belly of the queen and took out the baby. A drop (bindu in Sanskrit) of poison had passed to the baby's head, and hence Chanakya named him Bindusara. Bindusara would go on to become a great king and to father the greatest Mauryan Emperor since Chandragupta - Asoka.

When Bindusara became a youth, Chandragupta gave up the throne and followed the Jain saint Bhadrabahu to present day Karnataka and settled in a place known as Shravana Belagola. He lived as an ascetic for some years and died of voluntary starvation according to Jain tradition.

Chanakya meanwhile stayed as the Prime Minister of Bindusara. Bindusara also had a minister named Subandhu who did not like Chanakya. One day he told Bindusara that Chanakya was responsible for the murder of his mother. Bindusara asked the nurses who confirmed this story and he became very angry with Chanakya.

It is said that Chanakya, on hearing that the Emperor was angry with him, thought that anyway he was at the end of his life. He donated all his wealth to the poor, widows and orphans and sat on a dung heap, prepared to die by total abstinence from food and drink. Bindusara meanwhile heard the full story of his birth from the nurses and rushed to beg forgiveness of Chanakya. But Chanakya would not relent. Bindusara went back and vent his fury on Subandhu, and killed him.

Chanakya after this incident, renounced food and shortly died thereafter. Bindusara revered Chanakya and the loss was a big setback to him.Chanakya Will be remembered as one of the best men who used his mind more than other persons

[edit] Pali version

Chanakya is a Brahmin from Takshila[13].

[edit] Other versions

The classical Sanskrit play by Vishakhadatta, Mudrarakshasa, is one popular source of Chankaya lore. (The play has been dated between 4th and 9th century CE).

According to one tradition, Chanakya was a native of Dravida.[15] One of Chanakya's various names was Dramila, the Sanskrit form of "Tamilian".[16][17]("Dramila" is believed to be the root of the word "Dravida" by some scholars). Chozhiars, a sub-sect of Iyers, hold that Chanakya was one of them.[18]

There is also a claim that Chanakya belonged to the Brahmin group from the present day Kerala. In true Hindu tradition he is said to have persuaded King Chandragupta Maurya to forsake his throne and to join him in moving to the last phase of one's life viz. Vanaprastha. Accordingly, he took the King along with him to South India where both of them carried prolonged meditation and finally achieved Moksha.

Kautilya was educated at Taxila or Takshashila,[19] in present day Pakistan. The new states (in present-day Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) by the northern high road of commerce along the base of the Himalayas maintained contact with Takshasilâ and at the eastern end of the northern high road (uttarapatha) was the kingdom of Magadha with its capital city, Pataliputra, now known as Patna. Chanakya's life was connected to these two cities, Pataliputra and Taxila.

In his early years he was tutored extensively in the Vedas - Chanakya memorized them completely at a very early age.[verification needed] He was also taught mathematics, geography and science along with religion.[verification needed] Later he travelled to Takshashila, where he became a teacher of politics.[verification needed] Chanakya taught subjects using the best of practical knowledge acquired by the teachers. The age of entering the University was sixteen. The branches of study most sought after around India at that time ranged from law, medicine, warfare and other disciplines. Two of his more famous students were Bhadrabhatta and Purushdutta.[verification needed]

Political turmoil in Western India at that time caused by Greek invasion forced Chanakya to leave the University environment for the city of Pataliputra (presently known as Patna, in the state of Bihar, India), which was ruled by the Nanda king Dhanananda. Although Chanakya initially prospered in his relations with the ruler, being a blunt person he was soon disliked by Dhanananda. This ended with Chanakya being removed from an official position he enjoyed.

According to the Kashmiri version of his legend, Chāṇakya a thorn had pricked his foot, he uprooted the tree and poured buttermilk in the roots . [20]



New Recruit

Sep 5, 2009
Good overall but one flaw though. Chanakya or Mauryans didn't lived in the 4th century BCE. Anyways, you told what marxists historians fed us.


Sep 13, 2009


The main books from Chanakya was Arthshashtra which has ellaborated version for governance.

Also A series of serials was made in India which was shown on Doordarshan in India in early 90s. That is available over internet on various websites as well as ********. Cover of these serials is


At times it is believed that Indian external agency RAW is based on Chankyan principles but there is no official word to it. This is a general belief in India and Pakistan

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