“The root of happiness is dharma[ethics, righteousness], the root of Dharma is Artha [Economy, polity], the root of Artha is right governance, the root of right governance is victorious inner- restraint, the root of inner-restraint is humility, the root of humility id serving the aged ” -Chanakya
I consider Chanakya one of the wisest person to ever live, because an ordinary with his intellect changed history. I believe reading his Life and teaching will change the way you think. Come lets learn hisprinciple so that you can contemplate over it!
Table of Contents
Who is Chanakya?
Chanakya who is also known as Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta [ Said to be born around 350 BC]was the author of Arthashastra and Chanakya Niti. Also a kingmaker who build the Maurya dynasty.
It is believed that when Chanakya was young an oracle told his mom that he would grow up to become either a King or a kingmaker. To prove their saying they told her that he had a teeth with a special mark which proved his dharma.
On learning this she felt dejected fearing that he would eventually forget her when he grows old. Seeing his mother sad he picked up a stone and broke the teeth with the special mark to prove his ultimate love for his mother [This also shows that Chanakya was not a snollygoster hungry for power rather a selfless intellectual man]
The Rise of the Magadha Empire
Chanakya feared that foreigners like Alexander the great would invade India. To protect our mother land he advised the last king of the Nanda dynasty, Dhananand to prepare for a war against the foreign invasion.
To keep his promise Chanakya started looking for someone who could replace the Nanda king and manage the mighty empire he visioned. But one day he found Chandragupta, who was living in Pataliputra under great hardship and poverty.
Above all, Chanakya found great leadership qualities inside him as he noticed that Chandragupta showed extraordinary intelligence, courage and leadership qualities. He would form his own teams and lead them.
Chanakya Mentored young Chandragupta on art of warfare. In those time Alexander the great had started to enter India. Kautilya showed his brilliance by making Chandragupta enter his army.
They understood that his army was tired and home sick [Legends say that Chanakya delibrately made them home sick. For example, he sent mothers with their children to remind the soldiers of their family].
They hit the iron when it was hot, when Alexander dropped his idea to invade India and left his generals behind, they gathered a small troop and used guerrilla warfare techniques to capture the north west of India.
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa made up the Magadha Empire. It was ruled by king Dhananad [Who is said to be cruel and oppressive in nature, therefore people in his kingdom were said to be really depressed].
After that initial victory, they were charged up with confidence and decided to attack Pataliputra [The capital of his rule] with a mere army of 5000 people. They suffered a great loss, hence Chanakya and Chandragupta had to flee the battle field.
Chanakya learned his lesson that attacking the center is foolish as that is the most protected part of the kingdom is straight right foolish. So he developed a new plan. They stared to attack the districts along the border of the Nanda kingdom and slowly expanded his kingdom.
According to the Arthashashtra he used Visha Kanya [Poison lady. They were young beautiful girls who were brought up to become immune to poison and thus would consume some poison and then kiss their target to assassinate them]to get rid of some kings.
He also build a network of trustworthy spies to get information that they could leverage on their enemy. He formed an alliance with Parvataka [King of the Himavakuta kingdom] and offered him half the kingdom
Eventually they were successful to capture Patliputra and hence the whole Magadha empire. There is legend that says, soon after the conquest Parvataka fell in love with one of the Visha Kanya and insisted on marrying her.
After a thought, Chanakya allowed the marriage. One day suddenly Parvataka fell extremely ill [some suggest it is because of poisoning] and succumbed. This made Chandragupta the ultimate emperor of the Magadha empire.
Dhananad was sent to exile with his whole family but his daughter fell in love with Chandragupta and married him. One by one Chanakya found out all the dhananad loyalist and eliminated them.
His brilliance was tested when Seleucus attacked the Maurya with the intent to capture Baluchistan, Kandahar, Kabul, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. After defeating them Chanakya let him go on two conditions:
- All his kingdom in the vicinity of Kabul would be under the Maurya empire
- His daughter Helena should marry Chandragupta but their heir would not be entitled to the throne.
The second condition made sure that now these foreigners would not attack India because of Helena. Also their heir not being a complete India, putting him on the throne would challenge the integrity of the Magadha empire.
A long time ago I read the Chanakya Niti. A great book if one wants to improve his life socially, financially and even politically. So here I present some lines from the Chanakya Niti in English
- They alone are sons who are devoted to their father. He is a father who supports his sons. He is a friend in whom we can confide, and she only is a wife in whose company the husband feels contented and peaceful.
- When one is consumed by the sorrows of life, three things give him relief: offspring, a wife, and the company of the Lord’s devotees.
- He who has wealth has friends. He who is wealthy has relatives. The rich one alone is called a man, and the affluent alone are respected as pandits.
- To wake at the proper time; also to take a bold stand and fight and to make a fair division (of property) among relations; and to earn one’s own bread by personal exertion are the four excellent things to be learned from a cock.
- He who gives up shyness in monetary dealings, in acquiring knowledge, in eating and in business, becomes happy.
- Low class men desire wealth; middle class men both wealth and respect; but the noble, honour only; hence honour is the noble man’s true wealth.
- A wicked man may develop saintly qualities in the company of a devotee, but a devotee does not become impious in the company of a wicked person. The earth is scented by a flower that falls upon it, but the flower does not contact the odour of the earth.
- Courtesy should be learned from princes, the art of conversation from pandits, lying should be learned from gamblers and deceitful ways should be learned from women.
Important Chanakya Niti Quotes
- He is a true friend who does not forsake us in time of need, misfortune, famine, or war, in a king’s court, or at the crematorium (smasana).
- Charity puts an end to poverty; righteous conduct to misery; discretion to ignorance; and scrutiny to fear.
- Chanakya said, do not reveal what you have thought upon doing, but by wise council keep it secret being determined to carry it into execution.
- As gold is tested in four ways by rubbing, cutting, heating and beating – – so a man should be tested by these four things: his renunciation, his conduct, his qualities and his actions.
- Conciliate a strong man by submission, a wicked man by opposition, and the one whose power is equal to yours by politeness or force.
- Let not a single day pass without your learning a verse, half a verse, or a fourth of it, or even one letter of it; nor without attending to charity, study and other pious activity.
- Consider again and again the following: the right time, the right friends, the right place, the right means of income, the right ways of spending, and from whom you derive your power.
- There is no disease (so destructive) as lust; no enemy like infatuation; no fire like wrath; and no happiness like spiritual knowledge.Do not put your trust in a bad companion nor even trust an ordinary friend, for if he should get angry with you, he may bring all your secrets to light.
These wise words prove the utter brilliance of the sage. He was not just an able administrator but an excellent teacher, politician, thinker. But what astounds me, is the amount of humility he had even after being the prime minister, defense minister, home minister and also the finance minister of one the greatest empires India has ever seen.
But just reading chanakya wont suffice. I want you to think, how can you apply these principles right now!
Following are the things to be learned from Chanakya:
- The art of parallel leadership
- Visualization with execution
- Long term thinking
- Selflessness and humility
- Test and execute model
- The power learning
- Uprooting the problem
- Action and character over certificates
- Relationship building skills
To be honest, some views of Chanakya were quiet misogynistic. Even in the Chanakya niti, a lot of lines portrayed women who are not trust worthy.
If one does the analysis of the history of India, one can confidently conclude that his ideas are relevant even today. In fact he is an epitome of a shrewd politician and scholar. Applying his principles in daily life will fast track tour path to success.
Off course he does! He is the reason that India could stand the invasion attempt of the Greek warriors. he led one of the largest empire in Indian history. Reading and contemplating over him will help a lot in his/her life to make decisions.
I would recommend the book Corporate Chanakya by Radhakrishna Pillai. Most of us are either employees or business owners this will help you be a valuable employee.
Sharad Pawar and Amit Shah are often called modern day Chanakya.
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