A teacher, philosopher and royal advisor, Chanakya was the main architect of the establishment of the Maurya Empire and the rise of the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta’s rise to power. Traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, Chanakya is the author of the ancient Indian political treatise called “Arthasastra”. Chanakya is considered a pioneer in the filed of economics and political science in India. He is regarded as a great thinker and diplomat in India. He is the only personality who has been accepted and revered as a genius both by Indian and Western scholar. Chanakya is a historical milestone in the making of India. Although he lived around the third century BC his ideas and principles show concurrence and validity in the present day world.
Life of Chanakya
Chanakya was born on c.350 BCE. His birthplace is shrouded in mystery. There are several theories about his origin. According to one theory he was born in Patliputra. According to the Buddhsit text “Mahavamsa Tika” he was born at Taxila. Jain scriptures like “Adbidhana Chintamani” say that he was born in South India. While some other Jain accounts mention his birthplace as Canaka village. At a very early age he started learning the Vedas. During his infancy he completely memorized the Vedas. He had very keen interest in politics since his childhood. Chanakya studied at Takshshila, an ancient centre of learning. He later became a teacher at Takshashila. His life was connected to two cities Takshashila and Patliputra. The cause of the death of Chanakya is not known. But according to a legend Subandhu did not like Chanakya. He told Bindusara, son of Chandragupta, that Chanakya was responsible for the death of his mother. Bindusara was horrified and angry at Chanakya. On knowing the anger of the king Chanakya decided to end his life by starving himself to death. Later when the king came to know that the death of his mother was due to an accident he asked Subandhu to convince Chanakya not to execute the plan of killing himself. Subandhu pretending to conduct a ceremony for Chanakya burnt Chanakya alive. He died at Patliputra on c.275 BCE.
Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta
Chanakya is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta. The ancient treatise “Arthasastra” has been traditionally attributed to Chanakya. “Arthasastra” identifies its author by the name Kautilya, except for one verse which refers to him by the name Vishnugupta.
Chanakya and Maurya Empire
Chanakya was a teacher, philosopher and royal advisor. He was a teacher at the ancient Takshashila University. He was the chief advisor of Chandragupta and his son Bindusara. Chanakya was the main architect of the establishment of the Maurya Empire and the rise of the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta’s rise to power.Chanakya and Chandragupta Maurya have been credited with defeating the Nanda Empire and establishing the Maurya Empire. Chanakya was introduced to the court of Nanda king by Sakatala. As Chanakya was insulted in the court he loosened the lock of hair and swore that he would not tie his hair until he destroyed the Nanda kingdom. He and Chandragupta signed a pact with Parvataka of Northwest India which ensured his victory over the Nanda Empire. The empire was later divided between Parvataka and Chandragupta. Chanakya saved Chandragupta from several of the attacks of his enemies. He continued to serve as the advisor to Chandragupta after the establishment of the Maurya Empire. According to popular legends he used to add small dosed of poison in the food of Chandragupta in order to make him immune to the poisoning of the enemies. Chandragupta once fed the food to his wife not immune to poison and she died. Chanakya cut open the belly of the queen and extracted the fetus. The baby born was named as Bindusara.
Chanakya remained the chief advisor of Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.
Chanakya is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta. He is the author of the ancient Indian political treatise called “Arthasastra”. He is considered a pioneer in the filed of economics and political science in India. His work is a pioneer to classical economics. The Arthshashtra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations and war strategies in details.
Neetishashtra is also known as Chanakya neeti. It is a treatise on the ideal way of life. It shows Chanakya’s deep study of Indian way of life. The “Neeti-sutras” was also developed by him. It is an account of how people should behave. There are 455 well known sutras. Of these sutras 216 refer to “raja-neeti” which refers to the do’s and the don’ts of running a kingdom. These sutras were referred to by Chanakya while grooming Chandragupta and other selected disciples in the art of ruling a kingdom.
Works on Chanakya
Several works have been made portraying the life and work of Chanakya. The film “Chanakya Chandragupta” is based on the story of Chanakya and Chandragupta. The television series “Chanakya” is an account of the life and times of Chanakya. “Chandragupta Maurya” a television series refers to the life of Chanakya. In the book “Chanakya on Management” each of the 216 sutras on raja-neeti has been translated.
The diplomatic enclave in New Delhi is named in honour of Chanakya as Chanakyapuri. Many institutes are named after him including the Training Ship Chanakya, Chanakya national law university and Chanakya institute of Public Leadership.