Canak named his son as "Chanakya". Being a teacher
himself, he knew the importance of education. Taxila was one
of the world centers for education. At a very early age little
Chanakya started studying Vedas. The Vedas; considered to
be the toughest scriptures to study were completely studied
and memorized by Chanakya in his infancy. He was attracted
to studies in politics. In politics Chanakya’s acumen
and shrewdness was visible right from childhood. He was a
student of politics right from child hood. Known as a masterful
political strategist, He knew how to put his own people in
the opposite camp and spy the enemy without his knowledge
before destroying him forever. Chanakya was an ace in turning
tables in his favor irrespective of the circumstances. He
never budged to pressure tactics by the ruthless politicians.
In this way after studying religion and politics, he turned
his attention to economics, which remained his lifelong friend.
"Nitishastra", a treatise on the ideal way of life
shows his in depth study of the Indian way of life.
Life as a student
Takshashila, (later corrupted as Taxila),one of the topmost
centers of education at that time in India became Chanakya’s
breeding ground of acquiring knowledge in the practical and
theoretical aspect. The teachers were highly knowledgeable
who used to teach sons of kings. It is said that a certain
teacher had 101 students and all of them were princes! The
university at Taxila was well versed in teaching the subjects
using the best of practical knowledge acquired by the teachers.
The age of entering the university was sixteen. The branches
of studies most sought after in around India ranged from law,
medicine, warfare and other indigenous forms of learning.
The four Vedas, archery, hunting, elephant-lore and 18 arts
were taught at the university of Taxila. So prominent was
the place where Chanakya received his education that it goes
to show the making of the genius. The very requirements of
admission filtered out the outlawed and people with lesser
After acquiring vast knowledge in various branches of study
he wanted everybody to get benefited. He believed in the broadcasting
of knowledge and not in the storage of it. So famous was Chanakya
in the vicinity of the university that he had many nicknames.
He was called variously by different people, namely –
Vishnugupta, Kautilya and Chanakya. The whole nation was bewildered
by the cleverness and wit of this seemingly small boy who
went on to single handedly unify the country with the sheer
power of his character. He lived his life working to his capacity
in pursuit of his vision of a happy strong and prosperous
At a time when the Dark Ages were looming large, the existence
of a university of Taxila’s grandeur really makes India
stand apart way ahead of the European countries who struggled
with ignorance and total information blackout. For the Indian
subcontinent Taxila stood as a light house of higher knowledge
and pride of India. In the present day world, Taxila is situated
in Pakistan at a place called Rawalpindi. The university accommodated
more than 10,000 students at a time. The university offered
courses spanning a period of more than eight years. The students
were admitted after graduating from their own countries. Aspiring
students opted for elective subjects going for in depth studies
in specialized branches of learning. After graduating from
the university, the students are recognized as the best scholars
in the subcontinent. It became a cultural heritage as time
passed. Taxila was the junction where people of different
origins mingled with each other and exchanged knowledge of
The university was famous as "Taxila" university,
named after the city where it was situated. The king and rich
people of the region used to donate lavishly for the development
of the university. In the religious scriptures also, Taxila
is mentioned as the place where the king of snakes, Vasuki
selected Taxila for the dissemination of knowledge on earth.
Here it would be essential to mention briefly the range of
subjects taught in the university of Taxila. (1) Science,
(2) Philosophy, (3) Ayurveda, (4) Grammar of various languages,
(5) Mathematics, (6) Economics, (7) Astrology, (8) Geography,
(9) Astronomy, (10) Surgical science, (11) Agricultural sciences,
(12) Archery and Ancient and Modern Sciences.
The university also used to conduct researches on various
COMMOTION IN TAXILA
Republic was not able to come out of the shock of the comprehensive
defeat at the hands of the province of Porus, when a new contingency
starred in the eyes of Taxila. Thousands of refugees poured
in Taxila as a result of the widespread attacks of the armies
of Alexander. These people were not productive for the state
as they didn’t come to Taxila to acquire knowledge or
in search of jobs. They didn’t have money or any kind
of assets to buy themselves the essential commodities. To
resolve the problem, a meeting was convened by the rulers
of the neighboring countries and the king of Taxila. The knowledgeable
people who gathered to give their opinions on the problem
faced by Taxila, gave out their suggestions. At the end of
the meeting, it was decided that the refugees must be given
cover under humanitarian grounds. So, in line with the decision
taken, a stretch of land outside Taxila was allotted for the
refugees. They were allowed to enter Taxila after proving
their identity with the sentry. In this way what appeared
to be a calamity was appeased without much ado. The incident
was just a precursor to a series of events which reverberated
across India as a result
of the attacks of Alexander.
...MOVE TOWARDS PATLIPUTRA
Though Chanakya was just a professor in the Taxila University
which seemed to be far away from the happenings in the country,
he actually was able to influence the governments in a big
way. His students looked at him as an ideal teacher who inspired
and exemplified great knowledge. His students respected him
and were ready to fight at any moment at his orders. Two of
his students who have been mentioned at various instances
were Bhadrabhatt and Purushdutt. In the events that unfolded
in the life of Chanakya, these two played a pivotal role in
the achievement of his goals. It is rumored that they acted
as spies for Chanakya, collecting information about his enemies.
Somehow, Chanakya came to know that there was a chance of
foreign invasion. Europe’s great warrior Salukes was
readying his armies to attack the weakened republics of India.
There were grave designs threatening the unity and integrity
of the nation. In such a scenario the ruler of Patliputra,
Mahanand was squeezing the common man of his wealth with an
object of enriching his own exchequer. Chanakya was aware
of the internal and external threats of the country. On the
one hand, the rulers of the neighboring countries were looking
for the slightest of chance to annex the prosperous regions
of the country and on the other hand, foreign invaders started
moving towards the country with an expectation of easily smothering
the country. These thoughts gave Chanakya sleepless nights.
He envisioned his country clutched in the chains of slavery
and defeated because of internal squabbles and differences.
So he decided on the historical day, thus saying,
the time has come to leave the university. The scrupulous
rulers of the country must be uprooted and there is a need
to strengthen the country politically and economically. My
first and foremost duty is to save the country of the foreign
invaders and salvage this dangerous proposition."
With these thoughts in mind, he left Taxila University for
Patliputra which paved the way for watershed changes in the
politics of India and Patliputra.
PATLIPUTRA – THE CITY OF FORTUNES.
Patliputra, (presently known as Patna) has been historically
a very important city politically and strategically. Like
Delhi, Patliputra has seen the ups and downs of development
and great reversals. The well known Chinese traveler Fahian,
who visited the city in 399 BC described it as prosperous
city endowed with rich natural resources. At the same time,
another Chinese traveler Huen sang described it as a city
of rubbles and ruins.
Shishunagvanshi established the city on the southern bank
of the Ganges. It was addressed with different names at different
times. To. illustrate a few names, Pushpapur, Pushpanagar,
Patliputra and Patna.
The city was industrious in producing essential commodities
and luxurious goods for the rich. When Chanakya entered the
city, it was known for respecting knowledgeable people and
scholars. The intellectuals from across the country were warmly
invited for the intercourse of new ideas and development of
the state. It was virtually the city of fortunes as it recognized
the true talent and rewarded richly for the work done by an
individual. No wonder Chanakya decided to start his glorious
campaign from Patliputra.
WILL DESTROY YOU"
the ruler of Patliputra was unscrupulous and cruel by nature.
He was always busy gathering money without thinking about
consequences. He was always dissatisfied with the amount of
money he had. Collecting taxes exorbitantly, he was a villain
in the public eye. There was public outrage on the taxes which
were collected on unwanted things. The main aim of collecting
taxes was to serve the selfish interests of the king. There
were taxes on hides, tax on wood and tax even on stone! The
amount of money which Dhanananda had was unimaginable.
When Chanakya arrived at Patliputra, there was a change in
the way he ran his kingdom. He gave gifts to the poor and
was on the way of becoming lenient in administration. He had
formed a trust or committee to administer his gifts and charities.
The committee was headed by scholars and influential people
of the society. It is said that the president had the powers
to make up to ten million gold coins.
Since Chanakya was a great scholar from Taxila, he was included
in the committee for charity. Chanakya later on became the
president of the ‘Sungha’ (Trust). The Sungha
used to help the king in the distribution of the money allotted
for charity to the different sections of the society. In the
process of delegation of the funds for charity, the president
of the trust had to meet the king frequently. When Chanakya
met the king for the first time, he was disgusted at the ugly
appearance of Chanakya. As time passed he developed contempt
for Chanakya. There was no refinement in words and conduct.
To increase the fire between Dhanananda and Chanakya, the
courtiers dissuaded the king from having a cordial relationship
with Chanakya. Chanakya acted like a thorough professional
and avoided praising the king. He always spoke bluntly and
tersely. The king did not like the way Chanakya behaved with
him. The king removed Chanakya from the post of president
without any reasons. Chanakya was enraged at the proposition
of being exploited by the less knowledgeable king. So, he
erupted like a volcano on the king, and said, " Arrogance
in you has eroded the respect which I had for you. You have
removed me from the presidentship for no fault of mine. You
can’t act in a way detrimental to the demeanor of a
king. You think there is none to question you? You have removed
me from my rightful place and I will dethrone you !"
CHANAKYA MEETS CHANDRAGUPTA
Just after getting humiliated from the king, Chanakya scampered
through the streets of Patliputra. In a hurried walk, he stumbled
upon a stump of grass and was about to fall. Chanakya the
great scholar had his own style of handling things. He looked
at the roots of the grass and quickly got into action. Though
he was angry, he never let his anger to get out of control.
He directed the anger in the right direction. Calmly, he sat
down in the burning sun, removed that grass from the roots
from the earth. After making sure that not even a single strand
of grass is left, he resumed his journey.
While Chanakya was engrossed in removing the grass from the
ground, a young man was closely watching the act of Chanakya.
The young man was Chandragupta, the would be emperor of the
Mauryan Empire. He looked bright. Looking at the determination
of Chanakya, he was impressed and wanted to talk to the knowledgeable
He went to Chanakya, addressed him respectfully, and took
him into the choultry. Chanakya asked him about his family
background beginning his talk by asking, "Who are you?
You seem to be worried."
The young man stepped forward with great reverence and said,
"Sir, my name is Chandragupta. Yes, you are correct I
am in great trouble but should I trouble you with my worries?"
calmed down the young man by saying, "You can tell me
about your troubles with freewill and without any ambiguities.
If I am capable enough, I’ll definitely help you."
am the grandson of king Sarvarthasiddhi, He had two wives,
Sunandadevi and Muradevi. Sunanda got nine sons called the
Navanandas. Mura, had only one which was my father. The Nandas
tried to kill my father time and again. We were more than
hundred brothers. The Nandas out of jealousy, tried to kill
all of us. Somehow I survived and I am totally disgusted with
my life. I want to take revenge on the Nandas who are ruling
over the country presently."
who was freshly wounded by the Nandas found a companion to
destroy the distraught king. Chanakya was greatly moved by
the tale of woe. He was emotionally charged listening to the
story of Chandragupta and vowed to destroy the Nandas and
get Chandragupta his rightful place as a king of Patliputra.
Chanakya said "I will get you the kingship, Chandragupta.
From that day on Chanakya and Chandragupta worked in tandem
to destroy the corrupt and unscrupulous rule of the Nandas.
Chandragupta has not been well documented. The place of birth,
family background and several details regarding his life are
not available. Several things have been said and written about
his family and parents. Probably, he belonged to the Moria
community. He might have got the name Chandragupta Maurya
afterwards and his royal lineage was known as the Maurya dynasty.
His mother was perhaps the daughter of a village headman.
His father was the king of a forest area called Pippatavana,
who died in a war. Chandragupta came to Patliputra along with
As a boy Chandragupta was a born leader. Even as a boy, he
was accepted as a leader by all. As a boy he used to mimic
the king’ court. His bravery and shrewdness were visible
right from childhood. As Chanakya was moving along the streets
of Patliputra, he saw little Chandragupta enacting the king.
Sitting on the large throne, the little boy shouted against
injustice and corrupt practices of the kings and people in
general. Looking at the bright face of Chandragupta, he was
impressed at the intellect and wisdom in the boy’s voice.
For seven or eight years Chandragupta had his education there,
and that too with selected teachers shortlisted by Chanakya
himself. The art of warfare and the art of governance were
mastered by Chandragupta with equal expertise.
THE GREEK INVADER
The relationship between Chandragupta and Chanakya bloomed
through the years developing into a strong force for their
enemies. Most of the historical events took place right under
the eyes of Chanakya and Chandragupta. The troops of Alexander
and the umpteen number of invaders who ravaged the subcontinent
for decades around India. It is said that Chandragupta met
Alexander. The bold and arrogant talk by Chandragupta enraged
Alexander as a result of which Chandragupta was arrested.
Chanakya’s training to Chandragupta was over by now
and he thought it to be the right occasion to let Chandragupta
taste the practical aspect of warfare. Chanakya closely observed
the movement and strategies employed by Alexander. He also
became aware of the weaknesses of the Indian rulers.
FREEDOM FROM THE GREEKS
The rustic boy that Chandragupta was, now had matured into
a sound military commander. The source of strength for Chandragupta
and his army was the power of mind and the towering personality
of Chanakya. In that war of independence for northern India,
Chandragupta was the physical instrument, while its thinking
brain was Chanakya.
The deterioration of the prowess of Alexander happened because
of the weakening of Satraps or the commanding officers. Niccosar,
a Satrap was killed even when Alexander was alive. Another
formidable Satrap called Philip, was killed weakening Alexander
like never before. After Alexander’s death in Babylon,
all his Satraps were either killed or dislodged , one by one.
Alexander’s lieutenants divided his empire among themselves
in 321 BC. No realm east of the Indus – the River Sindhu
was mentioned in that settlement. It meant that the Greeks
themselves had accepted that this region had gone out of their
DEFEAT OF THE NANDA KING
defeating the Nandas, Chanakya had to employ various strategies
before victory. Chanakya firstly tested the policy of attacking
the core of the city. The policy met with defeats again and
again. With the change in strategy, Chanakya and Chandragupta
began the attack on the borders of the Magadha Empire. Again
there were mistakes. The troops were not stationed in the
areas conquered. So when they marched forward, the people
of the conquered areas joined together again and encircled
their army. Thus those who had been defeated had to be fought
again and again
Chandragupta and Chanakya learnt lessons from these mistakes.
They now stationed troops in the conquered regions. So those
enemies would not raise and cause any trouble. Chanakya with
his cleverness had earlier won the friendship of king Parvataka
(or Porus Second). Now Parvataka, his brother Vairochaka and
son Malayeketu came with their armies to help them. The Nanda
king had the support of a big army. The other equally important
support was the guidance of his very able minister, Amatya
Rakshasa. This minister was very intelligent and had unlimited
loyalty to the king. Chanakya knew that getting Amatya out
of his way was the only way of defeating King Nanda. Chanakya
devised a plan which involved planting of spies in the enemy
camp. In a very short span of time, the weaknesses of the
Nandas became visible. Parallely, the Nandas and Amatya Rakshasa
made plans to counter any attacks by Chanakya.
Details are not available regarding the war between the Nandas
on the one hand and Chandragupta and Chanakya on the other.
But it was a keen and bitter fight. The Nanda king died. His
sons and relatives also died. Even Amatya Rakshasa was helpless.
Chandragupta was victorious proving the foresight of Chanakya
regarding his abilities. The old king and his wife retired
to the forest. It is said that after sometime Chanakya had
the old king and his wife killed , because he thought that
if Amatya Rakshasa made them take a son by the rights of adoption,
there would be claimants to the throne. He wanted the lineage
of the Nandas should be totally eliminated.
TRUE ASPECT OF CHANAKYA
The momentous life of Chanakya reminds us of a revengeful
saga where the individual is obsessed by the idea of taking
revenge. But personal revenge was not the aim of Chanakya.
He wanted that the kingdom should be secure and that the administration
should go on smoothly, bringing happiness to the people. He
thought that there were two ways of ensuring the happiness
of the people. Firstly, Amatya Rakshasa had to be made Chandragupta’s
minister; Secondly, a book must be written, laying down how
a king should conduct himself, how he should protect himself
and the kingdom from the enemies, how to ensure law and order,
and so on.
By writing "Arthashastra" and "Nitishastra",
Chanakya has become a
never ending phenomena. He has truly guided the generations
wisdom . It would ideally suit the closing of the life of
Chanakya with a
couple of quotations by Chanakya
secret task of a king is to strive for the welfare of his
The administration of the kingdom is his religious duty. His
greatest gift would
be to treat all as equals."
happiness of the commoners is the happiness of the king. Their
welfare is his welfare. A king should never think of his personal
or welfare, but should try to find his joy in the joy of his
These words were written 2300 years ago by Chanakya, the expert
statesman and wise sage. And Chanakya is also another name
courage and perseverance.
centuries to come and the centuries that went by, which recorded
in history talking of the great men and legendary characters
who shaped time through their vision and exemplary actions.
Chanakya, perhaps is the only personality who has been accepted
and revered as a genius both by Indian and Western scholars.
He is a historical milestone in the making of India amidst
tremendous upheavals and myriad’s of reversals. Celebrated
as a shrewd statesman and a ruthless administrator, he comes
across as the greatest of diplomats of the world. He had the
guts to speak his heart out even in front of the rulers, which
shows his strong inclination to democratic values and the
audacity to put his views through. Although, he lived around
the third century BC, his ideas and principles show concurrence
and validity in the present day world. Politics was his forte.
Diplomacy in a politically charged environment shows his self-confidence
and the ability to stay calm in trying situations.
foresight and wide knowledge coupled with politics of expediency
founded the mighty Mauryan Empire in India. He was a great
laureate of economics with a glittering intellect to perceive
the intricate dynamics of the various economic activities
centuries that succeeded him show distinct effects of his
thoughts on the way a kingdom is managed and other facets
of economic administration. Even today, one of his maxims
on taxation is very much alive and calls for adherence by
the governments of the world. According to Chanakya, "Taxation
should not be a painful process for the people. There should
be leniency and caution while deciding the tax structure.
Ideally, governments should collect taxes like a honeybee,
which sucks just the right amount of honey from the flower
so that both can survive. Taxes should be collected in small
and not in large proportions".
apart from being a man of wisdom and unfailing strategies,
propounded Nitishastra, the ideal way of living for every
individual of the society. He looked at the country like a
person surrounded by problems. He worked at the total annihilation
of problems by the roots. The re-appearance of troubles only
shows its growth. His contribution to foreign policy in the
present day world is immense. Universities teach his principles
to aspiring foreign policy experts showing the infallability
of his principles. Chanakya’s art of diplomacy is well
known across India and practiced in the areas of defence,
strategy formation and foreign relations.
remarkably, long before Clausewitz came up with the quote,
which said "War is only the continuance of state policy
by other means", Chanakya had already written it in his
book ‘Chanakyaniti’. Most of his views were so
farsighted that they appeared to be prophesies. Talking on
diverse subjects such as corruption, he commented very rightly,
"It’s just as difficult to detect an official’s
dishonesty as it is to discover how much water is drunk by
the swimming fish".
a person, Chanakya has been described variously, as a saint,
as a ‘ruthless administrator’, as the ‘king
maker’, a devoted nationalist, a selfless ascetic and
a person devoid of all morals. He created controversy by saying
‘The ends justify the means’ and the ruler should
use any means to attain his goals and his actions required
no moral sanctions. All his written works namely, ‘Arthashastra’,
‘Nitishastra’ and ‘Chanakyaniti’ were
unique because of their rational approach and an unabashed
advocacy of real politic. His views were dimensionally novel.
He recommended even espionage and the liberal use of provocative
agents as machineries of the state. In politics, he even attested
the use of false accusations and killings by a king’s
secret agent without any ambiguities. The observance of morals
and ethics was secondary to the interests of the ruler. Some
of his stark views made him into an ambivalent personality
for the world.
great statesman and philosopher has been often compared to
Machiavelli, Aristotle and Plato, exemplifying his potentiality
and influential status. He has been criticized for his ruthlessness
and trickery and praised for his profound political wisdom.
Chanakya, the timeless man, was in pursuit of truth fearlessly
2000 years ago and was proved right with Vivekanand’s
words, "Arise, Awake, Sleep not till the goal is reached".
envisioned India as a nation which would place itself as the
forerunner – politically, economically and socially.
His magnum opus, "Arthashatra", depicts in many
ways the India of His dreams. When he wrote this volume of
epic proportion, the country was ridden in feudalism and closed
and self-sufficient economy. The economy based on indigenous
ways of production; was in a transitional phase, moving towards
the advanced aspects of distribution and production. Culture
and regional politics directed the way in which trade was
done. The main activities of the economy were agriculture,
cattle rearing and commerce. Among the three, Chanakya considered
agriculture to be the most important constituent of the economy.
It’s a fact today that the Indian economy of today is
an agro based one. Covering various topics on administration,
politics and economy, it is a book of law and a treatise on
running a country which is relevant even today.
who think that the society in which we live will remain the
same; are dissuading themselves of the truth. Society is a
complex and dynamic system changing constantly leaving those
people behind who say no to change. Broadly speaking, Chanakya
dreamt of a country reaching the following levels of development
in terms of ideologies and social and economic development:
A self sufficient economy which is not dependent on foreign
• An egalitarian society where there are equal opportunities
• Establishment of new colonies for the augmentation
of resources. He also advocated the development of the already
annexed colonies. His imperialistic views can be interpreted
as the development of natural and man made resources.
• According to Chanakya, the efficient management of
land is essential for the development of resources. It is
essential that the state keeps an eye on the occupation of
excess land by the landlords and unauthorized use of land.
Ideally the state should monitor the most important and vital
resource – Land.
• The state should take care of agriculture at all times.
Government machinery should be directed towards the implementation
of projects aimed at supporting and nurturing the various
processes; beginning from sowing of seeds to harvest.
• The nation should envisage to construct forts and
cities. These complexes would protect the country from invasions
and provide internal security. The cities would act as giant
markets increasing the revenue of the state.
• Internal trade was more important to Chanakya than
external trade. At each point of the entry of goods, a minimal
amount of tax should be collected. The state should collect
taxes at a bare minimum level, so that there is no chance
of tax evasion.
• Laws of the state should be the same for all, irrespective
of the person who is involved in the case. Destitute women
should be protected by the society because they are the result
of social exploitation and the uncouth behavior of men.
• Security of the citizens at peace time is very important
because state is the only savior of the men and women who
get affected only because of the negligence of the state.
Antisocial elements should be kept under check along with
the spies who may enter the country at any time.
• Chanakya envisioned a society where the people are
not running behind material pleasures. Control over the sense
organs is essential for success in any endeavor. Spiritual
development is essential for the internal strength and character
of the individual. Material pleasures and achievements are
always secondary to the spiritual development of the society
and country at large.
THE POLITICAL ETHICS OF CHANAKYA PANDIT
By Miles Davis (Patita Pavana dasa)
2300 years ago the Greek conqueror Alexander the Great invaded
the Indian sub-continent. His offensive upon the land's patchwork
of small Hindu empires proved to be highly successful due
to the disunity of the petty rulers. It was Chanakya Pandit
who, feeling deeply distressed at heart, searched for and
discovered a qualified leader in the person of Chandragupta
Maurya. Although a mere dasi-putra, that is, a son of a maidservant
by the Magadha King Nanda, Chandragupta was highly intelligent,
courageous and physically powerful. Chanakya cared little
that by birth he should not have dared to approach the throne.
A man of acute discretion, Chanakya desired only that a ruler
of extraordinary capabilities be raised to the exalted post
of King of Magadha so that the offensive launched by the Yavanas
(Greeks) could be repressed.
It is said that Chanakya had been personally offended by King
Nanda and that this powerful brahmana (Brahmin) had vowed
to keep his long sikha (hair) unknotted until he saw to the
demise of the contemptuous ruler and his drunken princes.
True to his oath, it was only after Chanakya Pandit engineered
a swift death for the degraded and worthless rulers of the
Nanda dynasty that this great Brahmin was able to again tie
up his tuft of hair. There are several versions relating the
exact way that Chanakya had set about eliminating the Nandas,
and it appears historians have found it difficult to separate
fact from folk legend as regards to certain specific details.
After the Nanda downfall, it became easy for Chandragupta
to win the support of the Magadha citizens, who responded
warmly to their new heroic and handsome young ruler. Kings
of neighbouring states rallied under Chandragupta's suzerainty
and the last of the Greeks headed by Alexander's general Seleucus
With the dual obstacles of the Nandas and Alexander's troops
out of the way, Chanakya Pandit used every political device
and intrigue to unite the greater portion of the Indian sub-continent.
Under the Prime ministership of Chanakya, King Chandragupta
Maurya conquered all the lands up to Iran in the Northwest
and down to the extremities of Karnataka or Mysore state in
the South (India). It was by his wits alone that this skinny
and ill-clad brahmin directed the formation of the greatest
Indian empire ever before seen in history (i.e. since the
beginning of Kali-yuga). Thus the indigenous Vedic culture
of the sacred land of Bharata (India) was protected and the
spiritual practices of the Hindus could go on unhampered.
Although many great savants of the science of niti such as
Brihaspati, Shukracharya, Bhartrihari and Vishnusharma have
echoed many of these instructions in their own celebrated
works*, it is perhaps the way that Chanakya applied his teachings
of niti-sastra (political science) that has made him stand
out as a significant historical figure. The great Pandit teaches
us that lofty ideals can become a certain reality if we intelligently
work towards achieving our goal in a determined, progressive
and practical manner.
Dr. R. Shamashastry, the translator of the English version
of Kautilya's Artha-Sastra, quotes a prediction from the Vishnu
Purana fourth canto, twenty-fourth chapter, regarding the
appearance of Chanakya Pandit. This prediction, incidentally,
was scribed fifty centuries ago, nearly 2700 years before
this political heavyweight and man of destiny was to appear.
The prediction informs us: "(First) Mahapadma then his
sons - only nine in number - will be the lords of the earth
for a hundred years. A brahmana named Kautilya will slay these
Nandas. On their death, the Mauryas will enjoy the earth.
Kautilya himself will install Chandragupta on the throne.
His son will be Bindusara and his son will be Ashokavardhana."
Similar prophecies are also repeated in the Bhagavata, Vayu
and Matsya Puranas.
In presenting this work I have traced out and referred to
two old English versions of Chanakya Niti-sastra published
at the close of the last century. However, these apparently
were translated by mere scholars (not devotees) who seem to
have missed many subtleties of Chanakya's vast wit and wisdom.
Another unedited and unpublished manuscript Chanakya Niti-sastra
with both English translation and Latinised transliteration
produced by the Vrndavana ISKCON Centre was also referred
to. It was however the learned Vaisnava pandit and Sanskrit
scholar Sri V. Badarayana Murthy, of the South Indian Madhva
School, who helped me see the depth and import of these verses
from the original Devanagari. A very few slokas which were
perhaps irrelevant or otherwise not useful for our Vaisnava
readers have been omitted.
I have been told that our blessed spiritual master His Divine
Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had expressed a
desire that Sri Chanakya Niti-sastra be properly translated
into English. It is hoped that our present rendering will
be at least useful if not instructive to the reader. Let us
examine now in a few words on the science of niti, or common
sense, from the pen of Srila Bhaktivinoda, the great 19th
century devotee-pioneer of the worldwide propagation of Lord
Caitanya's divine message.
Taking the two words "common sense" right up to
their highest level, he has written:
"Man's glory is in common sense,
Dictating us the grace,
That man is made to live and love
The beauteous Heaven's embrace"*3
In other words, the real goal of niti, indeed the goal of
life, is to realise one's eternal position of Krishna consciousness.
The Bhagavad-gita confirms Srila Bhaktivinode's view in the
final line of its last sloka: dhruva nitir matir mama. A translation
of that full verse runs: "(Sanjaya said) Wherever there
is Krishna the master of all mystics, and wherever there is
Arjuna the supreme archer, there will also be opulence, victory,
extraordinary power and morality (niti). That is My opinion."