Most accounts agree that Chanakya was a student and then a teacher at the ancient Takshashila University, and was the mastermind behind the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta's rise to power at a young age in BCE. Chanakya, in that sense, helped erect the first empire in archaeologically recorded history to govern most of the Indian subcontinent.
Chanakya served as the chief adviser to both Chandragupta and his son Bindusara. The author of the Arthashastra refers to himself as 'Kautilya', while the last verse mentions the name 'Vishnugupta'. Many scholars believe that the former was the gotra or clan name of the author, while the latter was his personal name.
Most scholars also believe that these names refer to the same fourth century BCE scholar, Chanakya, who is acclaimed as a pioneer in economics and political science in India. While the various names attributed to the author of the Arthashastra have created confusion, it is however, generally believed that Kautilya and Chanakya refer to the same person.
In a book of fiction written in by A. Panchapakesha Ayyar, Three Men of Destiny, based on old stories and legends surrounding Chanakya, his wife Gautami explains his various names. Gautami responds that Vishnugupta was the name given him because his paternal grandfather was called that too. Kautilya was the clan name or gotra associated with their particular group of brahmins. Some wickedly referred to him this way so as to hint at the kind of person he was kutil means clever or cunning in Sanskrit. He was called Chanakya too, after his father who was called Chanak.
And there were some who referred to him as Dramila or Tamila for they thought he came from the south, then known as Dravida country. He was also cruelly called Angula or the one-finger-high dwarf because he was rather short and unprepossessing in appearance.
Besides this and the Nitishastra, there also exist numerous Niti sutras as well, aphorisms that Chanakya is said to have used to instruct the young Chandragupta about kingship and living the ideal life. The Mauryan state was organized on very efficient lines, with an army and bureaucracy that ensured that adequate checks and balances were in place to prevent misuse of power, under the overall authority of the king. Chanakya is said to have lived between to BCE.
Scholars who have studied the Arthashastra in detail have attempted to shed light on who Chanakya really was, but there are different views on this. Several texts, including works of fiction, describe aspects of his life. For instance, there are different stories about and different reasons attributed to why he nursed a grudge against the Nandas, the dynasty that ruled Magadha for a century and a half before the Mauryas fifth and fourth centuries BCE.
One story has it that his father was executed for speaking against the king, and Chanakya was forced to flee. Another story goes that he himself was humiliated by the Nandas because he was not good-looking, or because he occupied, without asking, a seat of honour in the assembly, and he swore revenge. There are differing accounts of his origin too.
While one mentions that his father lived in Pataliputra, another goes that he came from the south or Dravida country. There is one common factor, however, in all the stories: that Chanakya was widely known for his learning. Kshemendra and Somadeva lived in Kashmir in the tenth and eleventh centuries CE respectively,.
Nearly 1, years after Chanakya. It tells the story of how Chanakya secured the throne for Chandragupta after thwarting the efforts of Rakshasa, a loyal minister of the Nandas. It is believed that Chanakya met Chandragupta during his period of exile from Magadha. Some texts hold that he belonged to a tribe of peacock tamers living in a small principality on the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, called Pippalivahana.
Another version makes Chandragupta a Nanda prince whose mother was a slave woman and who had to run for his life when he found himself in danger. Chanakya met Chandragupta in the course of his wanderings and moulded him into a challenger to the Nanda throne. Later as his adviser, he drafted rules that would help a king run his state efficiently. The Arthashastra has detailed guidelines and precepts on almost everything that defined a state: its ruler, the qualities he must possess, his ministers and officers, the army, war strategy and foreign policy, agriculture, forestry, artisan and guild-regulating actions, and even institutions such as the imperial household, the treasury and the granaries.
It did not hope to create an idealistic state or king, but was written in a most practical manner: effective, and very efficient. Some scholars believe that Chanakya relied on other arthashastras, or similar treatises written earlier.
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However, everyone is agreed that his is the most detailed and comprehensive one. In ancient times, manuscripts were written down on palm leaves and copied and re-copied, and these other arthashastras existed as palm-leaf scripts before Kautilya wrote his more detailed extensive one.
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Chanakya himself as the author made it clear that there were other arthashastrsa before his, and that his work was a refined and improved version of these previous lost works. But he also made systematic arguments, putting up definitions and opinions offered by writers and schools before him such as those of Manu, Parasara, Brihaspathi and Usanas, and he also discusses his specific reasons for disagreeing with them.
There is some disagreement on the period during which it was written, though Chanakya mentions that it was written to end the misrule of the Nandas. Historian R. Kangle believes it was written during the Mauryan period, but another scholar S. Gaoyal who subjected the Arthashastra to a comparison with the Indika of Megasthenes, a book that is now lost, favours a date long after the Mauryas.
It has been argued that the Arthashastra contains no direct reference to the city of Pataliputra, the Mauryan empire or even to Chandragupta. However, both Kangle and Trautmann are agreed that it is a book of precepts meant for a hypothetical king, and the Nitishastra is especially ment for a king who would be ideal in every way.
There is also convincing evidence that the trade in luxury goods that the book brings up, more specifically trade in such goods with China and Rome, appeared much later. Trading of goods with fine silks from China took place at least years after the Mauryas. Trade with Rome also grew substantially only in the first century CE.
This was after sailors from afar learnt to negotiate the monsoon winds, and this knowledge was passed on by Greek sailors to Romans. Certain other references, such as the mention of Parasamudra foe Sri Lanka and of trade in pearls from south India, point to a later date for the Arthashastra. While there is disagreement over when exactly the Arthashastra was written, there is broad agreement that it can be placed at a time no later than CE, as Trautmann too concludes. It can be concluded, as scholars have accepted too, that the Arthashastra and the Nishastra are texts associated with ancient India, compiled more than 2, years ago, and while they may not describe exactly what the Mauryan state was like, their references to a large and powerful empire are very close to what the Mauryan empire under Chandragupta Maurya and his immediate successors grew to be.
There were very few copies. People were totally unaware of them, especially in the centuries after the Gupta empire of the fourth and fifth centuries CE. In recent times it was thought to be lost though texts of the past and even works of fiction hinted at these works and even about Chanakya. Then an unknown pandit brought a manuscript to R. Shamashastry, librarian at the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore, who published a translation in This text formed the basis of later authoritative works on the Arthashastra by historian such as R. Kangle, Thomas R.
Trautmann and L. It is now much cited and greatly quoted, and is hailed one of the oldest written down texts of ancient India.
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Scholars of the Arthashastra have different definitions of the text, which is actually a compilation of fifteen separate books called adikaranas. Other scholars have tried to emphasize how complex a work it is. Dharma meant living the right way by following a code of ethics and a value system: all the morals necessary for well being. Kama denotes attachment to the physical and sensual aspect of life. The arthashastra states clearly that artha is superior to both dharma and kama for the latter two are dependent on it. All three, however, were deemed essential for the attainment of moksha, or salvation.
In the times when the Arthashastra was written, the polity the form or constitution of a politically organized unit and the economy were interpreted as one unit. As scholars explain, in the time of the Arthashastra, the state which could mean the kingdom and its symbols such as the king, were identified with the economy: the different systems of production, revenue from which sustained the stat. The king had to make things secure for his people, to ensure an efficient economy and polity. The state played a crucial role in maintaining the material well being of the state and its people.
In the Arthashastra and Nitishastra, Chanakya left no aspect of a state and its citizens untouched and it is not surprising that his seminal and wide-ranging wisdom continues to inspire people. Subscribe for Newsletters and Discounts. Be the first to receive our thoughtfully written religious articles and product discounts. Your interests Optional.
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Shrikant Prasoon. Emperor Chandragupta. Chanakya: His Teachings and Advice. Her writings are targeted for all age groups. Some of her short stories have appeared in various magazines. Not Enabled. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Showing of 7 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Format: Paperback Verified Purchase. One person found this helpful. Some times looks like a copy paste from wikipedia. Its a must have in your house.
It was nice to read the struggle of Chanakya and Chandragupta with equanimity. Also the views of Chanakya on different field. Good books for children, Good picture quality, good size, moral stories! The book is very poorly structured and written. Had the author structured the chapters well, it could've been a better book.