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Ch nakya (Sanskrit: ) (c. 370 283 BCE) was a teacher to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340 293 BCE) - the first emperor in the archaeologically recorded history to rule the complete Indian Subcontinent. Chanakya is generally considered to be the architect of Chandragupta's rise to power at a young age. Traditionally, he is also identified by the names Kautilya and Vishnu Gupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise called Artha stra.[1] Chanakya is considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science and his work is thought of as an important precursor to Classical Economics.[2][3][4][5] In the Western world, he has been referred to as The Hindu Machiavelli, although Chanakya's works predate Machiavelli's by about 1,800 years. Chanakya was a teacher in Tak a ila, an ancient centre of learning, and was responsible for the creation of Mauryan empire, the first of its kind on the Indian subcontinent. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta dynasty and not rediscovered until 1915.[6]


Literary work

Two books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra and Neetishastra which is also known as Chanakya Niti. The Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. Neetishastra is a treatise on the ideal way of life, and shows Chanakya's deep 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 of running a kingdom). Apparently, Chanakya used these sutras to groom Chandragupta and other selected disciples in the art of ruling a kingdom.

He was a highly educated man. He also knew vedic astrology. His thoughts about vedic astrology can be found in the text called saravali.


Silver punch mark coin of the Mauryan empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE.
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:[7]

  • Chanakya was born with a complete set of teeth, a sign that he would become king, which is inappropriate for a Brahmin like Chanakya. 's teeth were therefore broken and it was prophesied that he will rule through another.
  • The Nanda King throws Ch nakya out of his court, prompting Ch nakya to swear revenge.
  • Ch nakya searches for one worthy for him to rule through. Ch nakya encounters a young Chandragupta Maurya who is a born leader even as a child. Chanakya established monarchial system in ancient historical times in India. He may be main architect to groom a child, but his means to reach power were manipulative and secretive.
  • Ch nakya'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. realizes his initial strategic error and, instead of attacking the heart of Nanda territory, slowly chips away at its edges.
  • Ch nakya changed his alliance with the mountain king Parvata due to his obstinacy and non-adherence to the principles of the treaty as agreed.
  • Ch nakya enlists the services of a fanatical weaver to rid the kingdom of rebels.
  • Ch nakya adds poison to the food eaten by Chandragupta Maurya, now king, in order to make him immune.[8] 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, Ch nakya cuts the queen open and extracts the foetus, who is named Bindusara because he was touched by a drop (bindu) of blood having poison. [9]
  • Ch nakya's political rivalry with Subandhu leads to his death.

Chanakya was a shrewd observer of nature. Once, it is said that Mauryan forces had to hide in a cave. There was no food, and the 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. Indeed, they were eating at the ground floor. As soon as they saw this, they escaped and were thus saved.

Birth and Origin

Chanakya (c.350 - c.275 BC), also known as Anshul or Anshu or Kau ilya or Vishnugupta was born in a family of Brahmin as the son of Acharya Chanak in Patliputra, as a capital of Magadh (Modern day Patna, Bihar, India). Chanakya was a Brahmin. Chanakya enjoyed the best education of the time, in Takshasil . Then he is said to have taught in Takshasil which had established itself as a place of learning. The school had by that time existed for more than five centuries and attracted students from all over the ancient world. The Kingdom of Magadha maintained contact with Takshasil . Chanakya's life was connected to these two cities, Pataliputra and Takshasil . According to Jaina accounts, Ch nakya was born in the village of Canaka to Ca in and Ca e var a Mag brahmin couple.


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

Chanakya meanwhile stayed as the administrator 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. But, he then came to know why the great soul did so. but there is no real truth find that what are the causes of his death. But every where proved that chanakya dead by his own wish according hindi its icha mrityu.

Other versions

The classical Sanskrit play by Vishakhadatta, Mudrarakshasa, is one popular source of Chanakya lore.

According one tradition, Chanakya was a native of Dravida.[10] One of Chanakya's various names was Dramila, the Sanskrit form of "Tamilian".[11][12]("Dramila" is believed to be the root of the word "Dravida" by some scholars). Chozhiars, a sub-sect of Iyers, claim that Chanakya was one of them.[13]

Kau ilya was educated at Taxila or Takshashila,[14] then present in north-western India and now 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 Takshasil 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.

In his early years he was tutored extensively in the Vedas - Chanakya memorized them completely at a very early age. He also taught mathematics, geography and science along with dharmic education. Later he traveled to Takshashila, where he became a teacher of politics. 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, who were also disciples of Chanakya.

According to the Kashmiri version of his legend, , there is an anecdote which says a thorn had pricked his foot once. After that instead of uprooting the tree, he poured buttermilk on the tree so that the ants will gather around tree and finish the tree to its last pieces.


  • The story of Chanakya and Chandragupta was taken as film in Telugu language in 1977 entitled Chanakya Chandragupta. Akkineni Nageswara Rao played the role of Chanakya, while N. T. Rama Rao portrayed as Chandragupta.[15]
  • Television series Chanakya is archetypal account of the life and times of Chanakya, based on the play "Mudra Rakshasa" (The Signet Ring of "Rakshasa")
  • A Television series on Imagine TV available as "Chandragupta Maurya" (The serial is based on the life of Indian ruler "Chandragupta Maurya" and "Chanakya")[16]
  • A book has been published in English titled 'Chanakya on Management"{18} in which each of the 216 sutras on raja-neeti has been translated and commented upon. Clearly, the entire system of thought propounded by Chanakya is based on following good ethical principles.
  • In his Arthasastra, Chanakya has discussed widely various economic issues. A book written by Ratan Lal Basu & Rajkumar Sen has dealt exhaustively with these economic concepts of Chanakya and their relevance for the modern world.[17]
  • Many eminent Kau ilya experts from all over the world had discussed various aspects of Kau ilya's thought in an International Conference held in 2009 at Oriental Research Institute, Mysore, India to celebrate the Centenary of discovery of the manuscript of the Arthashastra by R. Shamasastry. Most of the papers presented in the Conference have been compiled in an edited volume by Raj Kumar Sen and Ratan Lal Basu.[18][19]
  • Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi is a fictional retelling of the life of Chanakya a political strategist of ancient India. The novel relates two stories in parallel, the first of Chanakya and his machinations to bring Chandragupta Maurya to the throne of Magadha; the second, that of a modern-day character called Gangasagar Mishra who makes it his ambition to position a slum child as the Prime Minister of India.
  • A popular Hindi channel started a Biographical series on the life of Chandragupta Maurya and his teacher, Chanakya. The series is named Chandragupta Maurya.[20]
  • The song "Make My" by The Roots from their 2011 album Undun features a quote attributed to Chanakya: "A man is born alone and dies alone; he experiences the good and the bad and the consequences of his karma alone; and he goes alone to hell or the Supreme Abode"


The diplomatic enclave in New Delhi is named Chanakyapuri in honour of Chanakya.

See also



External links

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