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“REALIZATION OF TRUTH IS HIGHER THAN ALL ELSE. HIGHER STILL IS TRUTHFUL LIVING.” (GURU NANAK, SRI RAG)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The political views of Chanakya ( a great socio-political scientist c.350 – c.275 BC)
Chanakya (c.350 – c.275 BC), also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, was a professor (acharya) of political science at the TakshasilÃ¢ University and the Prime Minister of the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. He is regarded as one of the earliest known political thinkers, economists and king-makers. He was the man to envision the first Indian empire by unification of the then numerous kingdoms in the Indian sub-continent and provide the impetus for fights against the Greek conqueror Alexander. Chanakya is perhaps less well known outside India compared to other social and political philosophers of the world like Confucius and Machiavelli, but is definitely considered to be the first genuine political theorist in Indian history. His foresight and wide knowledge coupled with politics of expediency helped found the mighty Mauryan Empire in India. He compiled his political ideas into ‘Arthashastra’, one of the world’s earliest treatises on political thought and social order. His ideas remain popular to this day in India. In Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India, Chanakya has been called the Indian Machiavelli.
No complete biography exists and most material about his life is gleaned from legendary material written much after his times. All agree that he brought about the end of the Nandas and was the guide of Chandragupta Maurya. The 9th century AD Sanskrit play by Vishakhadatta, Mudra Rakshasa, is one popular source of Chankaya lore. The important medieval Jain work Parishista-parvan, by Hemachandra from Gujrat also contains a lot of stories related to Chankya, including the one about his death given below.
Chanakya was most probably born in Magadha (ruled by the Nandas) as the son of acharya Chanak. A south Indian group of Brahmins, Chozhiyas, claim that Chanakya was one of them. Though this may sound very improbable considering the vast distance between present day Tamilnadu in the south and Magadha in Bihar, it finds curious echos in Parishista-parvan, where Hemachandra claims that Chankya was a Dramila. Dramila, being a very common varaint of Dravida.
Chanakya enjoyed the best education at the time, in ‘TakshasilÃ¢’ (also known in its corrupted form as Taxila).TakshasilÃ¢ had established itself as a place of learning and it was there that Panini had written the Sanskrit Grammar. The new states in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh by uttarapatha along the base of the Himalayas maintained contact with TakshasilÃ¢ and at the eastern end of the uttarapatha was the kingdom of Magadha with its capital city, Pataliputra. Chanakya’s life was connected to these two cities, Pataliputra and TakshasilÃ¢. The University taught 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 around India ranged from law, medicine, warfare and other indigenous forms of learning. Chanakya eventually became a professor of political science at the University. Two of his more famous students were Bhadrabhatt and Purushdutt.
Political turmoil in Western India at that time caused by greek invasion forced Chanakya to leave the University environment for the city of Pataliputra (presently known as Patna, in the state of Bihar, India), which was ruled by the Nanda king Dhanananda. Although Chanakya initially prospered in his relations with the ruler, being a blunt person he was soon disliked by the Dhanananda. This ended with Chanakya being removed from an official position he enjoyed.
Introduction to Chandragupta
Folklore has it that on his way out of the city after his removal, Chanakya was hurt by a thorny bush. He then bought a pot of milk and poured on the bush so that ants could come and destroy the bush. It is said that at this moment he was observed by a young Chandragupta Maurya, the future Emperor and creator of the Mauryan empire. Chanakya was the kingmaker who actually planned the unification of India for the first time under Chandragupta.
According to Professor Roger Boesche:
“To return to Machiavelli after reading the military writings of Kautilya is a jolt. It becomes readily apparent that Machiavelli is not even trying to tell us something new about warfare, because he believed the ancient Greeks and Romans knew it all – aside from such things as artillery…
“They (Kautilya and Sun Tzu) were also prepared to win in ways Machiavelli would regard as dishonourable and disgraceful-assassination, disinformation, causing quarrels between ministers by bribes or by means of jealousy over a beautiful woman planted as a secret agent, and so on. Machiavelli – who offers no systematic discussion of even guerrilla warfare – would have been easily outmatched by generals reading either Sun Tzu or Kautilya.”
Legend has it that Chanakya was insulted by the Nanda rulers, and vowed to destroy their kingdom. Travelling through the forest, he came across a boy who had a regal bearing, and obvious leadership qualities. The way he played ‘king’ with his friends and conducted himself as one impressed Chankaya. He picked him up and trained him to be Chandragupta Maurya.
It is also told that once, the thorns of a bush hurt Chankya’s feet while he was passing through a forest. The wily Brahmin was cut to the quick, and wanted revenge. He got his revenge by pouring sugar syrup into the roots of the bush, thus ensuring that the ants ate up the root and destroyed the bush.
According to all the legendary material, Chanakya used to his advantage every chink in Nanda’s kingdom, every weakness in his empire, defeated him and finally had Chandragupta as king of Magadha.
Death of Chanakya
According to a legend, while Chanakya served as the Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya, he started adding small amounts of poison in Chandragupta’s food so that he would get used to it. The aim of this was to prevent the Emperor from being poisoned by enemies. One day the queen, Durdha, shared the food with the Emperor while she was pregnant. Since she was not used to eating poisoned food, she died. Chanakya decided that the baby should not die; hence he cut open the belly of the queen and took out the baby. A drop (bindu in Sanskrit) of poison had passed to the baby’s head, and hence Chanakya named him Bindusara.
When Bindusara became a youth, Chandragupta gave up the throne and followed the Jain saint Bhadrabahu to present dayKarnatka and settled in a place known as Sravana Belagola. He lived as an ascetic for some years and died of voluntary starvation according to Jain tradition.
Chanakya meanwhile stayed as the Prime Minister 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.
It is said that Chanakya, on hearing that the Emperor was angry with him, thought that anyway he was at the end of his life. He donated all his wealth to the poor, widows and orphans and sat on a dung heap, prepared to die by total abstinence from food and drink. Bindusara meanwhile heard the full story of his birth from the nurses and rushed to beg forgiveness of Chanakya. But Chanakya would not relent. Bindusara went back and vent his fury on Subandhu, who asked for time to beg for forgiveness from Chanakya.
Subandhu, who still hated Chanakya, wanted to make sure that Chanakya did not return to the city. So he arranged for a ceremony of respect, but unnoticed by anyone, slipped a smoldering charcoal ember inside the dung heap. Aided by the wind, the dung heap was on fire, and the man behind the Mauryan Empire and the author of Arthashastra was burned to death.
His main philosophy was “A debt should be paid off till the last penny; An enemy should be destroyed without a trace”. He seemed to have lived by his philosopy.
Three books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra, Nitishastra and Chanakya Niti. Arthashastra (literally ‘the Science of Material Gain’ in Sanskrit) is arguably the first systematic book on economics. It discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in details. Many of his nitis or policies have been compiled under the book title Chanakya Niti.
qoutes of Chanakya
-Good wife is one who serves her husband in the morning like a mother does, loves him in the day like a sister does and pleases him like a prostitute in the night.
-An egoist can be won over by being respected, a crazy person can be won over by allowing him to behave in an insane manner and a wise person can be won over by truth.
-A human being should strive for four things in life – dharma, arth (money), kaam (desires) and moksha (salvation). A person who hasn’t strived for even one of these things has wasted life.
-A man is great by deeds, not by birth.
-A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first.
-A rich man has many friends.
-As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it.
-As centesimal droppings will fill a pot so also are knowledge, virtue and wealth gradually obtained.
-A woman is four times as shy, six times as brave and eight times as libidinous as a man.
-Avoid him who talks sweetly before you but tries to ruin you behind your back, for he is like a pitcher of poison with milk on top.
-Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory -answers to these questions, go ahead.
-Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person.
-Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth.
-Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous.
-He who befriends a man whose conduct is vicious, whose vision impure, and who is notoriously crooked, is rapidly ruined.
-If you get to learn something even from the worst of creatures, don’t hesistate.
-In a state where the ruler lives like a common man, the citizens live like kings do. And in the state where the ruler lives like a king, the citizens live like beggers do.
-Jealousy is another name for failure.
-Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness.
-Once you start working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.
-One who is in search of knowledge should give up the search of pleasure and the one who is in search of pleasure should give up the search of knowledge.
-The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you.
-There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.
-The four greatest enemies of a man are – the father who has taken a loan, the characterless mother, the beautiful but promiscuous wife and the stupid child.
-The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction.
-The world’s biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman.
-Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends.
-Whores don’t live in company of poor men, citizens never support a weak administration and birds don’t build nests on a tree that doesn’t bear fruits.
-Never go on a long journey alone.
-Wise men should never go into a country where there are no means of earning one’s livelihood, where the people have no dread of anybody, have no sense of shame, no intelligence, or a charitable disposition.
Chanakya Niti-Shastra:The Political Ethics of Chanakya Pandit:
posted by Sheerni at 7:07 AM
We are since historical Maurya samrajya years, known as “NIMNIYAS” of Pataliputhram.Only to the eldest son, the secret of the family be let known since many births.
Whom you call Chanakya,Kautilya, Vishnuguptha are all only nick names. His original name is Shri.Vishnu Sharma. His father’s name is Shri. Mukhya Shrma. Only this two names are being kept to this family’s eldest son.
Now we are High Class Smartha Brahmins of Chennai, known as Vada Desa Aaputhra Vadamal, belongs to Rajaguru Vamsam,Shrivathsa Gothram. Our familyname is NIMNIYAS of Pataliputhram. My name is Mukhya Sharma. My only son’s name is Vishnu sharma. My father’s name is Vishnu sharma. My grandfather’s name is Mukhya sharma. Since ages we are settled at Kadavasal, Thiruvengadu(near Kaveripoom Pattinam), near Sirkali, in Tanjore District of Tamilnadu. After disposal of lands houses etc, now we are settled at Chennai. We are higly vedic and educated, but live a solitary life.
We are mostly tall, sharp nose, cute eyes, very religistic in way of life, rarely mingle in society.
It is said by our forefathers, that after Maurya, our ancessters were Rajaguru’s to Kasi Maharaja, later evicted to South to Mangamadam(now known as Thiruvengadu), land owners.Only in our marriages, we let know these family details, otherwise tight liped. First time I reveal this here.
K.R.Subramanyam, Chartered Engineer.Plot No.28, Door No.17, “NIMNIYAS”, 2nd Main Road, Iyyappa Nagar, Rajakilpakkam, Chennai. 600073. Resi Phone: 044–22270357.