Saturday, 28 June 2014

Chanakya

One of the greatest figures of wisdom and knowledge in the Indian history is Chanakya. He is estimated to have lived from 350 - 283 B.C. Chanakya is touted as the "Pioneer Economist of India". Chanakya was the adviser and Prime Minister of Emperor Chandragupta. Chanakya was a professor at the University of Takshila (located in present day Pakistan) and was an expert in commerce, warfare, economics, etc. His famous works include Chanakya Neeti, Arthashastra and Neetishastra.

Chanakya is also known by the name of Kautilya and Vishnugupta as is mentioned in his text. His famous work called Arthashastra is a classic example of statecraft and politics . It basically consists of the principles of politics and how the state works. An able ruler has to be a ruthless leader to make sure that the state works smoothly and efficiently. 
There is a mystery over the birth of Bindusara. As the tale goes after Chandragupta Maurya became king of Magadha after defeating Nandas, his chief advisor was Chanakya. Now Chanakya feared that there would be assassination plots hatched against Chandragupta by other power hungry kings. To protect Chandragupta, Chanakya wanted to make him immune from poisoning. He added small amounts of poison in Chandragupta’s food everyday so that he would get used to it. But Chandragupta was unaware of the poison he consumed every day. One day while dining the Emperor shared his food with Queen Durdhara. She was just seven days away from delivery. The pregnant Queen who did not have poison as her staple diet started collapsing with some shrieks. Chanakya was passing by and he heard the screams. When he came inside the dining hall he found the Queen collapsing. He understood the importance of saving the child within her womb. So first of all he slit the Queen’s head so that the poison could not penetrate into her body and harm the child. Then he cut open her belly and took out the baby prince. But it seemed that one drop of poison had penetrated through and it touched the forehead of baby Bindusara. This caused a blue mark on his forehead. Thus the prince was saved.
Chanakya was instrumental in bringing Chandragupta's rule, one can say that Chandragupta had ruled India but the rule was brought to his hand by Chanakya, he was not interested in ruling any country, nation or state, he was interested in bringing just ruler and rules.

Chanakya was the first person who brought political discourses out of palaces; he was the first person who brought the civic identity to the common masses, he was the person who brought the forces of change and all this not by any revolutions on streets but on the hearts of people and in the mind of others.

The earliest written record of Chanakya is found in the 8th century Prakrit drama Mudra Rakshasha which was written by Vishakhadatta. In this drama political activities of Chanakya but there is no details about his personal life provided. The drama is said to have been written about 1200 years after Chandragupta’s reign (but then again there is a lot of controversy over the Gupta timeline). Though the character of Chanakya has been well etched in this drama but his details such as birth, parentage, lineage, family or death is not mentioned here.

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