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Chanakya - Scholar and Administrator Par Excellence

Chanakya - Scholar and Administrator Par Excellence


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9. Chanakya

Chanakya (350-275 BCE) was a great Indian teacher, philosopher, statesman, royal adviser, economist and jurist. Alternatively known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, he penned the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra. He is said to be the pioneer of economics and political science in Ind...

Chanakya was as shrewd as he was wise. He helped the first Mauryan Emperor, Chandragupta, to establish the Mauryan Empire and was an immense asset to him during his rule. Chanakya also served as Chief Advisor and Prime Minister to both Chandragupta and his son, Bindusara. His immense works were l...

Chanakya is often associated with the Arthashastra, which identifies its author's name as Kautilya. Only one verse in it refers to him as Vishnugupta. Some believe that Chanakya was given the name Kautilya as that was the gotra (clan) that he came from. However, there is yet another more interest...

Vishnu Sharma's Panchatantra (3rd Century BCE) explicitly identifies Chanakya as Vishnugupta. However, there is no historical record about this – it is possible that these three names belonged to three different people.

Some believe that he was born in Takshashila, while others aver that he was born in South India. He was the son of Chanak (or Canin) and Canesvari. He hence got his name from his father.

He was educated at the ancient University of Takshashila and later, went on to become a professor there....

As mentioned earlier, there are several versions of Chanakya's life story. Check the weblink for the Buddhist and the Jain versions of the legend.

Dhana Nanda And Chanakya

When Chanakya was old enough, he began searching for a true king. That is when he met Dhana Nanda, the king of the Nanda dynasty. According to the Mahabodhivamsa, Dhana Nanda was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty. He is referred to as Agrammes or Xandrames in Greek history. The name Agrammes ma...

During his tenure, the Nanda Empire spanned from Bihar to Bengal in the east and from Punjab to Sindh in the west. His army was very large – it consisted of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants. He, however, was quite unpopular, both with his own subjects a...

He also provided them with a mere handful of grains and very little water, which was barely sufficient for one human being to survive. Eventually, Sakatala lost his entire family, one by one and he was the only survivor.

Seeing that the land was vulnerable, the foreign invaders again declar...

Prince Shaurya Nanda wedded Damyanti of Kalinga. However, that only worsened the situation – the marriage itself was short-lived. That further complicated the equation between the two dynasties. During his reign, Dhana Nanda carried on the same ill-feeling for the Kalinga dynasty.

Dhana Nan...

the person who would become the manager of the daankendra.

He then boldly declared that, his unkempt appearance notwithstanding, he was indisputably the best man for the job.

Disgusted by Chanakya's unsightly countenance, Dhana Nanda and a few other princes assembled there, insulted ...

The exact circumstances of Dhana Nanda's destruction and ultimate death are not clear. Some narratives suggest that he was killed by Chandragupta Maurya himself,after the latter captured Pataliputra. When he lost the battle, he was permitted to leave his capital, along with his two wives.He also ...

exile, thus clearing the path for Chandragupta to occupy Pataliputra's throne.

Yet another interesting version suggests that Dhana Nanda adopted Buddhism just before going on exile. He completely renounced the material world after his clan got wiped out during the war. When Chanakya realize...

Chanakya's Role In The Rise Of Chandragupta

Realizing by then that king Nanda had to be defeated in order to bring Chandragupta into power, Chanakya approached king Parvataka (often identified with Porus) and made an alliance with him. Chanakya met the Greek generals as well, to discuss the possibility of an alliance with them as well. Kno...

Persians and several other sects.

This joint army laid siege on Pataliputra from all directions. Seeing the sheer size of the army, the Nanda rulers had no other option but to surrender their beautiful kingdom. Chanakya then founded the Mauryan Empire and placed Chandragupta at its helm.

Chanakya is identified as the author of two important books, namely, the Chanakya Neeti (alternatively referred to as Chanakya-Niti-Shastra) and the Arthashastra.

Arthashastra speaks in detail about several aspects of administration, such as monetary and fiscal policies, war strategies, wel...


Chanakya's political ideas and maxims,as specified in the Arthashastra are completely practical,unsentimental,controversial and, sometimes,even downright ruthless.This book takes a rather impersonal stance on conducting assassinations,killing family members, managing spies and secret agents,chalk...

Chanakya Neeti,

which consists of 17 chapters, is a collection of aphorisms and maxims, which are believed to be selected and gathered by Chanakya from the various shastras. This book is filled with interesting quotes, most of which are relevant even in the present times.

Several Indian nationalists consi...

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