Acharya Chanakya – Hindu Philosopher and Strategist

Acharya Chanakya

Acharya Chanakya, a master strategist, is an ancient Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, lawyer, and royal advisor. He is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnugupt, the author of an old Indian political treatise, Arthashastra.

As a trailblazer in political science and classical economics in India, his work is considered an essential forerunner of modern-day economics. His works were lost towards the end of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century. His works were discovered in the early 20th century. Chanakya Niti by Acharya Chanakya is a famous book even translated into Spanish by author Mohan Kumar.

Chanakya assisted the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta in his rise to power. He is credited for the establishment of the Mauryan Empire. Chanakya served as the chief advisor to both emperors Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.

Acharya Chanakya

Birth and Childhood

Little is known with certainty about Channakya because few historical documents of his life exist. However, it is believed that Chanakya was born in 370 BCE. in Pataliputra, Takshashila, in South India. His father’s name was Chanana, and his mother’s name was Chaneshwari. Because of his violent and secretive nature, he was called Kautilya.

According to the Buddhist account, Chanakya was born with a complete set of teeth, a sign that he would become the supreme ruler, but this was not appropriate for a Brahmin-born. Therefore, his teeth were pulled out, after which it was announced that Channakya would reign through another.

He left his parent’s home early and gained knowledge and education under Acharya Pundarikash in Takshashila. After 14 years of gaining education, at 26, he completed his education in sociology, politics, and economics and started teaching in Nalanda.

Beginning of his Quest and introduction with Chandragupta

The Greek emperor Alexander the Great invaded Indian soil more than 2,300 years ago. His raid was successful due to the disunity of local rulers. Chanakya sought the assistance of King Dhana Nanda but was insulted instead.

Chanakya feeling deeply disappointed in his heart, cursed the King. The King demanded his arrest, but Chanakya escaped with the help of Prince Pabbatha, the son of King Dhana Nanda. He ran and started living in the Vindhya forest, where he began turning one gold coin into more with the help of his deep economic knowledge. He used this knowledge until he had 800,000,000 gold coins.

Chanakya hid all his money and set out to find a person worthy of ruling the earth. During his search, he came across a group of children playing a game of King and robbers. One of these children, Chandragupta, pretended to be a king and cut off the arms and legs of the robbers. Chanakya watched as he re-joined the limbs.

Witnessing this, Chanakya wanted to know more about the child. Chandragupta Maurya was born into a royal family; his father was assassinated, and his mother was forced to flee. A foster father raised the boy. Chanakya paid the foster father 1,000 gold coins and took Chandragupta Maurya away.

Quest of Making Chandragupta King Completed

Acharya Chanakya dug his buried gold coins treasure to assemble an army for an adult Chandragupta Maurya who was unsuccessful in overthrowing King Dhana Nanda. By chance, they were walking when they heard a mother scolding her son for pulling the edges of a piece of cake.

She criticized him and said he was like Chandragupta Maurya, who had tried to overthrow the kingdom from the center instead of first attacking the outskirts. Armed with a new plan, Chandragupta and Chanakya once again gathered an army and began attacking the outer parts of the city, making their way to the center. They assassinated the King, took his treasure, and Chandragupta assumed the throne.

Stopped Alexander the Great

After the overthrow of Nanda, people felt sympathy for the new King, the handsome young hero Chandragupta, and he quickly gained popularity among the people. The neighboring kings also recognized him, and with new forces, they managed to cope with the remnants of the Greeks, led by General Celsius. The success was due to Chanakya, a political strategist under whom King Chandragupta ruled for 24 years.

King Chandragupta conquered all lands from Iran in the northwest to the state’s border in the south. Thanks to this thin and sickly brahmana, the great empire of India regained its independence, becoming more powerful than ever.

The original Vedic culture of the sacred land of Bharata was protected and flourished unhindered until Emperor Ashoka’s reign, he supported Buddhism spread widely throughout the country.

Maurya Legacy continued 

When Chandra Gupta was on the throne, Chanakya added poison to his food daily to make him strong and immune to even the worst poison so that enemies or conspirators would not poison him. Unknowingly, the queen ate the food intended for Chandra Gupta when she was pregnant.

Upon learning this, Chanakya wanted to save the heir to the throne and cut open the mother’s womb to protect the child from poison and named Bindusara. In the process, the queen died. Ultimately, Chanakya’s act followed his duty to the empire and as a measure to save Bindusara, who was to become King of the kingdom. Chanakya continued to be Bindusara’s chief adviser.

Death of Chanakya

The death of Chanakya is overshadowed by mystery and has not yet been precisely revealed, despite some efforts of researchers and historians. However, there are two points of view on this: one states that he starved himself to death and the other states that he was killed through a cunning conspiracy woven around him. However, both positions are based on a story associated with his unfortunate fate.

The first version of his death

Unable to tolerate the understanding between Chanakya and Bindusara, a terrible conspiracy was built to create enmity between him and the ruler. The main reason for this conspiracy was Subandhu, one of the ministers of Bindusara. Vasubandhu made Bindusara believe the story that it was Chanakya who had treacherously killed his mother.

Chanakya could not cope with the behavior of Bindusara, whom he loved most. Therefore, he left the palace and sat hungry until his death. Later, a nurse with Bindusara’s mother revealed the secret of the queen’s death, freeing Channakya from guilt.

As soon as Bindusara learns this story from the nurse, he realizes his mistake of misunderstanding Chanakya. However, despite his attempts to soothe him and bring him back to court, Chanakya refused to do so and continued to starve until his death.

The second version of death

Another version of this story says that Subandhu later skilfully burned him alive. Bindusara killed Subandha in complete disgust due to his evil plan. However, Chanakya’s mysterious death has not yet been fully resolved.

Aphorisms of Chanakya

Chanakya Neeti is still provided as an example of when some try to use their mind to achieve vast outcomes. Here are some of the aphorisms of Chanakya Niti-sastra:

  • An intelligent individual does not reveal his business’s essential secrets and techniques to anyone. If you report the loss or acquisition in your business to others, assistance cannot be provided when you want it. Therefore, you must keep it a secret whether or not you have income or losses in the business.
  • Avoid enemies who flatter in the eyes but are ready to attack from behind, for they are like a jug of poison poured over with milk.
  • Passion is the most terrible disease, recklessness is the most terrible enemy, anger is the most incinerating fire, and spiritual knowledge is the greatest happiness.
  • Pamper your son until he is five years old, take him in an iron grip from 5 to 15, and when he turns 16 – be friends.
  • Wise parents bring up morality in their children because those who know etiquette bring glory to the whole family.
  • A grumpy wife, a selfish friend, a bold servant, and living in a house with a snake are nothing more than death.
  • Take care of your money for a rainy day, do not think the rich man is not in danger of poverty. Even enormous wealth can melt away in no time.
  • Please leave the country where you are not respected, where it is impossible to earn a living, where there are no friends, or where you cannot get an education.
  • Check the servant in the performance of duty, the relative in the hardships, the friend in the misfortune, and the wife in the grief.
  • The goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, of her own free will, visits places where scientists are revered, grain harvests are preserved without loss, and husband and wife do not quarrel.

Acharya Chanakya spent his entire life displaying his quality of being a Master strategist. The equanimity of mind gave rise to the Chanakya Neeti that entirely changed the patterns of history. Comparing Chanakya with Vishnugupta enhances the mind consciousness of a master political strategist.

The authors and narrators, such as Ashwini Walia, Ashutosh Rana, Raj Kumar Sen & Ratan Lal Basu, and many others in Indian History Sourcebook, have highlighted the Chanakya Nitishastra as the ultimate way of becoming a master strategist. Ancient Indian Economic Forum and the Indian Economic review agency have accepted Chanakya Nitishastra as the ultimate way of the nation’s progress.