Chanakya (IAST: Cāṇakya, pronunciation (help·info); fl.
c. 4th century BCE) was an Indian teacher, philosopher, economist,
jurist and royal advisor. He is traditionally identified as Kauṭilya
or Vishnugupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise,
the Arthashastra. As such, he is considered the pioneer of the
field of political science and economics in India, and his work is
thought of as an important precursor to classical
economics. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta
Empire and not rediscovered until the early twentieth century.
Chanakya assisted the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta in his rise
to power. He is widely credited for having played an important role in
the establishment of the Maurya Empire.
Chanakya served as the chief
advisor to both emperors Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.
1.1 Sources of information
1.2 Identification with Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta
3.1 Buddhist version
3.2 Jain version
3.3 Kashmiri version
4 Literary works
5.2 Film and television
5.3 Books and academia
7 External links
Sources of information
There is little purely historical information about Chanakya: most of
it comes from semi-legendary accounts.
Thomas Trautmann identifies
four distinct accounts of the ancient Chanakya-Chandragupta katha
Version of the legend
Mahavamsa and its commentary Vamsatthappakasini (Pali language)
Parishishtaparvan by Hemachandra
Kathasaritsagara by Somadeva, Brihat-Katha-Manjari by Ksemendra
Mudrarakshasa, a Sanskrit play by Vishakhadatta
In all the four versions,
Chanakya feels insulted by the Nanda king,
and vows to destroy him. After dethroning the Nandas, he installs
Chandragupta as the new king.
Identification with Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta
Arthashastra has been traditionally attributed to Chanakya
by a number of scholars. The
Arthashastra identifies its author by the
name Kauṭilya, except for one verse that refers to him by the name
Vishnugupta. Kauṭilya is presumably the name of the author's
One of the earliest Sanskrit literatures to identify
Vishnugupta explicitly was Vishnu Sharma's
Panchatantra in the 3rd
K. C. Ojha puts forward the view that the traditional identification
of Vishnugupta with Kauṭilya was caused by a confusion of the text's
editor and its originator. He suggests that Vishnugupta was a redactor
of the original work of Kauṭilya.
Thomas Burrow goes even further
and suggests that
Chanakya and Kauṭilya may have been two different
Chanakya was the teacher of Chandragupta Maurya. He served in the
court of Chandragupta and Bindusara. According to George Modelski,
Chanakya is believed to be the same as Kautilya, a
Brahmin who served
as Chief Minister to Chandragupta as he founded the Maurya
Dhana Nanda's empire, circa 323 BCE
The legend of
Chanakya and Chandragupta is detailed in the
Pali-language Buddhist chronicles of Sri Lanka. It is not mentioned in
Dipavamsa, the oldest of these chronicles. The earliest Buddhist
source to mention the legend is Mahavamsa, which is generally dated
between 5th and 6th centuries. Vamsatthappakasini (also known as
Mahvamsa Tika), a commentary on
Mahavamsa provides some more details
about the legend. Its author is unknown, and it is dated variously
from 6th century CE to 13th century CE. Some other texts provide
additional details about the legend; for example, the Maha-Bodhi-Vamsa
Atthakatha give names of the 9 Nanda kings who supposedly
According to the Buddhist legend, the Nanda kings who preceded
Chandragupta were robbers-turned-rulers.
Cāṇakka in Mahavamsa) was a
Brahmin from Takkāsila (Takshashila).
He was well-versed in three
Vedas and politics. He had canine teeth,
which were believed to be a mark of royalty. His mother feared that he
would neglect her after becoming a king. To pacify her, Chanakya
broke his teeth.
Chanakya had an ugly appearance, accentuated by his broken teeth and
crooked feet. One day, the king
Dhana Nanda organized an alms-giving
ceremony for Brahmins.
Chanakya went to Pupphapura (Pushpapura) to
attend this ceremony. Disgusted by his ugly appearance, the king
ordered him to be thrown out of the assembly.
Chanakya then broke his
sacred thread in anger, and cursed the king. The king ordered his
Chanakya escaped in the disguise of an Ājīvika. He
befriended Dhananada's son Pabbata, and instigated him to seize the
throne. With help of a signet ring given by the prince,
the palace through a secret door.
Chanakya then escaped to the Vinjha forest. There, he made 800 million
gold coins (kahapanas) using a secret technique that allowed him to
turn 1 coin into 8 coins. After hiding this money, he started
searching for a person worthy of replacing Dhana Nanda. One day,
he saw a group of children playing: the young Chandragupta (called
Chandagutta in Mahavamsa) played the role of a king, while other boys
pretended to be vassals, ministers, or robbers. The "robbers" were
brought before Chandragupta, who ordered their limbs to be cut off,
but then miraculously re-attached them. Chandragupta had been born in
a royal family, but was brought up by a hunter after his father was
killed by an usurper, and the devatas caused his mother to abandon
him. Astonished by his miraculous powers,
Chanakya paid 1000 gold
coins to his foster-father, and took him away promising to teach him a
Chanakya now had two potential successors to Dhana Nanda: Pabbata and
Chandragupta. He gave each of them an amulet to be worn around the
neck with a woolen thread. One day, he decided to test them. While
Chandragupta was asleep, he asked Pabbata to remove Chandragupta's
woolen thread without breaking it and without waking up Chandragupta.
Pabbata failed to accomplish this task. Some time later, when Pabbata
Chanakya challenged Chandragupta to complete the same
task. Chandragupta retrieved the woolen thread by cutting off
Pabbata's head. For the next 7 years,
Chanakya trained Chandragupta
for royal duties. When Chandragupta became an adult,
Chanakya dug up
his hidden treasure of gold coins, and assembled an army.
The army of Chanadragupta and
Chanakya invaded Dhana Nanda's kingdom,
but disbanded after facing a severe defeat. While wandering in
disguise, the two men once listened to the conversation between a
woman and her son. The child had eaten the middle of a cake, and
thrown away the edges. The woman scolded him, saying that he was
eating food like Chandragupta, who attacked the central part of the
kingdom instead of conquering the border villages first.
Chandragupta realized their mistake. They assembled a new army, and
started conquering the border villages. Gradually, they advanced to
the kingdom's capital
Pataliputra (Pāṭaliputta in Mahavamsa), where
they killed the king Dhana Nanda.
Chanakya ordered a fisherman to find
the place where
Dhana Nanda had hidden his treasure. As soon as the
Chanakya about its location,
Chanakya had him
Chanakya then anointed Chandragupta as the new king, and
tasked a man named Paṇiyatappa with eliminating rebels and robbers
from the kingdom.
Chanakya started mixing small doses of poison in the new king's food
to make him immune to poisoning attempts by the enemies. Chandragupta,
who was not aware of this, once shared the food with his pregnant
queen, who was seven days away from delivery.
Chanakya arrived just as
the queen ate the poisoned morsel. Realizing that she was going to
Chanakya decided to save the unborn child. He cut off the queen's
head and cut open her belly with a sword to take out the foetus. Over
the next seven days, he placed the foetus in the belly of a goat
freshly killed each day. After seven days, Chandragupta's son was
"born". He was named Bindusara, because his body was spotted with
drops ("bindu") of goat's blood.
The earliest Buddhist legends do not mention
Chanakya in their
description of the Mauryan dynasty after this point. Dhammapala's
commentary on Theragatha, however, mentions a legend about Chanakya
Brahmin named Subandhu. According to this account,
afraid that the wise Subandhu would surpass him at Chandragupta's
court. So, he got Chandragupta to imprison Subandhu, whose son
Tekicchakani escaped and became a Buddhist monk. The 16th century
Tibetan Buddhist author
Chanakya as one of
Bindusara's "great lords". According to him,
Chanakya destroyed the
nobles and kings of 16 towns and made
Bindusara the master of all the
territory between the eastern and the western seas (
Arabian Sea and
the Bay of Bengal).
Chanakya legend is mentioned in several commentaries
Shvetambara canon. The most well-known version of the Jain
legend is contained in the Sthaviravali-Charita or Parishishta-Parvan,
written by the 12th century writer Hemachandra. Hemachandra's
account is based on the
Prakrit kathanaka literature (legends and
anecdotes) composed between the late 1st century CE and mid-8th
century CE. These legends are contained in the commentaries (churnis
and tikas) on canonical texts such as
Uttaradhyayana and Avashyaka
Thomas Trautmann believes that the Jain version is older
and more consistent than the Buddhist version of the legend.
According to the Jain account,
Chanakya was born to two lay Jains
(shravaka) named Chanin and Chaneshvari. His birthplace was the
Chanaka village in Golla vishaya (region). The identity of "Golla"
is not certain, but
Hemachandra states that
Chanakya was a Dramila,
implying that he was a native of South India.
Chanakya was born with a full set of teeth. According to the monks,
this was a sign that he would become a king in the future. Chanin did
not want his son to become haughty, so he broke Chanakya's teeth. The
monks then prophesized that the baby would go on to become a power
behind the throne.
Chanakya grew up to be a learned shravaka, and
Brahmin woman. Her relatives mocked her for being married to
a poor man. This motivated
Chanakya to visit Pataliputra, and seek
donations from the king Nanda, who was famous for his generosity
towards Brahmins. While waiting for the king at the royal court,
Chanakya sat on the king's throne. A dasi (servant girl) courteously
Chanakya the next seat, but
Chanakya kept his kamandal (water
pot) on it, while remaining seated on the throne. The servant then
offered him four more seats, but each time, he kept his various items
on the seats, refusing to budge from the throne. Finally, the annoyed
servant kicked him off the throne. An enraged
Chanakya then vowed to
uproot Nanda and his entire establishment, like "a great wind uproots
Chanakya knew that he was prophesied to become a power behind the
throne. So, he started searching for a person worthy of being a king.
While wandering, he did a favour for the pregnant daughter of a
village chief, on the condition that her child would belong to him.
Chandragupta was born to this lady. When Chandragupta grew up,
Chanakya came to his village and saw him playing "king" among a group
of boys. To test him,
Chanakya asked him for a donation. The boy told
Chanakya to take the cows nearby, declaring that nobody would disobey
his order. This display of power convinced
Chanakya that Chandragupta
was the one worthy of being a king.
Chanakya then took Chandragupta to conquer Pataliputra, the capital of
Nanda. He assembled an army using the wealth he had acquired through
alchemy (dhatuvada-visaradan). The army suffered a severe defeat,
Chanakya and Chandragupta to flee the battlefield. They
reached a lake while being pursued by an enemy officer.
Chandragupta to jump into the lake, and disguised himself as a
meditating ascetic. When the enemy soldier reached the lake, he asked
the 'ascetic' if he had seen Chandragupta.
Chanakya pointed at the
lake. As the soldier removed his armour to jump into the lake,
Chanakya took his sword and killed him. When Chandragupta came out of
Chanakya asked him, "What went through your mind, when I
disclosed your location to the enemy?" Chandragupta replied that he
trusted his master to make the best decision. This convinced Chanakya
that Chandragupta would remain under his influence even after becoming
the king. On another occasion,
Chanakya similarly escaped the enemy by
chasing away a washerman, and disguising himself as one. Once, he cut
open the belly of a
Brahmin who had just eaten food, and took out the
food to feed a hungry Chandragupta.
Chanakya and Chandragupta overheard a woman scolding her son.
The child had burnt his finger by putting it in the middle of a bowl
of hot gruel. The woman told her son that by not starting from the
cooler edges, he was being foolish like Chanakya, who attacked the
capital before conquering the bordering regions.
Chanakya realized his
mistake, and made a new plan to defeat Nanda. He formed an alliance
with Parvataka, the king of a mountain kingdom called Himavatkuta,
offering him half of Nanda's kingdom.
After securing Parvataka's help,
Chanakya and Chandragupta started
sieging the towns other than Pataliputra. One particular town offered
a strong resistance.
Chanakya entered this town disguised as a
Shaivite mendicant, and declared that the siege would end if the idols
of the seven mothers were removed from the town's temple. As soon as
the superstitious defenders removed the idols from the temple,
Chanakya ordered his army to end the siege. When the defenders started
celebrating their victory, Chanakya's army launched a surprise attack
and captured the town.
Chanakya and Chandragupta subdued all the regions outside
the capital. Finally, they captured
Pataliputra and Chandragupta
became the king. They allowed the king Nanda to go into exile, with
all the goods he could take on a cart. As Nanda and his family were
leaving the city on a cart, his daughter saw Chandragupta, and fell in
love with the new king. She chose him as her husband by svayamvara
tradition. As she was getting off the cart, 9 spokes of the cart's
wheel broke. Interpreting this as an omen,
Chanakya declared that
Chandragupta's dynasty would last for 9 generations.
Meanwhile, Parvataka fell in love with one of Nanda's visha kanyas
Chanakya approved the marriage, and Parvataka collapsed
when he touched the girl during the wedding.
Chandragupta not to call a physician. Thus, Parvataka died and
Chandragupta became the sole ruler of Nanda's territories.
Chanakya then started consolidating the power by eliminating Nanda's
loyalists, who had been harassing people in various parts of the
Chanakya learned about a weaver who would burn any part of
his house infested with cockroaches.
Chanakya assigned the
responsibility of crushing the rebels to this weaver. Soon, the
kingdom was free of insurgents.
Chanakya also burned a village that
had refused him food in the past. He filled the royal treasury by
inviting rich merchants to his home, getting them drunk and gambling
with a loaded dice.
Once, the kingdom suffered a 12-year long famine. Two young Jain monks
started eating from the king's plate, after making themselves
invisible with a magic ointment.
Chanakya sensed their presence by
covering the palace floor with a powder, and tracing their footprints.
At the next meal, he caught them by filling the dining room with thick
smoke, which caused the monks' eyes to water, washing off the
Chanakya complained about the young monks behavior to the
head monk Acharya Susthita. The Acharya blamed people for not being
charitable towards monks, so
Chanakya started giving generous alms to
Meanwhile, Chandragupta had been patronizing the non-Jain monks.
Chanakya decided to prove to him that these men were not worthy of his
patronage. He covered the floor of the palace area near the women's
rooms with a powder, and left the non-Jain monks there. Their
footprints showed that they had sneaked up to the windows of the
women's rooms to peep inside. The Jain monks, who were assessed using
the same method, stayed away from the women's rooms. After seeing
this, Chandragupta appointed the Jain monks as his spiritual
Chanakya used to mix small doses of poison in Chandragupta's food to
make him immune to poisoning attempts. The king, unaware of this, once
shared his food with Queen Durdhara.
Chanakya entered the room at the
instant she died. He cut open the dead queen's belly and took out the
baby. The baby, who had been touched by a drop ("bindu") of the
poison, was named Bindusara.
After Chandragupta abdicated the throne to become a Jain monk,
Bindusara as the new king.
Bindusara to appoint a man named Subandhu as one of his ministers.
However, Subandhu wanted to become a higher minister and grew jealous
of Chanakya. So, he told
Chanakya was responsible for
the death of his mother.
Bindusara confirmed the allegations with the
nurses, who told him that
Chanakya had cut open the belly of his
mother. An enraged
Bindusara started hating Chanakya. As a result,
Chanakya, who had grown very old by this time, retired and decided to
starve himself to death. Meanwhile,
Bindusara came to know about the
detailed circumstances of his birth, and implored
Chanakya to resume
his ministerial duties. After failing to pacify Chanakya, the emperor
ordered Subandhu to convince
Chanakya to give up his suicide plan.
Subandhu, while pretending to appease Chanakya, burned him to death.
Subandhu then took possession of Chanakya's home.
anticipated this, and before retiring, he had set up a cursed trap for
Subandhu. He had left behind a chest with a hundred locks. Subandhu
broke the locks, hoping to find precious jewels. He found a
sweet-smelling perfume and immediately inhaled it. But then his eyes
fell on a birch bark note with a curse written on it. The note
declared that anybody who smelled this perfume will have to either
become a monk or face death. Subandhu tested the perfume on another
man, and then fed him luxurious food (something that the monks abstain
from). The man died, and then Subandhu was forced to become a monk to
According to another Jain text – the Rajavali-Katha – Chanakya
accompanied Chandragupta to forest for retirement, once Bindusara
became the king.
Kathasaritsagara by Somadeva are
two 11th century Kashmiri Sanskrit collections of legends. Both are
based on a now-lost Prakrit-language Brihatkatha-Sarit-Sagara, which
itself is based on the now-lost
Gunadhya. The Chanakya-Chandragupta legend in these collections
actually focuses on another character named Shakatala (IAST:
The Kashmiri version of the legend goes like this: Vararuchi
(identified with Katyayana), Indradatta and Vyadi were three disciples
of the sage Varsha. Once, on behalf of their guru Varsha, they
Ayodhya to seek a gurudakshina (guru's fee) from king
Nanda. As they arrived to meet Nanda, the king died. Using his yogic
powers, Indradatta entered Nanda's body, and granted Vararuchi's
request for 10 million dinars (gold coins). The royal minister
Shakatala realized what was happening, and had Indradatta's body
burnt. But before he could take any action against the fake king
(Indradatta in Nanda's body, also called Yogananda), the king had him
arrested. Shakatala and his 100 sons were imprisoned, and were given
food sufficient only for one person. Shakatala's 100 sons starved to
death, so that their father could live to take revenge.
Meanwhile, the fake king appointed Vararuchi as his minister. As the
king's character kept deteriorating, a disgusted Vararuchi retired to
a forest as an ascetic. Shakatala was then restored as the minister,
but kept planning his revenge. One day, Shakatala came across
Brahmin who was uprooting all the grass in his path,
because one blade of the grass had pricked his foot. Shakatala
realized that he could use a man so vengeful to destroy the fake king.
Chanakya to the king's assembly, promising him 100,000 gold
coins for presiding over a ritual ceremony.
Chanakya in his own house, and treated him with great
respect. But the day
Chanakya arrived at the king's court, Shakatala
Brahmin named Subandhu to preside over the ceremony.
Chanakya felt insulted, but Shakatala blamed the king for this
Chanakya then untied his topknot (sikha), and vowed not to
re-tie it until the king was destroyed. The king ordered his arrest,
but he escaped to Shakatala's house. There, using materials supplied
by Shakatala, he performed a magic ritual which made the king sick.
The king died of fever after 7 days.
Shakatala then executed Hiranyagupta, the son of the fake king. He
anointed Chandragupta, the son of the real king Nanda, as the new king
(in Kshemendra's version, it is
Chanakya who installs Chandragupta as
the new king). Shakatala also appointed
Chanakya as the royal priest
(purohita). Having achieved his revenge, he then retired to the forest
as an ascetic.
Mudrarakshasa ("The signet ring of Rakshasa") is a Sanskrit play by
Vishakhadatta. Its date is uncertain, but it anachronistically
mentions the Hunas, who invaded northern India during the Gupta
period. Therefore, it could not have been composed before the Gupta
era. It is dated variously from the late 4th century to the
8th century. The
Mudrarakshasa legend contains narratives not
found in other versions of the Chanakya-Chandragupta legend.
Therefore, most of it appears to be pure fiction, without any
According to this version, the king Nanda once removed
the "first seat of the kingdom" (this possibly refers to Chanakya's
expulsion from the king's assembly). For this reason,
not to tie his top knot (shikha) until the complete destruction of
Chanakya made a plan to dethrone Nanda, and replace him with
Chandragupta, his son by a lesser queen.
Chandragupta's alliance with another powerful king Parvateshvara (or
Parvata), and the two rulers agreed to divide Nanda's territory after
subjugating him. Their allied army included Bahlika, Kirata, Parasika,
Kamboja, Shaka, and
Yavana soldiers. The army invaded Pataliputra
(Kusumapura) and defeated the Nandas. Parvata is identified with
King Porus by some scholars.
Nanda's prime minister Rakshasa escaped Pataliputra, and continued
resisting the invaders. He sent a vishakanya (poison girl) to
Chanakya had this girl assassinate Parvata
instead, with the blame going to Rakshasa. However, Parvata's son
Malayaketu learned the truth about his father's death, and defected to
Rakshasa's camp. Chanakya's spy Bhagurayana accompanied Malayaketu,
pretending to be his friend.
Rakshasa continued to plot Chandragupta's death, but all his plans
were foiled by Chanakya. For example, once Rakshasa arranged for
assassins to be transported to Chandragupta's bedroom via an
Chanakya became aware of them by noticing a trail
of ants carrying the leftovers of their food. He then arranged for the
assassins to be burned to death.
Meanwhile, Parvata's brother Vairodhaka became the ruler of his
Chanakya convinced him that Rakshasa was responsible for
killing his brother, and agreed to share half of Nanda's kingdom with
him. Secretly, however,
Chanakya hatched a plan to get Vairodhaka
killed. He knew that the chief architect of
Pataliputra was a Rakshasa
loyalist. He asked this architect to build a triumphal arch for
Chandragupta's procession to the royal palace. He arranged the
procession to be held at midnight citing astrological reasons, but
actually to ensure poor visibility. He then invited Vairodhaka to lead
the procession on Chandragupta's elephant, and accompanied by
Chandragupta's bodyguards. As expected, Rakshasa's loyalists arranged
for the arch to fall on who they thought was Chandragupta. Vairodhaka
was killed, and once again, the assassination was blamed on
Malayaketu and Rakshasa then formed an alliance with five kings:
Chiravarman of Kauluta (Kulu), Meghaksha of Parasika, Narasimha of
Malaya, Pushkaraksha of Kashmira, and Sindhusena of Saindhava. This
allied army also included soldiers from Chedi, Gandhara, Hunas, Khasa,
Magadha, Shaka, and
In Pataliputra, Chanakya's agent informed him that three Rakshasa
loyalists remained in the capital: the Jain monk Jiva-siddhi, the
scribe Shakata-dasa and the jewelers' guild chief Chandana-dasa. Of
these, Jiva-siddhi was actually a spy of Chanakya, unknown to his
other spies. Chandana-dasa sheltered Rakshasa's wife, who once
unknowingly dropped her husband's signet-ring (mudra). Chanakya's
agent got hold of this signet-ring, and brought it to Chanakya. Using
this signet ring,
Chanakya sent a letter to Malayaketu warning him
that his allies were treacherous.
Chanakya also asked some of
Chandragupta's princes to fake defection to Malayaketu's camp. In
Chanakya ordered Shakata-dasa's murder, but had him
'rescued' by Siddharthaka, a spy pretending to be an agent of
Chandana-dasa. Chanakya's spy then took Shakata-dasa to Rakshasa.
When Shakata-dasa and his 'rescuer' Siddharthaka reached Rakshasa,
Siddharthaka presented him the signet-ring, claiming to have found it
at Chandana-dasa's home. As a reward, Rakshasa gave him some jewels
that Malayaketu had gifted him. Sometime after this, another of
Chanakya's agents, disguised as a jeweler, sold Parvata's jewels to
Sometime later, Rakshasa sent his spies disguised as musicians to
Chandragupta's court. But
Chanakya knew all about Rakshasa's plans
thanks to his spies. In front of Rakshasa's spies,
Chandragupta feigned an angry argument. Chandragupta pretended to
dismiss Chanakya, and declared that Rakshasa would make a better
minister. Meanwhile, Malayaketu had a conversation with Chanakya's spy
Bhagurayana while approaching Rakshasa's house. Bhagurayana made
Malayaketu distrustful of Rakshasa, by saying that Rakshasa hated only
Chanakya, and would be willing to serve Nanda's son Chandragupta.
Shortly after this, a messenger came to Rakshasa's house, and informed
him that Chandragupta had dismissed
Chanakya while praising him. This
convinced Malayaketu that Rakashasa could not be trusted.
Malayaketu then decided to invade
Pataliputra without Rakshasa by his
side. He consulted the Jain monk Jiva-siddhi to decide an auspicious
time for beginning the march. Jiva-siddhi, a spy of Chanakya, told him
that he could start immediately. Jiva-siddhi also convinced him
that Rakshasa was responsible for his father's death, but Bhagurayana
persuaded him not to harm Rakshasa. Shortly after, Chanakya's spy
Siddharthaka pretended to get caught with a fake letter addressed to
Chandragupta by Rakshasa. Wearing the jewels given by Rakshasa, he
pretended to be an agent of Rakshasa. The letter, sealed with
Rakshasa's signet-ring, informed Chandragupta that Rakshasa only
wished to replace
Chanakya as the prime minister. It also stated that
five of Malayaketu's allies were willing to defect to Chandragupta in
return for land and wealth. An angry Malayaketu summoned Rakshasa, who
arrived wearing Parvata's jewels that Chanakya's agent had sold him.
When Malayaketu saw Rakshasa wearing his father's jewels, he was
convinced that there was indeed a treacherous plan against him. He
executed his five allies in a brutal manner.
The rest of Malayaketu's allies deserted him, disgusted at his
treatment of the five slayed allies. Rakshasa managed to escape,
tracked by Chanakya's spies. One of Chanakya's spies, disguised as a
friend of Chandana-dasa, got in touch with him. He told Rakshasa that
Chandana-dasa was about to be executed for refusing to divulge the
location of Rakshasa's family. On hearing this, Rakshasa rushed to
Pataliputra to surrender and save the life of his loyal friend
Chandana-dasa. When he reached Pataliputra, Chanakya, pleased with his
loyalty to Chandana-dasa, offered him clemency. Rakshasa pledged
allegiance to Chandragupta and agreed to be his prime minister, in
return for release of Chandana-dasa and a pardon for Malayaketu.
Chanakya then bound his top knot, having achieved his objective, and
Two books are attributed to Chanakya:
also known as
Chanakya Neeti-shastra. The
discovered in 1905 by librarian Rudrapatna Shamasastry in an
uncatalogued group of ancient palm-leaf manuscripts donated by an
unknown pandit to the Oriental Research Institute Mysore.
Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare,
international relations, and war strategies in detail. The text also
outlines the duties of a ruler.[unreliable source?] Some scholars
Arthashastra is actually a compilation of a number of
earlier texts written by various authors, and
Chanakya might have been
one of these authors (see above).
Chanakya Niti is a collection of aphorisms, said to be selected by
Chanakya from the various shastras.
Arthashastra is serious manual on statecraft, on how to run a state,
informed by a higher purpose, clear and precise in its prescriptions,
the result of practical experience of running a state. It is not just
a normative text but a realist description of the art of running a
- Shiv Shankar Menon, National Security Advisor
Chanakya is regarded as a great thinker and diplomat in India. Many
Indian nationalists regard him as one of the earliest people who
envisaged the united India spanning the entire subcontinent. India's
former National Security Advisor
Shiv Shankar Menon
Shiv Shankar Menon praised Chanakya's
Arthashastra for its clear and precise rules which apply even today.
Furthermore, he recommended reading of the book for broadening the
vision on strategic issues.
The diplomatic enclave in New Delhi is named
Chanakyapuri in honour of
Chanakya. Institutes named after him include Training Ship Chanakya,
Chanakya National Law University
Chanakya National Law University and
Chanakya Institute of Public
Chanakya circle in
Mysore has been named after him.
Several modern adaptations of the legend of
Chanakya narrate his story
in a semi-fictional form, extending these legends. In Chandragupta
(1911), a play by Dwijendralal Ray, the Nanda king exiles his
half-brother Chandragupta, who joins the army of Alexander the Great.
Later, with help from
Chanakya and Katyayan (the former Prime Minister
of Magadha), Chandragupta defeats Nanda, who is put to death by
Film and television
The story of
Chanakya and Chandragupta was portrayed in the 1977
Telugu film entitled
Chanakya Chandragupta. Akkineni Nageswara Rao
played the role of Chanakya, while
N. T. Rama Rao
N. T. Rama Rao portrayed as
The 1991 TV series
Chanakya is an archetypal account of the life and
times of Chanakya, based on the Mudrarakshasa.
Chandragupta Maurya, a 2011 TV series on
NDTV Imagine is a
biographical series on the life of
Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya,
and is produced by Sagar Arts.
Colors TV drama, Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, features
Chanakya during the reign of Chandragupta's son, Bindusara.
Books and academia
An English-language book titled
Chanakya on Management contains 216
sutras on raja-neeti, each of which has been translated and commented
A book written by
Ratan Lal Basu and Rajkumar Sen deals with the
economic concepts mentioned in
Arthashastra and their relevance for
the modern world.
Chanakya (2001) by B. K. Chaturvedi
In 2009, many eminent experts discussed the various aspects of
Kauṭilya's thought in an International Conference held at the
Oriental Research Institute in
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
Chanakya's Chant by
Ashwin Sanghi is a fictional account of Chanakya's
life as a political strategist in ancient India. The novel relates two
parallel stories, 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 Prime Minister of India.
The Emperor's Riddles
The Emperor's Riddles by Satyarth Nayak features popular episodes from
Kauṭilya's role in the formation of the
Maurya Empire is the essence
of a historical/spiritual novel Courtesan and the Sadhu by
Chanakya's contribution to the cultural heritage of Bharat (in
Shatavadhani Ganesh with the title Bharatada Samskrutige
Pavan Choudary. Chanakya's Political Wisdom. Wisdom Village
Publications Division. ISBN 978-81-906555-0-7. , a political
commentary on Chanakya
Sihag, Balbir Singh (2014), Kautilya: The True Founder of Economics,
Vitasta Publishing Pvt.Ltd, ISBN 81-925354-9-5
^ William H. Mott (1999). Military Assistance: An Operational
Perspective. Greenwood. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-313-30729-4.
^ a b Mabbett, I. W. (1964). "The Date of the Arthaśāstra". Journal
of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 84 (2):
162–169. doi:10.2307/597102. ISSN 0003-0279.
^ L. K. Jha, K. N. Jha (1998). "Chanakya: the pioneer economist of the
world", International Journal of Social Economics 25 (2–4), p.
^ a b Waldauer, C., Zahka, W.J. and Pal, S. 1996. Kauṭilya's
Arthashastra: A neglected precursor to classical economics. Indian
Economic Review, Vol. XXXI, No. 1, pp. 101–108.
^ Tisdell, C. 2003. A Western perspective of Kauṭilya's
Arthashastra: does it provide a basis for economic science? Economic
Theory, Applications and Issues Working Paper No. 18. Brisbane: School
of Economics, The University of Queensland.
^ Sihag, B.S. 2007. Kauṭilya on institutions, governance, knowledge,
ethics and prosperity. Humanomics 23 (1): 5–28.
^ a b Namita Sanjay Sugandhi (2008). Between the Patterns of History:
Rethinking Mauryan Imperial Interaction in the Southern Deccan.
ProQuest. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-549-74441-2. Retrieved
^ Trautmann 1971:5 "the very last verse of the work ... is the
unique instance of the personal name Vishnugupta rather than the gotra
name Kautilya in the Arthashastra.
^ Trautmann 1971:10 "while in his character as author of an
Arthashastra he is generally referred to by his gotra name, Kautilya."
^ Mabbett 1964: "References to the work in other Sanskrit literature
attribute it variously to Vishnugupta,
Chanakya and Kautilya. The same
individual is meant in each case. The
Chanakya with Vishnugupta."
^ Trautmann 1971:67 'T. Burrow ("Cāṇakya and Kauṭalya", Annals of
the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 48–49 1968, p. 17 ff.)
has now shown that Cāṇakya is also a gotra name, which in
conjunction with other evidence makes it clear that we are dealing
with two distinct persons, the minister Cāṇakya of legend and
Kauṭilya the compiler of the Arthashastra. Furthermore, this throws
the balance of evidence in favor of the view that the second name was
originally spelt Kauṭalya, and that after the compiler of the Arth
came to be identified with the Mauryan minister, it was altered to
Kauṭilya (as it appears in Āryaśūra, Viśākhadatta and Bāna)
for the sake of the pun. We must then assume that the later spelling
subsequently replaced the earlier in the gotra lists and elsewhere.'
^ Mookerji 1988, p. 39.
^ Modelski, George (1964). "Kautilya: Foreign Policy and International
System in the Ancient Hindu World". American Political Science Review.
Cambridge University Press. 58 (03): 549–560. doi:10.2307/1953131.
ISSN 0003-0554. ; Quote: "Kautilya is believed to have been
Brahmin who served as Chief Minister to Chandragupta
(321–296 B.C.), the founder of the Mauryan Empire."
^ Thomas R. Trautmann (2012). Arthashastra: The Science of Wealth.
Penguin. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-670-08527-9. , Quote:
"We can confirm from other texts that Kautilya (or Kautalya - the name
varies) is a
Brahmin gotra name. (...) This Kautilya, author of
Arthashastra, is identified with Chanakya, minister to the first
Mauryan king, Chandragupta, and depicted in stories as the brains
behind Chandragupta's takeover of the empire of the Nandas in about
321 BCE. The adventures of
Chanakya and Chandragupta are told in a
cycle of tales preserved in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain books."
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 11.
^ Trautmann 1971, p. 16.
^ Trautmann 1971, pp. 18.
^ Trautmann 1971, p. 12.
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 13.
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 14.
^ a b Trautmann 1971, p. 15.
^ Trautmann 1971, p. 28.
Upinder Singh 2016, p. 331.
^ a b c d Trautmann 1971, p. 21.
^ a b Trautmann 1971, p. 29.
^ Kallidaikurichi Aiyah Nilakanta Sastri (1988). Age of the Nandas and
Motilal Banarsidass Publishe. p. 148.
^ Trautmann 1971, p. 22.
^ a b c d Trautmann 1971, p. 23.
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 24.
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 25.
Motilal Banarsidass (1993). "The Minister Cāṇakya, from the
Pariśiṣtaparvan of Hemacandra". In Phyllis Granoff. The Clever
Adulteress and Other Stories: A Treasury of Jaina Literature.
Translated by Rosalind Lefeber. pp. 204–206.
Hemachandra (1891). Sthavir̂aval̂i charita, or, Pariśishtaparvan.
Translated by Hermann Jacobi. Calcutta: Asiatic Society.
^ Rice 1889, p. 9.
^ Trautmann 1971, p. 31–33.
^ a b Trautmann 1971, p. 31.
^ a b Trautmann 1971, p. 32.
^ Trautmann 1971, pp. 41–43.
^ Varadpande 2005, p. 223.
Upinder Singh 2016, p. 30.
^ Trautmann 1971, p. 43.
^ Trautmann 1971, pp. 36–37.
^ Varadpande 2005, pp. 227–230.
^ a b Trautmann 1971, p. 37.
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 38.
^ a b c Trautmann 1971, p. 39.
^ a b Trautmann 1971, p. 40.
^ a b Sri
Chanakya Niti-shastra; the Political Ethics of Chanakya
Pandit Hardcover. Translated by Miles Davis and V. Badarayana Murthy.
Ram Kumar Press. 1981. Archived from the original on 16 July 2014.
Retrieved 15 August 2014.
^ Srinivasaraju, Sugata (27 July 2009). "Year Of The Guru". Outlook
India. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
^ Paul Halsall. Indian History Sourcebook: Kautilya: from the
Arthashastra c. 250 BC Retrieved 19 June 2012
^ a b "India needs to develop its own doctrine for strategic autonomy:
NSA". Economic Times. NEW DELHI. PTI. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 18
^ Yelegaonkar, Dr Shrikant. Chanakya's Views on Administration.
Lulu.com. p. 8. ISBN 9781329082809.
^ Ray, Dwijendralal (1969). "Bhumika: Aitihasikata" [Preface: Historic
References]. In Bandyopadhyay, Sukumar. Dwijendralaler Chandragupta
[Chandragupta by Dwindralal] (in Bengali) (4th ed.). Kolkata: Modern
Book Agency. pp. Preface–10–14.
Chanakya Chandragupta (1977), retrieved 2017-05-24
Ratan Lal Basu & Rajkumar Sen: Ancient Indian Economic Thought,
Relevance for Today, ISBN 81-316-0125-0, Rawat Publications, New
^ B. K. Chaturvedi (2001). Chanakya. Diamond Pocket Books.
ISBN 978-81-7182-143-3. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
^ Raj Kumar Sen &
Ratan Lal Basu (eds): Economics in Arthashastra,
ISBN 81-7629-819-0, Deep& Deep Publications Pvt. Ltd., New
^ Srinivasaraju, Sugata (27 July 2009). "Year of the Guru". Outlook
India. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 8
^ The Courtesan and the Sadhu, A Novel about Maya, Dharma, and God,
Dharma Vision, ISBN 978-0-9818237-0-6, Library of
Congress Control Number: 2008934274
^ "Bharatiya Samskrutige Chanakyana Kodugegalu Part 1 –
Shatavadhani Dr.R.Ganesh — Spiritual Bangalore".
spiritualbangalore.com. Archived from the original on 2 March
Mookerji, Radha Kumud (1988) [first published in 1966], Chandragupta
Maurya and his times (4th ed.), Motilal Banarsidass,
Rice, B. Lewis (1889), Epigraphia Carnatica, II: Inscriptions and
Sravana Belgola, Bangalore:
Mysore Government Central Press
Singh, Upinder (2016), A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India:
From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Education,
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statistical investigation of the authorship and evolution of the text,
Varadpande, Manohar Laxman (2005), History Of Indian Theatre, Abhinav,
Chanakya in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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