Chanakya / Kautilya (c.350-283 B.C.))

He was an adviser and a prime minister to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta and architect of his rise to power. His other names are Chanakya and Vishnugupta. Some scholars consider Chanakya to be “the pioneer economist of the world”. He is known as “The Indian Machiavelli” in the Western world. Chanakya was a professor at Takshashila University and is widely believed to be responsible for the creation of Mauryan empire, the first of its kind on the Indian subcontinent.

The Nanda King throws Chānakya out of his court, prompting Chānakya to swear revenge. Chānakya searches for one worthy for him to rule through. Chānakya encounters a young Chandragupta Maurya who is a born leader even as a child. Chānakya enlists the services of a fanatical weaver to rid the kingdom of rebels. Under Kautilya’s guidance, Chandragupta consolidated his dynasty, defeated Seleucos Nicator’s attempt to claim the heritage of Alexander ‘the Great’ in India, and expanded his empire.

The central idea of Kautilya’s doctrine was the prosperity of king and country and the king’s struggle for victory against his rival neighbouring states. The king had to try to defeat one after another of his enemies. Kautilya identified seven factors of power, which affected his ability to do so. These factors were first, the qualities of the king, then of his ministers, his provinces, his city, his treasure, his army, and his allies. The aim of the Arthasastra was to instruct the king on how to improve the qualities of these factors and undermine those of his enemies. He provided detailed instruction for spies and agents and showed great understanding of the weakness of human nature, earning himself comparison with Machiavelli.

Somehow, Chanakya came to know that there was a chance of foreign invasion. Europe’s great warrior Salukes was readying his armies to attack the weakened republics of India. There were grave designs threatening the unity and integrity of the nation. In such a scenario the ruler of Patliputra, Mahanand was squeezing the common man of his wealth with an object of enriching his own exchequer. Chanakya was aware of the internal and external threats of the country. On the one hand, the rulers of the neighboring countries were looking for the slightest of chance to annex the prosperous regions of the country and on the other hand, foreign invaders started moving towards the country with an expectation of easily smothering the country. These thoughts gave Chanakya sleepless nights. He envisioned his country clutched in the chains of slavery and defeated because of internal squabbles and differences. So he decided on the historical day, thus saying,

“Now the time has come to leave the university. The scrupulous rulers of the country must be uprooted and there is a need to strengthen the country politically and economically. My first and foremost duty is to save the country of the foreign invaders and salvage this dangerous proposition.”

A Collection By Chetan

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