Great Personalities » Chanakya



Chanakya, who is also referred to as Vishnugupta or Kautilya was a widely known scholar and statesman from ancient India. Without the feats and wisdom of Chanakya, history appears virtually incomplete. As per historical records, Chanakya lived during between 350 and 283 B.C.

Apart from being an efficient and outstanding Prime Minister, he was also an excellent adviser to the Emperor, Chandragupta Maurya. He also attended and was a senior most professor in the University of Takshasila. He was a master in the fields of economics, commerce, warfare, general administration, and politics. Chanakya also penned a few classics that included Neetishastra, Chanakya Neeti, and the most famous of them all, the Arthashastra. This served as a ready reckoner for bureaucrats, economists, and politicians.

Interesting facts about Chanakya

1. Chanakya was born into a Brahmin family. Acharya Chanak, his father, was a teacher, from whom the name Chanakya is derived. Likewise, he is called Kautilya from his gotra’s name Kotil. His father was Canin (or Chanak) and his mother was Canesvari. His name was derived from the name of his father.

2. His birthplace is a subject of controversy. Some believed that he was born in Taxila, while some books claim that he was born in South India.

3. Chanakya was born with a tooth in his mouth. It is said that during the time of his birth, a monk asking for alms had arrived at his house. The monk, hearing that the baby was born with a tooth in his mouth, said that the baby would become a famous King. His father immediately removed the baby’s tooth. Upon which the monk predicted that the baby will now become a Kingmaker.

4. Chanakya got his education from the ancient university Takshashila. A teaching profession followed the completion of his education. As Chanakya had a keen interest in political studies, he decided to proceed to Pataliputra. It was evident that he would grow to become one of the best politicians and an excellent strategist. Chanakya was also very wise and he would come up with brilliant solutions for most problems. He even acquired the knowledge of medicine and astronomy.

5. Dhanananda was the ruler of Pataliputra. Kautilya was the president of the trust that managed the Royal charity. It is said that Dhanananda accused Kautilya for no reasons. As a result, Chanakya was greatly hurt and he felt that the insult needed retribution. He swore to dethrone the King Dhanananda at the earliest.

6. He then began his search who would over throw the Dhanananda dynasty. Chanakya understood that Magdha was in vulnerable state under the leadership of Dhanananda. He finally ran into Chandragupta Maurya and that ended his search for a true, honest and powerful and true leader. Chandragupta was a young boy (about 12-13 years old, when Chanakya first met him. Chanakya taught him about ruling and warfare. Later they ended the Nanda dynasty and established Maurya Dynasty.

7. Chandragupta became the first king of Maurya Dynasty and Chandragupta became his prime minister. Chandragupta ruled the first biggest Indian empire while the mastermind behind the administration was Chanakya. Under the guidance of Chanakya, Maurya Empire became the largest empire of that time.

8. He was not of royal blood, nor was he good looking or handsome. This made it difficult for him to find a bride. After a few years, he went on to marry a poor girl by the name of Yashomati.

9. According to history books, it is believed that Chanakya gave tiny amounts of poison to the young emperor, during every meal. Chanakya felt that this was to make Chandragupta immune against the poisonous attacks of enemies. One day, it so happened that Chandragupta shared his food with his queen Durdha who was about nine months pregnant and was expecting her child anytime. Although the queen Durdha died due to the poison, Chanakya saved the baby by, who was later named as Bindusara by cutting the belly of the queen.

10. When Bindusara grew up, he was given the throne by Chandragupta while Chanakya remained as the Administrator.

11. Subandhu, a political rival and a minister in Bindusara’s court told Bindusara that it was Chanakya was who was responsible for his mother’s death. Upon hearing this, Bindusara flew into a rage. Hearing about the King’s anger, which he felt was unjust, he decided to leave the court for good. He then distributed his entire wealth to the poor and realized that it was time to die.

12. However, Bindusara realized from the royal nurses, what had really happened, he pleaded for forgiveness from Chanakya. However, Chanakya stood steadfast by his decision. Bindusara felt miserable and had his minister, Subandhu, killed. Chanakya withdrew himself from drinking water or eating food, and within a few days, he passed away. This was the end of a powerful era that was blended with excellent political and general administration, innovative strategies, and brilliant warfare tactics.

Chanakya is the author of Arthashastra and Chanakya Neeti. The book, Chanakya Neeti, is a collection of aphorisms. The Arthashastra dwells on the subject of Economics and Politics and it served as a guideline for future kings and emperors. His works in terms of economy and management are relevant even today.

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