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The Mauryan empire (321 to 185 BCE), at its largest extent around 230 BCEIt should be possible to replace this fair use image with a freely licensed one. If you can, please do so as soon as is practical.
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The court of Chandragupta Maurya, especially Chanakya, played an important part in the foundation and governance of the Maurya dynasty
DVD cover of the popular eight-part series based on the Chanakya

Cāṇakya (Sanskrit: चाणक्य) (c. 350-283 BC) was adviser and prime minister<ref>Template:Cite journal "Kautilya [is] sometimes called a chancellor or prime minister to Chandragupta, something like a Bismarck…"</ref> to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340-293 BC), and architect of his rise to power.

Kautilya and Viṣṇugupta, the names by which the proto-Machiavellian political treatise Arthaśāstra identifies its author, are traditionally identified with Cāṇakya.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

In The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru called Cāṇakya the Indian Machiavelli.


[edit] Identity

He is generally called Chanakya<ref>Trautmann, Thomas R. (1971). Kautilya and the Arthaśāstra: A Statistical Investigation of the Authorship and Evolution of the Text. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 10.</ref> but, in his capacity as author of the Arthaśāstra, is generally referred to as Kautilya.<ref>Trautmann 1971:10 "while in his character as author of an arthaśāstra he is generally referred to by his gotra name, Kautilya."</ref>

The Arthaśāstra identifies its author by the name Kautilya,<ref>Mabbett 1964</ref> except for one verse which refers to him by the name Viṣṇugupta.<ref>Mabbett 1964
Trautmann 1971:5 "the very last verse of the the unique instance of the personal name Viṣṇugupta rather than the gotra name Kautilya in the Arthaśāstra.</ref>

K.C. Ojha puts forward the view that the traditional identification of Viṣṇugupta with Kautilya was caused by a confusion of editor and originator and suggests that Viṣṇugupta is in fact a redactor of the original work of Kautilya.<ref>Mabbett 1964</ref>

Thomas Burrow goes even further and says that Cāṇakya and Kautilya are actually two different people.<ref>Trautmann 1971:67 'T. Burrow ("Cāṇakya and Kautalya", 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 Kautilya the compiler of the Arthaśāstra. Furthermore, this throws the balance of evidence in favor of the view that the second name was originally spelt Kautalya and that after the compiler of the Arth. came to be identified with the Mauryan minister it was altered to Kautilya (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.'</ref>

[edit] Legend

Thomas R. Trautmann lists the following elements as common to different forms of the Cāṇakya legend:

  • Chanakya is born with a complete set of teeth, a sign that he would become king, which is inappropriate for a Brahmin like Chanakya. Cāṇakya's teeth are therefore broken and it is prophesied that he will rule through another.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • The Nanda King throws Cāṇakya out of his court, prompting Cāṇakya to swear revenge.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • Cāṇakya searches for one worthy for him to rule through. Cāṇakya encounters a young Candragupta Maurya who is a born leader even as a child.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • Cāṇakya's initial attempt to overthrow Nanda fails, whereupon he comes across a mother scolding her child for burning himself by eating from the middle of a bun or bowl of porridge rather than the cooler edge. Cāṇakya realizes his initial strategic error and, instead of attacking the heart of Nanda territory, slowly chips away at its edges.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • Cāṇakya betrays his ally the mountain king Parvata.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • Cāṇakya enlists the services of a fanatical weaver to rid the kingdom of rebels.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • Cāṇakya adds poison to the food eaten by Candragupta, now king, in order to make him immune. Unaware, Candragupta feeds some of his food to his queen, who is in her ninth month of pregnancy. In order to save the heir to the throne, Cāṇakya cuts the queen open and extracts the foetus who is named Bindusāra because he was touched by a drop (bindu) of blood or of poison.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>
  • Cāṇakya's political rivalry with Subandhu leads to his death.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>

[edit] Jain version

According to Jaina accounts<ref>From the Pariśiṣṭa Parvan by Hemacandra</ref> Cāṇakya was born in the village of Caṇaka in the Golla district to Caṇin and Caṇeśvarī, a Jain Brahmin couple.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>

[edit] Death of Chanakya

Chanakya lived to ripe old age and died around 283 BC and was cremated by his grandson/disciple Radhagupta who succeeded Rakshasa Katyayan (great-grand son of Prabuddha Katyayan, who attained Nirvana during the same period as Gautam Budhha ) as Prime Minister of the Maurya Empire and was instrumental in backing Ashoka to the throne. There were three non-traditional belief paths in society those days, Jaina, Buddhist and Ajivaka. Ajivaka practising Chankaya brought about downfall of Jaina Nandas and their coterie of Jaina ministers. (Chanakya 's uncle was Jain too and a group of Jains backed Chanakya in his political machinations). Later on, Chandragupta Maurya took Jainism on abdicating throne which passed to his Son Bindusara who was an Ajivaka. Even Ashoka was practising Ajivaka who before accession to throne became Buddhist. Bindusara was born before his father ever became Emperor so below legend is definitely not true. Ashoka's daughter was married in 265 BC and his son Kunala was 18 years of age in 269 BC which means that even if the princes married early, Ashoka was born 310 BC and Bindusara around 330 BC. Bindusara means one who encompasses all that is need to be known.[verification needed]

Later on, Ajivikism which was the official religion of of the empire since the Kalinga War (261 BC) for 14 years afterwards, declined and merged into traditional Hinduism. What has been left are mish mash of contradictory Buddhist and Jaina legends which are even rejected by Sinhalese chronicles.

According to a legend which is later jaina invention, while Chanakya served as the Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya, he started adding small amounts of poison in Chandragupta's food so that he would get used to it. The aim of this was to prevent the Emperor from being poisoned by enemies. One day the queen, Durdha, shared the food with the Emperor while she was pregnant. Since she was not used to eating poisoned food, she died. Chanakya decided that the baby should not die; hence he cut open the belly of the queen and took out the baby. A drop (bindu in Sanskrit) of poison had passed to the baby's head, and hence Chanakya named him Bindusara. Bindusara would go on to become a great king and to father the greatest Mauryan Emperor since Chandragupta - Asoka.

When Bindusara became a youth, Chandragupta gave up the throne and followed the Jain saint Bhadrabahu to present day Karnataka and settled in a place known as Sravana Belagola. He lived as an ascetic for some years and died of voluntary starvation according to Jain tradition.

Chanakya meanwhile stayed as the Prime Minister of Bindusara. Bindusara also had a minister named Subandhu who did not like Chanakya. One day he told Bindusara that Chanakya was responsible for the murder of his mother. Bindusara asked the nurses who confirmed this story and he became very angry with Chanakya.

It is said that Chanakya, on hearing that the Emperor was angry with him, thought that anyway he was at the end of his life. He donated all his wealth to the poor, widows and orphans and sat on a dung heap, prepared to die by total abstinence from food and drink. Bindusara meanwhile heard the full story of his birth from the nurses and rushed to beg forgiveness of Chanakya. But Chanakya would not relent. Bindusara went back and vent his fury on Subandhu, who asked for time to beg for forgiveness from Chanakya.

Subandhu, who still hated Chanakya, wanted to make sure that Chanakya did not return to the city. So he arranged for a ceremony of respect, but unnoticed by anyone, slipped a smoldering charcoal ember inside the dung heap. Aided by the wind, the dung heap swiftly caught fire, and the man behind the Mauryan Empire and the author of Arthashastra was burned to death.

His main philosophy was "A debt should be paid off till the last penny; An enemy should be destroyed without a trace".

[edit] Pali version

Cāṇakka is a Brahmin from Taxila.<ref>Trautmann 1971:"The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā"</ref>

[edit] Other versions

The 9th[verification needed] century AD Sanskrit play by Vishakhadatta, Mudra Rakshasa, is one popular source of Chankaya lore.

Chanakya (also known as Ansul or Anshu or Kautilya or Vishnugupta) was most probably born in a Bhumihar Brahmin family of Magadha (ruled by the Nandas) as the son of acharya Chanak. A South Indian group of Brahmins in Tamil Nadu called Sholiyar or Chozhiyar, claim that Chanakya was one of them. Though this may sound very improbable considering the vast distance between present day Tamilnadu in the south and Magadha in Bihar, it finds curious echos in Parishista-parvan, where Hemachandra claims that Chankya was a Dramila (Dramila, being a very common variant of Dravida).[verification needed]

Kautilya was educated at Taxila.[verification needed] The new states (in present-day Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) by uttarapatha along the base of the Himalayas maintained contact with Takshasilâ and at the eastern end of the uttarapatha was the kingdom of Magadha with its capital city, Pataliputra (now corrupted to Patna). Chanakya's life was connected to these two cities, Pataliputra and Taxila.

In his early years he was tutored extensively in the Vedas - Chanakya memorized them completely at a very early age.[verification needed] He was also taught mathematics, geography and science along with religion.[verification needed] Later he travelled to Taxila, where he became a teacher of politics.[verification needed] Chanakya taught subjects using the best of practical knowledge acquired by the teachers. The age of entering the University was sixteen. The branches of study most sought after around India at that time ranged from law, medicine, warfare and other disciplines. Two of his more famous students were Bhadrabhatt and Purushdutt.[verification needed]

Political turmoil in Western India at that time caused by Greek invasion forced Chanakya to leave the University environment for the city of Pataliputra (presently known as Patna, in the state of Bihar, India), which was ruled by the Nanda king Dhanananda. Although Chanakya initially prospered in his relations with the ruler, being a blunt person he was soon disliked by the Dhanananda. This ended with Chanakya being removed from an official position he enjoyed.

According to the Kashmiri version of his legend, Cāṇakya uproots some grass because it had pricked its foot.<ref>Trautmann 1971:31</ref>

[edit] Works

Silver punch mark coin of the Mauryan empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE.

Three books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra, Nitishastra and Chanakya Niti. The Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. Many of his nitis or policies have been compiled under the book title Chanakya Niti. Nitishastra is a treatise on the ideal way of life, and shows Chanakya's in depth study of the Indian way of life.

[edit] Quotes

[edit] Trivia

  • The diplomatic enclave in New Delhi has been named as Chanakyapuri to honor Chanakya.

[edit] References


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

hu:Kautilja ru:Чанакья sv:Chanakya ur:چانکیہ



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