Chanakya, also known as Kautilya and Vishnu Gupta was an Indian Economist, teacher, master-strategist, and a political thinker was born in 375 BC. He was the architect of Mauryan empire, the largest empire in ancient India.
It is said that he had a very difficult childhood because he was born with a crooked set of teeth, was very dark-skinned, and had crooked legs. In a way, his lack of good looks became the trigger that motivated him to find Chandragupta Maurya and train him to replace King Dhanananda of Magadha (current Uttar Pradesh, part of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, and part of Bangladesh.)
Chanakya is said to have been insulted by King Dhanananda, which led him to making a vow that he would bring him down and replace him with a just and kind king. He found Chandragupta, a precocious pre-teen whom he “bought” from his foster parents. He then prepared him to be the next king. Chandragupta Maurya defeated Dhanananda and established the Mauryan Empire.
Chanakya is credited as the author/compiler of two important texts of ancient India – Arthashastra and Chanakya Niti.
- Arthashastra comprises text related to money, finance, welfare of society, political strategies etc.
- Chanakya Niti is a compilation of wisdom curated by Chanakya.
From Chanakya Niti:
“Education is your best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth.”
“Never reveal what you have thought upon doing, but by wise council keep it secret being determined to carry it into execution.”
Color Image: Cover of Kautilya Arthashastra, translated by R. Shamasastry, Bangalore Government Press 1915
Black and White Drawing: Shafali R. Anand (My visual interpretation of Chanakya – based on the historical description – context: after being insulted by Dhanananda)