Shri Chanakya Neeti Shashtra – Sustainable Strategies for Growth


Vishnu Purana, fourth stanza, twenty-fourth chapter, predicted regarding the appearance of Chanakya Pandit. This prediction was scribed before the destiny of man was to appear on the earth.

A brahmana named Kautilya will slay these Nandas. On their death, the Mauryas will enjoy the earth. Kautilya himself will install Chandragupta on the throne. His son will be Bindusara and his son will be Ashokavardhana.”  Similar prophecies were also repeated in the Bhagavata, Vayu, and Matsya Puranas.

Accordingly, Chanakya was born in 350 BC in Pataliputra, Magadh (modern Bihar), in a poor Brahmin family. His father’s name was Chanak and his mother’s name was Chaneshvari. Later they moved to Taxila, in Gandhar province (now in Pakistan) so that he could study at Takshashila University. He was also known as Vishnugupta and Kautilya.

‘Chanakya was born with a complete set of teeth, a sign that he would become king, which is inappropriate for a Brahmin like Chanakya. Chanakya’s teeth were therefore broken and it was prophesied that he will rule through another.’

Chanakya was said to be ugly, accentuated by his broken teeth and crooked feet. In his childhood days, Chanakya had memorized the Vedas and other scriptures. He had a profound interest in politics from childhood and he knew how to put his own people in the opposite camp and spy on the enemy without his knowledge before destroying him forever. Chanakya was an ace in turning tables in his favor irrespective of the prevalent circumstances.

After completing his education, Chanakya began to work as a teacher in nearby areas of Takshashila, Nalanda. His knowledge and strict values had made him a renowned teacher but it didn’t bring in much inflow of income as he was selective about enrolling the ‘right’ candidate.

Chanakya believed in simple living and purity in every aspect of life. He had a firm belief that “A woman who is beautiful from the body only can keep you happy for one night. While a woman who is beautiful from her soul can keep you happy for a lifetime”. So, he decided to marry a dark-skinned Brahmin girl named Yashodhara. She was not as beautiful and even looked uglier than him. This had made the couple a subject of mockery and fun in society. Her black color also became a reason for not sending their children to his school.

Once when Yashodhara attended a ceremony at her brother’s house with Chanakya, everyone made fun of Chanakya’s poverty and her looks. She was unhappy with the life situation, so she advised him to meet King Dhanananda (from the Nanda dynasty where the robbers turned rulers) and get some money as a gift.

A few months later, king Dhana Nanda organized an alms-giving ceremony for Brahmins. Chanakya went to Pupphapura (Pushpapura) to attend this ceremony. Disgusted by his appearance, the king ordered him to be thrown out of the assembly. Chanakya broke his sacred thread in anger, and took his famous oath,

“I will not tie my tuft of hair until I uproot the whole Nanda dynasty and establish dharma in Magadha.”

Furied by the incident, the king ordered his arrest, but Chanakya escaped in the disguise of an Ājīvika. He befriended King Dhananada’s son Pabbata and instigated him to seize the throne. With help of a signet ring given by the prince, Chanakya fled the palace through a secret door and lived in the nearby forest. There he made 800 million gold coins using his knowledge of alchemy. After hiding the money in the forest, he started searching for a person to replace the current king. There he saw the young Chandragupta playing with his cowherd friends. Chanakya was impressed by his leadership ability and paid his foster father some money and adopted the boy to be the future King of Magadh.

A man of acute discretion, foresight, and enormous knowledge of political feasibility, Chanakya vowed that only a ruler of extraordinary capabilities be raised to the glorious position of King of Magadha so that the odious torture launched by the Nanda dynasty could be repressed.

Chanakya was ready with two weapons to remove Dhanananda’s head. If Chandragupta was among them, the other was Pabbata (King Dhananada’s son). When the time had come to test the future King of Magadh, Chanakya decided to test them.

He gave each of them an amulet made up of wool to be worn around their neck. While Chandragupta was asleep, he asked Pabbata to remove Chandragupta’s woolen thread without breaking it and waking him up. Pabbata failed to accomplish this task. Sometime later, when Pabbata was sleeping, Chanakya challenged Chandragupta to complete the same task. Chandragupta retrieved the woolen thread by cutting off Pabbata’s head. He totally won the heart of Chanakya and for the next seven years, Chanakya trained Chandragupta for the throne of Magadh. When Chandragupta became an adult, Chanakya dug up his hidden treasure of gold coins and formed an army.

Chandragupta formed a small army without thinking much of the consequences and attacked Magadha, the capital of the Nandas. But Chandragupta’s small army was crushed away in front of the huge army of Nandas. Chanakya’s hand burned at the beginning and many were amazed as to how could he make such a foolish decision. Chanakya and Chandragupta began to roam in frustration after the defeat.

While wandering in the hideouts, they overheard a conversation between a poor mother and her son. The child had eaten the cake in the middle and thrown away the edges. The mother scolded the son saying he was eating the food like Chandragupta, attacking the central part instead of conquering the border villages first.

Hearing her statement, they realized their mistake and started fresh. They assembled a new army of all those upset over the corrupt rule of the Nanda dynasty. Also, they accumulated resources necessary for his army to fight a long series of battles. Chanakya created an alliance with learned and powerful rulers fed up with Nanda’s superiority and sexual compulsion towards women and unmarried young girls, princesses, and Brahmin women. These men included the former general of Taxila, accomplished students of Chanakya, the representative of King Porus, his son Malayketu, and the rulers of small states. Within a short span of time, they conquered all the adjoining and border villages and kingdoms and advanced to the capital of the Nanda dynasty – Pataliputra. Chandragupta slew King Dhana Nanda proving Chanakya’s selection to be correct.

Chanakya ordered a fisherman to find the place where Dhana Nanda had hidden his royal treasure ad other valuables. As soon as the fishermen informed Chanakya about its location, Chanakya had him killed to avoid sharing the information.

As stated by the prophecy, Chanakya appointed Chandragupta as the new king and controlled the reins from the back-end. He gave the task of eliminating rebels and robbers from the kingdom to a man named Paṇiyatappa and paid him a massive amount in return.

Finally, Vishnugupta or Chanakya, a man of bravery, resentment, quickness, and dexterity knotted his long sikha knotted when Chandragupta became the King.

Chandragupta Maurya became the first emperor to unify India into one state, creating one of the world’s largest empires in its time, and the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent.

The contribution made by Shri Vishnugupta in the field of political science and economics portrayed him as one of the greatest figures of wisdom and knowledge in Indian history. Arthashastra, Chanakyanithi, Neetishastra were pioneered by Kautilya Vishnugupta that serve as a testimony of his greatness. Acharya Chanakya’s Arthashastra deals with various subjects including public welfare, fiscal and monetary policies, war strategies, alliance making, and international relations. While the ‘Neeti Shastra’ is regarded as the collection of 455 aphorisms that were collected by him from the existing shastras.

Let us read an interesting verse from the science of Kautilya’s neethi.

“Man’s glory is in common sense,

Dictating us the grace,

That man is made to live and love

The beauteous Heaven’s embrace”

The real goal of Kautilya Neeti is to realize one’s eternal position of Krishna consciousness. Kautilya Neeti is for everyone, and anyone can read it be a student or a teacher. This book contains all the answer which leads you to success and contentment. 

The Footprints of Chandragupta Maurya on Chandragiri Hill, where Chandragupta (the unifier of India and founder of the Maurya Dynasty) performed Sallekhana.

Chanakya Nithi is an in-depth study of the way of life. The work was rediscovered in 1951. This 17 chapter book portrays his ideologies and ideas in diverse situations, which are pertinent even to today’s times. It comprises Neeti Sutras in Sanskrit, which is in concise form but is very impressive.

The book is more about Arthashastra, the ancient thesis about Indian Politics. The book focuses on Chanakya’s detailed theories in a simple style. He wrote his discoveries as a personal guide to live their lives in ancient India. The book explains the behaviors and patterns a person should follow with different people in walks of life.

‘Chanakya Neeti ‘ is an eternal knowledge that has outlived time. The core of the book is that it shows an individual the ideal way of living in family, society, and country. It also goes on to explain the concept of Karma and the laws around it. It also states that Dharma is the only thing that is permanent in this world and lists the many vices that one should keep away from to lead a happy and satisfying life.

 Inspirational Quotes from Chanakya Neeti (Anthology of Indian Aphorisms)

“Do not spend even a single day where you cannot find five things: Successful businessmen, educated brahmins, soldiers, a river and a doctor” – Chanakya Niti Chapter 1

“Test your wife when your wealth is lost, a friend in need, relatives at the time of crises, and your servant after allocating him an important duty.” – Chanakya Niti Chapter 1

It is imprudent to advise a fool, care for a woman with bad character and to be in the company of a lethargic and unhappy person.” –  Chanakya Niti Chapter 1

A man shouldn’t live in a place where people are not afraid of the law, are shameless, and there is no clever man, where people lack in kindness, and where exists no creativity or art.”- Chanakya Niti Chapter 1

“Whoever helps you at the time of illness, misfortune, famines, and invasion is your true brother in the real sense.”  – Chanakya Niti Chapter 1

“A person who cannot decide his goal, simply cannot win.”- Chanakya Niti Chapter1 

“A true son is obedient, a true father is loving, and a true friend is honest” 

Chanakya suggests that “a person must stay away from the people who act as flatterer in front of you but speak ill behind your back. They cause you irreparable damage. Such friendship is like poisonous milk. One must simply stay away from such people.”

“Always keep your biggest plans as a secret. The simplest suggestion is to continue the task without grabbing much attention.”

“A man must act as per the situation instead of day dreaming (assuming what may happen). Chanakya advises not to trust everyone”

 “A wise person grooms his child carefully because only an educated person with high morale is given true respect in society.”
Chanakya advises not to overindulge with your child, pupil, and students. It will spoil them.

“People leave a weak king, a prostitute deserts her improvised customer, and birds leave a withered tree. In the same manner, the guests must leave the house of host after eating.”
“End is near for anyone who befriends a person of bad character or lives in the company of an evil fellow”
 “If you have an evil person on one side and a snake on the other; better opt for the snake as it will bite only for self-defense but the wicked person will not spare any chance of hurting you.”

 “A young person, with a beautiful face and of a higher origin, however, uneducated is always ignored like a scentless flower.”

 “A hard working person cannot remain poor, a person who continuously remembers God is unlikely to perform a sin, a person with peace cannot quarrel. Similarly, a vigilant person has no fears.”

“Excess of beauty resulted in the kidnapping of Sita, extreme ego of Ravana got him killed, and unnecessary charity caused massive trouble to Raja Bali. Extremes are never good!”

 “Just like a tree laden with scented flowers spreads fragrance in the whole forest. Similarly, a worthy son brings glory to the whole family, community, and the country.”

 “A dried tree, when catches fire, burns the whole forest; so does a bad son born in a family.”

 “When faced with natural disasters, famine and unstoppable enemy invasion; one must run away and the save life. Don’t worry, You would get another opportunity.”

“The best place to live is where fools are not honored, grains are preserved, where husband and wife don’t quarrel. Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth) resides at such locations.”

“Knowledge is like holy kamdhenu and is like a tree that bears fruit in every season. In unknown territories, it provides protection and brings you rewards.”

 “A king orders once, a great scholar speaks once, and daughters are married once. Therefore, one must be very careful regarding those.”

“Meditation is performed best when alone, education by two, singing by three, traveling with four persons, farming with five, and battle with as many possible.

Chanakya compared and advised to learn from the following:
·         Lion teaches us to perform actions wholeheartedly and not to relax until the completion of the task.
·         Crane teaches a man to focus and concentrate on the task and act instantaneously upon requirement.
·         Cock to rise early in the morning, being ready to defend and attack, grabbing one’s share and sharing with other.
·         Crow makes love privately, does not get scared easily, collects things for use in future. is always alert and never trusts anyone.
·         Dog It can go without food for a while but when finds can overeat in moments. Is alert even in sleep and wakes with the slightest sound. It is loyal and fights ferociously when defending his master.
·         Donkey: It works tirelessly and even in tough weather conditions

Happy Thinking!

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