Chanakya, Kautilya Arthasastra

Life :

Chanakya was a pragmatic activist. He is a hero like none other in the history of India.  See Life of Chanakya. His titles were Buddha and Sarvagnya. His Veda was the Sama Veda, but he had also studied the other 3 Vedas. He was the guru of Chandragupta Maurya.

Mudrarakshasa, a play by Visakhadatta about Chanakya and Chandragupta  – Sanskrit Text and English Translation

From the prologue and very first act of the play Mudrarakshasa, we come to know that Chanakya was also called Kautilya and Vishnugupta and that combining brilliance with strategy he eliminated the Nandas and installed Chandragupta Maurya on the throne. We see how Chankaya applied many principles of his Arthasastra to eliminate Nandas and recruit Amatya Rakshasa. We learn that he had the epithet of Sarvagnya. We observe that since he sent JeevaSiddhi, his spy, out as a Bauddha monk, it was a period, where there a large number of Bauddha monks, about. We note that his untied Shikha was like the black female cobra that took the lives of the Nandas. We observe the similarity between the vengeful Draupadi, who refused to braid her hair and Chanakya. We observe the similarity between Gandhji, who threw the British out of the country because they threw him out of the train, and Chanakya who rid the planet of the Nandas, sinc ethey threw him out of the assembly of professors. We understand that there was a custom wherein some people carried around a picture of Yama and his descendants to various families and got them to perform rituals to appease Yama. Even today, in Bangalore, some people carry around the picture of Saniswara (Yama’s brother) and sort of scare people into giving them donations.

My other posts on Chanakya

Lineage :

Chanakya was the son of Chanaka. One of his ancestors was Kutila and therefore he was also called Kautilya. The Kautilyas were a subdivision of the Yaskas who were also Bhargavas, the descendants of Bhrgu. (Like Parasurama, Sukracharya, Valmiki, Markandeya and others.)


Work :

He composed a textbook of Arthasastra in which he quoted all his authors previous to him like Bharadwaja and then gave his own considered and often original view. There is also some part of the Arthasastra that follows the Manusmriti.

  1. Kautilya Arthasastra : Translation by Shama Shastry
  2. Kautilya Arthasastra : Sankrit using english script.
  3. Chanakya Niti Sastra (In this link the original sanskrit text is not given : I find some of the translations surprising. Example: From Chanakya Niti Sastra : What is too heavy for the strong and what place is too distant for those who put forth effort? What country is foreign to a man of true learning? Who can be inimical to one who speaks pleasingly? My teacher’s translation of the same verse was: What is difficult for a farmer? What is far for a trader? What is a foreign land to a scholar? Who is a stranger (‘other’ parah) to a pleasant speaking person?)

“When Bhatta Swamy of Tanjore chanced upon 168 palm leaves of Koutilya’s (also known as Chanakya) “Arthashastra”, written in the 4th century BC, he handed it over to Sanskrit scholar Rudrapatna Shama Shastry, who was a curator at Oriental Research Institute (ORI) of Mysore, in 1902. Dr. Shastry edited and published the same in 1909, and Chanakya was recognised for his greatness. Later, this work was translated into various languages. Dr. Shastry’s contribution was recognised the world over. Washington University accorded him honorary doctorate. Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar honoured him with the title of “Arthashastra Visharada” at the 1926 Dasara festival. Government of India accorded him the title of Mahamahopadhyaya. He served in the history department of University of Mysore.” : The Hindu

Those who lived before Chanakya’s time:

(Reference) Chanakya lived after Ravana, Duryodhana, Bhoja (Dandakya), Karala (Vaideha),  Janamejaya, Talajangha, Aila, Ajabindhu, Sauvira (Jayadratha), Arjuna (Haihaya), Vatapi and Vrishnis who conspired against Dwaipayana (Veda Vyasa). He gives them as examples of people who failed because they were unable to conquer their six internal enemies. (Desire,anger etc…)
Chanakya lived after Bharadwaja, Visalaksha, Parasara (father of Veda Vyasa), Pisuna, Kaunapadanta, Vatavyadhi and Bahudanti . He quotes their views on the matter of selection of ministers.
Chanakya lived after the following kings killed by their own families: Bhadrasena; Kárusa, Kásirája (killed by his queen), Vairantya, Sauvíra, Jálútha, Vidúratha.

Time :

Dr. R. Shamashastry, the translator of the English version of Kautilya’s Artha-Shastra, quotes a reference from the Vishnu Purana fourth canto, twenty-fourth chapter, regarding the time of Chanakya.  “Mahapadma then his sons – only nine in number – will be the lords of the earth for a hundred years. 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 references are also made in the Bhavishya, Bhagavata, Vayu and Matsya PuranasMy explanation for use of future tense in the description of events in the Kaliyuga is that a few verses were later appended to keep the Puranas uptodate.

Notes and quotes from Kautilya Arthasastra :

Marriage, Re-Marriage, Women, Property.

Clock (Sun-Dial) and Time Management.

Cabinet Size and meaning of Sahasraksha

Definition of Itihasa

Time and Space Measurements as per Kautilya

Kautilya Chanakya and Mahatma Gandhithe comparision and the contrast.

Kautilya Arthasastra

Mudrarakshasa :

Authorship and Copyright notice: All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula