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30 Interesting Chanakya Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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chanakya facts

In this article of 30 interesting Chanakya Facts we will explore about the life of one of the greatest strategists and teachers India has ever known. While we will focus on commonly accepted information about Chanakya, we will also take a detour and learn about the conflicts among historians regarding the authenticity of some of the commonly accepted facts. However, because of lack of ample evidence and proper historical records, we will go with the commonly accepted facts. Why so? That’s because most of the conflicting views are from foreign historians – people from the same universe of historians who once glorified the Aryan Invasion Theory only to belittle the great Indian history.

Anyway, let us begin with the facts and at the end of these 30 facts, we will go ahead and speak of the conflicting views. So if you are ready, let us begin…

Interesting Chanakya Facts: 1-10

1. Chanakya is considered as extremely cunning and shrewd politician. He is also known as one of the earliest economists of ancient India.

2. Ashwin Sangi wrote a book known as Chanakya’s Chant in which Sangi claims that it was Chanakya who was responsible for uniting entire nation when India was attacked by Alexander the Great.

3. There are many legends which state that Chanakya actually maintained an army of females. These women were known as Vishakanyas. As per legends, Vishakanyas were extremely beautiful girls who were given small doses of poisons every day along with food.

4. Because of the small doses of poison, the girls grew resistant to any kind of poisoning. Not just that, it is believed that the girls were given poison until they reached puberty and then they were used for secret assassination mission.

5. As per legends, the poisons fed to the girls made them so deadly that even their kisses could easily kill a person.

6. One of the most interesting of Chanakya facts is that Chanakya’s views on women were not really great. Those views might have been accepted in ancient times but in modern times, they are considered as disgusting views. According to him, women are not trustworthy for they have corrupt and vile nature. – Source.

7. If that’s not enough, here is another view that Chanakya held – a woman can attain purity only if she drinks the water that has been used for cleansing or washing the feet of her husband. She can never attain such purity by drinking holy water or observing fasts or even offering charity. – Source.

8. Chanakya’s views about an ideal wife were a bit twisted too. According to him, an ideal wife should have the following characteristics:

  • In the morning, she should be serving her husband like a mother serves her son.
  • In the noon, she should be ‘loving and caring’ towards her husband like a sister is to her brother.
  • In the night she should be able to please her husband the way a prostitute please a man. – Source.

No wonder, these views do not really resonate in today’s world and are considered as crippled and twisted thoughts.

9. It is said that Chanakya was so intelligent that he had a solution to every problem that showed up. It is also said that apart from being a pioneer economist and a politician, he even achieved the knowledge of astronomy and medicine.

10. According to many historians, Chanakya was born in 350 BCE and that he had a very manipulative nature that helped in the formation of Maurya Dynasty – one of the largest dynasties ever known in ancient India.

Interesting Chanakya Facts: 11-20

11. It is said that the real name of Chanakya was Vishnugupta and he was a minister at the court of Dhana Nanda – a ruler of Nanda Dynasty that built up the Magadha Empire.

12. Legends say that Chanakya was not really happy with the strategies used by Dhana Nanda to rule the empire. Then at one point, the Greeks reached India’s western border. With India being threatened by foreign invasion, Chanakya talked to Dhana Nanda to redo his strategies.

13. Instead of listening to Chanakya, Dhana Nanda actually insulted him. Insulted Chanakya then untied his lock of hair known as sikha and swore that he will not rest until the Nanda Kingdom is total obliterated.

14. He then went out in search of an ideal king and came across a boy of 19. His name was Chandragupta Maurya. He quickly realized that he was looking at an ideal king. He took in Chandragupta as his student and mentored him. Soon, under the guidance of Chanakya, Chandragupta Maurya destroyed the Nanda Kingdom and established the Maurya Dynasty, which went on to become ancient India’s biggest dynasty.

15. Of course when the Maurya Dynasty was formed, Chanakya was the person responsible for the administration of the entire kingdom. He was very well aware of one fact – once a person kills a king, the killer gets the rights to be crowned as the next king. So, Chanakya made it a motive of his life to ensure that Chandragupta Maurya stayed alive.

16. It was not possible for him actually prevent Chandragupta’s death by weapons but yes, one of the best known methods of assassinating a king was to poison him. So, Chanakya started adding small amounts of poison to Chandragupta’s food to make him immune against poisons.

17. The dosage of poison added to Chandragupta’s food gradually increased day by day. However one day, Chandragupta accidentally fed his food to his wife, who was only a week away from delivering a baby.

18. Because of the high dose of poison, Chandragupta’s wife collapsed and died. Chanakya at that point had to save the child in her womb. He immediately took a drastic step and cut open the belly of Chandragupta’s dead wife to take the baby out before the poison blood could reach him. Some legends say that Chandragupta’s wife wasn’t completely dead but in order to prevent the poisoned blood from reaching the womb, Chanakya immediately beheaded the queen and later cut open her belly to take the baby out.

19. Whatever happened, the fact is that the baby was saved. Unfortunately, a drop of the poison blood managed to reach the baby and left a ‘dot’ mark on his forehead. That is how Chandragupta’s son received the name Bindusara because bindu means a dot.

20. One of the most interesting of Chanakya facts is that Chanakya was also known for using devious ways to defeat Alexander the Great. Not only did Chanakya unite whole of India against Alexander but also thinned out key players of Alexander’s army by making use of Vishakanyas who were also trained into art of seduction.

Interesting Chanakya Facts: 21-30

21. Chanakya was very well aware that when it comes to women, men are pretty weak at their knees. So, when Alexander invaded, Chanakya unleashed the Vishakanyas who seduced the army men of Alexander and the moment they became physically close, those men died because of the poison these women had in their bodies.

22. One of the most interesting of Chanakya facts is that Acharya Chanakya was possibly the man who pioneered inequality among men and women that India faces today. We learned about a few of his views about women. Here is another – he believed that a man can experience heaven on earth if he gets a wife who acts according to his wishes. Else, it will be a hell on earth!

23. Chanakya also held the view that a woman’s heart is always divided. According to him, a woman might talk to one person but at that instant, she will actually be looking at a second man with eyes of lust and will in her heart, have fond thoughts about a third man.

24. Chanakya even held the view that a man should marry a girl only if she is a virgin. If the virginity clause is fulfilled, it won’t matter if that girl is deformed.

25. Chanakya wrote Chanakya-Niti or Nitishastra – a political treatise on policies and foreign relations that hold significance even to this day. Modern world leaders and politicians often use the policies mentioned in Nitishastra (though they possibly don’t know that they are using some policy mentioned in Nitishastra).

26. Chanakya was the pioneer of economic. He was the first person to write one economics. He created the Arthashastra, which holds significance even today – more than 2000 years after Chanakya died.

27. Talking of economics and Chanakya’s visions, here is a quick story that has been handed down to us through legends. According to the story, Greek ethnographer Megasthenes visited India during Chandragupta’s rule. During that time, he became a friend of Chanakya and visited Chanakya at his place one evening only to see Chanakya working on state documents.

28. Chanakya requested him to wait and when Chanakya finished his work, he put of the lamp that he was using for his work. After that, Chanakya lit another lamp and came to meet Megasthenes. Megasthenes questioned the need for putting off one lamp and lighting another while he could have easily used the one that was already burning. To this Chanakya explained that the lamp he was using was funded by state for the work he was doing for the state. The current lamp (the one that he lit later) was for his personal use and further explained that one should not use state funds for personal use.

29. About Chanakya’s death, there are two legends. It is said that Chanakya died in 283 BCE. The most commonly accepted fact is that he went to a jungle and starved himself to death. Equally accepted theory is that there was a minister in Samrat Bindusara’s court by the name of Subandhu. Subandhu hated Chanakya and in order to remove him from power, Sabandhu told Bindusara about the death of his mother (Chandragupta Maurya’s wife) but portrayed that Chanakya was responsible for her death and that Chanakya intentionally did that.

30. Upon hearing the story Bindusara became angry and decided to kill Chanakya. However Chanakya decided to end his own life once he learned that Samrat Bindusara hated him. He decided to do so by starving himself to death. However, Bindusara soon realized his mistake after knowing the entire truth and asked Subandhu to convince Chanakya to stop starving. Subandhu however wanted to see Chanakya dead. Instead of listening to Bindusara, he organized a ceremony pretending that it was for Chanakya and burned Chanakya alive on a pyre.

Now that we are done with our list of 30 Chanakya facts, we need to turn our attention to conflicting views of the historians. Let us do that without wasting time.

Conflicting Views on Chanakya

One of the most commonly accepted Chanakya Facts is that he was the author of Arthashastra. However, the original Arthashastra actually states two other names as authors – Vishnugupta and Kautilya. So, it is common to think that Vishnugupta, Kautilya and Chanakya were the three different names of the same person.

However, some historians refuse to believe this. They say that Kautilya or Vishnugupta and Chanakya are two different people. According to these historians:

  • Chanakya was from Mauryan era and was the prime minister of Chandragupta Maurya.
  • Kautilya or Vishnugupta was a different person who was the author of Arthashastra.

So, what is the basis for this difference in opinions? Here is what the alternative thinkers say:

  • Discovery of Arthashastra took place in 1905 and R. Shamasasrty was the person who translated it in 1909. After the discovery of Arthashastra, no found even one single instance where Mauryan Era was mentioned in the book. It is normal to think that if Chanakya wrote Arthashastra, he should have mentioned Mauryan Empire at least once or Chandragupta Maurya or perhaps the name of the capital – Patliputra.
  • Thomas R. Trautmann – American Indologist of 1970s claimed to have proved that Arthashastra was written in 3rd Century CE. This means that there was a gap of 6 centuries between the time when Chanakya lived and when Arthashastra was written. Hence, Chanakya cannot be the author of Arthashastra.
  • Some claim that Chanakya was a book of economics and Chanakya on the other hand was a student of Political Science. How come, a person of Political science writes a book on economics?

Based on these three premises, many historians believe that Chanakya and Kautilya were different people and that Chanakya didn’t write Arthashastra.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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