Considered as a pioneer in the field of political science and administration, Chankaya (4th century BC) was an Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, and royal adviser. He is largely credited for founding the Mauryan Empire. Also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupt, Chanakya was the chief adviser to the first Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta, and his son, Bindusara. Arthashastra — his treatise on economic policy, military strategy, and public administration — is considered one of the best texts on statecraft. The man was revered for his wisdom. Here are some facts about Chanakya that you may not have known.
1. Born in a Brahmin family
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Chanakya, arguably one of the greatest administrators in India, was born in a Brahmin family. His father, Acharya Chanak, was a teacher. He got the name ‘Chanakya’ from his father’s name. The ‘Kautilya’ name was derived from his clan ‘Kotil’.
2. The Jain connection
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Several Jain texts claim that Chanakya was born to two Jain followers Chaneshvari and Chanin. The Chanaka village was his birthplace. While the place of his birth is highly debated, 12th century writer Hemachandra claims that Chanakya was a Dramila i.e. speaker of the Dravidian languages. According to him, Chanakya was a native from South India.
3. Was extremely learned
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The Chanakya biography reveals that he attended Takshasila University, a major seat of learning in South Asia at that time. He took a keen interest in political science and economics, perhaps an indicator of what he was to become. Chanakya was blessed with tremendous intelligence and was even eager to acquire knowledge of astronomy and medicine.
4. Never tied his hair
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Chanakya, insulted by the Nanda king in his court, vowed never to tie his hair until he had overthrown the Nanda Empire. He took a 19-year old Chandragupta under his fold, trained him, and saw him to power that marked the beginning of Mauryan Empire.
5. Openly admitted of a coup
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His proposal on securing the borders of the country against probable invasion from outsiders, was met with a vitriolic attack on his personality. He sought revenge by annihilating the Nanda king Dhana Nanda. One of the most startling facts about Chanakya was that he even reportedly admitted of dethroning the king.