According to a Jain legend, Chanakya added small doses of poison to Chandragupta’s food to make him immune from death by poisoning. The king, unbeknownst of the fact, once fed the same food to his wife who was about a week away from delivery. The queen died within seconds, and Chanakya slit her abdomen and took out the stillborn foetus from the womb. He named the baby boy Bindusara, “bindu” meaning the drop of blood which was infected with the poison.
Despite being one of the greatest economists and administrators in Indian history, Chanakya’s opinion on women were abhorrent and would have been highly condemned today. Women, according to him, were corrupt and vile and should be never believed.
Chanakya, according to popular legend, even drafted a cleansing ritual for women. A woman didn’t become holy enough by fasting regularly, sipping sacred water, or offering charity. Her path to righteousness was by drinking the water used to wash her husband’s feet.
He was probably among the first proponents of gender inequality in India, strains that are felt even today. Facts about Chanakya reveal that according to him, the perfect wife was a woman who served her husband like a mother in the morning, loved like a sister during the day, and served like a prostitute at night. Now that’s absolutely unacceptable in present-day society.
Chanakya devised ways to defeat the enemy, other than engaging them in a battle. Like Chandragupta, he gave small doses of poison to young girls and also taught them the art of seduction. He knew men’s weakness for women. When Alexander the Great invaded India, he sent his troop of Vishkanyas—’vish’ meaning poison, ‘kanya’ meaning girls—to the enemy camp. The soldiers who entered into a physical relationship with these girls, died from the poison. The strategy is said to have worked. However, there’s no historical evidence of such poisonous women, and stories in this regard seem to be aimed at proving Chanakya’s acumen as a master strategist.
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