Chanakya is admire for his wisdom and practical maxims but is also despised for his unscrupulousness – but all who know about him are awed by him. He was a shrewd politician, a master strategist, a crafty tactician, and an able administrator. He demolished a stale kingdom and an arrogant dynasty to establish a powerful and united kingdom.
Chanakya was a teacher to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340–293 BCE) and is the architect of his rise to power. Chanakya was a teacher in Takṣasila, an ancient centre of learning, and was responsible for the creation of Mauryan empire, the first of its kind on the Indian subcontinent. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta dynasty and not rediscovered until 1915.
Chanakya is also identified by the names Kauṭilya and Vishnugupta Sharma, His cultural significance reached far and wide, and his words are just as internalised in other parts of South Asia as in India. Chanakya is considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science. In the Western world, he has been referred to as The Indian Machiavelli, although Chanakya's works predate Machiavelli's by about 1,800 years.
Books attributed to Chanakya:
1. Arthashastra (on monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, war strategies) and
2. Neetishastra (or Chanakya Niti) - the ideal way of life, and deep study of the Indian way of life.
Chanakya also developed the Neeti-Sutras (how people should behave). Of these well-known 455 sutras, about 216 refer to raaja-neeti (the do's and don'ts of running a kingdom). They were used by Chanakya to groom Chandragupta and other selected disciples in the art of ruling a kingdom.
Birth and Origin: Chanakya (c.350 - c.275 BC), also known as Anshul or Anshu or Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta was born in a family of Brahmin as the son of Acharya Chanak in Pataliputra, Magadh (Modern day Patna, Bihar, India).
Chanakya enjoyed the best education of the time, in 'Takshashila' (or Taxila) - an established place of learning. The school had by that time existed for at least five centuries and attracted students from all over the ancient world of Southeast Asia. The Kingdom of Magadha maintained contact with Takshasila.
Chanakya's life was connected to these two cities, Pataliputra and Takshasila.
Death: While Chanakya served as the chief administrator of Chandragupta Maurya, he started adding small amounts of poison in Chandragupta's food so that he would get used to it so as to develop his immunity and prevent the Emperor from being poisoned by enemies.
One day queen Durdha, shared the food with the Emperor while she was pregnant. Since she was not used to eating poisoned food, she died. Chanakya decided that the baby should not die; hence he cut open the belly of the queen and took out the baby. A drop of poison had passed to the baby's head, and hence Chanakya named him Bindusara. Bindusara would go on to become a great king and to father the greatest Mauryan Emperor since Chandragupt - Ashoka.
Bindusara also had a minister named Subandhu who did not like Chanakya. One day he told Bindusara that Chanakya was responsible for the murder of his mother. Bindusara asked the nurses who confirmed this story and he became very angry with Chanakya.
It is said that Chanakya, on hearing the Emperor was angry decided to end his life. He donated all his wealth to the poor, widows and orphans and sat on a dung heap, prepared to die by total abstinence from food and drink.
Meanwhile, Bindusara came to know the full story regarding his birth from the nurses and rushed to beg forgiveness. But Chanakya would not change his mind. Bindusara returned, venting his fury on Subandhu, and killed him.
Chanakya after this incident, renounced food and shortly died thereafter.
Bindusara revered Chanakya and the loss of his advisor was a considerable blow to him.