5 May, 2020
Chanakya is not a someone unknown, even for the International community; considering the many tales about him that the foreign invaders have written about, he is an enigma, that many love to hate. Typically, in today’s world, Chanakya or Chanakyaneeti are terms that are often borrowed in our turbulent political circles. Someone who is extremely crafty and can work out winning strategies is termed a Chanakya. His ‘Arthashastra’ is often quoted as a great work of reference for statecraft, economic policy, and military strategy, even today.
The life of Chanakya, the trusted advisor of Chandragupta Maurya, who made him the emperor, meticulously planning out every single detail, is nothing less than a classic tale. He remains an intriguing personality, that many love to read about and understand. So, how would it be if you could get a chance to move into his mind, his world, and see what he did, how he did, and why, and so on? Is there a chance that Chanakya was reborn, and continues to be a strategist who believes in creating emperors?
This is precisely what the historical fiction author, Ashwin Sanghi has managed to do with his 2010 Vodafone-Crossword Popular Choice Award-winning book called Chanakya’s Chant.
Seldom do you find books that can keep you engaged with stories that intersperse between the ancient and the current times? But Chanakya’s Chant manages to do exactly that - while taking you through the life of a Brahmin Gangasagar Mishra, who was born in modern India, possibly as a reincarnation of Chanakya. In great detail, the author brings about, how this modern-day Brahmin realizes the power of Chanakya’s Chant, and slowly plans his life just like the erstwhile Chanakya.
The story is a gripping weave of the many characters who Gangasagar Mishra ‘works’ through to bring to reality his dream of becoming the most powerful person in India. Incredibly, it does not mean that he gets to become the ruler, but that he plans meticulously to install a ruler; that is in line with how Chandragupta Maurya went about making Chandragupta Maurya the most powerful emperor of India.
The strategies employed for achieving this are so brilliant; at each step taking us back to similar Chanakya strategies, the author creates a compelling tale of how incredible the mind of Chanakya was. It also shows the brilliance of a political master strategist, who thinks through everything. This tale also resonates with the modern political system of India in many ways. As we read we can relate to all that is happening around us, and start wondering, if everything was planned after all!
Through incredibly unraveling plots, the author tells us how history is being crafted in modern India. This is in line with what happened with Chandragupta Maura, in ancient times. So, who is Gangasagar Mishra’s Chandragupta, and how did he find the Chanakya’s Chant that made him so powerful? Does the contemporary Chanakya manage to do what his ancient avatar could? At what cost does he achieve this, and who are the pawns that he brilliantly uses on this chessboard on modern Indian politics? Who are his aides and are they aware that they are all just pawns in his unfolding tale? At each step, the author does manage to twist the tale so that you feel the need to keep going. This makes for a good lockdown reading material.
About the Author
Ashwin Sanghi is an acclaimed Indian author known for his historical fiction thrillers. He completed his MBA from the Yale School of Management and was a part of his family business for several years before beginning his writing career. The Rozabal Line and The Krishna Key are two of his other books that you can check out.
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