CHANAKYA AND CHANDRAGUPTA

WHO WAS THE REAL RULER?

S Third Year General History .Ancient India Assignment Mam Kiran Siddiqui Made By: Arwa Juzar B0860006 B.

Contents Introduction Chandragupta Maurya Chanakya The Real Ruler Conclusion Endnotes Bibliography .

1921.C was being ruled by the Nanda dynasty in Magadha when the whirlwind of Macedon. (Nathball. and then looking at Chanakya. a cunning diplomat and a brilliant political strategist. Alexander heard of the powerful Gangaridae in the east. India in the 3rd Century B. and by taking different viewpoints from a variety of sources we try to interpret just how much this is true. Chanakya is the author of the earliest book on statesmanship the Arthashastra or “Treatise on Polity” that trumps Machiavelli’s “The Prince” by centuries. a sage statesman. Chanakya is said to have sworn revenge against the Nanda king due to an insult given to him and it is solely this that led him to Chandragupta as a means to his own end. that is. How much of this story is true is a fact still disputed by many writers and many different sources. the Greek writers and others all of whom hold different views. India has several times been invaded by foreign armies on account of the existence of constant friction between her different states and races. The main source is the play Mudrarakshas by Vishakhadatta which is about the only original source for the study of this period which reduces Chandragupta to a mere weakling. the king that established the earliest empire in India reputedly due to his minister. The process of consolidation had commenced with the growth of the power of Magadha. of the powerful kingdom in the Ganges Valley. There is also the Arthashastra. a tyrant and despised by his people. p.Introduction “Counselors (Ministers) are those who see the true implications what ought to be done and what ought not to do. He was a Brahman. It certainly seems true of the said author. Chanakya. Kautilya or Vishnugupta are three names for the same person who was the minister of Chandragupta Maurya. the Puranas. But tradition attributes this victory to Chanakya and gives him credit for placing Chandragupta on the throne of Magadha.111) Alexander conquered the North-Western territories and established his garrisons there and though he did not leave much of an impression it was the political gap left by him that was to provide an opportunity He defeated the Nanda king and with the support of the locals drove the Greeks out and established a strong government and brought all the territories under a unified rule. In the following pages first by reconstructing the achievements of Chandragupta. .” So says Chanakya in his Chankyasutras which us that it is ministers not rulers that really know how to rule a state. and his retreat was due partly to the dread of these people. It is only through research and interpretation that a conclusion can be reached. Alexander came to invade these lands. The consolidation of the whole of Northern India under one suzerain authority led to internal peace and prosperity and freedom from external raids. The Nanda king was Agrammes or Dhana Nanda who was described as being worthless.

Chandragupta had incurred the displeasure of Nanda. It is also said that Chanakya visited the mother of Chandragupta and in exchange for relieving her restlessness he would take the child when it was mature and raise it. A battle ensued in which Chandragupta came out the winner and Seleucus was forced to make peace in which he received five hundred elephants in exchange for Aria. “According to Jain tradition recorded in the Parisishtaparvan. 1954. Chandragupta Maurya was one the greatest kings of the Maurya dynasty who united all of India into an empire from the small Magadhan kingdoms and states and defeated the last Nanda king. Arachosia. Gedrosia and Paropanisadae. Chandragupta now devoted himself to the consolidation of his empire and a highly systemized administration was set up which was the first of its kind in India.”(Sastri. The narrative of Justin gives the impression that after his departure from Alexander’s camp Chandragupta retired to a forest and gathered armed men to support him in removing the existing government. p. 1967. or Commander-in-Chief (Rapson. p.53) . 1922. Seleucus had come to India in the hope of recovering his master’s possessions but unlike Alexander he faced a united and stronger force. in modern Mysore.C. ii Seleucus sent an ambassador Megasthenes to the court of Chandragupta who lived at Pataliputra and wrote a detailed account of India which does not survive except in accounts of Strabo. Pliny and other Greek and Latin writers. The Mudrarakshasa says that he was a prince of the Nanda dynasty borne by the queen consort of Moriyanagara. p.Seleucus Nicator in the Indus valley. p. 1967. He divided his vast empire into different provinces each with its own setup which enabled great efficiency.i However most of these are suppositions and here our main concern is that Chanakya may have known Chandragupta for a long time and was merely waiting for a protégé that he could put up against the Nandas. This initial mistake of his is recorded in the Mahavamsa as well as Jain and Buddhist sources which say that it led to his army being surrounded and destroyed easily. whom he had served in the office of senapati. (Basham. He escaped and then resolved to expel all the Greek garrisons from India.59) Chandragupta however learned easily and occupied the capital Pataliputra where he started establishing his rule in the Ganges valley and the north-western principalities of the Greeks. however Chandragupta was born of the daughter of a peacock-tamer who lived in an obscure village. He gathered a group of people and started advancing rapidly from the frontiers to the capital without stopping to establish some sort of rule.” (Munshi. p.470) which seems most plausible rather than rendering him as a royal prince.144) Chandragupta overthrew the foreign rule as well as the internal rule of king Nanda.Chandragupta Maurya To understand the relationship between Chanakya and Chandragupta a look at both their origins and personalities and their achievements is vital as only then can a conclusion be reached to the question that who was the real ruler.143) This point of view is also agreed upon by other writers who say that this led to the dynasty being called Maurya as peacocks in Pali are called Moriyas. The court and the people were all prosperous which led to the stability of the empire. (Sastri. Chandragupta after moving onwards in hopes of bringing the whole of India under his rule encountered the successor of Alexander. Chandragupta Maurya’s birth is not known to us and it is very much disputed but is generally agreed upon as being born in the middle of the fourth century B. Chandragupta also met Alexander when he came to invade India which is reported by Justin and Plutarch that a youth called Sandrocottus met Alexander and advised him to attack the weak Nanda kingdom in a speech which offended Alexander who ordered him to be put to death. According to Jain traditions Chandragupta abdicated the throne after a period of famine and fasted to death in the manner of Jain saints at the great Jain temple and monastery of Sravana Belgola. “The Milindapanha gives an exaggerated account of the slaughter attending the destruction of the army of Magadha.

where he met the young Chandragupta Maurya. . capital of the Nanda Empire in search of recognition of his learning. However in other places we find evidences that he continued on upto the rule of Bindusara but it is not definite. The Arthshastra one of the greatest political works in this world that is the precursor of Machaevelli’s Prince and other treatises on diplomacy and state-craft is credited to Chanakya. Pursued by Nanda soldiers. Ancient Indian tradition describes him as a native of Taxila (near Peshawar in modern Pakistan) who had journeyed to Pataliputra (Patna). Alexander retreated from the Punjab in 325 B. The Mudrarakshasa of Vishakhadatta gives the origination of Chanakya and the meeting of both of them in great detail and since this is an almost contemporary account it is counted above others. A powerful minister.iv It consists of fifteen books each outlining each aspect of state life including the daily routine of a king. Kautilya escaped into the forests.C. an able executive and an honest advisor. killing Dhana Nanda and becoming the ruler of India. It is no doubt one the greatest treatises of the ancient period. This was the time when Alexander's legions were invading northwestern India. and the irascible Brahmin swore vengeance on the house of the Nandas. Kautilya took Chandragupta to Taxila. The Mudrarakshasa also hints that Chanakya after the fulfillment of his revenge retired to the forest in tradition of Brahman hermitage. Most of the details of the life of Kautilya are uncertain and shrouded in myth and legend.. and soon thereafter Chandragupta worked his dynastic revolution. Megasthenes however does not mention Chanakya in his available accounts which might be due to some sort of rivalry between the two or the fact that Chanakya was not present at the court at that time. Indian tradition asserts that Kautilya had masterminded this revolution and continued as Chandragupta's counselor.Chanakya Chanakya was a Brahman who was the minister of Chandragupta Maurya who was a powerful and vibrant personality which was multifaceted. mysterious strategist. last of the Nanda rulers. a diligent planner. Other sources say different things about the origination of Chanakyaiii but all agree that he met Chandragupta at some point and instigated him against the Nandas. There he was insulted by Dhana Nanda.

The Real Authority? To find out who was really ruling we begin from the start when the Nandas were overthrown. The play also mentions that after achieving his purpose Chanakya retired to the life of a Brahman that is living in the forest for the remainder of his life. p. p. The minister issues royal commands even of executions easily without any sort of questioning authority. Though at the same time we find small snippets about Chanakya in different works. “Having imposed his mandate on all chieftains. The Puranas state that Kautilya. even to the extent that when the king is ordered to invoke a fake quarrel he does not ask why. the Maurya is growing imperious and deeming that it is his support that has made Maurya a king. Ceylon chroniclers and Kamandaka the credit is given to an all powerful chancellor the Brahman Chanakya. This can be the reason why Megasthenes who arrived much later at the Maurya court does not mention this important personality.12-13). 1963. The blame of this is put on the shoulders of Rakshasa. Chanakya is filled with arrogance. “According to literary evidence of a later date. One has acquired a kingdom and gained his objective.” This can be taken to mean that both of them used each other to achieve their ends and it was only a relation of pupil and master that Chandragupta pays such respect. the faithful minister of the Nanda kings.” (Munshi. But these lines by the minister Rakshasa tell us of Chandragupta’s role. The whole play Mudrarakshasa is based on this premise which leads to him defeating all rivals to put Chandragupta on the throne. Chanakya continued for some time as minister under Bindusara. The king does not hesitate to bend before the minister nor does he address him in a way that ministers should be addressed. In the play Chandragupta does not question anything that Chanakya does. At the end when Chanakya orders him to accept Rakshasa and bend before both of them the king meekly follows his order. Mostly it is said that it was Chanakya who was responsible for the defeat of Dhana Nanda and the installation of the Maurya’s. will anoint Chandragupta as king of the realm and the up rooter of the Nanda dynasty (Thapar. Ultimately the Nanda king was defeated. which signifies a relationship of respect rather than of a king and his minister. It says that he let down his hair only to put it up when he fulfilled his revenge. Thus through scheming and intrigues and using Rakshasa’s own signet ring breaks up this alliance and all those who conspire against the king and ultimately succeed in his aims. also known as Chanakya. Rakashasa allies with Malayaketu. In the accounts of Justin. The other has crossed the ocean of his vow. son of the slain Parvataka along with other Mleccha chieftains against Chandragupta to see the throne rightfully restored. Chanakya is the supreme head of all affairs which everyone in the play understands fully.v In this play Chanakya is the main actor with Chandragupta being a mere pupil and servant (Mudrarakshasa) On the other hand the Mahavamsa and Jain traditions describe the efforts of Chandragupta to conquer India and great details saying that he directly invaded the heart of the country and did not start from the edges which caused him to suffer a setback and it was in these efforts that he was aided by Chanakya.69) . The play begins with the defeat of the Nanda king and Chandragupta on the throne of Pataliputra and the murder of Chandragupta’s chief ally Parvataka by a poison maid in the employ of Chanakya. He calls Chanakya ‘Revered Sir’ while Chanakya calls him my son. Since the Mudrarakshasa is a main source the events in it are described separately and in detail as it gives the whole and sundry credit to the minister. Chanakya greatly admires him as according to him men serve kings during their lifetime for either love or greed but admirable is one who serves a king even after his death and only for the purpose of having justice done.

Also a sabha was held says Patanjali in which the prominent figures are known from tradition rather than accounts. He defeated Seleucus and established an empire in India which was not possible if he was not capable enough.” (Thapar.” (Munshi. The Arthshastra does not mention Chandragupta by name but the rules and regulation laid down in it are greatly related to him. If Chanakya had been the ruling force his name would have been without a doubt mentioned. Glimpses of Chandragupta’s administration are given by Megasthenes in great detail and nowhere is there mention of any strong minister let alone Chanakya. Chanakya may have assisted him but to completely discount Chandragupta seems a bit presumptious. They can also do as they please and have a convienient scapegoat in the real ruler.17) So Chanakya was a brilliant minister but only a minister. Almost all writers attest to the fact that no doubt Chanakya was an astute minister and a wise diplomat who aided Chandragupta to the throne of India. He selected wise and efficient minister and councillors and ambassadors. and he was fortunate in his ambition in that he was assisted by an advisor of exceptional intellectual ability and an abundance of common sense. p. The life of a king is fully outlined in it and that Chandragupta followed it is corroborated by the account of Megasthenes. which was not interrupted even when the hour arrived for massaging his body. 1963. “Chandragupta was no doubt a man of shrewd political intelligence. p. . civil and military which placed him far above the ordinary warrior king.If Chanakya was the one running the whole show how could then have Chandragupta let him leave and later be able to defeat Seleucus and establish his sovereignity alone. Nowhere in the joint tales of Chanakya and Chandragupta do we find evidences of this fact. History shows us that men who rule in stead of others are more reluctant to give up their powers as they can make all the decisions without assuming the day-to-day legalities and responsibilities. “Megasthenes states that the king does not sleep in day time but remains in court the whole day for the purpose of judging causes and other public business. to completely remove the king and attribute all to the minister is a great injustice.63) Also Chandragupta excelled in all matters of state. Also a weak ruler cannot manage if he loses the support of his minister and Chandragupta does not appear such. political.

He might have been the man behind the show but the actor in front was no doubt a vibrant personality who left the audience astounded! . Chandragupta was a wise and strong king who laid down the foundations of the first empire in India which is characterised by an abudance of literar sources. But as some sources say to discount completely the role of Chandragupta himself and show him as a weak. insignificant youth is grave injustice. These foundations led to the formation of the greatest empire of Ancient India by Asoka and the eventual rise of Buddhism and its consequent spread to the rest of the world. A weak ruler even if controlled by a strong hand cannot command the respect of his courtiers and his people. In the case of Chandragupta we find that the people were in peace and the court was flourishing while all came to the king for counsel.Conclusion Thus by examing different opinions and viewpoints it is evident that Chandragupta was the real ruler who was aided by an able minister Chanakya who was no doubt in a large part responsible for the instillation of Chandragupta on the throne of Magadha. Chanakya left a great impression on history in the form of Arthshastra which is one the earliest and best works of politics and statesmanship.

Endnotes .

Some also link him to the race of Buddha while Buddhist source such as the Digha Nikaya. Only funerals and death anniversaries are performed with the śikhā untied or with dishevelled hair. v Brahmans keep their hair tied up in a ponytail according to tradition and are never to let it down.i The birth of Chandragupta is highly disputed in the original sources. or chudakarana. Chandragupta is represented as a low-born connexion of the family of Nanda. iii Chanakya according to Brihathaka is simply a protégé of Sakatala. minister of the real Nanda. Traditionally. The śikhā is tied back or knotted to perform religious rites. Hindu men shave off all their hair as a child in a saṃskāra or ritual known as the Mundan ceremony. A lock of hair is left at the crown. Mahavamsa and Divayavidana link him to a family called Moriyas. Dishevelled hair is considered inauspicious. The Puranas tell of Chandragupta as belonging to a shudra caste mixed with kshtriya blood. His surname Maurya is explained by the Indian authorities as meaning 'son of Mura. But the mother of Bindusara is reputed to have been Greek. The place of birth of Chanakya is also much disputed in different sources. ii Seleucus was defeated and had to purchase peace and Greek writers also tell of a matrimonial alliance but not whether a Greek princess was sent to the Maurya court or vice versa. Also that it was not a contemporary account rather it was written after a period of many years. and represents times of great sorrow or calamity. iv The author of the Arthshastra is disputed to some extent that it was not Chanakya but Kautilya a different person. But a comparision of Megasthenes account and the Arthshastra verifies to some extent this claim that it was written during the time of Chandragupta Maurya. . chudakarma.' who is described as a concubine of the king.

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