Chanakya, also known as Kautilya and Vishnu Gupta, is one of the most influential figures in Indian history. After all, he was the brains behind the brawn of Chandragupta Maurya, who successfully upended the Nanda Dynasty and laid the foundations of the Maurya Empire, which under his successors Bindusara and Ashoka became the first and the largest empire in India and was matched – but not exceeded – later on only by the Mughal Empire and Gupta Empire, and to a certain extent, by Chola dynasty down south. Apart from being a royal adviser Chanakya was a teacher, economist, philosopher, and jurist. He also wrote Arthashastra, one of the most revered political treatises in India.
The major sayings of Chanakya
Chanakya touched a wide variety of issues in Arthashastra – for good measure he is also held as a major predecessor of classical economics – but there are some points that stand out. They may be enumerated as below:
- It is always important to learn from the mistakes that others make since life is too short to make all the mistakes by oneself and learn.
- It is always important to be a good person since goodness of an individual is all pervasive. It can be felt anywhere and everywhere.
- It is not always in one’s interest to be completely honest since honest people often face problems.
- There is no God in statues and idols. The soul is the temple of a human being and his or her emotions are the God.
- Even if someone does not have the means, he or she should behave like he or she has the same.
- It is deeds that make someone great and not the family where he or she was born into.
- There is no friendship where there is absolutely zero self-interest. It may be hard to accept this but it is a fact.
- It is always important to make friends with people of similar stature since friendships with ones below or above never make one happy.
- It is always important to be clear about a few things before one does any work – the reasons for doing the same, its results, and possibilities of success. Only after deep thought and proper answers should one undertake a task.
- It is always important to treat kids in the first five years of their lives like absolute darlings and keep reprimanding them for all mistakes in the next decade of their lives. However, when they turn 16-years-old they should be regarded as friends since children who have grown up can be the best friends.
- It is always important to attack and destroy any source of fear in sight.
- Just like a visually-impaired or challenged person has no use for a mirror, a stupid individual can derive nothing out a book.
- The beauty and youth that a lady possesses is the most important power in the world.
- Education is always the best friend of an individual. It is something that helps one be respected universally and also wields greater power than virtues such as youth and beauty.
- It is always important to be wholeheartedly dedicated to any work and not worry about failures since sincere people happen to be the happiest as well.
Chanakya’s views on success and leadership
Chanakya says that success never happens accidentally. It happens only when the person is properly focused and is able to align this virtue with actions that have a lot of thought behind them. He also says that for a leader it is important to be fearless, persevering, and patient. These qualities help one set goals, which would otherwise be regarded as too high, and also be determined enough to achieve them. Such qualities also help the leader formulate proper plans and execute them well. A leader should also be good enough to identify talent and groom them properly so that they are able to take on bigger challenges later on in life.
Why they are important in today’s world?
Chanakya’s thoughts have been revered highly for generations in India and not without reason. His thoughts and sayings are universal and can be applied to every sphere of one’s life as well as in the public space. He prescribes balance in personal life while emphasizing on areas like importance of education, and qualities like success and leadership. More than anything these are perhaps the best motivational tools that one can access in this day and age.