Kautilya (also known as Chanakya, 350-275 BCE), a pioneer in Diplomacy and Government Administration, Professor of Political Science and Economics in University of Taxila, an Indian Statesman and Philosopher, Chief Advisor and Prime Minister of the Indian Emperor Chandragupta, the first ruler of the Mauryan Empire. A man behind the science of politics - “Arthashastra”.
The Arthashastra gives information about specific topics that are relevant for rulers who wish to run an effective government. Diplomacy and war (including military tactics) are the two points treated in most detail but the work also includes recommendations on law, prisons, taxation, irrigation, agriculture, mining, fortifications, coinage, manufacturing, trade, administrations, diplomacy, and spies.
At the time of Kautilya, India was mostly composed of a number of small independent states, with the exception of the Magadha kingdom, a realm that controlled most of Northern India, which was ruled by the Nanda dynasty. The fame of Kautilya is owed to the important role he played in the fall of the Magadha kingdom and the rise to power of the Mauryan dynasty. In order to accomplish this, he became an ally and loyal servant of Chandragupta, a noble member of the Kshatriya caste, who was related to the Nanda family, but he was an exile. Before he became Chandragupta’s ally, Kautilya was introduced to the Nanda king, who insulted him. Kautilya untied his sikha (lock of hair on male Hindus), and swore he would only tie it back once the Nanda dynasty was destroyed.
Kautilya and Chandragupta raised a small army that lacked sufficient military strength to take the Magadha throne directly. Therefore, Kautilya’s strategies became useful: Chandragupta entered the capital of the Magadha kingdom, Pataliputra, where he triggered a civil war using Kautilya Chanakya’s intelligence network. In 322 BCE Chandragupta finally seized the throne putting an end to the Nanda dynasty and he established the Mauryan dynasty which would rule India until 185 BCE. After this victory, Chandragupta fought and defeated the generals of Alexander the Great located in Gandhara, present day Afghanistan. Following these successful campaigns, Chandragupta was seen as a brave leader who defeated part of the Greek invaders and ended the corrupt Nanda government and thus gained wide public support. Kautilya’s political vision had a heavy influence on Chandragupta, the first Indian ruler who unified Northern India under a single political unit for the first time in history. Even today, the Arthashastra is the number one classic of diplomacy in India and, within this category, it is one of the most complete works of antiquity. A number of institutions in India such as universities and diplomatic offices have been named after Kautilya in honour of his work.
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