Chanakya – the Indian Machiavelli …

Posted on November 17, 2010. Filed under: Books, Guide Posts, Indian Thought |

Chanakya probably lived from BCE 350 to 283. He was the chief architect of Chandragupta’s (the first Maurya Emperor) rise to power. He  served as his adviser and prime minister. Famed for his practical good sense and real politick, Chanakya is referred in the Western World as ‘The Indian Machiavelli’. Here are some of his gems.

If one has a good disposition, what other virtue is needed? If a man has fame, what is the value of other ornamentation?

A man is born alone and dies alone. He alone experiences the good and bad consequences of his karma. And he goes alone to hell or the Supreme abode.

There is no austerity equal to a balanced mind and there is no virtue greater than mercy. There is no happiness which equals contentment and there is no disease like covetousness

He who is overly attached to his family will experience fear and sorrow – for the root of all grief is attachment. Thus one should discard attachment to be happy.

Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it? Will I be successful? What will be the result of success or failure? Only go ahead when you find satisfactory answers to these questions.

Do not be afraid of failure and do not abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.

The one excellent thing that can be learned from a lion is that whatever a man intends doing should be done by him with whole-hearted and strenuous effort.

Do not reveal what you have thought upon doing, but by wise council keep it secret. The biggest guru-mantra is – “Never share your secrets with anybody”. Otherwise it will destroy you.

As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it.

The serpent, the king, the tiger, the stinging wasp, the small child, the dog owned by other people, and the fool. These seven ought not to be awakened from sleep.

There is poison in the fang of the serpent, in the mouth of the fly and in the sting of a scorpion. But the wicked man is saturated with it.

A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first. Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous

As a single withered tree, if set aflame, causes a whole forest to burn, so does a rascal son destroy a whole family.

Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness. There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.

One whose knowledge is confined to books and whose wealth is in the possession of others, can use neither his knowledge nor wealth, when the need for them arises.

Test a servant while in the discharge of his duty, a relative in difficulty, a friend in adversity, and a wife in misfortune.

The world’s biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman.

God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple.

The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions.


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