The name of Chanakya is quite familiar to most of us. Also known as Kautilya and Vishnugupta, he is recognised as a master strategist and the supreme kingmaker. In the recent times, the media has loosely used Chanakya’s name to refer to politicians. However, Chanakya was above petty politics. He was a master teacher who could, to quote Kipling’s famous poem, “walk with kijngs and not lose the common touch”. At the essence of his teaching was the principle of service to society. He saw the ruler as one who serves the people.
Chanakya is well known for his insights into Rajneeti or political science. At the same time, he knew and understood the needs and the psychology of the masses. His magnum opus is the ultimate book on political science- Arthashatra, a rulers guide to ruling if you may!
The Arthashashtra is a huge and vast tome that covers many aspects of governance. It has 6000 sutras and these are formulas that are practically applicable to even modern situations in one’s professional life. Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai has written extensively on the application of the principles and concepts of the Arthashashtra to our corporate lives and leaderships and governance situations.
However, Chanakya’s wisdom was also meant to be applied to our daily lives. His thoughts encompass basic human concerns. They reflect a deep understanding of human nature and the psychology of a common man. These principles of good living form the essence of Chanakya Neeti – Strategies for Success, written by Radhakrishnan Pillai and published by JAICO Books.
While the original text of Chanakya Neeti was written in Sanskrit, there are some wonderful English translations available that make these pearls of wisdom accessible to us. Dr. Pillai’s book has the English translations of the verses of Chanakya Neeti, as well as commentary on the same. It is the latter that really assumes importance for the reader.
Chanakya lived in times when the society was patriarchal and casteist. Hence, a few of the verses may sound irrelevant by today’s thoughts. However, this is exactly where the expertise of Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai comes to play. He has authored about 15 books on Chanakya and has extensive experience of applying Chanakya’s principles to modern settings.
In that respect his interpretations and commentary on the verses of the Chanakya Neeti guide the modern reader and help him to apply these gems of wisdom to their lives in order to achieve success in whatever domain one wishes.
Each verse and the consequent commentary on its application to modern life, is in effect a short snippet of one of two pages. Read the book at one go. Or, open to any page you like and ponder over a specific verse. Whatever way you choose to read the book, it is something that will stay with you forever!
Recently I read a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, titled The Bhagavad Gita translated by Bibek Debroy, which is a heartfelt attempt to bring the richness of this ancient text to modern readers. The author mentioned that every age needs its own translation of the Gita. I believe that every age needs its own interpretation of the Arthashastra and the Chanakya Neeti as well, to ensure that these wonderful teaching gems don’t dissipate as time passes. And with a genius like Dr. Pillai to bring Chanakya to the modern readership, rest assured that we will be able to benefit vastly from this ancient wisdom!Benefit from the wisdom of Chanakya!