Our ancient texts have much to teach us. However, how many of us can actually access those gems of wisdom today? This is where scholars like Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai come into the picture. With a PHD in Arthashastra from the University of Mumbai, he is just the right person to decode these precious pearls of wisdom for us! His latest book, Thus Spoke Chanakya (published by Jaico Books) presents the timeless knowledge contained in the teachings of ‘Chanakya’ who was perhaps the greatest ‘management consultants’ of ancient India!
Bookedforlife converses with the versatile author who is also a renowned management consultant and speaker, and heads the Leadership Centre at University of Mumbai.
Thus Spoke Chanakya, your latest book, is basically a simplification of the Arthashastra in order to suit today’s generation, and make it more accessible to people. What were the specific challenges you faced while translating the ideas of Chanakya into simple language for the modern reader?
For me, the biggest challenge was to study the original Arthashashtra in Sanskrit. It is a very scholarly work. About 15 years ago I was lucky enough to meet my guru, with whom I learned the nuances of the Sanskrit language. I am happy that I was able to translate the ideas from the original treatise into a form that people understand.
You have a PHD in Kautilya’s Arthashashtra. What do you think makes his age old teachings and principles so relevant even today?
Principles never age. Principles remain relevant across time. Let us take for example, family values. No matter what time and age, we will always love our family right? Due to technological changes the way we express or apply that principle may change. Similarly, what Chanakya has said remains relevant even today.
Thus Spoke Chanakya is a book that is deep but yet simple to understand. How can a reader make the best of it? As the author, what are your tips?
The beauty of this book is that you can read it from any page. Every thought is presented as a one-liner. You could read it page to page from the beginning to the end. Or, you could read any thought on any of the pages as a thought capsule. I would recommend reading the book at least once a day. Read a couple of thoughts daily. It does not take more than a minute to read the thought anyway! If you habitually read one to two thoughts daily, you will see a marked difference. Daily discipline is very important. It is just like an exercise program or a diet program. You have to keep at it!
There are numerous fiction and non-fiction books written about Chanakya or inspired by his teachings. Indeed, you have also written extensively on him. However, which is your favourite book on the master?
It would have to be the two original books: Arthashashtra and Chanakya Neeti. Of my own books, it would have to be Corporate Chanakya since it was the very first!
What is the next book you are working on?
I am working on presenting the Chanakya Neeti in a simplified manner to a modern reader. Chanakya compiled several sutras on how to live a successful life. These are very practical bits of wisdom relevant even today. These will be included in the book.
You have also written a book for children….Chatur Chanakya and the Himalayan Problem. How could parents start incorporating this age old wisdom in their children?
Chatur Chanakya is a character, just like Chota Bheem is a popular character for children! Chatur Chanakya is a modern boy who goes to school. There will be a series of Chatur Chanakya books. Though the stories, my aim is to teach children how to think. The first book, Chatur Chanakya and the Himalayan problem, tackles the issue of bullying in schools. The story is about how Chatur Chanakya resolves the bullying issue. “Himalaya” is the name of the bully. Many teachers and parents have also loved the book! Even when parents read the book, they learn a lot.
The versatility of Radhakrishnan Pillai’s books is something that is very appealing. If Chatur Chanakya series is enjoyed by adults as well, Thus Spoke Chanakya, is also very easy for children to understand. Ultimately, Chanakya, the master philosopher has something to teach all of us. Thus Spoke Chanaya by Radhakrishnan Pillai brings the master to the masses!
BOOKS BY DR. RADHAKRISHNAN PILLAI
Title: Thus Spoke Chanakya
Author: Radhakrishnan Pillai
Publisher: Jaico Books
Genre: Non-fiction, Business writing