New Login   

Life And Times

Malabika Majumdar

By Dipavali Sen
Unicorn Books, New Delhi, 2016, pp. 264, Rs. 197.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 8 August 2016

Till about the dawn of the twentieth century, Chanakya’s Arthashastra and his other works had remained in oblivion for modern scholars. The singular credit for the discovery of this 2500 year old manuscript on statecraft and political economy goes to Dr Rudrapatnam Shamashastry of Mysore, who not only unearthed the text but heralded a new era in Indian administration and statecraft. At the same time he also helped refresh the western minds that Indian thought was not entirely geared to discovering the ‘other-worldly’ merits. The revelation of this text has since been compelling enough for thinkers researching on ancient India to seriously take up works on Nitishastra or science pertaining to norms of social, political and legal behaviour. Arthashastra, by Chanakya’s own admission in the chapter Tantrayukti of the text (Adhikarana 15.1), serves two purposes. It is a means to generate wealth (vrittisadhana) and a way (upaya) of maintaining the well being of the earth (prithvi). Hence as a study on eudaemonia, Arthashastra overshadows other related works on Niti. From out of the comprehensive researches on this subject, the project, Chanakya Today by Dipavali Sen, an economist by profession and Sanskritist by choice, creates a niche of its own. Her target audience happens to be ‘young scholars’ in search of quick ready information on the life and times of Chanakya as well as the texts authored by him. This particular book is actually a three-in-one composition containing Arthashastra, Chanakya Niti and Chanakya Sutra. Dipavali makes a judicious selection of Sanskrit passages while dealing with Chanakya’s magnum opus Arthshastra, mainly to authenticate or exemplify the central theme of a specific chapter . The rest of the passages are a summary of few agglomerated slokas contained in the chapter. This makes the reading smooth in comparison to texts that are inundated with Sanskrit passages. The work contains capsule size information ensconced in simple language and bereft of theoretical jargons that are often appended to social science research. All these go a long way to make the book easy reading for a lay person. Where Dipavali has really scored high relates to the painstaking translation she has undertaken of the slokas from Sanskrit to English. Chanakya Niti and Sutra we get in a complete translation, while Arthashastra appears in an abridged form. The book contains two sections. The introductory part deals first with the life and times of Chanakya, who is also known ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.