Many moons ago, A third year degree Student was clutching her printed copies of Arthashastra by Kautilya, nervous..... she stumbled in front of the class to deliver her presentation….
Expecting Political dramas to be a tad too serious, I undertook the mammoth task of reading the novel and as promised, here is my review of the book.
There are two plots in the book one set in a time, about 2300 years ago during the time of Chandragupta, the founder of the Maurya Empire. He is considered to be the firts unifier of India nad its first genuine emperor.The other plot is one in present day. The theme of this novel is based purely on human emotions like revenge and ambition,emotions like love are shown only as a means to achieve power and move closer to one’s goals. The novel is divided into 20 chapters and it alternates between the two main strategists Chanakya and Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. As the story unfolds one can see the writers subtle ways which are used to emphasize the parallels that exist between the two tales and convey to the reader that not much has changed in human’s nature, even after a few thousand years. Venality, Lust, Ambitiousness, Deceitfulness – these are some of the basic human nature qualities which haven’t changed over the thousand years.
A common character of both the strategists is that they were consumed by a strong belief that their actions were justified as long as the goals were achieved, however moral or immoral the means used to achieve them have been.The writer has effortlessly illustrated the similarities in planning of both the strategists in the proverb - “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese”.Chanakya allowed other to fight over an empire,however he struck when the armies were depleted after the fight thus taking away the "cheese".On similar lines,Gangasagar, kept himself abreast of the activities of his opponents, especially those driven by sexual urges or greed, thus making them mere puppets in hours of need.The actions of the strategists are similar in essence however the situations and circumstances differ. Their characters grow with the book and finally unfold two great men.
The book is well researched with a compelling storyline.The book is unpredictable with two different periods interwoven in one read, thus keeping its readers hooked. The style is simple, colloquial and witty and the protagonists' observations and dialogue are sharp and witty. The plans are extensive and well thought out- each move is calculated and meticulously planned. At no point do you feel, it was all too easy. Chandini (Gangasagar's protégée) and Chandragupta are no means puppets to the mentors, they are genuine leaders. The success of the plots is the blind faith and understanding that the protégées demonstrate towards their maker.
The book manages to keep the readers engaged and enthused to read to the very end. It’s a well paced political thriller, which is well researched, exciting, intriguing, and well plotted at the same time.
On a Rating scale out of 10 - I would give Chanakya’s Chant a 9/10.
About the Author :
Ashwin Sanghi (born January 25, 1969) is an Indian author of thriller fiction, best known for his 2007 novel, The Rozabal Line.
An author who thrives on the amalgamation of history and fiction - Ashwin Sanghi (AKA Shawn Haigins) knows just the right formula to write an addictive thriller that keeps you at the edge but also provides you with juicy nuggets of historical factoids.
Ashwin Sanghi was born and raised in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, the youngest of three children. His schooling was at the Cathedral and John Connon School (Class of 1985). After graduating from Cathedral in 1985 Sanghi attended St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He attended the Yale School of Management, receiving an MBA in 1993. After graduating from Yale, Sanghi joined his family's business enterprise while continuing to write thriller fiction part-time.
Credits for Information about the Author:
P:S:- If you are intrigued as to how the book has helped me, well I have written my understanding of the Arthashastra and mailed it to my professor, and was happy at the reply which went,
Dear Tinu ,
Am glad I see a change in the mischievous nuisance creator in my class, I’m proud to tell you that if you had written this review back in college I would have given you better grades, however, having said that , I will have your recent understanding of Arthashastra kept in our library for future reference. Also, do drop by to deliver a talk on the same.
Ms. Radha Kumar
Department Of AIC
St. Xaviers College