by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222
This page describes the Story of Canakya included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).
Eastern and western scholars have made exhaustive researches on this intellectual giant of ancient India, Cāṇakya. But, nothing definite has yet been established about his time or life. Indians have accepted as a fact the traditional legend that he was a minister of Candragupta, the founder of the Maurya dynasty. It is also firmly believed that it was this mighty intellect of a brahmin who made Candragupta a powerful emperor and steered the ship of his state. The phrase 'Cāṇakya’s kuṭilanīti' (crooked tactics) has become proverbial. Some scholars hold the opinion that he came to be called 'Kauṭilya' because of his Kuṭila (crooked) tactics; but evidence to establish this view-point is yet to be adduced.
It is his famous Arthaśāstra, which has made Cāṇakya’s name a world famous one. The great German thinker Jolly has described the Arthaśāstra as a unique composition in the Sanskrit language. And, Johann Meyer, the great western scholar has the following to say about the book:—
"Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra is not one single text, it is a collection and collateration of all books in ancient India. To study the greatness of the theories and principles contained in it today requires continuous and constant study at least for twenty years and the unremitting efforts of a scholar with unabounded knowledge are required." Even his name has not yet been confirmed beyond doubts. Kauṭilya is also called Viṣṇugupta, Cāṇakya, Dramila, and Aṅgula. Modern researches place the date of the Arthaśāstra at near about B.C. 400. In Viśākhadatta’s Mudrārāksasa (drama) the name Kauṭilya is used.
The Authors of Nītiśāstra maintain that the name of the author of Arthaśāstra was Viṣṇugupta. It may be gathered from the Mudrārākṣasa that he became famous as Cāṇakya as he was the son of Caṇaka, and that he possessed deep erudition in Nītiśāstra, Dharmaśāstra and astrology. There is another legend to the effect that this brahmin (Cāṇakya) belonged to Kāñcīpura and that he migrated to Pāṭalīputra, the seat of learning and scholarship. As Kāmandaka, who lived in the fourth century B.C. has eulogised Cāṇakya in his nītiśāstra it may be surmised that Cāṇakya lived sometime near about that. Candragupta and Cāṇakya are referred to in the Viṣṇu and the Vāmana Purāṇas. Kauṭilya was keen-eyed and scholar par excellence. "Arthaśāstra" is a great book written by him after thoroughly examining the viewpoints of previous scholars, and then establishing his own views and theories. From the Daśakumāracarita of Daṇḍī (A.D. 700) it may be seen that there are 6000 verses in the Anuṣṭup metre (eight letters in one line) in the Arthaśāstra composed by Viṣṇugupta for the use of Candragupta Maurya. The Artha āstra has been held in praise by Bāṇabhaṭṭa who lived in the 7th Century, Somadevasūri, who lived in the 10th century and also by Hemacandra, the author of Kāvyānuśāsana, who lived in the 12th century. The book is a discourse on the principles and practices that are necessary to establish a strong government of an ideal empire. Cāṇakya has mentioned in his book with respect the old scholars like Manu, Śukra, Bṛhaspati, Nārāyaṇa, Kātyāyana and Govinda dīkṣita. (For the purāṇic story about Cāṇakya see Vararuci, Para 6).