Meet the modern day Chanakya
Ashwin Sanghi’s first novel The Rozabal Line spoke about the lost years of Jesus, while his second book is yet another spine chilling thriller which retells the life of Chanakya the great Indian political strategist in a modern day fiction
Ashwin Sanghi found himself immersed in the verbose talent of Chanakya (who was an adviser of the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta) that he couldn’t stop himself from reading great volumes about the man. He just found himself turning pages of one tome after another. “I just couldn’t stop myself from reading. I read around 15 books about the man in a couple of months. I started off with the Arthashastra, Neetishastra, and Panchatantra to name a few. I also read interesting books about the Mauryan Empire for reference,” says the author who found his muse in the historical genius who defined the epitome of governance and politics during the ancient era.
Chanakya wrote reams and reams of pages about governance, strategies and game plans. He indeed was a very talented man and his sense of imagination was commendable. What he had foreseen centuries ago was a boon in disguise to our era. “The man is often referred to as the Indian Machiavelli but then people who gave him that title ignore the fact that Chanakya’s work predated Machiavelli’s work by almost 1800 years. Chanakya has written manuals on Indian governance which covers almost every aspect of the subject. It also throws light on how to run a kingdom effortlessly. For ex. He wrote about how wide a road should be, so that two chariots can pass off easily and how long should the duct be around a kingdom to prevent robbery. He also wrote about how to collect taxes from gambling parlours. His vision was inconceivable,” says Sanghi who authored his second novel called ‘Chanakya’s Chant’ which is a contemporary tale based on the epic hero.
Chanakya’s Chant is a story of a hunted, haunted Brahmin youth who vows revenge for the gruesome murder of his beloved father. Cold, calculating, cruel and armed with a complete absence of accepted morals, he becomes the most powerful political strategist in Bharat and succeeds in uniting a ragged country against the invasion of the army of that demigod, Alexander the Great. Pitting the weak edges of both forces against each other, he pulls off a wicked and astonishing victory and succeeds in installing Chandragupta on the throne of the mighty Mauryan Empire.
That’s the ancient tale in the book which is perfectly blended with a modern day saga which illustrates a story of a pandit named Gangasagar who preys on greed, venality and sexual deviance to bring about another miracle of a united India. “This is a story about a pandit who discovers a girl from the slum to make her the next prime minister of India. Plotting the two eras was an arduous task but then once it was done; weaving the two stories was quite easy. I just had to draw parallel strategies and the nuances of politics remained the same even though the characters and the era was different,” explains Sanghi who is greatly influenced by the ancient era politics.
When the author was exploring works of political strategist he realized that a lot has been written by Chanaka but a very little has been written about him. Sanghi felt that there was a huge gap nad he could easliy fit in to bridge the distance, “That’s the advantage of a fiction writer, we can easily fill it up. It’s like a mile post and everything in between the gap is the plot and that’s what worked for me.” Politics in the ancient time was all about war with weapons, chariots, elephants and battle fields, while the modern day politics is all about manipulating elections and campaigns. “It happens in more ways than we can imagine,” he concludes.
The book is priced at Rs. 195 and is available across all Reliance TimeOut stores.