Chanakya Niti (Neeti) PDF in Hindi, English, Sanskrit & Telugu
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Mihir Chandra Sharma
Commentary by Iswar Chandra Sharma Shastri
Dr. Pullele Sriramachandrudu
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About Chanakya Niti
In ancient India (321-296 B.C.) a unique economic policy and law were set forth by Chanakya (Vishnu gupta), who was a great statesman, economist, philosopher and law-giver. Samakaraya wrote in his commentary on Kamandaka's Nitisara, "Vishnugupta is the name given at the naming ceremony and Chanakya and Kautilya are connected with the birth-place and Gotra respectively." The name Kautilya contains to some extent, an error. The Gotra (tribal name) of Chanakya was Kutla and hence Chanakya, as a descendant of that Gotra, must be called as Kautalya. The ancient manuscripts of the Arthasastra consist of the name Kautalya. Prof. Bhandarkar opined, "for the promotion of truth and history, the name Kautilya should be discarded and Kautalya must be adopted." However, substituting the name Kautalya in place Kautilya is not an easy task as innumerable writers mention the 'distorted' name Kautilya in their books and essays. However, the name Chanakya is connected with the birth-place of Vishnugupta and has been popularly used by writers and readers."
The ancient economist wrote two books (as far as we know), the treatise called the "Arthasastra" or the Science of Economics, and the "Chanakya Niti Shastra," which laid a strong foundation 2300 years ago for the founding of one of history's greatest empires, the Mauryan Empire. Chanakya's protege was no less than emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who rose from a lowly background to carve out the largest empire India had known up to that time, and ruled it from 325 to 273 BC. His grandson was no less than Ashoka, whose monuments and symbols still stand in India and adorn the Indian flag. The Chanakya Niti is still read today by aspiring corporate strategists trying to understand the qualities of a good leader.
Chandragupta was a great warrior and adventurous king and he obtained effective guidance from Chanakya for conquering weak and mismanaged states as well as for consolidating gains and accelerating tempo of development in the empire in order to meet requirements of the government and promote welfare amongst subjects. It has been aptly remarked, "As any sudden military revolution is followed by an equally great statesman's work, a war-like figure like that of Chandragupta demands a statesman like wisdom like that of Kautilya, who alone can render the new unique empire secure, with its administrative machinery and fiscal management well founded". No doubt, Chanakya played a pivotal role in the formation of the Maurya empire and in the promotion of all round development within the empire.
Chanakya hailed from the ancient university of Takshashila or Taxila in modern-day Pakistan. He also wrote the Chankya Niti or Nitishastra, which historians say dates from the period 321-296 B.C. Its slightly archaic style is well in agreement with the claim. It is also testified by various early Indian writers. who have given quotations from it. The Chanakya Niti is a selection of sutras, pithy verses, that convey much about the ideal way of life. 455 sutras comprise the document and reflect Chanakya's astute mind and his phenomenal vision and clarity. 216 of these sutras have to do with Rajaniti, the art of governing a kingdom. These sutras may very well have played a big role in the grooming of Chandragupta Maurya and other disciples of Chanakya.
The Chanakya Niti consists of expert knowledge regarding espionage, maintenance and mobilization of army, general administration, diplomacy, management of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry; industrial production and so forth. His contribution in the field of political science is undoubtedly laudable. He set forth his opinion regarding the elements of sovereignty, remedies against external and internal troubles of the government, enforcement of rights and duties amongst various grades of administrative staff, etc. For the enforcement of law and order in the empire, criminal and civil laws were also prescribed.
Though the book had a profound influence on various writers and rulers in Indian history, the book and its author were lost to knowledge when the British ruled India. It was only a century ago that they came to light again. A manuscript of the Chanakya's Arthashastra, and with it, a commentary on a small part of it by a writer named Bhattaswamin, was handed over by a Pandit (scholar) to the Mysore Government Oriental Library. Mr. Shamasastry published the English translation of the text in 1915 (J.F. Fleet, 1914, Introductory Note, Kautilya's Arthasastra translated by Dr. R. Shamasastry). The original text consists of some obsolete words. Credit goes to Dr. Shamasastry for translating the contents in English and bringing it to the notice of scholars and the general history of ancient India. Second and third editions were published in 1923 and 1929.
Translators accept that perfect translation and a correct interpretation of the text is a difficult task. Dr. Shamasastry writes "Still I shall feel highly rewarded for my labors, if it proves a stepping-stone for others to arrive at a correct interpretation. For want of necessary diacritical marks, the translation of the Sanskrit words could not be made as thorough as it ought to be." The difference in the translation work of scholars are due to difference in interpretation by the concerned translators. Although possibilities lie that in future the new translations by erudite scholars might point out some new interpretations. Most likely, in spite of a few differences in the interpretations of those erudite scholars, there does not arise the possibility of adverse affects on the basic contents of the book.