Saturday, August 06, 2011

Book Review: Chanakya's Chant

Chanakya’s Chant is one of those awe-inspiring novels I have read so far. It depicts the strategist in Chanakya and how he dethrones an entire kingdom, partly based on personal enmity and partly for the greater good of his country, Bharat. The author, Ashwin Sanghi, also weaves a story similar to that of Chanakya but this happens in the new Bharat. Chanakya’s Chant is fast paced and very intuitive. The strategies remain the same, the situations differ.

Target Audience: Historians, Political Analysts, Novel lovers – especially those who like thrillers – will love reading Chanakya’s Chant. However, the difference here is that the ‘end’ is already mentioned in the Prologue. The thrill lies in knowing the ‘means’. Since, for Chanakya and Pandit Gangasagar Mishra (the present day Chanakya in the novel) – ‘the end justifies the means’.

Plot: There are 2 plots in this novel running parallel to each other, one 2300 years ago (story of Chanakya) and the other happening in today's world (story of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra). Chanakya was the son of a learned Brahmin Chanak who was brutally killed by the king of Magadha, Dhanananda. He vows revenge, leaves Magadha for studies and comes back to Magadha. Though the enemy remains the same, the situation has changed dramatically especially with Alexander preparing to invade Bharat. The story revolves around how he ‘manipulates’ the situation and the people around him to achieve what he wants – a united Bharat. History repeats itself in the form of Gangasagar, who is the son of a teacher and is a bright student. He loses his father at an early age. He goes on to learn the art of politics and economics while working with a wily businessman – Agrawalji. To serve the country and remove the corrupt government, first in the state and eventually in the centre, he gets into politics and ‘manipulates’ the situation and the people around him (recollect the striking resemblance to Chanakya's story) to serve the country. However, in both the cases, the protagonist doesn’t rule himself but rules through their trusted (and extremely talented) pupils – Chandragupta Maurya and Chandini Gupta.

Writing: The author has used a peculiar way of penning down both the stories. We start with Chanakya’s story in chapter 1, the next chapter is dedicated to Gangasagar and it continues alternately. Such a style of writing is important to depict the similarities in both the plots. And he has pulled it off quite well.  It is evident that the author has researched extensively on the topic of Chanakya, Indian Politics among other things. He deserves due credit and the hard work seems to be paying off. I found one loophole though – which ironically is his writing style again (my personal opinion). While reading Chanakya’s Chant, one has to be aware as to how the last part of the same plot ended to be in sync with the new part. It may not be an issue for the regular reader, but will definitely come in the way of some new-comers. Shashi Tharoor, while launching the book, mentioned that the book is a ‘page-turner’, but I am sure some will be the turning the page front and back too.

Relevance in today’s times: The novel, especially the strategies mentioned in the book (both plots), is very much relevant in today’s day and age. Dynasty rule of ancient Bharat has replaced democracy of modern India. The stage has changed, the characters are different; strategies, nevertheless, remains the same. Chanakya was a master strategist and a wily manipulator and there’s no denying this fact. Personally, I don’t support / advocate his ways of reach one's eventual destination. But don’t be surprised if today’s politicians use similar strategies to achieve their goals – selfish or otherwise.

All in all, Chanakya’s Chant takes you through a plethora of strategies, some – or most – of which will leave you spell-bound. Read it mainly to understand the strategies, especially those of the leaders / politicians across the world. Read it for the war and politics involved – and their symbiotic relationship as mentioned in the book, “War is Politics with bloodshed; Politics is war without bloodshed”.

My Rating: 4/5

PS: This review is part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda. A special thanks to the BlogAdda team for selecting me for the review process.


  1. Hey awesome review man. Dis book was on my readin list frm quite som time n after readin ur blog ,nw toh definitely goin 2 buy it.
    Btw loved ur style of writing which has som subtle hints tht an MBA grad has written it :D
    Abhishek Padukone st frm quite som time n after readin ur blog ,nw toh definitely goin 2 buy it.
    Btw loved ur style of writing which has som subtle hints tht an MBA grad has written it :D
    Abhishek Padukone

  2. Hey thanks Abhishek for the wonderful comments yaar :) Reading this book was a wonderful experience, I must say :)

  3. dats a grt review. now im only too glad i din pick d book.
    politics, dirty mind games....totally not my thing! :o

  4. Hey Sadiya.. thanks yaar... :)
    But even if its not ur thing (its not my thing either), reading will only enable us to understand the politics happening around us better :)

  5. i guess now i dont need to look for this book...
    you have almost given me a perfect picture :)

  6. Hey thanks deeps :) Guess, I gave you a perfect picture in the positive sense of the term :)

  7. This is s very useful and detailed review. The books does sound interesting!

  8. Thanks Indian Home Maker :) About the book, indeed its worth reading :)

  9. One Book for Life Success offers so much of wisdom - just awesome

  10. I bought this book via online and it's worth the penny. I am a great fan of Chanakya so was searching for a nice book. Then came across this book and bought. A must read I feel. A well written Binu covering all the points.

    1. A must read indeed Prashanth. Explains a lot of politics and why's and what next's of it!


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