Bharat Ek Khoj 11: Chanakya and Chandragupta, Part I


The two centuries after Buddha
saw many changes in India Small kingdoms and republics
were being amalgamated The urge was to build a united
centralised state Out of this emerged a powerful
and developed Empire Alexander’s invasion of India
gave the final push Two remarkable men took
advantage of these changes and moulded them to their will These men were Chandragupt
Maurya and his counsellor Vishnugupt Chanakya, also
known as Kautilya Both had been exiled from
Magadh and had taken refuge in
Takshashila There they met Alexander’s
Greek army In 323 B.C. when news of
Alexander’s death came the people rose against the
foreign invader and captured Takshashila Then, Chandragupt marched
towards Pataliputra defeated the Nandas and
established Mauryan Empire The Mauryan Empire extended
from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and up to
Kashmir and Kabul O lustrous Sun God! I, Vishnugupt, son of Chanak,
pay thee homage Please accept this homage May your light spread
throughout Jambudweep! May this state prosper! I pray to thee Please bless me My respects, Master! Who are you? I am Chandragupt Maurya Chandragupt? Son of the slave
girl Murar! Did you not revolt against
Dhananand? I have been exiled What do you want of me? Make me your disciple What will you learn from me? You are writing a book on
economics I have just started writing it But how will it benefit you? I aspire to be the Emperor of
Magadh Emperor? You are not even of
the warrior caste What delusions of grandeur! Is king Nand of Magadh of the
warrior caste? May be not! But today he has
an Empire Economics teaches you to unite
a state and rule it It is useless to you It will help only kings and rulers Then teach me how to acquire
a kingdom like Magadn Not everyone can translate
dreams into reality But not everyone can dream Can one build a State based on
the common man? Or a kingdom that can be
organised on this basis? There is nothing more
ridiculous than this The common folk whom you
praise are dictated by fear, sleep and
lust they cannot see beyond their
own families They do not understand society But can we trust kings — their
virtues and worth? Kings can be more dangerous And foolish, too! Most kings are drunk with
power willing to ruin society for their
greed More so than the common
people No, A chanya What we need is a lifestyle, a
system iron-clad rules which cannot be easily broken That’s why this book.. But who will read the book? A
couple of intellectuals! They will read it and argue over
it What difference will it make? Intellectuals do not create
society That’s common knowledge A book is immortal Some day someone may praise
it understand its importance and emulate it! There are other books on
economics. What is their use? I know that very well! Even the best thought cannot
exist in a vacuum It needs to be backed by power
and arms If not, it will simply remain a
pure thought I am going to Pataliputra to seek support for my ideas Pataliputra? What support will that debauch
Nand give you? A person steeped in greed and
lust! Will he even listen to you? Do you wish to go to Magadh where girls swing their bottoms and the king watches them
dance for hours I worry about economics, not
dramatics You are lost in bookish
thoughts, Brahmin! Statecraft and political ethics is
beyond you These problems are not so
easily solved The matter is very simple, You have to decide whether
you’ll conquer the Greeks or allow them to conquer you Emperor Alexander is returning
to Greece Governor Seleukos will have to
march eastwards and attack Pataliputra There’s no time to lose. Stop
the greeks at once! Amatya Rakshas Who’s this ugly Brahmin who
dares advise me? Who does he think he is? Will no one tell him this is the
Magadh court not a smoky ritual hall Amatya Rakshas! Take him
away! Dhananand! Come to your
senses You are drunk with power I, Vishnu Gupt, without any
invitation have come to the court You have drained your intellect Don’t you realise where lies
your good and that of Magadh You’ll pay for your
shamelessness. You’ll die! You’ll be destroyed! Look! This Brahmin unknots his
hair I shall not tie my hair knot throw out the Nand dynasty
from Pataliputra May you be destroyed! May your life’s aim be
destroyed! Amatya! Catch him! Arrest the Brahmin
beggar You dare insult me in my own
court Please do not arrest him Why? He has committed no crime You have insulted a learned
teacher Do not sin further, my king Do not sin further, my king Yes! The Nand dynasty can be
destroyed, Chandragupt! It has to be destroyed! But how? I cannot see how it
can be done Even the Gods help to fulfill
sacred oaths Do not worry Swear to me that you will
destroy Nand Gather your courage and leave
the rest to me Magadh is a powerful Empire No! It seems powerfu to those who look at the surface one is happy with NancT
rule There is discontent in the state Taxes are high but life is
unprotected The king is greedy and corrupt Even the ministers are unhappy Even then there’s Amatya
Rakshas I know he’s a problem He is the only one trying to save
this debauched State He’s the problem, Chandragupt But do not worry Every problem has a solution
We have to find it Even Rakshas will have to bow
to us He has no dreams,
Chandragupt Emperor Alexander is injured How? I don’t know! That’s what
heard How was he injured? Magadh’s soldiers attacked him
on the way Soldiers! March! You call yourselves brave
soldiers of Greece! The foundation of the Greek
Empire! You should be ashamed of
yourselves An unarmed attacker enters the
camp and creates terror among 2000
soldiers causing a stampede And our commander is unable
to catch him Or even find out who he was
and from where he came Who was he? Seleucus, Governor of Greece’s
East Zone Seleucus Nikator! Can you tell
me this? He may have been Nand’s spy
from Magadh We must befriend his enemies I have heard that Chanakya of
Takshashila wishes to destroy the Nand
dynasty If we could befriend him and
Chandragupt, his brave disciple An intelligent teacher and his
brave disciple Seleucus! Arrange a meeting
with them in Takshashila My respects, O Master! Meet Kirtidhwaj, the king of
actors He entered the Greek camp
disguised as a gypsy and created terror and chaos
there Great! Here’s your reward. Both Alexander and Seleucus
firmly believe that the rumour was spread by
Nand’s spies So, the Greeks suspect Nand!
Excellent! How does that help us? Did you forget what have
written? An enemy’s enemy is a friend We must forget our mutual
suspicion The Greeks suspicious of Nand
will be to our benefit How can the Greeks be our
friends? We will destroy them too! We will throw them out of the
country but only when the timeis right We must fight one enemy at a
time Our first enemy is Nand and our enemy’s enemy is
Alexander So, we must make peace with
the Greeks Did you know that the land upto
river Vipasha is ours? King Ambhik, King Paurav and
Seleucus are our Governors My aim is not only to acquire
land but to witness the dawn of a
great and new culture This dawn will come about if the
arts, sciences and cultures of India and
Greece intermingle India and Greece are two great
civilisations I seek your blessings for the
success of this ideal I seek your blessings for the
success of this ideal A meeting of cultures! A
strange thought Acharya Chanakya! Why are
you silent? I thought only we Indians lost
ourselves in the music of words Looks like even you have been
influenced Your plan is attractive but shouldn’t we look at it
realistically? Greek power has still not
stabilised in India I feel you are standing on the
edge of a piece of dry leather Which is why the other end is
up You should stand in the center with determination Or else, your dreams will only
remain dreams and will never be fulfilled That too will happen. Much
before you think But I need your blessings Why is it necessary? You are a victorious Emperor
and I am a teacher who has taken the vow of
poverty What is my blessing worth? We need some concrete help
from you Yours and your disciple’s I am ready to discuss it with you because practical work bears
fruit I am ready to help you I am pleased But listen to me first Speak I have two conditions What are
they? One, you will help us to
vanquish Nand The other? Two, to strengthen our alliance,
Seleucus will offer his daughter Helena in
marriage to Chandragupt Chandragupt? Magadh’s future
King Your conditions are difficult Is my marriage a part of the
understanding? Yes! That is the foundation of
the understanding Don’t you want to be king of
Magadh? Any second thoughts? My decision is final. I have
sworned to destroy Nand In that case, do what I say I am willing to fight the fiercest
battle face insurmountable odds but Why should I marry a girl I don’t
like or know? A king’s marriage is dictated by
politics not by his desire or whim This will strengthen our alliance
with the Greeks Will you fight two enemies at a
time? You will marry Helena No! I have promised Suvasini Who’s Suvasini? Shatkar’s daughter Nand’s Defence Minister’s
daughter How will you benefit from
marrying Suvasini? Think Chandragupt! Think! What is the aim, the ambition of
your life! What is your dream! Your life is not for frolicking in
love You are the future Emperor of
Magadh Maybe even Jambudweep You must marry Helena to fulfill
your destiny You will marry Helena! I don’t know if you will return
from Takshashila I’ll return the moment my
education is over No! The Emperor will not
forgive your revolt Our love is aimless We are like two straws in
mid-stream We flow together for a while,
only to be separated My decision is final. I shall
return and that too, as Magadh’s
Emperor Shaktar! Your daughter’s grace
is beyond words She dances like an angel from
heaven It is your kindness. Such
encouragement! I wish to encourage her further She will dance only for me Of course! She is like your
daughter Shut up, you fool! She will be
my wife and queen How can that be, my lord? She is so young, you are like
her father Will you dare oppose me? That is rebellion! Arrest the
traitor My lord, you cannot do this
injustice He is a traitor You will marry your daughter to
me or face death Take him away! Father! My daughter! Why don’t you obey the king’s
order No! I won’t let you marry that
debauch He is only talking of marriage,
isn’t he? Marry me off or else he will kill
you Let me be killed I don’t wish to live under such a
regime It is better that I swallow poison Why? You can run away Go to Chandragupt. He had
promised to marry you But he has married Helena on
Chanakya’s orders So what? You can be his
second wife Go! Chandragupt will accept
you He will, but Chanakya’s move
has ended our friendship Life is not a bed of roses Chanakya is sly His principles are disgusting He will attack Magadh with
Greek help If he wins, our traditions will be
wiped out Dance will become the rich
man’s entertainment to be performed by harlots It is the dance which has
destroyed us For you, Chandragupt’s refuge is better than Nand’s
oppression No! I’ll not leave you I shall go to the king I’ll be his wife and beg for your
life What about my self-respect? Your sacrifice will go in vain Once anyone revolts against
Nand, he is never trusted Kapalik! Didn’t you recognise me? I am
Chanakya You? What are you doing here? You are not safe here. I know
what has happened I have come to fetch you This house is surrounded by
Nand’s soldiers Some of them are on our side.
Don’t waste time. Let’s go Tell me, what price will I have to
pay for my freedom? No price, minister! Chandragupt has given me a
written order You are his new Defence
Minister Of a State which does not even
exist It will dawn some day That day is not too far Nand’s rule depends on you
and Amatya Rakshas Do you want to serve a state where you daughter is forcibly
married off? A minister’s daughter! Shaktar! We have to destroy
such a state We know Nand has a few
sincere ministers and we respect them They will find a place in the new
cabinet But only on your advice There’s no time. You must
decide fast Decide what? Whom do you wish to serve? Whom are you loyal to? Magadh and Jambudweep Or that cruel debauched tyrant? What about Suvasini? Can we
not save her? There’s no need for that but I promise you Once Chandragupt becomes
ruler no harm will befall her Don’t worry, come. I regret I had to arrest your
father There was no other alternative How else could you terrorise
me? Once again I beg your
forgiveness Your beauty made me lose my
reason I was willing to do anything to
get you Love is blind, Suvasini Love! Yes, Suvasini! Love! Pure love! Maybe my method was wrong
but it was love Are you still angry with me? I am reconciled, my Emperor Emperor? Only Emperor I wish you could look into
wounded heart My lord, we intercepted this
letter Punish shaktar’s guards As you
wish This letter will interest
Suvasini So, my father has crossed the
Magadh border Chanakya has given the event a
political twist Chanakya is cunning, my Lord He knows how to take full
advantage of a situation I wonder why he did not plot to
kidnap you For him, my father is more
important than I am Would you have gone with him? My Lord, Chanakya may forget
but You must not forget that I am
Empress of Magadh I have duties which I will fulfill
till I die I am grateful, my love You should thank only outsiders If you permit, may I make a
request No request, order me O Queen
of Magadh Magadh stands on the edge of
destruction Chanakya has sworned to
dethrone you I know he is a schemer but a frog cannot become a bull Magadh is not a small state but
a huge Empire The immensity can prove to
a weakness Did you see how they
kidnapped my father You are frightened, Suvasini We should frustrate their efforts How? With friendship Friendship? Yes! We should get the other
states to side with us They face the greatest danger
from Chanakya We must assure them that we
will not attack them Only then can we stop
Chandragupt’s march and Magadh will be safe The Vedic influence is waning
due to Buddhism The people are moving away
from the Vedas We must give them strength so that they can resist
Chandragupt Then none will dare look at
Magadh again Chanakya! Enough of formality First answer my question Why did you attack the
republics? They were not your enemies We do not wish to extend our
Empire or power Yet you fought us And defeated too Chanakya, you wish to establish
an Empire but this will destroy the
republics We will not allow you to
establish an Empire and we will definitely establish
it! Losing a skirmish is not losing
the war Calm down, Chandragupt President Sariputra is our
protector and are our well wishers President Sariputra We respect the republics They look after the welfare of
the people However, times have changed The Greeks have established a
kingdom upto India Alexander has crushed many
republics You also know that Nand has
no sympathy for the republics You are no different from
Alexander and Nand are you? You have raised an important
point Allow me to give you a straight
answer I am willing to give you a
definite assurance What assurance? If you promise to help us defeat
Nand and the Greeks I assure you that your
independence will be safe If you do not wish to side with
us openly, we accept but do not try to stop Nand’s
destruction You must promise this How can we believe you? Why not? We are not like the
foreign invaders nor are we tyrants like Nand Our central administration will
follow rules and maintain discipline What about the other republics? You already know that not all republics are well
administered Some are republics in name
alone You and those like you are
different We can give you every
assurance because you have foresight

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