The Individual



1. The Individual

2. Society

3. Good Company

4. General Observations

5. Miscellaneous

6. Sutras of Chanakya



Chanakya was an epoch-making personality. It was the time when India was emerging out of the ‘Dark Age’. The old values were losing their relevance and the new were yet to be established. It was an age of confusion, which permeated every walk of the society. The Dharma, so far a guiding and uniting force, was being subjected to the contradictory interpretations. The factionalism and fundamentalism were raising their ugly heads and entering into the vitality of the social and religious norms. Taking the advantage of his confusion, Alexander of Macedon invaded India with the help of the selfish rulers of some border states. Chanakya witnessed and felt the severe trauma of this major invasion by a real foreigner. Earlier all the invaders, who attacked us eventually settled in our country itself. But Alexander’s invasion was an attack of totally an alien culture and army which had strong tradition and strength of their own glorious past. But, ironically, this shattering jolt helped efface the prevailing confusion in India and expedited the emergence of a new system, which was in essence authored by Chanakya.

   Chanakya was the first thinker of the ancient times who nurtured the sense of nationalism and inculcated in the minds of the people that they owed their basic allegiance to the Rajya (State of Nation) and not to the Dharma. In contradistinction to the earlier concept he made the State paramount.

   He had seen that in the absence of any omnipotent religious authority the misconstrued faiths were shattering the very structure of society and morality. What was needed the total change or renovation of the system. But, there were no guiding beacons to enlighten the people about this new system. Then he wrote two significant books the ‘Arthashastra’ (known as Kautilya’s Arthashastra) and a collection of his observation on various practical aspects of life entitled ‘Chanakya-Niti’.

   ‘Chanakya Niti’ is, in fact, this great thinker’s pithy observation to impart the practical wisdom to the people of his time. But these teachings are so fundamental that it’s relevance is almost ever lasting. Enshrined in the simple sense. Written in simple lucid language with clear thoughts, these observations have not only withstood the test of time but many of phrases, like and have become the oft-quoted proverbs of our attempt has been to bring out their full meaning and interpret them in the context of the modern times so that their undecaying relevance may be fully appreciated. To bring home the fundamentality of these sayings, we have also compared them with the prevailing modern concept. The need for these rather lengthy explanations was felt owing to the occasional terseness of these observations. Sometimes Chanakya even contradicts his own, earlier observations, perhaps to reveal the fundamental truth by sheer contradiction. At times even some of the immoral teachings are the part of this book. But they appear immoral only at the prima facie viewing. While telling what we should learn from the other beings, Chanakya says:

Prattutthaanam cha Yuddham cha Samvibhaagashcha Bandhushu i.e.,

“Learn from the cock the following four things: getting up at the right time,

fighting bitterly, making your brothers flee and usurping their share also!”

Although apparently it appears down right immoral, this teaching is rooted in

the instinct of self preservation which is natural. It is in this context that some

of such unethical teachings are to be understood.

   Although Chanakya is painted as a scheming manipulator who could stoop to even the meanest level to serve his purpose, a few of his shlokas negate this concept and present Chanakya as a sort hearted and imaginative poet. He says:

Bandhanaani Khal Santi Bahuni

Prem Rajju Krit Bandhanmannyat

Daarubhed Nipunoapi Shadanghri

Nishkriyo Bhavati Pankaj Koshe.

Meaning, “there are many bondages but that of love is entirely different. The black-bee, which penetrates through even wood, gets inertly enclosed in the fold of the lotus flowers.” Who can consider the author of this Shlok to be a hard hearted man?

   There might be certain aphorisms which might appear objectionable to some persons, especially those who discuss the role of women in our society. Chanakya shares the same thoughts as these were prevalent during this time or are still prevalent in certain sections of our society. The entire Hindu thought gives only two positions to women: either they are adorable or they are like any other pleasure source to enjoy. The sense of companionship, which is clearly an occidental concept, is missing for obvious reasons. Well, nobody can be perfect in the world. Even the greatest thinkers of the world had some kind of Achilles heel. A man is a product of the social set up. No doubt, Chanakya tried to affect a change but even he could not get rid himself of some diehard idiosyncrasies.

   Notwithstanding these minor short comings, Chanakya’s teachings have great sense. One can say this not only from the textural importance of this collection but also from the end result of such teachings. Chanakya believed not only imparting instructions but also seeing their practical implementation.

   History records that Chanakya not only carved out a massive empire for his pet disciple Chandragupta but also created such an awareness in the general masses that they began to talk about a ‘Rashtra’ or a ‘Nation’ instead of a ‘State’ or a ‘Rajya’. And what could be a greater proof of the soled result of Chanakya’s teaching than for a coming full millennium. No major invasion was undertaken towards the Indian borders. And the social, civil and political norms that he established had the concept of democracy in its embryonic form. Chanakya is one of those few great persons whose greatness enhances with the passage of time.

   The text used in the book is taken from the standard text first published in Poona in the last century. Although every effort is made to cross-check any interpolation in it, looking to the antiquity of this treatise, there could be some still creping into it. In this collection, we have culled only those aphorisms which give a fundamental or universal message. Lastly, the translator conveys his deep gratitude to Mr. Narendra Kumar of the Diamond Pocket Booksfor giving him an opportunity to study and translate these pearls of wisdom.

– B.K. Chaturvedi

                      1. The Individual

(The basic purpose of Chanakya-Niti is to impart knowledge on every practical aspect of life. And in this context, he has touched upon various factors dealing with faith and culture, from the individual’s point of view.) Riches, vitality, life, body–all are fickle and fey; only Dharma is constant and everlasting.


   God’s abode is not the idols of wood, stone or earth. He dwells only in feeling.


   But, even if one puts one’s faith in the idols of gods made of metal, wood or stone and worships them with total devotion, one is awarded with the desired result.


   Anger is death, Lust is (the river of hell) Vaitarani, Knowledge is the cow of plenty and Satisfaction is (the divine orchard) Nandanvan.



Pranammya Shirsaa Vishnum Trailokyaadhipatim Prabhum.

Naanaa Shaastroddhrootam Vikshye Rajneeti Samuchchyam.

   I salute to the Lord of the three realms, Lord Vishnu, and now commence to describe the principles of the statecraft culled from various ancient books of knowledge.


Dharme Tattpartaa Mukhe Madhurtaa Daane Samuttsaahataa

Mittreavanchakataa Guru Vinyataa Chitteapi Gambheerataa.

Aachaare Shuchitaa Gune Rasiktaa Shaastreshu Vigyataa

Roope Sundartaa Shive Bhajantaa Tvayasti Bho Raaghav.

   Devotion in faith, sweetness in voice, alacrity in alms-giving, guilelessness in relation with friends, humility for the Guru, depth in character; piety in behaviour, regard for merit, erudition in scriptural knowledge, beauty in appearance and belief in Lord Shiva (or in the welfare of all) are, O Raghav (Lord Rama), your attributes!


Kaashtham Kalpataruh Sumerurachalashinintaamanih Prashtarah

Soonyasteevrakarah Shashih Kshayakarah Kshaarohi Nirvaaridhih.

Kaamo Nashtatanurbalirditishuto Nittya Prashuh Kaamagoh

Naittaaste Tulayaami Bho Raghupate Kassyopabhaa Deeyate.

   Kalpataru (The divine tree fulfilling all desires) is wooden: the Sumeru is a hill, the philosopher’s stone is but a stone; the sun has scorching rays, the moon is waxing and waining, the sea ( water) is saline, the Kamadeva (the god of love) is bodyless; Bali is a demon, the cow of plenty is an animal--O Ram! I fail to compare you with anyone (i.e., everything with best of the attributes have some inherent defect in it): You are incomparable.


Kaa chintaa Mam Jeevane Yadi Harirvishvambharo geeyate

No chedarbhakjeevanaarth Jananeestannyam Kutham Nihsaret.

Ittyaalochaya Muhurmuhuryadu Pate Laxmipate Kevalam

Tvattapaadaambujsevanen Satatam Kaalo Mayaa Neeyate.

   Why should I worry for life as Lord Hari is the sustainer of the world. Had it not been so then how come a mother’s breasts be filled with milk for her infant automatically? Believing this (that he who creates life also provides for its sustenance) O spouse of Lakshmi! I pass my life devoted to your feet!



Pushpe Gandham Tile Tailam Kaashthe Vahannih Payoghritam.

Ikshau Gudam Tathaa Dehe Pashyaattmanam Vivekatah.

   God dwells in our bodies, life fragrance in flowers, oil in oil seeds, fire in wood, ghee in milk, jaggery in the sugarcane. The wise should understand this.


Na Devo Viddyate Kaashthe Na Paashaane Na Mrinnyamaye.

Bhave Hee Viddyate Devastsmaad Bhaavo Hee Kaaranam.

   God doesn’t dwell in the wooden, stony or earthen idols. His abode is in our feelings, our thoughts. [It is only through the feeling that we deem God existing in these idols.]


Agnihottram Binaa Vedaah Na cha Daanam Bina Kriyaa.

Na Bhaaven Bina Siddhistasmaad Bhaavo Hee Kaaranam.

   Studying the Vedas without maintaining the sacred fire and offering oblation to it is as useless as performing the sacrifice without giving alms. One must attempt with feeling of total devotion to get success in any venture.


Kaashthapaashaanam Dhaatunaam Krittvaa Bhaaven Sevanam.

Shraddhayaa Cha Tathaa Siddhistasya Vishnoh Prasasadatah.

   If one worships even the wooden, stony or the metallic idols with feeling, then by the grace of God one gets the desired objects or adeptness.


Agnirdevo Dvijaatinaam Maneeshinaam Hridim Daivatam.

Pratimaa Svalpabhuddheenaam Sarvatra Samadarshinah.

   The deity of the Twice-born(brahmans) is fire. The wise behold their deity inside their hearts. Those with lesser intelligence deem deity existing in the idols and those viewing the world impartially behold their deity permeating the whole world.


Kalan Dashasahastraani Haristasyajati Modineem.

Tadaddardhe Jaahavee Toyam Tadaadaardhe Graamdevataa.

   Lord Hari (vishnu) leaves the earth after completing ten thousand years of the Kaliyuga: the Ganga withdraws her waters after comple ting half of this period [i.e., five thousand years of the Kaliyuga [and theGramdevtas (local deities) leave the earth after completing half of this period (i.e., two thousand five hundred years of the Kaliyuga.) Dharm


Chalaa Laxmishchalaah Praanaashchale Jeevitmandire.

Chalaachale cha Sansaare Dharma Eko Hi Nishchalah.

   All riches, vitality, life and body are fickle and fey: Only the Dharma is constant and everlasting.


Anittyaani Shareeraani Vibhvo Naiv Saashvatah.

Nittyam Sannihito Mrittuh Kartavyo Dharmasangrah.

   Constantly bounded by death, all power and pelf are fey. Hence one should adhere to one’s Dharma,which is everlasting.


Jeevantam Mritvannamannye Dehinam Dharmavarjitam Mrito

Dharmen Sanyuto Deerghajeevee Na Sanshayah.

Dharmen Sanyuto Deerghajeevee Na Sanshayah.

   I deem as dead a being devoid of Dharma! He who adheres to one’s Dharma is long-aged even if he is dead – there is no doubt about it!

Consequence of an Action


Yathaa Dhenu Sahastreshu Vattso Gachhati Maatram.

Tathaa Yachcha Kritam Karma Kartaaramanugachchati.

   Like a calf finds the mother-cow even it there be thousands of cows, so the consequence of an action searches its doer unerringly [i.e., one can’t escape the consequence of an action do whatever one may.]


Svayam Karma Karottyaattamaa Svayam Tattphalamashnute

Svayam Bhramati Sansaare Svayam Tasmaaddvimuchchayate.

   Man himself does action and himself bears its consequences. He himself roams about in the world and gets liberated from this cycle of birth and death [Chanakya says that man is free to act but he must bear its consequences, whether good or bad. It is only his balance-sheet of the action and its consequence has been set at naught that he becomes liberated. Hence to achieve this liberation is also well within the control of man.]


Karmaayattam Phalam Pusaani Buddhih Karmaanusaarini.

Tathapi Sudhiyaachaaryaah Suvichaaryava Kurvate.

   Although man reaps as he sows and his wisdom is also controlled by his action, yet the prudent and wisemen act very thoughtfully, fully weighing the good and bad consequences. [It means that though the resultant of the deeds committed in previous life decide the good and bad consequence in this life, still one must act after a thoughtful deliberation.


Aattmaaparaadhavrikshasya Phalaanyetaani Dehinaam.

Daaridrayarogah Duhkhaani Bandhanvuasnaani cha.

   Poverty, disease, grief, bondage and all the infatuative addictions are the fruits of the tree of sin of a person.


Janmajanmani Chaabhyastam Daanmaddhyayan Taphah.

Tenaivaabhyaasyagen Dehi Vaabhyaste.

   It is after the constant practice of many lives that man attains to the capacity to learn, to do penance or to dole out alms.

Luck or Fate


Aayuh Karma Vittancha Viddyaa Nidhanmeva cha.

Panchtaani Hi Srijjyante Garbhasthasyaiv Dehinah.

   Age, profession, financial status, level of education and death – these five basic parameters of human life are ordained when the being is in the embryonic form.


Ranka Karoti Raajaanam Rajaanam Rankmev Cha.

Dhaninam Nirdhanam Chaiv Nirdhanam Dhaninam vidhih.

   It is one’s fate that makes a beggar a king or a king a beggar; a rich man a pauper or a pauper rich.


Patram Naiv Yava Karreravit Pe dosho Vasantasya kim

Nollokaappyavalokayate Yadi Diva Sooryasya Kim Dooshanam?

Varshaa naiv Patati Chaatakmukhe Meghasya Kim Dooshanam.

Yattpoorva Vidhinaa Lalaat Likhitam Tanmanaarjitu Kah Kshamah?

   If leaves do not sprout in the Kareel (Capparis ahpylla ) tree, is it the flaw of the Spring Season? If an owl fails to see in daylight, is it the flaw of the sun ? If the rain-drop doesn’t fall in the mouth of Chatak(Cuculus melanoleucus) is it the flaw of the clouds? Who can alter the fate ordained as the destiny? [Chanakya says that individual deficiency is caused by destiny for which external a circumstances cannot be held responsible.]


Eepsitam Mansah Sarva Kasya Sampaddyate Sukham.

Daivaayattam Yatah Sarva Tasmaat Santoshmaashrayet.

   Who gets all that one aspires for? Everything one gets is what is destined for one. Hence all must seek satisfaction in whatever they receive.



Yaavattsvastho Yahayam Dehah Taavanmriuttushcha Dooratah.

Taavdaattmahitam Kuryaat Praanante Kim Karishyati.

   Death is away till one’s body is healthy. Hence one should achieve one’s welfare till one is healthy, for death ceases all activities.



Naasti Kaam Samo Vyaadhirnaasti Mohasamo Ripuh.

Naasti Kop Samo Vahinnih Naasti Gyaanaattparam Sulkham.

Naasti Kop Samo Vahinnih Naasti Gyaanaattparam Sulkham.

   No disease is more deadly than (the sexual) desire, no enemy is more dangerous than infatuation, no fire is hotter than the fire of wrath and no happiness is better than the self-knowledge.



Sattyen Dhaaryate Prithvee Sttyen Tapate Ravi

Sattyen Vaati Vaayushcha Sarvam Sattye Prathishthitam.

   Truth stabilises the world, makes the sun shine and the wind blow. Truth establishes well everything in life. [Chanakya says that truth alone establishes the order in the Creation.]



Taadrishee Jaayte Buddhivaryavsaayoapi Taadrishah.

Sahaayaasstaadrishaah Eva Yaadrishee Bhavitavyataa.

   One gets everything according to ‘one’s destiny. One’s action, response, reaction–all are guided by the factors of destiny. [meaning the rule of destiny is supreme in human life. If one is destined to reap a good harvest one would get situation conductive to his receiving good result and vice versa.]

Moksha (Liberation)


Muktimichasi Cheetat Vishayaan Vishvat Tyaji.

Kshamaarjvadyaashaucham Sattyam Peeyooshvat Pib.

   O dear, if you really seek liberation of your soul then shun all the sensual attractions as though they are poison and cultivate the spirit of forgiveness, the rectitude of conduct, compassion, piety truth and similar other qualities which are nectar for human life.


Bandhanaaya Vishyaasangah Muktayai Nirvishyam Manah.

Man Eva Manusshyaanaam Kaaranam Bandmokshyoh.

   Bondage is indulgence in vices and renunciation of them is liberation. Thus it is mind, which drives one to bondage or to liberation.

Samadhi (Meditation)


Dehaabhimaangalite Gyaanen Paramaattmanah.

Yatra-Yatro Mano Yaati Tatra-Tatra Samaadhayah.

   The communion with, and realisation of God, melts away the arrogance of the physical attributes. Achieving this stage, one is able to concentrate easily in meditation, wherever and whenever one wants.

Vairagya (Aversion to the Temporal World)


Dharmakkhyaane Shmashaane Cha Roginaam Yaa Matirbhavet.

Saa Sarvadaiv Thishttbechchet Ko Na Muchyate Bandhanaat.

   One develops a version to the temporal world by listening to the sacred tales, viewing the diseased persons and visiting the crematorium. And if one remains averse to wordly considerations, he is bound to be free from all the bondages.



Pushpe Gandham Tile Tail Kaashthe VAhinah Payoghritam.

Pushpe Gandham Tile Tail Kaashthe VAhinah Payoghritam.

Ekshau Gudam Tathaa Dehe Pasyaatmaanam Vivektah.

   Discern soul in the body like you feel fragrance in flower, oil in the oilseed. fire in wood, ghee in milk and jaggery in sugarcanes.



Yastu Samvattsaram Poorna Nittyam Maunen Bhunjate.

Yugkotisahastrantu Svargaloke Meheeyate.

   He, who eats his meals qui etly throughout the year, earns the merit, deserve his stay for thousands of epochs in the heaven.


Yaddooram Yadduraaraaddhyam Yachcha Doore Vyavasthitam.

Tattsarva Tapasaa Saaddhyam Tapo hi Duratikramam.

   Even if the destination or the desired object be far away or difficult to achieve one can reach it or get it if one is determined. Nothing is impossible for a determined person.



Indrayaani Cha Samyamya Bak vat Pandito Narah.

Deshkaal balam Gyattva Sarvakaaryaani Saadhyet.

   The wise man should put restraint on his sensual desires to control them and then only he should accomplish his work after assessing his strength in the context of time and space [i.e., after cutting off the distraction caused by the sensual deviations, the wise man should enhance his strength to the hilt and then he should assess his position vis-a-vis the place and time he has to accompish his work in.]

The Only Way


Yaddeechachasi Vasheekartu Jagadeken Karmana.

Paraapavaadashaastreebhyo Gaam Charanteem Nivaarya.

   If you want to overpower the entire world merely by just one action, then put restraint upon your tongue speaking ill of others.

Who’s Who


Krodho Vaivasvato Raajaa Trishnaa Vaitarnee Nadee.

Viddyaa Kaamdudhaadhenuh Santosho Nandanam Vanam.

   Anger is death (i.e., lord of death Yamraj Vaivaswat), lust is (the river of hell) Vaitarani, knowledge is the cow of plenty and satisfaction is (the divine orchard) Nandanvan.


Shaantitullyam Tapo Naasti Na Santoshaatparamsukham.

Na Trishnayaaparo Vyaadhirnacha Dharmo Dayaaparah.

   No penance is greater than the one done for maintaining peace, no happiness is better than the one received from satisfaction, no disease is more damaging than greed and no Dharma is better than the one having compassion for all.


Yasya Chittam Draveebhootam Kripayaa Sarvajantushu.

Tasya Gyanen Mokshena Kim Jataa Bhasmalepanaih.

   He, whose heart is full of compassion for all beings, does not need to seek any other knowledge, orMoksha (liberation) or care for rubbing ash all over his body (like the celebrated hermits).

Alms-giving and Donation,


Deyam Bhojyadhanam Sukritibhirno Sanchayastasya Vai.

Shri Karnassya Baleshcha Vikrampatreddyapi Keerti Sthitaa.

Asmaakam Madhudaanyogarahitam Nashtam Chiraatsanchitaah

Nirvaanaaditi Nashtapaadyugalam Gharshttyamee Makshikaah.

   All great men should donate eatables and wealth. It is improper to hoard these things. The fame of Karna (of Mahabharat) and Bali (a mythological monarch renowned for his sacrifice and charity) is still unblemished because of their acts of charity. The honeybees ruefully rub their feet against ground. They neither enjoy their honey nor gifting it to others. [Chanakya uses an allegory to bring home his point. He says the honeybees do not eat the honey, they neither collect nor give it to others. And when a person takes away their honey they fall to the ground in utter frustration.]


Aarteshu Vipreshu Dayaannivihschechaddhena Yaha Svalpamupaiti Daanam.

Anantparam Samupaiti Daanam Yaddeeyate Tanna Labhed Dvijebhyah.

   He who gives gifts and donations to the distressed and the learned gets back his these gifts many times over [i.e., they earn great merit by these gifts because by helping-them they not only preserve life knowledge but also help in their growth.]

Gift to the Deserving


Ksheeyante Sarvadaanaani Yagya Homabali Kriyaah.

Na Ksheeyate Paatradaanambhayam Sarvadehinaam.

   All sacrifices, gifts, donations, etc., vanish in their effect after sometime but that which is given to a deserving person survive for ever. Because the deserving receiver utilises the gifts best to further this chain of charity for the welfare of all.

Donate Liberally!


Santoshstrishu Kartavyah Svadaare Bhojane Ghane.

Trishuchaiv Na Kartavyoaddhyayane Japadaanayoh.

   One should always be satisfied (i) with his wife, (ii) with his diet and (iii) with his wealth; but never with (i) his studies, (ii) his austerity and penance and (iii) with his donations and gifts to the deserving persons.





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