Book Review - Chanakya's Chant

11:21:00 am

‘Chanakya’s Chant’ is the book I received from blogadda as part of the Book Reviews Program. Here’s a snap of the book:

This book is basically about the wily but brilliant political strategist, Chanakya and his avatar in new age India, Pandit Gangasagar. Scheming, calculating and extremely intelligent, they are the forces behind the making of leaders in their respective times - the kingmakers.

Title: Chanakya’s Chant

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Plot: Vishnugupta, son of Chanak, the great teacher, takes on the name ‘Chanakya’ (son of Chanak) after his father is gruesomely murdered for standing up to the king’s atrocities. Chanakya flees the kingdom, only to return years later having completed his education and with a determination to achieve his father’s dream – the dream of a united Bharat. But that is no easy task, considering that there are several small but proud kingdoms to unite; and the fact that Alexander is marching this way with a huge Macedonian Army.

However, Chanakya, now a revered teacher himself, is not deterred. Along with a few selected students and the support of his father’s friends, he weaves intricate little webs to trap every man, Indian or Macedonian and makes them dance to his complicated tunes. He gets his way everywhere, and though his decisions are devoid of any morals or ethics, he finally realizes his dream and succeeds in establishing his main protégé, Chandragupta Maurya on the throne. He then retires to write about his special brand of science in the Arthashastra.

But history has a knack of repeating itself, and so Chanakya’s modern version, Pandit Gangasagar, is born in post independence India. Having to support a family of 4 after his father’s untimely death, Gangasagar gets a job with a wealthy and shrewd businessman Agrawal. During his early days of employment, he stumbles upon Chanakya’s chant, and from that minute onwards, his life changes as it revolves around this chant. From a lowly employee, he soon transforms into Agrawalji’s trusted advisor, and they start a political party. And then the games of politics begin. This is the perfect ground for Gangasagar’s fertile mind who, not unlike Chanakya, becomes a master puppeteer, controlling the various facets of the government – first the local mayor, then the chief minister, and finally the Prime Minister of India. Again, like Chanakya, Gangasagar’s activities are all behind the scenes and he succeeds in putting his protégé, Chandini Gupta, in the most important position in India.

Review: The stories of the two protagonists travel along parallel lines, alternate chapters, to be more specific. For some time the story of Gangasagar and Chandini Gupta also appear to be in parallel. This gives a nice touch and helps the reader be in sync. Little icons in the chapter headers also explain the time period:

Chanakya’s story picks up steam right in the beginning, but Gangasagar’s takes some time to build up. But once the pace picks up, it goes on at full speed. The plots and subplots are very intricate and Sanghi seems to have done a lot of research. Minute details are present everywhere, be it the time system of the old days, or the technicalities of the Indian Constitution. The reader is sucked into a vortex of scheming, lying and hypocritical characters who have absolutely no sense of morals. The extents to which these shrewd political advisors go appear shocking at times, but more or less reflect the current state of Indian politics. Like Gangasagar says, “Clean politics is an oxymoron”.

Both Gangasagar and Chanakya are Brahmins, from poor families, and are completely self made men. Even the names of their protégés, Chandragupta and Chandini Gupta, are similar. Rarely, the comparisons seem a bit labored, but on the whole they move quite smoothly. Chanakya’s Chant reverberates throughout the book, and as we move towards the end, it gains more meaning.

On the whole, this was a very interesting read, quite unputdownable. Ashwin Sanghi has done a great job and I would recommend this book to everyone. It is a wonderful reflection of politics in India – then and now. Great book!!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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  1. dis book sounds like a nice read..gud review..

  2. I have read this book :) nice review :)


  3. i got this book too for review....nice to read ur perspective of the book!!

  4. @shooting star
    Thanks!! I did read your review too...nice work!!