Chanakya’s Chant Written by: Ashwin Sanghi
As far as fiction in the political genre goes, Chanakya’s chant always rises to the top. Author Ashwin Sanghi dedicated his second novel to the creator of Arthashastra, accompanied by a fictitious history teacher, Gangasagar Mishra. It is a legendary tale that blends the past and the present in a political mind-bender.
The story is told fragmented; one chapter is given to the level of Chanakya, the next to Gangasagar and so on. It follows the political kingmakers of their time into a perfectly encapsulated commentary on the lack of changes in Indian politics in the last two millennia. Chanakya’s story is derived from installing Chandragupta Maurya as the ruler of a massive empire. Gangasagar’s story, on the other hand, deals with installing Chandini Gupta as the prime minister of India. There are many similarities in the kingmakers’ path to ensure that their students achieve their goals. It is a thought-provoking story on the corruption that has been present in India since its inception.
Chanakya’s Chant starts with him being hunted for crimes that neither he nor his family had any hand in. He narrowly escapes from the authorities and manages to reach Takshila, the world’s first university and joins as a student. Chanakya soon replaces his teacher as a professor of political science with strong talents in the science of wealth. He despised how the emperor of Magadh hurt his people and for the murder of his father.
This forces him to vow that Bharat will be united under a capable and just leader. His plan of finding a ruler for India flourishes when he finds a young boy, Chandragupta Maurya. Chanakya has a great help in his project succeeding upon the arrival of Alexander the Great, who tries unsuccessfully to take control of India. His attempt left a power struggle in the Indian subcontinent, utilised by Chanakya to help ascend Chandragupta to the throne. The book deals a whole lot with the intricacies of the process.
Further In The Story
Parallel to this, The story of professor Gangasagar Mishra is told. Gangasagar, a poor but brilliant history teacher, vows to provide political support to his benefactor and mentor. He starts small and has his group of miscreants ascend the helms of local politics while he sets his sights on having someone rule the whole of India. Soon it becomes clear that India is still heavily divided and thus uses every dirty trick in the book to win. He chooses a bold but innocent slum girl, Chandini, as his protégé. Chandini is smart and grows to be a powerful and charismatic woman fit for ruling India, which she does effectively. He utilises the tricks passed on by Chanakya to ensure that India is less corrupt and divided than it was previously.
The book is gripping and highlights the intricacies of politics and corruption prevalent in India. It highlights that crime, murders, scams, and blackmail are not new phenomena and have been a permanent fixture in this world. The book was well-received and topped all the best-seller lists in India at the time of release. It has been awarded several awards and accolades for its intricate understanding of Indian politics. Ashwin Sanghi is now a well-respected and decorated author put on the map with this book. The movie remake rights of this book have been sold, but primary production has yet to begin.
Very few books capture the delicate and brittle nature of corruption in India. Even though the book lacks in a few sectors, Chanakya’s Chant is a fantastic read and has a gripping story, making it hard to put down. I award it with a rating of 7.5 out of 10.