“History repeats itself,
in search of a cure,
for the curse laid upon the king of games…
The soul is in search of the person,
who can survive the dirty games of statecraft…
In this search of curse and cure history unveils the games of destiny…”
Ashwin Saghai, the entrepreneur cum writer has been well into the history, mythology and politics. Historical fiction being his passion and hobby, he has written the national best seller “The Rozabal Line”. Chankyas chant is his second installment in the genre. The recent trends of mixing mythology/history with the modern-day concepts have become viral among the authors and Chanakyas Chant belongs to this category.
As the name suggests this fiction refreshes the story of the greatest game changer in the history of India – Chanakya. So whats so refreshing about this fiction ? Is it just the story of Chanakya and his tactics ? I would say a big NO. The story line interweaves the life of Chanakya and his modern avatar- Pandit Gangasagar Mishra.
Chanakya was one shrewd philosopher, economist and adviser, whose words of wisdom are relevant even today. Chankyas chant tries to explore its relevance in modern-day politics via Chanakyas modern day representative – Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. This book is an answer to how Chanakya will fight in the dirty political arena if set in the modern times. The portrayal of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra as the modern day avatar of Chankya enthrall the reader with current issues. It’s questionable how much justice was given to his character.
It also depicts the growth of both Chanakya and Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. Whenever the cry of ordinal is ignored by the government there shall arise the person who feels the need for change and will strive hard to revenge back.
Ashwin have used the usual allegations and pathetic conditions of the country and questions its citizen :
‘Citizens of Magadha, this tyranny has continued far too long. The imperial thug, Dhanananda, has imprisoned the only minister capable of standing up to him. Are we going to stand here helplessly while we see a guardian of the kingdom—the wise and illustrious prime minister Shaktar—be treated in this shameful manner? How many more farmers have to commit suicide because the tax inspectors of Dhanananda loot their grain? How many more soldiers must die in battle because their armor has been compromised to make wine goblets for the king’s pleasure? How many more mothers must cry over the corpses of their violated young daughters? How much longer are we going to tolerate this evil sovereign?
It also shows how the one who stand against the government with out power is oppressed.
His mouth was firmly clenched shut, a silent reminder of one of his favorite—and now unfortunately ironic—maxims: ‘A man who opens his mouth too often may end up meeting a tragic end, either from indigestion or execution!’
The realization sweeps in – one who tolerates the injustice will have to pay for it and the one who attacks without defense will often be pulled out of the game.
The book also sheds light into the ugly side of politics. The government wishes to keep its people illiterate and uneducated. The more the people get educated there are chances they question the activites of the government. Nullyfying that and dividing them, not allowing to form a joint force, thats the perfect way to maintain a vote bank.
It also points out the mentality of Indian citizens, the way we are tolerant to all the things happening around as if it wont effect us. We Indians continue to adore renunciation. It’s a tradition that has come down to us from the ancient yogis. Gandhiji was a modern yogi, in that sense.
The power of money is yet another factor. Even when sayin money is the root of all evil, modern-day Chanakya states that sometimes a man needs roots.
Chanakya states : “The king, the minister, the country, the fortified city, the treasury, the army and the ally are the constituent elements of the state”
It also touches the sensitive issues like caste based reservation in our country .
‘Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution guarantee every Indian citizen freedom as well as equality before the laws of the land. Reservation for those who had been left behind by Indian society was indeed part of the Constitution when it was framed and adopted in 1950. Those who framed the Constitution themselves believed that it was a temporary measure and would last for ten years. But several decades later we still find reservation in place. Doesn’t this tell us that India has made very little progress in bringing the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes into the mainstream of India? Is it time to take another look at the policy and decide whether it has actually worked?
The take on these untouchable topics make the story unique and more appealing to the reader. The story is predictable if you have little knowledge of Chanakyas life and his tactics.
The satire is webbed such that the reader falls into the enchanting political games.
If you are not a big fan of political fictions where the background is laid out by the historical element, it may not be able to please you. Also the continues flips may chock the course of the story. Overall its a good book for casual reading, with less enchanting moments.