Sunday, August 07, 2011

My Rant on Chanakya's Chant

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Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
Westland Publishers (2010) | Rs 195

The idea of the story is brilliant. To try and integrate Chanakya's teachings in today's world of politics. Times have changed but rarely do people change. And through out the book you see distinct traits of people that continue through generations. I do not know if the chant actually refers to the Shakti mantra but here is the trailer and the mantra

Adi Shakti Namo Namah! Sarva Shakti Namo Namah!
Prathama Bhagavati Namo Namah!
Kundalini Mata Shakti! Mata Shakti Namo Namah!

The story line alternating between today and 2300 years ago follows similar patterns and similar devious ideas that are used to manipulate people with their greed without giving away a clear comparison thus making it an incredible read. It's about slowly controlling kingdoms by taking over or forming a truce which is more likely in today's world.

The plot however is not that thick and if I had one advice for Ashwin Sanghi it would be to pay attention to detail. The story is indeed about small actions and small results leading up to a bigger picture. But the small deeds also need to be taken care of quite neatly. Many a times I also wondered if no one else was smart enough to outbeat Gangasar. And these great men seemed to foresee the future. Rarely did they need any back up plan because they could exactly see what the enemy would do and the enemy did just that. It's like playing chess when you make a move and your opposition makes the same move you expect them to.

It was a smart idea to use one liners from many famous personalities, but it's too smart. Chanakya gives so many one liners (and many one might have heard before) that it doesn't feel like he is actually thinking. He is only trying to be a wise quip. Also not many one liners have a context which could possibly not fit into the story. And by context I mean not just the story but the era and cultural background.

In this book there are two characters, Chanakya and Pandit Gangasagar Misra. And I thought that Chanakya not just wanted to unite Bharat but also wanted to find and groom an able leader Chandragupta. However, this book lacks any other character because everyone else gets crushed under one big mass of stupidity. I even found Chandragupta and Chandini Gupta to be stupid the way they keep asking questions and questions and questions, and never trying for once to understand their mentors thoughts and complete the thought. At the end of the book, I was left wondering how these two could actually rule India if they could not pick up even some of the smart thinking of Chanakya. Also I wondered if no one can strike back but a few did and they too were smart people. Thankfully, yes there can be other smart people in today's world. And at times, the author did glorify the street smartness of Ikram and Chandini.

Another trait of the book that stood out to me was the language used. It seemed to me that some of the characters were very uncomfortable with swearing and yet they did. Basically, they swore out of place and out of cultural context. Not that I have anything against swearing characters, just those who did not want to swear yet did. It basically translates back to the point that it needs detail. But the research is enormous and can be clearly seen through out the book. At times one would wonder what a mighty task that author had taken upon himself.

The cover page is absolutely fantastic. I haven't seen such a smart cover page in a while and I wanted to credit the artist but couldn't find his name. The bringing together of ancient coins with current coins speaking clearly the idea of the book, bringing together of two eras with the help of one idea.

To sum it up, I bow to Sanghi for taking on a herculean task and a very noble one in deed. He has produced it into a page turner adventure book that would aide in bringing in youth of this country closer to home. It helps people relate to our country with its glorious past and brings forward the hope that one man may rise to build a leader for the nation. A dream one wishes would come true!


  1. Have this book on my desk , will give it a read soon.

  2. @abhinav: hey.. that was quick commenting on your part :) I m sure you will like the book. Go On, read it !