Chanakya’s Chant is a novel written by Indian author Ashwin Sanghi and published in 2010. It reached #1 on India Today’s bestseller list on April 4, 2011. The novel falls under the historical thriller category. It retells the story of Chanakya, who is considered as India’s greatest strategist, whose strategic plans and pragmatic cunningness leads his trainee Chandragupta Maurya to become the emperor of Magadha and also establishment of the mighty Mauryan Empire. Apart from retelling this historical fiction in a colloquial manner, the author also tells the fictional tale of a Brahmin from Kanpur, Pandit Gangasagar Mishra, who decides to mentor a little girl from Kanpur’s slums, Chandini Gupta, and orchestrate the moves of her life to make her the most powerful person in India i.e. Prime Minister of India.
The theme of this novel is based on demonstrating pure human emotions like Revenge and Ambition. The emotions like Love are shown to be manipulated to be used as a means to achieve power and one’s ambition. The novel is divided into 20 chapters and it alternates between the historical tale of Chanakya and the modern tale of Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. This style of writing is used to emphasize the parallels that exist between the two tales and convey to the reader that not much has changed in human’s nature, even after a few thousand years. Venality, Lust, Ambitiousness, Deceitfulness – these are some of the basic human nature qualities which haven’t changed over the thousand years. Both the strategists in this novel, Chanakya and Gangasagar, don’t try to define moral standards and believed that their action was right as long as it was leading them towards their goal. A common strategy is followed by both of them: “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese”. Chanakya allowed others to fight over to ascend to the throne of an empire, and then struck when both the armies were depleted after the fight to take away the ‘cheese’. Similarly, Gangasagar always maintained leverage over his opponents by keeping track of their not-so-honorable deeds driven by greed or sexual urges.
The novel is fast-paced and like a true thriller keeps the reader interested most of the time. However, alternating chapters of two parallel tracks may not suit all readers who may sometimes wish to finish reading one track completely. The style of narration is colloquial and witty. The novel could be said to be of narrative style rather than descriptive style. The story is developed based on exchange of dialogues between the characters, rather than the soliloquy style where the insights and thinking of the characters are used to develop the story. The author has avoided trying to describe in details the settings in which the characters exchanged dialogues and the conversations were given more importance, and rightly so.
As a thriller novel, it offers enough suspense and with a good narrative style, this novel proves to be a good read. I would recommend this to readers who like mythological fiction or who would like to know the cunning tricks politicians play in modern India.
Here’s a youtube video trailer of this novel.
You can order this book from Flipkart.