Last week, on a whim, I decided to carry off Kautilya's (or Chanakya if you prefer to call him that) "Arthashastra" from my friendly neighbourhood library to the great amusement of the benevolent Doshi uncle.
Well, he waved it in front of my face and frankly, I was tempted. And while everybody who knows me knows that Economics isnt really my 'sweet subject' (far far from it actually), I must admit I am fascinated by this book.
Written in attractive large font on equally attractive glossy white paper, I had absolutely no trouble reading it. And I realised that while its not dazzling me into loving Economics or anything (I stopped after many attempts by my Eco teacher failed pathetically, altho I have read The Creation of Wealth and The Wealth of Nations and stuff by Thomas Friedman, I continue to maintain a polite disinterest in the subject), it has successfully dazzled me with Kautilya's (lovely name, that) sensibility, matter-of-fact phrasing and his impeccable observational skills, all contributing to a sort of lucidly expressed brilliance.
While this version is edited lovingly by Srichand P. Hinduja, the President of the Hinduja Group, the translation by S. Dharmashastry is easy to get (he's even highlighted the important points), overall a very simplified condensed version of the masterful treatise.
But finally what I loved was Kautilya's adorable matter-of-factness, thats where his genius lies.
Sample these nuggests,
"He who punishes severely is hated by the people, he who punishes mildly is despised." (On Punishment)
"One should not speak ill of one's enemies. They are one's own creation." (On Policy towards Enemies)
"Power invariably alters the mind." (On Military Might)
and my personal favourite,
"When guilt is removed, there will be no guilty men. When guilty men are removed, the guilt will continue to contaminate others." (On Law and Justice)
I cannot help but wonder how good old Niccolo Machiavelli compares. :D