Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book review : Chanakya's Chant

The high I get by reading an Indian novel written for Indian audience is very satisfying. When I read such a work my reactions are very touchy in that I instantly connect with whatever the author discusses; I don a genuine Indian mask of emotions. The historical fiction Chanakya's chant by Ashwin Sanghi is one such novel that portrayed the Indian politics with an unflinching honesty and absence of sugar coating. The blatant opinions were not dialed down to sound politically correct and neither has the author made an effort to hide the ruthless politics behind a veil of hypocrisy. Call a spade a spade is the general tone of the novel.

The story intelligently alternates between post Mauryan India and the modern India. The plot revolves around two king-making brahmins of their respective times- Chanakya and Gangasagar Mishra both being similar to each other in cold,calculating and merciless tactics. The hunted brahmin Chanakya exiles to study in the then world's best university Takshashila and conspires against the Magadha king to establish Chandragupta Maurya as the sole ruler of unified India. While history repeats itself after 2 millenia, Chandni Gupta under the tutelage of Gangasagar Mishra wins to become the prime minister of India defeating(in most cases ruthlessly eliminating any opponent by sheer violence and blackmail).

Ashwin Sanghi has made readers realize that politics has remained to be the same in all times. The factors such as vote bank politics, caste demarcation, violence, bribe, sex and drugs were as prevalent 2 millenia ago as they are now. While it pained me to read the brutality of past and present politics, I felt fortunate to know politics in its true light. I was filled with a sense of disgust and awe at the same time- awe for the intelligence of Chanakya and Gangasagar and disgust for the violence they inflicted upon others.

The only problem with this book was I just couldn't put it down. I could hardly think of anything else while this thriller unfolded its many twists and turns in a pleasing pace. I would recommend this to everyone for they should know the intelligence of an Indian author and the greatness of Indian politicians.


  1. i completed around 120 pages, still a lot to read, i'll come back to your review once I complete the book.
    initial reading shows that this story has glimpses of kushwant singh's novel, Burial at Sea about indira gandhi.

    1. Hi CV

      I haven't yet read 'Burial at Sea'. 'Chanakya's Chant' doesn't profoundly base it's characters on Indira. It is altogether about a king maker (in two different eras).

      Hope you have a good read.