First edition cover
|Original title||chanakya's chant|
|Media type||Print Paperback|
|Pages||448 pp (first edition, paperback)|
|ISBN||978-93-8065-867-4 (first edition, paperback)|
Chanakya's Chant (2010) is a novel written by Indian author Ashwin Sanghi. It was written two years after his first novel The Rozabal Line (2008) was released in India. Chanakya's Chant was released on January 26, 2011 and entered all major Indian national bestseller lists within two months. It reached #1 on India-Today's bestseller list on April 4, 2011. On June 19, 2011, UTV Software Communications announced that it had acquired the movie rights.
The year is 340 B.C. A hunted, haunted Brahmin youth vows revenge for the gruesome murder of his beloved father. Cold, calculating, cruel and armed with complete absence of accepted morals, he becomes the most powerful political strategist in Bharat and succeeds in uniting a ragged country against the invasion of the army of the demigod, Alexander the great. Pitting the weak edges of both forces against each other, he pulls off a wicked and astonishing victory and succeeds in installing Chandragupta Maurya on the throne of the mighty Mauryan empire. History knows him as the brilliant strategist Chanakya. Satisfied - and a little bored - by his success as a kingmaker through the simple summoning of his gifted mind, he recedes into the shadows to write Arthashastra, the science of wealth.
But history, which exults in repeating itself, revives Chanakya two and a half millennia later, in the form of Gangasagar Mishra, a Brahmin teacher in a small town of India who becomes a puppeteer to a host of ambitious individuals - including a certain slum child who grows up to be a beautiful and a powerful woman. Modern India happens to be just as riven as ancient Bharat by class hatred, corruption and divisive politics and this happens to be Gangasagar's feasting ground. Can this wily pandit, who preys on greed, venality and sexual deviance, bring about another miracle of a united India? Will the Chanakya Chant work again?
Literary significance & criticism
The book has been well received by critics. Shashi Tharoor, who released the book in Mumbai, called it “a delightfully interesting and gripping read”. According to Tharoor, works of authors like Ashwin Sanghi were the culmination of the process started by Salman Rushdie’s Midnight's Children in which a specifically Indian voice was used to narrate the story, almost as though the author were writing exclusively for Indian audiences. Even though the book is a historical tale, it has been called a contemporary novel that uses colloquial terms.
In an interview with Flipkart, the author clarified that his intention was to write a fast-paced thriller that would entertain more than educate. Some literary observers view the author's work as part of a reawakening in India's mythology.
A review in the book blog INDIAreads described Chanakya's Chant as a very compelling read with very real characters, settings and manoeuvres. "It is much akin to reading a blow by blow account of Indian politics today. Of course as Chanakya’s story so aptly shows, it is not very different from Indian politics 2500 years ago either. So really the scams, scandals, corruption, collateral damage, war mongering, innocent deaths, communal riots – all the ills that we accuse the modern day politicians of - are nothing new. Nor is their use for gaining power a particular characteristic of our “depraved” leaders. Power has always come at a price and the price as Chanakya points out is not just one’s emotions but one’s conscience as well. This is the message that flows out of Chanakya’s Chant."
The novel won the 2010 Vodafone Crossword Book Award (Popular Award).
- IANS, New Delhi, February 24, 2011
- India Today, April 4, 2011
- DNA, June 19, 2011
- Hindustan Times, New Delhi, January 28, 2011
- Video recording of speech by Shashi Tharoor regarding Chanakya's Chant
- Indian Express, Mumbai, March 24, 2011
- FlipkartBlog, Bangalore, March 9, 2011
- The Telegraph, Kolkata, March 6, 2011
- INDIAreads Blog, Delhi, March 1, 2011