Was Chanakya Pandita a pure devotee?

by Chaitanya CharanJune 6, 2012

From: Nishita

Hare krishna, prabhuji, i wanted to know who was chanakya pandita? Was he a pure devotee of the Lord Krishna, as i have heard and read many times that srila prabhupada often quotes him in many of his lectures and books.Is his appearance predicted in any of the scriptures?

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Chaitanya Charan
  • krishna dasa
    April 1, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Hare krishna Prabhuji

    Chanakya pandita was quite a influential strategist during his times and a brahmana following a strict vedic standards. About his being a pure devotee ,its difficult to come to some definitive judgement about his devotional sentiments,since he has not composed any known devotional literature. But certainly Chanakya niti sutras do hint his devotion to Lord Vishnu, he was definitely not a polytheist, he offered prayers to one god Lord Vishnu. Indeed ,he was well versed in scriptures, since all his Niti sutras is compilation of the various verses from the scriptures like Mahabharata, puranas ,etc. I would just like to give few quotes of Chanakya pandita from his book “Chanakya niti sastra” to understand his position.

    “pranamya shirsa vishnum trailokya adhipatim prabhum ”

    “I humbly bow down to Lord Vishnu, the supreme lord of all the three worlds.” (1st sutra of Chanakya niti, prayer section)

    “ka chintaa mam jivane yadi harir vishvambharo giyate
    no chedarbhakjeevanartha janani stanyam kathum nihsaret
    ittyalochya muhurmuhuryadu pate laxmipate kevalam
    tvat pada ambhuja sevanam satatam kaalp maya niyate

    “Why should I worry about my life, if I glorify Lord Hari, the sustainer of the entire universe. If lord Hari would not have been the sustainer, how come a mother’s breasts would be filled with milk for her infant automatically. Believing this (that he who creates life also provides life for sustenance), I continually pass my life engaging in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Laksmipati.” ( 4th sutra ,prayer section)

    “kastha pasanam dhatunam krtva bhavena sevanam
    shraddhya ca tatha siddhis tasya vishnoh prasadatah”

    “By making the deity of Lord with wood, stone or metal, if one renders service to lord with devotional sentiments(bhavena) and faithfulness (faithfulness towards deity being non different from Lord), he attains all the perfection, by the mercy of Lord Vishnu.”(8th sutra)

    “mata ca kamala devi pita devo janardanah
    bandhava vishnubhakta ca svadesho bhuvanatrayam”

    “If one has his mother like the goddess laksmi, father like Lord Vishnu and brothers and others like devotees of lord Vishnu, then in such a house, all the happiness of three world reside” (sutra 97)

    Now after describing about the devotion to Lord Vishnu and his supremacy in the three world, he finally reveals the most confidential gem of all the Vedas as follows:

    “yesham srimad yashoda suta pada kamale na asti bhaktir nrunam
    yesham maabhira kanya priya guna kathane na anurakta ca jihva
    yesham sri krishna lila lalita rasa katha sadarau nava karnau

    dhiktam dhiktam dhiketaan kathayati satatam kirtanstho
    mridangah” (sutra 162, chanakya niti)

    “He who has no devotion for the lotus feet of son of mother yashoda (Lord Krishna), who tongue is not attached to chant the sweet qualities of the daughter of abhira (srimati radharani). One whose ear is not tuned listening to the mellows of the beautiful pastimes of Lord Krishna, those person should hear the mridanga bol dhikta dhikta dhiketan (fie upon him! fie upon him! fie upon him!!!)”

    Here Chanakya says that he who has no love or devotion to krishna and srimati radharani is wasting his life in this world. Deftly using the ‘bols’ (the rhythmic sound) of mridanga to convey his abhorrence to such person, he conveys his meaning very onomatopoetically that “fie upon such man!”

    Thus from the sutras mentioned by Chanakya pandita himself, it is quite reasonable to say that he was well aware of the glories of Lord Krishna and the fundamental vaishnava philosophy, but since he was talking about niti sastra, he didn’t focused much on elaborating the aspects of devotional service to Lord.

    As far his appearance being mentioned in the scriptures, certainly he is predicted in many puranas. For example

    Vishnu purana (4th canto, chapter 24, verse number 26,27,28) says as follows:

    “tata ca nava ca etat nandan kautilyo brahmana sa samudharisyati
    tesham bhave mauryah prithvim bhoksyanti
    kautilya eva chandragupta utpannam rajya abhisheksyati”

    “Thereafter, this nine nandas, were destroyed by the brahmana named Kautilya (Chanakya pandita). After this, the Maurya kings will rule the earth, thereafter Kautliya will perform the coronation ceremony for King Chandragupta maurya.”

    Similarly ,the Chanakya pandita is predicted in Srimad bhagavatam 12.1.11 as follows:

    “nava nandan dvijaḥ kascit
    prapannan uddhariṣyati
    tesam abhave jagatim
    maurya bhokṣyanti vai kala ”

    “A certain brahmaṇa (Chanakya) will betray the trust of King
    Nanda and his eight sons and will destroy their dynasty. In their
    absence the Mauryas will rule the world as the Age of Kali

    Chanakya is also predicted in Maheshvara khanda, kumarika khanda of skanda purana (chapter number 35) as follows:

    ” A brahmana named chanakya, will destroy the dyanasty of nanda, In the period of shukla tirtha, desiring to get freed from the sins committed, he will perform the atonement for the same.”

    Similarly ,Chanakya pandita had also been said to be predicted in Vayu and Matsya puranas.

    Thus ,Chanakya pandita,was definitely a great strategist and cunning person of all the times, but about his being a true devotee, there is not much information available about any devotional writings or literatures being composed as such by him. But still he believed in the supremacy of Lord Vishnu, in that sense, he matched the definition of being a vaishnava ,as we can see from some of his devotional sutras. However it is difficult to say whether he was a pure devotee practitioner or not. Srila prabhupada, often quoted from the chanakya niti sastra, due to its knowledge regarding the political skills and principles of morality. Srila prabhupada didn’t go beyond that, and therefore ,it is good for us to follow srila prabhupda in that sense. Apart from this, judging his personality as being a pure devotee or not, we need to give some benefit of doubt.

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