(Book Review) Chanakya And The Art Of War

Reading new books is a regular part of our company culture. This book review of “Chanakya And The Art Of War” is written by Titan Sanjeevani Rajapure, SEO Strategist at Trigacy.

 As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, we’re all forced to stay at our homes. Hence, Trigacy decided that all employees should work from home for safety purposes. And to make the best use of available time, we all also decided to read a book each. 

So, I decided to read the book ‘Chanakya And The Art Of War’. When I got my hands on the ‘Chanakya And The Art Of War’ book containing the teachings of Chanakya, I thought why not learn from one of India’s very own political strategists of all time. We all should cherish the rich history of our countries and hence, I decided to read this book in my quarantine. Here I explained what I learned from the book and my review about it.

 There are stories, and then there are the lessons to be learned from them. This book starts with a few famous stories about Chanakya and the battles he won. The way he handled the undefeated Alexander the Great is probably one of his most successful victories. Chanakya played with Alexander’s and his troops’ minds to win this war.

The next two chapters of the book talk about how Dhana Nanda insulted Chanakya, and then how Chanakya takes the oath to dethrone Dhana Nanda. Chanakya successfully defeats the powerful but arrogant king of Magadh empire, Dhana Nanda, with the help of Chandragupta Mourya. He also makes a very good argument for fighting the inner enemy first before switching to the outer enemy.

 Then there is a chapter about the ‘Different Ways of Wars’ where Chanakya has classified wars into 3 types:

1. Open War- Open war is described as the war fought between states. Here, Chanakya gives the example of Ramayana when Lord Hanuman was sent to Lanka to carry out a reality check. The reality check was not only to assure of Sita’s presence in Lanka but also to understand the situation in Lanka. When Lord hanuman went to Lanka, he collected the information to help win the war. While there, he also warned Ravana about the fourth coming attack and advised him to avoid the war. But Ravana didn’t listen to the advice as we already know. This is ‘open war’.

2. Concealed War- Concealed war is like a guerrilla war, fought using tactics and tricks instead of an open fight.

3. Silent War- Silent war is a war that is fought on a continuous basis within the kingdom so that the strength of the king is not diluted.

 Chanakya also devised a four-fold strategy of war, detailing the four aspects in which a war could be won.

  • ‘Sama’ means discussion. Whenever a problem needs to be solved, an open discussion with experts should be the first priority.
  • ‘Dana’ entail solving the differences with the enemy financially.
  • ‘Danda’ means punishment. We need to attack the opponent, if required.
  • ‘Bheda’ means creating a divide between the enemy’s kindgom.

 In the book, there are discussions about the games and events that Chanakya insists the rulers should follow to keep their minds constantly educated. Understandably, there is a chapter devoted to Chaturanga – the foundation of the modren game of Chess.

It is also important to remember Chanakya’s analysis of the different ways of conquerors. The discussion of Dharma in this book highlights the fact that while there should be a strong desire for growth and victory, it must have ethics at the core. I assume that this has huge implications for modern business and politics as well.

 How can Chanakya’s guidelines help in your daily life?

We all are essentially fighting two types of wars in our daily lives.

It could be an external war — in our workplaces, in our families, among friends, relatives and/or with the government and its systems.

It might be an internal war—inside our minds, with time, with choices, with what’s right and what’s wrong.

These wars are unavoidable because we live in a world full of diverse people and different opinions. Since the day we are born to the day we die, external or internal conflicts will continue.

You should know that you can’t avoid these wars. Everyone’s got to fight — some win, some lose. This is where the difference in our approach to the war is made clear. We either embrace defeat, or fight to win.

 Many of us still compromise and give up on it. This is a pleasant thing, though a temporary one, that there was no bloodshed, that we avoided facing a serious situation. But then, as we sit down and evaluate, we realize that, in the interest of compromise, we have actually lost the fight.

We can avoid the fight, but the problem is still there. It re-emerges, in a new way, sooner than later. A wuick-fix solution is of a temporary nature since we haven’t fixed the leak. The tooth now has to be removed. The one rotten apple has ruined the entire bunch.

We must make sure that we win the fight once and for all, rather than be under the assumption that a compromise has closed the matter.

The art of winning a war can be learned by knowing these laws and then applying them in a realistic way to real-life situations. There are a number of methods and techniques. Only because we’ve never been introduced to war doesn’t mean that the ‘art of war’ is not meant for us.

 Fighting techniques find their use in business and politics quite explicitly. The reader who really wants to get the most out of this book must chew his thoughts and distill his wisdom in a way that will be relevant to him.

The last chapter in this book discusses the ten principles of Chanakya and how they will support people today in their daily ‘battles’. Things have changed, of course. The way the wars are going today is drastically different. But the essence of strategy remains forever true.

 To conclude, I think the book is a nice one time read. Once you understand the principles of Chanakya, you can apply them in your life and actually improve it. The good thing about this is book is that it gives practical info and there’s a lot to take away.

 The book can be purchased on Amazon and Flipkart.

This is a personal review of the writer and we have no affiliation with the book publisher or the eCommerce platforms linked to.

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