August 11, 2011


Political dramas never interested me. In fact, I always felt they were a tad too serious and too boringly prosaic to kindle any amount of fellowship in me. In such a scenario, when Chanakya’s Chant fell into my arms, I had my own set of apprehensions. Something about the historical promise the book made in its blurb, is what made me pick it up and begin to read through.

I must agree, it completely vanquished my suspicions!

The book was engaging, riveting and extraordinarily rich in style, language and research. I wonder why people like Ashwin Sanghi, the author of Chankya’s Chant, don’t write history books. As Prahlad Kakkar laments, “I wish our politicians were literate enough to read it”.

The book traces two different and yet extraordinarily parallel characters. As suggested by the title, it acquaints us to the life of Vishnugupta, also known as Chanakya(son of Chanak)- the erudite Brahmin whose skill, wiliness, absolute disregard for morals and masterful knowledge of governance and people helps him install his pupil, Chandragupta, on the throne of the Mauryan Empire and also send back the powerful armies of Alexander the Great from India. In this process, he most importantly succeeds in reaping revenge against the evil Dhanananda who had brutally murdered his father, the scholar Chanak.

Around two thousand three hundred years later, a similar avatar of Chanakya is born in the country, in the form of an equally crafty, scheming, ruthless and extraordinarily intelligent Gangasagar Mishra. He catapults Chandini, an ordinary slum girl to the seat of power in the country through his tactics, manipulations and cunning.

The most impressive part about this book is the fact that Ashwin Sanghi so deftly uses words to make politics so engrossing! What my school economics books made me shun, Sanghi makes un-put-down-able!

His words are sculpted so wonderfully that the dialogues that Chanakya and Gangasagar mouth make you want to whistle in parts. The raw and menacing struggle for power is captured to its barest detail in such a realistic fashion that it makes you shudder. And then you realize that Sanghi’s fictional universe is not far from the existent power plays in the political world around you today, it does make you sad and fearful.

The murder, deceit and plotting that run through the pages of the life of Chanakya(or Gangasagar in the present day) make you feel like you are a witness to a charming game of chess played between a grandmaster on one side and imbeciles on the other. Such is the brilliance of move, detailing of action and sleight of hand!

The book leaves you in a shocked and stunned silence at the sheer brilliance and intelligence with which it engaged you.

I cannot wait to try Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Rozabal Line” now. The reviews of that book also seem to suggest an extraordinary piece of work.

If his two books are any proof, India has got herself a wonderful and captivating author in Ashwin Sanghi.

And in his own style, we send him the Chanakya’s Chant to help and guide,

“Adi Shakti Namo Namah! Sarva Shakti Namo Namah!
Prathama Bhagavati Namo Namah!
Kundalini Mata Shakti! Mata Shakti Namo Namah!

“Primal Shakti, I bow to thee
All-encompassing Shakti, I bow to thee
That through which God creates, I bow to thee
Creative power of the Kundalini
Mother of all, to thee I bow.”

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


Vyazz said...

Kewl review!!!!......U just aroused the dormant curiosity in moi!!!!!........given the time will surely try to read it!!!!!! :D

Anu said...

Here is my review of the book:

Rahul said...

The book depicts two story lines in parallel and in both of the story everything happened so smoothly without having any trouble or disturbance. Whatever they have planned (both Chanakya and Gangasagar), executed in the right way as if there is no attempt from their rival to protect themselves. Politics is not so simple and in this regard I think the book lacks maturity. However, the stories have good pace and is of nice reading altogether.

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