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Durable Link to this BlogThursday, October 16, 2003

Wisdoms of Chanakya

Chanakyaniti: "Man, model thyself after animals"

Portrait of Chanakya

Chanakya or Kautilya was the minister of emperor Chandragupta Murya, who was a contemporary of Alexander the Great (4th century B.C), and grandfather of emperor Ashoka. In India, Chanakya is a second name for shrewdness, astuteness, and diplomacy, due to the legendary skills of the minister.

Chanakya wrote many volumes including the famous Arthashastra (Principles of Economics and Administration), and Neetishastra (Principles of Political Science).

Here are some verses of wisdom wherein Chanakya writes what humans should learn from animals.

A man must pick up a good quality each from a lion and a stork,
Three qualities from a donkey,
Four qualities from a rooster,
Five qualities from a crow,
and six qualities from a dog.

Chanakya writes that men should be steady and focused in their approach to the target like a lion, yet must be restrained and patient like a stork,  which fishes without losing its concentration.

Regularity, sharing food with brethren, keeping self-earned matter, and fighting with bravery are the four qualities humans should learn from the cocks.

Ready to bear/carry burden, however exhausted, tolerant of climatic variations, being content on whatever is available, are superb qualities we must learn from a donkey.

Chanakya writes that copulating secretly, attacking suddenly, keeping alert all the time, non-gullibility, and disbelief are a crow's virtues, that we must learn to adapt.

Even though a dog is a glutton by nature, the way a dog finds contentment in what the mater feeds, even though a sound sleeper, the way a dog keeps alert at night, its loyalty, and its courage, are the qualities we must admire in a dog.

"A human being who is able to find these superior qualities in his fellow beings (i.e., animals) and puts all these twenty traits into practice will certainly succeed in life" -- Chanakya declares.

See Also:
• Donkey Days - Donkeys on the streets of India
• Span of the Mauryan empire

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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