The Legend of Chanakya and Chandragupta (Buddhist Version)

It is proper that, in this place, a sketch of these two characters should be given. Of these, if I am asked in the first place, Where did this Chanakya dwell? Whose son was he? I answer. He lived at the city of Taksasila. He was the son of a certain brahman at that place, and a man who had achieved the knowledge of the three vedas; could rehearse the mantras; skilful in stratagems; and dexterous in intrigue as well as policy. At the period of his father’s death he was already well known as the dutiful maintainer of his mother, and as a highly gifted individual worthy of swaying the chhatra.

On a certain occasion approaching his mother, who was weeping, he inquired: “My dear mother! why dost thou weep?” On being answered by her: “My child, thou art gifted to sway a chhatra. Do not, my boy, endeavour, by raising the chhatra, to become a sovereign. Princes everywhere are unstable in their attachments. Thou, also, my child, wilt forget the affection thou owest me. In that case, I should be reduced to the deepest distress. I weep under these apprehensions.” He exclaimed: “My mother, what is that gift that I possess? On what part of my person is it indicated?” and on her replying, “My dear, on thy teeth,” smashing his own teeth, and becoming “Kandhadatto” (a tooth-broken-man) he devoted himself to the protection of his mother. Thus it was that he became celebrated as the filial protector of his mother. He was not only a tooth-broken-man, but he was disfigured by a disgusting complexion, and by deformity of legs and other members, prejudicial to manly comeliness. (Hence his name “Kautilya” in the Hindu authorities)

In his quest of disputation, repairing to Puspapura, the capital of the monarch Dhana-nando,—who, abandoning his passion for hoarding, becoming imbued with the desire of giving alms, relinquishing also his miserly habits, and delighting in bearing the fruits that resulted from benevolence, had built a hall of alms-offerings in the midst of his palace, and was making an offering to the chief of the brahmans worth a hundred kotis, and to the most junior brahman an offering worth a lac,—this brahman (Chanakya) entered the said apartment, and taking possession of the seat of the chief brahman, sat himself down in that alms-hall.

At that instant Dhana-nando himself.—decked in regal attire, and attended by many thousands of “siwaka” (state palanquins) glittering with their various ornaments, and escorted by a suite of a hundred royal personages, with their martial array of the four hosts, of cavalry, elephants, chariots, and infantry, and accompanied by dancing girls, lovely as the attendants on the devas; himself a personification of majesty, and bearing the white parasol of dominion, having a golden staff and golden tassels,—with this superb retinue, repairing thither, and entering the hall of alms-offerings beheld the brahman Chanakya seated. On seeing him, this thought occurred to him (Nando): “Surely it cannot be proper that he should assume the seat of the chief brahman.” Becoming displeased with him, he thus evinced his displeasure. He inquired: “Who art thou, that thou hast taken the seat of the chief Brahman?” and being answered (simply), “It is I;” “Cast from hence this cripple brahman; allow him not to be seated,” exclaimed (Nando) and although the courtiers again and again implored of him, saying, “Deva! let it not be so done by a person prepared to make offerings as thou art; extend thy forgiveness to this brahman;” he insisted upon his ejection. On the courtiers approaching (Chanakya) and saying, “Achariyo! we come, by the command of the raja, to remove thee from hence; but incapable of uttering the words ‘Achariyo depart hence,’ we now stand before thee abashed;” enraged against him (Nando), rising from his seat to depart, he snapt asunder his brahmanical cord, and dashed down his jug on the threshold: and thus invoking malediction, “Kings are impious: may this whole earth, bounded by the four oceans, withhold its gifts from Nando;” he departed. On his sallying out, the officers reported this proceeding to the raja. The king, furious with indignation, toured, “Catch, catch the slave.” The fugitive stripping himself naked, and assuming the character of an ajivika, and running into the centre of the palace, concealed himself in an unfrequented place, at the Sankharathnan. The pursuers not having discovered him, returned and reported that he was not to be found.

In the night he repaired to a more frequented part of the palace, and meeting some of the suite of the royal prince Parvata, admitted them into his confidence. By their assistance, he had an interview with the prince. Gaining him over by holding out hopes of securing the sovereignty for him, and attaching him by that expedient, he began to search the means of getting out of the palace. Discovering that in a certain place there was a ladder leading to a secret passage, he consulted with the prince, and sent a message to his (the prince’s) mother for the key of the passage. Opening the door with the utmost secrecy, and escaping with the prince out of that passage, they fled to the wilderness of Vindhya.

While dwelling there, with the view of raising resources, he converted (by recoining) each kahapanan into eight, and amassed eighty kotis of kahapana. Having buried this treasure, he commenced to search for a second individual entitled (by birth) to be raised to sovereign power, and met with the aforesaid prince of the Moriyan dynasty called Chandragupta.

His (Chandragupta’s) mother, the queen consort of the monarch of Moriya-nagara, the city before mentioned, was pregnant at the time that a certain powerful provincial raja conquered that kingdom, and put the Moriyan king to death. In her anxiety to preserve the child in her womb, departing for the capital of Puspapura, under the protection of her elder brothers and under disguise, she dwelt there. At the completion of the ordinary term of pregnancy, giving birth to a son, and relinquishing him to the protection of the devas, she placed him in a vase, and deposited him at the door of a cattle pen. A bull named Chando stationed himself by him, to protect him; in the same manner that prince Ghoso, by the interposition of the devata, was watched over by a bull. In the same manner, also, that the herdsman in the instance of that prince Ghoso repaired to the spot where that bull planted himself, a herdsman, on observing this prince, moved by affection, like that borne to his own child, took charge of and tenderly reared him; and in giving him a name, in reference to his having been watched by the bull Chando, he called him “Chandragupta” and brought him up. When he had attained an age to be able to tend cattle, a certain wild huntsman, a friend of the herdsman, becoming acquainted with, and attached to him, taking him from (the herdsman) to his own dwelling, established him here. He continued to dwell in that village.

Subsequently, on a certain occasion, while tending cattle with other children in the village, he joined them in a game, called “the game of royalty”. He himself was named raja; to others he gave the offices of sub-king, &c. Some being appointed judges, were placed in a judgment hall; some he made officers of the king’s household; and others, outlaws or robbers. Having thus constituted a court of Justice, he sat in judgment. On culprits being brought up, regularly impeaching and trying them, on their guilt being clearly proved to his satisfaction, according to the sentence awarded by his judicial ministers, he ordered the officers of the court to chop off their hands and feet. On their replying, “Deva! we have no axes,” he answered “It is the order of Chandragupta that ye should chop off their hands and feet, making axes with the horns of goats for blades, and sticks for handles. They acting accordingly, on striking with the axe, the hands and feet were lopt off. On the same person commanding, “Let them be re-united,” the hands and feet were restored to their former condition.

Chanakya happening to come to that spot, was amazed at the proceeding he beheld. Accompanying (the boy) to the village, and presenting the huntsman with a thousand kahapana, he applied for him, saying, “I will teach your son every accomplishment; consign him to me.” Accordingly conducting him to his own dwelling, he encircled his neck with a single fold of a woollen cord, twisted with gold thread, worth a lac.

The discovery of this person is thus stated (in the former works): “He discovered this prince descended from the Moriyan line.”

He (Chanakya) invested prince Parvata, also, with a similar woollen cord. While these youths were living with him, each had a dream which they separately imparted to him. As soon as he heard each (dream), he knew that of these prince Parvata would not attain royalty; and that Chandragupta would, without loss of time, become paramount monarch in Jambudipo. Although he made this discovery, he disclosed nothing to them.

On a certain occasion having partaken of some milk-rice prepared in butter, which had been received as an offering at a brahmanical disputation, retiring from the main road, and lying down in a shady place protected by the deep foliage of trees, they fell asleep. Among them the Achariyo awaking first, rose, and, for the purpose of putting prince Parvata’s qualifications to the test, giving him a sword, and telling him: “Bring me the woollen thread on Chandragupta’s neck, without either cutting or untying it,” sent him off. Starting on the mission, and failing to accomplish it, he returned. On a subsequent day, he sent Chandragupta on a similar mission. He repairing to the spot where Parvata was sleeping, and considering how it was to be effected, decided: “There is no other way of doing it; it can only be got possession of, by cutting his head off.” Accordingly chopping his head off, and bringing away the woollen thread, presented himself to the brahman, who received him in profound silence. Pleased with him, however, on account of this (exploit), he rendered him in the course of six or seven years highly accomplished, and profoundly learned.

Thereafter, on his attaining manhood, deciding: “From henceforth this individual is capable of forming and controlling an army,” and repairing to the spot where his treasure was buried, and taking possession of, and employing it; and enlisting forces from all quarters, and distributing money among them, and having thus formed a powerful army, he entrusted it to him. From that time throwing off all disguise, and invading the inhabited parts of the country, he commenced his campaign by attacking towns and villages. In the course of their (Chanakya and Chandragupta’s) warfare, the population rose en masse, and surrounding them, and hewing their army with their weapons, vanquished them. Dispersing, they re-united in the wilderness; and consulting together, they thus decided: “As yet no advantage has resulted from war; relinquishing military operations, let us acquire a knowledge of the sentiments of the people.” Thenceforth, in disguise, they travelled about the country. While thus roaming about, after sunset retiring to some town or other, they were in the habit of attending to the conversation of the inhabitants of those places.

In one of these villages, a woman having baked some “appulapawa” (pancakes) was giving them to her child, who leaving the edges would only eat the centre. On his asking for another cake, she remarked “This boy’s conduct is like Chandragupta’s in his attempt to take possession of the kingdom.” On his inquiring, “Mother, why, what am I doing; and what has Chandragupta done?” “Thou, my boy, (said she) throwing away the outside of the cake, eat the middle only. Chandragupta also, in his ambition to be a monarch, without subduing the frontiers, before he attacked the towns, invaded the heart of the country, and laid towns waste. On that account, both the inhabitants of the town and others, rising, closed in upon him, from the frontiers to the centre, and destroyed his army. That was his folly.”

They, on hearing this story of hers, taking due notice thereof, from that time, again raised an army. On resuming their attack on the provinces and towns, commencing from the frontiers, reducing towns, and stationing troops in the intervals, they preceded in their invasion. After a respite, adopting the same system, and marshalling a great army, and in regular course reducing each kingdom and province, then assailing Pataliputra and putting Dhana-nando to death, they seized that sovereignty.

Although this had been brought about, Chanakya did not at once raise Chandragupta to the throne; but for the purpose of discovering Dhana-nando’s hidden treasure, sent for a certain fisherman (of the river) and deluding him with the promise of raising the chhatra for him, and having secured the hidden treasure; within a month from that date, putting him also to death, inaugurated Chandragupta monarch.

MAHAVAMSA COMMENTARY

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