Chanakya was born to Chani and Chaneswari in a village named ChaNaka during late 15th century BCE.
This ChaNaka village was in Golla Vishaya (golla region) of South India.
Multiple sources including Hemachandra who wrote Parishishta-Parvan, mention Chanakya as a dramila, which was used for a dravidian native in those days.
Vatsayana was also called as dramila, which means a dravidian whose ancestors spoke ancient Tamil.
Chanakya was born with full teeth and rishis predicted that such a kid will rule over a kingdom.
His father wanted to lead a simple life, so got those teeth removed. Then rishis predicted that this kid will become a king maker and proxy rule a kingdom.
Chanakya went to Takshasila for higher studies and returned to his village to get married.
After his wife Yasomati was insulted by her sisters for poverty, Chanakya decided to visit Mahapadma Nanda, the ruler of Magadha and seek money.
Chanakya behaves foolishly by sitting over king’s throne and gets kicked out of the palace. He vows to eliminate Nanda and his sons.
Infact, Chanakya deliberately does this as he needs a reason to dethrone Barber’s son Nanda and his dynasty, who have already eliminated most of the original Kshatriyas in neighbouring kingdoms.
Also, his rule was unbearable, according to dharma. By levying taxes on Animal skins, Gums, trees, stones etc, he hoarded up money to the extent of eighty Mahapadma, and buries up in the bed of the Ganges. 1 Mahapadma is 1037 or Ten undecillion.
Diverting the main stream for a time by an anicut or dam thrown across the Ganges, and making a large hole in a rock in the bed of the river sufficient to contain the money, he deposited his wealth in the rock, and sealed it up with molten lead. The river was then restored to its natural course and his treasure was secured thus in a very strong place. During his life time, he continued to hoard up and to deposit the collections from time to time under the bed of the river.
Chanakya remembers prediction of rishis that he can proxy rule a kingdom and searches for suitable person as future king.
He reaches a village in Piphalivana (area between Rummindei or Lumbini in the Terai region of Nepal and Kasia in the modern-day Gorakhpur district), where most of the kshatriya families take care of Royal Peacocks.
They were called Maurya (one who feeds Mayura – Peacock).
In Mahaparinibbana Sutta, a buddhist text, Moriyas or Mauryas as kshatriya clan ruling over Pipphalivana.
Initially, Moriyas were loyal to Saisunaga Dynasty, which ruled between 1994-1643 BCE.
After Mahanandi was killed by barber, they were continuosly waging wars against Mahapadma Nanda and his sons.
He discovers that village head’s daughter, Mura is pregnant and wished to drink full moon.
Chanakya offers to fulfill her desire on condition that he will raise her son in future. Village head and his family agrees to this deal.
Mura’s husband Sarvarthsiddhi Maurya was a Military General who got killed in the battle against Nanda Empire.
Chanakya builds a hut with a hole in the roof. He keeps a pot full of milk in the hut where moon lights falls and invites pregnant Mura.
He shows the pot of milk with moon’s reflection and says ‘Drink that Moon’.
Hypnotized by his voice, Mura drinks pot full of milk and assumes that she drank the moon. Chanakya cleaverly get the roof hole closed where he is drinking the milk and creates an illusion that Moon disappeared after pot is emptied.
Later Mura names her kid as Chandra-Gupta (as she drank Moon-Chandra secretly-gupta).
Chanakya enters Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha and disguises himself as Vishnu Gupta.
There were many enemies of Mahapadma Nanda but lacked unity and leadership to attack the king.
Chanakya as Vishnu Gupta attempts multiple times to unite common enemies and attack the king but fails.
One day, while going through Piphalivana, he sees a 12 years old kid behaving like a king among his friends.
Chanakya wanted to test him and asks for a donation. Kid shows a herd of cows as donation.
Chanakya gets to know that this kid is Chandragupta and says – ‘ If you want to be a real king, you need kingdom and i can get you one’.
As per the vow of his family, they send chandragupta with chanakya.
Chanakya forms a small army and attacks Nanda but loses war and runs away.
They get chased by nanda’s soldiers. Unable to escape further, Chanakya disguises as a rishi and asks Chandragupta to hide inside a pond.
When a soldier reaches them and asks the disguised rishi – ‘Did you see anyone runnings towards this way ?‘, Chanakya points towards the water.
When soldier gets down his horse, keeps aside his sword and tries to remove his metal armour, Chankaya picks his sword and beheads him.
Later he asks Chandragupta, what was he thinking under water, when soldier was about to enter.
Chandragupta replies – ‘My guru must have planned something‘. Chankaya understands that, in future even when Chandragupta becomes king, he can still proxy-rule the kingdom.
Meanwhile, another soldier approaches them. Chanakaya threatens a washerman that King is angry on your community and decided to throw all of you in jail.
Washerman runs away and chanakya takes his place, while he again sends Chandragupta to hide in water.
He kills second soldier in same way and they now take both horses and reach a village.
Both were hungry and look for some family who can feed them.
They reach a house where a mother serves hot cooked food in plates to sons.
One kid puts his hand in center of plate and burns his fingers. Mother scolds him – ‘You too are a fool like Chanakanya‘.
Chanakya, who listens to this, is surprised and enters the house to know the reason behind her words.
She says ‘Any sensible person will start eating hot food for one side, not from center‘.
Chanakya learns a lesson and gets into an agreement with king Parvataka, who was ruling over Nepal-Tibet that upon victory, Parvataka gets half of Magadha kingdom.
They capture all cities and smaller kingdoms around Pataliputra but one city could not be captured.
Chanakya disguises as a tridandi sanyasi and enters that city. He gets to know that the ‘Sapta Matruka’ mandir in the temple is the key as people believe that those goddesses protect their city.
Few people ask this fake monk about when will war end. Chankaya replies that only after Sapta Matruka leave the city, there will be peace.
Foolish people remove the idols of Sapta Matrukas and next day, Chandragupta – Parvataka army acts as if they have withdrawn from war. When people were celebrating end of war, they suddenly attack and captures the city.
In next attempt, Chandragupta kills Mahapadma Nanda and then his first son Sumalya Nanda rules for 1 year from 1546 BCE.
Those 8 brothers get to rule for 1 year each as 1 of them gets killed every year by Chandragupta.
Buddhist texts mention that a robber-turned-king Ugrasena was first Nanda, who was succeeded by his brothers, the last of whom was Dhana Nanda.
But puranas and Jain texts clearly mention that Mahapadma Nanda had 8 sons named – Pandhuka Nanda (or Sumalya Nanda), Panghupati Nanda, Bhutapala Nanda, Rashtrapala Nanda, Govishanaka Nanda, Dasasidkhaka Nanda, Kaivarta Nanda and Dhana Nanda. He also had an illegitimate son named Karvinatha Nanda from a maid, whom historians wrongly linked with Mura and Chandragupta Maurya.
All sons of Mahapadma Nanda carried surname of Nanda, so historians got confused with last son Dhana Nanda with father Mahapadma Nanda.
The last brother Dhana Nanda loses war but survives and surrenders. Chankaya offers him to leave the kingdom with wealth that fits in one chariot.
When he was leaving with his wives and daughter Durdhara, Chandragupta was entering the palace in another chariot.
Both Chandragupta Maurya and Durdhara got attracted to each other at first sight. Dhana Nanda noticed this and allowed his daughter to marry in Swayamvara.
Durdhara got down from her father’s chariot and when she was about to enter Chandragupta Maurya’s chariot, 12 spokes of chariot wheels were broken.
Chandragupta Maurya thought this as bad omen but Chankaya intervened by saying that this is a divine indication that his dynasty will rule for 12 generations.
Chanakaya – Chandragupta Maurya equally divided the left over wealth of Dhana Nanda, but treasury was insufficient to run administration.
So, Chanakya threw a party to all rich men in Magadha and while all were drunk, boasted about how rich he was and how king was controlled by him.
Alcohol made all those men too boast about their hidden wealth, which Chanakya taxed and filled the treasury.
Chanakya was called Kautilya for this, because he employed Kutila-Neeti (wicked tactics) in politics.
Dhana Nanda had a maid who was a Visha Kanya (poisonous woman). She was used by Chanakya to trap Parvataka, who took half of Magadha kingdom.
When Parvataka wanted to marry and held her hand, poison spread from pores of her skin into Parvataka’s body and he asked for medical help. Chandragupta Maurya tried calling doctors but Chanakya stopped him to see Parvataka die on the spot.
Chanakya occupied Parvataka’s kingdom too and merged it into Magadha empire.
Even after eliminating Nanda dynasty, there was no peace in Magadha as Dhana Nanda’s men were creating riots, robberies and frequent civil wars.
Chanakya noticed a weaver, who was setting on fire all the cobwebs at home.
Chanakya used him to eliminate Nanda’s gangs and establish order.
In this process, Chanakya convinces Rakshasa, the minister of Nanda to stop his anti establishment activities and come back as minister to Maurya.
Most of the Chanakya’s story is also mentioned in Mudra Rakshasa, written by Visakhadatta.
Once Magadha was caught in famine and Jain monks could not find biksha (alms). Jain guru Susthita ordered his disciples to leave the kingdom and go elsewhere.
But 2 monks wanted to stay back and use Anjanam (cream) which when applied on their eyes, makes them invisible. They use this to enter Chandragupta Maurya’s palace and eat food from his plate.
Chanakya notices that Chandragupta is losing weight despite eating regular meals.
He suspects that someone is stealing food from his plate and sprays powder on floor. After lunch, he notices 2 pairs of barefoot prints in the powder.
Next day during lunch, he lets out smoke in the dining hall. It causes tears for everyone and as the Anjana melts down, jain monks appear to everyone.
While Chandragupta feels sad for eating leftovers of monks, Chanakya convinces him that it was a good deed to share meals with monks.
He orders that all Jain monks should be offered alms in Pataliputra.
After this incident, Chanakya suspects that someone can try to poison Chandragupta’s food.
So he starts mixing small portions of poison in king’s food and increases this quantity every week.
At one stage, Poison increases so much that Chandragupta unknowingly becomes a Visha Purusha (poisonous man) and is immune to any kind of poison.
His wife Durdhara is pregnant and wishes to eat with her husband. Chanakya refuses to this and says King’s meal is specially made and he is supposed to eat alone.
Durdhara gets curious and enters the kitchen secretly to taste the food prepared for her husband.
As she tastes one bite from his plate, she collapses due to poison present in it. Chanakya rushes to the spot and performs Caesarean or a C-section surgery on a 8 months pregnant Durdhara to save her child from dying.
However, she dies but one drop of poison enters the child through umbilical cord. The child survives and is named Bindusara (bindu means a drop).
After death of his wife and learning that Chanakya made him into a poisonous man, Chandragupta Maurya decides to retire and lead a monk life at Shravana belagola.
Bindusara is raised by Chanakya as future heir of Maurya dynasty. After taking over the throne, Bindusara gets fed with wrong information by Chanakya’s enemies, who wanted to remove him from ministry, that he killed his mother by slitting her womb.
Chanakya’s own disciple Subandha informs Bindusara about Chanakya killing Durdhara with poison.
Chanakya understands that time has come to retire from ministry and concentrate of writing his books like ‘Arthasastra‘, leading a monk life.
Death of Chanakya
But he still wanted to exact revenge on Subandha who cheated on him for minister post. Before leaving the kingdom, he wrote something on leaves, sprays special perfume on them and hid them in a box.
Later he donates all his wealth to the poor and starts living outisde Pataliputra.
By the time Chanakya finishes his book ‘Arthasastra‘, Bindusara realises his mistake. He meets Chanakya, who is siting on a garbage pile in protest against his ill-treatment by king and requests him to comeback as minister.
But Chanakya refuses. During this conversation, Subandha drops a small fire on the garbage pile and Chanakya is burnt alive.
Subandha breaks open Chanakya’s house for wealth and finds a small box. He opens it and smells strong perfume. It is written on those leaves that whoever inhales this perfume, needs to spend rest of his life as a monk, else will die soon.
Subandha assumes that, this must be the reason why Chanakya lived outside the city as a monk.
He too becomes a Jain monk but later understands how Chanakya took revenge on him as he is ridiculed by other monks for taking up monkhood fearing his death and he cannot go back as minister of Magadha.