Chanakya Niti – An Ethical Sense

“Wow!” this was the first word that came from my mouth when I entered into the tutorial on week 4 tutorial. The reason of getting shocked was the white board which was full of writings. But after a while in the learning process I feel “why only this limited information is on the board”. This two way communication was about ethics in different perspective which can be meant to religious values. After the discussion with different religious students we were asked to reflect on anyone of the religions that were discussed in the class. I determined that I will reflect on Chanakyanism because I have seen one of the concepts of this religion in my society.

Chnakya Niti is a guideline which was written by Chanakya that includes many sectors like ruling, family life, war, politic and so on.  Chanakya was the son of Rishi Canak who was also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta. He was born in Pataliputra Magadh (recent Bihar) around the third century BC and later moved to Taxila, Gandhar province (recent Pakistan)(http://www.cnlu.ac.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52).

From my understanding the meaning of “Niti” is sense of right or wrong. According to Sri Chankya Niti-Sastra definition Niti is common sense which aimed to realize one’s eternal position. There are many chapters of Chanakya Niti which described various ethical decisions. Like many other religions Chankyanism also believes in rebirth. According to Chanakya God is not present in temples in idols. He resides in our hearts and can be felt within us. In addition the Chankya Niti-Sastra also says “Agni is the worshipable person for the twice-born; the brahmana for the other castes; the husband for the wife; and the guest who comes for food at the midday meal for all.” From this verse we can easily understand that the followers worship “Agni” which means to be fire. Another fundamental believe of Chanakyanism is different caste.  Brahmana, Vaishya, Shudra, Chandala are four common castes that identify the social status under this Niti Sastra. Brahmana is the highest caste and Chandala is the lowest one.

When I read some of the chapters of Sri Chankya Niti-Sastra, I found some similarities with my religion. According to my religion (Islam) people get diseases, sorrows and other natural disaster either because of their sins or according to God’s will as He wants to taste his followers. In Chanakyanism it is written that evils are the result of sins done by a person. Another similarity that I have found is about woman fasting. According to Chnakya Niti woman must not fast and observe religious vows without husband’s permission. In my religion there is similar concept about woman fasting (not the obligatory fasting). An woman must not fast(not the obligatory fasting) without her husband’s willingness.

On the other hand there is huge difference in our beliefs and Chanakya Niti. They believe in many Gods and it is totally contradictory with our beliefs. Moreover, we do not believe in any caste where they believe in different caste and they have defined their status according to those caste.

However, each religion has its own values and the followers also abide by those values as they believe in those religions. Different values make different religions distinct. By doing these I have gained an overall idea on Chanakya Niti. One great lesson that I learned from Chanakya Niti is “Learn from the mistake of others… you cannot live long enough to make them all yourselves.”(http://www.slideshare.net/nishant_jaiswal/15-great-thoughts-by-chanakya-12082583)

Note: Main references that was used in this writing is from http://philosophy.ru/library/asiatica/indica/authors/kautilya/canakya_niti_sastra.html

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