The Story of Chanakya's Death

Mahaveer Sanglikar  - 1.6 2018
 

Although his existence is disputed, Chanakya is a very popular figure in India. Thousands of books have been written on his life in various Indian languages, as well as dramas, TV serials, and few movies. But the Chanakya discussed there is based on the literature about him available in Vedic tradition, which gives an account of his political life only, and not one of them talks about Chanakya's death.

Writers rarely make reference to the stories about him available in Jain and Buddhist literature. In Jain literature, we see detailed accounts of the life of Chanakya, from his birth to death.

Here, I offer the Jain account of his death.

The Jain Account of Chanakya's Death

When Emperor Chandragupta Maurya became a naked Jain ascetic and went to South India with his teacher Bhadrabahu, Chanakya continued to serve the Mauryan empire as the Prime Minster under Bindusar, the son of Chandragupta.

There was a junior minister named Subadhu in the ministry who was jealous about Chanakya and wanted to become Prime Minister. Subadhu instilled hate for Chanakya in the mind of Bindusar by telling lies, and Bindusar then expelled Chanakya from the ministry.

Then, like Chandragupta, Chanakya too became a Jain monk and went to a jungle with other monks to meditate. The cruel Subandhu, who was now Prime Minister, set the jungle on fire and killed Chanakya and all the monks with him.

After learning that Chanakya was dead, Subandhu was also informed that there were some secret documents in a box at Chanakya's house so Subandhu went there, opened the box, and released a poisonous gas that came out of the box and spread in the room. Subandhu died on the spot.

Thus, Chanakya took revenge even after his death.

 

Chanakya Was Not Kautilya
Evidence proves that Chanakya and Kautilya are not the same people. However, merging them into one benefited both of them by magnifying their importance (as well as the importance of the people who conflated them).

Who was Chanakya
Like Chandragupt Maurya, Chanakya also became a Jain monk after his retirement from his Ministership. Unfortunately, when he was meditating in a jungle with other monks, the jungle was set on fire.

The Religion of Mauryan Emperors
Magadh or Bihar was a great land of activities for Jainism and Buddhism, two dominant religions of ancient India. Both religions were related to ancient Shramanic tradition, distinct from Vedic tradition.
Emperor Chandragupta Maurya: a Royal Ascetic
Emperor Chadragupt Maurya was founder of the Mauryan Dynasty. He came from a peacock-taming family, defeated mighty Magadhan Emperor Dhananand, ruled over a large part of South Asia, and became a naked Jain ascetic.