Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ashwin Sanghi's "Chanakya's Chant"

"Chanakya's Chant" by Ashwin Sanghi tells parallel stories of historical figure Acharya Chanakya and his wily ways to unite scattered India under the rule of Chandragupta Maurya in the past and Gangasagar Mishra's usage of political machinations to establish Chandini Gupta to the post of the premier of modern India. In fact, Mishra is supposed to be the modern incarnation of Chanakya while Chandini  of Chandragupta. There are plenty of political conspiracies carried out by the politicians, some believable some not, to ascend to the throne. I don't want to give away the story but will suffice to say that I had a guilty pleasure reading the intrigues in the form of Saam, Daam, Danda, Bhed presented in the novel. But I remained skeptic about the easy political coups carried out by Gangasagar and his cohorts in modern India. The writer has carried out good research into ancient India and also into the caste/religion-based politics of modern India to pull off a political thriller and also has proved that he possesses a big brain. Literary tropes like parallelism, chiasmus, allusion and others are employed dexterously. However, the writer is guilty of trying to pass off Hindi words like "machaan" and "mor" as Sanskrit and he likes to repeat the phrase "had seen better days" every now and then. I believe Nepali politics also needs someone like Acharya Chanakya to get rid of the current mess but unfortunately there are ill-advising Shakunis only at the moment. 

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