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Katha Chanakya by Radhakrishnan Pillai

The author of Corporate Chanakya needs no introduction. Radhakrishnan Pillai seamlessly weaved corporate management with Chanakya’s Arthashastra, creating a wisdom bank as astute as Chanakya himself. And he’s done it again, this time with tales. Katha Chanakya is a collection of stories about Chanakya and the lessons he imparted to his able student, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya.

Right from the start, Katha Chanakya establishes that it’s no tome of saintly teachings, but one of shrewd life skills. Take this story for instance. Chanakya sends Dhanananda–the untrustworthy king he dethroned–to the woods, to live a life of an ascetic. The Mauryan court is taken aback by this gentle treatment. However, Chanakya has ideals to uphold–he has to treat a king with respect. So, he simply exiles Dhanananda, but not without sending spies after him!

Radhakrishnan Pillai’s research and expertise on all things Chanakya is praiseworthy, more so because some of the stories in Katha Chanakya are imaginary. The book, in Pillai’s organised fashion, is divided into three parts: Chanakya the Teacher, Chanakya the Mentor, and The Greatness of Chanakya. These parts translate to determination, success, and staying in the game, respectively, making it relatable for every reader.

The book gets its tone from the student-teacher relationship between the Mauryan emperor and Chanakya. As Chandragupta takes his lessons from Chanakya, the reader gets to vicariously learn from the strategic Kingmaker himself. This way, the tone complements the lessons-to-learn format the book follows, making for a fulfilling reading experience.

The chapters themselves make for good takeaways. Firstly, there’s the Acharya Neeti that gives you a context. Secondly, there’s the Acharya Katha which is the story itself. And lastly, ‘Insights’ that summarises the lessons of each story. With this, Pillai ensures the book is simple enough for readers of any background. So, whether you’re a student looking for tales with morals or a professional looking for strategic tips, you’re bound to find wisdom in there.     

Exploring themes like commitment, self-discipline, humility, and wealth among many others, this book makes for a suitable read no matter the reader’s age. There’s barely been a book of moral stories that’s drawn both children and adults alike, since the Jataka Tales. Katha Chanakya fills this gap. 

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