Chanakya's Philosophy: Principles to Learn

chanakya neeti

I have been recently reading the works of Chanakya, who was one of the greatest politician, strategist and writer of ancient India. Soon I realized how relevant they are in today’s competitive environment, and especially the rat race that is the average law school! So here are a few gems from his philosophy that may serve you well – do not attribute what is said here to me, remember they are written by Chanakya! Maybe you have read them before but there is no harm in reading such useful reminders once more.

“Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous.”

You don’t need to be harmful to others, but it should not be another way round as well i.e. people should not be able to hurt you. You need to build your defense mechanism well for that purpose.

You should not let others know your weak points. Build upon your strength. You should not be vulnerable but should actually have the capacity to make others vulnerable if they try to harm you or at least pretend to have such capacity!

“A man is great by deeds, not by birth.”

You cannot always be known as “Son of” or “Daughter of” someone. You need to earn a name for yourself by your own deeds. It’s your work that will give you an identity. You cannot bask in the glory of a generation old story of your parents or family or race. Instead of being proud of where you come from, reach a position when you can be proud of where you have reached.

“A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are victimized first.”

Honesty is not always the best policy. People generally do not tend to appreciate brutal honesty. Chanakya says formality is the best policy. If you are too simple and honest people take you for granted. It’s important to be in good books of people and get work done rather than being honest. You need to be strategic in your dealings with people if you want to live a successful life.

“Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions –
Why am I doing it?

What may the results be?

Will I succeed?

Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead with the work.”
Just working is not enough to make you successful; you need to work in the right direction. You should be reasonably certain that you have figured out a way to accomplish your goal or the task you have undertaken. Failures definitely make you stronger, but only idiots invite failure deliberately.

Assess the feasibility of a plan/idea before working on it, and judge the tentative outcome. Strategizing is important before starting work. Always ask yourself what you will gain by doing a thing, will you be happy/ satisfied/ successful when you accomplish it? It’s said that if your work satisfies you, it does not remain work. It’s all pleasure then!

“Once you start a working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.”

The second golden rule when it comes to work is that once you have undertaken a task, you can’t back off. Dedication towards work is a key rule to succeed. Winners never quit, quitters never win. Everyone faces a hard time, but those who succeed are the one who face such hard times undaunted.

“As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it.”

Never let anything scare you off. Fear attracts further fear. People will make you feel more scared if you will show that you are scared. Take a simple example, chances of being chased by a dog are higher if you are scared of dogs and dogs sense your fear. You can’t let anything get on your nerves. The moment you sense some fear, you need to address it specifically and destroy it.

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