Since the release of our latest bestseller book, The Fundamentals of Kootaneeti: The Vedic Art of Strategic Living, we have been bombarded with inquiries about the relationship between Ku-Neeti, Kootaneeti, and Chanakya Neeti. “Is Kootaneeti and Ku Neeti the same?” “What’s the difference between ‘Chanakya Neeti’ and ‘Kootaneeti’?” “Didn’t Chanakya create Kootaneeti?” It is necessary to respond effectively. And the purpose of this paper is to provide much-needed clarification.
The “Chanakya Neeti” was not written by Chanakya.
As bizarre as it may sound, there is no such thing as “Chanakya Neeti.” The book, claiming to be “Chanakya Neeti,” is a collection of lines from several Vedic Sanskrit books with erroneous and even misleading translations, mainly from Vyasa’s Mahabharata and Subhashitas.
Kautilya never uses the name, or even acknowledges himself as Chanakya, in his rendition of Arthashastra. That is why his version of Arthashastra is commonly referred to as Kautilya’s Arthashastra rather than “Chanakya’s Arthashastra.” Most people are unaware that Kautilya was not the creator of Arthashastra; rather, he was its compiler, editor, and commentator. We can be confident of this because Kautilya mentions numerous earlier authors of the Arthashastra, including Bharadwaja, Parashara, Pishuna, Shukracharya, and others.
Was Chanakya a misogynist in reality?
Many people also refer to Kautilya/Chanakya as a “misogynistic” individual. This is because the quotations in the “Chanakya Neeti” are clear distortions that appear to support and excuse non-Vedic patriarchal tendencies that can still be observed in many orthodox Hindu communities today. To validate this, you should be aware of a few key points.
Women’s Empowerment was a priority for Chanakya/Kautilya.
Chanakya was the one who persuaded the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta to form a female corps. He even went on to organize the Mauryan establishment’s clandestine intelligence section, Vishkanyas, which was entirely comprised of women. And “Vishkanya” did not refer to “women with poison in their tongue.”
The Vedic Sanskrit word Vishkanya is composed of two words: “Vishwasaneya” or “Trusted” and “Kanya” or “Women.” They were so trusted that until the reign of Ashoka, the Maurya emperors were solely protected by these Vishkanyas. Given this, how could he possibly bring up anything negative about women?
Ku-Neeti and Kootaneeti will never be the same.
Ku-Neeti is something that is opposed to the Neeti. Neeti is better understood as the Dharmic way of life. In Vedic Sanskrit, “Ku” signifies “against” or “demeaning.” As a result, Kootaneeti is never Ku-Neeti.
It is also crucial to highlight that Ku-Neeti occurs when people use their power and position for selfish gain and with inflated egos. Kootaneeti exists only when we do not violate Dharma principles or denigrate the law, i.e. Nyaya. Kootaneeti transcends the golden middle way. It embodies wisdom, practical life, and leadership.
No, Chanakya did not invent Kootaneeti.
Kootaneeti was not created by Chanakya/Kautilya. On the contrary, he exploited Kootaneeti to construct the Mauryan Empire. Kootaneeti predates Arthashastra. It is mentioned in several Vedic Sanskrit writings, beginning with Vyasa’s Mahabharata. The issue has remained buried or unknown because no one has ever taken the time to read the Vedic books in their original language – Vedic Sanskrit. Panini’s Sanskrit, which is widely used today, is very different from Vedic Sanskrit.
Most commonly held beliefs about leadership, management, politics, and diplomacy are either weak or ineffective. The majority of these ideas date back to the 15th century European Renaissance or the 19th century industrial revolution. They are also process-oriented, which makes them frequently impractical. They fail to predict many things because they view individuals as a commodity.
Kootaneeti embodies Vedic management techniques such as Dhyana, Yoga, Neeti, and Rajaneeti. Even fundamental concepts of living, such as Yoga, have little counterparts in current “modern” approaches. Furthermore, Kootaneeti has a demonstrated track record. For thousands of years, sage royal mentors or Rajaguru have used Kootaneeti knowledge to construct sage empires by eradicating the savages.
Despite the fact that Kootaneeti is intended for empire building, nurturing, and sustaining, its core principles offer limitless potential in today’s complex economic circumstances. Specifically in entrepreneurship, leadership, and diplomacy. As a result, neglecting Kootaneeti will be at our danger.
In a times of social, economic, and political uncertainty, Kootaneeti’s lessons could be extremely beneficial not only to nations and institutions, but also to individuals. It is a tool that teaches us not just to survive in difficult situations, but also to sustain and even thrive.