Zafri Mudasser Nofil
New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) His bestseller debut work wascompared to "The Da Vinci Code" by critics and not willing tobe stereotyped, author Ashwin Sanghi has chosen a modern-dayversion of master strategist Chanakya as the protagonist ofhis second novel.
"When I wrote ''The Rozabal Line'' (his debut novel), Iwasn''t attempting to write a page-turner. My effort was tobring lots of material about the Jesus in India subject intothe realm of popular discussion and hence the decision towrite a commercial fiction thriller about the topic," saysMumbai-based Sanghi, whose ''Chanakya''s Chant'' has beenpublished by Westland Ltd.
"With ''Chanakya�s Chant'', however, my first prioritywas to write a book that one would read to beginning to end asa fast read. I was testing my abilities as a storyteller morethan my abilities as a researcher," Sanghi told PTI.
"My greatest fear after the success of ''The RozabalLine'' was that my readers would expect more Da Vinci Code-typebooks from me. By writing ''Chanakya''s Chant'', I''ve not allowedmyself to be boxed in. The topics that fascinate me areusually rooted in history, mythology, politics and religion,"he says.
The character of Chanakya in the novel is fictionaleven though the events depicted are grounded in some historyand mythology.
The Chanakya in the novel is in the avatar ofGangasagar Mishra, a Brahmin teacher in small-town India whobecomes puppeteer to a host of ambitious individuals includinga certain slumchild who grows up into a beautiful and powerfulwoman.
Modern India happens to be just as riven as ancientBharat by class hatred, corruption and divisive politics andthis landscape is Gangasagar''s feasting ground.
Sanghi chose Chanakya because "so little is actuallyknown about him."
According to him, the name Chanakya is not mentionedeven once in the Arthashastra.
"This seminal work on statecraft mentions Kautilya asthe author, and also refers to Vishnugupta in one singlestanza at the end of the work. There are indeed some scholarswho say that Kautilya, Vishnugupta and Chanakya were not thesame person.
"The assumption that they were the same individualonly happens through Vishnu Sarma''s ''Panchatantra''. Whatlittle information we do have about Chanakya, comes from thePuranas." .