RTI Reveals Chanakya as a Possibly Mythical Character: No Archaeological Evidence Found


Mumbai, January 1, 2024 – An RTI filed by Prashant Dhasal, bearing the number ALSOI/R/E/24/00002, has brought to light the absence of concrete archaeological evidence regarding the historical figure of Chanakya. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in its response, disclosed that no inscriptions, manuscripts, or artifacts related to Chanakya’s life and contributions have been found in their archives. Furthermore, no records or archaeological evidence supporting the period in which Chanakya lived have been documented by the ASI.

Chanakya, also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, is traditionally celebrated as a pioneering political strategist and author of the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra. His role as the mentor and advisor to Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, is well-known in Indian historical lore. However, the ASI’s response to Dhasal’s inquiry casts doubt on the empirical basis of these accounts.

The ASI’s reply stated, “Regarding historical records associated with Chanakya, till date no inscriptions have been found, pertaining to their presence, period, and writings. The study of manuscripts or other archaeological artifacts does not come under the purview of the epigraphy branch, Archaeological Survey of India.”

This revelation invites a critical reexamination of how historical narratives are constructed and propagated. The absence of physical evidence supporting the existence of Chanakya raises questions about the veracity of the traditional accounts and suggests the possibility of mythologization by subsequent generations. In particular, the role of Brahmins in crafting and disseminating these narratives deserves scrutiny.

Historically, Brahmins have held a dominant position in preserving and interpreting ancient texts and traditions. It is plausible that the story of Chanakya was embellished or even fabricated to serve specific socio-political agendas. By attributing the founding of the Maurya Empire to the wisdom of a Brahmin advisor, these narratives could have reinforced the intellectual and moral authority of Brahmins in society.

The absence of direct archaeological evidence does not necessarily negate Chanakya’s existence or his contributions; rather, it highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of historical sources. Oral traditions, literary texts, and subsequent historical interpretations often fill gaps left by the lack of physical evidence. However, the critical approach to these sources is essential to distinguish between historical fact and constructed mythology.

The RTI response underscores the importance of ongoing archaeological research and the verification of historical claims through empirical evidence. It also encourages historians and scholars to remain vigilant against uncritically accepting traditional narratives that may have been shaped by vested interests over centuries.

As the search for tangible evidence continues, the story of Chanakya remains a potent reminder of the complexities involved in reconstructing the past and the need for a rigorous, evidence-based approach to history.

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