I find some children books are really interesting for adults too. My first encounter with such books was with the biography of Chanakya. It forms a part of series of books called Charitravali, which are biographies dedicated to legendary figures of India.
I picked up this book on Chanakya in a children’s books store called “Good Books”. I used to take my son there for classes and wait in the book shop till he finishes. I came across many amazing books.
Chanakya was the mentor of Chandragupa, one of the greatest Mauryan king. He was real king maker and the architect of the Mauryan empire. He was the author of Arthasashtra, a very insightful treatise on statesmanship. He is known for his cunningness and questionable ethics. I always perceived him as a person who put his self interest over all else and had no scruples about manipulating people to meet his ends. This was until I read the book.The book claims that, although he was unscrupulous and believed that the ends justified the means, his ends were always honorable. He put the state foremost, even before the king and certainly before himself. He was a pioneer of human rights, advocating the dignity of women, slaves and the poor. He is hailed as a genius equally by Indian and western scholars. He believed that only in times of peace, any real progress is possible and strove to achieve that for his king. Once he had achieved it, he relinquished his position as the teacher of the king and went back to his Spartan life as a teacher in an Ashram. He continued to impart knowledge and disseminate the idea of a unified India, thus strengthening the empire at the grass root.
Here is my favorite quote from his another famous work Nithisashtra “ An elephant which has a huge body is controlled by a goad; yet is goad as large as an elephant? A lighted candle banishes darkness; is the candle as vast as darkness? No, bulk signifies nothing; it is he whose power prevails that is really mighty”
I have about 10 books in this series; Tagore, Asoka, Buddha, C.V Raman, Shankaracharya, M.S Subbalakshmi etc. My favorite is Chanakya, though. Not only because it was my first, also because it radically changed my view of this man.