‘Our greatest weapon is here. The mind. The flesh is weak; . . . But with the power of the mind, one can subjugate other people . . . Empires are built not only with brute force, though that is essential but with brute will.’ These are the poignant words uttered by Mahaamatya Kartikeya to the seven-year old Vishnu Gupta. While the Mahaamatya’s words are unassailable, the very premise of making such statements to a seven-year old appears a little disconcerting.
Here’s where Ashok K Banker’s story takes off. Chanakya as a name is definitely not an unfamiliar one in Indian story telling. While a lot is known about the king-maker, the author of the Arthashastra, little is known about his early years. Banker revels in this space and fleshes out the mythology of Chanakya’s formative years. The title The Legend Begins works perfectly in this regard.