He was born in a Brahmin family and received his education in Taxila (now in Pakistan). It is said about Chanakya that he was also knowledgeable in medical science and astrology. Also some scholars say that he had knowledge of Greek and Iranian elements as well, by the Zoroastrians. Some scholars believe that he was a Zoroastrian or at least greatly influenced by that religion.
Chanakya became the prime minister and advisor to Chandragupta (reigned 321-c. 297), the founder of the Maurya Empire in northern India, but he lived alone. He was instrumental in helping Chandragupta to overthrow the mighty Nanda dynasty at Pataliputra in the Magadha region.
Chanakya’s book became the guide of Chandragupta. Each of its 15 volumes deals with a stage of government, which Chanakya called “the science of punishment”. He openly recommends the development of an elaborate espionage system reaching all levels of society and encourages political and covert murder. The book, lost for centuries, was discovered in 1905.
Compared to Aristotle and Plato by many Italian statesmen and writers Niccol Machiavelli and others, Chanakya is alternately condemned for his cruelty and trickery and praised for his sound political wisdom and knowledge of human nature. However, all officials agree that it was mainly due to Chanakya that the Maurya Empire (reigned 265-BC to 238 BC) under Chandragupta and later Ashoka became a model of efficient government.