Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is a certified management consultant from the International Institute of Management Consultants and Deputy Director, Chanakya International Institute of Leadership Studies (CIILS) at the University of Mumbai. He is an expert in Chanakya studies and is the author of the best-selling Chanakya series that includes Chanakya in Daily Life, Corporate Chanakya, Chanakya’s 7 Secrets of Leadership, Chanakya in You, Katha Chanakya, Inside Chanakya’s Mind, Aanvikshiki and the Art of Thinking, Thus Spoke Chanakya and Chatur Chanakya and the Himalayan Problem. He lives in Mumbai. Below you can read an excerpt from his book, Chanakya In The Classroom. courtesy: Rupa.
An Excerpt from Chanakya In The Classroom
Which is more difficult to prepare for—exams or life? Actually, one should prepare for the exams that life will make you face.
There are many exams that are conducted in schools, colleges, and universities. One has to prepare for these like a good student. There is no escape from these. And these exams will prepare you for getting your degrees.
But there is another big exam which life will offer you at every stage. This is called the exam of life. Even after your education has been completed and you have received your degrees, still the exams in life will continue forever. As long as you live you will have to keep taking these exams in different ways.
So remember to prepare for the exams of life, along with the exams you will be preparing for in your schools and colleges.
It is true that in the initial stages of your life as a student you will have to work hard in preparing for your school and college exams since it is the crucial beginning of your life. But along with that you should also think of the greater challenges in life that will come in front of you as you move out of your student role.
Chanakya was a great guru. He not only prepared his students to appear for exams and succeed in his gurukul; but also for something bigger in life. He was training his students to become leaders and as he was a king-maker, he wanted his students to be successful leaders too.
A leader has to face an exam at every stage, every moment. Chanakya wanted his students to be ready for any moment of crisis or challenge and take the right decisions.
One day one of his students, Chandragupta Maurya, who had already become a king was looking for his guru very desperately.
There was an agreement that Chanakya and Chandragupta would meet once every week in the latter’s palace. Chanakya lived in his gurukul which was in the forest, close to Nature. So, every week they would meet on a pre-decided day, and during these meetings they would discuss affairs of the kingdom. And wherever the king would get stuck, the guru would guide the student to make the right decision.
That week Chandragupta had a very pressing problem which was giving him sleepless nights. So he decided that when he would meet his guru, he would discuss the matter with him and take the appropriate action. But the guru did not appear on the given day and time. Chandragupta was beginning to panic. He waited for some time and was wondering what happened to his guru. After a couple of hours he sent his soldiers to the gurukul to check on him.
The soldiers found Chanakya in the gurukul, which was like a beautiful ashram, and requested him, ‘Acharya, our king is waiting for you eagerly. Kindly join us; we would like to take you to the palace where he wants some guidance from you.’
Chanakya did not say anything. He remained quiet and continued with his work. The soldiers requested the great teacher once again. Even then he did not react to anything the soldiers were asking of him.
The soldiers realized that they could not push Chanakya any further. After all, the king-maker is bigger than the king. The guru is bigger than the student. So what if the student in question is the king himself? Quietly, the soldiers stepped away and left.
When the soldiers reported the matter to their king, Chandragupta was a bit surprised at this non response by his guru. ‘What has happened to my acharya? I need his advice now more than ever in my life. And he does not want to come…’ wondered the king.
And then he decided to go to the gurukul himself and meet his guru. He rushed towards the forest, and as soon as he arrived at the residence of his guru, Chandragupta immediately went to meet him. He ran and fell at his feet.
After taking the blessings of his teacher, the king started talking, ‘Acharya, I was waiting for you very desperately. There is some guidance that I wanted from you as the king of the country for an important matter. Please help me…please guide me.’
Chanakya was cold as ice to Chandragupta. No problem was big for him. So, when Chandragupta was panicking, he maintained his composure.
And after a long pause, the guru finally opened his mouth, ‘I purposefully did not come to the palace this
time… I avoided it.’
‘Why, Acharya? Why?’ the king was almost in tears.
A concerned Chanakya then asked, ‘How long will you be dependent on me to run the kingdom, Chandragupta?
I will not be there with you forever…
‘I have given you everything I have—the knowledge, my wisdom, and guidance that you required from time to time. I have also written the Arthashastra for you as a reference manual.’
And then he made his final comments, ‘Now onwards you should take your own decisions in life. Do not depend on me anymore. You are ready now. Make your decisions and move ahead in life.’ Chandragupta was looking sadder with each passing minute, but Chanakya continued, ‘I know you are capable and you have the ability to take the right decisions. Move on; I am sure you will do well here onwards…’
That is the time the student realized that the guru is always preparing you not just for the exams of the gurukul, but also for the exam of life, where you have to make your own decisions. You have to stand on your own feet. You have to lead. And you have to emerge as a winner.