Last Updated on December 11, 2022
Chanakya, also known as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, was an ancient Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, and royal advisor. He is traditionally credited as the author of the Arthashastra, a treatise on statecraft, economic policy, and military strategy. Chanakya was a master of political strategy and is considered to be one of the greatest political thinkers in history.
Chanakya’s books are full with wise counsel on how to be a leader and how to run a country. Anyone interested in developing their leadership abilities would do well to listen to his advice, which remains as applicable today as it was back then.
Here we’ll look at some of Chanakya’s most insightful quotes about leadership and what they mean in order to help you become a wise leader.
Also, don’t forget to check our other articles on leadership such as important qualities that make a great leader and jordan peterson quotes on leadership. I have also curated Chanakya quotes on friendship that you can read after completing this article.
1. “Wealth that takes longer to create stays for a longer period.”
One possible interpretation of this quote is that wealth that is earned through hard work and careful planning is more likely to be sustainable. This is because it takes time to create wealth through these means, and the process of creating it helps to develop strong foundations and a solid understanding of how to manage and maintain it.
2. “Everyone may not be equal in power, status or wealth. But the day you realize that everyone is equal in the eyes of God… …The leader in you is born.” – Chanakya
This quote emphasizes the idea that all individuals are equal in the eyes of God, regardless of their power, status, or wealth.
It suggests that when we realize this, the leader within us is born, as we become aware of the inherent value and worth of every individual. This recognition can inspire us to treat others with respect and compassion, and to lead with a sense of fairness and justice.
3. “Leadership is to succeed “in spite of”, not “because of”.” – Chanakya
This quote suggests that true leadership is not about making things easier for oneself, but rather about overcoming obstacles and achieving success in spite of challenges and difficulties. It suggests that a good leader is one who can find ways to succeed even when the odds are against them, rather than relying on favorable circumstances or external factors to achieve their goals.
4. “All these leaders have something in common, some factors that earned them respect and appreciation, which we also call attributes of leadership.” – Chanakya
This quote suggests that there are certain characteristics or qualities that successful leaders possess. These attributes, or factors, are what earn them respect and appreciation from others.
In other words, these are the traits that make them effective leaders and enable them to earn the trust and admiration of those around them.
5. “One who can’t determine his goals; cannot win.” – Chanakya
The quote “One who can’t determine his goals; cannot win” is a powerful reminder of the importance of setting clear, specific goals in order to achieve success.
When we don’t know what we want to achieve, it is impossible to take the necessary steps to get there. Without goals, we are aimlessly wandering through life, without a clear direction or purpose.
6. “Avoid him who talks sweetly before you but tries to ruin you behind your back, for he is like a pitcher full of poison with milk on top.” – Chanakya
This quote by Chanakya means that, the person may appear kind and sincere on the surface, but their true intentions are malevolent. The quote advises avoiding such individuals, as they can be dangerous and harmful to your well-being.
7. “Before you start some work always ask yourselves three questions why I am doing it, what the results might be and will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.” – Chanakya
The quote suggests that before beginning any task or undertaking, it is important to ask yourself why you are doing it, what the potential outcomes may be, and whether you believe you will be successful.
The idea is that by considering these questions, you can gain a better understanding of the task at hand and make a more informed decision about whether or not to proceed.
8. “Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous. This trick will help you many ways at work.” – Chanakya
The quote “Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous” is a piece of advice that suggests that even if you are not dangerous or powerful, you should act as if you are in order to gain an advantage. The idea is that by pretending to be powerful or fearsome, you can intimidate others and make them more likely to do what you want.
9. “The biggest guru-mantra is to NEVER share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you.” – Chanakya
“The biggest guru-mantra is to NEVER share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you” is a warning against the dangers of divulging personal secrets to others.
The quote is a reminder to be cautious about whom we share our secrets with, and to be mindful of the potential consequences of divulging personal information to others. It is ultimately up to us to decide when and with whom we choose to share our secrets, but it is important to consider the potential risks and consequences before doing so.
10. “Do not show anger towards your opponent in public.” – Chanakya
It implies that this type of angry behaviour is counterproductive and can harm one’s reputation or relationship with their opponent.
One interpretation of this quote is that it is encouraging the reader to maintain a calm and composed demeanor in public, even when faced with disagreement or conflict. This can help to prevent the situation from escalating and can also make the individual appear more rational and level-headed.
11. “A peson should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first.” – Chanakya
The metaphor of straight trees being cut first implies that honest people are easily targeted because they are transparent and predictable.
In a forest, straight trees are easily visible and can be cut down with ease, whereas crooked and twisted trees are harder to spot and require more effort to cut down.
12. “One whose knowledge is confined to books and whose wealth is in the possession of others can use neither knowledge nor wealth when the need for them arises.” – Chanakya
The quote is emphasizing the importance of practical, hands-on knowledge and self-reliance in terms of wealth. It suggests that simply reading books or relying on others to manage one’s wealth is not enough – one must be able to apply that knowledge and use one’s wealth in a practical way in order to truly benefit from it.
13. “The king shall lose no time when the opportunity waited for arrives.”
In it, Chanakya emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities when they present themselves. He suggests that a good leader should be ready and willing to take action when the time is right, and should not hesitate or waste time in doing so.
14. “Once you start working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.” – Chanakya
Those who are willing to put in the effort and work hard towards their goals, even if they might fail, will ultimately find happiness in their endeavors. The message is that it is better to try and potentially fail than to never attempt something due to fear of failure.
15. “Purity of speech, of the mind, of the senses, and of a compassionate heart are needed by one who desires to rise to the divine platform.” – Chanakya
He identifies four key areas in which one’s purity should be maintained: speech, the mind, the senses, and the heart.
By “purity of speech,” Chanakya is likely referring to the need to speak truthfully and avoid lying or deception. This means being honest and straightforward in our communication with others, and avoiding saying things that are harmful or hurtful.
The “purity of the mind” refers to the need to cultivate a clear and focused mindset, free from negative thoughts and emotions. This means letting go of mental clutter and distractions, and focusing on the present moment and our goals.
The “purity of the senses” refers to the need to control and manage our physical desires and impulses. This means avoiding overindulgence in food, drink, or other sensual pleasures, and maintaining a sense of moderation and discipline.
Finally, the “purity of a compassionate heart” refers to the need to cultivate a kind and caring attitude towards others. This means being empathetic and understanding, and acting with compassion and concern for the well-being of others.
Overall, this quote highlights the importance of maintaining a pure and virtuous mindset in order to achieve spiritual growth and enlightenment.
Bonus Chanakya Quotes On Leadership And Work
16. “Time perfects men as well as destroys them.” – Chanakya
17. “The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind but the goodness of a person spreads in all directions.” – Chanakya
18. “The biggest guru-mantra is: never share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you.” – Chanakya
19. “If people are prosperous even a leaderless state can be governed.’ – Chanakya
20. “Power is the cause of alliances.” – Chanakya
21. “The weak should seek refuge in the strong.” – Chanakya
22. “We should always speak what would please the man of whom we expect a favor, like the hunter who sings sweetly when he desires to shoot a deer.” – Chanakya
23. “Do not reveal what you have thought upon doing, but by wise council keep it secret being determined to carry it into execution.”
24. “He who is prepared for the future and he who deals cleverly with any situation that may arise are both happy, but the fatalistic man who wholly depends on luck is ruined.” – Chanakya
25. “The one excellent thing that can be learned from a lion is that whatever a man intends doing should be done by him with a whole-hearted and strenuous effort.” – Chanakya
26. “Humbleness is at the root of self-control.” – Chanakya
27. “Test a servant while in the discharge of his duty, a relative in difficulty, a friend in adversity, and a wife in misfortune.” – Chanakya
28. .”Whoever imposes severe punishment becomes repulsive to the people; while he who awards mild punishment becomes contemptible. But whoever imposes punishment as deserved becomes respectable.” – Chanakya
29. “Every individual whether the ruler or the ruled is governed by his or her own dharma. To the extent that society respected dharma, society protected itself; to the extent, society offended it, society undermined…” – Chanakya
30. “Avoid him who talks sweetly before you but tries to ruin you behind your back, for he is like a pitcher full of poison with milk on top.” – Chanakya
31. “Till the time you don’t decide to run, you are not in the competition.” – Chanakya
32. “Win over an egoist by showing him respect, a wise person by truth, and a crazy person by letting him behave in an insane manner” – Chanakya
32. “Do not display anger towards your opponent in public” – Chanakya
33. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourselves.” – Chanakya
34. “One should commence a work after fully understanding the place and the consequences.” – Chanakya
35. “A work which may result in misfortune should not be started.” – Chanakya