“Nothing authentic is known about the historicity of Kautilya except reference about his matchless state craft which was a remarkable experiment in the ancient past”.
Greek Ambassador Megasthanese had recorded that he saw in India, the record being presented only in fragments at second or third hand.
Most of the details of the life of Kautilya (Kotelya) are uncertain and shrouded in myth and legend. Ancient Indian tradition describes him as a native of ‘Taxila’ (near Peshawar in modern Pakistan) who had journeyed to Pataliputra (Patna) Capital of Nanda-empire in search of recognition.
John Garrett says about Chanakya as a “brahmin of the city of Takka-Silva who lived about 330 B.C. Radha Krishna Chaudhary says about Kautilya: “Stands unique in the history of our political thought and his contribution to the domain of knowledge is second to none, he was noted for worldly wisdom and foresight”.
Kautilya was thus, “a great, intellectual giant and political philosopher”. Reverence, adoration and veneration for his great personality of eminence, surrounded him with such a halo as to make him a mysterious man and actual history about him was thrown into the limbo of oblivion.”
Professor Radha Kumud Mookerji says that, The Vishnu Purana narrates in its prophetic style that” the Brahmana Kautilya shall root out the rein. Nandas, inaugurating Chandra Gupta in the Kingdom. So also Bhagwat Purana has the following: “A Brahmana will destroy these nine Nandas who will inaugurate Chandra Gupta as king.”
Kamandaka (Nitisara) also refers to the overthrow of the Nanda dynasty and the inauguration of Chandra Gupta. The same fact, as is well known, has supplied the basis of the drama ‘Mudrarakshasa’.
There is evidence of this fact in ‘Arthasastra’ itself, as set forth in one of the concluding verses, where it is stated that the ‘Arthasastra’ is composed by “him who with angry determination rescued the Brahmana’s learning and the Kshatriyas art, as also the mother-country, from the clutches of the Nanda-Kings”.
The two principal sources of the evidence showing that Kautilya was the author of Arthasastra are:
1. The Nitrisara of Kamandaka and
2. The Dasakumara Charita of Dandi, both of which accept the genuineness of the Arthasastra as the production of Chanakya.