Trilok Nath Pandey, a spymaster himself, writes one of the most scintillating spy-thrillers/manuals of recent times. His latest book, Chanakya Ke Jasoos delves deep into the psyche of a spy as well as the art-form of Jasoosi.
Being in the midriff of the Hindi-English divide in India, I am frequently asked about good Hindi books to read by the larger English audience. Yes, in my experience, English readers are more open to exploring new themes as well as literary traditions in general.
Needless to say, I have often struggled to answer this question. As a reader who takes pride in having a broad range in reading, and particularly in Hindi, I try to make a serious case for Hindi books. But most of the time, the abject lack of diversity in contemporary Hindi literature makes me look sideways.
“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”Heraclitus
Chanakya Ke Jasoos? What are they doing here?
The warrior that was promised couldn’t have made it if it was not for the kingmaker.
The book, Chanakya Ke Jasoos is one such warrior in the unending fight against mediocrity in Hindi literature. It’s such a refreshing change in the subject matter that one rarely sees in the sea of homogenous self-expression and repetitive political analyses.
Written in the fluid yet economical style by Trilok Nath Pandey, it is the timeless tale of Chanakya’s revenge against the Nanda Vansha. Pinning his story on the historical storyboard, Trilok Nath Pandey quite deftly tells the stories of those who may never find any mention in the history books otherwise.
Your mission, Dan, should you choose to accept it, … As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Dan.Mission impossible
The Mission Is the Message
The book tells the story of the strategical dismantling of the Nanda Vansha at the hands of Chanakya and his disciples. In the telling of it, the writer gives us immensely exciting peeks into the world of spies. From recruitment to training to execution, the book takes us on the journey of becoming and living the life of a spy.
It’s not guesswork, it’s the work that takes out all the guesses.On Spying
If taken metaphorically, the book itself can be looked at as a mission in itself. The author seems to be enjoying himself by subjecting us to the dark trenches of Kalvan, the dark forest, and mysterious pathways that lead to secret chambers.
While most of the thrillers bank their subject matter solely upon ‘deception’, the author keeps his gaze firmly on the dharma of Jasoosi where he hides more than what he shows. Although there are imaginary characters, there are no falsehoods in the world of spies. They are just doing their duty.
And this duty is the message of the book!
I believe the author chose the historical backdrop of the Chanakya-Dhan Nanda story because it is a perfect breeding ground for interesting characters. Vishkanyas, Sarwang Sundari, Parrot Masters, and others.
It was exciting to see historical characters like Chandragupta, Katyayan, and others being given a layered, mature treatment. To me, the most surprising addition came in the form of Maharshi Charak.
Here in this book, characters are not mere caricatures. They command authority and contemplation on the reader’s part through their actions. Some passages are so cinematically vivid that it feels as if the author doesn’t even use any words, he just directs us in the right directions. Trilok Nath Pandey certainly invokes Babu Devkinandan Khatri with his style of writing.
How To Be a Spy in One Reading
But what is a book that can not tell a tale and be one at the same time?
The Highlight of the book is the making of a spy. What makes a person fit to take a job like that? This book quite methodically enamors us with the Indian traditions of Jasoosi. The wisdom nuggets that make it a truly fantastic read, pull us into the mysterious world of spies.
Reproducing here, one of my favourite passages from the book:
“पूरे विश्व में कोई भी ऐसा व्यक्ति नहीं है जिससे मित्रता न की जा सके,
क्योंकि प्रत्येक व्यक्ति सामाजिक ताने-बाने में बँधा हुआ है। इच्छित व्यक्ति तक
उसके किसी न किसी सम्पर्क-सूत्र से पहुँचा जा सकता है। और, यह जान लो
कि हर व्यक्ति का कुछ न कुछ मूल्य है जिसे चुकाए बिना वह तुम्हारा नहीं हो
सकता। यह मूल्य आवश्यक नहीं कि धन ही हो। वह कुछ भी हो सकता है;
जैसे सेवा, स्नेह, समर्पण, सहानुभूति, रतिसुख, राजकीय सत्ता की ओर से कोई
लाभ या पक्षपात, कोई लाभ या कार्य करने का वचन, अहं को तुष्ट करनेवाली
चाटुकारिता या आदर्शों और सिद्धान्तों के प्रति सहमति व प्रतिबद्धता, इत्यादि।
गुप्तचर को लक्षित व्यक्ति की कमजोरियों और आवश्यकताओं की गहरी समझ
होनी चाहिए। तभी वह उस व्यक्ति का सही मूल्यांकन कर सकेगा। और, एक
बार सही मूल्यांकन हो जाने पर गुप्तचर को चाहिए कि इच्छित व्यक्ति को मूल्य
का भुगतान पहले भोलेपन से फिर क्रमिक ढंग से बढ़ाते हुए करे और उसे इस
स्थिति तक ले जाए कि वह व्यक्ति उसके प्रति अत्यन्त कृतज्ञ या उसका क्रीत
सेवक बन जाए। फिर मनमाना कार्य कराना कठिन न होगा।
Trilok Nath Pandey says that the life of a spy is not that exciting in real life. But then again do we take his word for it for he is a spymaster himself.
Chanakya Ke Jasoos is a must-read for everyone, regardless of the language they prefer.