Once a Chinese visitor came to Pataliputra looking for Chanakya. He could not find him near the King’s palace. He was told go to the outskirts of Pataliputra. Reaching the outskirts of the city, he came to one humble dwelling in a remote place. On knocking the door, he was invited in. The visitor inquired, “where is the dwelling of Chanakya?” The person there said, “I am Chankaya, the minister of Chandra gupta”. The visitor then realized the true opulence of Pataliputra.
He is known to have said, “When the minister stays in a simple dwelling, the subject enjoys good housing, and when the minister lavishes on his stay, then the subject will be bereft of dwelling, and go astray.”
Bhismadeva talks about the character of ministers in Anushashana parva. One of the most important qualities he mentions, is “sauchah.” Sauchah is not simply being clean externally, it indicates integrity and transparency.
Did any one see the palace of Chhtrapati Shivaji, Rana pratap or Krsnadevaraya? None of the palaces of Kings before the colonial influence are existing, because they did not have costly palaces. They focused on roads, forts, water and food resources. The Maharaja’s palaces that we see, are recent ones influenced by external refines of the British rulers of their times. The dominated kings made a great display of luxury, and hence they hardly took part in the freedom struggle.
Too much of luxury makes one very self-centric, and less empathetic towards others.