Excerpts of discussions between two sages in Mahabharata. While reading, please consider the fact that this was written 5000 years ago and how relevant it is even today!

What are the sorrows of human beings?

Plentiful instances of misery and woe are seen among men in this world! Life with persons that are disagreeable, separation from those that are agreeable and beloved, companionship with the wicked, these are the evils which human beings have to bear. The death of sons and wives, of kinsmen and friends, and the pain of dependence on others, are some of the greatest of evils. There is no more pitiable sight in the world than that of poor men being insulted by others. The acquisitions of family dignity by those that do not have it, the loss of family dignity by those that have it, are noticeable by all. How they that have no family dignity but have prosperity try to get what they want with their wealth.  What can be more pitiable than the calamities and reverses sustained by the gods! Good families suffer due to the actions of ill-born and the poor are insulted by the rich. What can be more pitiable than these? Innumerable examples of such contradictory dispensations are seen in the world. The foolish and the ignorant are cheerful and happy while the learned and the wise suffer misery!

What the joys of good people?

Earned by his own efforts, without having to depend upon any one, he who eats even fruits and vegetables in his own house is entitled to respect. He who eats in another’s house the food given to him in contempt, even if that food be rich and sweet is despicable. If after treating guests and servants and offering food to the forefathers a good person eats what remains, there can be nothing happier than that.

Duties of a Manager – lessons from Mahabharata

The Manager should always put in serious efforts with promptness, because without promptness of action, mere destiny or fate alone never accomplishes the objectives set forth. Though hard-work and destiny are equal in their operation hard-work alone is superior. Do not indulge in grief if what are commenced ends disastrously, for you should then exert yourself in the same act with redoubled attention.

There is nothing which contributes so much to the success of managers as Truth and honesty. The manager who is devoted to Truth remains happy. There is nothing that so much inspires confidence in them as Truth and honesty. The manager, who is possessed of every accomplishment and good behaviour, who is self-restrained, humble, and righteous, his passions under control and not too enquiring, never loses wealth and prosperity.

By administering proper justice, as also by the observance of conduct that is straightforward, the manager, obtains success and prosperity. If the manager becomes mild, everybody disregards him. On the other hand, if he becomes fierce, his employees then become troubled.

There is no treasure more valuable to the managers than that which consists in the selection and assemblage of teammates. Among the six kinds of citadels indicated in the scriptures, that which consists of the team who are committed, dedicated and hardworking is the most impregnable. Therefore, the wise manager should always show compassion towards all his subordinates. The manager who is of righteous soul and truthful speech succeeds in gratifying his team members. However one must not behave with forgiveness towards everybody, for the manager that is mild is regarded as the worst of his kind like an elephant that is bereft of fierceness. If the manager happens to be always forgiving, the lowest of persons prevails over him, including his driver. The manager, therefore, should not always be mild. Nor should he always be fierce. He should be like the morning Sun, neither cold nor so hot as to produce perspiration.

A Manager should not be addicted to things like alcoholism, drugs, smoking, etc. It is not necessary that one should never indulge in them but never be attached to them.  The manager who cherishes no love for his people inspires the latter with anxiety. The manager should always bear himself towards his team as a mother towards the child of her womb.

The Manager should never abandon fortitude. The manager that is possessed of fortitude and who is known to inflict punishment on wrong-doers has no cause of fear. The manager should not overindulge in jokes with subordinates. If you mingle too freely, some of them might start disregarding you. They forget their own position and most truly transcend that of the boss. Ordered to do a thing, they hesitate, and may ask for things that should not be asked for. They go to the length of displaying their wrath and seek to outshine the leader. They even seek to predominate over the manager, and by accepting bribes and practising deceit can obstruct the business of the company. They can cause the organization to rot with abuses by falsifications and forgeries. Some of them can become so shameless as to gossip about the manager with flippancy before others. If the manager becomes angry, they laugh; nor are they gladdened if favours be bestowed upon them, though they may express joy for other reasons. They disclose the secret counsels of their boss and murmur his evil acts and at times openly defy the orders of the Manager.

The manager should always be ready for action. Must always focus on the betterment of the organization and the team members and do everything at his command to achieve that objective.  The happiness of their team, observance of truth, and sincerity of behaviour are the eternal duty of managers. The manager should always credit others for the success and take responsibility for the failures. If the manager is competent, honest, and forgiving he would always be successful. He should always pursue business with morality and ethics. It is the eternal duty of managers to prevent confusion of duties and reporting structures in organizations. He should, by his own intelligence, look after the merits and defects of the six essential requisites of the company. The manager, who is observant of the strategies of competitors and judicious in the pursuit of business with morality, has excellent market intelligence and seeks to wean away the officers of major competitors, deserves applause. The manager should administer justice like Yama and amass wealth like Kubera. He should also be observant of the merits and defects of his own operations and team members. Manager should take care of all his team members in good and bad times without delay or procrastination. The manager should himself be skilful in the main function of the organization and should have his emotions under control. He should dress himself properly and elegantly and be of good behaviour. The manager desirous of achieving success should always hire men who are qualified, knowledgeable, experienced, competent, committed, dedicated and always observant of their duties, honest, and steadfast like mountains. His conduct towards his team, before or behind, should always be the same. The manager who behaves in this way never comes to grief. That crooked and covetous manager who suspects everybody is soon deprived of position by his own subordinates. That manager, however, who is of righteous behaviour and who is ever engaged in attracting the hearts of his people, never sinks when situation turns bad. If overcome, he soon regains his position. If the manager is not wrathful, if he is not addicted to evil practices and not severe in his punishments, if he succeeds in keeping his passions under control, he then becomes an object of confidence. He is the best of managers who has wisdom, who is possessed of liberality, who is ready to take advantage of the weakness of his competitors, who has agreeable features, who is prompt in action, who has his anger under control, who is not vindictive, who is high-minded, who is not short-tempered by disposition, who is righteous and spiritual, who is not given to boasting, and who vigorously pursues all works commenced by him to completion. He, indeed, is an excellent manager whose team-members are engaged in their respective duties and do not hesitate to work 24×7 when duty calls for it; whose people, protected duly, are all of peaceful behaviour, obedient, docile, compliant, unwilling to be engaged in disputes, and inclined to liberality. That manager truly deserves respect who honours knowledge, who is devoted to the good of his people, who tread in the path of the righteous, and who is liberal.

By all means the Manager must employ the best talent available for a given function by offering market determined salaries and benefits taking due consideration internal and external equity.

The manager should never disregard any competitors even if they are small or weak. In this age industrial espionage one should be extremely careful about moles within the organization. A spark of fire can produce a conflagration and a particle of poison can kill. Keep one’s eyes and ears open to detect any leak of confidential information, business secrets or strategic and tactical initiatives of the company. However he should act righteously while conducting internal inquiry to ensure sincere and committed employees are not subjected to undue harassment. Managers, therefore, should always conduct with both candour and crookedness to ensure his organizations interests are always protected.

‘There are these twenty-six virtues (which a manager should observe).

  1. The manager should manage his team without anger and malice.
  2. He should never abandon kindness.
  3. He should have faith in his team.
  4. He should achieve success without harassment and cruelty.
  5. He should lead from the front.
  6. His words should be measured and not hurtful to others.
  7. He should be liberal but should not make gifts to persons who are undeserving.
  8. He should exercise his authority with kindness.
  9. He should hire, train and retain the best for any given function.

10. He should not act with hostility towards teammates.

11. He should always employ persons who are competent or committed and not for any other reasons.

12. He should never accomplish his objectives by harassment.

13. He should never, discuss strategies before persons with suspected loyalty.

14. He should speak of the merits of others but never his own.

15. He should reward those who deserve as soon as such acts are noticed.

16. He should never employ or take the assistance of persons that are immoral.

17. He should never inflict punishment without careful enquiry.

18. He should repose confidence on others but never on those that have injured or deserted him in the past.

19. He should not cherish malice.

20. He should be pure and should not always be melted by compassion.

21. He should take good care of his body by proper food, exercise and rest.

22. He should without pride pay regards to those that deserve them, and serve his seniors with sincerity.

23. He should seek success, but never do anything that brings infamy to the company, team or self.

24. He should be clever in business but should always wait for the right opportunity.

25. He should comfort men and never send them away with empty speeches or false promises.

26. Avoid nepotism and favouritism, only performance and commitment should be the guiding factor.

The gods first deprive that man of his reason on whom he sends defeat and disgrace. It is for this that such a person sees things in a strange light. When destruction is at hand, evil appears as good and the understanding is polluted by sin, and the man adheres to it firmly. That which is improper appears as proper, and that which is proper appears as improper unto the man about to be overwhelmed by destruction, and evil and impropriety are what he likes.

Causes of misery and eight ways to overcome it

a. Disease, contact with painful things, toil and want of objects desired – these are the four causes that induce bodily suffering.

b. Diseases may be cured by the application of medicine, while mental ailments are cured by seeking to forget them through yoga and meditation. For this reason, sensible physicians first seek to allay the mental sufferings of their patients by pleasant conversation and the offer of desirable objects.

c. And as a hot iron bar thrust into a jar makes the water therein hot, even so does mental grief bring on bodily agony. And as water quenches fire, so does true knowledge allay mental disquietude. And the mind attaining ease, the body finds ease also.

d. Clearly affection is the root of all misery and fear. The man who is influenced by affection is tortured by desire; and from the desire springs his thirst for worldly possessions. To many the wealth they own is their bane, and he that beholding happiness in wealth becomes wedded to it, and does not understand what true happiness is.

e. Wealth alone is the root of miserliness and boastfulness, pride and fear and anxiety! These are the miseries of men that the wise see in riches! Men undergo infinite miseries in the acquisition and retention of wealth. The thirst of wealth can never be assuaged.

Contentment is the highest happiness and the eight attributes which is capable of providing contentment against all evils are  renouncing of Abhimana (pride, ego), performance of sacrifices, study (of the Vedas and scriptures), gifts, penance, truth (in both speech and act), forgiveness, subduing the senses, and renunciation of desire. These have been declared to be the eight cardinal duties constituting the true path as per Vedas.


Anger is the root of all prosperity and all adversity. A person who suppresses his anger earns prosperity and reaps adversity from his fierce anger. It is seen in this world that anger is the root cause of destruction of every creature. The angry man commits sin, insults his superiors in harsh word and fails to distinguish between what should be said and what should not. There is no act that an angry man may not do, no word that an angry man may not utter. From anger a man may even kill one that should not be killed. The angry men do not see things in their true light and drives off his patience. The mind cannot be kept under control when it is influenced by anger, arrogance, vanity, or pride. Therefore it is mandatory for all those who are desirous of peaceful and prosperous life to control their anger.

A weak man can cause his own destruction by getting angry towards those who are strong and powerful.  However a wise man controls his anger and forgives those who are the cause of his suffering, if they are strong and powerful.  It is generally understood that an honest and forgiving man is always successful. Truth is more beneficial than untruth; and gentleness better than cruel behavior. The man who has the ability to control anger acquires with ease, generosity, dignity, courage, skill, and other attributes belonging to those with good character. A man by forsaking anger can exhibit proper energy, whereas, it is highly difficult for the angry man to exhibit his energy at the proper time! The ignorant always regard anger as equivalent to energy.

The man, who wishes to behave properly, must always forsake anger. A wise and excellent person who has conquered his anger and who shows forgiveness even when insulted, oppressed, and angered by a strong person attains greatness in this world.