Scriptures state the following, “These six persons should be avoided like a leaky boat on the sea, viz., a preceptor that does not speak, a priest that has not studied the scriptures, a king that does not grant protection, a wife that utters what is disagreeable, a cow-herd that likes to rove within the village, and a barber that is desirous of going to the woods”.

How can we apply that in our daily life, both personal and professional? Let us analyze each of the six categories individually.

1. A preceptor that does not speak – Preceptor means teacher. In simple terms, a teacher who does not speak is of no use to any average student, unless of course the teacher is such eminent Yogi like Ramana Maharshi and students are also highly evolved souls. You do not want a teacher in your school who cannot speak or stammers while speaking. So is the case in your organization if you have a trainer who cannot speak either due to speech deficiencies or other reasons.

In our family, the father is considered to be the first “guru” of the child and is supposed to guide and lead the child, failing which the child’s life turns astray. In Mahabharata Dhritharastra is a failure as a father of Kauravas. Even though he was a highly learned person, kept a blind eye towards the atrocities of Duryodhana that led to their extinction.

In organizations, the ‘Boss’ is the guide and guru to all those who are working in the team and supposed to lead them to success. Those who fail to do that fail the team and the organization itself in the long run. Those who refrain from pointing out deficiencies in their subordinates to avoid conflict is a bad teacher and boss.

2. A priest that has not studied the scriptures – a priest has multiple responsibilities. Continuing the spiritual tradition of the religion and society is the primary responsibility of the priest besides conducting pooja and prayers in temples and other places of worship and knowledge in scriptures is a must for fulfilling such a responsibility.

Would you like to consult a doctor who is not professionally qualified? How about appointing a lawyer to fight your legal case in a superior court? Would you hire a person in position of high responsibility who is not qualified and experienced in that line of work?

3. A king that does not grant protection – a powerful king protects the subjects from every possible enemy including natural and man-made disasters. There are many stories about king protecting their subjects, at times, even at the cost of their own life. However the story of King Prithu stands out. In Vishnu Purana one can read the story of Prithu:- King Vena, from the lineage of the pious Dhruva, was an evil king, who neglected Vedic rituals. Thus the rishis (sages) killed him, leaving the kingdom without an heir and in famine due to the anarchy of Vena. So, the sages churned Vena’s body, out of which first appeared a dark dwarf hunter, a symbol of Vena’s evil. Since the sins of Vena had gone away as the dwarf, the body was now pure. On further churning, Prithu emerged from right arm of the corpse. To end the famine by slaying the earth and getting her fruits, Prithu chased the earth (Prithvi) who fled as a cow. Finally, cornered by Prithu, the earth states that killing her would mean the end of his subjects too. So Prithu lowered his weapons and reasoned with the earth and promised her to be her guardian. Finally, Prithu milked her using Manu as a calf, and received all vegetation and grain as her milk, in his hands for welfare of humanity. Before Prithu’s reign, there was “no cultivation, no pasture, no agriculture, and no highway for merchants”; all civilization emerged in Prithu’s rule. By granting life to the earth and being her protector, Prithu became the Earth’s father and she accepted the patronymic name “Prithvi”.

The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of states assumes the role of kings these days and their primary job is to protect the country and men from internal and external aggression, and provide all means for a peaceful and comfortable life for all its citizens. In a family, the father is supposed to protect the wife and children. The CEO assumes that role in an organization, who is supposed to protect the company and ensures its success and continuous growth thereby assuring job security for all its employees.

4. A wife that utters what is disagreeable – In Hinduism, a wife is known as a Patni or Ardhangini (similar to “the better half”) meaning a part of the husband or his family. Patni, means a woman who shares everything in this world with her husband and in return he does the same, including their identity. A wife usually takes care of anything inside her household, including the family’s health, the children’s education, parent’s needs, etc. In Mahabharata, Bhisma points out the sanctified importance of Bharya (wife) as follows: In his forlorn life on earth the wife is of great help to man. To him, who is suffering from diseases and is otherwise in distress there is no remedy (medicine) like a good wife. There is no relative like a wife. If one has no good wife to take care of domestic affairs one will be driven to the forest; the home will be like a forest. Without her even the palace will prove itself to be just a forest. While on tour in foreign places she will remain faithful to him and instill confidence in him. Bharya is great wealth to man. In the matter of practicing dharma there is none else to match the wife. She will be a great support (to the husband) in the matter of dharma (duty) artha (wealth) and Kama (enjoyment of material comforts). These three precede the ultimate state of Moksa (salvation) and the wife will be a great support in fulfilling the conditions during the first three stages to attain the ultimate, Moksha.

This clearly reflects the position a women and wife enjoys in our society and that also comes with great responsibility. A person who is unwilling or unable to fulfill her complete responsibility as a wife is of very limited use to any man.

5. A cow-herd that likes to rove within the village – cows should be taken where the grass is and that is generally outside the village. A cowherd who roams within the village is lazy and shows utter disregard to his primary responsibility of feeding the cows. A salesman must be in the field meeting customers and not sitting in his own office. A lawyer should be in court or a doctor in office to fulfill their individual duties and responsibilities.

6. A barber that is desirous of going to the woods – the barber’s duties require his presence within the village. If without being present there he likes to wander in the woods, he should never be employed, for it may then be presumed that he is wanting in that skill which experience and habit bring.

In summary it can be said that any person who is not conscious about his “Dharma” or duties and responsibilities and do not fulfill what is essentially mandated by his position should never be employed and if employed should be removed.

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