Mahabharata is a great resource for learning on topics like spirituality, Management, Psychology, Geography, Economics, politics, etc. Here I will be covering few topics related to management lessons from mahabharata

The Mahabharata War, also known as the Kurukshetra War, is a central event in the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. It represents the culmination of a long-standing feud between two branches of the Kuru dynasty: the Pandavas and the Kauravas. This epic war is said to have taken place in the field of Kurukshetra, in the modern state of Haryana, India. According to the epic, the war lasted for eighteen days and involved numerous kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent, who participated as allies of either the Pandavas or the Kauravas. Each side had its own unique strengths, including legendary warriors and strategic generals, which contributed to the epic scale and complexity of the war.

The Kaurava Army

Strengths and Numbers: The Kaurava army was massive, often cited as having 11 Akshauhinis (a unit of measure in ancient Indian warfare, with one Akshauhini consisting of 21,870 chariots; 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry; and 109,350 infantry). This numerical superiority was one of their biggest advantages.

Key Generals:

Bhishma: The grandsire of both the Kauravas and Pandavas, he was the commander-in-chief for the first ten days of the war. Known for his invincibility, Bhishma was bound by a vow of celibacy and loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur, which led him to fight for the Kauravas.

Drona: The royal preceptor of both the Pandavas and Kauravas, Drona was an unparalleled archer and warrior. He took command after Bhishma’s fall and was known for his knowledge of divine weapons and warfare tactics.

Karna: A lifelong friend of Duryodhana and the secret half-brother of the Pandavas, Karna was known for his generosity and formidable skills as an archer. He became the commander after Drona and was one of the most formidable warriors on the battlefield.

The Pandava Army

Strengths and Numbers: The Pandava army consisted of 7 Akshauhinis. Though numerically inferior to the Kauravas, the Pandavas’ forces were highly motivated and led by some of the finest warriors of the age, which compensated for their smaller size.

Key Generals:

Dhrishtadyumna: The commander-in-chief of the Pandava army, Dhrishtadyumna was the son of Drupada, the King of Panchala, and had a personal vendetta against Drona, who had defeated his father in a previous conflict. He was prophesied to be the killer of Drona.

Arjuna: The third Pandava brother, Arjuna was considered one of the greatest archers and was a key warrior for the Pandavas. His charioteer was Lord Krishna, who offered his counsel and divine support but did not directly participate in the combat.

Bhima: The second Pandava brother, known for his immense strength and prowess in wielding the mace, Bhima was crucial in defeating many key warriors of the Kaurava side, including Duryodhana.

Strengths and Notable Features

Kaurava Strengths:

  • Numerical superiority
  • Presence of legendary warriors like Bhishma and Karna
  • Strong military formations and strategies, especially under Drona’s leadership

Pandava Strengths:

  • Strategic insight and divine counsel from Krishna
  • Motivated and unified under a righteous cause
  • Exceptional warriors like Arjuna and Bhima, who were pivotal in key battles

Both armies were a microcosm of the greatest military might of the time, featuring a vast array of weaponry, chariots, elephants, and cavalry, which were used in sophisticated and complex formations.

In spite of larger army and competent generals, Kauravas lost the war. Why? We will delve deeper to the causes and circumstances of the Kaurava defeat.

The Mahabharata is one of the two major ancient Indian epics, alongside the Ramayana. It is an immense narrative that chronicles the conflicts and struggles of two rival families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, as they vie for power and righteousness. At its core, the Mahabharata is a story of dharma (righteousness), duty, and the consequences of human actions.

This epic, attributed to the sage Vyasa, is not merely a tale of war but a repository of philosophical and moral teachings. It contains numerous subplots, dialogues, and teachings that explore complex themes such as the nature of existence, the importance of righteousness, the power of karma (action), and the intricacies of human relationships.

At its core, the Mahabharata explores complex themes such as dharma (righteousness), karma (action and its consequences), and the nature of existence. The epic is renowned for its rich mythology, diverse characters, and philosophical dialogues, particularly the Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata’s impact on our lives is profound and multifaceted. Here are a few ways in which it influences us:

Moral and Ethical Guidance: The Mahabharata provides timeless ethical and moral guidance through the actions and dilemmas faced by its characters. It prompts us to reflect on the consequences of our actions and the importance of adhering to moral principles in our daily lives. It also serves as a guide for navigating the complexities of right and wrong in our own lives. Just as the characters in the Mahabharata, we often find ourselves in situations where we must choose between conflicting duties or lesser evils, reminding us of the complexities of life’s choices.

The Importance of Duty and Righteousness: Duty (dharma) to one’s family, society, and oneself is a central theme of the Mahabharata. It mirrors our daily struggles to balance personal desires with responsibilities towards our family, work, and society. The characters’ lives underscore the importance of fulfilling duties, even when it’s difficult, a lesson that resonates in our lives as we navigate through personal and professional commitments.

The Importance of Intentions: Krishna emphasizes the importance of one’s intentions behind actions. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that, actions devoid of selfish desires and performed as a duty, lead to spiritual liberation. Performing our duties with sincerity and without attachment to the outcomes can lead to personal growth and fulfilment. A soldier can kill the enemy in the battlefront, but the same person cannot kill someone in the city. Same examples can also be given about doctors who can cut human body in an operation theatre to treat a disease but not on the street.

Philosophical Insight: The Bhagavad Gita, a key component of the Mahabharata, offers philosophical insights into duty, spirituality, and the nature of reality. It encourages contemplation on the nature of reality, the pursuit of knowledge, and the path to spiritual enlightenment for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of life.

The Consequences of Actions (Karma): The concept of karma, where every action has a consequence, is a key lesson from the Mahabharata that applies to daily life. The epic teaches that good deeds are rewarded and wrongdoings are punished, emphasizing the importance of making ethical choices and being mindful of our actions’ impact on our lives and others’.

Conflict Resolution and Negotiation: The Mahabharata is a tale of familial disputes, conflicts, and attempts at negotiation, much like the conflicts we encounter in our personal and professional lives. It offers insights into conflict resolution, the importance of communication, and the need for compromise and diplomacy to avoid unnecessary battles.

The Role of Fate and Free Will: While the Mahabharata often discusses fate and destiny, it also highlights the power of free will and personal effort. This dualism reflects our own lives, where we often find ourselves in situations shaped by circumstances beyond our control (fate), yet how we respond to these situations (free will) that defines our character and life path.

The Importance of Wisdom and Guidance: Just as characters in the Mahabharata seek advice from sages and gods, we look for guidance from mentors, teachers, and elders in our lives. The epic teaches the value of wisdom, learning from others’ experiences, and the importance of seeking guidance in making difficult decisions.

Social and Family Dynamics: Through its intricate portrayal of family relationships and societal structures, including love, rivalry, loyalty, and betrayal, the Mahabharata offers insights into the complexities of human interactions. It prompts us to examine our own relationships and societal roles and offers lessons on managing relationships in our daily lives.

Human Emotions and Relationships: The Mahabharata explores a wide range of human emotions and relationships, including love, jealousy, ambition, and betrayal, which are all too familiar in our daily lives. The epic’s stories remind us of the complexity of human relationships and the need for empathy, understanding, and forgiveness.

Alliances and Relationships: The alliances formed and broken during the Mahabharata war reflect the complexities of human relationships. Similarly, in everyday life, individuals navigate relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and society, often encountering loyalty conflicts and shifting allegiances.

Personal Growth: The characters in the Mahabharata undergo personal growth and transformation through their trials and tribulations. Their journeys inspire us to strive for self-improvement, resilience, and inner strength in the face of adversity.

Leadership and Governance: The epic delves into the responsibilities and challenges of leadership, addressing issues of governance, justice, and the consequences of power. These themes are relevant in various social and political contexts.

Resilience and Adaptability: Characters in the Mahabharata face numerous trials and tribulations, emphasizing the importance of resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity. Such lessons are applicable in our own journeys through life.

Spiritual Quest: Many characters in the Mahabharata embark on spiritual journeys or seek higher truths. The epic inspires individuals in their spiritual quests and the pursuit of self-discovery.

Consequences of Ego and Greed: The Mahabharata highlights the destructive consequences of ego, greed, and attachment to power. Similarly, in everyday life, unchecked ego and greed can lead to conflicts, suffering, and downfall.

Cultural Identity: The Mahabharata is deeply ingrained in Indian cultural identity and has influenced art, literature, theatre, and religious practices for centuries. It serves as a cultural touchstone that connects individuals to their heritage and traditions.

Adapting to Change: The Pandavas’ exile and their journey through different challenges reflect the need to adapt to change. In our lives, adaptability is crucial as we face various situations and circumstances.

Merit v/s Reservation:  The story comes out strongly in favour of merit and castigates those who favour any type of nepotism or corrupting practices to perpetuate reservations for a position. Furthermore, the story itself is that of attempt on part of Dhritarashtra to upstage meritorious claims to the throne of Yudhishthir and his desire to find ways (even by bending or breaking laws) to place his son Duryodhana on the throne instead.

Resilience and Adaptability: Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, characters in the Mahabharata display resilience and adaptability in overcoming adversity. This resilience is also relevant to everyday life, where individuals must navigate uncertainties and setbacks with resilience and adapt to changing circumstances. The sufferings of the Pandavas and Draupadi, Nala and Damayanti, Savitri and Satyavan, clearly explain to us the hard truth that the goal of life or perfection can only be attained through pain and suffering. Pain is the means through which man is moulded, disciplined and strengthened. Just as impure gold is turned into pure gold by melting it in the crucible, so also the impure and imperfect weak man is rendered pure, perfect and strong, by being melted in the crucible of pain and suffering. Therefore, one should not be afraid of pain and sufferings. They are blessings in disguise. They are eye-openers. They are silent teachers. They turn the mind towards God and instill mercy in the heart, strengthen the will and develop patience and power of endurance, which are the pre-requisites for God-Realization.

Half knowledge can be dangerous: Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son, knew how to enter the Chakravyuha formation in battle but lacked the knowledge to exit. His partial understanding led to tragic consequences.

Other Lessons

The story also tells the consequences of giving too much indulgence to children and how things get ruined therefore. The story tells of the bond of friendship through the Duryodhana and Karna relationship. It also tells how a wicked and scheming person (as Shakuni) can poison not only grownups (as Dhritarashtra), but children as well (Duryodhana and Dushasana and all Kauravas).

It tells of the ills of gambling, the woes of the mother (in the woes of Gandhari and Kunti), the pain of children in broken families (as of Karna), the disastrous consequences of excess sexuality (as for Shantanu and Pandu), tells of inferiority complex (Dhritarashtra), devotion (Arjuna towards Krishna), truthfulness and honesty (Yudhishthir), Valour, pride and how events and situations may humble the mightiest. It tells of treating the cunning with equal cunning (as of dealings of Krishna in many situations), of peace, of war and strategies, of human patience and how it wears thin leading to breaking of rules (as in the war …. as it grows longer, more and more rules get broken and baser and baser methods get used).

It tells of God, of universe, of science, of philosophy, of social relationship, of morals and codes of conducts in different situations. It talks of perseverance and concentration in acquiring skills (as of Arjuna and Bhim), it tells of women and their problems (Draupadi, Kunti, Gandhari, Subhadra, Rukmini. Mahabharat tells about politics, about teachers, about common men and their behaviour, of courage, of cowardice, of jealousy, of generosity, of lies, murder, of truth and how God works through men.

The great epic is besides a storehouse of ancient knowledge, philosophy, religion, customs and rituals, polity, science, social life, geography, history, economics, code of conduct, etc. That is why some consider Mahabharata as a common man’s Veda (knowledge).

The message of the Mahabharata is the message of Truth and Righteousness. The great epic produces a moral awakening in the readers and exhorts them to tread the path of Satya and Dharma. It urges them strongly to do good deeds, practise Dharma, cultivate dispassion by realising the illusory nature of this universe and its vainglories and sensual pleasures, and attain Eternal Bliss and Immortality. It induces people to do what Yudhishthira did and abandon what Duryodhana did. Stick to Dharma tenaciously. You will attain everlasting happiness and Moksha, the summum bonum of life. This is the final purport or central teachings of the Mahabharata.

Overall, the Mahabharata’s enduring relevance lies in its ability to transcend time and culture, offering profound insights into the human condition and guiding us on the path towards personal and moral growth in our everyday lives. The epic encourages reflection, introspection, and the pursuit of a balanced and righteous way of living. It offers timeless wisdom on navigating the complexities of life, emphasizing the importance of ethics, duty, wisdom, and the consequences of our actions.

Brief overview of the Mahabharata and its significance in Hindu philosophy.

The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. Attributed to the sage Vyasa, the Mahabharata is a vast and complex narrative that encompasses diverse genres such as mythology, history, philosophy, and theology. Composed over several centuries, the epic consists of around 100,000 shlokas (verses) making it one of the longest epic poems in the world.

The central storyline of the Mahabharata revolves around the conflict between two branches of the Kuru dynasty: the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The primary cause of the war is the dispute over the throne of Hastinapura, marked by jealousy, ambition, and a series of injustices committed against the Pandavas. The epic covers various aspects of human life, including morality, righteousness (dharma), duty, and the consequences of one’s actions (karma).

The Mahabharata includes the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna that takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, just before the war commences. The Bhagavad Gita is a philosophical and spiritual discourse that addresses profound questions related to duty, righteousness, and the nature of existence. It provides guidance on how to navigate the complexities of life while upholding one’s moral and spiritual responsibilities.

Dharma and Moral Philosophy: The Mahabharata is a rich source of teachings on dharma, the moral and ethical duties that individuals are expected to follow. Through the various characters and their dilemmas, the epic explores the nuances of right conduct, righteousness, and the consequences of moral choices.

Bhakti and Devotion: The Bhagavad Gita, embedded within the Mahabharata, emphasizes the path of devotion (bhakti) as a means to attain spiritual realization and union with the divine. Lord Krishna’s teachings on devotion and surrender play a significant role in Hindu philosophy, influencing the development of bhakti traditions.

Karma and Consequences: The concept of karma, the law of cause and effect, is a fundamental theme in the Mahabharata. The epic illustrates how individual actions, both virtuous and sinful, shape one’s destiny. It emphasizes the idea that individuals are bound by the consequences of their deeds.

Detachment from the Fruits of Actions: Lord Krishna imparts the concept of Nishkama Karma (selfless action without attachment to results) to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna advises Arjuna to perform his duties without attachment to the outcomes, emphasizing the importance of acting with a sense of duty and righteousness rather than being driven by personal desires. This teaching promotes a detached and selfless approach to one’s actions.

Detachment from Material Possessions: The Pandavas undergo a period of exile and face numerous challenges, including the loss of their kingdom, in their pursuit of righteousness. Throughout their journey, they demonstrate detachment from material possessions and the transient nature of worldly success. Despite being entitled to the throne, they prioritize dharma over personal comfort and luxury.

Yoga and Spiritual Discipline: The Bhagavad Gita introduces different paths of yoga, including karma yoga (the path of selfless action), bhakti yoga (the path of devotion), and jnana yoga (the path of knowledge). These paths serve as practical guidelines for individuals seeking spiritual growth and self-realization.

Concept of Dharma Yuddha (Righteous War): The Mahabharata addresses the concept of dharma yuddha, or a righteous war. The war at Kurukshetra is not merely a physical battle but a cosmic struggle between dharma and adharma. It underscores the importance of fighting for a just cause and upholding righteousness even in the face of adversity.

Social and Political Philosophy: The Mahabharata contains a detailed exposition of various aspects of governance, politics, and social organization. The duties of rulers, the principles of justice, and the challenges of leadership are explored through the characters and events in the epic.

Cultural and Mythological Heritage: The Mahabharata is a repository of myths, legends, and cultural narratives. It has influenced art, literature, and performing arts across different cultures in South Asia. The epic’s impact extends beyond religious and philosophical realms, permeating the cultural identity of the Indian subcontinent.

Importance of Fulfilling Responsibilities: Bhishma’s vow of lifelong celibacy and loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur is a prime example of fulfilling responsibilities. Despite personal sacrifices, he remains dedicated to his duty, demonstrating the importance of upholding vows and responsibilities. Similarly, Karna’s unwavering loyalty to Duryodhana, despite knowing the consequences of the war, illustrates the significance of fulfilling responsibilities even in challenging circumstances.

Consequences of Unrighteous Actions: The Mahabharata illustrates the consequences of unrighteous actions and the importance of facing the repercussions of one’s deeds. Characters who engage in deceit, treachery, or dishonourable conduct suffer the consequences of their actions, highlighting the inevitability of karma and the importance of moral accountability. Duryodhana’s deceitful tactics, such as the infamous dice game and the treacherous killing of Abhimanyu, lead to severe consequences. The violation of moral principles contributes to his downfall, highlighting the narrative’s emphasis on the inevitable repercussions of unrighteous actions.

Consequences of Shirking Duty: Arjuna’s initial reluctance to fulfil his duty on the battlefield of Kurukshetra results in moral confusion and despair. The consequences of shirking his duty are profound, leading to internal conflict and a loss of direction. Duryodhana’s disregard for ethical conduct and manipulation to gain power showcases the negative consequences of shirking moral duties. His actions contribute to the destruction of his family and the kingdom.

Personal Growth through Responsibility– Arjuna’s journey from despair to determination on the battlefield reflects personal growth through the acceptance of responsibilities. By embracing his duty as a warrior, Arjuna undergoes a transformative experience, ultimately leading to his sense of purpose.

Hubris and greed: The downfall of characters like Duryodhana and Shakuni in the Mahabharata can be attributed to a combination of hubris and greed. Their tragic ends serve as cautionary tales, illustrating the destructive consequences of unchecked ambition, arrogance, and the relentless pursuit of personal gain. Duryodhana’s arrogance (hubris) leads him to dismiss moral principles and ethical considerations. His refusal to acknowledge the rightful share of the Pandavas, his role in Draupadi’s humiliation, and his attempt to kill the Pandavas through schemes like varanavat lac house and the game of dice showcase his blatant disregard for righteousness. Shakuni, Duryodhana’s maternal uncle, is a master manipulator and a key instigator of the conflict. His cunning schemes, including the rigged game of dice, contribute significantly to the escalation of tensions between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Shakuni exploits Duryodhana’s greed and resentment for his own agenda.

Consequences of Negative Traits: The entire narrative of the Mahabharata, culminating in the Kurukshetra war, serves as a stark illustration of the consequences of negative traits such as ego, envy, and unbridled ambition. The war leads to immense loss of life, destruction of kingdoms, and profound suffering.

The Game of Dice: The central conflict in the Mahabharata is triggered by the infamous game of dice, where Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava, loses his kingdom, wealth, and even himself. The moral dilemma lies in the decision to participate in a rigged game, and the consequences lead to a cascade of events that eventually lead to the Kurukshetra War.

As mentioned in Nitisara, excess of these four destroys a person – hunting (shopping), drinking, womanizing and gambling. Gambling, when it becomes compulsive can have significant negative impacts on an individual’s life, their family, and society at large. These ill effects can be psychological, financial, social, and even legal in nature. Understanding the potential consequences of gambling is crucial for recognizing the need for responsible behaviour that unfortunately was missing in Yudhishthira.

Importance of Humility and Graciousness in Defeat: The Pandavas’ response to their defeat in the game of dice is a crucial lesson in humility. Despite the unjust circumstances, they accept their exile gracefully, recognizing the transient nature of material possessions and power. The epic teaches the importance of humility and graciousness in both victory and defeat, emphasizing that one’s conduct in adverse situations is a true reflection of character.

Draupadi’s Humiliation: After the game of dice, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, is publicly humiliated in the Kauravas court. The moral dilemma centres around the treatment of a woman, the violation of her dignity, and the subsequent vow for revenge taken by Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers.

The mistreatment or disrespect of women in society has profound and far-reaching impacts, affecting not only the individuals directly involved but also the broader social fabric and economic development. These impacts manifest across various dimensions, including psychological, physical, social, and economic aspects. Addressing and preventing such mistreatment is essential for achieving gender equality and ensuring the well-being and progress of society as a whole.

Draupadi’s Resilience and Integrity: Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, displays remarkable resilience and integrity in the face of adversity. Despite being subjected to humiliation and injustice, she maintains her dignity and refuses to compromise her moral values, serving as an inspiration for steadfastness in the face of oppression.

Bhishma’s Oath of Celibacy: Bhishma, the granduncle of both the Pandavas and Kauravas, is bound by a vow of lifelong celibacy. This vow becomes a moral dilemma during the Kurukshetra War, as it restrains him from taking certain actions that could alter the course of the conflict, leading to his ultimate downfall.

Bhishma’s vow of celibacy and his renunciation of the throne were primarily taken to ensure that his father, King Shantanu, could marry Satyavati, whose father set her progeny’s claim to the throne as a condition for the marriage. This decision led to a complex succession scenario for the throne of Hastinapur indirectly setting the stage for the Kurukshetra War. His commitment to the throne meant that he was duty-bound to serve the reigning king of Hastinapur, regardless of the king’s righteousness. Bhishma is often depicted as a paragon of virtue and duty. However, his unwavering adherence to his vows, especially his loyalty to the throne, placed him in moral conflict. Despite recognizing the Pandavas’ righteousness, he fought against them, embodying the Mahabharata’s theme of the complex nature of dharma (duty, righteousness). His situation exemplifies the difficulty of adhering to one’s principles in the face of ethical dilemmas. Bhishma’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact personal vows and decisions can have on the course of history and the lives of many.

Dronacharya’s dilemma – Dronacharya, a central character in the Mahabharata, was the royal guru who taught both the Pandavas and the Kauravas the art of warfare. Despite his position as a teacher to both sets of cousins, his dilemma primarily stemmed from his conflicting loyalties and moral obligations, which placed him in a position of great ethical complexity, especially during the Kurukshetra War.

Dronacharya’s dilemmas in the Mahabharata reflect the epic’s exploration of complex moral and ethical questions that are still relevant today. His character embodies the conflicts between duty and personal affection, loyalty and righteousness, and the challenges of adhering to one’s principles in the face of compelling circumstances. The story of Dronacharya serves as a poignant reminder of the often-painful choices individuals must make in their adherence to duty, loyalty, and moral righteousness.

Arjuna’s Reluctance to Fight: In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the great warrior of the Pandavas, faces a moral and emotional crisis on the battlefield. He is torn between his duty as a warrior (kshatriya) and the emotional turmoil of fighting against his own relatives, teachers, and friends. Lord Krishna imparts philosophical wisdom to guide Arjuna through this ethical dilemma. In Our lives also Individuals often face ethical dilemmas where the right course of action is not clear, such as choosing between personal gain and doing what is morally right, or navigating conflicts between professional obligations and personal values. People may hesitate to make tough decisions due to fear of the consequences, such as the impact of career changes on family stability or the repercussions of standing up for what is right against societal norms. This episode teaches that while life’s challenges and ethical dilemmas are inevitable, seeking wisdom, reflecting on one’s duties, and taking principled action are essential steps toward fulfilling one’s responsibilities and achieving personal growth.

Karna’s Loyalty vs. Righteousness: Karna, a key figure in the Mahabharata, faces a moral dilemma regarding his loyalty to Duryodhana, who supported him when others rejected him, and his knowledge of his righteous lineage. Karna’s conflict between personal loyalty and adherence to dharma adds layers to his character.

Despite his loyalty to Duryodhana, Karna was also a man of principle, known for his generosity and adherence to the warrior code. His internal conflict between supporting what he knew to be morally right and his loyalty to Duryodhana placed him in many ethical dilemmas throughout the epic. For instance, Karna knew that the game of dice, which led to the Pandavas’ exile and the humiliation of Draupadi, was wrong, yet his allegiance to Duryodhana prevented him from intervening.

Courage to Challenge Injustice: The epic teaches the importance of courage and determination in challenging injustice and standing up for what is right. Characters like Draupadi, who fearlessly confront injustice and seek justice, inspire courage and resilience in the face of adversity.

Importance of Righteous Governance: The epic underscores the significance of righteous governance in maintaining order and justice in society. Bhishma and Vidura, both seasoned statesmen, emphasize the role of a king in upholding dharma and ensuring the well-being of the people. Yudhishthira is an example of righteous governance while Duryodhana the antithesis.

Dharmavyadha’s Sacrifice: Dharmavyadha, a butcher by profession, is portrayed as a wise man living in the city of Mithila, who, despite his occupation, is deeply versed in the ways of dharma. The story serves as a powerful reminder that dharma, or righteousness, is defined not by one’s social position or occupation but by one’s actions, intentions, and the way one treats others. It teaches that living a life of duty, compassion, and integrity is accessible to everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Dharmavyadha’s example encourages us to focus on our own moral and ethical development and to fulfil our duties and responsibilities with a sense of purpose and compassion, illustrating that true wisdom and righteousness come from how we live our lives and interact with the world around us.

Forgiveness and reconciliation: Through the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation, the Mahabharata conveys the importance of learning from past mistakes and embracing forgiveness as a means of restoring unity and harmony in society. Despite the deep-seated animosity and bloodshed that characterized the war, the characters in the epic ultimately recognize the value of forgiveness and reconciliation in transcending divisions and building a more inclusive and compassionate society. Forgiveness has transformative power in healing wounds, repairing fractured relationships, and fostering unity among divided factions. It highlights the importance of letting go of resentment and embracing forgiveness as a means of achieving inner peace and collective healing in the aftermath of conflict and adversity.

Lessons for Corporate Leaders – While the contexts of the Mahabharata and today’s corporate marketing wars are vastly different, the underlying themes of strategy, ethics, leadership, and the impact of conflict on stakeholders are remarkably similar. Both narratives highlight the timeless nature of these themes, underscoring the importance of ethical considerations and strategic thinking in navigating complex competitive landscapes, whether on the battlefield or in the marketplace.

The Kurukshetra War is the central battlefield where the Pandavas and the Kauravas vie for the kingdom of Hastinapur. Whereas today the market is the modern battlefield where corporate giants compete for market share, brand loyalty, and industry dominance. The epic is renowned for its strategic manoeuvres, alliances, and the use of deception in some cases (e.g., the formation of the Chakravyuha, the use of Shikhandi to defeat Bhishma). In today’s Marketing Wars, Corporations employ sophisticated marketing strategies, such as pricing strategies, product differentiation, and digital marketing campaigns. Like the Mahabharata, sometimes companies use aggressive tactics, including negative advertising, to gain an edge over competitors. The concept of dharma plays a crucial role, with characters facing dilemmas that test their adherence to moral and ethical codes. These days Companies navigate the delicate balance between aggressive competition and ethical marketing practices. Issues like false advertising, manipulation of consumer perceptions, bribery and the ethical implications of data use in marketing reflect modern dilemmas of corporate dharma. Alliances play a critical role, with various kingdoms aligning with either the Pandavas or the Kauravas, influencing the war’s outcome. Today Corporations form strategic alliances, partnerships, and sometimes even merge with or acquire competitors to strengthen their market position and outmanoeuvre rivals. Leadership qualities of key characters, such as Krishna, Arjuna, Duryodhana, and Bhishma, significantly impact the course of events. The vision and leadership of CEOs and marketing leaders are pivotal in steering companies through competitive landscapes. Leaders like Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, etc have become synonymous with their companies’ strategies and market positioning.

Mahabharata emphasizes that effective leadership is inseparable from ethical conduct. Leaders must uphold principles of righteousness (dharma) and moral integrity to inspire trust and respect among their stakeholders. It also highlights the importance of wise and virtuous advisors in governance. Leaders benefit from the counsel of individuals who offer sound advice, grounded in moral principles.

Respect for Opponents: The Mahabharata teaches the importance of respecting one’s opponents and treating them with dignity, regardless of the enmity between them. Despite being on opposite sides of the battlefield, warriors like Arjuna and Bhishma show respect and admiration for each other’s skills and valour, acknowledging the humanity and worth of their adversaries.

Lessons on Wisdom: The characters of Bhishma, Vidura, and Krishna in the Mahabharata are revered for their profound wisdom, guidance, and moral teachings. Each of them imparts enduring lessons that transcend the time and cultural context of the epic. Bhishma embodies the principles of duty (dharma) and sacrifice. His unwavering commitment to the throne of Hastinapur, despite personal sacrifices, reflects the profound wisdom of fulfilling one’s responsibilities with utmost integrity. Vidura serves as a wise advisor to the Kuru court. His counsel often revolves around righteousness, ethics, and the consequences of unrighteous actions. Vidura’s wisdom is grounded in practicality and a deep understanding of human nature. Krishna’s role in the Mahabharata is highlighted by the Bhagavad Gita, a spiritual discourse that delves into profound philosophical and ethical teachings. Krishna imparts wisdom on duty, righteousness, the nature of existence, and the path to spiritual realization. The Bhagavad Gita provides enduring lessons on the nature of life, the concept of detached action, and the pursuit of self-realization. Krishna’s teachings transcend the battlefield, offering guidance on navigating the complexities of life. The lesson of universal love and compassion taught by Krishna serves as a timeless reminder of the interconnectedness of all beings and the transformative power of love in overcoming conflicts. Krishna emphasizes the principles of righteous action (karma yoga), devotion (bhakti yoga), and knowledge (jnana yoga) as paths to spiritual enlightenment and ethical living.

In summary, the Mahabharata provides valuable lessons on leadership, governance, and ethical conduct, highlighting the importance of wisdom, integrity, justice, and compassion in guiding individuals and societies towards harmony and prosperity. Through the actions and teachings of its characters, the epic offers timeless insights into the qualities of effective leadership, the responsibilities of governance, and the principles of ethical living. It remains a timeless epic that continues to inspire individuals on their spiritual journeys and serves as a guide for navigating the complexities of life. The Bhagavad Gita, a gem within the Mahabharata, stands as a beacon of philosophical insight and practical guidance for seekers of truth and righteousness.

Introduction: The Mahabharata, one of the greatest epics of ancient Indian literature, encompasses an immense narrative that covers the breadth of human emotion, the complexities of dharma (duty/righteousness), and the inevitable intervention of the divine in the mortal realm. Central to this epic is the Mahabharata War, fought on the plains of Kurukshetra, which serves as the climax of a longstanding feud between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. This war is not just a historical or mythical event but a profound exploration of the human condition, ethics, and the pursuit of justice through the lens of dharma.

The seeds of the Mahabharata war were sown long before the battle commenced. The rivalry between the Pandavas, led by Yudhishthira, and the Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, escalated due to jealousy, ambition, and a series of injustices. The game of dice, where the Pandavas were deceitfully robbed of their kingdom, serves as a catalyst for the war, highlighting the depths of human greed and moral degradation. The narrative intricately weaves together the fates of gods, kings, warriors, and sages as it explores themes of duty, righteousness, morality, and the complexities of human nature itself. The Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic, presents the conversation between Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, on the battlefield. This dialogue delves deep into philosophical and moral dilemmas about duty, righteousness, and the paths to spiritual liberation, forming the core teachings of the epic.

Through the saga of the Mahabharata War, we are offered profound insights into the nature of dharma, the inevitability of karma (action and its consequences), and the ultimate triumph of righteousness over adharma (unrighteousness). The narrative emphasizes that life is a complex interplay of duty, morality, and divine will, with each character’s choices and actions contributing to the unfolding of cosmic order. The narrative is set in a time that might correspond to the later Vedic period, with the story spanning several generations and culminating in the Kurukshetra War, a conflict that is said to have taken place around 3102 BCE according to Scholars.

Philosophical and Religious Dimensions: The epic integrates various philosophical and theological discussions, most notably through the Bhagavad Gita. It addresses the concepts of dharma, karma (action and its consequences), and moksha (liberation or salvation), illustrating the synthesis of different religious and philosophical traditions, including Vedanta, Samkhya, and Yoga. The Gita addresses the ethical and moral struggles faced by Arjuna on the battlefield, offering profound insights into duty, righteousness, detachment, and the paths to spiritual liberation. The Gita has become a cornerstone of Hindu philosophy and spirituality. Through its narrative and characters, the Mahabharata war delves into questions of justice, power, duty, virtue, and the nature of reality itself. It provides a comprehensive look at the struggles inherent in human life, encouraging a deep contemplation of one’s actions, desires, and spiritual purpose.

Dharma and Adharma: The war serves as a grand narrative exploring the concepts of dharma (righteousness or duty) and adharma (unrighteousness). Through the actions and decisions of its characters, the Mahabharata examines the complexities of adhering to dharma in a world full of moral ambiguities. The epic illustrates that dharma varies according to one’s role in society (varna dharma), stage in life (ashrama dharma), and personal duty (svadharma). This multiplicity often leads to dilemmas, as seen in the case of Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where he is torn between his duty as a warrior to fight and his moral qualms about killing his kin. The Mahabharata illustrates that dharma is not static but a dynamic principle that adapts to the context of each situation, making the discernment of one’s duty a complex moral exercise. Divine intervention, through characters like Krishna, serves as a guiding light, helping individuals navigate the murky waters of moral dilemmas. The epic teaches that adherence to one’s dharma, despite the challenges and conflicts it may present, is the path to spiritual liberation (moksha).

Karma: The war illustrates the principle of karma — the cause and effect of actions — teaching that every action has consequences that shape one’s destiny. The characters’ fates in the epic are a direct result of their deeds, both past and present.

Divine Interventions and Their Significance

The role of divine beings and interventions in the Mahabharata War is pivotal, illustrating the interconnectedness of the human and divine realms within the epic’s cosmology. Divine beings, through their actions and teachings, influence the course of events, guide human characters, and underscore the epic’s spiritual and moral lessons. This divine involvement reflects the belief in a cosmic order that aligns with righteousness (dharma) and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

Lord Krishna: Krishna, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, plays a central role in the Mahabharata War. As a charioteer and advisor to Arjuna, Krishna’s divine counsel before the battle begins is immortalized in the Bhagavad Gita. Here, Krishna imparts spiritual wisdom on duty (dharma), detachment (vairagya), and devotion (bhakti), guiding Arjuna through his moral dilemma. Krishna’s involvement in the war extends beyond guidance; his divine interventions often tilt the scales in favour of the Pandavas, emphasizing the theme of divine justice and the protection of righteousness.

Divine Weapons (Astras): Many warriors in the Mahabharata possess divine weapons granted by the gods, which have immense destructive power and are symbolic of the divine favour or the exceptional spiritual merit of their wielders. The use of these Astras during the war underscores the participation of divine entities in human affairs, as well as the importance of adhering to the rules of warfare and dharma even when wielding such power.

Manifestations of Divine Will: Various events and outcomes in the war are depicted as manifestations of divine will, intended to restore dharma and cosmic balance. The deaths of key figures on both sides, often resulting from divine curses or boons, highlight the notion that the war serves a larger cosmic purpose beyond the mere human conflict.

Intervention by Other Deities: Apart from Krishna, other deities and celestial beings also play roles in the Mahabharata War, either by granting boons and weapons, participating directly in battles through their human or semi-divine progeny, or influencing events to ensure the victory of dharma. For instance, the God Shiva grants Arjuna the Pashupatastra, the god Indra, father of Arjuna, provides divine weapons to Arjuna and Karna and Sun God provides divine armour to Karna.

The 18-day War – The Mahabharata war unfolds over eighteen days, each marked by fierce battles, strategic manoeuvres, and moments of profound heroism and tragedy. The war begins with both sides gathering massive armies, consisting of legendary warriors, divine beings, and celestial weapons. The battlefield of Kurukshetra becomes the canvas for this cosmic struggle, with the gods themselves observing the unfolding drama. The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, takes place on the eve of the war, providing profound philosophical insights and guidance on duty, righteousness, and the nature of existence. The conflict is not merely physical but also psychological and spiritual, with characters grappling with inner demons, moral dilemmas, and existential questions. Mahabharata war highlight the complexities of human nature and the consequences of choices made on the battlefield. The principal figures in the Mahabharata war are Arjuna, the heroic archer and a key Pandava; Bhishma, the granduncle and commander of the Kauravas army; Dronacharya, the revered teacher of both Pandavas and Kauravas; Karna, the formidable warrior with a tragic fate; and many others, each contributing to the intricate tapestry of the epic.

The war unfolds in multiple phases, each marked by intense and strategic battles. The Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, deploy various unethical means to gain an upper hand, including the use of deceitful tactics, psychological warfare, and breaking the rules of engagement. The Pandavas, guided by Lord Krishna, mostly adhere to the principles of righteousness and dharma, seeking victory through virtuous means. Bhishma, though a formidable warrior, is bound by a vow of loyalty to the throne of Hastinapura though he knows that Dharma is on the side of Pandavas whom he loves intensely. His commitment to this vow becomes a moral dilemma, limiting his full engagement in the war. Dronacharya faces a conflict of duty and personal ties, torn between loyalty to his students and the kingdom. Karna grapples with his loyalty to Duryodhana and his knowledge of his own righteous lineage, creating internal conflicts that shape his destiny.

The tragic death of Abhimanyu, the valorous son of Arjuna, in the Chakravyuha formation, exemplifies the sacrifices made by the younger generation in the pursuit of dharma. The Kurukshetra War concludes with a pyrrhic victory for the Pandavas, who grieve the immense loss of life and the moral complexities their victory entailed. The war’s aftermath sees Yudhishthira crowned as the king, who rules with righteousness, guided by the lessons learned from the war and the teachings of the Mahabharata.

The concept of victory and defeat in the context of the Mahabharata: The Mahabharata’s exploration of victory and defeat transcends the literal interpretation of these terms, offering instead a meditation on the ethical and spiritual challenges of human life. It teaches that true victory lies in the adherence to righteousness, the performance of one’s duty without attachment to outcomes, and the cultivation of wisdom and compassion. Defeat, on the other hand, is not final if it leads to self-reflection, moral rectitude, and spiritual growth. At its core, the Mahabharata suggests that the true battle is within oneself, against one’s own lower nature, desires, and attachments. Both victory and defeat are internal states that reflect one’s alignment with dharma and the pursuit of truth. The dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita underscores this inner dimension of victory, advocating for action rooted in duty, detachment from the fruits of actions, and devotion to the divine as the path to ultimate victory — self-realization and liberation (moksha).

Cultural Influence: The Mahabharata has profoundly influenced Indian culture, serving as a source of artistic inspiration, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance. Its stories have been retold in countless regional languages and forms, influencing literature, dance, theatre, and cinema across South Asia and beyond.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the Mahabharata war is a monumental and multifaceted narrative that transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is not merely a historical account but a profound exploration of the human psyche, moral complexities, and the eternal struggle between dharma and adharma. The war serves as a metaphor for the cosmic drama of life, where individuals navigate through the battlefield of existence, facing choices, dilemmas, and the consequences of their actions. The Mahabharata, with its timeless wisdom and insights, continues to captivate and inspire generations, offering a profound reflection on the complexities of the human experience.

Introduction: The Mahabharata, one of the greatest epics of ancient Indian literature, encompasses an immense narrative that covers the breadth of human emotion, the complexities of dharma (duty/righteousness), and the inevitable intervention of the divine in the mortal realm. Central to this epic is the Mahabharata War, fought on the plains of Kurukshetra, which serves as the climax of a longstanding feud between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. This war is not just a historical or mythical event but a profound exploration of the human condition, ethics, and the pursuit of justice through the lens of dharma.

The seeds of the Mahabharata war were sown long before the battle commenced. The rivalry between the Pandavas, led by Yudhishthira, and the Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, escalated due to jealousy, ambition, and a series of injustices. The game of dice, where the Pandavas were deceitfully robbed of their kingdom, serves as a catalyst for the war, highlighting the depths of human greed and moral degradation. The narrative intricately weaves together the fates of gods, kings, warriors, and sages as it explores themes of duty, righteousness, morality, and the complexities of human nature itself. The Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic, presents the conversation between Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, on the battlefield. This dialogue delves deep into philosophical and moral dilemmas about duty, righteousness, and the paths to spiritual liberation, forming the core teachings of the epic.

Through the saga of the Mahabharata War, we are offered profound insights into the nature of dharma, the inevitability of karma (action and its consequences), and the ultimate triumph of righteousness over adharma (unrighteousness). The narrative emphasizes that life is a complex interplay of duty, morality, and divine will, with each character’s choices and actions contributing to the unfolding of cosmic order. The narrative is set in a time that might correspond to the later Vedic period, with the story spanning several generations and culminating in the Kurukshetra War, a conflict that is said to have taken place around 3102 BCE according to Scholars.

Philosophical and Religious Dimensions: The epic integrates various philosophical and theological discussions, most notably through the Bhagavad Gita. It addresses the concepts of dharma, karma (action and its consequences), and moksha (liberation or salvation), illustrating the synthesis of different religious and philosophical traditions, including Vedanta, Samkhya, and Yoga. The Gita addresses the ethical and moral struggles faced by Arjuna on the battlefield, offering profound insights into duty, righteousness, detachment, and the paths to spiritual liberation. The Gita has become a cornerstone of Hindu philosophy and spirituality. Through its narrative and characters, the Mahabharata war delves into questions of justice, power, duty, virtue, and the nature of reality itself. It provides a comprehensive look at the struggles inherent in human life, encouraging a deep contemplation of one’s actions, desires, and spiritual purpose.

Dharma and Adharma: The war serves as a grand narrative exploring the concepts of dharma (righteousness or duty) and adharma (unrighteousness). Through the actions and decisions of its characters, the Mahabharata examines the complexities of adhering to dharma in a world full of moral ambiguities. The epic illustrates that dharma varies according to one’s role in society (varna dharma), stage in life (ashrama dharma), and personal duty (svadharma). This multiplicity often leads to dilemmas, as seen in the case of Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where he is torn between his duty as a warrior to fight and his moral qualms about killing his kin. The Mahabharata illustrates that dharma is not static but a dynamic principle that adapts to the context of each situation, making the discernment of one’s duty a complex moral exercise. Divine intervention, through characters like Krishna, serves as a guiding light, helping individuals navigate the murky waters of moral dilemmas. The epic teaches that adherence to one’s dharma, despite the challenges and conflicts it may present, is the path to spiritual liberation (moksha).

Karma: The war illustrates the principle of karma — the cause and effect of actions — teaching that every action has consequences that shape one’s destiny. The characters’ fates in the epic are a direct result of their deeds, both past and present.

Divine Interventions and Their Significance

The role of divine beings and interventions in the Mahabharata War is pivotal, illustrating the interconnectedness of the human and divine realms within the epic’s cosmology. Divine beings, through their actions and teachings, influence the course of events, guide human characters, and underscore the epic’s spiritual and moral lessons. This divine involvement reflects the belief in a cosmic order that aligns with righteousness (dharma) and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

Lord Krishna: Krishna, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, plays a central role in the Mahabharata War. As a charioteer and advisor to Arjuna, Krishna’s divine counsel before the battle begins is immortalized in the Bhagavad Gita. Here, Krishna imparts spiritual wisdom on duty (dharma), detachment (vairagya), and devotion (bhakti), guiding Arjuna through his moral dilemma. Krishna’s involvement in the war extends beyond guidance; his divine interventions often tilt the scales in favour of the Pandavas, emphasizing the theme of divine justice and the protection of righteousness.

Divine Weapons (Astras): Many warriors in the Mahabharata possess divine weapons granted by the gods, which have immense destructive power and are symbolic of the divine favour or the exceptional spiritual merit of their wielders. The use of these astras during the war underscores the participation of divine entities in human affairs, as well as the importance of adhering to the rules of warfare and dharma even when wielding such power.

Manifestations of Divine Will: Various events and outcomes in the war are depicted as manifestations of divine will, intended to restore dharma and cosmic balance. The deaths of key figures on both sides, often resulting from divine curses or boons, highlight the notion that the war serves a larger cosmic purpose beyond the mere human conflict.

Intervention by Other Deities: Apart from Krishna, other deities and celestial beings also play roles in the Mahabharata War, either by granting boons and weapons, participating directly in battles through their human or semi-divine progeny, or influencing events to ensure the victory of dharma. For instance, the God Shiva grants Arjuna the Pashupatastra, while the god Indra, father of Arjuna, provides divine armour and weapons.

The 18-day War – The Mahabharata war unfolds over eighteen days, each marked by fierce battles, strategic manoeuvres, and moments of profound heroism and tragedy. The war begins with both sides gathering massive armies, consisting of legendary warriors, divine beings, and celestial weapons. The battlefield of Kurukshetra becomes the canvas for this cosmic struggle, with the gods themselves observing the unfolding drama. The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, takes place on the eve of the war, providing profound philosophical insights and guidance on duty, righteousness, and the nature of existence. The conflict is not merely physical but also psychological and spiritual, with characters grappling with inner demons, moral dilemmas, and existential questions. Mahabharata war highlight the complexities of human nature and the consequences of choices made on the battlefield. The principal figures in the Mahabharata war are Arjuna, the heroic archer and a key Pandava; Bhishma, the granduncle and commander of the Kauravas army; Dronacharya, the revered teacher of both Pandavas and Kauravas; Karna, the formidable warrior with a tragic fate; and many others, each contributing to the intricate tapestry of the epic.

The war unfolds in multiple phases, each marked by intense and strategic battles. The Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, deploy various unethical means to gain an upper hand, including the use of deceitful tactics, psychological warfare, and breaking the rules of engagement. The Pandavas, guided by Lord Krishna, mostly adhere to the principles of righteousness and dharma, seeking victory through virtuous means. Bhishma, though a formidable warrior, is bound by a vow of loyalty to the throne of Hastinapura though he knows that Dharma is on the side of Pandavas whom he loves intensely. His commitment to this vow becomes a moral dilemma, limiting his full engagement in the war. Dronacharya faces a conflict of duty and personal ties, torn between loyalty to his students and the kingdom. Karna grapples with his loyalty to Duryodhana and his knowledge of his own righteous lineage, creating internal conflicts that shape his destiny.

The tragic death of Abhimanyu, the valorous son of Arjuna, in the Chakravyuha formation, exemplifies the sacrifices made by the younger generation in the pursuit of dharma. The Kurukshetra War concludes with a pyrrhic victory for the Pandavas, who grieve the immense loss of life and the moral complexities their victory entailed. The war’s aftermath sees Yudhishthira crowned as the king, who rules with righteousness, guided by the lessons learned from the war and the teachings of the Mahabharata.

The concept of victory and defeat in the context of the Mahabharata: The Mahabharata’s exploration of victory and defeat transcends the literal interpretation of these terms, offering instead a meditation on the ethical and spiritual challenges of human life. It teaches that true victory lies in the adherence to righteousness, the performance of one’s duty without attachment to outcomes, and the cultivation of wisdom and compassion. Defeat, on the other hand, is not final if it leads to self-reflection, moral rectitude, and spiritual growth. At its core, the Mahabharata suggests that the true battle is within oneself, against one’s own lower nature, desires, and attachments. Both victory and defeat are internal states that reflect one’s alignment with dharma and the pursuit of truth. The dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita underscores this inner dimension of victory, advocating for action rooted in duty, detachment from the fruits of actions, and devotion to the divine as the path to ultimate victory — self-realization and liberation (moksha).

Cultural Influence: The Mahabharata has profoundly influenced Indian culture, serving as a source of artistic inspiration, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance. Its stories have been retold in countless regional languages and forms, influencing literature, dance, theatre, and cinema across South Asia and beyond.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the Mahabharata war is a monumental and multifaceted narrative that transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is not merely a historical account but a profound exploration of the human psyche, moral complexities, and the eternal struggle between dharma and adharma. The war serves as a metaphor for the cosmic drama of life, where individuals navigate through the battlefield of existence, facing choices, dilemmas, and the consequences of their actions. The Mahabharata, with its timeless wisdom and insights, continues to captivate and inspire generations, offering a profound reflection on the complexities of the human experience.

Mahabharata – Core Theme

The Mahabharata, a sprawling epic poem, delves into a rich tapestry of themes that resonate with readers even today. Here’s a deeper exploration of some of its core themes:

1. Dharma: The Guiding Light:

Dharma, often translated as “righteousness” or “duty,” forms the very foundation of the epic. It serves as the guiding principle for characters as they navigate the complexities of life, facing internal conflicts and external pressures. The narrative explores various interpretations of dharma, showcasing the challenges arising when personal desires clash with societal expectations and moral imperatives. We see characters like Yudhishthira, the embodiment of righteousness, struggling with difficult choices while adhering to his dharma. Conversely, Duryodhana’s disregard for dharma ultimately leads to his downfall, highlighting the consequences of neglecting one’s moral compass.

2. Duty and Responsibility: A Balancing Act:

The concept of duty and responsibility intertwines with dharma, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling one’s obligations within different social roles. From the king’s duty to his subjects to the warrior’s commitment on the battlefield, the characters grapple with upholding their responsibilities even when faced with personal sacrifices or temptations. The epic explores the consequences of neglecting one’s duties, showcasing the potential for chaos and suffering when individuals prioritize personal gain over their societal obligations.

3. The Devastating Cost of War:

The Kurukshetra War, the central conflict of the Mahabharata, serves as a poignant reminder of the immense human cost of war. The epic portrays the battlefield’s brutality, the loss of countless lives, the destruction of kingdoms, and the enduring emotional scars left on survivors. Characters like Arjuna, burdened by the prospect of killing his kin, grapple with the ethical implications of war, forcing readers to confront the devastating consequences of armed conflict.

4. Fate vs. Free Will: The Unfolding Tapestry:

The epic presents a complex interplay between the forces of fate and the characters’ individual choices. Prophecies and divine interventions foreshadow certain events, yet characters still possess the ability to make choices that shape their destinies. The narrative explores the tension between predetermined outcomes and individual responsibility, prompting reflection on the extent to which our lives are influenced by fate and the power we hold to shape our own paths.

5. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Mending Broken Bonds:

The aftermath of the war presents a monumental challenge: the need for forgiveness and reconciliation amidst immense loss and suffering. The epic explores the characters’ journeys towards healing and rebuilding broken bonds, highlighting the difficulties of forgiving those who have caused harm and the potential for finding peace amidst the ashes of conflict. The narrative offers a glimmer of hope for rebuilding after devastation, encouraging readers to seek forgiveness and reconciliation in their lives.

6. The Power of Choice: Shaping Our Destinies:

Throughout the story, characters stand at crucial crossroads, faced with choices that will have lasting ramifications. The epic emphasizes the significance of making informed decisions, considering the potential impact on oneself and others. From Draupadi’s courageous decision to speak up against injustice to Bhishma’s unwavering commitment to his vow, the narrative showcases the power of choices in shaping destinies and influencing the course of events.

7. Loss and Grief: A Shared Human Experience:

The Mahabharata unflinchingly portrays the profound impact of loss, both on an individual and collective level. The characters experience immense grief and suffering after losing loved ones in the war, mirroring the experiences of countless individuals who have faced loss in their own lives. The epic allows readers to connect with the characters on a deeper level, fostering empathy and understanding for the universality of human emotions.

8. Knowledge as a Guiding Light:

The epic emphasizes the importance of knowledge and wisdom in navigating the complexities of life. Characters like Krishna, through his profound knowledge and understanding of dharma, offer guidance to others during their times of doubt and uncertainty. The narrative highlights the power of learning and seeking knowledge as essential tools for making informed decisions and navigating ethical dilemmas.

9. Pursuit of Enlightenment

The Mahabharata is not merely an epic but also a holy text in Hinduism and includes the “Bhagavad Gita”. The pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and understanding one’s purpose in life is a recurring theme in Mahabharata.

10. Heroism and Warfare

 The epic features a colossal war, the Kurukshetra War wherein millions of people perish. It showcases larger-than-life heroes and villains who wield celestial weapons, demonstrating extraordinary bravery and valour. It teaches us the distinction between common soldiers and legendary warriors highlighting the contrast between anonymous deaths and heroic feats.

These core themes, intricately woven into the fabric of the Mahabharata, offer timeless lessons about human nature, the complexities of life, and the importance of ethical living. The epic continues to be a source of inspiration, reflection, and wisdom for readers across generations, prompting them to contemplate on the fundamental questions of existence and the choices that shape our destinies.

 

The story

Durvasa, the short-tempered, highly respected and most feared Rishi, was wandering over the earth; when be saw in the hands of a nymph, a garland of flowers with fragrant odour. The sage demanded it from the nymph, who, bowing to him reverentially, immediately presented it to him. He placed the garland on his head and resumed his journey. On seeing Indra, the ruler of the three worlds, seated on his infuriated elephant Airavata, and attended by the gods, presented the garland of flowers to him. Due to his extreme arrogance and disrespect, suspended the garland on the brow of Airavata. The elephant, attacked by the bees attracted by the flowers, threw it on the ground and trampled on it. Sage Durvasa was highly incensed at this disrespectful treatment of his gift, and thus angrily addressed the Lord of the immortals: “Inflated with the intoxication of power, you did not show respect to the garland I presented, which was the dwelling of Fortune (Sri). Now, fool, for that disrespect your sovereignty over the three worlds shall come to an end. Due to arrogance, you have shown disrespect to me and therefore henceforth you and all devas would be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune and will no more be immortal. Though Indra immediately apologised to the enraged Sage, he did not withdraw the severe curse cast upon the Gods.

Where there is energy, there is prosperity and upon prosperity, energy depends. How can those abandoned by prosperity be possessed of energy; and without energy, where is excellence? Without excellence, there can be no vigour nor heroism amongst men.

The three regions being thus wholly divested of prosperity and deprived of energy, the Asuras, the enemies of the gods agitated by ambition, attacked the gods. They engaged in war with the feeble and unfortunate divinities; and Indra and the rest, having lost, fled for refuge to Brahma, who advised them to approach Vishnu for support. Upon seeing the divine Vishnu, Brahma and the other deities, paid him homage, and said, “We, defeated by the Asuras, have fled to seek your refuge and compassion and pray to defend us with your mighty power. Hari, the creator of the universe, being thus prayed to by the prostrated divinities, smiled, and spoke “With renovated energy, oh gods, I will restore your strength. Do you act as I say. Let all the gods, associated with the Asuras, cast all sorts of medicinal herbs into the sea of milk; and then taking the mountain Mandara for the churning-stick, the serpent Vasuki for the rope, churn the ocean together for ambrosia; depending upon my aid. To secure the assistance of the Asuras, you must be at peace with them, and promise the equal portion of the ambrosia, drinking of which they shall become mighty and immortal.

Thus instructed, the divinities entered into alliance with the Asuras, and they jointly undertook the churning of the milky ocean. They collected various kinds of medicinal herbs, and cast them into the sea of milk. The churning of the Ocean of Milk was an elaborate process: Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, king of snakes, became the churning rope. The Asuras demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the Devas, taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. However, fumes emitted by Vasuki poisoned the Asuras. Despite this, the Devas and the Asuras pulled back and forth on the snake’s body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. When the mountain was placed on the ocean, it began to sink. Vishnu, in the form of the Kurma (turtle), came to their rescue and supported the mountain on his shell.

The Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean) process released a number of things from the Ocean of Milk. First was the lethal poison known as Halahala, escaped from the mouth of the serpent king as the Asuras and gods churned. This terrified them as the poison has the power to destroy all of creation. Then the gods approached Shiva for protection. Shiva consumed the poison to protect the three worlds but it burned the throat of Shiva. As a result, his throat turned blue and hence called Neelakantha. Subsequently many other divine and precious things emerged out of the ocean because of the churning.  That included Uchhaisravas, the white horse, Airavata, the elephant, various divine nymphs like Rambha, Menaka, etc, Lakshmi: the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth, Varuni: Goddess of wine, Kamadhenu: the wish-granting cow, Kausthuba: the most valuable gem, Parijat: the divine flowering tree with blossoms that never fade or wilt, etc. Most of these items were shared between the Devas and Asuras and some, like Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and Kausthuba gem were given to Vishnu. Finally came Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician with Amrita, the nectar of immortality. Fierce fighting ensued between the Devas and the Asuras for it and finally Asuras took it away. The Devas appealed to Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini as a beautiful and enchanting damsel, distracted the Asuras, took the amrita, and distributed it among the Devas, who drank it. The story ends with the rejuvenated devas defeating the Asuras.

Lesson 1

Durvasa, the short-tempered, highly respected and most feared Rishi, was wandering over the earth; when he saw in the hands of a nymph, a garland of flowers with fragrant odour. The sage demanded it from the nymph, who, bowing to him reverentially, immediately presented it to him. He placed the garland on his head and resumed his journey. On seeing Indra, the ruler of the three worlds, seated on his infuriated elephant Airavata, and attended by the gods, presented the garland of flowers to him. Due to his extreme arrogance and disrespect, suspended the garland on the brow of Airavata. The elephant, attacked by the bees attracted by the flowers, threw it on the ground and trampled on it. Sage Durvasa was highly incensed at this disrespectful treatment of his gift, and thus angrily addressed the Lord of the immortals: “Inflated with the intoxication of power, you did not show respect to the garland I presented, which was the dwelling of Fortune (Sri). Now, fool, for that disrespect your sovereignty over the three worlds shall come to an end. Due to arrogance, you have shown disrespect to me and therefore henceforth you and all devas would be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune and will no more be immortal. Though Indra immediately apologised to the enraged Sage, he did not withdraw the severe curse cast upon the Gods.

Indra has become extremely powerful and arrogant due to his expanding authority over the three worlds. History shows that he has disrespected his Guru, GODs and raped innumerable women as he was drunk on his power and authority. Sage Durvasa not only destroyed his arrogance but also took away immortality and authority over three worlds from him. This is what happens to highly successful organizations led by arrogant CEOs. They not only destroy their company but also the life of its employees with his own career.

In a study conducted on the narcissism levels of 953 CEOs from a wide range of industries, as well as examining objective performance indicators of their companies, two Europe based researches observed that organizations led by arrogant, self-centred and entitled CEOs tend to perform worse and their CEOs were significantly more likely to be convicted for corporate fraud (e.g., fake financial reports, rigged accounts, insider trading, etc.). Interestingly, the detrimental effects of narcissism appear to be exacerbated when CEOs are charismatic, which is consistent with the idea that charisma is toxic because it increases employees’ blind trust and irrational confidence in the leader. Jim Collins in his widely-noted book ‘Good To Great’ (2001) concluded that one of the distinguishing characteristics of good-to-great companies, or those that showed sustained performance improvements over a 15-year period, was that they were headed predominantly by “humble CEOs.”  He used words like quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings, and so on” about successful CEOs who led their companies to glory.

Optimism is healthy. Arrogance is not. Self-confidence is healthy. Megalomania is not.

Believing that you can do a great job as CEO is healthy. Thinking that you know better than others is not. You need confidence and conviction to succeed as a CEO or in life, but what these studies clearly show is that – taken to extremes – narcissism kills companies and kills CEO careers.

Lesson 2

The three regions being thus wholly divested of prosperity and deprived of energy, the Asuras, the enemies of the gods agitated by ambition, attacked the gods. They engaged in war with the feeble and unfortunate divinities; and Indra and the rest, having lost, fled for refuge to Brahma, who advised them to approach Vishnu for support.

Where there is energy, there is prosperity and upon prosperity, energy depends. How can those abandoned by prosperity be possessed of energy; and without energy, where is excellence? Without excellence, there can be no vigour nor heroism amongst men.

When an arrogant and narcissistic CEO leads your organization and employees are demotivated, performance spirals downwards. Customers will desert you and competitors enjoy the greater opportunity and market share. Due to poor financial performance, there would be cuts in promotional budgets and in extreme cases retrenchment of employees, which further demotivates employees and overall performance. Unless the company finds a way to rescue itself from this difficult situation, their very existence may be in danger. The gods approach Vishnu as the saviour, but who would be your company’s saviour?

Lesson 3

Upon seeing the divine Vishnu, Brahma and the other deities, paid him homage, and said, “We, defeated by the Asuras, have fled to seek your refuge and compassion and pray to defend us with your mighty power. Hari, the creator of the universe, being thus prayed to by the prostrated divinities, smiled, and spoke “With renovated energy, oh gods, I will restore your strength. Do you act as I say. Let all the gods, associated with the Asuras, cast all sorts of medicinal herbs into the sea of milk; and then taking the mountain Mandara for the churning-stick, the serpent Vasuki for the rope, churn the ocean together for ambrosia; depending upon my aid. To secure the assistance of the Asuras, you must be at peace with them, and promise the equal portion of the ambrosia, drinking of which they shall become mighty and immortal.

Coopetition or co-opetition is a word coined to describe cooperative competition.

“Coopetition” is a term used to describe unconventional collaboration and cooperation within an otherwise competitive field of players. When companies learn to work together effectively, industry competitors can reach a wider global market while still leveraging their unique value proposition to stand out amongst the crowd. Coopetition occurs at inter-organizational or intra-organizational levels. At inter-organisational level, coopetition occurs when they cooperate with each other to reach a higher value creation if compared to the value created without interaction and struggle to achieve competitive advantage. Often coopetition takes place when companies that are in the same market work together in the exploration of knowledge and research of new products, at the same time that they compete for market-share of their products and in the exploitation of the knowledge created. It is possible for more than two companies to be involved in coopetition with one another. One of the examples of coopetition in practice in high technology context is the collaborative joint venture formed by Samsung Electronics and Sony formed in 2004 for the development and manufacturing of flat-screen LCD Panels. Cartels are not an example of coopetition because their goal is to limit competition, and the goal of coopetition is to take advantage of the complementary resources of the firms in order to reach lower costs and manage innovation possibilities, still regarding competition in a further moment.

More and more companies – from start-ups to incumbents– are taking a less literal approach to pursuing competitive advantage. They are discovering untapped value potential by engaging industry rivals with a hybrid strategy of cooperation and competition, or “coopetition”. For example, Amazon and LinkedIn have welcomed competitors onto their respective platforms, recognising that expansion of their network was its own reward.

Obviously, coopetition alliances come with a unique set of tensions requiring careful management. Adopting two diametrically opposed attitudes– cooperation and competition – toward the same party is a tricky balance to sustain. If participants are too obliging, they risk being exploited; if they are too guarded, the intended synergies are jeopardised. That is why most scholars recommend that coopetition partners employ separation strategies, such as convening two different teams to handle the cooperative and competitive aspects of the relationship.

There are many case studies that shows highly successful coopetitive strategies as well as those that failed. In the Analytical industry, there are many such examples. Analytical Software that can be used to control, acquire, analyse and report results from a wide variety of instruments from different manufacturers is only possible if the Instrument manufacturers and software developers share their control code to each other. There are also many failed agreements that resulted in bitter court battles and bad blood.

Lesson 4

Thus instructed, the divinities entered into alliance with the Asuras, and they jointly undertook the churning of the milky ocean. They collected various kinds of medicinal herbs, and cast them into the sea of milk. The churning of the Ocean of Milk was an elaborate process: Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, king of snakes, became the churning rope. The Asuras demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the Devas, taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. However, fumes emitted by Vasuki poisoned the Asuras. Despite this, the Devas and the Asuras pulled back and forth on the snake’s body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. When the mountain was placed on the ocean, it began to sink. Vishnu, in the form of the Kurma (turtle), came to their rescue and supported the mountain on his shell.

Total trust, openness and willingness to compromise and make concessions are essential for any cooperation to be successful between competitors. High level of mistrust and suspicion of the other party is what always make such arrangements a failure. Mount Manthara is used as the churning rod and Vasuki, the snake as the rope. Significance of the churning process explained here is important. Gods are pulling from the tail end and Asuras at the head side. They are not constantly pulling in one direction. In that case, it becomes either a tug of war with no churning and no results or rotating always in one direction. Here when Gods pull, Asuras release their hold and Asuras pull, God releases and the process goes alternatively. That is where the give and take happens. Any agreement without such a compromise is bound to fail.

Mount Manthara was used here for the churning and not any small spindle. Similarly one has to deploy the right resources based on the complexity of the task to achieve the desired objective. CEO level involvement is mandatory to make any agreement with competitors successful. That is why we have seen that both Indra (Head of Gods) and Bali (Head of Asuras) was involved in the negotiation and execution process.

Lesson 5

The Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean) process released a number of things from the Ocean of Milk. First was the lethal poison known as Halahala, escaped from the mouth of the serpent king as the Asuras and gods churned. This terrified them as the poison has the powerful to destroy all of creation. Then the gods approached Shiva for protection. Shiva consumed the poison to protect the three worlds but it burned the throat of Shiva. As a result, his throat turned blue and hence called Neelakantha.

First lesson we learn from here is that every organizational transformational process usually produces negative results in the beginning before it attains stability and growth again. Be prepared.

In everyone’s life there are good and bad times. So is in organizations. There are periods of excellent growth and profitability and sudden decline due to either internal or external conditions including competitive and regulatory reasons. When things go wrong, there is pressure on the Executive from every stakeholders. Shareholders will always demand better return on their investment either directly or through the board of directors. Customers always want better product and prompt support at lower and lower prices. Government want more money through duties and taxes and society needs investment from the company for social improvement. When the business is downward, meeting all these demands becomes challenging and pressure from external sources could become increasingly harsh and unbearable. The CEO now has the responsibility to insulate the executives and employees from unwanted external pressure so that they can focus on their job, which is make the company successful. If too much pressure is put, their performance can deteriorate and the downward spiral can start with alarming consequences. That means the CEO should be the buffer between harsh external environment and hardworking internal team members and therefore should act like Siva. Do not pass the poison from the stakeholders to the team members and let the external world do not know the frustration and helplessness of the team. If the poison is let out, the external world will be damaged and if let in, internal world will be damaged. So hold at the throat. And CEO acts like the throat….

Lesson 6

Subsequently many other divine and precious things emerged out of the ocean because of the churning.  That included Uchhaisravas, the white horse, Airavata, the elephant, various divine nymphs like Rambha, Menaka, etc, Lakshmi: the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth, Varuni: Goddess of wine, Kamadhenu: the wish-granting cow, Kausthuba: the most valuable gem, Parijat: the divine flowering tree with blossoms that never fade or wilt, etc. Most of these items were shared between the Devas and Asuras and some, like Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and Kausthuba gem were given to Vishnu. Finally came Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician with Amrita, the nectar of immortality.

Organizational transformational process or change management is never an easy process.  Usually the initial results one see are not always very positive but keeping and gaining momentum is mandatory by being resilient and committed in our quest to create value for the organization and people we serve. However, the reality of the workplace is that we are dealing with people who complicate matters with their corporate politicking, self-promotion, power plays and ploys, and envy. Competitors equally create problems for us when they unexpectedly convert a long-standing client, establish a new industry relationship, or launch a new product, brand or corporate strategy.   As we normally say, failures are orphan as none accepts a negative outcome like the ‘halahal’ poison and finally Siva had to swallow it. However there were many claimants for the success as both Gods and Asuras argued and fought for each and every good things that came out of the churning process. A leader has to act tactfully and ensure that there is minimum disruption and the transformation process must be continued even after reaching the milestone set initially.

Lesson 7

Fierce fighting ensued between the Devas and the Asuras for it and finally Asuras took it away. The Devas appealed to Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini as a beautiful and enchanting damsel, distracted the Asuras, took the amrita, and distributed it among the Devas, who drank it. The story ends with the rejuvenated devas defeating the Asuras.

Neither the Devas nor Asuras had any plan to share the Amrita with the other party. Any agreement made with hidden agenda is bound to fail and may lead to protracted battle, literally or in the court. However, Asuras had a better plan and strategy to hoodwink gods, took away the Amrita, and escaped to their kingdom. Gods approached Vishnu for help again. The first case of honey trapping happened long back in history and the main protagonist was Vishnu in the guise of an enchantress Mohini. Honeytrap is a stratagem in which an attractive person entices others and trick them to do something unwise. Such cases are very common these days for espionage or for political or financial gains. This story clearly depicts the pitfall of such a vulnerability and all must be extremely careful and vigilant to ensure you do not fall into such traps.

 Throughout the history of mankind, societies have tried to balance between individual rights and the mighty coercive power of the State. There were many political unrest and associated deaths and destruction in India due to the compulsory acquisition of land for industrialization, building of dams, defence installations, new capital formation, etc. That includes issues we have seen at Singur for Tata small car factory, many SEZ programs and most talked about Sardar Sarovar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Andrapradesh is planning to acquire 36000 acres of land for setting up a new capital at Amaravati and we will soon know the issues related to that. The effects of displacement spill over to generations in many ways, such as loss of traditional means of employment, change of environment, disrupted community life and relationships, marginalization, a profound psychological trauma and more.

Terrorism and political assassinations are not a 21st century phenomenon and has its roots to the puranic age (5000 years ago). There are many causes for such incidents and includes development induced displacement, religious and political differences and economic disparities within society. In the recent history we are familiar with political assassinations of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in India and Abraham Lincoln, JF Kennedy and many other Presidents of the United states. However how many of you are aware of the first political assassination that happened in India of a powerful King way back in 3000 BC? That is the story of Maharaja Parikshit who was assassinated by a displaced Naga insurgent, whose land has been acquired forcefully for  building a new capital city Indrprastha (current day New Delhi) by his grandfather , the great Arjuna.

On advice of elders Dhritarashtra decided to split the country between his children and Pandu’s children and as expected gave away less developed forest area to Yudhishthira to rule. First task was to build a suitable capital for the administration and residences of the King, ministers and other functionaries.  After extensive search, it was decided to build the new capital city called Indraprastha at the Khandava forest. The forest had many inhabitants but Naga tribes led by their King Takshaka was main. Arjuna, who was tasked to acquire the land by whatever means, took the help of his close friend Krishna to do the needful. They gave advance warning to the inhabitants to vacate the forest and decided to burn down all houses and other dwellings on a particular day. Tribal chief Takshaka approached their patron King Indra who promised all possible help. On the appointed day, Arjuna started burning the forest and defeated Indra and his forces who tried to stop the carnage. The worst was to come. Not only those who trapped in the fire died but Arjuna ensured none could escape from the forest and pushed everyone back to the fire by force, except few selected persons such as the famous architect Maya. Except for Takshaka, who was not at the forest and one of his sons, all his family members perished in the fire and the enmity with the royal family started with this event.

Since then Takshaka was planning his revenge. Arjuna was so powerful that no retaliatory action could be taken against him. Finally, he got that opportunity with his grandson Maharaja Parikshit as he was conducting the first ever “Saptaham” (7 day spiritual discourse) under the auspicious presence of Guru Sukamuni. On the last day of the discourse, while the Maharaja was preparing to break his fast, Takshaka entered the venue disguised as a Brahman and assassinated the King.

Janamejaya, the elder son of Maharaja Parikshit was installed as the next king and decided to take revenge on the killers of his father. He conducted a nationwide search, arrested all members of the Naga tribe, and started killing them by throwing them into a fire chamber. In comparison, the Nazi killing looks humane. The king threatened to continue the massacre until their chief Takshaka surrenders and undergoes the punishment. On hearing the large scale extermination of his tribe, Takshaka decided to surrender but the timely and tactical intervention by renowned scholar Astika put a stop to the most inhuman treatment even meted out to a community.

That was the beginning of terrorism but not necessarily the last. Whenever those in authority forcefully acquires land and do not compensate adequately for the victims to lead a peaceful life, such uprisings will occur again.

Janamejaya, the son of Maharaja Parikshit was attending a long sacrifice on the plains of Kurukshetra with his brothers. As they were sitting at the sacrifice, there saw a dog. Beaten by the brothers of Janamejaya, the dog ran away to his mother, crying in pain. Questioned by the mother Sarama, the dog mentioned that the brothers of Janamejaya beat him. Hearing this and much distressed at the suffering of her son, she went to the place where Janamejaya with his brothers addressed them in anger, saying, “this my son has committed no fault: he has neither looked upon your sacrificial butter nor touched it with his tongue. Why have you beaten him?” They said not a word in reply; whereupon she said, “as you have beaten my son who has committed no fault evil shall come upon you, when you least expect it.”

In organizations, whether military, government or private, execute authority increases with rank or positions. Seniors have authority to reward or punish juniors. Similarly, in scriptures one can read the authority and power of Kings and Rishis. However, the story above clearly shows that even a dog can punish a King, if the King harasses without any reason. If you are a low-level employee in a company, do not worry. None can harass you without reason, and if they do, you have the moral right to punish them. If not directly, providence will interfere and do the needful.

Sanat Sujatiya

In order to avert the impending war and yet give his sons the kingdom, Dhritarashtra sends his emissary to Yudhishthira with a message not to wage war and continue living in the forest for ever. However the Pandavas did not heed to his request and sends the emissary back with a stern message from all the brothers. Dhritarashtra becomes restless and summons Vidura his half-brother and minister for advice.

‘O Vidura, Sanjaya has come back. He has gone away after rebuking me. Tomorrow he will deliver, in the midst of the court, Yudhishthira’s message. I have not been able today to ascertain what the message is and therefore, my body is burning, and that has produced sleeplessness. Tell us what may be good for a person that is sleepless and burning. You are well versed in both religion and profit. Filled with anxiety about what he may deliver, all my senses have been disordered. I desire to hear from you words that are beneficial and fraught with high morality.

The advice given by Vidura is known as Vidura-niti and is a great source for wisdom of the highest order. Even after 5000 years, what Vidura said is relevant today and we can apply these principles in our day to day life.

After intensely listening to Vidura, Dhritarashtra said, ‘If there is anything still left unsaid say it then, as I am ready to listen to you. The discourse is indeed, charming.’

Vidura said, ‘O Dhritarashtra, the ancient and immortal Rishi Sanat-Sujata who, leading a life of perpetual celibacy, will expound to you all the doubts both expressed and unexpressed. Since I am born in the Sudra order and, therefore, do not venture to say more than what I have already said. The understanding of that Rishi, a Brahmin by birth and leading a life of celibacy is regarded by me to be infinite.

Sage Sana kumara was one of the Four Kumaras, the four Manasaputras (mind-born-sons) or spiritual sons of Brahma according to Puranic texts of Hinduism. When the four Kumaras came into existence, they were all embodiments of pure qualities. Upon remembering his name, Sanat kumara appears before them and the discussions between him and Dhritarashtra by way of question and answer session is called Sanat Sujatiya

Sanat-sujata said, ‘that asceticism which is not stained by faults is said to be capable of procuring emancipation, and is, therefore, successful, while the asceticism that is stained by vanity and want of true devotion is regarded unsuccessful.

‘O king, the twelve, including anger, as also the thirteen kinds of wickedness, are the faults of asceticism that is stained. Anger, lust, avarice, ignorance of right and wrong, discontent, cruelty, malice, vanity, grief, love of pleasure, envy, and speaking ill of others, are generally the faults of human beings. These twelve should always be avoided by men. Any one amongst these can singly effect the destruction of men.

Thirteen Kinds of wickedness are

(1)Assertion of one’s own superiority, (2)desire of enjoying others’ wives, (3)humiliating others from excess of pride, (4)wrathfulness, (5)fickleness, and (6)refusing to maintain those worthy of being maintained, (7)He that regards the gratification of lust to be one of life’s aims, (8) he that is exceedingly proud, (9) he that grieves having given away, (10) he that never spends money, (11) he that persecutes his subjects by exacting hateful taxes, (12) he that delights in the humiliation of others, and (13) he that hates his own wives.

He that succeeds in acquiring these twelve becomes competent to sway the entire earth. (1)Righteousness, (2)truth (abstention from injury and truthfulness of speech), (3)self-restraint, (4)asceticism, (5)delight in the happiness of others, (6)modesty, (7)forbearance, (8)love of others, (9)sacrifices, (10)gifts, (11)perseverance, (12)knowledge of the scriptures.

Self-restraint, renunciation, and knowledge of self, in these are emancipation. Those Brahmans that are endued with wisdom, say, that these are attributes in which truth predominates. Self-restraint is constituted by eighteen virtues.

The eighteen faults (that have been enumerated) constitute what is called mada or pride. Breaches and non-observance of ordained acts and omissions, falsehood, malice, lust, wealth, love of (sensual) pleasure, anger, grief, thirst, avarice, deceit, joy in the misery of others, envy, injuring others, regret, aversion from pious acts, forgetfulness of duty, calumniating others, and vanity-he that is freed from these (eighteen) vices; is said by the righteous to be self-restrained.

Renunciation is of six kinds. ‘The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. They are these: The first is never experiencing joy on occasions of prosperity. The second is the abandonment of sacrifices, prayers, and pious acts. That which is called the third is the abandonment of desire or withdrawing from the world. Indeed, it is in consequence of this third kind of renunciation of desire, which is evidenced by the abandonment of all objects of enjoyment (without enjoying them) and not their abandonment after having enjoyed them to the fill, nor by abandonment after acquisition, nor by abandonment only after one has become incompetent to enjoy from loss of appetite. The fourth kind of renunciation is: One should not grieve nor suffer his self to be afflicted by grief when one’s actions fail, notwithstanding one’s possession of all the virtues and all kinds of wealth. Or, when anything disagreeable happens, one feels no pain. The fifth kind of renunciation consists in not soliciting even one’s sons, wives, and others that may all be very dear. The sixth kind consists in giving away to a deserving person who solicits, which act of gifts is always productive of merit. By these again, one acquires the knowledge of self.

As regards this last attribute, it involves eight qualities. These are truth, meditation, distinction of subject and object, capacity for drawing inferences, withdrawal from the world, never taking what belong to others, the practices of Brahmacharya vows (abstinence), and non-acceptance (of gifts).

So also the attribute of mada (the opposite of dama or self-restraint) has faults which have all been indicated (in the scriptures). These faults should be avoided. And self-knowledge has eight virtues, so the want of it has eight faults. Those faults should be avoided. He that is liberated from the five senses, mind, the past and the future, becomes happy.

These three, viz., the desire of enjoyments, lust and wrath lead foolish men to death.

Sorrow, anger, covetousness, lust, ignorance, laziness, malice, self-importance, continuous desire of gain, affection, jealousy and evil speech,–these twelve are grave faults that are destructive of men’s lives. Each of these wait for opportunities to seize mankind. Afflicted by them, men lose their senses and commit sinful acts.

These seven are counted as wicked men of sinful habits – on obtaining wealth cannot treat others with courtesy. He that regards sensual gratification as the end of life, he that is self-conceited, he that boasts having made a gift, he that never spends, he that is weak in mind, he that is given to self-admiration, and he that hates his own wife.

‘Mada’ has eighteen faults. They are ill-will towards others, throwing obstacles in the way of virtuous acts, detraction, falsehood in speech, lust, anger, dependence, speaking ill of others, finding out the faults of others for report, waste of wealth, quarrel, insolence, cruelty to living creatures, malice, ignorance, disregard of those that are worthy of regard, loss of the senses of right and wrong, and always seeking to injure others. A wise man, therefore, should not give way to mada, for the accompaniments of mada are censurable.

Friendship is said to possess six indications; firstly, friends delight in the prosperity of friends, and secondly, are distressed at their adversity. If anyone asks for anything which is dear to his heart, but which should not be asked for, a true friend surely gives away even that. Fourthly, a true friend who is of a righteous disposition, when asked, can give away his very prosperity. Fifthly, a friend should not dwell in the house of a friend, on whom he may have bestowed everything, but should enjoy what he earns himself. Sixthly, a friend stops not to sacrifice his own good (for his friend). The man of wealth who seeks to acquire those good qualities, and who becomes charitable and righteous restrains his five senses from their respective objects. Such restraint of the senses is asceticism. When it grows in degree, it is capable of winning regions of bliss hereafter.

These six are the habits of wicked persons – He that is covetous, he that is fierce, he that is harsh of speech, he that is garrulous, he that is given to nursing anger, he that is boastful.