All posts tagged: Mahabharata

Lessons from Mahabharata: Envy – II

In the first part of this two part series focusing on the emotion of Envy, we learnt that despite the popular belief and the main proponent of the emotion in the epic tale, Duryodhan wasn’t the only person driven by envy. Let us now continue with more examples of envy as we meander through other stories and in the process receive our lessons from Mahabharata. While we are at it, let’s also see if there is some common thread connecting them. Having married Droupadi and having settled in Indraprastha, the Pandvas were once visited by the sage Narada. They all greeted the sage, and after Droupadi left, Narada had a pointed question for the Pandavas. Given Droupadi’s beauty, how were they going to head off the green-headed monster that was envy? To illustrate his point, he told them the story of the two invincible asuras Sunda and Upasunda, who once lived in Kurukshetra. Yes, all roads did seem to lead to Kurukshetra. Sunda and Upasunda were the sons of Nikumba, who belonged to Hiranyakashipu’s lineage. …

Lessons from Mahabharata: Envy – I

That Duryodhana was driven by envy is known to all. He is also perhaps the best known example of an envious man in the entire epic. His whole life was one long, never ending, rage against his cousins, the Pandavas, who he thought had the better of everything – whether the palace at Indraprastha, whether a beautiful wife in Droupadi, whether in riches, his own “ordinary prosperity” never pleased him, was never enough. That much is well known. What is also known is that if Duryodhana’s envy was like a forest fire, it was Shakuni, his maternal uncle, that kept that fire burning. And we also know that Dhritarashtra, Duryodhana’s blind father was blind to every single fault of his son, turning a literal and figurative blind eye to his son’s faults. But what about Gandhari? When Pandu was living the life of forced bachelorhood, in mortal fear of Sage Kimdama’s curse, he turned to his wife Kunti to beget sons. Kunti had Sage Durvasa’s mantra that she used to summon Yama, who begat Yudhishtra. …

Lessons from Mahabharata: The Leader’s Temperament – A Leadership Masterclass from the Mahabharata

Let’s talk about the role of a CEO and what advice would a board advisor give to an incoming CEO? Yes, this is still about the Mahabharta, but we are going to take a detour before getting there. To strive to maximize shareholder value, to watch out for market trends and unforeseen macroeconomic headwinds, to hire the best, to not ignore the advice of advisors, to put down indiscipline with a firm hand, to be approachable yet not play favourites, and so on. This is the basic ingredient from which tens of thousands of management books, seminars, articles, and more are churned out each year. In a modern context, while the use of the word “king” may be anachronistic, the basic import of the the Raj-dharma parva of the Mahabharata retains much of its value and relevance. If you substitute the word “king” with “chief minister” or “prime minister”, or with “CEO” or “Managing Director”, the advice given to the king then could very well be applied to the leaders of today. When asked by …

Lessons From Mahabharata – Stri Parva and Gandhari’s Curse

How do you curse God, and do it justifiably so? What is the arc of the geometry of rage? Does it rise up into a crescendo and then subside after it has found an outlet? Or does it ebb and flow, crest and trough? How does one react to being cursed? How would God react to such a curse? As curses go, there are many instances in the Puranas of gods being cursed. Indra is perhaps in the unfortunate position of being the recipient of the most curses. Even Vishnu was cursed by Narada to be born as a human. Dharma was cursed, and was born as Vidura. The Vasus were cursed and had to be born as the sons of Ganga. But a god being cursed? Gandhari cursing Krishna is possibly one without parallel. Not only did Gandhari curse Krishna, she cursed his entire tribe, the race of the Yadavas. In it, there are several lessons to be learned. Mahabharata, Volume 5, Gorakhpur Gita Press Gandhari’s rage rose when she met Bhima after the …

Lessons From Mahabharata – Reclaiming The Epic For The 21st Century

As India continues on its journey from a $3 trillion to $10 trillion economy, as it reorients its political pendulum from permissions and entitlements to development and prosperity, as it resets its strategic stance from apologetic-defensive to confident-expansive, and redefines its cultural arc from being moored in a timid crust to one that carries international hues, it needs not merely the modern tools of engagement and technology to negotiate the world’s constantly-changing landscape but a stronger civilisational base upon which it can stand with knowledge, dynamism, force and stability; it needs to re-imagine itself and re-identify with its own ethos and its own experiences. Amongst its experiential kaleidoscope evolved over millennia, there are four important civilisational legs that have sustained India for more than five millenniums – the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and the Epics (the Ramayana and the Mahabharata). The Vedas captured the insights of rishis and eternalised them into words and three notes, a combination of language and sounds that resonates with our deepest parts even today as truth, a living entity …