The oldest surviving religion, Hinduism probably has the greatest history available to mankind. History is the best teacher and Hinduism, is short, is the religion of knowledge. I recently completed reading, Mahabharata, for probably the 10th time and so, I am compiling 6 Leadership lessons I learnt from Mahabharata. Let’s begin.
- Revenge and Rebelling without a cause is a one way ticket to downfall.
A lot of youngsters rebel without a cause. That’s what Kauravas did and see what happened. The Kauravas lost everything to their blinded desire to ruin the Pandavas.
- Krishna and Karna.
Karna talks to Krishna– My mother left me when I was born. Is it my fault that I was born as an illegitimate child? Dronacharya didn’t teach me because I was considered as not a Kshitrya. I accidentally hit a cow with Arrows and her owner cursed me for no fault of mine. I was Disgraced in Draupadi’s Swayamvar. Even Whatever I received was through Duryodhan’s charity. So how am I wrong in taking his side?
Krishna replies: “Karna, I was born in jail. Death was waiting for me even before I was born. The night I was born I was separated from my birth parents. From childhood, you grew up hearing the noise of swords, chariots, horses, bow, and arrows. I heard cow’s herd, dung and faced multiple attempts on my life even before I could walk! No army, no education. I could hear people saying I am the reason for all their problems. I joined Gurukul of Rishi Sandipani only at the age of 16! I had to move my whole community from the banks of Yamuna to far off the seashore, to save them. I was called a coward for running away. If Duryodhan wins the war, you will get a lot of credit. What do I get if Dharm Raja wins the war? Only the blame for the war and related problems. Remember one thing Karna, everybody has challenges in Life. What is right (Dharma) is known to your Mind. (conscience) Stop whining Karna. Life’s unfairness doesn’t give you a license to walk the wrong path of Adharm.
- Bad Mentor brings downfall
Everyone hated Shakuni Mama. His greed for quick successes and absence of any long term planning lead to the downfall of Kauravas. He destroyed everything that Kauravas owned. This is a lesson for every leader. Choose your mentors wisely.
- Stand by what’s right.
Arjuna was initially hesitant to wage war against his kin. But Krishna reminded him that one has to stand by Dharma (duty), even it meant going against one’s own family. Therefore, Arjuna had to fulfill his responsibility as a great warrior of Dharma. Arjun, after advice from Lord Krishna, entered the war and defended the truth against the evil.
- Don’t be too emotional about anything.
Emotional decisions have often backfired since the very beginning of civilisation. We, as leaders, often commit blunders because of over-emotional attachment. Such was the case with Dhritarashtra and his love for his children. He was torn apart and still stood by his children no matter what wrong they were. He only took those steps which made his children happy even if those steps were wrong. This made him more evil that he actually was.
- Half knowledge is dangerous. Very Very Dangerous
No matter who you are, half knowledge is dangerous. Ask Abhimanyu. Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu teaches us how half-knowledge can have an adverse impact. While Abhimanyu knew how to enter the Chakaravyuh, he did not know the way out.