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Showing posts from February, 2009

Leadership and Krishna: Leader Instils Confidence

Scene 1: Kamyaka Forest

The hair-raising scenes of the Dice Hall of Hastinapura are past now. Yudhishthira has for a second time lost his kingdom and all that was his. As per the conditions agreed to before the game started, the losers hadve to live twelve years in jungle and one year in hiding, during which year if they are discovered, they have to repeat the cycle of thirteen years again. Accordingly the Pandavas have surrendered their kingdom to Duryodhana and are now living in the Kamyaka forest.

While all this was happening, Krishna was away from Dwaraka, fighting a war with Salva at Saubha and had no knowledge of the dice game or of the subsequent events. When Krishna reaches back Dwaraka after the war, Satyaki informs him of the sad, terrible events at Hastinapura and Krishna leaves everything and rushes to Kamyaka to meet the Pandavas and share their sorrow. He knows they need him with them at this moment of loss and only his presence can give them the strength they need now…

Leadership, Ramayana and the Russian Revolution

The days immediately before the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nicholas II was ruling the vast Russian empire. The Russian people were in a terrible mood. Their country was at war and they were starving. The army was so ill looked after and abused that many soldiers were fighting barefoot, going hungry much of the time, a fate they shared with the vast majority of their countrymen. People were crying for a change in a world that was changing fast. They knew Russia needed a change and deserved it.

But the man ruling Russia never heard their cries. He had grown up believing monarchy was divinely ordained and it was the duty of the people to submit to it. His family had been ruling the empire for three hundred years and there was no reason to believe they will not continue to do so for generations to come.

One of the essential requirements for a leader is to be in touch with his people. This is true whether the ruler is an autocratic monarch, as in old days, or a contemporary leader today, in po…

Dara Shikoh and the Upanishads

Dara Shikoh, Emperor Shah Jahan’s son and brother of the much hated Aurangazeb, believed that the mystical traditions of both Hinduism and Islam spoke of the same truth. Unlike Aurangazeb, whose spiritual and religious views were fundamentalist, Dara Shikoh, who was a follower of the Qadiri order of Sufis and a disciple of Miyan Mir, devoted much of his time to the study of ancient Indian spirituality along with Islamic traditions and felt that the search for God was one all over the world and at all times. In his search for truth, Dara Shikoh tried to find the common ground between Upanishadic and Islamic spirituality believing that there was no need for spiritual traditions to live in isolation from each other and their mingling could produce a tradition that is healthier than either.

As the eldest son of Shah Jahan, and as the emperor’s and his wife Mumtaz Mahal’s favourite, the Mugal empire should have gone to him. But that was not to be, mostly due to the ambitions of the younger …

Rama: A Study in Self-Mastery

[This study is based exclusively on the Valmiki Ramayana. Other narrations of Rama’s story, which frequently differ from Valmiki’s narration, have not been taken into consideration.]

It was the Greek Historian Xenophon, I believe, who said, “A king should not only prove himself better than those he rules, he should cast a spell on them.” That is, cast a spell on them by the excellence of his thought and action, by the totality of his commitment to his vision and mission, and by the quality of his living and being. A close look at Rama’s life shows us that he, a man from a period much earlier than that of Xenophon, fully believed in this. That is one of the reasons why his life gives us so many invaluable lessons even for our age separated from his from a few millennia.

One of the most important lessons Rama’s life gives us is in self-mastery, at which he frequently falters, as all human beings do, but invariably triumphs. To look at how Rama falters again and again and eventually master…

When the Wisdom of Youth Speaks

The old man was sitting on a rock on the solitary beach when his eyes fell on the youth in the distance. He seemed to be performing some kind of ritual dance – bending down, straightening up again, his hands making repeated movements towards the sea. The old man watched him for a while, trying to make out what exactly he was doing, but failed. Eventually, his curiosity fully awakened, he got up from the rock and walked towards him. As he came near, he realised what was happening. It was not a ritual dance nor was it some kind of tribute being paid to the sea. On the beach were starfishes that had been stranded there as the tide withdrew. The young man was picking them up and throwing them into the sea.
The old man laughed aloud at the stupidity of the youth. “This happens every day. The tide rises twice a day and ebbs too twice a day. Every time it rises, it would bring starfish to the beach, and every time it ebbs, they would be stranded on the beach. And there are tens of thousands …

The Wisdom of the Heart

The Arabian Nights tells us the story of Emir Khalid of Bassorah, renowned for his wisdom, justice and compassion. One day a group of men brought a young man before him, seeking justice. The men said the youth had been caught red-handed stealing from their house.

Emir Khalid looked at the young man. He was extremely handsome and obviously belonged to a good family. His face and eyes spoke of nobility of heart and the way he stood before him showed not the cringing fear of a thief, but of great dignity born of self-respect and honour. Something told the emir there was some deep mystery behind all this; this youth couldn’t be a common thief breaking into people’s houses to steal.

The emir asked the men to loosen the youth’s fetters. He went close to him and asked him, “Is what these men say true? Did you break into their house to steal?” The youth said what the men said was perfectly true, he did break into their house to steal. When the young man spoke, the emir was impressed by his comm…