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Showing posts from March, 2009

Leadership and Integrity: A Lesson from the Mahabharata

(Developed from the author’s class lectures in Indian Philosophy for Leadership Excellence to senior Management students at XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur.)

“Sheelam pradhanam purushe,” says the Mahabharata, meaning character, or integrity, is the most important thing in man. Vyasa’s Mahabharata, that amazing book that is five thousand years old in its original version, never ceases to astound us with its insights into life and into human nature. After an exposure to contemporary western ideas of management, where leadership per se forms the largest area of study, when one turns to this timeless Indian epic, we suddenly realize that what the book says about itself is as true about management wisdom as about everything else: yad ihasti tad anyatra, yannehasti na kutrachit – what is here could be found elsewhere, but what isn’t here will be found nowhere else.

After the Mahabharata war is over, while Bheeshma is lying on the bed of arrows waiting for an appropriat…

Retelling the Ramayana: Padma Purana

The voluminous Padma Purana, essentially a Vaishnavite text, makes fascinating variations in its retelling of the Ramayana story.

It is one of the largest Puranas, with around 55,000 verses, which is more than twice the size of Valmiki Ramayana, with only the Skanda Purana among the Puranas being bigger than it. The Padma Purana is thus the third largest book in Indian literature, after the Mahabharata, with 100,000 verses, and the Skanda Purana, with 84,000 verses. It consists of seven books, each called a khanda. These are the Srishti, Bhumi, Swarga, Brahma [also called Swargottara], Patala, Uttara and Kriya Khandas, in that order. The text is also divided into six khandas in some recensions, leaving out the Brahma Khanda, and into just five in others, leaving out the Kriya Khanda too.

The Srishti Khanda of the Purana has a small section dealing with Rama’s killing of Shambuka and a couple of other things. Uttara Khanda too deals with Rama’s story in a few chapters which tell the stor…