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Mahabharata- The management Bible
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Nitin Pahuja
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Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 5th, 2008

Mahabharat - The Oldest Management Bible

By Hiten Kataria
Welingkar Institute of Management

The Mahabharat, the longest epic in the world, is about couple of million words in total. Its not just the length of the epic that makes it grand and superior, but also the quality, reach and teachings it consists. The Mahabharat’s scope is best summarized by one quotation: “What is found here, may be found elsewhere. What is not found here, will not be found elsewhere”.

Mahabharat is not plainly the story of a war or a source of wisdom for philosophers. It exposes the secrets of leadership and the path to success. Mahabharat can be considered equivalent to other management bibles. Whether it is man management, human/organisational behaviour, game theory, management by objectives, all aspects of modern management can be discovered in various characters and episodes of the great epic.

Bhishma, an honest manager caught in diametrically opposed clashes, who was forced to take wrong decisions by forces beyond his power. Yudhisthira is a flawless example of managerial acumen. Karna, a manager who fought his way up the ladder but could not keep up with the pressure and tensions and met a tragic end. Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, a daredevil leader without a business-plan of escape. He fought his way into the chakravyuha, but failed to come out and was brutally cornered and killed by Drona and others. Draupadi is the typical model of a woman powerhouse who kept others motivated till the goal is achieved. And Lord Krishna is the ideal example of a leader-manager who kept his eye on the target till the desired outcome was achieved.

In today’s modern management when ethical judgment and importance of recognizing the ethical dimensions is talked about, Mahabharat gives an excellent analogies to identify the ethical boundaries. "Rules of ethical conduct", dharmayuddha, for the war were framed by the supreme commanders of each side. Both sides broke most of these laws at least once.

Lord Krishna himself advised the Pandavas that no action can be perfect in an ever-changing dynamic world and hence he casually advocated them to keep the overall ethical standards in view and then act according to the contingency which may require provisional deviation from strict ethics.
For example, Krishna prevails upon Yudhisthira, an honest king, to lie or convey a “half-truth” to psychologically depress Dronacharya. From the complete moralistic standpoint, such a lie may be considered unethical. But as long as such lies contributed to a desirable final outcome - it was acceptable. So the greatest challenge for the modern corporate leader is the modification of these responses keeping in mind the ethical and legal issues but without compromising corporate interests.

The Mahabharat war was gigantic. The stakes were very great, the whole of the land of Bharat was at stake, and every kingdom from the biggest to the smallest brought its armies to either the Pandava or Kaurava side. Every king and army from all over India stood on that battlefield. That one war changed the whole political landscape of India.

This can be simplest example to explain the importance of building a network of relationships and developing a web of influence. If there is a single lesson from the war, it is that competitors must try to find areas of alliance wherever is possible, group their resources for research and development and offer innovative solutions for customer's money.

Today leaders often lack decision-making power. For example, while preparing for battle, Duryodhana chose Krishna's large army while Arjuna selected Krishna's wisdom instead of just the army. In the end, Arjuna emerged as the winner as he had made the right choice after having weighed all the options carefully.

The great Indian epic is a big storehouse of stories. There are stories inside a story. Each story in itself is the source of knowledge and new learning in various fields of human life esp. management.

One such episode is the story of Yaksha’s (Dharma’s) questions to Yudhisthira (Dharmaraja): The story in brief is; In the forest, the Pandavas plan their 13th year of exile to live in disguise and to work in another kingdom. Nakul tries to fetch water from a lake but is told not to use the water by an invisible voice. He ignores the warning, drinks the water and falls down dead. His brothers meet the same fate except for Yudhisthira answers correctly. The Yaksha reveals himself as Lord Yama and grants back the lives of all the dead brothers.

The general management concepts that are portrayed in this particular episode are quite a many. Remembering one’s prime duty no matter what situation one is in (Helping the Brahmin – duty of the Kshatriya), Never underestimate your competitors (Pandavas not heeding to the warning – underestimating the crane), Always learn the rules and meet the terms before entering new game (Answering the questions of Yaksha – respecting the crane in his area of superiority), Being smart thinker, wise and thought leader (Each answer to Yaksha’s question – wisdom and intelligence), Making just decisions without any bias (Choosing Nakul’s life before – Having the right character for judgment).

Everything about the Mahabharat is huge, from its extensive length, to the enormous breadth of its vision. The longest of all epics is like an encyclopedia, a world all on its own.
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 9th, 2008

Excellent relation to corporate world, do contribute more such articles. thank you
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 9th, 2008

hi
Excellent work on our ancient epic The Mahabharata. Keep it up.
Thank you.
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 9th, 2008

Good work..

Salute to Hiten Kataria
Welingkar Institute of Management.

Keep posting such articles.

Thanks



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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 11th, 2008

this is a very good effort made by u i must appreciate further i m thinking to take up this project so kindly help me in doing it by providing me the needful......................my email adress is [email address]

i hope u will nt disappoint me!

thanks...............
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Hiten Kataria
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 11th, 2008

Firstly, Thanks for your appreciation.. I'm however clueless as to how helpful i can be.. Let me know of wht exactly u need..

Bye n Regards,
Hiten Kataria.
email add: [email address]
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 12th, 2008

wsup people. i need detail info on corporate governance & mahabharata. It's my IMTP prj . submission in 2 days. plzzzzzzzzz help me out guys.
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Varun Parashar
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - January 12th, 2008

hmmmm good work and good article............ welingkar allways rock.....................



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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - February 6th, 2008

i appreciate the great work done........
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Ayush Jaiswal
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Re: Mahabharata- The management Bible - August 3rd, 2008

the topic is great .any 1 can read mahabharat but understanding it is a very tuff job
i appriciate it . keep writing
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