Sunday 29 December 2013

The Shiva Sigma

"Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned."
-Harold Geneen, Leading American businessman

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way."
-John C. Maxwell, famous author

So, who are the greatest and most famous villains of Indian mythology?
Ravana, for sure would make it to the list. There will be Hiranyakashyap, Kansa, Hiranyaksha, Jarasangha...
I know I have deliberately skipped a few names, but kept the above ones because they all share a common bonding with each other. Know what?
Interestingly, they were all devotees of Shiva.
So, here is a group of most dreaded villains of Indian mythology. Yet, they get all pious, religious and respectful, when it comes to Shiva. These men, who would not flinch to take any dreaded step, be it killing their own family, to imprisoning them, to removing every single object of worship from their kingdom on the slightest hint of a threat to their power, were ready to loose it all for Shiva. What command or 'enchantment' did Shiva cast over these men? What qualities did Shiva possess that made followers out of them?

When the famous Sagar Manthan took place, all the deities and demons were expecting the Amrit, sooner than later from the sea. That the sea would eject Halahal poison, no one had expected and were unprepared to face the challenges it threw. Once the Halahal poison came out every one got in a fix. No one, including the deities present there had a solution to the problem in front of them, and the poison gradually started poisoning the air and killing humans.
I dont know which scripture to believe, as some claim that Shiva knew he would be able to stop it in his throat using Yoga, while some claim that Parvati's love for Shiva stopped the poison in his throat. Nevertheless, Shiva attempted what the other deities did not, for the sake of the living world. He drank the most poisonous substance the world had seen and saved millions of lives with his act.
And to think, he wasn't even waiting for the Amrita, a clear quality of a powerful, and efficient leader.
Let's see what other qualities he possessed to become one of the greatest leaders of mythology.

The Trusted Aide: So out of all the aides(gana) of Shiva, who do you think is his most favourite aide? An easy guess would be Nandi. So much so, that Nandi forms an integral part of every Shiva temple. Is it because Nandi is also his Vahana? Maybe, but Nandi is known as the principle Gana of Shiva. Not only his Vahana, Nandi is also a door-keeper to Shiva's abode Mount Kailash. He also is the commander-in-chief of all the Shiva-ganas, and when Ravana attempted to move Shiva from his abode to Lanka, he fought Ravana  and even cursed him for his attempts.
Clearly, Nandi is Shiva's favourite gana. But think of it, did Shiva, as per any of the scriptures say it to Nandi that "you are my favourite"? Or did he say this to anyone else? The answer is no.
There is a management term called "Job Enrichment", where an individual is delegated more decision making powers and responsibilities. A good leader should never pick up and declare a favourite of his or her out of his team or followers, but rather, keep on delegating more responsibilities on his most efficient men. He should not let others feel the neglect of his favouritism, but let the work of his most efficient aides speak for them. He should thus, in a way, keep a team of most trusted aides, where the employees also feel valued.

Doing the right thing: Ravana was one of the biggest devotees of Lord Shiva. So much so, that he even sacrificed his head not once but ten times when performing an obligation for Shiva(Shiva would give his head back each time, as per legends). Ravana loved and respected Shiva, and Shiva acknowledged the respect that Ravana showed for him. He even asked Ravana to master all the Vedas and spread the message of the Vedas on earth, clearly delegating more responsibilities on him.
Ravana, however, once became adamant to take Shiva from Kailash to Lanka, as he knew that Lanka would be all powerful with Shiva being there. He became adamant and even fought Nandi for the same. When Nandi didnt let him enter, he attempted to lift the mountain itself and take it to Lanka. Clearly, an arrogant attempt by him.
What did Shiva do? The right thing! He didnt hesitate to punish Ravana for the same, and put the toe of his feet on the mountain firmly. Ravana's hands got stuck beneath the mountains, and if legends are to be believed, Ravana stayed the same way for some thousand years, pleading for forgiveness all the time.
Though a leader should not openly declare his set of favourites, there may be a few followers or employees who would openly acknowledge the credibility of their leader and would place their utmost trust and respect in their leader.What if some decision or attitude of these employees become a deterrent in the overall roadmap of the company or the leader himself? Well, deal it with the Shiva way. Do the right thing.

Attachment to the cause: When Ravana comes to pursue Shiva to move his abode from Kailash to Lanka, lets put in perspective what Shiva had and what Ravana offered. Shiva lived on Mountain Kailash not in any palace or constructed house, but under open nature. Though there are ganas who love and respect Shiva, he treats them more as followers and friends, rather than servants(again an important quality of leaders). The food they must be having would rather be natural fruits and vegetables(though tough to say if Shiva would even need food, he is Mahadev).
Ravana on the other hand, wanted to take Shiva to the Golden Lanka. So, Ravana offered a huge and magnificent palace, hordes of servants, the most delicious of foods and festivities, and all the luxuries which Ravana could give(though Ravana misinterpreted Shiva probably, he is much above the worldly desires).
The point however is, Shiva not only refused Ravana's repeated attempts, he even punished him, as explained in the aforementioned point.
How many MBA degrees you pursue, whatever management courses you complete successfully and whichever corporate trainings you attend, there is a certain human factor which comes into play when you are leading an organization. Though all these courses and trainings and programs and seminars would teach you to be professional to the core, a leader simply cannot succeed, unless he is attached emotionally to the organization, or the cause which he is supporting. If you are not attached to your organization, and are ready to move to a better organization because it could offer better facilities(or salary?) to you, chances are, you wont be able to attach to your second organization as well(what if a third organization offers even more), and thus would not ever be a good leader

Byproducts of success: Referencing the Sagar Manthan and the Halahal poison once again. all the deities wanted to get hold of Amrit which was due to come out of the sea, and every deva wanted to be a part of it. However, no one wanted to be a part of the poison. If Indra was ready for Amrit, he should have been equally willing of poison as well.
Everybody loves success, there is no two way about it. Every leader and the people or followers under him are bind together by one simple cause and effort, to succeed. There is no truer a fact than this.
However, at times this success doesnt come so easily. At times it takes a lot of sacrifices and efforts from the seekers of this success. Everyone wants to be a part of success, however a true leader is one, who is equally willing to be a part of the toxic products of success, or the sacrifices which are made in the process.

Value proposition: What exactly is value proposition?
The simplest definition of Value proposition could be "a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced"
For a leader to believe in a simple notion as above, it would start from his very basic nature. For this, a leader should be able to value even the most basic of stuff around him. He should be able to judge and evaluate every single resource or asset available to him and try to use its value to the maximum.
Once Sati asked if Shiva is Mahadev, why did he live devoid of all luxuries. She asked him to show her his house where they would live after marriage. As Shiva didnt have any, she asked him what protects him from sun in summers. Shiva showed her the valley full of Deodar trees. Then she asked what protects him from rains, Shiva took her to a cave. When she asked where would he keep fire, Shiva showed her the burning pyres.
Imagination is value, and value is imagination. Shiva being a Mahadev never really thought of worldly comforts. Caves or even Deodar trees are not of much value in terms of worldly luxuries, but Shiva found and valued all the resources available to him.

Partners in Equality: One of the most distinct legends attributed to Shiva is that of Ardha-Narishwar.
A composite androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati, the form is depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle.
Symbolically, the form represents that male and female are inseparable from each other. It also represents the law of duality. It also represents the equality of male and female. That both are incomplete without each other, a concept which many legends of Shiva very clearly point to and acknowledge. As per legends, this form has primarily been associated with fertility and growth.
A leader, similarly, no doubt shall treat his subordinates with respect and equality, he shall also have mutual trust and understanding with fellow partners in business. They shall understand that for the cause to be successful or the company to be a success, they all need to work together with one goal in mind. The purpose would be incomplete in the absence of any of them.

That Shiva and Krishna are two of the most divine figures of Hindu mythology, there is certainly no denying the fact. And that people could actually learn a lot from their lives and their legends, there is no denying this either.
At times when I am done with writing a blog on Krishna or Shiva, I end up physically exhausted and mentally drained. I feel as if I have done a decent work and covered what all I intended to when I started.
However, when I come back the next day to review the same blog, I see how little I have written about them and what all I could have covered further.
Krishna, Shiva,  their legends and their tales have a lot to teach and learn from, in the modern concepts of the world. Then why is it that some people have a problem accepting the divinity of Krishna or Shiva? People claim a lack of ideals and figures to look up to in current times. Why it gets so tough for them to look up and learn from probably the most accessible and most ideal sources of inspiration?

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  1. Very well written...clarity of thoughts and arguments well supported by facts (from legends)

    1. Namaste Siddhant,
      Thanks a lot for your words of appreciation


    1. Namaste Saurabh,
      Aware about it. Its really awesome

  3. Replies
    1. Namaste,
      Thanks a lot for your words of appreciation

  4. I read it three times. Wonderful discourse on Leadership. I also believe that it is absolutely essential for a Leader to be a part of his team. He should have concern with them, their difficulties, their successes, their failures, their families..... The only thing is that it should be a real concern and not fake one. I share that attachment to Organisation is also equally important.

    1. I agree, In these times the condept of leadership has changed a lot, and it mostly is in the form which Shiva practised