In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important aspect that is essential for a righteous king, as explained by Vidura. Of course in the context of the Mahaabhaarata, Vidura explains all these aspects to King Dhirdiraashtra. But in today’s context, we can assume the term “king” to all modern day leaders, administrators, etc. The explanation is the same, but only the context varies.
Here Vidura explains as to how do we capture the attention of people in a pleasant way? It should be a combination of exhibiting a pleasant face with a smile, but at the same time we should also make sure that we do not keep talking a lot. We should always talk straight to the point and stop with that! This is what would make the opponent feel that he/she could listen to more of our talking and spend more time with us. Thus we should talk only what is to be spoken. We should make sure that we talk less, but rich in content. We should always employ good and pleasing words. On the whole, the words that we employ while talking, our facial expressions and our body language are extremely important to be a successful leader.
In today’s episode we shall extend this same discussion with respect to employing the right words and right substance while talking to others. Now it is time for an examination within ourself! What is that examination? Let us try to talk something within ourself secretly! It might be about anything or anybody. However, if we should talk this same thing in the presence of someone, will we be able to do it? Now here is the test – If we are able to talk what we spoke secretly within ourself verbatim to others, then we can conclude that we are honest to ourself and also to others. However if we are unable to talk exactly the same substance (that we spoke secretly within ourself) to others, it means that there is some problem.
So what is that problem and what does this exam infer? This examination is meant to check if we are not unnecessarily talking ill of someone to someone else! If we aren’t able to talk the same thing what we spoke secretly to others, it means that somewhere down the line we are talking something about others that is not warranted. This is what is called “backstabbing” others – The action of criticizing someone in a tracheous manner despite pretending friendship with them.
To elaborate this important point a bit more, we should make sure that we would be able to talk something about somebody irrespective of that person’s presence or absence in that particular spot. For instance if I’ve to talk something about my friend, I should be able to talk the same thing about him irrespective of his presence near me or not. If this is done, it means that we are transparent and straightforward. There might be some situations wherein I would talk ill about my friend, scold him, etc. in his absence, however if that friend comes in front of me all of a sudden, I would suddenly change the topic and talk something nice to him. This is where the problem lies – We are wasting lot of time in just gossiping about others and talking ill about them in their absence! However if they suddenly appear in front of us from nowhere, we are caught red-handed and we suddenly change the topic to something or someone else. If this is frequently happening in our day-to-day life, it simply implies that we are wasting our precious time by talking unwanted and useless stuff about others. Moreover, it also becomes evident that we are lying and we aren’t true and honest to ourselves and also to others!
This is exactly what Vidura is explaining here – He advises us to avoid such things in life. Backstabbing is one bad habit that takes away most of our constructive and productive time. We’ve to talk only if something very important is there for discussion. If the talk is going to be of somebody out of the context, it is better to avoid and refrain from. This paves the way to be honest and straightforward. The moment we start gossiping about others, we would immediately start losing our respect amongst the group. The trust factor is broken. People would feel scared to open up to us freely and if this happens, how can a leader succeed? In one of the previous episodes we had discussed that a leader should be a neutral person and shouldn’t take sides. If this same leader is going to gossip about someone to somebody else, it clearly means that he is taking sides! It shows his biased nature!
Hence, as a righteous king, Vidura’s advice is to avoid unwanted backstabbing and gossips about others. This has two primary implications – One is that the king is wasting his precious time by talking unwanted stuff. The second implication is that, he would end up losing trust amongst others. This is applicable not only to kings, but also to all of us in the modern day. The message from today is that if we want to be successful and revered by our employees and the society at large, we should make sure that we do not talk ill of others unwantedly and especially in that person’s absence.
Here we need to note one sub-clause – If we say that we shouldn’t talk ill about others, it doesn’t mean that we criticize others’ wrongdoings in front of our eyes. Of course we should do that – If we feel that someone is doing something wrong, we should definitely stand up, rise to the occasion and criticize him or her for his or her mistake. But this should be done on their face and in front of them only. This criticism should not be at the back of that person. Thus the consolidated message from today’s episode is that, we should not talk ill about others in their absence. However, if there is a mistake that we find in others, we should be able to tell them and criticize them in front of them. This shows that we are honest and straightforward.
Thus Vidura questions King Dhirdiraashtra – “Oh King! You are now venting yourself out to me. But if Yuddishtra or Bhagawan Krishna were here at this same time, would you do the same? I’m sure you wouldn’t do that! You are asking these questions just because I’m the only person here at this time. This is because, you are scared that Yuddishtra would come to know that you are struggling. You do not want this to happen. Isn’t it? This is why I’m advising you King Dhirdiraashtra – Please keep your mind clear. Be transparent in what you say and what you ask! You should be able to talk the same thing without any fear, irrespective of the other person being present here or not!”
This is an extremely important advice by Vidura and hence for today let us ponder upon this important lesson from Vidura, before going on to the next lesson, that is to follow in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂