Episode – 18 – Excerpts from the “Samkshepa Ramayana” – Experiencing the beauty of Lord Rama

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In the previous episode we saw the continuation of the “Naarada-Valmiki Samvaadham” and as part of this we saw how the “Samkshepa Ramayana” was born. I had given a brief explanation about “Samkshepa Ramayana” that it comprises of 32 slokas (verses) and it narrates the entire story of Lord Rama’s life within this. In today’s episode we shall see some excerpts from it and let’s experience the beauty of our beloved Bhagawan, in the form of Lord Rama, as described by Sage Naarada.

Sage Naarada continues in his reply to Valmiki Maharishi’s sixteen questions. We’ve seen in the previous episodes that Valmiki Maharishi was focused to know more about the internal characteristics and qualities of Lord Rama rather than his physical or external characteristics or features. However if we closely look at Sage Naarada’s reply, it’s just the opposite – He starts his reply by describing Lord Rama’s external appearance first, and then goes into the sixteen internal noble qualities. Why does he do so? Let’s have a  look at the slokas to get a closer understanding. Narada’s detailed reply is as follows:

Ikshvaaku vamsapprabhavaha raamo naama janaishruthaha!

Niyataathma mahaveeryaha dhyuthimaan druthimaan vashi!!

Buddhimaan shrimaan vaagmi shriman shatru nibarganaha!

Vipulaamsaha mahabaahuhu kambugreevaha mahaahanuhu!!

Mahorasthaha maheshvaasaha goodaschathru arindamaha!

Aajaanu baahuhu sishiraaha sulalaataha suvikramaha!!

Shamassama vibhaktaankaha snigdha varnaha prathaapavaan!

Veenavakshaha visaalaakshaha lakshmeevaan shubha lakshanaha!!”

Here we can see the importance that Sage Naarada gives to Lord Rama’s physical appearance and dedicates eight slokas in describing the same, and then goes on to describe the sixteen noble qualities of Him. He also gives the justification for it by saying that it was Rama’s extraordinarily beautiful physical characteristics that attracted me towards Him, more than His noble internal qualities and he continues to say that perhaps if Valmiki Maharishi also gets to see the appearance of Lord Rama, even he would no longer talk about His inner qualities but talk only about the beautiful external features of Him.

Even in our day to day life, if someone says that Bhagawan is the ultimate “Parabrahma”, He’s omni-present, He’s the person who’s responsible for the entire birth and death cycle in this world, He’s an embodiment of the “Pancha Bhootaas” (Earth, fire, wind, water and air), etc., how much would our minds involve into “Bhakti” (devotion) towards Him and how would we be able to focus and pray? This is a human limitation – We’ve never seen Bhagawan in reality in today’s world and if we’re asked to focus on a thing that we’ve never seen or experienced in our lives, how would we be able to focus our mind upon? Of course, I’m not saying that all the above-mentioned statements are false, however, only if we have a photo or an idol of Bhagawan with beautiful physical features and a handsome looking face with a smile, we would be able to portray a mental image of Him and be able to focus on our prayer! Hence from this explanation, we can see how significant and relevant for a person to consider Bhagawan in all His beautiful physical appearance, so as to inculcate the “Bhakti” or “Devotion towards Him. For instance, if we talk about Lord Rama, what do we immediately relate to? A tall, well-built figure with a beautiful smile and His eyes full of “Karuna” (Mercy), a bow in His hand, the ever-beautiful Goddess Sita Devi to His right, and His younger brother Lakshmana to His left – Only if we remember this image, our minds and hearts are going to dwell in “Bhakti”!

Sage Naarada has beautifully portrayed Lord Rama’s physical appearance – “Mahorasthaha” – Meaning, very tall and well-built (96 “Ankulas” which can be equated to almost 8 feet in height) “Maheshvaasaha” – For that 8-feet height, He holds a bow in Hands that is just a little less than His height, “Aajaanu baahuhu” – Meaning, He has broad shoulders, “Sishiraaha.. Sulalaataha.. Suvikramaha..” – Meaning, all His body parts, right from His head, shoulders, arms, stomach, abdomen, thighs and legs are evenly and so beautifully built, “Shamaha.. Sama vibhaktaankaha.. Snigdha varnaha” – Meaning, His eyes are full with “Karuna” (Mercy) and kindness towards all His devotees, and His entire body is bluish black in color, “Veenavakshaha..” – Meaning, He has a broad chest; “Visaalaakshaha” – Meaning, He has beautiful and elongated eyes, that come as far as His devotees are situated.

Such is the beauty of Lord Rama in His external appearance!! There are a few more important aspects to be discussed as part of the “Samkshepa Ramayana” description of Sage Naarada, before moving forward. What are they? Let’s wait till the next episode!!

Episode 17 – “Naarada – Valmiki Samvaadham” – Sage Naarada replies Valmiki Maharishi

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Till the previous episode we saw a series of sixteen questions that Valmiki Maharishi asked Sage Narada, upon his arrival to meet him. We discussed each of the sixteen qualities in detail and also tried to relate it to the modern day leadership aspects. In today’s episode let’s continue the conversation between Sage Narada and Valmiki Maharishi as part of the “Naarada-Valmiki Samvaadham”, and see what Sage Naarada had got to reply.

 Sage Naarada says the following:

“Bahavo durlabhhaaschaiva yethvaya keerthithaa gunaaha!

Mune vakshyaamyaham budhvaa thairyukthashruyathaam varaaha!!”

Valmiki Maharishi initially surprises sage Naarada with his non-stop sixteen questions and now Sage Naarada composes himself to reply to him. He says “Bahavo Durlabhaaha” which means that, “All these sixteen noble qualities that you had mentioned so far, is very rare and is almost impossible to find integrated into one individual. However, I’m not saying that there’s no answer to your questions. But give me a few minutes to recoup myself and then let me give you the answer!” The phrase “Aham budhvaa” means, “I’ll let you know”. Hence, Sage Naarada conveys here that he’ll recoup his thought process for a moment and get back to Valmiki Maharishi. After saying this, Sage Naarada is silent for five minutes.

There’s an interesting and a deeper explanation to this, as follows:

Valmiki Maharishi looks at Sage Naarada and thinks for a moment if he doesn’t know the answer. He gets this sort of a feeling because normally when a Sishya (Student) asks a doubt, the Guru (Teacher/Master) should give an answer immediately. But here, Sage Naarada asks Valmiki Maharishi to wait for a few minutes. But Sage Naarada is not keeping silence because he doesn’t know the answer. The moment he listens to the sixteen questions from Valmiki Maharishi, he immediately knew the answer. But at that moment when the answer flashes in Sage Naarada’s mind, he is overwhelmed and his devotion knew no bounds for that person who’s supposed to be the answer! Hence, in the above sloka, the word “Budhva” doesn’t mean “I’ll get back after knowing the answer”. It means that, “I already know whom are you asking about, however, I’ll recoup and compose myself within a few moments and then give you the answer!”

 Now, Sage Naarada replies back: “Oh Valmiki Maharishi! You had asked me sixteen questions. But for all the sixteen put together, I have only one answer for you!” He says,

Ikshvaaku vamsapprabhavaha raamo naama janaishruthaha!”

 The answer is very simple! That person who is an embodiment of all the sixteen noble qualities is none other than the king who’s born in the “Ikshvaaku” dynasty, Lord Rama – Son of the great king Dasaratha! He’s born in the clan of Surya (The Sun God), and also born to the ancestral tradition of the great king Manu and Kaakutsa!

Sage Naarada continues and says to Valmiki Maharishi “Now, I’ll tell you in a brief accord about Lord Rama. Listen to me very carefully. The apt time will come for further actions on this and let’s wait!” Saying this, Sage Naarada narrates the entire story of the Ramayana within just thirty-two (32) slokas (verses). It’s called as “Samskhepa Ramayanam”, meaning “Ramayana in brief”!! (If that was the case today, it would have been extremely easy for us too and we needn’t have to write this many episodes!! 🙂 ) It’s only because it has more than 24,000 slokas (verses) composed as a “Mahaa Kaavyam” we’re taking this much of time to see it in detail. But having said that on a lighter note, we can listen to the Ramayana in nine days, nine years or we can even read one sloka per day – Such is the amount of in-depth and a rich meaning, this great Ramayana has. “Vengya Kaavyam” is Ramayana’s nickname – It means that the Ramayana has more in-depth meanings to each and every sloka, rather than just the outer meaning to it. We can infer thousands of inner meanings to each of the sloka and thus is the significance of this great epic!

What did Sage Naarada describe about Lord Rama in his “Samskhepa Ramayanam”? Let’s wait to find out in the next episode!!

Episode 16 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” – Significance of a “Bhakta” (Devotee)

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In the previous episode while continuing our discussion on the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble Qualities) of Lord Rama, we witnessed the significance of the “Aatman” or the “Inner Soul” of every living being in this world. In due course of that discussion we also emphasised that we should give equal importance to our Aatman and our Deham (Physical Body) and also stressed on the importance of “Seva” or “Service” to the mankind. Today we shall see the last three of the sixteen qualities and in that, we shall specially talk about the significance of a “Bhakta” or a “Devotee”How does Bhagawan respects his devotees?

We shall first talk about the remaining qualities:

  1. Dyuthimaan – A person who has immense “Tejas” (Radiance) in him/her. What is “Tejas”? Tejas is a phenomenon wherein a person develops a kind of “Magnetic power” that automatically attracts people towards him/her. How do we realise that a person has a “Tejas” in him/her? I remember a simple explanation which I heard during my childhood and it goes like this: If a person passes by a group of people, he/she should be able to gain their attention without uttering even a single word to them, and this attention should automatically make them stand up in respect for this person!! This is real “Tejas” or the “Radiance”. It is only this quality of Lord Rama that made Hanuman surrender to Him, the moment he saw Lord Rama coming towards him. I’ve discussed this in my previous blog series “Hanumad Prabhaavam” wherein, Valmiki Maharishi says that, the moment Hanuman set his sight on Lord Rama’s face, he felt that his bones were melting, he felt goose bumps all over his body and tears of joy and love started flowing automatically from his eyes. This is called “Tejas”.

In the modern day we can equate this “Tejas” to something called “Charisma”. Today we talk about something called “Charismatic Leadership” wherein certain leaders possess this “Tejas” or the so-called “Charisma” in them that makes their followers to follow them blindly. The mere presence of the leader amongst his/her followers enlightens them and serves the purpose of being associated with their leader. Thus, because of this Charisma, the leader gains the ultimate power to dictate terms and people are ready to even sacrifice their lives for their beloved leader. We can see this characteristic mainly in Spiritual Masters like Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Gautama Buddha, Vardhamaan Mahaveer, and also in the modern day spiritual masters like Shirdi Sai Baba, Puttaparthi Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, etc. wherein we see thousands of devotees thronging to have a glimpse of their Spiritual Master (Sathguru) everyday. Hence, this noble quality called “Dyuthimaan” takes center-stage in the ideology of Charismatic Leadership.

  1. Anasuyakaha – A person who doesn’t have even a bit of jealousy and/or greed in him/her and he/she is un-envious by nature. This is also an extremely important quality of a successful leader. The explanation for this can be continued from that of the previous quality – What makes a leader an admirable personality amongst his/her followers? Of course, the main quality is the “Charisma” and as part of the charisma, there might be a danger of a downfall. How? If the followers start following a leader blindly without any expectations, there’s always a slight probability that the leader, at some point of time might take them for granted and the greed and jealousy within him/her might start to grow and in turn, this might end up in a situation where the leader tends to misuse his/her power to attain selfish goals. In order to curb this, the quality of “Anasuya” plays a significant role. It makes the leader more balanced and calm headed and enables him/her to be down to the earth. Thus we can say that “Tejas” (Charisma) and “Anasuya” go hand in hand with each other, that is, the quality of “Tejas” would suffice well for a leader only if he/she is bounded by the quality of “Anasuya” (Absence of jealousy and greed).
  1. Bibyati devaha – A person who when gets angry, is even feared by all living beings in the world and even the “Devas” (the celestial beings). This is the last and an extremely important quality. This intends to convey the message that when Bhagawan gets angry, there’s nobody who can stand in front of Him during that particular time.

Here, you might be tempted to point out a controversy. What’s that controversy? In the previous episodes, when we spoke about a quality called “Jithakrodaha” I had mentioned that Bhagawan has his anger (Rajo Guna) under complete control and is calm and composed at any time. But here we’re seeing that if Bhagawan gets angry, nobody can stand before him. You might ask me a question: Either Bhagawan should get angry, or He should’nt get angry. How can we say both together? The simple explanation to this is that, Bhagawan normally never gets angry when He’s abused by anybody. But, the moment His “Bhakta” (Devotee) is abused by someone, His anger knows no bounds. We can see this in an example from the Ramayana itself: During the Rama-Ravana war, when Ravana attacked Rama with his arrows and other weapons, Rama was standing in front of him patiently without getting much angry, but the moment Ravana sent his first arrow on Hanuman – the ardent devotee of Lord Rama, it is only then that He got terribly angry and started to fight Ravana in the war! Hence, this characteristic “Bibyati devaha” is very important in describing the significance of a Bhakta or a Devotee and how Bhagawan respects his/her devotion and in turn protects them from danger.

With this, we’ve covered all the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” or the Noble qualities of Lord Rama and we learnt valuable lessons on modern day leadership. Upon asking the sixteen questions to Sage Narada, Valmiki Maharishi is waiting for an answer from him. Now, how did Sage Narada respond to Valmiki Maharishi’s questions? What was his answer? Let’s find out in the next episode!

 

 

 

Episode 15 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” – Significance of the “Aatman” (Inner Soul)

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In the last episode, we saw three very important noble qualities that are to be inherited within an ideal leader, and how significant are they in modern-day life. Today we shall continue this discussion forward by talking about a couple of very important noble qualities and how significant are they in the context of modern-day leadership.

  1. Aatmavaankaha – A person who knows the significance of the “Aatman” (Inner soul) and is a master of all living beings. This is one of the most important qualities that differentiates normal leaders from a well-established “Spiritual Leader” or a “Spiritual Master’. Knowing the inner significance of the “Aatman” is of paramount importance for all of us. Let’s view the philosophy of the “Aatman” (The Inner soul) in this way – If someone comes and asks us, what is the “Aatman” and who is it, what would be our reply?

Let me explain this question in a simpler way for better understanding: We see numerous things around us in this world everyday, like plants, animals, human beings and other various objects. For instance, if someone points out to a chair and asks us, “What’s this object?” Our reply would be that, “It’s a chair”. If someone points out to a cloth and asks us, “What’s this item?” We would give an emphatic reply that “It’s a piece of cloth!” Similarly if someone asks us “What’s Aatman?” What answer would we give? It’s important for all of us to find out a proper and a definitive answer for this! Let’s now try to see an answer for this question. In Sanskrit, Aatman is something, which is beautifully described as “Nyaathruthvam” which means “The embodiment of the knowledge of the supreme “(Parabrahma). The explanation doesn’t stop there. The Aatman is also described as “Aanandamayathvam” which means “The embodiment of permanent happiness”. There’s a third explanation to it – The Aatman is also described as “Seshabhootha” which means that every Aatman living in this world is a “Servant” of Bhagawan and is expected to perform “Seva” or “Kainkariya” to it’s Lord. That’s why all the Spiritual Masters (Gurus) emphasise the fact that all of us should do service to mankind. “Service to mankind is service to Bhagawan” is a well-known proverb for many!

Now let’s think deeper for a moment – Do we have this feeling within us today? In the modern day of hi-fi technology and work pressure day on day, do we really have this thinking in us? In the present day, all of us face loads of problems, difficulties and challenges in our day-to-day lives. Some people complain that someone has cheated them; they’ve lost all their money and wealth due to whatsoever reasons, and loads of many other complaints. We also constantly hear people saying every day that they’re suffering from mental depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. and they’re under medication. Why do we hear all this?

Firstly, it’s because of the way of life today and in fact that we’re all running towards something that we ourselves do not know! Secondly, in our life, we should give importance to two things equally – Our Aatman and our body (Deham). Normally, as we progress in our age we should give more importance towards the Aatman and lesser importance to our physical body. If I start talking all this now, then none of you would be interested in reading my blog further  🙂 – This comment is just on a lighter note, but however we need to start from somewhere. For this, we should atleast start treating the Aatman and our body equally. But if we completely focus our attention only on our physical body, if we never think even a bit about our Aatman, then even if there’s a small jolt with respect to our external physical body, we feel that the entire world is jolting around us and we’re unprepared to face the challenges that present before us. Whereas, if we develop an equal thinking about the “Aatman” and our body together, it would make us mentally stronger to face and overcome any kind of challenge in life. If we have the feeling that the “Paramaathma” (Bhagawan) is with us as a guiding light, we would never feel left alone in this world and we shall accomplish any task with ease!

Hence we can understand from the above philosophy that the main reason why people go into mental depression, blood pressure, etc. is because, they are completely unaware of the significance of the “Aatman” and the “Paramaatman”. It’s thus important for all of us to dedicate a portion of our time everyday to introspect within ourselves and think about Bhagawan (Aatma-chintanam) and if we start doing this, we can lead a life without any tension, mental pressure, etc. Let’s try doing this meticulously from today!

  1. Jithakrodaha – A person who is always calm and never gets angry for anything, that is, a person who has conquered his/her anger completely. This is an extremely important character of a successful leader. From the life of Lord Rama, we would be able to see in numerous instances how He had a complete control over his emotions – particularly anger. In modern day too, this is of paramount importance.

It can be observed that the calmer a person is, he/she becomes more and more invincible. This holds well in any domain – be it politics, sports, corporate, etc. Especially in sports nowadays we see many people/teams trying to play “mind games” with their opponents before the commencement of the game. Mind games are nothing but ways to provoke and kindle the emotions of the opponent. Why does this happen? It’s only because of the fact that if the calmness of the opponent is disturbed, it becomes easier for this person/team to win over. Hence, it’s thus important for all of us, in whichever domain we are, not to get carried away by the “mind games” of others and in turn, disturb our emotional stability. It’s thus important to stay calm and composed in whatever situation we are in and this is a very important pre-requisite to be successful!

What are the last three noble qualities of an ideal leader and how important are they in today’s life? Let’s wait and find out in the next episode!!

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 14 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” (Contd.)

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In the past three episodes we’ve so far seen eight of the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble Qualities) of Lord Rama, as described by Valmiki Maharishi, as part of the “Narada-Valmiki Samvaadham”. All these qualities that we’re seeing as part of this, are extremely important in terms of modern day leadership. In today’s episode we shall see some more noble qualities and their applicability to the modern day.

  1. Vidwaan – A person who has a mastery over all subjects. It is believed and also a well-known fact that Lord Rama was an expert in the usage of the bow and arrow, as a “Kshatriya Veera”. Along with the bow and arrow, he was also an expert in the usage of “Asthras” (Can be equated somewhat to the modern day missiles) and other weapons and hence was considered invincible during a war. Apart from this, Lord Rama is also considered an expert in all the “Dharma Shaastras”, the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas. He was also considered to be the best student of Sage Vasishta and Sage Vishwamithra. Such is the mastery of various subjects that Lord Rama has attained, and hence He’s rightly described as the “Vidwaan”.

How is this relevant to modern day leadership? In today’s studies on this subject, there’s a type of Leadership called “Expert Leadership” wherein the leader gains an “Expert Power” amongst his/her people because of the expertise he/she possesses in his/her domain. This is very crucial in today’s world. If the leader is an expert in whatever domain of work he/she is into, people would automatically come to them for gaining knowledge and for obtaining expert guidance. This is one way through which leaders emerge, rather than proclaiming themselves to be leaders. We can see through numerous examples wherein the leader sustains in his/her position more when he/she emerges as a leader, rather than someone appointing them as a leader. Hence, this quality “Vidwaan” finds lot of significance in the process wherein a leader emerges!

  1. Samartaha – A person who is capable of doing and accomplishing anything in this world. This is a unique quality possessed by Lord Rama. This can be considered as a continuation of the previous quality of “Vidwaan”, wherein, once a leader gains a mastery over his/her domain knowledge, with due experience he/she also gains the capability and confidence of accomplishing anything that comes their way, be it whatever challenge. Lord Rama is considered an epitome of this quality wherein, we can see the way in which he exhibits his mastery over fighting a war. Even as a child, He defeats the raakshasi (Demoness) Thaataka, her sons Maaricha and Subaahu who are also raakshasaas (Demons) single-handedly. He further proceeds to Mithila (Present day country of Nepal), lifts the “Shiva Dhanush” (The bow that is of Lord Shiva) with a single hand, as part of the “Syamvara”  (Marriage) of Goddess Sita Devi and in numerous other instances in his life and thus shows his expertise to accomplish any complicated task in the world with ease!

This quality can be viewed in the modern day context as a combination of “Expertise” and “Experience”. A leader with this combination is considered to be invincible and gains the capability to foresee and handle any complex and challenging situations in his/her career. We can see numerous examples of leaders who have struggled their way up and have been successful at the end. It’s because of this combination of expertise and experience, that they know exactly how to handle tough situations. Hence, this quality of “Samartha” gains extreme importance for a leader to be successful.

  1. Priyadarshanaha – A person who has a captivating, handsome and pleasant look. This might be quite familiar to all of us. So far we’ve been talking about the qualities that are to be exhibited by a leader, but is that enough? Physical appearance also matters in lot of things in life! Only if a person has that captivating physical appearance, people would be able to admire him/her along with what they do! Hence we can see here that the quality pertaining to the physical appearance is very predominant in terms of leadership. It’s a well-known fact that Lord Rama is a handsome, well-built person (96 “Ankulam” – A type of measurement, as per the Valmiki Ramayana that can be equated to almost nine to ten feet in height. Perhaps people in the “Tretha Yuga” were that tall!) Lord Rama is also described as “Aajaanu Baahum” and “Aravinda Lochana”, which means tall, well built and handsome in look. The moment we look at his face; it’s very difficult for us to take our eyes off Him!! Such is his handsomeness!!

This is why, in modern day corporate, we give so much of stress to physical appearance of a person. We have a formal clothing (blazer, tie, etc.) to enhance our physical appeal. The moment we have a good physical outlook, lot of other things automatically fall in place. This can be seen especially among those people who are into Sales and marketing, because, sales people have the direct interface with the clients of their organization. With a neat and a clean physical appearance, the sales person enhances not only his/her personal reputation, but also enhances the brand of his/her company, in front of the customer! It is only because of this significance, the quality “Priyadarshana” finds ample relevance in today’s corporate world.

What are the other important qualities mentioned by Valmiki Maharishi? Let’s find out in the next episode!

Episode 13 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” (Contd.)

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So far we’ve seen five of the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble qualities) of Lord Rama, from which we’re in the process of learning some important lessons for modern day leadership. Let’s look into some more from the sixteen in today’s episode:

 

  1. Drudavrathaha – It means, A person who is self-determined, steadfast in his/her attitude towards truth, righteousness and resolute. It is said that anything in this world can be achieved with a positive attitude or intent. We can see this quite significantly in Lord Rama’s life – When he was instructed to go on an exile to the forest for fourteen years by his mother Kaikeyi, he took it in an extremely positive sense and without talking another word, proceeded forward. And when Rama’s brother, Bharata came to him later on and requested Rama to return back to the kingdom, he refused to come back. Here we can see how Rama was self-determined and steadfast towards Dharma so as to accomplish His mission in the forest for the next fourteen years.

This can be easily correlated with the modern-day talk and debate about self-determination, positive attitude and self-confidence. We might have seen in day-to-day life, numerous success stories of people with respect to their self-determination – Be it the case of our great ex President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, our cricketing legend, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, etc. If we read through the stories of these great leaders, we might be able to see ample relevance to these two aspects – Positive attitude towards their goal and in turn, the self-determination to achieve. It is believed in the context of leadership that, if the leader exhibits a positive body language towards his/her team, the entire team gets that motivation to move forward. Hence, positivity finds extreme importance in successful leadership.

  1. Chaarithrenacha koyuktaha – A person with an impeccable character and without any blemish. All of us might be aware of a proverb – “If wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost; But, when character is lost, everything is lost!” Here we can see the importance given to “Character” of a human being and this is why Valmiki Maharishi lays so much stress on the character for a leader. It simply implies that, if a leader has to be a role model for his/her followers, he/she has to exhibit an impeccable character.
  1. Sarvabhuteshu hitaha – A person who is a benign well-wisher and takes care of all beings in the world equally. This again correlates to an extent with “Sousheelyam” which we discussed before. However, the important point to be stressed here is that, everybody should be equal under the eyes of a leader. This is an extremely important quality that was exhibited by Lord Rama throughout his life – He treats Guha – the hunter as his own brother, Sugriva – the monkey as his own brother and all the “Vaanaraas” (Monkeys) as his own brothers. There was no differentiation or discrimination against anyone in the eyes of Lord Rama, and also when He later became the King of Ayodhya after his fourteen years of exile, he made sure that he treated all people in his kingdom with equality. To add more to this point, Lord Rama is also known to have given equal status to women, in the erstwhile male-dominated society.

Modern-day world has given us both good and bad examples of this quality – Be it politics or corporate. Today we talk about “Dynasty politics”, “Family rule”, etc. which is proving to be detrimental to a country’s progress. We also speak about a concept in modern day Human Resources Management called “Nepotism” or “Favoritism”, wherein one person might be “favored” more than the other just on the pretext of closeness to a leader. Such things have the huge risk of demoralizing the entire organization and those people who put in their heart and soul to their work may develop a feeling of being left out from the organization, if they’re not given the appropriate recognition for their extraordinary contribution. All these finally lead to “job dissatisfaction” amongst employees and finally the organization might face the grave risk of losing its potential employees to the competitor. Hence, this quality of Sarvabhuteshu hitaha” assumes lot of significance in today’s leadership arena!

What are the other important qualities that make a leader successful? Let’s discuss in the next episode!!

Episode 12 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” (Contd.)

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In the previous episode we saw the context pertaining to Narada-Valmiki Samvaadham and as part of that, Valmiki initiates the conversation with Sage Naarada with a set of sixteen questions, indicating the sixteen important “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble Qualities) of an ideal leader. We discussed the first two out of the sixteen qualities yesterday. Today let’s talk about the subsequent three important qualities.

  1. Dharmagnya – A person who stands by his “Dharma” (Righteous path) at all times. This is a very important characteristic of a leader – Whatever maybe the situation, a true leader is the one who stands by his righteous path in terms of ethics, morality and character. Lord Rama’s life was an epitome of this quality. It’s only because Lord Rama was an embodiment of Dharma (Righteousness) himself, he never spoke even a word or went against even one wish of his father (Lord Rama walked away from the kingdom to the forest, just because his father wanted him to do that), he stood by his Dharma when He killed Vaali in the forest, He stood by his Dharma even when He lost his beloved wife to the wickedness of Ravana and He stood by his Dharma even while the war was going on between Himself and Ravana. Thus, when we’re starting to discuss the various instances, hurdles, etc. of Lord Rama’s life from here on, we can notice that each and every instance Lord Rama followed the Dharma meticulously and lived as an example for all of us to ponder and follow.

If we see in today’s world, in any field – Be it at home, politics, corporate, etc. how many of us really follow this? Today we’re exposed to situations wherein we see many people forced to do some unethical activities just on the pretext of “survival” and “quick growth”. It is only because of this reason, in today’s world we’re exposed to numerous scams, unethical practices like manhandling human labor, misinterpreting financial reports, etc. that cause irreparable damages and huge losses to organizations and their employees. From whatever path of Dharma we see in the entire Ramayana we should realize a very important point in life – There’s no short cut to success in any field and that, the real success can be achieved only by following the righteous principles pertaining to the respective fields.

  1. Kritagnya – A quality where one is always thankful or grateful or indebted for even the smallest of the “upakaara” (help) that he received from others. This is one of the best ways to establish a deeper connection between the leader and his/her followers. The respect and popularity of a leader grows manifold when he/she appreciates his followers for even a small help rendered by them. If we closely examine the life incidents of Lord Rama, we can see this quality in abundance – Especially when it comes to appreciating and thanking the Vanaras (Monkeys) for their extra-ordinary help in fighting the war with Ravana successfully, Lord Rama is extremely generous and respectful in his words of gratitude. A special mention to be made in this context is that of the relationship between Lord Rama and his ardent devotee – Hanuman. Towards the end of Lord Rama’s incarnation, He proclaims with tears in his eyes that He along with Goddess Sita Devi are indebted so much to Hanuman for all his selfless service he has done to both of them. Such is the quality of a great leader in terms of making his followers happy.

Most of us would have come across this proverb in our daily lives – “Small drops make a mighty ocean”. It’s only when a person does the small things right, he/she can achieve bigger things in life. Recognising the help done by someone at a later point in time might be a small activity, but this might go a long way in establishing a stronger relationship with that person in the future. Hence, as a good leader, let’s try and follow this meticulously.

  1. Sathyavaakyaha – A person who always, at any given situation talks only the truth. Here’s yet another important quality for a successful leader in terms of building the trust amongst his/her followers. When would a leader be able to build the trust and confidence amongst his/her people? It can be done only when the leader is true to himself/herself and also to his/her people. If the “Truth” factor goes missing at any point in time, then people would immediately lose the faith that they posed on their leader.

We could relate numerous instances of this quality in today’s world – Employees tend to work with credibility and take pride in working for their company only when they feel that their company is true and loyal to them and to the society. This directly correlates to the modern day concept of “Employee Satisfaction” or “Job Satisfaction”. If employees come to know that their CEO or leader is trying to achieve short-term growth by compromising professional ethics, employees’ welfare and concern, they tend to leave the organisation in a jiffy!! This might also prove to be one of the greatest reasons why successful companies have failed overnight – Because, even if there’s one misdeed and the CEO tries to “cover up” his/her misdeed with lies, employees lose faith exponentially quicker and quit! It is for this reason we always keep saying that it’s very difficult to build a brand for oneself and/or a company, but it just takes a minute to bring that brand down to dust!!

What are the other important qualities that make a leader successful? Let’s discuss in the next episode!!

Episode 11 – The sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” of Lord Rama – Important lessons on Leadership

rama-sita

In the previous episode, we witnessed the significance of Sage Naarada and in course, we also saw the essential qualities of an “Aacharya” (Spiritual Master). Further, we saw that Valmiki Maharishi poses sixteen questions to Sage Naarada as to who is that one person living on this earth currently as an embodiment of all the sixteen qualities. What are those sixteen qualities? Let’s discuss in detail from today.

I shall quote the slokas pertaining to the context and subsequently narrate and expand the qualities, for better understanding:

 

“Konvasmin saampradam loke gunavaan kasya veeryavaan!

Dharmagnyascha kritagnyascha sathyavaakyo dridavrathaha!! (1)

Chaarithrenacha koyuktaha sarvabhooteshu kohitaha!

Aatmavaankaha jithakrodaha dyuthimaan konasuyakaha!! (2)

Vidvaankaha kaschamarthascha tasyayika priyadarshanaha!

Kasyabibyrathi devaascha jaatharoshascha sanyuge!!”   (3)

 

Let’s look at each of the sixteen qualities one by one in detail:

  1. Gunavaan – (Sousheelyam)This is the crux of the very purpose of Lord Rama’s incarnation. Here, I shall quote the deeper explanation about this quality as described in Sanskrit for a better understanding:

“Mahathaha mandaissaha neerandrena samskleshaha svabhaavam” – Sousheelyam

Now, what is “Sousheelyam”?  A person is said to possess the quality of “Sousheelyam” when he/she comes down to the lowest level of his people and accepts everyone unconditionally. For instance, we can see this quality in Rama wherein when he goes to the forest, he accepts Guha, the leader of the hunters as his younger brother. He accepts Sugriva, the king of the Vaanaras (Monkeys) as his brother. He accepts Hanuman as one of his best devotees, who by nature is born in the clan of monkeys. He then proclaims Vibishana, a person who’s born in the Rakshasa (Demon) clan as his brother too. So, in all these cases we can observe that Lord Rama treats everyone equally without any variations, whoever they are and wherever they originate from, and hence this noble quality is called Sousheelyam.

In the modern day leadership perspective, this characteristic assumes extreme significance for a leader to remain relevant amongst his/her followers. Especially for people in politics and allied areas, wherein huge masses of people should accept a person as their leaders, it’s very important for this person to gain the trust and win the confidence of them. How will that happen? This is possible only if the leader establishes a “connect” with his/her people. How will this connect happen? It would happen only with the help of this characteristic called “Sousheelyam” – wherein the leader goes down to the level of each and every individual, interacts with him or her and make them realize that he/she also has a special place in the leader’s heart. It is only because of this special significance of this characteristic in a leader, Valmiki Maharishi has placed “Gunavaan” or “Sousheelyam” as the very first characteristic of an ideal leader. Hence we can also infer from this that, “Sousheelyam” is the primary and the foremost important characteristic of a good leader.

  1. Veeryavaan – This can be interpreted as “Strength”. It’s well known that Lord Rama was a great and a fierce warrior bestowed with extraordinary powers and strength. Hence, along with “Sousheelyam”, if “Veeram” (Strength) joins in, this combination might prove deadly to any enemy in this world.

It’s quite rare in this world (even today) to find a person who has this combination. For instance, many people might be very compassionate enough to move with all people equally, but they might lack in strength and intensity, whereas some people might be extremely fierce in strength, but they would be too proud about themselves and in turn loose their popularity amongst their people due to some of their misdeeds. We can relate numerous examples of kings, presidents, prime ministers of various countries of today to prove this. But ultimately who is a good leader? A good leader is a person who has a combination of “Sousheelyam” and “Veeram” and this is evident from Lord Rama’s life in many ways. We shall see in successive episodes, how relevant was Rama’s life with respect to these qualities.

What are the other important qualities (Kalyana Gunas) described by Valmiki as part of the sixteen questions? Let’s continue discussing in the next episode!!

Episode 10 – Event 1 – “Naarada – Valmiki Samvaadham” – The significance of Sage Narada

rama-sita

In the previous episode, we saw in brief the three main events that aided Vaalmiki Maharishi to commence writing the Ramayana – The first one being the conversation between Sage Naarada and Valmiki Maharishi, the second one being the curse given by Vaalmiki Maharishi to a hunter and the third one being the interaction between Lord Brahma and Vaalmiki Maharishi. Starting today, we shall see in elaborate detail as to what was the conversation between Vaalmiki Maharishi and Sage Naarada (The first event).

As described above, one day while Valmiki Maharishi and his “Sishya” (Student) Sage Bharadwaja were living together, the great Sage Naarada comes to visit both of them. This is the first “Sarga” (Chapter) of the “Baala Kaanda”. The following sloka (verse) depicts the significance of Sage Naarada.

“Tapaswaadhyaaya niratham tapasvee vaagvidaam varam!

Naaradam paripappracha vaalmeeker munipungavam!!”

The above sloka conveys the message that Vaalmiki Maharishi who’s described as “Muni pungavam” (The greatest of all sages) starts a conversation with Sage Naarada. The phrase “Tapaswaadhyaaya niratham” enumerates the unique significance of Sage Naarada. It conveys that Sage Naarada is an embodiment of “Tapas” (Ardent devotion) towards Lord Vishnu. “Swaadhyaayam” means chanting the Vedas over and over again, which in turn implies that Sage Naarada is a scholar of all the sects of the Vedas. The next phrase “Tapasvee vaagvidaam varam” means that, Sage Naaradha also has that unique art of effective communication, along with the knowledge of all the Vedas.

From the above explanations, we can infer one important dharma: What are the three effective characteristics of an “Aachaarya” (Guru or a Spiritual Master)? The first characteristic is that, he/she should be a master of all the “Shaastras”. Once the mastery over the Shaastraas is accomplished, the person should be excellent at implementing the principles as described by the “Shaastras”. Only then he/she can be an example to follow for his/her sishyas (students). If these two characteristics were present in the Aacharya, then he/she would easily attain “Moksha” (Salvation). But as their students, how will we be able to attain the salvation? Here is where the art of effective communication (Vaagvidaam Varam or “Vaak Chaathuryam”) is very important. Only then, the Aacharya would be able to teach and guide us effectively to the path of the ultimate salvation. Hence, it is said in the above sloka that Sage Naarada was an embodiment of all these three characteristics and thus, he’s referred to as the “Spiritual Master” of the highest level!

The conversation begins with Vaalmiki Maharishi asking Sage Naarada a set of sixteen questions, which indicate sixteen different “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble qualities). Vaalmiki Maharishi intends to ask Sage Naarada if there is one person currently living in this world, who’s an embodiment of all these sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas”. Normally, the number “Sixteen” is very special and auspicious. Here’s a popular saying:

“Shodasa kalaa paripurna chandra mandalam”

 This saying conveys the message that the Moon (Chandra) is an embodiment of sixteen “Kalais” (“Kalai” here means “Intense and brilliant Radiance of white light” from the moon). This radiance of the moon’s light would decrease gradually during the “Krishna-paksha” (The time period between the “Full-Moon day” and the “No-Moon day) and increase gradually during the “Shukla-paksha” (The time period between the “No-Moon day and the “Full-Moon day”). It’s well known to everyone that this process of increase and decrease of the moon’s radiation is the work of the Sun. If the moon is full with all the sixteen “Kalais”, then it’s called “Poorna Chandra”, meaning “Full Moon”. Now whom are we talking about? We’re talking about “Rama Chandra”. So for “Rama Chandra”, these sixteen noble qualities make him as beautiful as a “Poorna Chandra” (Full moon). Of course, Lord Rama is not only an embodiment of just sixteen noble qualities – It’s much more. In fact, the amount of “Kalyaana Gunas” that Lord Rama possessed is countless.

So, what are those sixteen qualities that Valmiki Maharishi mentions in his questions to Sage Naarada? Let’s see in detail in the next episode!!

Episode 9: The commencement of Valmiki Ramayana – Three main events!!

rama-sita

In the previous episode we saw the significance of Lord Rama’s incarnation and with that, we thus commence the sequence of activities that lead Valmiki Maharishi to start writing the Ramayana story. There are three important events that took place. Today I shall quickly explain all the three events in brief and in further episodes we shall start seeing each of the three in detail.

The first event is the meeting between Valmiki Maharishi and Saint Narada. As I’ve mentioned before, Valmiki Maharishi’s ashram is at a place called Bittur near Kanpur in the present day Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Sage Bharadwaja was Valmiki Maharishi’s “Sishya” (student). Both of them were residing in the ashram when one day the great sage Naarada Maharishi comes to visit Valmiki and his student Bharadwaaja. Both of them fall on the feet of the great Naarada Maharishi and seek his blessings. After the initial offerings and respects given by Valmiki Maharishi to sage Narada, Vaalmiki stands up and asks Naarada a set of sixteen questions and Naarada answers them. It is from this point the Valmiki Ramayana starts. Sage Naarada replies to Valmiki’s sixteen questions and further narrates the entire Ramayana story within just thirty-two slokas (verses). Naarada Maharishi says to Valmiki to just keep all these things in mind, and when the apt time comes, it can be taken forward.

After Sage Naarada leaves the ashram, Valmiki Maharishi and Bharadwaja go together to the river “Tamasaa” (A tributary of river Ganges) to take a bath. During this time, the second event takes place, wherein Valmiki and Bharadwaja go into a beautiful lawn and see two “Krauncha birds” sitting at a branch of a tree. Suddenly a hunter comes and shoots one of the birds with his sharp arrow and the poor bird falls on the ground dead. Seeing this, Valmiki Maharishi gets terribly angry and curses the hunter in the form of a “Sloka” and in a hurry, returns back to his ashram along with Sage Bharadwaaja.

On returning back, Valmiki Maharishi sits down and analyses the “Sloka” that he uttered in the form of a curse to the hunter. It is to be noted that he had never composed a sloka in his life till this time, and he was surprised that all the grammatical rules and regulations pertaining to the sloka were perfectly applied to it! At this point of time, Lord Brahma (The Universal Creator), comes to Valmiki’s ashram. Here’s the third event. Lord Brahma looks at Valmiki Maharishi for a moment and asks him why does he seem terribly furious. Valmiki Maharishi narrates what had happened in the lawn, and says that he had cursed a hunter for his misdeed. Hearing to this, Lord Brahma says that it’s only because of his grace and Lord Vishnu’s Will, that the “Sloka” was born. Thus, Lord Brahma changes a few words in that Sloka and initiates Valmiki Maharishi into writing the Ramayana story in detail. With the short version of the Ramayana (also called as “Samkshepa Ramayana”) narrated by Sage Naarada and also with the divine grace of Lord Brahma, Valmiki Maharishi sits down and begins to write the Ramayana story in an elaborated form, and this is how the Ramayana that we have today was born!

Now with this brief knowledge of all the three events, we shall now start witnessing all of them in detail. We shall begin with the conversation between Valmiki Maharishi and the great Sage Naarada. What did Valmiki Maharishi ask Naarada and what did he reply? Let’s find out in the next episode!