7 Effective Leadership Skills In Valmiki Ramayana – Ep 15

7 Effective Leadership Skills In Valmiki Ramayana – Ep 15 - Commitment

उत्साहः पौरुषं सत्त्वमानृशंस्यं कृतज्ञता।

विक्रमश्च प्रभावश्च सन्ति वानर राघवे।
— Valmiki Ramayan 5.37.13।।

Maryadhapurush Ram practiced seven traits which are essential for a good leader and they are

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Fearlessness
  3. Goodness
  4. Kindness
  5. Being Grateful
  6. Commitment to work and
  7. Prowess

as told by Sita Maa to Hanuman when Hanuman met her at Ashok Van.

Leadership Quality 6 – विक्रम – Commitment to work

Is Vikrama a strength or a habit?

One must be very careful with Sanskrit translation. Some words have multiple equivalents in Sanskrit but with significant difference and uniqueness with each usage. Correct translation must be selected based on the context. Similarly, some Sanskrit words can be used in multiple meanings and the right meaning need to be inferred based on the context. विक्रम is one such word.

One translation of the sloka 5.37.13 gives vikrama as competence and the other one translates as prowess. My biggest confusion is that the first translation is giving prowess as the meaning for the third trait ‘satvam’ whereas the second translation is claiming prowess as the meaning for ‘vikrama’! Both are correct translations but my interpretation would be totally different, neither prowess nor competence. When I refer to the online Sanskrit dictionary learnsanskrit.cc for the meaning of ‘vikrama’, I get about 30+ possible translations including prowess, courage, valour, etc!!

Vikrama is normally used to denote valour, prowess, strength, courage, etc. Valour and courage are related. Valmiki had already included ‘pourusham’ in his list of 7 habits to signify valour & courage. There is no need to waste the precious seven slots by repeating one trait. Similarly, prowess and strength are related and are not necessarily traits to develop and grow whereas all other 6 traits in this sloka are to do with habits to develop and grow. 

Why has Valmiki then included vikrama as another effective leadership quality?  There is an explanation if you trace the root for the word vikrama.

Vikrama signifies ‘Work is Worship’

vi as an abbreviated form of vis means ‘To work’. krama means step or stride. Vikrama thus means ‘stride for work’ (remember trivikrama is one of the name of Lord Vishnu because he took three giant steps to conquer). Vikrama thus signifies ‘dedication to work’.

Lord Rama portraying ‘Commitment to Work’

I am well convinced that this is the correct interpretation as Valmiki portrayed Lord Rama as a person who was ‘Dedicated to Work’ at multiple instances, one of which is Rama as a young boy showing dedication to hunt and kill Thadaka and other asuras.

‘Work is Worship” is the central theme to the karma yoga branch of the Yoga path of Hindu dharma.  In fact, Lord Krishna initiated Bhagavad Gita discourse to distraught Arjuna to emphasise the importance of ‘Commitment to work’.

Hard work, Dedication, Commitment and Determination are important characteristics for successful leaders. They are not the same but are interrelated.

‘Commitment to Work’ Is not just about hard work though hard work is essential for commitment. Hanuman is a classical example of what is ‘commitment to work’.

Hanuman could not find Sita during his initial search efforts in Lanka. Hanuman shuddered to think that he could go back to Rama and Sugriva without meeting Sita. He even contemplated suicide rather than returning to kishkinta without meeting Sita (I am not eulogizing suicidal tendency. I am totally against suicide as a remedy for failure). That is the level of his commitment to the task taken up.

Swami Vivekananda’s pertinent advice to youth:

  • ‘Work hard. Be holy and pure, and the fire will come.’
  • ‘Do not be anxious, do not be in a hurry. Slow, persistent and silent work does everything.’
  • ‘Practice hard, whether you live or die does not matter. You have to plunge in and work, without thinking of the result.’
  • “The only way to rise is by doing the duty next to us, and thus gathering strength, go on until we reach the highest state”
  • “Work for work’s sake. Worship for worship’s sake. Do good because it is good to do good. Ask no more.”


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