Monday Musings -28- Commitment to Work

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Our previous MONDAY MUSINGS episode discussed about the importance of ‘Commitment to Work’ and how we celebrate the commitment to work at the end of Navrathri celebrations.

Here is a story on the same concept from Mahabharatha, a story of how a butcher became a great philosopher and taught a learned sage because of the commitment shown to his duties.


Kaushika was a Brahmin sage and studied vedas and mastered the vedas for 14 years. One day, he sat under a tree for tapas. `Droppings’ from a crane sitting on the tree fell on the sage and disturbed his meditation.  The sage stared at the crane angrily. The poor crane burst into flames because of the power of the sage’s tapas.

He looked at the bird horrified. But deep down he could not help but feel proud of his new-found power. He had managed to burn a crane merely by looking at it.  Yes.  Not crazy?  Power of focused thoughts.

Kaushika got up and went to the nearby village to seek alms. He stood outside a house asking for alms. (In those days feeding an ascetic was considered a priority and punyam). The lady of the house came out to give alms but then her husband came home, tired and hungry. The lady went inside instantly informing the sage to wait. She attended to her husband while the sage waited outside. The lady came back to the sage with food after attending to her husband, but the sage was very angry with the treatment given by the lady. Kaushika stared at the lady angrily. Alas.  Nothing happened. Smilingly, the lady responded, “Did you think I am a Crane”? (கொக்கென்று நினைத்தாயோ கொங்கனவா!! A very famous term in Tamil)

Kaushika was flabbergasted thinking how the lady knew his past. The woman smiled and said that she got the power of clairvoyance simply by performing her duty of taking care of her family sincerely.  She continued ‘You are a sage. A well-read man,. but you still have to learn the true meaning of life! Mastery of the Scriptures is necessary for a virtuous life but reading alone would not help you achieve it. It is quite natural for a crane to excrete in the open. A man who had truly understood the Scriptures would know that none of these things would affect him in any way….But you got angry…”

Kaushika was dumbfounded. He requested the woman to teach him the real virtues. Woman refused quoting her duties and redirected him to Dharmvyadha (vyadha means butcher) in the city of Mithila.

Kaushika went to Mithila and enquired about Dharmvyadha. Everyone in the city knew about the man. He was a well-respected man. Kaushika saw the man outside his shop cutting meat pieces and attending to his customers. Kaushika was skeptical. Kaushika introduced himself and sought the help of the butcher to teach him virtues. The butcher nodded his head. ‘You must be the sage whom the lady sent. Please wait….I am serving my customers. I am afraid I may be of any help to you only after I finish my work.’

Kaushika watched the man in a kind of trance. The man was a butcher. However, the man did not look the least bit ashamed of what he was doing. In his face shone a strange light.

The Butcher sold all the meat, closed the shop and walked back to his house with the sage. The butcher’s parents looked thrilled on meeting the sage and they along with the butcher’s wife looked after the sage well. The butcher’s children were well mannered. The sage ate with the family. The food was simple and enough for him. The entire family was very happy. Kaushika suddenly remembered his own parents. He had left them to study the Scriptures. He longed to know about his mother.

After food, Kaushika requested Dharmvyadha to teach him real virtues.

The butcher smiled and gave the simple secret. “Every person who does his duty cheerfully with his whole heart leads a virtuous life….”

Kaushika frowned. “But you are a butcher! How can you?….”

The butcher smiled. ‘It is my profession. My parents before me and their parents have all been butchers. I am just doing my family profession. There is no shame in it. I do it as my duty. My parents, my wife and my children….They are my life and I do everything that I can do to keep them happy.

Kaushika felt enlightened. He reverently looked at the butcher. ‘What a shame that I thought great of me, Here is a man who is totally in control of himself and does not let his emotions rule him….That is the sign of a learned man. A man who runs away from his responsibilities can never know the true meaning of virtue. Only and only when you do your duty and do it wholeheartedly, you can begin to know the true meaning of virtue….”

Kaushika thanked Dharmvyadha profusely and went back to his aged parents to look after them.

This story is known as `Vyadha Gita’ and was told by the sage Markandeya to Yudhisthira in Vana Parva section of Mahabharatham. This is told as a teaching for the Pandavas (indirectly great teaching for all of us).

We will see the learnings from Vyadha Gita in the next episode of MONDAY MUSINGS.



Management and Leadership Topics covered in the previous posts

  1. The right attitude — Ch 1Ch 2  Ch6 Ch10  Ch11  Ch14  Ch15  Ch18  Ch23 Ch 25  Ch 28
  2. Governance — Ch 3  Ch4  Ch7  Ch13
  3. Leadership — Ch 5  Ch 8  Ch10 Ch14  Ch15  Ch24
  4. Management — Ch 7  Ch13  Ch16
  5. Intelligence & Wisdom — Ch 9  Ch10  Ch11  Ch14  Ch15  Ch16  Ch24  Ch 25
  6. Happiness & Success — Ch10  Ch14 Ch15  Ch18  Ch23 

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