MONDAY MUSINGS Ep. 7 – Management Immemorial

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Bhishma Neeti

Warm Greetings for all the leaders on the auspicious day of RAM NAVAMI!
It is appropriate to conclude my series on corporate governance from Valmiki Ramayan with a fervent pranam and prayer to Lord Shri Ram on Ram Navami day. Let us take a pledge on Ram Navami to shun the 14 leadership traits admonished by Lord Ram.  Continuing with the same theme ie corporate governance lessons from Valmiki Ramayan.

Bhishma Neeti– Rules for Governance

Valmiki Ramayan has the rules of governance for kings in the form of advice from Lord Ram to Bharath in Ayodhya Kandam, Sarga 100. Surprisingly, Mahabharath has much more organized briefings on ‘Rules of Governance’. Mahabharath has 3 different sets of ‘advice on rajdharma’ namely Vidura Neeti, Kanika Neeti and Bhishma Neeti. These are the guidelines for good governance for kings told by Vidura, Kanika and Bhishma respectively.  Let us see the salient points of good governance principles in Bhishma Neeti.

Shanthi Parva

Shanthi Parva in Mahabharath starts after Kurukshetra war,

After the Kurukshetra war, Yudhishthira was overwhelmed with sadness and remorse at the amount of bloodshed and damage that the war caused. He wanted to take sannyasa (renunciation) and did not want the kingdom. He reluctantly accepted the coronation ceremony, only after much persuasion from other pandavas, Draupadi and Maharishi Veda Vyasa.

Krishna knew that the acceptance is temporary and Yudhishthira could end up sacrificing the kingship any time. Hence, he asked Yudhishthira to go meet Bhishma and learn the rules of good governance from him.
The Pitamaha at that time, was lying on the bed of arrows counting his days literally, waiting for utharayana punyakalam.  Having vast knowledge of all things concerned with ruling and governance, Bhishma talked to Yudhishthira in detail about this subject and convinced him to lead the country for giving good governance. This advice is known as Bhishma Neeti.
Shanti-parva is a dialogue between Yudhishthir on the one hand and his brothers, wife Draupadi, Lord Krishna and Bhishma pitamah on the other.

Rajdharmanusana Parva

Rajdharmanusana Parva is the first upaparva of shanthi parva and is full of advice on rajdharma by Bhishma. There are 130 chapters in this Parva consisting of almost 4700 verses.

Bhishma’s discussion with Yudhishthir starts with the origin of and the need for kings and kingdom, essentially the need for leadership.  Can we have an empowered team functioning without a Leader? There are modern doctrines on collective leadership. Is ‘collective leadership’ feasible and workable? Let us first see what is Bhishma saying about the need for leadership.

Why do we need a leader?
Birth of Vaishalaksha

Adhyaya 59, Slokas 13 onwards explains the need for a leader.

Bhishma said “There was no sovereignty and no king initially, All men used to protect one another piously, no punishment and no punisher. Slowly, men got obsessed with lust and anger. Demigods sought the help of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu created a work of hundred thousand chapters to address the problem covering religion, profit, pleasure and liberation (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha). It included legislation and eight types of open punishment and eight types of secret punishment to preserve the legislation. This work included mention of kings and kingdoms for governing the laid down principles. Lord gave that science to Indra and the demigods assuring them that the principles will work for good with the power of ‘Rewards and Punishment’.  Lord Shiva abridged this science to ten thousand chapters called Vaishalaksha. Lord Vishnu then created one who deserves to reign supreme over others”
Thus, the legacy of leaders started. Who was that one chosen to reign supreme over others and what are his lessons? We will see in our next episode of Monday Musings. 




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