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Main Question

What elements of 'Mahabharata' make it


timeless and what are the basic lessons we can
learn from it?

Answer 1

'Item added to your Reading List.

Answer 2

The reason I like Mahabharata, because it has subtle lesson.


I was unable to find story online, so I typed on my own. Apologies for poor drafting, I was never
good at story telling.
Once Arjuna asks Krishna why Yudhishthir is called Dharmaraj (Religion king) and Karna
Daanveer (Donation king), as both never refused alms to anyone. Krishna says wait for some time I
will let you know.
After a month when in whole kingdom was raining heavily, both (Krishna and Arjuna) in disguise
of Brahmins (wise men/priests) first go the Yudhishthir that we are doing a Yagn and need 100Kg of
Sandal wood. Yudhishthir immediately sent his servants across the kingdom, and later refused
saying it is difficult to find dry Sandal wood anywhere. Let me know if I can arrange anything else
for you. Both brahmins said no thanks and left the place.
Then they went to Karna and made the same demand. Karna thought for a while and said it is
raining heavily outside, it is least likely to get dry Sandal wood. He takes out his bow and arrow and
cuts all windows and doors of his palace and compiles them for the brahmins.
Later Krishna says to Arjuna, it is not that Yudhishthir would have refused if we would have asked
for wood from his doors and windows. But this idea didn't strike Yudhishthir in first place.
Yudhishthir donates because it is written in Dharma (religion), Karna donates because he likes to do
it.
The message of the story is very subtle. So many times in office and other places we see people who
just put superficial effort to show others and make themselves feel good about that they have done
the effort. They don't put their heart and soul in it. Somewhere, getting things done is not in their
mind, they do it just because they have to.
------ * ------- * -----EDIT:
Thanks for the overwhelming response. (Yes 65 votes is a big number for me :)
Please allow me to share one more of my favorite less known stories from Mahabharat.
During Pandavas exile, while strolling Bheema finds an old monkey with his tail blocking the road.
Filled with false pride and arrogance, Bheema asks the monkey to remove the tail from his path.
Monkey replies, I am too old I am good for nothing, please move my tail . Bheema tries to move
the tail, but is unable to move it. Dejected, he goes to Yudhishthira, and tells him about the
incidence. Then Yudhishtir tells him, that couldn't be a normal monkey, it must Lord Hanuman in
disguise. Go and apologise for your rude behaviour and ask for an advice from the learned one.
Following his brother command Bheem does the same, he goes back and apologises to Lord
Hanuman for his rude behaviour and asks for forgiveness. Then as instructed he asks for advice
from Lord Hanuman. In response Lord Hanuman holds tongue with one hand and genital organ
with the other hand. Bheema gets confused, he humbly asks again for the advice but gets the same
response. After couple of attempts he gets frustrated and leaves. He then tells Yudhishtira, I
apologised for my rude behaviour, but it seems Lord Hanuman still had grudge against me. And
tells Yudhishthira about Hanuman's response. Then Yudhishthira says, you still don't you get it.
Lord Hanuman meant that the one who can control these two senses, leads a successful and peaceful
life.

Answer 3

1. Don't sign a blind contract (Bhishma did, and had to suffer for the rest of his life)
2. Don't be disrespectful (Draupadi was, towards Duryodhana, got repaid worse, much worse)
(Shakuni was, towards Dhritarashtra, his sister went blind, he spent the rest of his life planning
revenge)
3. Self pity sucks (Dhritarashtra)
4. Your right, power and role is just to put your best efforts, expectations of results are futile.
(The famous Karmanyevadhikaraste .. )
5. Don't worry about your weaknesses, they are helping you in disguise (Arjun's impotency)
6. Don't risk what you can't afford to lose (Yudhishthira did, won years of problems for his
family)
7. He who is reverent for you, may be a villain for others. (Dronacharya for Arjun v/s
Dronacharya for Karna and to some extent, Eklavya)
8. Don't play around if playing around means getting pregnant. (Kunti did, ended up with
Karna)
9. Even if you are super smart, it's no good if you have to listen to idiots. (Vidura, second
smartest fellow in Mahabharat was rendered frustrated by Dhritarashtra, Pandavas because they had
to listen to Yudhishthira)
10. Don't be angry. (Said by Vidura, "Krodh agar Vir purush pi jaaye, toh wah amrit samaan hai.")
11. There is a difference between sanity and righteousness. (I think, this is my own conclusion
based upon Yudhisthira)
And the best of them all:
No matter who you are, don't play jokes with your mum. Seriously. (Arjun did, had to share
Draupadi)

Answer 4

You have very aptly described Mahabharat as timeless. It is an epic that provides relevant
lessons and much entertainment even in the 21st century. The reasons are many. I will attempt to
enumerate some of them here and I am sure everyone who answers will have their own reasons.
That is the beauty of the writing.
Plot 1. - A plot is a basic necessity in storytelling. This is an element where Mahabharat scores
heavily. The plot is rich and complex. There are numerous sub-plots and diversions which add to
the texture of it. It is very interesting to understand how small actions can have a major effect
somewhere in the future. Each and every small incident has a major significance. For just a small
example - when Krishna conjures the Sudarshan Chakra for beheading Shishupal at Yudhishithra's
yagya, his finger gets injured due to the chakra. Promptly, Draupadi tears off her sari and ties it on
Krishna's wound to stem the bleeding. Krishna promises to pay her back in the future for this. A
little later, when Draupadi is in desperate need of cloth, Krishna comes to her aid and pays back the
favor with cloth that never ends. Hence, no incident in Mahabharat, however small, is insignificant.
Characters 2. - The characters are incredibly well developed. They are multi-dimensional. They
have shades of grey like real people. No character in the Mahabharat is all good or all bad. Even
heroes like Krishna, Arjun and Yudhishithra make mistakes, sometimes huge and even villians like
Duryodhan have redeeming qualities. Each and every character has its back story. It would be a
very long post if I were to explore these back stories. Sometimes these back stories span eons and
involve boons that were given to these characters in their previous lives. Shikhandi, for example,
ends up being the cause of Bhishma's death as a result of his previous birth as Amba where he had
been wronged by Bheeshma. Amba had been abducted by Bheeshma for his brother Vichitravirya.
However, because she was in love with Salva, Vichitravirya refused to marry her. Salva also refused
to marry her as she had been abducted by another man. She came to Bheeshma to beg him to marry
her and end her condemnation. However, because of his vow of celibacy, Bheeshma refused to do
so. Amba then went into deep penance to be able to avenge her wrongs and was henceforth born as
Shikhandini to Drupada. She became Shikhandi when she remembered her past life. Arjun, behind
shikhandi, finally was able to fatally wound Bheeshma as Bheeshma would not take aim against
someone who was born a woman. This back story can give an example of how rich each character is
in Mahabharat and how well each character has been etched out. Another recommendation would be
Shakuni's back story and what made him the way he was.
Context and Relevance3. - The lessons from Mahabharat are many and varied and each person can
derive something different from the epic. In fact, in multiple readings of the epic, each reading will
give the reader something new. I feel the lessons contained in the Bhagvad Gita are relevant even
today. Especially 0M.#M/G 5>'?>08M$G . +2G7A &>(>, 0M.+2G9M$A0 -A0.> $G
8K8M$M50M.>(@. Roughly translated, it means - You have a right to perform your prescribed
duty, but you must not be overly distraught or concerned with the results of your actions as they are
for Me to decide. 4. Of course, the 'Me' here refers to god. However, even if you are an atheist, you
would be able to appreciate how actions do not always lead to proportionate reactions. Instead of
dwelling on the past, it is more prudent to move ahead. I have always found this statement to be
very useful in everyday life. Hence, the Mahabharat is full of everyday lessons which are relevant
whether to your believe in God or not or are agnostic.
I firmly believe that the Mahabharata is an epic that you would enjoy reading, not just for the
religious significance but for the pure fun of reading an incredibly well written piece of literature.
The richness of the plot, the diversity of the characters and the relevant lessons make
Mahabharat a timeless epic that everyone can learn something from.
For more relevant learnings, you should also check the question - What management & leadership
traits / skills can I learn from Mahabharata, that I can apply in my job / business / personal / social
life?

Answer 5

Half knowledge can always be a dangerous thing.


Abhimanyu knew how to enter into the Chakravyuha, but not exit from it. It cost him his life. The
rest of the Pandavas could not follow him inside, blocked as they were by Jayadratha.
Give a man a long rope.
Krishna spared Shishupal of his mistakes, due to the promise he had given to the latter's mother of
sparing him for a 100 crimes. Yet Shishupal unaware of the fact kept needling Krishna at Yudhistir's
Rajasuya Yagna, Krishna was quiet all the while, and when he knew that Shishupal had crossed the
limit, he slayed him.
Brain is always better than brawn.
The Kauravas had a stronger army, more warriors, and they had Krishna's formidable Narayana
Sena, yet the Pandavas had Krishna. That proved to be a vital difference, he was one person who
knew every weakness of the opponents. And he applied the tactics smartly, be it against Bhishma,
Karna, Jayadratha or Duryodhan.
Half truth is more harmful than a lie.
Yudhistir's "Aswatham Hatha Kunjara" moment, when he emphasized on the Aswathama Hatha(
Aswathama Has been Killed) part, while the Kunjara( elephant) part was drowned out. It led Drona
to give up his arms voluntarily, and lose his life.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
The insult of Draupadi in the assembly, would prove to be the curse for the House of Kurus. Her
anger and desire for revenge would ultimately prove to be fatal for the Kauravas, as the entire race
was wiped out in the great battle.

Answer 6

A thank you to Ankit Bhutani for the A2A.


Before delving into the details of the question, I'd like to address the timelessness of the
Mahabharata in a generic sense.
The beauty of the epic lies in its contemporary relevance across ages.
In a saga about a family feud lie various intricate scenarios that an individual is likely to come
across from time to time - scenarios often of a dichotomous nature.
And when an individual makes a choice, the epic presents its implications - for the individual and
the society. As long as the concepts of individualism and society exist, so shall the relevance of the
great epic.
Specific to the question, following are a few points that I believe are worth considering.
Leadership:
1. Being a leader isn t akin to being on a bed of roses.
Running an enterprise efficiently often means taking selfless decisions that may go against one s
personal whims. While they may superficially appear to wield power, leaders are answerable to the
highest of entities the society.
Dhritrashtra put his son before society, and the man to chide him about it - Bheeshma - put his
father, all because of the lust of an otherwise ideal king for a woman who wanted her son to rule.
When leaders put self before society, well, we know how that turned out in the epic.
Counter: Not all women let their love for their child jeopardize the society. Some turn out to be a
Gandhari.
2. At times one needs to rule with an iron fist.
The Pandavas (though in exile at the time) spared Jayadhrath once. He came back to haunt them
later, being the prime architect of Abhimanyu s death.
Counter: Lord Krishna dealt with Jarasandh, realizing a war was at hand and also showed no
mercy to Shishupal more than he'd promised the latter's mother. They could've come in handy for
the Kauravas.
Management:
1. Never attempt a problem of which you don t have a complete understanding.
How the Pandavas allowed a teenager to enter one of the most technically complicated attacking
formations by a master military strategist, fully aware that he didn t know how to force his way out,
is beyond me.
Counter: Lord Krishna didn't let Arjun confront Karna directly, until the latter had exhausted his
infallible but one time only Shakti Astra on Ghatotkachh.
2. When confronted with a choice between your fundamentals and the greater good of society,
choose the latter, for quite often the desire to stick to one s fundamentals simply turns into an
issue of boosting one s ego.
Abhimanyu s aforementioned death is an example, for his father couldn t resist accepting a call for
a duel and quit the scene for a while, all because he was a Kshatriya .
Bheeshma took a vow to perpetually serve the crown. Even as he witnessed signs of an impending
social doom, he chose to stick to his vow owing to a false sense of self righteousness.
Counter(s):
Lord Krishna took a vow as well - to stay unarmed throughout the battle at Kurukshetra. But he
did break his, beyond anything, to elucidate to his devotee Bheeshma that the welfare of society is
above petty vows ( the fact that he did this to respect another of Bheeshma s vows is secondary
IMO)
Lord Krishna even went as far as to accept the title of Rannchhod Das (he who fled the
battlefield) to protect his native land of Mathura.
Lord Krishna also suggested Bhima, during his duel with Duryodhana, to break the rules of mace
combat and hit the latter below the waist.
By the way, Arnold Schwarzeneggar Break the rules. Not the law, but break the rules. (during
his tips to succeed speech)
3. Don t let success lead you to believe that you re the best.
After all, Yudhishthir did defeat Shakuni comprehensively at the game of dice in Indraprastha, and
was pretty vain about it.

Counter: Arjun never let his valor in the one man show in the Virat battle affect his strategic
judgment during the battle at Kurukshetra. The result was different from that during the game of
dice at Hastinapur.
Personal (no counter examples required IMO):
1. Be careful what you wish for and mind your tongue.
I d like to thank lady Draupadi for shedding(no puns intended) light on the immediately preceding
points, with her five husbands and jive at an ill tempered brother in law. Shishupal with his 100
expletives set a benchmark for the current crop of youngsters.
2. Fraternize with equals
Unless you re the prince in a prince and pauper friendship or your friend happens to be Lord
Krishna in which case you can afford to be a Sudama - always be wary of people who are
better-off in some way.
3. Listen to your mom ( and if you already do, don't play jokes on her.)
On a lighter note, if only Duryodhan had obeyed his mother s wish for him to appear stark naked in
front of her before his big main event fight.
Also, sharing a wife is so dated, more so for a timeless classic like Mahabharat.
Beyond that, what was narrated by Sage Ved Vyas and penned down by Lord Ganesha is not for a
mere mortal like to me to envelop.

Answer 7

Color of truth is grey.

Answer 8

I consider the Mahabharata the best epic ever and Till now I have read three different versions of it.
1. RashmiRathi by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
2. Mahabharata by C Rajgopalachari
3. Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Sawant
All this version has something unique in themselves , a different perspective of the human emotions
and the characters. I believe that every reader of this drama will find himselves having developed a
perspective that will vary with the people around him because this is what Mahabharata is all about,
Perception.
Every character has an interesting story, and despite a few supernatural elements, every human
character is...human. Human, with all the flaws and strengths, and no one is more so than the
protagonist of Mahabharata, Krishna.

Answer 9

A good mentor is worth an entire army or may be more!


Whom would you choose between a talented army versus a great mentor? While Duryodhana chose
Krishna s large Yadava army, Arjuna chose Krishna (who, by the way, had vowed not to pick arms
in the war). Keeping aside Krishna s divinity for a moment, this was still the right decision. Arjuna
knew very well that both sides had fearsome warriors who could singlehandedly decimate the
largest of armies. What he and the Pandavas needed was a friend, a philosopher, a beacon who
could show then the way from time to time and keep their hopes from flagging. The master
strategist that he was, Krishna became all of these and more, and it can be easily said that he led the
Pandavas to victory without lifting a single weapon.
Virtue + Silence = Vice!
It is no use simply being good, pious, virtuous, talented, etc. These qualities are incomplete without
them being put into action. An ancient proverb says A good man s silence is worse than the lies of
a hundred evil men . History knows that Bhishma and Drona were among the most virtuous and
courageous men that India, and probably the entire world, has ever seen. However, in spite of all
their goodness and virtue, they ended up on the losing side; on the side that came to be associated
with evil. All they had to do was to stop Duryodhana and Shakuni when they cheated in the game of
dice or when Duryodhana repelled all attempts to stop the war. However Bhishma s loyalty towards
the kingdom and Drona s loyalty towards the king came in their way. This misguided loyalty
stopped them from doing their duty towards humanity and the end results are there for all to see.
Talent by itself is meaningless; it gets meaning from how you use it!
Archimedes is remembered today as a great scientist whose inventions helped humanity. However,
not many people know or remember that he also developed weapons of mass destruction as well as
instruments of brutal torture. His talent, or legacy, is remembered positively only because his
inventions for the benefit of mankind outweigh his more damaging ones. This story, in reverse, also
applies to Karna; one of the most compelling and complicated characters of the Mahabharat. Karna
is remembered today as a generous man or Daanvir , and also as an evil man who ordered the
disrobing of Draupadi in the presence of all the kings of India. Karna is remembered today as a
great warrior who was as good as, if not better than, Arjuna and also as a part of pack of wolves
who attacked and killed an unarmed and injured 16-year old Abhimanyu. Had Karna used his
courage, wisdom and generosity in the right way, and kept his perceived sense of injustice in check,
the Mahabharat would probably have never been written!
Think before you commit! A commitment may change your life and that of everyone around
you!
Ek bar jo maine commitment kar di, phir main apne aap ki bhi nahi sunta! Famous words by
Salman Khan. Very often we end up making promises or taking on commitments that we have no
idea how to handle or how they will pan out in the future. These very commitments generally come
back to haunt us, especially when we make these commitments impulsively or when someone
throws us a challenge. Had Bhishma thought for a minute before taking a vow of life-long celibacy
and of abstaining from being king, he would have automatically brought peace and prosperity to his
kingdom and would not have seen his clan get destroyed for an empire. His empire!!
An excess of any emotion is more dangerous than the absence of that emotion!
Who is more lethal? Someone who does not love you or someone who loves you to the point of
insanity? Someone who does not care for what you do or someone who obsessively fusses about
every small thing that you do? It has to be the latter because an overdose of any emotion clouds
rational thinking. Anyways, by nature, man is an irrational animal! When you couple this fact with
obsessive love or hatred, you end up with not an irrational man but with an irrational and obstinate
mule, who simply refuses to see reason. How else would you classify Dhritarashtra, whose
obsessive love for Duryodhana led him to reject all sane wisdom from his elders and well-wishers
and made him encourage Duryodhana s plans that ultimately led to the war? How else would you
classify Duryodhana whose insane hatred of the Pandavas stopped him from seeing reason and
indulge in a suicidal war?
Any skill learnt (or knowledge gained) is never wasted!
If you think that some small thing that you learnt in your childhood or some talent that you
developed in your adolescence is now useless, stop and think again. If nothing else, go back and

read the Mahabharata. Read how Arjuna who learnt classical music and dance in Indra s palace and
felt that it was all a colossal waste of time had to use that very art in Virata s kingdom to survive the
final year of exile. Read how Abhimanyu who learnt the art of penetrating the Chakravyuha in his
mother s womb used it 16 years later in a deathly charge simply to protect his uncle Yudhistira?
Nothing you learn ever goes to ground! It gives fruit! You just need to know when and how to pluck
that fruit!
Strategy means utilising the right tool (or person) at the right time!
Strategy is not about having the best people or material or systems and processes. It is about using
them at the right time and in the right way. During the war, Arjuna and Bhima both lost their sons
Abhimanyu and Ghatotkach respectively. Both these boys fought like veteran warriors and gained
the respect of their elders and peers alike. However they also served a greater purpose. It can be said
that Krishna needed Ghatotkach to die at Karna s hands so that Arjuna would not have to face
Karna s lethal Shakti astra. It can also be said that Abhimanyu had to die in violation of all the
decided laws of war so that the Pandavas could use this as precedence and break these very laws to
kill Dronacharya, Karna and Duryodhana. It can be argued that Krishna could have prevented these
young boys from dying. But it can also be argued that had these two events not occurred, the
outcome of the war would have been totally different!
The Mahabharat is like a vast ocean from which we can keep on picking pearls of wisdom every
time we dive in it. Its greatness probably lies in the fact that its lessons are as applicable in practical,
realistic terms in today s world as they were a couple of thousand years ago and as they will be a
couple of thousand years later!
Source : Internet

Answer 10

Know your real dharma.


When we refer to the Mahabharata, the main focus is on the Mahabharata war of 18 days and all the
events leading up to it. Mahabharata which is referred to as a Dharma Yuddh (Dharma War or War
of Dharma) the interpretation is that it was a war between righteousness and non-righteousness or to
put more simply the war between good and evil.
However when we dig deeper we find that there was never a absolute good or bad to start with, the
Dharma Yuddh was not between Dharma and Adharma, it was a war between different
interpretations of Dharma.
When Karna decided to not speak against his friend in the sabha where Draupadi was disrobed - he
chose his dharma of unflinching loyalty to his friend Duryodhana even though his friend was
completely wrong. His interpretation of his Dharma was of friendship over respect to a woman.
In the same sabha, when Bheeshma chose to stay silent, his interpretation of dharma of loyalty to
the crown as abiding silently by the crown prince Duryodhana's diktats instead of the dharma of
being the elder and speaking against the wrong-doings of his children.
When Kunti chose to stay silent about her first son Karna, she chose the Dharma of not given a bad
name to her lineage than to adandon her son and allow him being disrespected by this own brothers.
When Duryodhana, the first born of Dhritarashtra was vying for the crown as the first born of the
first born, the elders did not clarify the position of his vis-a-vis that of Yudhistira as the first born of
all the children of Dhritarasthtra, Pandu and Vidur.
When Duryodhana tried to kill the Pandavas in the castle of lac, none of the elders spoke against the
intra-familial feuds of the children. They interpreted their dharma of loyalty to the crown as being
mute spectators to the mistakes of the crown prince.
When Yudhistira shouted 'Ashwatthaama Hatah! ..... kunjaraha' he interpreted that speaking the
truth even though inaudible was right in a war.
In this sense, during the whole of Mahabharata in the sitations of grey each pivotal character took to
their interpretation of dharma in their very own narrow sense than what was a correct dharma
suiting their responsibility. Where in the narrow sense every character was right in what they were
doing but the repurcussions of their short-sightedness led to a tragic wasteful battle which led to 3
different complete clans being wiped out.

Answer 11

It is true that everyone can learn something from Mahabharata, here is my interpretation.
1. Wisely choose allies:
Kauravas could manage only few old relations as strong alliances like,
Gandharas through their mother and shakuni.
Sindhu, through marriage of Jayadhratha and Dushala.
Pragjyotisha through marriage of Duryodhana and Bhanumathi.
King Shalya through hospitality of Duryodhana.
but Pandavas carefully managed many alliances as follows
Kekaya through marriage of Yudhisthira and Devika.
Panchala through Marriage with Darupadi.
Rakshasas through marriage of Bhima and Hidimbi.
Kasi through marriage of Bhima and Valandhara.
Dwarka through marriage with Arjuna and Subhadra.
Nagas through marriage of Arjuna and Uloopi.
Chedi through marriage of Nakula and Karenmayi.
Magadh through marriage of Sahadeva and Vijaya.
Matsya throgh marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttara.
2. Decentralized the power:
Kauravas had centralized leadership, 11 akshauhini* of army with one head of army at a time, who
has supreme authority, they were Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shalya and Ashwathama.
whhere as Pandavas had 7 akshauhini decentralized power into 7 kings.
Drupad (King of Pancala).
Virat (King of Matsya).
Dhrshtaketu (King of Chedi).
Sahadeva(King of Magadha).
Shikhandi (Prince of Pancala).
Satyaki (warrior from Dwarka).
(An Akshauhini was an ancient battle formation that consisted of 21,870 chariots (Sanskrit ratha);
21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry, as per the Mahabharata (Adi Parva 2.15-23).
The ratio is 1 chariot : 1 elephant : 3 cavalry : 5 infantry soldiers. In each of these large number
groups (65,610, etc.), the digits add up to 18.)
3. Loyalty in a relation makes a difference:
Karna was humiliated that, as he was neither Kshatriya nor king, he cannot combat with Arjuna.
Duryodhana took Karna's side and argued that its the valor of a person that matters and not the

caste. He also made Karna King of Anga.


This incident created immense respect and loyalty in Karna towards Duryodhana. Even after
knowing Pandavas were his brothers(and the fact that Kunti asked him not to fight against his own
brothers), Karna took Duryodhana's side.
Even Duryodhana was very loyal.Once Karna and Bhanumathi were playing and Bhanumathi was
about to lose. Duryodhana stood behind karna facing Bhanumathi. circumstances lead to a an
awkward situation which made karna and Bhanumathi think they would be misunderstood by
Duryodhana. But Duryodhana with a smile controlled the situation for he had so much trust on
Karna.
4. Be cautious in selecting manager:
Krishna made such a good manager by dividing power among kings(in the battle), in making
alliances and by estimating enemy's strategy, he perfectly assigned right people with their
opponents. Instead of striving alone he involved everybody in the war (which makes him perfect
leader) and took right decisions at the time of crisis.
Where as Duryodhana was a low-key strategist. He could not control situations on the spot. But we
have to appreciate his strategy of making King Salya fight from his side.
When King Salya (brother of Madri) was coming to join Pandavas in battle, Duryodhana became a
good host and his hospitatily left King Salya no choice but join his forces.
5. Never take the self respect of person in front of others:
You are partly right if you thought I was going to discuss about Draupadi. Yes, its such a disgrace to
Draupathi who was daughter of King Drupada, wife of pandavas was insulted in the sabha which
consisted of all elders (including Bishma) (such an act is disgrace to any woman in fact). Disgrace
to a woman is the main reason for the cause of this great battle Kurukshetram.
Other example is between Drupad and Dronacharya. They studied at same place and were good
friends. Drupad promised to help him when is in need. After many years when Dronachaya went to
Drupad for help, Drupad insulted him infront of everybody, which created rivalry between them.
6. Choose the right path:
Although its circumstances that made Karna choose Kaurava's side, sometimes it is necessary to
choose the right path. Yuyutsu is an example in this regard. He is son of Dritarashtra and Sukhada.
Even though he is predisposed to wrong path, he choose Pandava's side and became king of
Indraprastha in the end.
7. Woman empowerment:
If we observe carefully, no woman was involved in decision making on Kaurava's side. It was
patriarchal structure. Where as on Pandavas, Kunti's decision was honored. Even Draupadi played
key role in decision making.
Any team which does not have women is unbalanced, for the Masculine traits of Aggression and
Dominance should be balanced by the Feminine traits of Harmony and Sustenance.
8. Never to hurt your own people:
It was Shakuni's influence on Kauravas that created whole rivalry between Pandavas and Kauravas
from the childhood. Dritarashtra came to know he was second husband. Gandhari was married to a
goat, for it was written her husband dies after marriage. This made Dritarashtra angry and
imprisoned Gandhari's family and starved them by giving only one fist of rice. They chose Shakuni
and saved him giving their food. This made him angry and revengeful on Kauravas and lead to their
destruction.
Finally I conclude with Greed leads to destruction, may be now or in future.
I apologize if there are any mistakes written.. :)

Answer 12

Thanks for such an interesting question.


Many lessons can be derived from Mahabharata and it greatly depends on how you see the epic and
what morales you derive from it.
Here are some management, leadership and life lessons which you can derive by studying the
characters of Mahabharata.

Decision Making, Context is important - Bheesma


Devavrata (Bheesma) takes a very brave decision and does the unthinkable.
I will not marry and produce kids so that my father can marry the woman he loves. I will renounce sex
for my father's happiness.
This is a massive decision he took in the context of his father's happiness.

King Shantunu fell in love with Satyavati and wants to marry her. Satyavati agrees but she puts up a
condition
I will marry you but my child will be the king of Hastinapur. He will be the heir of the throne and he
will be the ruler.

So what is she doing? She is negotiating. She is making her future secure, she is using the situation to
her advantage and making the most out of it. In her context and POV, she is doing the right thing as the
subject (King) has fallen for her and the ball in now in her court. She has to make the maximum use of
the available resource at hand (management jargon, please excuse :D)
But what is the outcome? Her children turn out to be vagabonds, they die early without fathering a
child. Her family bloodline is in a state of risk and her strategy has died an untimely death.
This is what happens in life. You plan so much, you make strategies and plans but life is nothing but a
chain of unpredictable outcomes. You are nothing but a puppet in the hands of destiny, so do not plan
too much. You can make the perfect business plan, you can use the best resources, you can put an
amazing strategy in action but there is a high chance that all of this will fail. Life is full of uncertainty
and strategies will fail. You will have problems no matter what you do.

Experiments / Curiosity - Wait for the right time - Kunti


Kunti had a vardaan from Durvasa muni that she can evoke any god and she will get a child. She is
curious and tried experimenting when the condition isn't right, she evoked the Sun god while she is not
married.
Result : Karna is born and she has to let him go fearing the norms of the society. How selfish you are,
O kunti, why? Whats the fault of that young lad? You gave birth to a talented fellow who is
discriminated through out his life just because of his caste? What a shame.

What is the outcome of unprepared experimentation? A soul is always deprived of his legacy, a soul
who is deprived of what he d... (more)Loading...

Answer 13

Thanks for such an interesting question.


Many lessons can be derived from Mahabharata and it greatly depends on how you see the epic and
what morales you derive from it.
Here are some management, leadership and life lessons which you can derive by studying the
characters of Mahabharata.

Decision Making, Context is important - Bheesma


Devavrata (Bheesma) takes a very brave decision and does the unthinkable.
I will not marry and produce kids so that my father can marry the woman he loves. I will renounce sex
for my father's happiness.
This is a massive decision he took in the context of his father's happiness.

But going forward, this decision turned out to be fatal. His father's wife, Satyavati gives birth to two
children who died without fathering a child. The kingdom is without a king and hence queen Satyavati,
comes back to Bheesma again and requests him to either marry or make the two queens pregnant.
But Bheesma is tied with his vision of renouncing sex. He walks away saying
Nope. I have taken this decision and I will stick to it no matter what happens.
Satyavati then requests Vyasa to make Ambalika and Ambika pregnant but the results were not
satisfactory. Dhritarashtra was blind and Pandu was a weakling.
So one side, you see integrity and commitment. On the flip side, you see the decision that produced a
positive result on one context brought a negative consequence in the other.
This is what happens in life when you take decisions with shortsightedness. A decision which is fit in
one context turns out to be complete opposite going forward and you are thrown into wilderness. So
context keeps changing and you will have to keep changing your decisions with the context. If you do
not change your decision making instinct with the context, prepare for a storm, prepare for the
"Mahabharata".

Negotiation - Unpredictable Outcomes ( Yes, your "perfect" plan


will fail ) - Satyavati
King Shantunu fell in love with Satyavati and wants to marry her. Satyavati agrees but she puts up a
condition
I will marry you but my child will be the king of Hastinapur. He will be the heir of the throne and he
will be the ruler.

So what is she doing? She is negotiating. She is making her future secure, she is using the situation to
her advantage and making the most out of it. In her context and POV, she is doing the right thing as the
subject (King) has fallen for her and the ball in now in her court. She has to make the maximum use of
the available resource at hand (management jargon, please excuse :D)
But what is the outcome? Her children turn out to be vagabonds, they die early without fathering a
child. Her family bloodline is in a state of risk and her strategy has died an untimely death.
This is what happens in life. You plan so much, you make strategies and plans but life is nothing but a
chain of unpredictable outcomes. You are nothing but a puppet in the hands of destiny, so do not plan
too much. You can make the perfect business plan, you can use the best resources, you can put an
amazing strategy in action but there is a high chance that all of this will fail. Life is full of uncertainty
and strategies will fail. You will have problems no matter what you do.

Experiments / Curiosity - Wait for the right time - Kunti


Kunti had a vardaan from Durvasa muni that she can evoke any god and she will get a child. She is
curious and tried experimenting when the condition isn't right, she evoked the Sun god while she is not
married.
Result : Karna is born and she has to let him go fearing the norms of the society. How selfish you are,
O kunti, why? Whats the fault of that young lad? You gave birth to a talented fellow who is
discriminated through out his life just because of his caste? What a shame.

What is the outcome of unprepared experimentation? A soul is always deprived of his legacy, a soul
who is deprived of what he deserves, guilt followed by "Dharmasankat".
Inference: You can do experiments but wait for the right time and situation. Do not cross the line,
premature experimentation can lead to dangerous outcomes and you will have guilt all through your
life - Why I did not wait for the right time?

Be Diplomatic - Pen is Mightier than the Sword: Madri


King Pandu was on his quest to expand the borders of Hastinapur's empire. He decided to attack the
kingdom of Madra.
Madri was the princess of Madra and she secretly adored Pandu. But Madra king was not in friendly
terms with Hastinapur and hence the chances were very thin. This was the perfect moment she was
waiting for.
She went to Madra king and told him that defeating the hastinapur army is no easy feat. Even if you
defeat him, you will lose thousands of men, wealth and property. The only way to permanently avoid
this war is to offer me to King Pandu and make friendly relationship with Hastinapur so that they can
never attack Madra kingdom in future.

Result: Madri acts diplomatic by not revealing her desire that she wants to marry Pandu. Instead she
focusses on the part that she is helping her kingdom and saving the lives of thousands of people who
might have otherwise died in the war.
Inference: One diplomatic decision can succeed the might of millions of men and an entire army. Pen
is mightier than the sword. Be diplomatic when its required.

Determination succeeds against all odds - Amba


Bheesma forcibly kidnaps three maiden pricesses from Kashi - Amba, Ambika and Ambalika for the
king of Hastinapur - Vichitravirya. Amba reveals that she already loves another prince and does not
want to marry the king of hastinapur.
Bheesma lets her go but the other prince refuses to accept her. She returns to Bheesma saying
"Hey Gangaputra Bheesma, you are the reason of my misery. You kidnapped me and now you have to
take my responsibility. I demand motherhood from you, be a man Bheesma, be a man."
Bheesma denies saying that he can never marry because of his vow of Brahmacharya.

To this Amba pledges


"I will be the reason of your death, no matter how many times I have to take birth. I know you cannot
be killed because of your vardaan of Ichyamrityu but trust me, I will take birth time and time again and
will be the reason of your death."
So what do we have here. An impossible situation of killing Bheesma by a woman who does not know
how to hold a bow. This woman, however is determined to kill Bheesma. Her determination is as
strong as a rock and she did become the reason of Bheesma's death on the 10th day of Kurukhshetra
battle. She was reborn as Shikhandi - half woman/half man and Bheesma wont fire a weapon towards a
woman and Arjuna utilized this weakness (Achilees heel of Bheesma)

Inference: Work hard and you will succeed and overcome any situation, no matter how difficult it is.

Focus on the entire thing, listen carefully before you act - Drona
In the battle of Kurukshetra, Drona is an unstoppable badass. He has to be stopped or else the Pandava
army will be ruthlessly destroyed.
So Pandavas announced that Bheema has killed Aswathama. They suppress the fact that Bheema has
actually killed an elephant whose name is the same as Drona's only son. (Ashwathama hatha, iti gaja...)
Drona loses focus and listen with only half ear. He drops his weapons and as a result he is beheaded by
Dhristyadhumna.

Inference: Focus on the entire thing, do your research and then act. Do not just listen to sources and
act, think and do your own research no matter how credible the sources are. Drona relied on the
"credible" Yudhistira and ignored to research on his own which cost him his life and Hastinapur a
costly defeat.

Little knowledge is a dangerous thing - Abhimanyu


Only Arjun and Drona knew how to crack the Chakravyuha - an invincible formation which is deadly
enough to finish the war in one day.
Abhimanyu learned to crack Chakravyuha while in Subhadra's womb but he didn't knew how to get
out of it.

It is the combination of Arjuna and Krishna that wins (Nara + Narayana), not Arjuna alone. So on a
broader perspective, even the best product needs an advisory board. Without mentorship and proper
guidance, even the best resource is directionless and cannot be used with supreme efficiency.
Inference: Seek a mentor, no matter how talented you are.

Stubbornness is not wise. You cannot have everything in Life Duryodhana


Duryodhana is foolish and stubborn. He is hell bent on not giving anything to Pandavas no matter
what.

Organization is bigger than the Individual : Yudhistira


Yudhistira is a noble king, an epitome of wisdom and righteousness. Yet he decides to gamble away his
entire kingdom not just once but twice.

Draupadi asks who gave him to right to lose her, his brothers and the Kingdom? Just because he is the
king does not entitle him to gamble away his kingdom. Yudhistira loses his self control and gambles
away everything, thinking that the kingdom, the property, his brothers and his wife are all his
"possessions".
Inference: The organization (Kingdom) is bigger than the individual (King / CEO). The individual has
no right to destroy the organization, even if he has founded it. He maybe the manager or owner but the
organization is certainly greater than him.

Lower your standards, do not ask for what you can't manage Draupadi
Draupadi had done ghor tapasya and asked for a husband with 14 qualities. Lord Shiva told her what
she is asking for is an impossibility, because all these qualities cannot co-exist in one man. Shiva
warns her time and again but Draupadi acts like the stubborn Duryodhana, and says that it is up to lord
Shiva to grant her the wish she had demanded.

Arjuna was fighting the war on a different front and Drona laid out Chakravyuha, so that Yudhistira
can be leisurely captured. Abhimanyu came to the rescue saying that he can break this formation. He
was given the defence of 3 other pandavas but Jayadratha held them off in the first door of
Chakravyuha.
Result: He was killed mercilessly by Kaurava warriors and died an unfortunate death. He was
courageous, but his half knowledge cost him his life. The fact that he relied his defence on his 3
pandava uncles, whom he considered superior to him in warfare was a costly mistake.
Inference: Be careful while you practice your application of knowledge in real life. Also, do not
blindly trust your resources, you never know when they will fail.

Even the best needs a mentor - Arjuna


Arjuna is without any doubt the best warrior in Mahabharata, on the parallels of Bheesma and Drona.
He has all kinds of weapons which he had obtained from Indra but nevertheless, he seeks a mentor Krishna. He is not overconfident, he is not stubborn, he is not a fool. He knows the value of proper
guidance.

So here we see greed and desire crossing all limits. Shiva granted her the wish but warned her of the
consequences that are bound to follow.
Note that Draupadi rejected Karna on the ground of low caste. Karna is probably the only character in
the epic with all the qualities. But she rejected him and married someone who shared her with his
brothers.
Also, Draupadi is extremely proud of her beauty and she uses it to create jealously among the cousins
time and again. Apart from Duryodhana, many men lusted for her.This provoked the disrobing incident
to a large extent.
Inference: Do not ask for things you can't handle, lower your standards. Also, dont be besotted by
your beauty and looks, for they are likely to go against you.
Read my other answers ->
Amit Banerjee's answer to Mahabharata: What is the underlying symbolism of Draupadi being married
to all five pandavas?
Amit Banerjee's answer to Mahabharata: Was Draupadi in love with Karna?

Do what is right, even if that means going against your team:


Yuyutsu
Yuyutsu is the only kaurava who protested against Draupadi's disrobing incident. When Yudhistira
made an offer to all the assembled people to change sides if they wanted to, Yuyutsu took his chariot to
the Pandava camp and switched sides.
Inference: Always remember your Dharma and stand up for what's right.

Beware of the company you keep - Shakuni


Young Duryodhana is not as arrogant. But he is slowly spoiled by Gandhar prince, Shakuni. Shakuni
slowly fills Duryodhana's heart with bitterness and exploits him. Duryodhana is basically an innocent
lad, he is provoked to be raged against Pandavas. Duryodhana is just a vehicle, Shakuni is the
instrument here and sadly, Duryodhana's parents are literally "blind" on the company their son keeps.

Inference: Be very careful of the company you keep. Your company shapes up your thoughts, so
choose it wisely.

Dedicate everything, expect nothing, and you will be adored even


by your enemies: Karna
Karna is an exceptional character in Mahabharata. He was the eldest son of Kunti but due to
unavoidable circumstances, he grew up as a charioteers son. Karna is exceptionally talented fellow, he
is loyal and well built, intelligent and handsome (all the qualities Draupadi demanded from Shiva).

But he never gets what he deserves. Neither the respect, nor the legacy or love. Politics was played on
him time and time again but he always stood his ground. He never gets his due but he never gave up on
his efforts. His courageous spirit led him to achieve impossible odds, he was no less than other
Pandavas when it came to virtues and valor. Krishna and Bheesma concede that karna is a noble spirit
which rarely appears in the human race.
Despite all this, he is a loyal friend. He knows Duryodhana is wrong but he still takes his side and not
his brothers. This is because it is Duryodhana who has given him identity in the society. He promises
Kunti that he will not kill any Pandava except Arjuna. Karna knows that kauravas will lose but he
fights to repay Duryodhana's debt.
On many occasions, he was provoked to switch sides. Kunti, Indra, Krishna tried to provoke him but
he walked away. He said - I cannot leave my friend at a time when he needs me the most.
Inference: A friend in need is a friend indeed. In Life, you may not get what you deserve but
nevertheless, you got to dedicate your life for something. Dedicate everything, every single thing you
have and the world will remember you forever.

Make powerful Allies - Network is Power


Kauravas were the greatest empire of that time and the presence of Bheesma and Drona guaranteed that
their victory is certain. Nobody can kill Bheesma, he has ichhaa-mrityu, so he alone can finish the war

(which he almost did for the first 10 days).


They did not focus on making allies except from old relations from far off places like Gandhara
(Shakuni), Sindhu (Jayadrath) and Kambodia (Camboja - Bhagadutt)
Pandavas on the other hand did not have wealth so they focused on making powerful allies.
Panchal through marriage with Darupadi.
Dwarka through marriage with Arjuna and Subhadra.
Magadh through marriage of Sahdeva and Vijaya.
Chedi through marriage of Nakula and Karenmayi.
Kasi through marriage of Bhima and Balandhara.
Kekaya through marriage of Yudhisthira and Devika.
Matsya through marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttara.
The Rakshasas through marriage of Bhima and Hidimba.
The Nagas through marriage of Arjuna and Uloopi.
The kingdom of Virat - Arjuna saved Virat from Kauravas while disguised as Brihannala
In business language, this is synonymous to merger and acquisition.
Inference: Network with people and expand your reach. Connect with people who will fight with you
because you share a similar cause.

Teamwork succeeds where Individual effort fails


Kauravas lacked team spirit from day one. No coordination at all, the Kaurava generals fought their
individual wars.
Bheesma is fighting for his vow of protecting the throne
Drona is fighting for Hastinapur's salt and Drupad's
Kripacharya is fighting for his wife's brother (Drona)
Shalya - Tricked by Duryodhana, he wanted to fight for Pandavas.
Karna - Fighting to prove his superiority over Arjuna.
Aswathama - fighting to support his father Drona.
Shakuni - Favors Duryodhana but not interested in Hastinapur's throne. His only interest is to
spoonfeed Duryodhana in the battlefield.
Pandavas were one team with one Goal. Everyone listened to Krishna's strategies while as warriors
they were in complete awe of Bhima and Arjuna. Most of them were close relatives cousins,
brothers-in-law, fathers-in-law. More than that they all were part of the decision-making process. It
was their common war.
Inference: The strength lies in team work and not in individual efforts.

Know your competitors weakness and exploit it silently:


Yudhisitira
There is a reason why Yudhistira got that name - he is always calm and composed in the battlefield
(Yudh mein sthir = Yudhisthir)
Yudhistir is an amazing strategist. On the first day of the war, he went over to the enemy side to seek
blessings from Elders. In reality he made a covert deal with them, wherein all of them agreed to help
him and unfolded the secrets of defeating them (Bheesma actually told Yudhistir how to stop him on
the 9th day).

He took calculated risks. He made an offer to all the assembled people to change sides if they wanted
to. He knew well of the lack of cohesiveness among the Kauravas. Yuyutsu, son of Dhritarashtra
crossed over to the Pandavas. This exposed the weakness of the Kauravas for all to see.
Inference: Know your competitors weaknesses and exploit them but do it silently.

Women empowerment, do not neglect the opposite sex


Kauravas follow a Patriarchal structure.
Nowhere do we see women in the Kaurava camp except Gandhari, who is always ignored and nobody
listens to whatever she says. No women in the decision making process. You dont hear many stories
about Duryodhana's wife, Dusassana's wife or daugthers.
Pandavas follow a matriarchal structure.
Kunti is the final decision maker and everyone listens to her, no questions asked.
Draupadi was a companion in whatever the Pandavas did. She had a big role in all the decision
making. It is Draupadi who bound all the Pandavas together for 14 years.
Hidimba, Bheema's wife, sends her son Ghatotkacha to war.
Uttara inspires Abhimanyu and prepares her mind for the battlefield. Abhimanyu was hesitant at first
because he is only 16 but it is Uttara who gives him inner strength.
Any team which doesn't have women is unbalanced, for the Masculine traits of Aggression and
Dominance should be balanced by the Feminine traits of Harmony and Sustenance.
Inference: Strike a balance, empower women.
Read my other answer -> What is the position of women in mahabharata?

You do not need the best man, you need the "right" man for the
right job
On the Kaurava's side, nobody wanted the war except Duryodhana. So even if the Kaurava side was
more heavy, their motive was distributed.
Bheesma - He won't kill the Pandavas, they are his grandchildren
Drona - He won't kill Pandavas (his students)
Shalya - He was the maternal uncle of Pandavas and secretly helped them by acting as a spy. He also
demotivated Karna in the battlefield.
Karna: Promised not to kill any Pandava except Arjuna.
So as you see, Kauravas are nothing but a directionless team of traitors. A team without any agenda,
fighting cluelessly. No organization.
Pandavas had a common goal but they intelligently divided the responsibilities. They had an agenda
and they picked the right man for the right job.
Dhratsadyumna - Drona.
Shikhandi: Bhisma.
Satayaki Bhurisrava.
Arjuna Karna.
Bhima Duryodhana and his brothers.
Sahadeva Shakuni and his sons.
Nakula Karna s sons.
Support system - Virat, Drupad, Chedi, Magadh, Kasi, Matsya and Naga king.

Krishna - Crisis manager and advisor.


Inference: A great example of proper resource utilization. The right team is made by selecting the
right Individuals. Get the right man for the right job.
Finally,

Your Future Does not Depend on what you "plan", it however


takes shape on what you do now. Karma is supreme and it does
come back in time : Krishna

Lord Krishna talks about people centering their lives around one failure or a single disappointment. He
says, when some incident shatters all the plans, hopes and aspirations, people start considering that
pain and hurt to be the center of their lives and continue to live their lives around it. He asks, Is the
future constructed based on the plans that we mortals make? Krishna uses a beautiful analogy:
When a mountaineer climbs up to the peak of a mountain for the first time, was it the plans that he
had made at the bottom of the mountain that carried him to the top? No, it does not. In reality, as the
mountaineer keeps climbing up, he faces different challenges and obstacles. At every step, he makes
the decision for his next step. He has to change his plans at every step. The plan that worked for the
last step may fail him miserably on the next. Same is the fact with life, he goes on to say. When people
start considering one obstacle, challenge or misery to be the center of their life, and stops the very
momentum of life, they cannot become successful in life. Nor can they achieve happiness and
contentment. That means, rather than trying to make life worthy of one, making oneself worthy of life
is the only way to success and happiness.You do your work, do not expect results or make plans around
your imagined results. Because you don't know what the results are and when the results will come,
you cannot control the outcome. So do your karma.I made a SlideShare deck out of this whole thing.
Leadership and Life Lessons From MahabharataP.S: I spent an entire sunday writing this :D

Answer 14

I can see only the eye of the bird said Arjuna, emphasizing on action (present) not on distraction
(past) or outcome (future).

A Hero can be anyone so change your


plans be a DIRECTOR

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