MahaBharataA - Present day corporate strategy using epic Mahabharata

Keshav Jha | July 30,2012 09:23 am IST

Dr. Devdutt Patnaik graduated in medicine (MBBS) from Grant Medical College, Mumbai and worked in the Parma and Healthcare industry for 14 years.

He is working as the Chief Belief Officer of Future Group, one of Indias largest retailers. Well, its a new term for us at B-schools where we constantly dream of becoming CEO, CFO, COO, and CMO but never heard of anything like CBO.

Dr. Pattnaik is not just a mythologist but a veteran in leadership and management lessons from Indian mythology. His work is appreciated worldwide and he is one of the most famous ted speakers from India who has authored many management books from Mahabharata and Ramayana.

I wonder if we can read a case study on Jack Welchs management of lakhs of GEs employees why we are missing a case study on management of kauravas army of 11 Akshauhini under one leader called Bhisma Pitamah. (1 Akshauhini =21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry).

I believe that Mahabharata and Ramayana have more management lessons than any book written on strategy/management. Concepts like M&A, MBO, and ethics are more apparent in these texts than any case written on them. A kingdom in those days is similar to a company today in many forms. The king is replaced by the chairman and Mahamantri is replaced by acronyms like CEO and CFO.

Literature in accounting as well as Mahabharata says, A CEO/King has different entity from his Company/Kingdom. His objective is not person welfare but the welfare of the company and its employees. And whenever the King/CEO fails to perform his duties, either it ends with Dhritrastas loss of sons or Ramalinga Rajus pain in jail.

Science was advanced then and so does today and theres no reason to believe that the world was different and scientifically on a back stage. We had nuclear weapons in the form of Bhramhastra and other Divyastras which had agreement with a superpower that these weapons will be used for national security and welfare of people. We had aeroplanes bigger than Airbus 380. We had not named it internet but Sanjay had better technology to telecast every incident of the Kurukshetra war without any complex thing like satellite.

The values have not changed in India but definitely there is a change in the way of education. I believe western education is necessary for running a company in European style but one must not forget that people working in these companies are still Indians who are culturally very different from western world.

Modern management theories are based on strong assumptions of objectivity and logic but in India, the influence of culture is very high. Decisions are often intuitive and are based on ones belief. Hence its necessary for students and teachers to study and teach factors that influence our belief. The ancient texts of India have thousands of lessons on life management, ethics, branding and management.

Belief can be secular as well as religious but as a part of management students and teachers one must look at things from secular perspective.


quote from Bhagavad-Gita


The quote from Bhagavad-Gita is applicable to every aspect of life management.


Today, India has more than 3900 B-schools with more than 3.5L seats offered every year. How many of these graduates are successful managers? How many of them will be able to repay their loan amounts? How many of them will be happy working? How many will become a leader? How many will say I will change the world? Henry Mint berg of McGill University, Montreal, devoted a book to his contention that 'conventional MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences'.

India is a unique nation and still A GOLDEN BIRD. The problem is that we give more importance to European education system rather than making a balance with our own rich ancient texts like Vedas, Mahabharata, and Geeta.

The need of hour is to relook at management training system. Lessons should be glocalised in order to make them simple so that students can carry them beyond exams and scores.





Keshav Jha believes the essence of world is in differentiation. His tools are his words and pencil which challenge the notion by peeping into world with simple words and sketches. He is a student of IBS hyderabad....