Sunday, March 8, 2015

Do You Follow These Tenets, King Bharata?

Corporate espionage is being discussed in the media relentlessly.  So is the quality of members of cabinets and senior bureaucrats of the governments at different levels. Cabinet ministers are known for speaking out of turn on issues not related to them.  Their life styles and habits keep raising controversies. Distribution of work among the government servants is becoming a major issue. Ambassadors are said to be not up to the mark.  Armed forces and their requirements are being debated endlessly. Welfare of soldiers and officers of the forces is a big question mark. That public finances are in a big mess is not at all disputed. The only issue for arguments and counter-arguments is who is responsible for it.  The civil society is almost vertically divided about the reasons for atrocities on women.  Some hold that the women themselves are responsible for their suffering.  That appears true as well.  If there are no women in the society, there won't be any atrocities on them!  Decision making has become a forgotten art. The list can go on and on.

Was this the state of affairs in our country all the time?  Are there no principles or guidelines as to how these issues are to be resolved?  Were these concerns ever brought to focus in ancient India? What were the theories and practices used by our forefathers?  It is indeed worth dwelling on these issues.


Rama has moved to the forest to start his fourteen years of "Aranyavasa".  His wife Seethe and one of the brothers, Lakshmana, have followed him.  They are living in the woods and leading the life of hermits.  Lakshmana climbs on a tree for fetching some fruits. He finds that an army is marching in the direction of their hut. He runs to his elder brother, Rama.  "It appears that Bharata is coming with an army here. Permit me to fight them.  With your grace, I will kill that entire army", he says.  Rama smiles at him.  "There is no need for any heroics, Lakshmana. You do not know your brother.  I know my brother.  Wait patiently", says Rama.  As the army nears the hut, its leader runs to Rama and falls at his feet.

Rama identifies the person at his feet with some difficulty.  It is Bharata alright, but not the way he ought to be.  He is not dressed like the king of Ayodhya.  He is just like his own mirror image (except the body color).  He has matted locks, dressed in bark robes and lying on the floor with folded hands.  Aadikavi Valmeeki says that he was like the Sun who has lost his brightness when the end of time (yugaanta) nears. Rama is moved by his appearance and approach.  He lifts Bharata and takes him in his lap, as he used to do when they both were little boys.

The first few questions asked by Rama are general and towards the welfare of the family. "How is our father, King Dashartha?  This is not the time that you should leave him behind in Ayodhya and come to see me.  How are my three mothers? How is Guru Suyagna, son of the great sage Vasishta?  Are you treating your archery teacher Sudhanva with respect? Are you holding your elders, aged teachers, doctors and other scholars with reverence?", Rama asks.

All the questions that follow and the queries that are made appear to have been written to answer each one of the questions that are raised above with reference to the happenings in our country today.

  • Quality of Ministers: Are you keeping learned people, who are not easily lured by temptations as ministers?  Are they knowledgeable in interpreting their internal sentiments through external gestures? Remember, one wise man is better than a thousand stupid fools in a cabinet.  One efficient minister alone can bring greater prosperity for the King (than any number of others).  Are these ministers capable of standing up to the King in support of the ordinary subjects if the innocent subjects are harassed?
  • Council of Ministers: A King's victories stem from a concealed counsel of ministers, those who can hide their thoughts within themselves.  Are these ministers incorruptible and of total integrity?

  • Personal habits:  Are you not falling a prey to excessive sleep? Are you not eating good and delicious dishes alone, but sharing them with trusted friends?  

  • Maintaining secrecy:  Are you ensuring that others are not able to find the details of the discussions you have with your ministers, through their enquiries or other strategies?  Are other Kings able to know your plans only after they implemented?

  • Bureaucrats:  Are you assigning superior work to servants capable of doing superior work?  Is mediocre work given to mediocre ones and inferior one to inferiors in capacity to perform?  Servants should neither come too close to the master nor they should run away at his sight.
  • Economy and finances: Are you implementing plans with maximum benefit, but minimum costs?  Are you properly managing food grains, money in treasury, weapons, artisans and archers?  Do you have arrangement for abundant income but minimum expenditure?
  • Dispensing justice:  Does your administration and ministers dispense justice without fear or favor?  Remember, tears falling from the eyes of those who are falsely accused destroy the King.  
  • Ambassadors and spies:  Are you appointing only knowledgeable men, wise and endowed with presence of mind and those who know how to speak to a point? Are you appointing teams of spies, those who do not know each other?
  • Army and Defense:  Is your Army Chief cheerful, wise, valiant, courageous, well behaved and beloved by his subordinates?  Are your soldiers strong, skilled in warfare, tried and tested?  Are you honoring the courageous soldiers and respecting them?  Are you paying them properly and without delay?  When there is delay in payments, servants become corruptible and it is a great misfortune that can befall a King. Are you increasing the number of elephants and horses in the army? Also, remember not to think lightly of the enemies.
  • Agriculture and animals:  Are you taking proper care and maintenance of the farmers and cattle-rearers?  Are the cattle treated without cruelty?  Are the agricultural lands well tilled and water stored properly in tanks?
  • Women Protection:  Are you protecting women in your kingdom? Are there social festivities? Are you appearing before the people each day in the morning on the Highway? (Are you accessible to them?)
  • Decision making:  Are you discussing important issues with three or four ministers collectively?  Later on, are you discussing secretly with each of them?  Are you contemplating on the issues of the state in the latter part of the night (early mornings) and then coming to a decision? 


All the above issues directly answer the problems that our society faces today.  It is to be remembered that Rama had never been a King at this stage.  He was still of tender age, may be around 20 years.  He was not even second-in-command (Yuvaraja). Dasharatha's first attempt to make him The King brought in the step-mother Kaikeyee and all hell broke loose.  He then moved to the forest followed by his wife and one of the brothers.  Whatever knowledge he had was acquired by learning at the feet of his Gurus as well as observing his father's style of ruling the kingdom.  Bharata also had the same advantages or disadvantages.  All these questions posed here are Adikavi Valmeeki's way of communicating with the world as to how a King should act, behave and rule.

There are many such gems in our ancient literature and valuable works of other parts of the world as well. Unfortunately, our teaching in "General Management" or "Political Science" starts with the theories of 17th or 18th century scholars. They are called the fathers of management and we too believe it. 


  1. All administrative topics covered nicely for a better governance of operation at root level with hints to crisis management

  2. Our scriptures and history tell us that our current ministries and portfolios are on the same lines as what we followed in the past. We have retained the structure but have we followed the modus operandi ? Our forefathers did not learn the art of governance from elite Management institutes but abided by advice from their elders who led by example.

  3. The control on administration and the sense of responsibility has been well brought out in the brief conversation. Lot to learn and implement from our scriptures and history.