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Krishna's wisdom for 21st century

Author Abhilash Khandekar Last Modified Friday, 18 August 2017 (17:43 IST)
Lord Krishna is one of the few friendly Indian Gods, after a playful Ganesha, who has significantly large following all over the country. Krishnashtamai is celebrated with a lot of fervour in different parts of the country, including Mumbai, Ujjain, Indore, Ahmedabad and scattered regions of North India, mainly Delhi and its adjoining areas besides of course Mathura, his birth place. But Krishna did not remain in Mathura and went far away to Gujarat to set up what is known as 'Dwarka', on the west coast of India, as his kingdom. Interestingly, he was not a born King!
 
There are umpteen legends associated with this lovely and intelligent God who existed about 5000 years ago in the Bharat-Varsha or Aryavart, as ancient India was then popularly known. His role in the epic war between the Kauravas, the 100 children of the ruling couple of Hastinapur Dhritarashtra-Gandhari, and the Pandavas, the five sons of Pandu, has been exemplary. That not only provided him with an image of a shrewd war strategist but also as a guru and an extra ordinary leader in the war eventually fought between a formidable Kaurav Sena and and the Pandavas, at Kurukshetra. The war came to be known as Mahabharata. He was on the side of Pandavas in the dharma-yudha, tales of which are still heard in one form or the other.
 
Having said what is generally known (through school text books and much later TV serials etc) to the young generation which may not have much interest in our gripping mythological stories than what they may possibly have in cricket or in the all pervasive computer world, I would like to introduce a new book. This beautifully explained, simple but innovative treatise is not on religion but is an entirely new introduction of the Bhagwan. It presents before us a Krishna with a complete new image, a very modern image at that and in a jargon that may appeal instantly to those in corporate world or those who have attended IIMs to study leadership skills, among other streams of knowledge. The book could also attract the imagination of young army officers as it separates Krishna from his Godly image and puts up before the reader as an idol who was a complete leader, a mature philosopher, an activist-rebel, a philanthropic wealth creator, a war leader and a management strategist --- all put together.
 
Did anyone of us, keeping aside one's deep rooted and blind folded bhakti, ever try and look at Bhagwan Krishna this way?  Here's the chance to do that.
 
Dr Girish Jakhotiya, himself a creative management consultant (he also likes to label himself a rebel philosopher) based in Mumbai, has done a wonderful job of authoring this little book to help change our way of looking at Krishna just as a God. Clearly, he was much more than a mere God to be worshipped in a temple.
 
Using graphics, charts, pyramids and tables, just like the professors and teachers who use them class rooms to explain a topic, Dr. Jakhotiya has tried to explain the Krishna philosophy in a very absorbing manner for a lay reader. What is amazing is that when you read the book, you actually start thinking about the 'God' as the one described here and not the typical image of the templewalah bhagwan.
 
"In today's corporate language, Krishna enjoyed ownership and power by goodwill and and not by occupying a chairman's position. This goodwill was a direct result of his skillfull combination of duty, devotion and knowledge. By performing his duty under all adverse circumstances, and against the powerful, wicked King; he created a network of good and great performers. It was an illustrative exhibition of individualistic and collective 'karma yoga' for everybody wanting to excel", the author describes in chapter that portrays Krishna as a philosopher.
 
The author says that like a CEO in today's competing world, Krishna used a simple but effective pyramid of performance showing Gyan Yoga as transformation through knowledge, Bhakti Yoga as genuine followers and bottom of the pyramid as Karma Yoga meaning perpetual performance.
 
The book has been divided into nine chapters and is replete with diagrams for easy understanding of Krishna's personality the way author wants us to decipher it and then understand him with modern day references. But I must say the beauty of the book lies in the fact that you can read it from anywhere and you feel convinced on many occasions with author's new personality traits and roles about Krisna. He has brilliantly succeeded in breaking the age-old mould created around the God. The lucid manner in which Jakhotiya begins to give historical perspective as to who Krishna was, what was Hastinapur, who was Kansa (Krishna's maternal uncle), about Kuru dynasty and of course the epic war details, forces a reader to remain riveted to the book. He concludes the book with a question what is the future of the Earth and replies it through Krishna's philosophy and his wisdom displayed throughout his actions.
 
Considering perhaps today's time limits and the changing book reading habits, the author has confined the book to a size that it can be finished in a few sittings unlike many fat books which eventually force even a patient and a studious reader to loose his or her interest. So this handy paperback version gives a lay reader many more things than he expects, thanks to compact and well arranged chapters.
 
Well, a lot has been written about Krishna in thousands of years and more would be written in different languages but this English author's approach as a management practitioner clothes Krishna with a unheard of an image--a modern management guru or a strategic leader who is full of knowledge and practical wisdom of war strategies and leadership abilities.
 
In the beginning, however, author hopes that if we Indians follow the path of Krishna we could overcome our problems such as population explosion, corruption and casteism etc. "The future of the earth would definitely be safe, sacred and strong if all of us converge our faiths into one single universal religion which Krishna described as collective discipline and individual freedom and saw himself as its facilitator and moderator.
 
Attempting to provide answers to the umpteen problems of today's complex world, author wonders if we are willing to awake the Krishna inside us to bring about the change we desperately want while facing the global challenges that impact our lives. He says Krishna was quite a pragmatic man. Unity, flexibility, equity and spirituality were the four pillars of his philosophy. His three Yogas of Karma, Gyan and Bhakti together offer the world a mature combination of productivity, rationality and divinity. Krishna's discussion on Poorna-Purusha should be an agenda of performance for all of us, the author argues.
 
In dealing with Krishna's versatile role, there is a comparison done with Buddha, Mahavir, Chanakya, Shivaji, or later-day leaders like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi and Lokmanya Tilak. Author brings out some similarities, underlines some traits of these leaders' vision and works to explain what Krishna had said or done it differently the same things in his own times but under vastly different circumstances.
 
By reading this book from flap to flap would give a complete new idea of Krishna persona!
 
Projecting him as an able world leader, it is said "With six divine features like power, wealth, wisdom, beauty, success and sacrifice, Krishna could lead different people for different purposes in different circumstances and at different places. Right from his childhood to his old age, Krishna demonstrated different types of leaderships with varying quantum. His leadership approaches have been divided into two groups. First included learn-energise-activate-develop and second, love-enhance-alter-develop. The author, describing first approach as the combination of knowledge and duty and the second as devotion and duty, goes on to say he is tempted to compare Krishna's qualities with business leaders such as JRD Tata whose leadership was by goodwill and Aditya Vikram Birla whose leadership was by action and to some extent with Lokmanya Tilak who believed in collective movements of people while Shankaracharya led by sheer spiritual intelligence he had within him.
 
"Krishna as a leader was an amazing combination of distinct features or working components. He could balance between sanctity and flexibility, equity and diversity, divinity and rationality, humility and aggression and so on..."
 
The book has an interesting table showing, as per author's own perception, a comparison with at least 20 top leaders in the field of business, politics and spirituality from Veer Savarkar and Pt Nehru to Winston Churchill and Maharana Pratap to Kautilya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Krishna. Vajpayee, according to him, provided good leadership to India in difficult times yet he lacked operational tactics and role-flexibility. Hence his party lost election despite having done a reasonable job. In case of Dhirubhai Ambani, Jakhotiya says the businessman possessed all qualities of a shrewd and successful entrepreneur but he lacked the inclusive leadership of Krishna. Tilak converted ' practical religion' into political gathering of common people but he fell short of Krishna's cunning diplomacy and networking skills. 
 
The book is quite well researched, though with all the observations of author, a reader may or may not agree. Like why Vajpayee-led NDA lost after giving "feel good" and 'India Shining' slogans can not be described in just one line and be compared with Krishna who lived in different times and circumstances thousands of years ago. There could be many such comparisons which look odd. Krishna's long-held positive image can not be compared with a Dhhiubhai Ambani who was never known to have stood for things ethical, one may argue.
 
Yet, if we read more chapters and go through the efforts of the author to look back at Krishna, his traits, good skills in managing people and bring it forward to today's times and keep it at par with today's leadership, it's a humongous and an innovative task, as a reviewer I may say.
 
Undoubtedly, the book sets you thinking, takes you out from the Mahabharata mould and puts you into a managerial mode of thinking through a set of management and leadership principles and roles that govern today's materialistic world. The author actually refers to Krishna at some point as being a materialistic leader himself. 
 
Well, the effort that has gone into revisiting Krishna on a human level and search the ultimate idol in him is definitely a praiseworthy and quite painstaking exercise in times when everything is being counted in terms of results and outcome alone!
 
The book succeeds in analysing Krishna's life and mission in a very different and refreshing manner.

Book title: Krishna Niti -- Krishna's Wisdom for 21st Century 
Author: Dr Girish Jakhotiya
Publisher: Ujwal Prakashan, Mumbai
Price: Rs 400/-
Pages: 240
 
 
[ The author is a senior political commentator. He can be contacted at
kabhilash59@gmail.com and at Abhikhandekar1 his Twitter handle.]
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