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Devdutt Pattanaik - Business Sutra

Business Sutra |8.1| Three pairs of brothers

Business Sutra |8| Family Feuds

We have covered five episodes of Devdutt Pattanaik’ TV serial on CNBC 18:  Business Sutra.

The 1st episode presented to us the most visible form of the business – the corporation: its meaning, its purpose and its action perspective. In the 2nd episode Devdutt Pattanaik discusses Leadership: Role of the leader, Context of the leader and Leadership in different business cycles. The 3rd episode relates to the Business Ethics and Morals:  business ethics and dilemmas, relationship between owner and the organization  and The Right (Dharma) – the Ramayana way and the Mahabharata way. The 4th episode deals with Conflicts, of the Board and the CEO and that of the means vs. ends. The 5th episode takes unto the realm of Education, wherein Part 1 covered the basics of education to the (potential) leaders in Ram’s Education, Part 2 addressed the Knowledge Transfer to Next Gen and Part 3 dealt with the issue of student motivation.  The 6th episode has taken up the oft-discussed topic of ‘measurement’, wherein in the Part 1, What Can Be Measured, dealt with the definitive need for not ‘only measurement’, but for ‘also measurement’ too and Part 2 dealt with mutual importance and dependence of Objectives versus Subjective Reality, whereas Part 3 evaluates ‘What is Your Worth?’ from these measurements perspectives. The 1st segment – Nature is destroyed when culture is created – of 7th episode establishes the inverse relationship between Environment and the human development. 2nd segment – The Environment Strikes Back describes what happens when human growth goes beyond the natural resources.

In the episode 8, Devdutt Pattnaik has picked up a very interesting subject of Family Feuds, so as to connect it up with the (perceived / actual / in-other’s-eyes) self-image.  He picks up the threads of family feuds from the days of Ramayana. Ramayana is a very complex epic, but apparently, it is very simplistically presented by many storytellers. It deals with fundamental issues of humanity such as property. The property is not a natural concept. It is a human construct, and it has shaped human history in dramatic ways. The Ramayana wonders if Ayodhya belongs to Ram or Ram belongs to Ayodhya. What defines Ram? Is it his royalty? He is fettered to the laws of the Raghu clan, but does he derive his self-image from it? Where does our self-image come from? The gap between who we really are and what we derive our identity from is quite stark when we read the Ramayana. Also stark is the relationship between Ram and Laxman. Is the point of existence loyalty or dharma? Are they not one and the same? Loyalty, one realizes, is materialistic virtue, not spiritual virtue. But why? It is the answer to this question which can add value to the sustainability of the organization.

Business Sutra |8.1| Three pairs of brothers

A good part of history, whether western or occidental, can be observed to relate the time line w.r.t. feuds. Most of these feuds would fall into the category of Family Feuds.

The 15 Bloodiest, Most Violent Family Feuds In History – From ancient times until today, the bloodiest family feuds in history are filled with stories of honor, vengeance, politics, and kinship. Though that may sound romantic, it wasn’t: family feuds often resulted in horrifying acts of barbarism and cruelty, like the Black Dinner Massacre. Some violent historical family feuds – like the one between the notorious Hatfields and McCoys – involved different families warring against one another. Others – like the extended family drama that was the War of the Roses – involved civil wars within a single family unit. But no matter how they began or who they involved, the result was always the same: factionalism, violence, and death.

For more detailed analysis of the Family Feuds, from Indian Mythology perspective, we will move on to Segment 1 of the episode 8 wherein Devdutt Pattanaik takes up the subject of Three pairs of brothers

Property is at the center of every epic battle in India and one would invariably find brothers on either side.

The oldest Greek stories are the epics Iliad and Odyssey. The Iliad is the story of last years of total war and Odyssey is the story of the Trojan War. “The Iliad” (Gr: “Iliás”) is an epic poem by the ancient Greek poet Homer, which recounts some of the significant events of the final weeks of the Trojan War and the Greek siege of the city of Troy. It is the story of participation of a Greek hero Achilles in battle, who leads the Greeks to victory and whose withdrawal leads to their defeat  The poem The Odyssey mainly focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus (known as Ulysses in Roman myths), king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the fall of Troy.. The Odyssey is the story of another soldier also for the Trojan War, a Greek warrior called Odysseus (known as Ulysses in Roman myths), king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. Both these epics are the narratives of two individuals on journey and what happens to them.

At the same time, India has two stories in the form epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Both are not the stories of individuals, but of two families, stories of politics. The difference in both sets of narratives is very strong. The Greek epics are about individuals, whereas the Indian epics are about families.  The Greek narratives strongly manifests the roots of the Western psyche.

Ramayana is the story of three brothers taking place across the three different zones of the Indian subcontinent.  The first set of brothers are in the city of Ayodhya the father is a king called Dashrath, one brother is Ram and another brother is Bharat. The second set of brother is in a Jungle city, called Kishkindha (the kingdom of the monkeys). The father is Riksha, one brother is Bali (or Vali) and the other brother is Sugriv. Then there is the third set of Brothers In the Land of Lanka, the father is a sage Vaishnav (sometimes known as Puatsya); one brother is called Ravana and his brother is Kuber.

One day King Dashrath comes to the Crown Prince, Ram and says that Ram should renounce his right to the throne of kingdom of Ayodhya in favour of his co-brother Bharat. Ram agrees instantly, without any demur or remorse. . Bharat also declines to ascend the throne and vows to take care of the kingdom in the absence of Ram by placing Ram’s wooden sandals on the throne. This is a very ideal situation. This type of situation can occur only in North, not the geographical one, but the celestial one, where north is symbolized by the Pole Star. Meaning thereby that like the Pole Star, everything in north is constant, without subject to change w.r.t. circumstances. As may be observed Kailash is in north, under the Pole Star, symbolizing pure objectivity, an ideal. So Ram’s Ayodhya too is in north, a perfect place.

On the opposite end is South, where everything is always in the state of flux, changing constantly. This the land of Kuber and Ravana. Kuber is the guard of gold. He builds the city of Lanaka. It was not Ravan who build it. Ravan even did not inherit Lanka, he simply usurped it from Kuber. Lanka was built by Kuber on his own, so Ravan didi not have an iota of an ancestral inheritance right over it. The Lord of Lanka has forcefully acquired what did not at all belong to him.

In Kishkindha, father tells the two sons to share the property. However, there is some misunderstanding and Sugriv is deprived of his share. He approaches Ram , who is on his journey to release of his wife from an alpha male Ravan, who has become king of Lanka by usurping the throne from his bother. At that stage Vali also behaves like an alpha male, unwilling to any reasoning and sticking to his own point of view. There follows a battle between the two brothers. The entire battle is done without the code of conduct. Ram supports Sugriv in this battle. Vali acts like an animal during the entire battle and is killed by Ram. Sugriv has become the king of the monkeys so he behaves like a monkey, like an Alpha male. This is when Ram intervenes and tells Sugriv  not to go back to being an animal, now you have to behave with code of ethics, Dharama, which is what distinguished human being from the animal. You have to first show compassion for the defeated, which means you shall adopt Angad, the son of a brother Bali who was defeated. This is not what happens in the animal kingdom, the Alpha male will not adopt the progeny of the defeated.

This is the transformation taking place. Vali is much like Ravan, but Sugriv is being made to behave like Bharat. There is a balancing act; this the middle path. Even when Ravan is so well educated, so intelligent, so informed –equivalent of ten heads- but at a fundamental level he is behaving like a beast, wanting what others have and therefore the worst not the ideal. The land of the pole star is the land of wisdom, whereas this land of ignorance. Lanka is known as Maya Nagari, a phrase that says that this is the space of delusions. This is the place where you have wrong notions of the property, of the ownership that is rightfully not yours…..

The present episode ends at the point wherein the ground for the ‘right to the property’ is laid – at the level of morally and ethically what is right.

In our continuing journey of Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV serial Business Sutra, we will move on to the 2nd segment, Self and Self Image, of 8th episode, in our next episode.

Note: The images used in this post are the irrevocable property of their respective creator. They have been taken up courtesy the internet, so as to illustrate the point under discussion.