The Eternal Journey

The Eternal Journey

Ram versus Ram

Well, keep reading if you are surprised by the title. You will know it by the end of this piece of writing.

I’m not really interested in narrating the entire story of Ramayana, as all of us know it. However I’d like to draw your attention to one incident in the story, which I’m sure very few of us would have known. I have been having a great obsession towards Leadership these days and so, this is again about Lord Ram and his relevance in today’s leadership. This is a compiled version of a few essays that I happened to read long ago.

During the war, Lord Ram had a battalion of monkeys and bears on his side facing the mighty Ravan and his hordes of evil Rakshasas knowing that they were no match for the enemy. Vibhishan, the youngest brother of Ravan, who joined forces with Ram, asks him, “My dear Lord, How will you defeat this insurmountable army with your very limited resources?”
“My dear Vibhishana”, replied Ram, “to win a battle, all you have to make sure is that you have a clear vision and a cause worth fighting for.”

In case of Lord Ram, the cause was to rescue his wife Sita, and the Vision was clearly to defeat the evil forces on this planet.

Lord Ram further narrated to Vibhishan that the four wheels of the chariot are Character, Courage, Ethics and Valour. Character is the most fundamental thing for a leader. It is essential for the leader to walk the talk. It is key to communicate to your people who you are, what you stand for, more through your actions than mere words. Leadership doesn’t come from a business card, nor does respect. It is the ethics, the value system you embody that does the needful. Courage is the ability to take unpopular decisions whereas valor is the courage to defend those very decisions. Unpopular decisions are always a part of every leader’s life and like someone said, Leadership begins where logic ends, you show the valour, walk the talk, and rest assured, your teammates will follow you.

Lord Ram further enumerated what the horses drawing the chariot stood for. They are, he said, strength, energy, and passion. As a leader, you must always have good control on your senses. That is what gives you the strength to discriminate between the right and wrong, and the passion and perseverance to keep working towards your goal.

The four reins of a horse, he went on to say, are forgiveness, compassion, consistency, and equanimity. As a leader, you should know when to use these qualities onto your people. It is always essential to touch ones’ heart before you ask for the hand, which calls for compassion and forgiveness. And to sustain the trust you build with your followers, there is no better way than being consistent and showing equanimity.

The chariot’s wheels, the horses, and their reins are among the most important of a warrior’s (and therefore a leader’s) repertoire.

“Knowledge, Strategy, Intelligence, Skills, Commitment and a restraint of Ego are the weapons” proclaimed Lord Ram to Vibhishana and his army, “with which we can win this mammoth battle. Arm yourselves with these and no war will ever be lost.”
And the rest is history (or probably mythology, for those who think so).

In the present day, many leaders focus a lot on analysis before taking decisions. In the process, people drown themselves into so much data that they end up suffering from Analysis Paralysis. And moreover, there is always a poor secretary in a state of neural insomnia with the gross data dancing in his/her mind. Many times, despite all data, these leaders derive so much fun through Intellectual Masturbation thereby landing up in new crossroads every time, thereby reaching nowhere. If we carefully observe the qualities as said by Lord Ram, it has got to do more with Emotional Quotient than Intelligence Quotient. So, as leaders, it is always important for us to substitute a piece of our brain with a piece of our heart and then get into a situation. Swimming against the gushing stream of analysis, we miss to see the serene ocean of simplicity. A leader should be like the Ocean which can take in many turbulent rivers, however never gets turbulent.

Finally, you need to be consistent in your approach to different people, no matter who they are and where they are coming from. Leadership calls for consistency, one of the reins of the horse, as the Ramayana so beautifully enumerates. Keep the words of the charioteer in mind and results are sure to follow. As leaders, you might be doing a zillion things, from inspiring to coaching to strategizing but nothing will be accounted for if you don’t produce results. And the best way to produce results is the ability to motivate yourself and inspire your team to achieve your goal. That’s what leadership, as well as the essence of Rama’s words, is all about.

P.S.: Though not so relevant to the topic discussed above, I'm provoked to write about what I read on RGV's Twitter. He is planning his next movie 'RGV ki Ramayan', which is a contemporary interpretation of the epic. Here's what he shared. 

Dasharath Rao owns Ayodhya group of companies, his first wife Kaushalya and second wife Kaikeyi Agarwal, whom he marries on a business trip (no mention of the youngest wife, probably Sumitra Mukherjee or Sumitra Chatopadhyay). Mr. Rao promises Kaikeyi Agarwal that he will hand over his business to her son Bharat Kumar, and not to Ram Shankar, his first wife's son. He instead asks Ram to head a really sick unit, situated far away. Lakshman shankar, follows his brother Ram Shankar (Again, Mr. Shatrughna Sinha, don't feel bad, for you are missed out). 

Enter Ravan Raju, who heads their major competitor Lanka group of companies and also beings in a twist in the entire tale. Ravan has a brother Bheeshan Raju and a Sister Shoorapauna (again, no mention of his other brother, or did he want to save money on a hungry/sleepy character throughout the movie??). Shoorapauna is a party animal and a drug addict.

And now, you know the rest of the story. Stop...... Don't bet your guesses against this man who always takes you by surprise. I'm just hoping that this remake doesn't resemble his 'RGV ki Aag' which is yet another remake of an epic, Sholay. 

I'd see RGV no less when compared to Adolf Hitler. If Hitler is the most controversial example on contemporary inspirational leadership, RGV, to me, is a controversial example in the same light. If for 2 decades he has been making, marketing and surviving movies through one new team and one new technique every time, I see no reason to contest his candidature to the elite list of today's leaders. What say??

With my longest ever P.S., before i go any more crazier, I wish to wish all my fellow Indians 'Best of Luck' before they face RGV again.

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About Uday Sankar Yerramilli

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  1. Good article, Uday. Since the article is pertaining to my field 'Learning and Leadership Development, I found the article very stimulating'. I liked the analogies made to the Chariot, horse & the reins and its relation to the required leadership skills.

    About your long P.S.; I wonder why did you mention RGV as a leader? As you have said, RGV could end up turning up surprises and even some misguided hits, still that doesnt make him a leader, rite? For eg,the most influential person of our century, the late Steve Jobs is a good example of someone who conjures surprising innovations, still that didnt make him a good leader.


  2. Thank you Prashant & Kiran.


    In case of RGV, i'd like to take you back to the two things required for a leader to win a battle, Cause and Vision. I hence, compared RGV on the likes of Hitler. If he has been surviving so many people in the industry for 2 decades, there is definitely something in him which makes such a team work with him. If he has been able to convince producers to invest whatever peanuts in his movie, there is definitely some skill in him.

    This is why, i quoted him as a controversial example for leadership.. You may rather call it misguided leadership..