Management and leadership lessons You Can Learn From Hindu Dharma

We all know that Shiva and Indra were both gods. Shiva achieved his immortality by meditation or shall we say Tapasya. The Kama, the god of desire, was sacrificed during the Tapasya. Indra too achieved immortality by yagna by satisfying the Bhoga. When there is a desire for Bhoga, there will always be a yagna.

So yagna demands sacrifice. However, Indra couldn’t handle the consequences of the sacrifice. You might already know the story of Samudra Manthan. Indra performs the Samudra Manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk, to gain amrita, that which is supposed to bring immortality. Along with that, Halahal was also produced. Halahal is supposed to be the most dangerous poison and was going to destroy the world. Indra couldn’t handle this. Instead, Shiva consumes it, after which he is known to be the Mahadeva, the one who is greater than gods. Indra, on the other hands, remains just a mere god.

What’s this related to management and leadership? Everyone ones to gain that Amrita that will give him power. There will always be some sort of sacrifice needed. But there will be consequences of the actions. And there are certain halahal that’s produced. Not everyone is able to handle the halahal, but one cannot wish not to handle it.

Let’s talk about another story:

When Sati asked Shiva to show her his house, he did not have any. So, she further questioned him: “What protects you from the heat in summer?” He took her to the valley of Deodar trees. She put further another question: “What protects you from the rain?” He took her to the cave. “What protects you from the cold winter?” asked Sati. He took her to the peak of Mount Kailasa. She asked, “Where do you keep fire?” He took her to a crematorium where funeral pyres are always burning.

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She declared him to be Bhola – the simpleton, pure soul. She fell in love with him. The lesson from this is: Everything in the world has its place.

Now let’s break down to some core management and leadership lessons:

Value is imagination

In a company, value is everything. People don’t buy products or services. What they are buying is the value of the products or services. Just like how an animal is hungry, it values food, and when it is frightened, it values shelter, the notion of value changes and shifts. But it is something that mitigates the fears, satisfies the predator and comforts the prey inside of a human being.

Here is one story:

Mahisha, the buffalo-demon, was at war with the gods. As they were fighting, the gods were asked to release the inner power Shakti and merge outside to create the external power of Durga who could kill the demon.

Art by scorpy-roy on DeviantArt

Shakti is the inner strength of a company, and Durga is the outer strength for a company. Positive recognitions such as praise empowers us when we get Durga from outside, but when we need to give it to the Durga, we rarely take advantage of it because we are only looking to take power and not give. In a company, it is very important to give that value to your customers, so that you get the positive recognitions such as money or praise or development of your brand in return.

Team empowerment

Frustration level can rise when things are not happening the right way. However, when you as a leader see your team’s lack of performance, it can frustrate you. At the same time, your treatment to them also frustrates them. You are only looking to take the Durga, and not looking to give the Durga. Thus, nobody feels empowered. An unempowered team then cannot reach the goal. Everyone might not have the inner power – the Shakti, and thus, one might need to rely on Durga from an external source to empower themselves. As a leader, you are their Durga, and they are your Durga.

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Management of desire

We imagine a world without hunger. Such a world exists in the Hindu dharma. It is called the Kailasha, the mountainous abode of Shiva. Or we imagine the other way around – the world where every hunger is satisfied. This place in the Hindu dharma is known to be the Amaravati (also known as Indra Loka) the abode of Devas. If you look at Kailasa, it is about yoga and outgrowing hunger pangs. If you look at Amravati, it is about Bhoga and indulging hunger pans.

These Kailasha and yoga might be unrealistic for the business world. But the world of Bhoga is the same as the market. It is because of the consumers and the businessman that businesses exist to satisfy the Bhoga, which then creates the marketplace, and thus the goods and services are exchanged.

Employees and Bosses

There are two worlds that Shiva lives in. One is the Kailash, the high snow-capped Himalayan range where he sits in a serene meditation as the teacher, Adi Nath. And the other one is the Kashi, where Shiva is the Vishwanath, the lord of the world, involved in the activities of life and death.

Which is better? The Kashi or the Kailash?


That’s the same in the corporate world too. At the top, the boss sits, while at the bottom, the employees sit. At the employee level, the value is created and is thus the downstream model. At the boss’s level, the appraisal is done and promotions are granted and is thus the upstream model.

That is the irony of the corporate world. And it depends on where you look at things subjectively. However, if you look at it objectively, you will find that one cannot exist without the other.

The Office Culture

When Chandra the moon god disobeyed his father-in-law, Daksha Prajapati (the father-in-law) cursed Chandra that he would suffer from wasting disease. Since Chandra was a sky-god, he went to Indra for help. He said, “The only person who can help you is Shiva.”

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So, he went to Shiva to seek help. When Shiva opened his eyes and saw his misery, he didn’t speak a word and placed him on his forehead. Instantly, he began to wax again.

Offices are filled with Daksha Prajapatis and Shivas. There are people like Daksha Prajapati who can cause us trouble, and there are people like Shiva who can produce a calming effect and assist us on our path. You just got to find Shivas for yourself to feel energized and focus on your work with complete enthusiasm.

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