Lord Krishna: The Master Strategist - 2

Lord Krishna – A Great Motivator

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When Arjuna reached the battlefield, he lost his motivation and determination to fight after seeing that his opponents included many of his close and distant relatives, both young and old, whom he had to kill just for the sake of kingdom. He became weaker and sentimental. He was not only reluctant, unwilling, and hesitant, but also resisted from fighting and dropped his weapons in great despair. At that precise moment, Lord Krishna, by his speech, motivated Arjuna to do his duty (karma) as a soldier and enlightened him about the broader aspects and finer nuances of human life. Krishna reminded Arjuna of his strength and potentiality, and his hidden energy. Krishna boosted his actual power, capacity and capability. He emphasized to Arjuna that strength was life and weakness was death, and that the true spirit was in unleashing one’s full potentiality and performing to the best of one’s ability. Arjuna was a sensitive but extremely thoughtful and righteous person, with a great sense of duty.

Krishna’s speech to Arjuna was later named as the ‘Bhagavad Gita’, which is still read and followed by innumerable people worldwide for generations. After hearing the Bhagavad Gita from Lord Krishna, Arjuna recovered, strengthened his mental resolve, and decided to fight. Thus, Lord Krishna instilled supreme motivation in Arjuna through the recitation of the Bhagavad Gita, which cleared Arjuna’s cobwebs of doubt, hopelessness, despair, and hesitation, and offered him not only renewed strength and energy to fight, but also provided him immunity from the resultant death, sorrow, trauma, loss, suffering, etc., that would ensue after the end of the war.

After the death of Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son, who died in the Chakravyuh,[1] all the Pandavas were immersed in deep grief as Abhimanyu was dearest to all the Pandavas and was a great warrior at a very tender age. It was Krishna again who pulled the Pandavas from their grief by motivating them to see the end of Jayadrath, who was responsible for Abhimanyu’s death.

Similarly, when it was revealed by Krishna and Kunthi that Karna was their elder brother, the Pandavas were soaked in profound grief after the death of Karna. They were overcome by a sense of deep guilt feeling for having killed their own brother, unknowingly though. They almost lost their motivation to fight further in the epic war. It was then that Krishna motivated the Pandavas not to bury themselves in grief as the war had not yet ended then. Krishna told the Pandavas to think of Karna as the Commander-in-Chief of the Kauravas, who was fighting them as an opponent and killing an opponent was not wrong in the epic war against injustice. Krishna further advised the Pandavas that they could mourn for Karna after the killing of Duryodhana, which would signal the end of the war. Thus, Krishna motivated the Pandavas at a crucial time, when the war was at the verge of conclusion.

Lord Krishna’s Out-Of-The-Box & On-The-Feet Thinking

Saving Arjuna from a Certain Death from Karna

When the final battle between Arjuna and Karna was in progress, Karna shot a Naga astra (snake weapon) at Arjuna, which was certain to cause his death, but at that very moment, Krishna stomped Arjuna’s chariot making it go down the earth for a few centimeters, which ensured that that arrow shot by Karna struck only Arjuna’s crown, thereby saving Arjuna’s life. This ‘on-the-feet’ thinking of Krishna proved to be a great saving grace for not only Arjuna, but also for the entire Pandavas and the Mahabharata war, as Arjuna was a critical character in the entire Mahabharata war.

Ensuring Duryodhana’s Death by Making Him Vulnerable

Lord Krishna’s on the feet and out-of-the-box thinking stood out in the entire epic war. As a true leader, Lord Krishna managed and influenced everyone, including Duryodhana, fabulously, to his advantage. When Lord Krishna learned that queen Gandhari had planned to employ the magical powers of her blindfolded eyes for long on Duryodhana to energize him and make his body as strong as a diamond to ensure he was invincible and immune from all attacks, he met a stark naked Duryodhana on the way to meet his mother and mocked at him, and advised him to at least cover up his groin area so that his private parts were not exposed to his mother, as he was an adult. This on-the-feet thinking of Lord Krishna, thus, cleverly prompted Duryodhana to cover up his groin area, and when Gandhari opened her eyes, his body was energized and became invincible everywhere, except for his thighs and groin area, which remained vulnerable, since it was covered. Lord Krishna, thus, influenced Duryodhana and made him vulnerable to death. Later in the epic fight between Bhima and Duryodhana, Lord Krishna reminded Bhima of his vow to split open Duryodhana’s thighs and thus ordered him to strike on his thighs. Bhima struck Duryodhana on his thighs with a mace and eventually killed him, leading to the end of the epic war and victory for the Pandavas.

Lord Krishna’s ‘on-the-feet’ thinking converted Duryodhana’s strength into a weakness, making him vulnerable and ensuring triumph to the Pandavas. Similarly, a strategist should learn from Krishna how to convert an opponent’s strength into weakness, which should look convincing to the opponent, without causing him an iota of doubt about his real intentions, but at the same time fortify the side he is supporting.

Saving Bhima from the Clutches of Dhritarashtra

After the Mahabharata war, Dhritarashtra invited Bhima to hug him as he said he wanted to ask his forgiveness. However, Lord Krishna knew that Dhritarashtra had great love for Duryodhana and would be looking for an opportunity to avenge his death. So, when Dhritarashtra invited Bhima to embrace him, Krishna anticipated this and asked Bhima to push a statue in front of Dhritarashtra, which Bhima did. Dhritarashtra immediately embraced the statue and crushed it into pieces. Later, when Dhritarashtra repented his misbehavior for the emotional aberration, Krishna revealed him that he had anticipated it and that it was a statue that Dhritarashtra had crushed and not the real Bhima. This ‘on-the-feet’ and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking of Krishna saved Bhima’s life.

Similarly, a great HR manager and leader should always try to protect his organization’s invaluable human resources from all kinds of danger by anticipating troubles and providing timely solutions to ensure a great workplace, so that the employees give their best to the organization.

Lord Krishna’s ‘Best HR Practices’

Lord Krishna is undoubtedly one of the best HR managers and the greatest ever HR evangelist, which was amply demonstrated in the Mahabharata war. The following points establish some of his best HR practices that are worth emulating by the contemporary corporate HR managers and leaders:

Quick Accessibility and a Great Problem-Solver

The way Lord Krishna treated his friends, Arjuna and Sudama, multiplied his appeal and utility as a great problem-solver.

When Draupadi remembered him, and chanted his name pleading him to protect her modesty when she was disrobed in the Hasthinapur King’s open court, Krishna immediately came to Draupadi’s rescue and saved her.

Similarly, during the Pandavas’ stay in the forests, Sage Durvasa and his 10,000 disciples suddenly visited them one day at an inopportune time and asked them to keep food ready for them by the time they came back after taking their bath. Although the Pandavas had a vessel called ‘Akshayapatra’ (the vessel of abundant food) gifted to them by the Sun god, which could produce unlimited quantity of food every day, it could not produce food until the next day, after the Pandavas had had their last meal of the day. Sage Durvasa and his 10,000 disciples had come at a time when the Pandavas had finished eating their last meal of the day and, hence, the vessel could not produce any more food for the day. Being helpless, Draupadi fervently prayed to Lord Krishna to save them from the wrath of Sage Durvasa, who was known for his short-temper and curses. Krishna appeared before Draupadi immediately and asked her to feed him as he was hungry. When Draupadi narrated the story to him, he asked for the Akshayapatra and found a grain of rice stuck to the vessel. He gulped it with relish and this tiny grain of food satiated the hunger of Sage Durvasa and his 10,000 disciples, who said that their stomachs were full and left them, pleased with their warm hospitality, kindness, and humility. Krishna thus saved the Pandavas from the curse of the Sage. His ready availability is his Unique Selling Proposition. This is a quality which many a manager would find good to inculcate.

Great leaders and managers should learn to be always readily accessible to their employees, apart from being a quick problem-solver of issues confronting them, and make them feel at home to be able to earn their trust and loyalty.

Flexible Approach

When it became clear that Jarasandha [2] would not allow the kingdom of Mathura to enjoy unabated peace for so long as Balarama [3] and he were there, Krishna did not hesitate to leave his comfort zone. To ensure the safety of the denizens of the city, he decided to build a new capital at Dwaraka and shifted his operations there.

When market dynamics change, business leaders should be flexible and not hesitate to travel to the hinterland. This helps them understand the customer behavior better, thereby improving their presence in diverse markets. Examples abound of companies that did not keep pace with the changes in technology and marketplace.

Friendly Demeanor & Impartiality

Whoever faced any challenge could approach him easily because of his pleasing and friendly demeanor. Whether it was Arjuna or Duryodhana, there was no hesitation in seeking his help, as he was impartial. How he decides to help depends on which side of ‘Dharma’ one happens to be on. Before the Mahabharata war, when Duryodhana approached Krishna for his support, Krishna gave him the support of his entire army (Narayani sena), while he offered himself to Arjuna and volunteered as his personal charioteer. The privilege of help was granted even to those who opposed him. Sisupala had the liberty of abusing him publicly up to a certain time.

True leaders are always impartial to their team members and maintain a friendly and pleasing demeanor. When a sudden challenge pops up, anyone can reach out to them without the slightest of hesitation and seek their help.

Adherence to Righteousness (‘Dharma’)

The values inherent in an organization’s corporate policy, and its vision and mission constitute the ‘Dharma’ of all managers, leaders, and CEOs.

When Krishna was invited to Duryodhana’s palace for a sumptuous feast, he declined it. Instead, he preferred to have simple food at Vidura’s place. When Draupadi got disrobed in King Dhritarashtra’s court, he protected her honor. When war became inevitable, he sided with the Pandavas. Invariably, he sided with those who followed the path of righteousness. Great business leaders always do what is right, irrespective of the repercussions.

Unstinted Support

When Abhimanyu got killed on the battlefield, a grief-stricken Arjuna vowed to slay Jayadratha – the warrior responsible for his son’s death – by next sunset, or kill himself. Krishna managed to save Arjuna’s honor, and brought great relief to the Pandavas. Krishna provided unstinted support to Arjuna, as Arjuna was completely committed to his cause.

Similarly, when Duryodhana appeared to be invincible in his mace fight with Bhima, Krishna gestured to Bhima to hit Duryodhana on his thighs, thereby incapacitating him. When Balarama became livid at Bhima for attacking Duryodhana unfairly and having broken a cardinal principle in his final duel with Duryodhana, and wanted to punish Bhima for his mistake, Krishna intervened to pacify Balarama and reminded him of the several injustices perpetrated by the Kauravas on the Pandavas. Krishna also refreshed Balarama’s memory of Sage Maitreya, who had cursed that a great war that ensured Duryodhana’s death by the breaking of his thighs would ensue since Duryodhana had once insulted the sage by hitting his own thighs with his palms, mocking at him. Moreover, Krishna explained Balarama that Bhima had vowed to kill Duryodhana by tearing apart his thighs when Duryodhana had insulted Draupadi by asking her to sit on his thighs in the King’s court before disrobing her, and so, by hitting Duryodhana on his thighs, Bhima had only fulfilled his vow, which was fair. Thus, Krishna always offered his unstinted support to the Pandavas in the war as they were on the side of ‘dharma’.

Similarly, great managers and leaders should provide unstinted support to those who remain totally committed and loyal to the organization and its cause.

A Global Mindset & Macro Thinking

Krishna personally had nothing to gain from the great Mahabharata war. All his actions were directed towards the overall benefit of the humanity and posterity. Once Yudhishtra assumed charge of the entire kingdom, peace prevailed and there was all-round development.

Great business leaders should emulate the same quality from Krishna. They should imbibe a global mindset and think about the larger good of the employees in an organization, and ensure their policies are in sync with employee welfare. They should try to give back to the society in several ways by following sustainable business practices and ensure that their companies’ operations do not cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem, at large.

Leading from Behind

Lord Krishna led the army from behind. He led an army of eminent and highly skilled people. Each one of the warriors he led had great prowess, expertise and self-mastery in a field of warfare. Krishna also got to manage people who were shrewder and more cunning than him.

In the services sector as well as in the emerging knowledge economy, leaders mostly manage from behind. Depending upon the situation at hand, leaders should switch from one mode to another, varying the style from one person to another.


When the war ended and all his 100 sons got killed, Dhritarashtra attempted to kill Bhima by crushing him in a tight embrace. Krishna anticipated this by reading his mind – and deftly pushed across a metal statue instead, which Dhritarashtra crushed with his embrace – and, thereby, saved Bhima’s life.

Smart leaders and managers go beyond ‘analysis by paralysis.’ They use information wisely, but also rely on their intuition, ensuring a more balanced decision-making. They protect their human resources, whom they consider as real assets, with their timely intervention through anticipation or intuition.

Giving the Right Directions

A manager or a leader should always take good care of their employees and give them the right directions to help them successfully achieve the set objectives. This can be learned from an incident in Mahabharata.

The story is about the fight between Bhima and Jarasandha in the presence of Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Krishna asked Jarasandha to choose among Arjuna, Bhima, or Krishna to fight with him. Jarasandha picked Bhima as the one worthy to fight with him. Bhima and Jarasandha fought for days, matching each other.

Every time Bhima killed Jarasandha and separated his body into two halves, Jarasandha’s body miraculously rejoined again. Bhima realized that Jarasandha was more than an equal match to him and looked up to Lord Krishna for direction. Lord Krishna, who was fully aware of the story of Jarasandha’s birth, picked up a stick, broke it in two halves and threw the two halves far away from each other and in opposite directions. Bhima, who understood the symbolism, threw Jarasandha to the ground and split his body into two halves. He then threw the two halves of Jarasandha’s body far away from each other in opposite directions, thus killing him.

Controlling and Role Allocation

Controlling an army of 1.53 million soldiers and warriors and motivating them to fight against a larger army was no easy task. The 1.53 million soldiers were divided in seven divisions, led by a commander each, further controlled by a supreme commander, who himself was guided by the Pandavas and Krishna. All this was made possible with the help of Lord Krishna’s impeccable management and controlling skills. According to management guru Henry Fayol, no mission can achieve desired results without appropriate role allocation. However, with the right team spirit and appropriate role allocation, one can achieve everything. The position of Arjuna, the role of Bhima, the execution of work by Yudhishtra – all these issues were decided by Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna himself was ‘God’ and he could have accomplished all the tasks himself without involving a single person. But in the Mahabharata war, Krishna assumed a non-combatant role and the Pandavas won the war due to Krishna’s extraordinary managerial qualities of maneuvering his resources effectively, thus achieving 100% of the desired objectives. Thus, we can call him the greatest HR evangelist and manager in the world.

Continued to Next Page 


[1] A labyrinth-like kind of arrangement of soldiers, which acts as a human shield and makes it extremely difficult for a warrior to enter it or exit it.

[2] Jarasandha was the king of Magadha. He was a descendant of King Brihadratha, the founder of the Barhadratha dynasty of Magadha. He was also a great devotee of the Hindu god Shiva.

[3] Lord Krishna’s elder brother.


More by :  P. Mohan Chandran

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