Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita 18 – Unique Gifts

Chapter 2 Verses 32 and 33 –

यदृच्छया चोपपन्नं स्वर्गद्वारमपावृतम् |
सुखिन: क्षत्रिया: पार्थ लभन्ते युद्धमीदृशम् || 32||

yadṛichchhayā chopapannaṁ swarga-dvāram apāvṛitam
sukhinaḥ kṣhatriyāḥ pārtha labhante yuddham īdṛiśham

yadṛichchhayāunsought; chaand; upapannamcome; swargacelestial abodes; dvāramdoor; apāvṛitamwide open; sukhinaḥhappy; kṣhatriyāḥwarriors; pārthaArjun, the son of Pritha; labhanteobtain; yuddhamwar; īdṛiśhamsuch
Translation :- O Parth, happy are the warriors to whom such opportunities to defend righteousness come unsought, opening for them the stairway to the celestial abodes.

अथ चेतत्वमिमं धर्म्यं संग्रामं न करिष्यसि |
तत: स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं च हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि || 33||

atha chet tvam imaṁ dharmyaṁ saṅgrāmaṁ na kariṣhyasi
tataḥ sva-dharmaṁ kīrtiṁ cha hitvā pāpam avāpsyasi

atha chetif, however; tvamyou; imamthis; dharmyam saṅgrāmamrighteous war; nanot; kariṣhyasiact; tataḥthen; sva-dharmamone’s duty in accordance with the Vedas; kīrtimreputation; chaand; hitvāabandoning; pāpamsin; avāpsyasiwill incur
Translation :- If, however, you refuse to fight this righteous war, abandoning your social duty and reputation, you will certainly incur sin.

The link to this page is – https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/2/verse/33

The lessons I glean from these two verses are as follows –

Clearly Arjuna is a great warrior. He has exceptional skills in archery and is the star warrior for the Pandavas. He is also well read and understands the laws of Dharma. Its very interesting to see Krishna talk about sin in the context of a mega war and sin, not for killing the enemy but for refusing to kill the enemy !!

I have always held the belief that if we don’t fight the just war, then the world slips into a mess. For e.g, Pakistan, India’s neighbouring country refuses to stop its support to terrorist organizations and constantly sends in terrorists to create trouble in India and kill innocent people. One of the most cowardly terrorist act of theirs was attacking the iconic Hotel Taj Mahal in 2008. While their bigger plan was nixed by our security forces, we lost several civilians and decorated commandos in that attack. India’s response at that time was just denunciation and a strong condemnation of Pakistan and the one terrorist who was caught alive was treated well, went through the full legal process at our expense and was finally hanged in 2012 a full four years after the dastardly attack that he was part of. Like many other Indians, I was furious. The just thing to do would have been to attack Pakistan and clear every last terrorist training school there. India didn’t fight the just war then and we are still paying the price.

As a human being, each of us is endowed with our own unique gifts – things that we are the best at. The way Jack Welch can lead is unique and the way my friend and ex-colleague Geojo can work on Excel is unique. Those are their special gifts. If a Jack Welch had not led we would have missed out on the greatest CEO of all times and if Geojo had stayed away from Excel, many of us, his colleagues would not have used it even half as effectively as we do now. What Krishna is saying in these verses is, you incur sin if you don’t use your unique gifts ! If your unique gift is to murder or steal, turn it around to benefit mankind. The intention with which you use your gift is important. This concept obviously doesn’t apply to the clinically psychotic people. Those people need psychiatric help. But the rest of the world is full of normal people who refuse to use their special skills and that needs to change.

As Krishnan and I coach senior leaders, its always an “aha” moment as they discover their own unique gifts and talents… and also a wake up call to use those ! Often we are super focussed on our weaknesses and forget that we possess some amazing strengths. Also one’s life purpose is not very clear or obvious always, but the definite path to finding your life purpose is to use your unique gifts for the benefit of others and very quickly you find your life purpose lies just ahead.

Happy Monday and go on incur a lot of good Karma by using your unique gifts today and everyday from now.

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