Corporate musings

Happy Ganesha Chaturthi – Think on your feet & the art of Negotiation


I had written this blog five years back on Ganesh Chaturthi and titled it “Happy Birthday Ganesha”. I was corrected by one of my blog readers that Ganesh Chaturthi was not Ganesha’s birthday but the day we pray to him and celebrate him. This is why I love blogging …. you are constantly learning something new. The following story however is as relevant. So reposting it here with an additional story.

First Story – Thinking on your feet

There are many stories of Lord Ganesha, but one particularly stands out for me. The story goes that the Devas (Gods) talked about the qualities of the brothers, Ganesha and Karthik and a doubt arose in the mind of one of them, “Who is the wiser of the two brothers, Ganesh or Karthik?”. One of the other Devas suggested asking Lord Brahma as he is the creator of the world.

Brahma said he didn’t know who was wiser because he was the creator of mankind and not divine beings 🙂 but offered his son Narada’s help. Narada, the son of Lord Brahma, is a mischievous sage who is famous for creating trouble, but the great thing about his pranks and mischief was they usually ended on a happy note. Sage Narada agreed to help and flew to Mount Kailash to meet with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Ganesha and Karthik’s parents. He takes a magical Mango with him and offers it to Lord Shiva saying, it was the sweetest Mango in the world and whoever ate it will also get eternal wisdom. The only condition was the person cannot cut and share it. He had to savor it alone. Just when this is happening, both Ganesha and Karthik come there. Seeing the Mango, Karthik jumps up and says he wants it as he loves Mangoes. Ganesha says he is the elder brother and he too loves Mangoes so he should get it.

Sage Narada suggests that they hold a competition between the brothers and whoever is the winner gets to eat the Mango. The brothers agree and the competition is set as “the one who circles the Universe thrice, fastest, gets the fruit”. Karthik is happy as his vehicle the Peacock was much faster than Ganesha’s mouse. Karthik immediately sets off and starts circling the Universe. Ganesha in the mean time requests his parents, Lord Shiva and Parvati, to stand and starts going around them thrice !! When Lord Shiva asks him why he is going around them, Ganesha says, they represent the Universe so going around them was going around the Universe. Obviously he wins the magical Mango and the Devas get their answer, thanks to Sage Narada’s smart game.

It’s a simple story, but it brings out the important aspect of “thinking on your feet” or basic common sense helping you to win even if the circumstances are stacked against you. In this story, Lord Ganesha is huge and the little mouse cannot obviously beat a lithe peacock carrying the even more lither Lord Karthik. Lord Ganesha could have accepted defeat and just sulked, but no, he thought on his feet, was quick to realise that his parents were actually the Universe and used the spirit of the competition rather than the letter, and won … How many times in life, at work, in relationships, we just give up the minute the chips are down or we feel an adversary is stronger than us ? Everytime you feel like the odds are against you remember the friendly Lord Ganesha and use your common sense. The magical Mango can be yours.

Second Story – The Art of Negotiation 

The world’s longest and greatest poem, the Mahabharata was recited by Sage Ved Vyasa. He went to Lord Ganesha asking him to be the scribe. Ganesha agreed, but had one condition, that Ved Vyasa must recite without a break. The Sage agreed with a condition of his own that Ganesha would not write anything that he didn’t understand. Smart Sage or rather Wise Sage. Ganesha started writing as the Sage started reciting and he was very quick. Now, the Sage sometimes needed a break, but he had agreed to Ganesha’s condition of reciting non-stop. He used the clause that he had wisely inserted in the T&C with Ganesha effectively – every time Ved Vyasa needed a break, he would recite a really difficult, complicated verse and while Ganesha scratched his head to figure out the meaning before writing that down, the Sage got a few minutes of rest. Legend has it that Ganesha wrote non-stop for six months !! The Mahabharata has 100,000 verses so it may be true after all that Ganesha took that long.

This story brings home the art of negotiation – a good negotiator will always manage to get the terms and conditions to be fair to him as well. While Sage Ved Vyas apparently agreed to Ganesha’s T&C that he should recite non-stop, by adding the clause that Ganesha must not write down anything that he doesn’t understand, the Sage managed to get some much needed break during the recitation.

So the learning for the day is that most situations and T&C’s are negotiable.

Ganpati Bappa Morya !! Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

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