Arjuna – Lessons in Up-skilling and Re-skilling

Painting by Giampaolo Tomassetti. Taken from the internet.


In the ongoing Mahabharata re-telecast, in an episode yesterday Guru Dronacharya constructs the Chakravyuha (a battle formation) in order to capture Yudhistra. The Kaurava strategy was to lure Arjuna away by getting the Susharma brothers to engage him in a duel. Arjuna falls prey to that strategy and keeps following the Susharma brothers who lead him far away from the battlefield. Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu is the only one besides Arjuna and Krishna who knows how to enter the Chakravyuha. When he comes forward to do that, the rest of his uncles assure him that they will follow him in as he didn’t know how to exit the Chakravyuha. Unfortunately, Jayadratha, successfully stops the other Pandava warriors from entering the Chakravyuha. Abhimanyu is left with no support and seven “maharathis” (great warriors) get together and kill this courageous young warrior, totally going against the rules of engagement set by Pitamaha Bhishma. When Arjuna returns to the camp, and realises what has happened, he immediately takes a vow to kill Jayadratha before sundown the next day because he was the one who ensured that help didn’t reach Abhimanyu.

Jayadratha comes to Guru Dronacharya’s camp in the evening to say he wants to go back to his Kingdom as he cannot survive Arjuna’s attack the next day and will be killed. Then he asks Dronacharya that even though both he and Arjuna were students of his, how come Arjuna is considered as the greatest “dhanurdhar” (archer) and no one else is even close. Dronacharya answers by saying that I taught all of you equally, but, while the rest of you were satisfied with what you learnt from me, Arjuna kept on learning from every source and kept upgrading his skills, that’s why he is the greatest archer and not any of you.

The Mahabharata has some lesson for all of us in every episode … the above exchange is profound. Dronacharya clearly says that you have to keep upskilling yourself even if you went to the “best” university and had the “best” professors teaching you. Arjuna goes to heaven and acquires “divya astras” or divine weapons long before the Kurukshetra war is even thought of. He is constantly re-skilling and upskilling himself. What does it tell us ? Learning never stops !! Even if you were the topper in your class/country, by the time you start working, you need new skills, new learnings, new insights. Keep on skilling yourself. That’s the only way to survive in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Look at what’s happening with jobs during the lockdown – nearly everyone is having to work remotely. Have you picked up the skills required to do that? Have you learnt to hold effective virtual meetings? Have you learnt to motivate and engage your team members remotely ?

Virtual working is here to stay. The benefits far outweigh the challenges and the corporate world will keep moving towards working remotely. The savings are too big to ignore and the collateral advantages of lower pollution, a greener Earth are too hard to pass up.

How prepared are you ?

#Up-Skill #Re-Skill #VUCAWorld #VirtualWork

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