Episode 11 – The sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” of Lord Rama – Important lessons on Leadership

rama-sita

In the previous episode, we witnessed the significance of Sage Naarada and in course, we also saw the essential qualities of an “Aacharya” (Spiritual Master). Further, we saw that Valmiki Maharishi poses sixteen questions to Sage Naarada as to who is that one person living on this earth currently as an embodiment of all the sixteen qualities. What are those sixteen qualities? Let’s discuss in detail from today.

I shall quote the slokas pertaining to the context and subsequently narrate and expand the qualities, for better understanding:

 

“Konvasmin saampradam loke gunavaan kasya veeryavaan!

Dharmagnyascha kritagnyascha sathyavaakyo dridavrathaha!! (1)

Chaarithrenacha koyuktaha sarvabhooteshu kohitaha!

Aatmavaankaha jithakrodaha dyuthimaan konasuyakaha!! (2)

Vidvaankaha kaschamarthascha tasyayika priyadarshanaha!

Kasyabibyrathi devaascha jaatharoshascha sanyuge!!”   (3)

 

Let’s look at each of the sixteen qualities one by one in detail:

  1. Gunavaan – (Sousheelyam)This is the crux of the very purpose of Lord Rama’s incarnation. Here, I shall quote the deeper explanation about this quality as described in Sanskrit for a better understanding:

“Mahathaha mandaissaha neerandrena samskleshaha svabhaavam” – Sousheelyam

Now, what is “Sousheelyam”?  A person is said to possess the quality of “Sousheelyam” when he/she comes down to the lowest level of his people and accepts everyone unconditionally. For instance, we can see this quality in Rama wherein when he goes to the forest, he accepts Guha, the leader of the hunters as his younger brother. He accepts Sugriva, the king of the Vaanaras (Monkeys) as his brother. He accepts Hanuman as one of his best devotees, who by nature is born in the clan of monkeys. He then proclaims Vibishana, a person who’s born in the Rakshasa (Demon) clan as his brother too. So, in all these cases we can observe that Lord Rama treats everyone equally without any variations, whoever they are and wherever they originate from, and hence this noble quality is called Sousheelyam.

In the modern day leadership perspective, this characteristic assumes extreme significance for a leader to remain relevant amongst his/her followers. Especially for people in politics and allied areas, wherein huge masses of people should accept a person as their leaders, it’s very important for this person to gain the trust and win the confidence of them. How will that happen? This is possible only if the leader establishes a “connect” with his/her people. How will this connect happen? It would happen only with the help of this characteristic called “Sousheelyam” – wherein the leader goes down to the level of each and every individual, interacts with him or her and make them realize that he/she also has a special place in the leader’s heart. It is only because of this special significance of this characteristic in a leader, Valmiki Maharishi has placed “Gunavaan” or “Sousheelyam” as the very first characteristic of an ideal leader. Hence we can also infer from this that, “Sousheelyam” is the primary and the foremost important characteristic of a good leader.

  1. Veeryavaan – This can be interpreted as “Strength”. It’s well known that Lord Rama was a great and a fierce warrior bestowed with extraordinary powers and strength. Hence, along with “Sousheelyam”, if “Veeram” (Strength) joins in, this combination might prove deadly to any enemy in this world.

It’s quite rare in this world (even today) to find a person who has this combination. For instance, many people might be very compassionate enough to move with all people equally, but they might lack in strength and intensity, whereas some people might be extremely fierce in strength, but they would be too proud about themselves and in turn loose their popularity amongst their people due to some of their misdeeds. We can relate numerous examples of kings, presidents, prime ministers of various countries of today to prove this. But ultimately who is a good leader? A good leader is a person who has a combination of “Sousheelyam” and “Veeram” and this is evident from Lord Rama’s life in many ways. We shall see in successive episodes, how relevant was Rama’s life with respect to these qualities.

What are the other important qualities (Kalyana Gunas) described by Valmiki as part of the sixteen questions? Let’s continue discussing in the next episode!!

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