Kṛṣṇa & Neuro Linguistic Programming – Part 4

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is a great way to observe, analyze, assess, intervene and assist people needing help and indeed to assist ourselves. It is a great tool to assist when we are at our weakest.

Recap of Series: Parts 1 – 3

We present the proposition, Kṛṣṇa is a Master at Neuro Linguistic Programming over a series of articles titled Kṛṣṇa & Neuro Linguistic Programming. For the sake of completeness I think its best that I provide a short Recap of the previous articles, before I move ahead to complete the proposition in the last part of this series.

Part 3 of this series, Kṛṣṇa & Neuro Linguistic Programming shows how that great warrior Arjuna is flummoxed (greatly confused). He is faced with the prospect of going to war with armies comprising of relatives, friends and kinsmen. We get an opportunity to delve deep into his mind, through his comments, statements and body language.
In Part 2, we present the basic tenets of NLP - Neuro Linguistic Programming. I mention briefly here the various steps and techniques that form the basis of NLP. They are Sentiment Analysis, Intent, Topics, Language, Reframing Issues, Anchoring, Building Rapport, Pacing & Leading, Mirroring, Remodeling Beliefs & Perceptions. Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP as its referred to in short, is predominantly about outcome facilitation. It is very powerful and used in many different ways including, effective communication, personal development and psychotherapy. When adopted in day to day life it has application in personal and professional situations. We also compared this battlefield setting to situations in a corporate setting.
In Part 1, we present common dilemmas faced by people from all walks of life, which affect mental health and cause inability to take appropriate decisions. We mention that this work is based on the most famous Indian scripture, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. However, we have shied away from the religious and spiritual aspects of the text and instead merely used the backstories and the narrative to set context. 

Responses from Kṛṣṇa: Neuro Linguistic Programming

This entire series deals with my proposition that Kṛṣṇa is a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner. This Part 3 deals with how Kṛṣṇa responds to Arjuna using classic NLP techniques and strategies.

Kṛṣṇa pays close attention to Arjuna’s comments and observes his body language. He is aware of the context, the intent and the circumstances. His role is that of mentor, guru, charioteer, friend and relative. It is on the basis of all these roles, he intervenes and assists Arjuna is arriving at the right decision and facilitate an outcome.

What Arjuna certainly didn’t contend with is that, in Kṛṣṇa, he had not merely the best possible guide, but simultaneously a most difficult task master. One who would not permit weakness and let a just cause be lost, under any circumstances. Little did Arjuna realize that with the utmost skill and dexterity, Kṛṣṇa would do nothing short of getting his Chief Executive to complete the mission.

Through masterful intervention techniques, all based on Neuro Linguistic Programming, Kṛṣṇa compels Arjuna to submit to his will and finally Arjuna accepts Kṛṣṇa as his Guru and asks for instructions. 

Quoting Kṛṣṇa

We now quote His words from certain relevant verses from Bhagavad-gītā As It Is.

Seeing Arjuna full of compassion, his mind depressed, his eyes full of tears, Madhusūdana, Kṛṣṇa, spoke the following words.

Bg. 2.1

My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.

Bg. 2.2

O son of Pṛthā, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.

Bg. 2.3

O descendant of Bharata, at that time Kṛṣṇa, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.

Bg. 2.10

While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.

Bg. 2.11:

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

Bg. 2.13

O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

Bg. 2.14

O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.

Bg. 2.15

O Pārtha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?

Bg. 2.21

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

Bg. 2.22

If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] will always be born and die forever, you still have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed.

Bg. 2.26

One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

Bg. 2.27

Considering your specific duty as a kṣatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting; and so there is no need for hesitation.

Bg. 2.31

O Pārtha, happy are the kṣatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.

Bg. 2.32

If, however, you do not perform your duty of fighting, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.

Bg. 2.33

People will always speak of your infamy, and for a respectable person, dishonor is worse than death.

Bg. 2.34

The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you insignificant.

Bg. 2.35

Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful for you?

Bg. 2.36

O son of Kuntī, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up with determination and fight.

Bg. 2.37

In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.

Bg. 2.40

Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.

Bg. 2.41

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

Bg. 2.47

Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.

Bg. 2.48

When your intelligence has passed out of the dense forest of delusion, you shall become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.

Bg. 2.52

One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind.

Bg. 2.56

In the material world, one who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain, neither praising it nor despising it, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.

Bg. 2.57

One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.

Bg. 2.58

The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them.

Bg. 2.60

One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.

Bg. 2.61

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

Bg. 2.62

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.

Bg. 2.63

But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.

Bg. 2.64

For one thus satisfied, the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such satisfied consciousness, one’s intelligence is soon well established.

Bg. 2.65

As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.

Bg. 2.67

Therefore, O mighty-armed, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence.

Bg. 2.68

Kṛṣṇa’s Approach – Positive & Negative Discrimination

Let’s see how Kṛṣṇa speaks. Let’s see how he uses tone variations, context comparisons, a coaxing manner, cajoling, chastisement, reasoning and motivation.

When Kṛṣṇa sees that Arjuna is deluded, unclear of mind and lay down his arms, he acted decisively. He didn’t mince his words, some of which were scathing!

His approach was simple, that of using his mastery of NLP to overcome Arjuna’s preference to hide behind frivolous rationalizations and achieve his overall objectives.

He uses negatives and positives or the proverbial stick and the carrot.

Kṛṣṇa Uses Mirroring – Hard Hitting Truths

He uses negatives to strike at the heart of Arjuna’s weakness.

  • He calls Arjuna delusional and impotent.
  • He cautions that Arjuna will earn infamy, because he is an acclaimed warrior and a warrior who chooses not to fight, no matter the reason, runs the risk of being called a coward.
  • Krishna accuses him of being weak, of being in grief, mourning and lamenting needlessly.
  • He calls Arjuna bewildered.
  • He tells Arjuna that he doesn’t comprehend the value of life.
  • He says that impurities have come upon Arjuna.
  • He cautions Arjuna not to give in to degraded impotence.
  • Krishna tells Arjuna that he is being petty and weak of heart. 
He strikes hard. He hurts to the core. He knows that each word will shake Arjuna up and will make him rise to the occasion. He chastises and indeed smashes the deluded Arjuna. 

A great warrior like Arjuna takes pride in his ability to do battle, to use his mind to strategize how to overcome the enemy. By questioning and commenting on these aspects, this is exactly where Krishna is hitting him. 

Whereas modern day management may advocate not to use negative approaches, we need to realize that at some times, we need hard measures. Time is of the essence and being nice and sweet isn’t an option.

Kṛṣṇa Speaks: Motivation & Teaching

So Kṛṣṇa being such a master and a person in absolute command of a very precarious situation, also uses positives.
  • In some cases he openly praises Arjuna.
  • He calls Arjuna chastiser of the enemy. 
  • Apart from chastisement, interspersed with a few words of praise, he also extolled the virtues of wise people.
  • Even though he is scathing with his words, indirectly he is telling Arjuna, that Arjuna is better than he thinks.
  • He empowers Arjuna to be liberated from his flawed thinking.
  • He explains to Arjuna how to deal with mental anguish and teaches him techniques to regain equilibrium
  • The overall messages to Arjuna are that there is a need to shed his petty weakness and rebound to who he is and what he’s capable of.
  • He also leans on religious and spiritual principles, but as we decided, we will in this series, shy away from those aspects. 

Kṛṣṇa’s Actions, Motivations, Techniques

Why Does Kṛṣṇa Act?

It is important to understand Kṛṣṇa’s mission and his motivations to truly understand his contextual responses. 

Yes, the Pandavas were his friends and were also related, but that’s not why he was so keen to guide them. 

He sought the greater common good of the people. He wanted what was best for them. Kṛṣṇa wanted that the reigns of the kingdom pass to rightful, righteous, just, able and desirable rulers. 

Therefore, Kṛṣṇa's supports and guides Arjuna through a labyrinth of confusion, delusion and self-doubt, disguised in the garb of lofty ideals. He is the exemplary charioteer, guiding Arjuna through the battlefield in his mind. 

What Was Kṛṣṇa Thinking?

In a position of responsibility and leadership, we must gauge the situation we’re faced with and act expeditiously. Timely action and responses are key to address the situation.

We have but two options. The obvious option that a lot of us exercise is to take things on ourselves and eliminate the ones we entrusted in the first place. 

The challenge is to get people to do what they are charged with. The easiest thing to do is to eliminate the weak link, however the purpose served is limited. 

As leaders, mentors and guides we are better served to get work done from those entrusted. There is only so much we can accomplish by ourselves.


If we’re teaching someone to ride, our role is to reinstate the fallen onto the saddle. Learning is possible when in the saddle, not off it.

As managers we’ve hired people based on certain skill sets and we’ve budgeted for both their contribution and their costs. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to justify the spend and ensure that people do what they’re paid to do.

Therefore the answer lies, not in doing ourselves what we’re paying others to do. Instead we adopt ways and means to get people to do their jobs and play the roles they are assigned. 

We hire based on certain job families, categories and job descriptions. Even before we bring people on board, we give them a brief of our expectations. Therefore there can’t be any excuses not to perform.

Need for Intervention & Use Cases for NLP

Despite our best intentions and despite hiring the right people, we must contend certain realities. The primary reality is, People will be People. People have personal motivations that sometimes don’t align with the organization’s mission. They have different operating styles. People don’t always perform. They face bottlenecks and impediments. A lot of these impediments lie in the mind.

When such impediments and obstacles get in the way of staying on mission and achieving desired goals, we need interventions.

Some issues are more easy to address than others. The tricky ones are where a person’s personal nature, behavior and motivations come in the way.

I offer that the best way to carry out interventions and to facilitate desired outcomes is by a mastery of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming. 

NLP has many uses such as persuasion, sales, negotiation, management training, sports, teaching, coaching, team building, public speaking, recruitment and behavior management.


Neuro Linguistic Programming has been called many things, pseudo-science, hypnosis, magic, manipulative, unethical and what not. Most practitioners shy away from overtly telling people that they are practitioners due to these reasons.

Regardless of the various opinions, it is a fact that using the right approaches, the right words, the right tone, chastising, coaxing, cajoling, encouraging, soothing, inspiring, instructing….anything goes. 

Finally it is about the end game. It is all about facilitating desirable outcomes.

In effect, Kṛṣṇa now needs to eradicate the influences that make Arjuna succumb.

Contextual Intervention – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Now Arjuna is no fool. He is a highly erudite and well trained Kshatriya or warrior, Yet, despite all his knowledge and training, his senses elude him at the penultimate moment. A moment where he needs all his mental and physical faculties to be working at peak levels.

We act based upon whom we’re dealing with and our actions need to be contextual. There is time for dialogue, but when dialogue yields no results, we must act. 

At times we impart knowledge and guidance, yet at other times we instruct. 

Kṛṣṇa uses several techniques which are nothing short of management excellence. 

Despite dealing with a person of great stature and capability, Kṛṣṇa uses the strong medicine of his words and some of the words and phrases he elects to use are potent. 


A reading of Arjuna’s statements and Krishna’s responses, the perspectives provided give credence and weightage to my proposition. Krishna is a master of NLP and he uses this to manage a difficult situation.

Finally, I would hope that this does serve as a guide to us all, not just in management, but also in our day to day lives to deal with the realities of life.

The Power of Words

Words we use have a telling impact on the outcome of the communique. Words trigger responses. Therefore, using the right words, phrases, tone and examples in our communication are important. They almost guarantee the outcomes we desire when we need to act and be decisive.

Words that denote negatives such as “not”, “cannot”, “can’t”, “won’t”, all create acceptance barriers as most people do not like it when we use the negative. It triggers negative feelings and/or emotions.

Words like “can”, “yes”, “sure”, “absolutely”, are all positive and create a positive impact.

Words denoting indecision or pre-conditions such as,  “if”, “then”, “else”, “but”, “could”, “would”, “should”, “maybe”, are generally used by people who are unable to take decisions, or to delay decisions or then pass the buck by posing pre-conditions.

Neuro Lingusitic Programming – A Means to an End

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is something that I advocate strongly. I urge that one at least understand the basics. NLP not only enables outcome facilitation when dealing with people and situations. Once its tenets are well understood, can be used for our personal self-development, self-improvement and behavior correction.

Being part of a social fabric, we either need to assist others through adversity or then be assisted through it. Regardless of the role we play (assisted or the one assisting), we need learn how to manage the situation and ensure that our mental wellbeing is sacrosanct.

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is a great way to observe, analyze, assess, intervene and assist people needing help and indeed to assist ourselves. It is a great tool to assist when we are at our weakest.

Up Next

Watch out for the video podcasts related to this series of articles on Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming and a quick reference guide on NLP.

Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming – Part 1

The battles in our mind tend to be far more difficult than real battles. Our minds perceive obstacles, some real and some imagined. Even when coping or overcoming real obstacles, we tend to create a mountain out of a molehill. The mind finds seemingly plausible (easily acceptable) reasons (read excuses) to thwart the endeavor.

The Genesis

After having read the Bhagavad-Gita several times, one day it just came to me.
Every so often we are called upon to embark upon a journey, undertake a mission or an endeavor that promises to test our very core. Sometimes we are prepared and at other times we aren’t. Regardless, many of us at that penultimate moment, balk and falter. At such times we need a catalyst and such catalysts oftentimes come in the form of people, books and life changing events. 

Certain tools and techniques are used in dealing with people facing dilemmas and one of them is "near linguistic programming".

This series of articles demonstrates how Krishna used NLP - Neuro Linguistic Programming to get Arjuna to stay on mission.

Life Changing Events

You’re in love, you’re about to be married. Yet, as the day approaches you find yourself questioning if you’re taking the right decision. Everything seems right, yet….. 
In the Indian context, we make such a hullabaloo about race, caste and social compatibility and we hamstring our kids into making choices that are suitable for us and not for themselves.
More often than not, we are faced with situations where we are compelled to make a single choice from amongst various options and each option seems to be the right one.
There is this kid. He’s just got this degree and is now embarking on adult life in earnest. At this point he or she has multiple options to choose from and each choice he or she makes will lead to a very different career path and that in turn may have an impact on life itself. Can you imagine what kind of mental turmoil that kid must surely face?
Some kids find their passion in careers that are not mainstream. Don’t parents generally discourage them from making such decisions? They usually go, “Oh! The career you are choosing doesn’t offer a regular income. How will you manage? Look at Mrs. X’s daughter, she’s a Corporate Lawyer and is making loads of money. Why don’t you take up Corporate Law instead of becoming a photographer!”. What is the message we’re sending here? Conform. Do what others are doing. Aren’t we discouraging individuality? Aren’t we creating further confusion, at a time when they’re already confused about their future?
You have a well paying job, but it’s time to seek a change. Yet, when it’s time to submit your resignation or have that difficult conversation with your boss, you get this thought. Am I making the right decision?
Ever encountered a situation where you’re about to write an exam and your mind goes blank, or then you’re not able to give it your all?
I’m sure the examples cited above are representative of what many of us have faced.

Fear of The Unknown

The fear, consequences and outcome of those important decisions, are at that point in time unknown commodities. Therefore we end up second guessing. We find a myriad of reasons not to act, or then take what appears to be the easy way out.

Now let me tell this to you for free, there is no such thing as the easy way out!!! The best way “out” is “through”.

I mentioned fear. It either acts as an impetus to act or a deterrent. The same goes for our minds. Overcoming our fears calls for rational thought and rational thought jumps out the window when we need it the most.

We fear failure and disappointing people close to us. This tends to make us take decisions that are not conducive to our well being. This even causes us not to act or make decisions.

These are times we need to lean on someone.

Sources, Association & Time

I was asked a few days ago. “What if we don’t have someone to lean on?”. This is where association with the right kind of people becomes so important. When I say lean on someone, I don’t necessarily mean a crutch in the form of a person. An extrapolation of “Lean On” is consciously associating with persons who are more in control that we are with a view to imbibe and learn from how they conduct themselves. 
History and scripture provide anecdotes and narratives and there we have this fund of knowledge, about people, their experience and their words, verbal or written.
What works for others may not necessarily work for us. Their circumstances and their capabilities will usually be different from ours. Therefore, abstracting what we have observed, what we have heard, what we have read and what we are told, plays an important part in the process.

This is where what you do with your spare time becomes so important.

So many of us just like to “chill” in our spare time. “Chilling” is great and even essential, but remember, we have but 24 hours a day. I’d advocate that we work backwards from the hours we have available in the day and figure out what we do with our time. More often than not, we find that we spend far too much time “chilling”. We spend little time equipping ourselves with the knowledge and techniques that are so important to assist us when we are faced with the curve balls that life throws us.

Battles In The Mind

The battles in our minds tend to be far more difficult than real battles. Our minds perceive obstacles, some real and some imagined. Even when coping or overcoming real obstacles, we tend to create a mountain out of a molehill. The mind finds seemingly plausible (easily acceptable) reasons (read excuses) to thwart the endeavor.

We get nervous, we break into a cold sweat, we encounter palpitations, run to the bathroom, get the shivers and nervous twitches. These are external manifestations reflecting our state of mind.

In varying degrees and under different circumstances we all experience this.

Is it fear? Are we lass than adequately prepared? Is it that we lack the appropriate guidance? What drives this indecisiveness? What drives this self doubt?

An Illustration from the Bhagavad-Gita

If I’m permitted, I’d like to delve into Indian history eons past and speak about what has inspired me the most and helped me through many situations.
The Bhagavad-Gita is essentially dialogue/narrative between Arjuna and Krishna, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It never fails to set things in perspective and provide motivation to take on real life issues. 
The way Krishna handles a vacillating (unable to decide) Arjuna is inspirational and is something I try to imbibe on a daily basis.

What Does Krishna do?

I will just mention briefly now, that Krishna is a master of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming and NLP is what he used to deal with Arjuna. More on that a little later, but for now I prefer to provide background to illustrate Krishna’s actions. Before I talk about NLP, I may be permitted to provide the back stories that led to the situation at hand.

The cognoscenti (people who are fimiliar with the back stories) may indulge me while I provide the backstory and set the scene for those who are unaware. The cognoscenti can take a coffee break.

The Backstory – Setting Context

There are two great clans, the Pandavas and Kauravas. They are locked in a bitter feud to decide succession/right to rule, the seeds of which have been sown by their forefathers. This feud is inherited by the next generation.

The Pandava clan comprises five illustrious brothers, the sons of the dead Maharaj Pandu and the Kauravas comprise the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, a blind King who is in reality merely a steward, He is duty bound to hand over the Kingdom to the sons of the dead King when they come of age.

The sons of Maharaja Pandu have now come of age and the steward is disinclined to hand over the reigns to the rightful inheritors and instead chooses a path not aligned to dharma or duty.

The Pandavas are thus in a dilemma. They choose to compromise with a view to avoid a massive conflict, they are willing to give up their right and request that just a few villages be handed over to them to set up their Kingdom.

Even this meager request is denied.

Advise from Elders

Advisors, counselors and well-wishers alike, advocate that the Pandavas fight for their rightful inheritance. The Pandavas relent, leading to clear battle lines being drawn.

There is intrigue within intrigue, stories embedded in stories. Friends, immediate relatives, distant relatives, sons, teachers, kinsmen are all compelled to take sides. Favors and obligations are called in and promises made, as each side seeks to gather more numbers and prowess to prevail in battle. Some are great politicians, others great strategists. The warriors? Some wield maces, others are great swordsmen. Some have the power of mantras (chants) that can cause metaphysical changes to thwart the enemy.

All are in the midst of this epic fight! A fight to the death! There is no turning back!

Harsh Decisions

Taking harsh decisions isn’t like a walk in the park!

All except the seasoned players (sometimes even they) face dilemmas when our impending actions will create profound impact.

Strangely, even when the right reasons justify harsh steps, our “conscience” doesn’t lend the requisite support. Conscience is to be our inner voice, but is largely suspect, because at trying times this inner voice speaks in a compromised tone.

Decisions Change Trajectory

When decisions we make or actions we take adversely impact people’s lives, we feel responsible. We wonder what will happen once we’ve fired the proverbial bullet.

Bullets real or any other kind (harsh words can be construed as bullets) kill or at the very least cause injury. Words either motivate or cause mental anguish.

Imagine, if you will, you are in a key position and need to terminate an employee for pragmatic business reasons, or due to poor performance. Even as leaders we balk at the prospect. Such tasks are usually carried out with a degree of reluctance and even once executed, we lose sleep over such actions.

About Timing, Words, Tone, Place, Circumstances

Timing, I believe, is everything, as are the choice of words, the tone in which we communicate, the gestures we use, the body language, facial expressions and the circumstances under which we communicate. All play such an important part in delivering messages as the situation demands. In certain situations not saying anything can also convey strong messages. Words can be used to convey positives and negatives. They can encourage or deter.

Communication is an art, if used well, can resolve almost any tricky situation. I always say, it is a simple matter of winning minds and hearts.

In Part 2 of this series, we take a deeper look at Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Feel free to write to me on: Sumir@sumirnagar.com
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