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 3

Before we verbalze, we usually concoct something that we are able to accept in our minds (rationalization and excuses) and then once this self-convincing is done, we sell this to the ones we’re dealing with.

In Summary – Part 1 & 2

This Part 3 in the series, Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming, picks up from where we left off in Part 2.

In Part 2, we very briefly mention that Arjuna, on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, surveys both armies lined up on the battlefield and he falters. He is prepared to give up the mission he’s been entrusted with.

We propose in Part 2 that Krishna is a master Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. Just so the context is clearly understood, we digress a bit and explain the basic tenets of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

In Part 2, we also speak about the role Krishna plays and distance ourselves from sprituality and religion, despite the fact that we lean on a spritual text as a reference. We do this to ensure that we don’t bring in any spiritual overtones and stay true to the subject of NLP.

We then draw parallels or establish a ratio between the roles of Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield, by comparing the situation to similar situations faced in the corporate world.

In Part 1, we talk about common dilemmas that many of us we face in day to day life, about battles in the mind and we alsp provide the backstory on which this series is based.

We use this backstory as a springboard into our topic, Krishna and Neuro Linguistic Programming. We also speak about the time, place, circumstance, situation, the power of words and actions under different conditions.

Examining the Mind of Arjuna

We are now at a point in time where Arjuna is unable to act!

We use Arjuna’s own words to dive deep into his mind. A mind that conjures up a variety of reasons (read excuses) why he should not fight.

Some of the reasons cited by Arjuna seem entirely plausible, even noble, on the face of it and yet others are overtly frivolous. 

As far as roles go, let’s reiterate that Krishna is the Chairman of the Board, setting direction and Arjuna is the Chief Executive, holding a mandate, one that he’s very reluctant to carry out.

Dilemas of the Mind, Rationalization & Excuses

We Indians usually find it difficult to be decisive. That we struggle to deliver appropriate or hard messages is a given. This, even when we receive unwelcome, persistent, awkward advances or attention from a person. We find it difficult to say “no”. Little do we realise, that inability to say “no” can be construed (assumed) as a “yes”.

We choose to be polite. We choose not to shut down such advances firmly and conclusively. Instead we sidestep the issue or then delay conveying the appropriate message. 

In doing so, we run the risk of a continuance of this behavior, which can further escalate to obsessive behavior. We do not understand the motivations of such people and we choose not to be alert. 

With certain people we can deliver the message in a gentle or roundabout manner. However with others we need to be very firm and even blunt.

If we’re smart, with the benefit of hindsight, we realize that our choice to be needlessly polite, encourages inappropriate behavior. Behaviour that can potentially have dire consequences. 

However, in my experience we often choose not to be smart and shy away from taking necessary steps, or using the right words and instead, continue to remain needlessly polite.

We owe it to ourselves to maintain our self-respect and our mental well being as opposed to worrying how our responses will be perceived.

Personal Experiences & Realizations

Throughout my life, scores of people have sought out my counsel (parties of the first part). Almost in every situation there is a person of the opposite sex involved. 

By now, I can guage the situation almost before the entire story unfolds. it is the situations, the words, the instances and manner in which the episodes are narrated, that send the alarm bells ringing in my head.

It is usually about a girl or a guy, who has made voluntary or involuntary decisions (sometimes under guidance), to sever association with people who are a bad influence. 

People choose to eschew and give up abominable (bad) habits, with a view to make personal improvements. 

At such times, the inappropriate associations we elect to spend time with react negatively. They make it very difficult for persons to better themselves.

Neuro Lingusitic Programming is not just a means to help others. The study and practice of NLP techniques is also a great means of self help. It promotes self-analysis and clarity of thought. It assists in  making changes, we must most certainly make to become a better version of ourselves.

Oftentimes we realise that we are in a downward spiral. However, we are so steeped in negative association and bad habits, that we take that to be our normal state. As a result we fall back on the very sources of our negativity (association and bad habits). We begin to believe in our minds, that we actually are better served to remain in that state.

Here is a short video on the subject of association and intoxicants.

Arjuna’s Excuses

Before we verbalze our excuses, we usually concoct something that we are able to accept in our minds (rationalization and excuses). Once this self-convincing is done, we sell this to the ones we’re dealing with. 

After all, what is the best way to sell a concept to a buyer? Sell it to ourselves first!

That is exactly what Arjuna does!

He defends his lack of resolve by citing lofty ideals and notions. He cites a litany of justifications (excuses) and bases them on the following tenets (foundations).

  • compassion and kinship
  • not wanting to cause misfortune.
  • not wanting to deprive relatives and friends of property, etc..
  • wanting to avoid sinfulness associated with taking lives.
  • wanting to follow social and family traditions.
  • be forgiving as opposed to punishing.
  • not deprive people of happiness.
  • considering dynastic angles.
  • not destroy the male population and thereby not leave women and children destitute and unprotected to ensure that exploitation of women and children does not ensue due to the dearth of male protectors. (see Aside # 1 below)
  • ensuring that offerings and obligations continue to ensure that they receive salvation. (see Aside # 2 below)
  • not enjoying at the expense of others and preferring self-sacrifice.
  • not bring about the advent of irreligion.

Aside # 1

As an aside, the institution of multiple marriages in Islam was an outcome of the Crusades.
This was done so that women and children who lost their fathers and or husbands or brothers in the Crusades, would be under the protection of surviving males.

Multiple Marriages in Islam

Aside # 2

In India, we offer “dan” (pinda) to our departed forebears during a period called “shraddh”.

Shraddh Rites

Mental & Bodily Manifestations

The practice of NLP, as we say in Part 2, involves observations of behaviour and also bodily reactions.

Arjuna exhibits classic behaviour and bodily manifestations (reactions).

Hi is overwhelmed. He prefers compassion to war, He is in despair and grieving. His limbs quiver. His mouth is dry. His body trembles. His skin burns. He gets hot flashes, The hairs on his body stand on end. His limbs are uncoordinated.

His famed Gandiva bow slips from his hands.

We see how Arjuna, at the beginning has gusto. He sounds the battle cry on his conch shell and then comes the damp squib, when he lays down his weapon. 

Anatomy of Indecision

The verses from the Bhagavad-Gita describe verse after verse, how Arjuna does a volte face (changes his mind).

This is a perfect case study for someone who wishes to understand how we permit our minds to play us.

Before leaping into action, Arjuna wishes to survey the situation and therefore he says to his charioteer, Krishna……

Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.

Bg. 1.21-22

The visual that greets him is as follows…..

There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers.

Bg. 1.26

Weakness to Excuses & Escuses to Rationalization

Arjuna’s statements are revealing and his arguments compelling.

Initially perhaps, we will agree with Arjuna and be hoodwinked by his logic. However, when Krishna responds to Arjuna we will realize how to put such dilemmas in the right perspective, such that we are able to deal with them. 

This is the genesis of Arjuna’s breakdown and the step by step revelations of his mind. 

I've reproduced the relevant verses verbatim from the online version of the Bhagavad-Gita from Vedabase, which is a great resource for a deeper study. 

This resource contains the Sanskrit shokas (verses), the meanings of the words, the transliteration and the purport (disertation).

When the son of Kuntī, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.

Bg. 1.27

Arjuna said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.

Bg. 1.28

My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gāṇḍīva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.

Bg. 1.29

I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Kṛṣṇa, killer of the Keśī demon.

Bg. 1.30

I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Kṛṣṇa, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom or happiness.

Bg. 1.31

O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusūdana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra?

Bg. 1.32-35

Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and our friends. What should we gain, O Kṛṣṇa, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?

Bg. 1.36

O Janārdana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin?

Bg. 1.37-38

With the destruction of the dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion.

Bg. 1.39

When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Kṛṣṇa, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, comes unwanted progeny.

Bg. 1.40

An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped.

Bg. 1.41

By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.

Bg. 1.42

O Kṛṣṇa, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those whose family traditions are destroyed dwell always in hell.

Bg. 1.43

Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen.

Bg. 1.44

Better for me if the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield.

Bg. 1.45

Sañjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Bg. 1.46

Arjuna said: O killer of enemies, O killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhīṣma and Droṇa, who are worthy of my worship?

Bg. 2.4

It would be better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though desiring worldly gain, they are superiors. If they are killed, everything we enjoy will be tainted with blood.

Bg. 2.5

Nor do we know which is better – conquering them or being conquered by them. If we killed the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, we should not care to live. Yet they are now standing before us on the battlefield.

Bg. 2.6
This is the point at which Arjuna takes Krishna as his Guru and asks for guidance and instruction.

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

Bg. 2.7

I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to dispel it even if I win a prosperous, unrivaled kingdom on earth with sovereignty like the demigods in heaven.

Bg. 2.8

Sañjaya said: Having spoken thus, Arjuna, chastiser of enemies, told Kṛṣṇa, “Govinda, I shall not fight,” and fell silent.

Bg. 2.9

Relatable Dilemma

If we eliminate the grave nature of Arjuna’s dilemma and dial it down several notches, we are able to apply a ratio and examine several incidents in our lives that are contextually comparable.

These incidents may relate to friends, relatives, parents, kids, acquaintances, work colleagues and significant others.

Enter Krishna – Friend, Philosopher, Guide

What do we do at times when we are unable to handle the situation by ourselves?

We seek counsel, advice and guidance from people wiser than us and perhaps from people who have far more experience than us.

In this instance, of course Krishna is at hand and hears Arjuna’s desperation, his angst and his cry for help.

Krishna’s responses and guidance to Arjuna are nothing less than epic and thus the great epic the Bhagavad-Gita comes into being. 

When two erudite people have a discussion, the narrative and the lessons are available for a larger audience and that is what the Bhagavad-Gita is. A guidance for us all, in the form of a dialogue between a confused Arjuna (Us) and an all knowing Krishna (our learned guides, mentors, teachers, Gurus). 

Coming Up In Part 4

The next part in this series deals with how the master Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner deals with the vacillating Arjuna. As I’ve said in previously, he tackles Arjuna is a variety of ways and uses textbook NLP techniques and strategies. He listens, he coaxes, cajoles, chastises, encourages, reasons and finally gets Arjuna back on track and enables him to arrive at the conclusion that there is no option left, but to fight.

Feel free to write to me on sumir@sumirnagar.com. You can slso join my Telegram Channel: NotJustSprituality.

Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming: Part 2

What I propose is that Krishna uses basic and fundamental NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques tIn India and elsewhere, but mostly India, we worship, revere and regard Krishna as the Supreme Godhead. However, in this piece we look at his role as a friend, philosopher, guide, mentor and Guru. We also examine what techniques and stratagem Krishna uses in His advisory capacity.hat we can learn from to achieve breakthrough results and deliver the remits that we are charged with in our day to day lives.

In Krishna & NLP – Part 1, we talk about dilemmas we face in day to day life. We also examine how people from all walks of life, are incapacited due to battles in the mind. The body exhibits our mental state by manifesting certain symptoms/reactions. We use an illustration from the Battle of Kurukshretra to set context and base my propositions on this illustration.

Back to Our Illustration

Now the day of reckoning arrives and the armies are lined up across each other on the battlefield and a lot of chest-thumping, psyching of the self and opposite side ensues.
Arjuna, the commander in chief of the Pandava armies takes stock of the battle arrays. He is a seasoned war veteran, yet he balks when he sees the lineup. Not out of fear. Nor is it because he is taken by surprise. He knows all along who will be lined up against him, as the seeds have are sown a very long time ago. Despite his fearlessness, despite being in the know, despite being confident of victory, he faces a dilemma. 

He grows weak at the knees. He shivers as he contemplates the consequences of the actions he is about to take.

Seeing his state of mind and listening to Arjuna’s words,  Krishna, Arjuna’s childhood friend and charioteer (soon to become Guru) has to act! 

Krishna’s Roles

In India and elsewhere, but mostly India, we worship, revere and regard Krishna as the Supreme Godhead. However, in this piece we look at his role as a friend, philosopher, guide, mentor and Guru. We also examine what techniques and stratagem Krishna uses in His advisory capacity.

Krishna As “Sarathi” (Charioteer)

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna’s role as charioteer is to guide Arjuna the warrior, through the battlefield and protect him from harm. He navigates the battlefield efficiently, thus leaving Arjuna to focus on the fight and not worry about navigating the battle formations or covering his flanks.

Ratio – Applying our Illustration to the Corporate World

Let’s abstract this and apply a ratio, in the interest of steering away from religion and spirituality. Let’s say that Pandava Inc. is a leading organization. Krishna is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Pandava Inc. and Arjuna is the Chief Executive. 

In his capacity as Chairperson, Krishna sets the tone. He provides overall guidance and remains in an advisory capacity and delegates the execution to Arjuna as his Chief Executive.

Despite the planning, the strategy, when push comes to shove, the Chief Executive isn’t delivering. Therefore Krishna uses a variety of means to get his Chief Executive to stay on mission.

The Twist – A Very Different Take

Despite this series being based on a widely acclaimed spiritual text, we seek to give it a twist that has not hitherto been examined. At least not with the angle that I’m about to propose! 

The Proposition – Krishna Uses Neuro Linguistic Programming Techniques

What I propose is that Krishna uses basic and fundamental NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques that we can learn from to achieve breakthrough results and deliver the remits that we are charged with in our day to day lives.

In Focus – Krishna Intervenes Using NLP

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) comes naturally to me, as it does to people who have a high EQ - Emotional Quotient. That should be no surprise because EQ comprises, ​​self-awareness, management, social awareness and relationship management.

As we proceed, I propose to demonstrate how Krishna used every aspect of NLP to turn Arjuna around. 

But before I even go there, perhaps it is only fair that I introduce you to my pet subject, 

Neoro Linguistic Programming – What is it? 

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP as its referred to in short, is predominantly about outcome facilitation. And outcomes depend on several factors, predominantly sentiment analysis.

It is very powerful and used in many differernt ways including, effective communication, personal development and psychotherapy.

It can not only be used in dealing with others, but is an excellent system to deal with our own issues.

The Four Pillars of NLP

NLP provides a framework and a set of techniques to facilitate desirable outcomes.

It deals with Sensory Acuity or awareness about how good our senses are at doing what they should do. It is the ability to use our senses to make unbiased observations about ourselves or other people.

Behavioral Flexibility is the ability to modify our own behavior to prompt a desired response from another person. NLP experts develop an wide range of responses to handle any given situation instead of falling back on stereotype responses, which are limiting and inhibit performance potential.

Building Rapport gives us the ability to relate to others to create trust and understanding. The ability to understand opposing points of view, doesn’t mean that we have to agree to the point of view or even like it. It just makes communication easier.

The Power of Observation

Data about a person is collected via various means by observing physical reactions of people and closely heeding verbal exchanges. These observations are categorized based on sentiments, which enable us to gain a deeper understanding of what lies behind the outward physical reactions and the choice of words.

Sentiment Analysis

More often than not, we humans base our decisions on sentiments. Therefore understanding sentiments is paramount in facilitating desireable outcomes. Further classification of sentiments is possible based intent, topics and language.

NLP Techniques

Certain techniques are applied that alter or correct a person’s thought process, for once the mind is set right, desired action is a logical outcome.


It is always best to remain objective to take appropriate decisions. Staying steeped in subjectivity (when we’re immersed in that situation) personal biases or motivations, prevent us from examining the facts. Therefore, in NLP we swap the problem situation of by either putting it into a different context or a different setting. This allows us to step back and reassess sentiments and the reactions that the sentiments drive. We Reframe the problem statement by abstracting the root cause and apply a ratio to a comparable but different statement.


In NLP, Anchoring is the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger. In this way the response may be quickly and often covertly determined.

Why covert? As NLP practioioners we realise that people may not overtly (openly) divulge the entirety of the problem.

It’s like going to a doctor. Suitable treatment is possible only when the doctor has all the facts/symptoms of our ailment. Doctors ask all kind of questions and prescribe different tests to identify the nature of the ailment. Inquiries are made in a probing, yet gentle manner without letting the person know why the question is being asked. This provides answers that the patient may not readily provide.

There are five keys to anchoring:

  • Intensity – which helps us to determine how serious the issue is.
  • Timing – To determine when the situation arizes.
  • Uniqueness – To narrow down the root cause of the issue at hand.
  • Replicability – To see if the issue can be replicated in different ways.
  • Number of times – To determine if the issue is just a one-off issue or there is a pattern.

The quick way to do this is:

  • Determine how we want to feel. If we want to feel confident, we recall a time when we were confident and examine why we felt confident. Remember the visual, sound and the feeling when we were confident.
  • Using a device an anchor (something we can touch and feel) that makes us replicate that positive time.


When faced with trying or vexatious situations, we tend to be more open and talk to people we trust. Before trust is established we need to build Rapport. In NLP rapport is measured by how responsive a person is. The test of responsiveness is that people you are interacting with, consciously and unconsciously respond and therefore you have the upper hand and can lead the conversation.


When we communicate with people one technique is join that person in his/her model world/state of mind by matching their external behaviour, such as speed (tempo) of talking or body posture. This is done over a period of time to gain and then maintain the rapport.


When people are in a state where they cannot arrive at a conclusion or a decision, we need to lead them to a conclusion. When we say “leading” we do not try to make a decision for the person. Instead, simply state the facts about the situation. State what you believe to be true about what they are experiencing. Then use it to lead them to a conclusion which influences a decision.


The words we use, the actions we take or the habits of the past that we hold on to, reflect the subconscious perception of our problems. When words, actions, habits and perceptions are inaccurate, they create an underlying and persistent problem as long as we choose to remain associated with them.

Therefore, more often than not, our attitudes and persistent behaviour become a prophecy that our subconcious perceptions are driving to fulfilment. The subconscious mind then assists us by forming rationalizations about why we choose to continue to be immersed in our situations.

I often hear people talk about “coping mechanisms”. Coping mechanisms are roundabout ways that we formulate to deal with our own lackings or even to deal with how people deal with us. Whereas coping mechanisms do have some efficacy, they are merely temporary fixes and are not conducive to a permanent solution.

In NLP, we need to consciously make an effort to delve into the current state of being. Only then can assist them in remodeling.

Remodeling involves taking current patterns, reactions and stimulus to determine what the underlying triggers are. Only when we understand the triggers can we develop a framework to slowly remove those negative perceptions, influences and habits. Once these negatives are removed we evolve or help others to evolve into a healthier state of existence.


Mirroring is perhaps the trickiest part of the NLP techniques. Simply because when we are feeling low, the last thing we want is for someone to show us the mirror to our true selves.

Therefore it is fundamentally important to build rapport, trust, reframe the issues and only then delve into Mirroring.

Combination of Approaches & Techniques

What we need to realise is that we humans are complex and one size doesn’t fit all. A combination of techniques is used to deal with our own situations and to assist the people who need our assistance.

NLP Resources

NLP is a very vast subject. I have merely provided a teaser. I have used the best possible example from the Bnagavad-Gita.

However, it is best that I leave you with resources to read and learn more about this most powerful method.

A mastery, or even a basic fimiliarity will help you. You will see your communication skills sharpen. You will see that you will achieve the desired result.

Our ability to manage personal and professional relationships will see measurable improvement. Our ability to resolve problems for ourselves and to assist people who need intervention and guidance will be enhanced.

Finally I end this part with some links to resources if you need more information.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming
  2. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/neuro-linguistic-programming
  3. https://www.nlp.com/what-is-nlp/
  4. https://beyondnlpcoaching.com.au

Up Next

In Part 3 of this series, Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming, we take a look at a bewildered Arjuna. We examine his state of mind, his words and his actions. Finally in Part 4, we look at Krishna, a master Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner. We see how he deals with the bewildered Arjuna and facilitates an outcome. An outcome were Arjuna arrives at the conclusion most conducive to resolve the problem conclusively.

Plants Teach Us So Much About Behavior.

A couple of weeks ago the flowering plants in my balcony blossomed beautiful flowers. Once in full bloom I plucked them and offered them to Gopal – Krishna in the form of Shaligram as part of my daily prayer. What happened next is a lesson in constructive and destructive behavior from the humble plant. It made me think about various roles we play in life, the interplay between those roles and responsibilities and our relationships.

A couple of weeks ago the flowering plants in my balcony blossomed beautiful flowers. Once in full bloom I plucked them and offered them to Gopal – Krishna in the form of Shaligram as part of my daily prayer. What happened next is a lesson in behavior from the humble plant. It made me think about various roles we play in life, the interplay between those roles and responsibilities, our relationships and destructive and constructive behaviors.

I’ve been observing the plants since then, especially the stems from where I’d plucked the beautiful flowers. I saw them wither for a bit, then recuperate and I now see that on the Rose plant the stems that were laid bare are now sprouting leaves. On the other plant a beautiful flower has emerged in place of the one I had plucked.


This morning, as I sat in my balcony watching the sun rise and sipping my morning coffee, I had a realization which helped me to relate observations about life, people, how we treat each other and how we can choose to react when we face life changing situations or circumstances.

Take the flowers. We plant them, we provide nourishment by way of fertile soil, water and place them in sunlight. All essential to enable the plants to sprout beautiful flowers, so colorful, so pleasing to the eye and possibly fragrant as well.

The flowers initially start as little buds which start opening up as the flowers grow and then finally the flowers emerge in their full splendor.

What do we do then? We have two options, we allow them to wither, or then we pluck them for our own use. Let's draw a parallel of this to our lives with a few examples. 
nurture and care

Don’t we nurture our children in the same way as grow or nurture plants? And then as they go through life they will face what the beautiful flowers face.

They are exposed to the real world, as they are now adults and in full bloom. The experiences that they go through in life make or break them. They can either be exposed and experience beautiful moments or then they can face adversities and be exploited as we exploit flowers using them for our advantage and then discarding them, as they may possibly wither and die just as the flower dies once its separated from the plant that nurtured it.

Let’s also take relationships, be they personal or professional. We deal with relationships falling back on inherent or influenced destructive or constructive behaviors. In personal relationships, we are often used or we end up extracting all that is good and pure from our partners, significant others or associates and when we are done, some of us discard them and seek other things of beauty, leaving the party of the other half sad, forlorn, damaged and hurt. Sometimes irreparably. Unfortunately some of us do this fully well knowing what the fallout will be.

Doesn’t this also often times happen on the corporate or professional front? We hire, train, groom and nurture our proteges, our resources, only to discard them once we’ve extracted the creative and productive juices from them? Don’t employees also in a similar vein do the same. Take up jobs, use them as springboards and then jump ship for grass that seems greener on the other side of the fence?

Whereas this is an inevitable part of life, a perpetual cycle, I’d look to the plant that the flowers were plucked from and learn from the humble plant that cannot cry out in pain when their flowers have been uprooted. What do they do? How do they react? They wither for a bit (suffer as we do) and fall back on the soil, water and sun to overcome the pain and start the process of regeneration once again. So that’s the destructive and constructive behavior examples from plants.

Parents, well-wishers, mentors, friends are all like plants, insofar as they sometimes need to see their kids, friends, mentees, significant others get plucked and wither away, when they fall upon bad times, or bad association, or bad habits. They can see trouble on the horizon for the ones they love and yet, sometimes are so helpless to do much about it.

Many people we know are like the flowers. They are nurtured, they grow, they blossom, only to be plucked away by undesirable conditions, be they influences, social indoctrination, social pressures, family pressures or even personal choices and end up making foolish choices that are surely not conducive to a brighter life.

The Influence Spectrum

So what advice can I give to both plants and flowers, To personify them, plants are parents, those who nurture friends, relationships and flowers being the ones who run the risk of being plucked, used, exposed, exploited or then willfully and wantonly exposing themselves to risk and disaster.

For those playing the role of the ones doing the nurturing, I'd say lick your wounds, fall back on things that help us restore and rejuvenate and prepare to continue our chosen mission of being the ones to do the nurturing. Especially as parents, give your kids the love, upbringing, values, emotional, spiritual and educational nourishment that your kids (flowers) will surely need as they navigate life. You have a great responsibility and play a fundamental role in ensuring that the seeds we plant become our responsibility and we are accountable for their well being and future.

For the flowers, remember how you were nurtured and fall back on that when faced with adversity and come out on top of the situation or circumstances. Don’t needlessly and foolishly be exposed to what you know will be detrimental to you and to those around you. Finally, don’t end up compromising what could possibly be a bright future by taking impulsive decisions, some of which cannot be undone. The modern day snare is the influences from social media that are often misleading and disrupt lives adversely. Instant gratification is a myth, get that into your head. It takes hard work to get where you want to get.

Harsh but valuable advise…..if you find that your circumstances, foundations, social circle or social indoctrination aren’t conducive for you to grow and bloom, be prepared to take hard decisions to discard all that is not conducive to what is best for you.

Some of the most toxic people in our lives come disguised as family and friends and therefore its hard to overcome these influences due to our attachment to such people. What ends up happening is that we oftentimes sacrifice ourselves for the very people who contribute so heavily in preventing us from flourishing and even dragging us down as they continue on their downward spiral.

Don’t willingly and knowingly harm or cause harm to others by your words, actions and decisions, for when we hurt ourselves, we also end up hurting people who care about us and are concerned about our well being.

The humble, silent and resilient plants, standing quietly, enduring all kinds of weather, does nurture and sprout beautiful flowers. Lets’ learn from the humble plant.

Caste System: Series-Perception & Fact (Part 5).

Is it not such a sad thing and a miserable failure on our part, that we see so many instances of people from all parts of the world, coming to India, for our Santana Dharma, for our yoga, for our food, for our art forms for tourism, to learn how to live simpler, wholesome lives? And yet, we are unable to see value in what should naturally belong in the very center of our hearts?

I conclude the series in Part 5 which deals with the biggest myth around the Caste System and I go on to talk about practical reasons why class based communities are formed, how strict conformity to the castes began to ease up, how things changed due to external influences and how the Brahmins have lost out the most in the reshuffling of the social order. I also talk about our rich culture and why we need not and indeed must not fall prey to malicious interests and finally a call to arms to perhaps remedy the situation.

The big thing that goes around is this incorrect notion, this huge and I’d even call it gross misunderstanding about the so called Indian Caste system, that you are born into a certain Caste and therefore you are stuck into a life that is predetermined for you, due to the family you’re born into.

Quite the opposite in fact! Brahmin by Birth is nothing short of a figment of overactive imaginations.

Whereas there is no truth to this thought that you can be a Brahmin only by dint of your birth , there are certain facts that we need to bear in mind. In India, like in many societies, a son will inherit his father’s job. This inheritance continued across generations and it ended up as a community, jaati or a caste in the Indian system.

People of similar dispositions huddling, living and forming communities is nothing more than forming communities based on interests or needs. It its just seeking out people who followed similar lifestyles, professions and vocations. This community bonding just got stronger as realization dawned that a person from your own community and background would understand more easily, any issues or dilemma faced by their members and thus a strong support structure was formed.

Is that not just like people from one country settling in foreign countries, but choosing to be co-located with other families from their own home countries?

We’ve established clearly that categorization actually existed since medieval times, throughout history, across continents, in almost every civilization and until this day exists, albeit they stricter classifications have morphed over time.

In comparison, the Indian Caste System is NOT based on birth. It is actually based on Qualities, Attitude, Skills and Knowledge.

Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy.

bhagavat gita, Chapter 18, text 41.

Therefore, I reiterate, underscore and propose that we talk about Classes as opposed to Castes, treat, talk and deal with this no differently than we would deal with class segregation in other parts of the world.

I also propose that as time passed and the stricter classifications were diluted out of need, oppression and economic necessity. We see Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras NOT following their traditional family profession or vocation and instead taking up whatever work they are more suited for or for that matter can get.

What went wrong with the caste system is that in some cases, those in a position of knowledge or power, ended up getting power hungry and failed to use that for the greater common good. This is what gave them a bad name and this is why Brahmins came to be looked down upon.

Another huge factor is that as Indian Society started coming under the influence of so many races and cultures from invasions, traders and travellers, many new concepts and influences went into the melting pot and out the door went the purity of Indian culture and beliefs. 

As a result, the influence of the Brahmins was on the wane and they found themselves marginalized and even disregarded. Even their frugal way of life was threatened and therefore, they took to other professions. Worse yet, was that for survival they zealously began to guard their knowledge and stopped imparting advice, counsel and dharmic knowledge to those needing it for free, but instead demanded higher compensation.

So on the one hand they are marginalized, whereas on the other hand they need to make a living and yet on the other hand they chose professions not necessarily suited to their well being and in turn there was this degradation of vedic principles and even abandonment.

Personally, I am Brahmin and have that DNA from my fathers and mother’s side of the family, in addition to which I do follow the general principles, have the qualities, the acumen and the experience. However, I don’t ever flaunt it, as I find it’s largely irrelevant and on a need to know basis only.

As I look back at my life and my contribution to my personal circle and professional roles, I can certainly say that I’ve largely played the part. However, I have been subservient, I have been an advisor and I have been an entrepreneur, so by definition, I must say that I am Shudra, Brahmin and Vaisya.

I try to stay as far away from Caste as far as possible, but I will openly admit that I do look at things like family background. Though that’s not the basis on which I make decisions. I certainly do weigh these things in the background and this does sometimes find its way into my final decision. 

Another reason why I don’t flaunt Brahmin is somewhat more practical. The word does polarise people into making snap judgements due to bad memories, experiences, misconceptions, false notions and hearsay. But if it does come down to a debate or for that matter, if my lineage becomes a focal point of the debate, I can pretty much hold my end of the debate. I value my ethnicity, my roots and the ideology I choose to follow, ie: Varna-Ashrama Dharma.

I strongly propose that India or our culture and beliefs cannot and must not stand needless and baseless criticism and/or accusation by people, quite the opposite! It needs to be lauded for its Varna-Ashrama Dharma and “Caste System” is a gross and seriously misinterpreted translation of what is a practical and workable system.

Due to the lack of understanding about the “Caste System” and the lack of knowledge about how and why society is naturally divided into Classes, in modern day India, the Brahmins are the new Dalits, for they are the ones oppressed and are eliminated from opportunities around jobs and education, just because their birth certificates carry the classification of “Brahmins”. We see a vast part of the Brahmin community or class driving rickshaws and cleaning toilets, whereas we see Vaisyas and Shudras in important roles.

Like every system or process, its genesis, maintenance, morphing and adaptation depends on people and it is people with serious and malicious vested interests who tend to misuse power, privilege and connections to suit only certain quarters, instead of thinking of the greater common good.

Knocking people misusing systems, processes and privileges is more appropriate than making wide sweeping generalizations against communities, classes and sects such as the Bramins or for that matter the Shudras as is the common trend today.

Despite the gross misunderstanding around Sanatan Dharma (ignorantly labeled as Hinduism), the oldest religion, will not only survive but thrive as a troubled world searches for peace and happiness.

Is it not such a sad thing and a miserable failure on our part, that we see so many instances of people from all parts of the world, coming to India, for our Santana Dharma, for our yoga, for our food, for our art forms for tourism, to learn how to live simpler, wholesome lives? And yet, we are unable to see value in what should naturally belong in the very center of our hearts?

What is certainly needed is a call to arms, with a view to spread the correct perspectives and factual position about so many aspects of our way of life, culture, traditions, beliefs and practices. 

This topic is just one of many and I hope to bring more topics of interest to you as a humble effort in this regard.

Once again, Spirituality and Beyond podcasts are available on all major Podcast channels such as Apple, Spotify, Breaker and Google and is my way of providing relevant perspectives and insights on Spirituality, based on research and my own experiences in an uncomplicated manner. Additional content of interest is also available via blogs on www.sumirnagar.com and Medium. We will soon be on Clubhouse as well. I can also be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Tumbler and I’d be delighted to have you follow me there for updates and further engagement.

I did say at the outset that this is a controversial topic and I’d love to engage and hear your thoughts. Please feel free to reach out to me via email: sumir@sumirnagar.com or leave your comments here,

Cast System: Series-Perception & Fact (Part 4).

By now I’ve talked from my personal point of view and my umbrage at the way the Caste System is spoken about, what the true purport is from a Scriptural perspective and various models followed by other ancient civilizations and societies and have even touched upon the Animal Kingdom and a political perspective. In this installment, I’m going to be talking about certain practical aspects. I’m also going to be talking about how we have a classification in sports, the corporate world, the Pareto Principle and stratification based on money.

Let’s also look at biology, genetics and how the Double Helix plays a role in categorization. It is a pretty well established fact that we inherit certain traits, skills etc from our parents, who in turn inherit from their ancestors. So what happens over time is that certain families or races end up with certain skills, qualities that are inherent in that race, breed, sect or geography. Genetics spans the color of eyes, skin, hair, height, strength and so on.

So it is a combination of hereditary traits coupled by training which establishes a position of leadership or specialization for that particular family or race or community. Thus classification became a natural outcome of this process.

Let’s talk about leaders and followers an in that context look at the general perception that the trait of leadership is inherited. “He’s a born leader”.

Then we have the Pareto Principle or the 80:20 Rule, “The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is an aphorism which asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event.

It is a clearly established and well accepted fact that not EVERYBODY can be a leader, trailblazer or decision maker. So to expect all classes of society to lead or take pragmatic decisions is nothing short of fallacy or a recipe for disaster. Someone has to lead and others follow, else what we’re looking at is sheer anarchy.

The real question is who do we choose to lead us? People who have the background, knowledge and skills or do we put our faith and trust in the hands of someone who isn’t cut out for the job or task at hand? It’s plain stupid to ask an electriciain to deliver a child.

If I were to take examples from sports and games and I will take a game that is close to my heart and a game that is so popular not just in India but also internationally, I’d take American Football and Cricket. In American Football, the guy who calls the shots is the Quarterback (leader, or King). He’s kind of a captain and he calls the plays. The playbook is developed by experts in the field (strategic advisors or Brahmanas). The Quarterback tends to pass the ball to the person who will be able to gain the maximum yards on the field. The game has a side where the team in possession of the ball, needs to drive the ball to the end of the field and score points by getting one of their guys to carry the ball into the endzone of the opposite team and then kick a field goal. The team that does not have the ball is in defence mode and they need to prevent the offencive team from advancing or then even take the ball away from them. The Quarterback is defended by linebackers (army or Kshatriyas)and he has wide receivers who carry the ball into enemy territory.

Similarly in the game of cricket, the captain (leader) will put in a certain batsman or bowler for a higher likelihood to get more runs or wickets.

Now both the Quarterback and the Cricket Captain, do have at their disposal ADVISORS or Strategists and they fall back and take guidance or bounce of ideas and plans with such advisors.

The corporate world works no differently. There is the CEO or the MD, who is answerable to a Board of Directors and the CEO is guided by expert advisors. These advisors are nothing but the Brahmanas, or thinkers.

If you abstract all classes across the Globe what you will most certainly see is that society is divided into certain wide classes, in some way shape or form:

  • Thinkers.
  • Doers.
  • Seekers.
  • Slackers.

Now isn’t exactly what happens in real life? 

Let's talk about the dynamics of money and its role in classification. It is also a well known fact that things like knowledge and money, do give an edge to the people who have it and thus they are in a position to influence those who don’t have it. 
Money means different things to different classes of peopl and thus So Money itself becomes a means of classification.

What also ends up happening when money enters the equation is that, most rules about classification go out the window and out with it goes culture, traditions and upbringing thus unhinging generations of the social order.

Have you heard people saying, they come from old money or new money? What they're saying is that when someone moves up the social ladder solely on the basis of the money in her/her pocket, there is a tendency to loud, aggressive and the fact that money is available is flaunted in a way that makes them stick out like a sore thumb. It takes at least a generation or two for the refined tastes to develop and emerge which makes them more acceptable in circles that they were not privy to earlier. Old money does not accept new money easily and even when they do it is done begrudgingly.

With that I conclude my propositions for Part 4 which deals more with practical aspects of social stratification and will conclude the series in Part 5.

Write in and tell me what you think about this! I can be reached at sumir@sumirnagar.com or you can even leave your comments here. Don't forget that this series is also available via podcast on all major podcast channels like, Apple, Google, Spotify and Breaker. All you need to do is look for "Spirituality and Beyond" on any of these platforms.

Caste System: Series-Perception & Fact (Part 2).

Over the years there has been a systematic assassination of our rich and deep culture, both by our invaders, the foreign traders who eventually paved the way for us to be ruled and by ourselves. I also propose that that India and Indian beliefs have been singled out, when the Caste System is alluded to. This happens for a myriad of reasons, the most important being that it is we Indians, under the influence of a continuous onslaught of invasions over generations, throughout history, were quick to distance ourselves, abandon and even ridicule our own traditions, beliefs, and culture. This isn’t really surprising as each invasion had plenty of cultural ramifications, apart from just the war or armed conflict related ramifications. Thus we adapted to the ways preferred by our invaders.

Picking up where we left off in Part 1 where I’ve said that there is fallacy in the way the Caste System is perceived and understood, what I’m about to reveal to you now is what the true essence is.

As promised, I’m inverting the order in which people usually speak about this and therefore I will start with talking about the Shudras.

Shudras, are the section of society or a class that accepts another’s employment whereas other varnas are occupationally and financially self-sufficient. Shudras, were or perhaps even now, are people who either had a natural talent or skill and developed or practiced a particular skill or trade. They are the artisans and workers, usually working with their hands. It was the Role and Duty of the Shudras to take pride in their work, to be loyal and to follow general moral principles. If we were to look at their qualifications, traditionally, it wasn’t necessarily formal, but in this day and age, formal education has played an important part in assisting them to move out of their Shudra classification and we see them emerge as lawyers, doctors and take up professions that give them the economic means and respectability. But, for mindsets to change it may take generations as it needs to find its way into the gene pool.

What I am about to say will certainly earn me few friends, but think about it! So what I find as a really amusing perspective is that, the vast hordes or armies of Indian Knowledge Workers who literally run tech globally are also Shudras, because if we go by the definition of the Vedas, ANYBODY who works for someone else is a Shudra. 

“for the śūdras there is labor and service to others”.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Text 44

Where does it really say that Shudras are to be ill treated and discriminated against? If we’re practical, there is the haves and have nots and its really an economic issue not really cultural or spiritual.

So doesn't that clearly imply that Shudras aren't merely the heavy lifters, ie. the knowledge workforce is also recognized as a substantial contributor to organizations and the economy? The only real difference is that they are subservient to masters, ie. the business promoters for a fixed wage.
Later in the series you will also see how there is a pecking order even within the Corporate, right from the line and rank workers through to the very top of the Corporate ladder.

Whereas I’ve presented fact about the true meaning of Shudra, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that discrimination is the dreaded Caste System’s handiwork and the people who abused it have no role to play and therefore the rebellious thought and attitude!

Let’s take a step up the so called social order and look at Vaisyas.

Vaisyas are by definition, Farmers, Merchants and Business folk. Their role is wealth creation, providing employment, sustainable livelihoods and paying taxes from their income to the Ruler or Government. They are the economic engine of society. They are required to be ethical, to be productive and to grow and nurture crops, grains and livestock.

Here I quote from authority that Vaisyas engage in farming, cow protection and business.

Bhagavad Gita-Ch18, text 44.

Kshatriyas are rulers, leaders, warriors, administrators and enforce the laws of the land. They are supposedly the nobility, the protectors of society and permitted a number of privileges, however, it is expected that they display considerable strength of body and character. They are expected to provide protection to the weak and less fortunate, ensure that citizens perform their prescribed duties and also advance spiritually. To levy and collect taxes (from the vaishyas only) and to never accept charity under any circumstances.

So that their legacy continues, there was always an expectation that they maintain a strong bloodline and therefore, they usually married only amongst their peers and equals. So you see that we’re talking about genetics or the DNA. We will be talking more about that in Part 4 of this series.

Despite the fact that they are Leaders, in order to play their role effectively, it was expected that they conduct themselves in an exemplary manner and remain above reproach and controversy. 

To rule isn’t easy and Rulers are expected to be intelligent, but at the same time, to maintain a balance and to ensure that they have adequate guidance on every aspect of their roles, duties and responsibilities, they have recourse to the guidance of the scriptures, the Artha-Shastra and the intelligentsia or who are popularly referred to as Brahmins.

Here I quote that their qualities and attitude are, heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership, to be true to their royal word, to never refuse a challenge of honor, to be noble, chivalrous, generous and to deal uncompromisingly with crime and lawlessness.

Bhagavad Gita Ch 18, text 43

Tell me your thoughts on this…write to www.sumir@sumirnagar.com

Do you think that our current rulers or so-called Kshatriyas are fulfilling their roles and responsibilities in this day and age? Isn’t it just all about politics? Do they seek counsel from those more knowledgeable than them in matters of state, welfare, religion?

Brahmins, are intellectuals, priests, teachers, seekers of the truth, philosophers and thinkers. So what exactly are the classification criteria for this Class of People?

Brahmins were expected to study and follow the vedas and provide education, spiritual leadership and be the moral compass by setting vision and values of society. Due to their knowledge and aptitude they are expected to provide guidance to all strata of society, including ensuring that the Rulers and Administrators followed their prescribed duties. In other words this was a means to provide a system of checks and balances. And they were expected to provide this service free of charge, or for whatever the recipients could afford to give them by way of “dakshina”.

What qualified them to take on such a pivotal role? What qualities were they expected to have? What kind of attitudes were they expected to exhibit?

Brahmins were expected to be peaceful, have self-control, practice austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, study and disseminate knowledge, wisdom, be pious, have integrity, be clean in body, mind and soul. 

Being purified by his intelligence and controlling the mind with determination, giving up the objects of sense gratification, being freed from attachment and hatred, one who lives in a secluded place, who eats little, who controls his body, mind and power of speech, who is always in trance and who is detached, free from false ego, false strength, false pride, lust, anger, and acceptance of material things, free from false proprietorship, and peaceful.

Bhagavad Gita Ch 18: texts 42, 51-53).

Therefore we see that the Brahmanas were NOT just priests, they were so many other things. Why!!!! In fact they even taught the Art of Warfare and Combat!!! 

In the Mahabharata we read that KRIPA (KRIPACHARYA), Son of the sage Saradvan, was taught Dhanurveda, the martial arts by his father, and he became one of the Kurus’ martial teachers. He survived the Kurukṣetra war and counseled the Pāṇḍavas when they ruled the world. Later, they appointed him preceptor of their grandson, Parīkṣit.

We all need the means to survive and make at least a basic living. Being austere and spending their time in deep reflection and serving society, they had little time to engage in commerce or trade, or for that matter find any other means to earn an income. Therefore, they needed to be taken care of.

Traditionally they lived very frugally and therefore they had the most basic needs. They accepted whatever charity or Dakshina recipients of their advice and counsel could give and they lived off the charity of others.  They never accepted paid employment. Accepting any formal or predetermined payment, would mean selling their knowledge and this in itself would dilute their fundamental beliefs, role and position of authority.

It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly.

Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, text 47 & 48

And then we have what are knows as outcastes, or Dalits. The fact is that, at the time of the scriptures, there were only four castes. All these were like parts of a human body, working together for the common good and all equally important. Over time the caste system came to be abused, and a fifth class of people – the Dalits – were identified. So what are Dalits in reality? “Dalit” is actually Sanskrit for a person or pesons who work against societal interests and are outside the social structure, but somehow it came to be used to describe a Class that is downtrodden, exploited, those who have the least privileges. This is purely a concoction based on the convenience of people who wanted to ostracize a certain set of people. There is no mention of Dalit in our Scriptures. In fact Krishna says that, a learned man will look upon everyone as equal.

Decision-making Process.

So how were these occupations decided? There was already in place an aptitude based evaluation criteria or process, whereby the Guru or Teacher observed and evaluated several aspects of the child and then made recommendations based on such evaluation. These recommendations were then used by the parents and the student in deciding what the child would eventually end up doing.

“According to the rules and regulations mentioned, one who is twice-born, namely a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya, should reside in the gurukula under the care of the spiritual master. There he should study and learn all the Vedic literatures along with their supplements and the Upaniṣads, according to his ability and power to study. Then following the master’s order, the disciple should leave and accept one of the other āśramas, namely the gṛhastha-āśrama, vānaprastha-āśrama or sannyāsa-āśrama, as he desires”.

Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 7, Chapter 12, Texts 13 & 14.

A Systematic Assasination

Over the years there has been a systematic assassination of our rich and deep culture, both by our invaders, the foreign traders who eventually paved the way for us to be ruled and by ourselves. I also propose that that India and Indian beliefs have been singled out, when the Caste System is alluded to. This happens for a myriad of reasons, the most important being that it is we Indians, under the influence of a continuous onslaught of invasions over generations, throughout history, were quick to distance ourselves, abandon and even ridicule our own traditions, beliefs, and culture. This isn’t really surprising as each invasion had plenty of cultural ramifications, apart from just the war or armed conflict related ramifications. Thus we adapted to the ways preferred by our invaders.

Balancing the Scales

It would be very unfair on my part to not complete the picture on how things got this way. The backlash hasn’t originated just out of ignorance, instigation or then vested interests. It is also a fact that it is also because how certain castes ended up treating or dealing with the other classes.

Take for example the Aaryans. They arrived in India and formed 3 groups of people, namely warriors, priests and farmers. As the warriors and priests fought for leadership roles, it was the priests who emerged victorious and eventually farmers, craftsmen, warriors and locals were led by Brahamans or priests. We’ve seen this through history as well. Much smaller armies have emerged victorious by exhibiting great courage, resilience and coming up with strategies to counter adversity or for that matter, emerging victorious. Similarly the priests used their knowledge, intellect and influence to emerge as the leaders in the time of the Aryans.

Classifications and Segregation are a fact of life and that’s not just peculiar to India and therefore it is indeed most unfortunate that we seem ignorant that almost all cultures, civilizations and even political systems have some form of caste system or the other. Here I propose yet again, that we use Class instead of Cast.

In the next instalment, I will speak about how ancient and modern societies, cultures and civilizations classified, segregated and even discriminated based on various criterion. So stay tuned and read all about it here but don't forget, you can also go to my podcast channels on all major platforms, Apple, Google, Spotify and Breaker.
Write in and tell me what you think about this! I can be reached at sumir@sumirnagar.com or you can even leave your comments here.

After The Corporate Years #2.

It’s now almost two years coming up in a few short weeks, and the journey has been great. Amazing in fact. The company grows from strength to strength…..we have overcome some hairy challenges and taken a few hard knocks, but always rallied and always overcome. The hours are long, the hands a few too less, but do I wake up raring to go? Absolutely!

Beyond the large corporates lie really fantastic opportunities, albeit in smaller firms and companies, such as startups.

Having been deeply immersed in the startup ecosystem for the past decade, and during the nascent years of my professional journey, this feeling is solidly confirmed having lived and breathed in it.

As I write about my life and about my professional journey, it dawns upon me that I’ve never actually gone out and looked for a job. Save one time, and that one time was the very first time that I went and worked for someone else as CFO. First job and that as CFO, not bad, eh? Take how I got into ICICI, HSBC, Agile and my current role, all known people, or a friend of a friend, or an ex-colleague and friend.

It also strikes me that there are no coincidences in life, none whatsoever. I think it has more to do with fate, destiny, being in the right place at the right time.

The way I look at almost everything, is slotting all that I end up doing or experiencing, into this rather interesting matrix (not inspired by the movie, by the way). It’s called the Matrix of Six. Yes, you might have guessed. That another piece I’m working on. Soon coming to a blog page near you.

Best I get on with the current role, after that rather long preamble, so this story picks up from the earlier startup experience.

As it happens, during my previous startup role as COO, a friend (ex friend now), called me out of the blue very early one morning and after a rather fake exchange of pleasantries, said he’s working for this guy, someone who he said I knew (I didn’t) from my time in Singapore – Circa 2002/2003. So despite the long silence between us, and a less than cordial relationship post the exing, I agreed to introduce him and his boss to the CEO of the company.

I turns out that Prateek, one of my colleagues (we become close friends) from the Dubai startup, ended up working for Ram before I did. So this Prateek character calls one day as asks to be introduced to decision makers at various banks in India, and I do so devoid of any hesitation, as I’ve always helped friends out no matter what.

Why is this relevant? Simply because that Ram, the one I’d never met, would a few years later come looking for me.

I did open a few doors for Prateek, and once fine day, soon after the door opening part, Ram calls me from Singapore, and says he’s sending me a visa and ticket. What don’t you come down to Singapore for a few days and lets talk about how we can collaborate. If my memory serves me that was in July or August 2017.

If you have read my previous anecdote, you will recall that I had quit this Dubai startup, and was in this “in-between” phase again, the one in which I was part of the startup ecosystem as a mentor. So I was kinda figuring out what to do next, and had a few exciting ideas in mind, including interesting job opportunities. One idea was more exciting than others, and remains something I’d like to do if I ever get an opportunity. That was to set up a platform or a service, to help Indian companies, or any company for that matter, to develop business in Africa, and guide them how to manage African initiatives.

I think, I’ve already mentioned before, that doing business in Africa as a whole, and some countries in APAC is nothing short of a fine art. There is no science in it, just art and finesse.

See? I drifted again, sorry. Anyway, I’m headed to Singapore and Ram has been the perfect host. We talk a lot, about life, personal and professional, we open up to each other. He talks about Bank-Genie, how it started. We drink a bit, we get to know one another, and at some point he kinda pops it on me. Why don’t you come work with us?

The company and its prospects seem quite interesting, well conceptualised, but the role is that of a person who can do some serious heavy lifting. Something I have always done and can do with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back, but I’m not really looking at a “heavy-lifting” role, so I’m a bit iffy. But all in all and interesting opportunity.

The thing I was quite upfront about is the compensation, and quite transparently I caution him that he should deliberate carefully as I don’t come cheap, and paying me or someone like me, would put a dent in the books.

I head back to India, we keep in touch, we talk numbers, and we go back and forth a lot, we both jockey for position, and finally after being at this for a month we arrive at a middle ground. I agree to a fixed compensation component less than what I want, deserve, am capable of earning, and he takes a couple of steps up, and finally we are agreed on the numbers, and all that remains is to ink the deal.

The other thing that I was a bit concerned about was the location. Mysore! Small town, deep south, nothing much going on, I’m a city boy and have lived and worked in four continents and lived in five major internationally acclaimed cities. How in the name of hell will I live in Mysore? But that’s a non-negotiable item, and so i finally relent. Taking a huge leap of faith, I head on over to Mysore, even before a contract has been signed, and technically I’m on board October 4th.

Four days later I’m headed to Singapore once again, this time to meet the investors who want to eyeball this so called “heavy-hitter”, with the concern that having come from a pedigree international bank, I may not be able to hack the transition to the startup realities. Ha, Ha!!!

I’m presenting a four day view of the company, and what my four day impressions are, what I make of the COO role, and what I think I have cut out for me. The presentation goes down well, and I still have a job (save a little job threatening episode in the first week itself) so I’m guessing I’ve done something right.

It’s now almost two years coming up in a few short weeks, and the journey has been great. Amazing in fact. The company grows from strength to strength…..we have overcome some hairy challenges and taken a few hard knocks, but always rallied and always overcome. The hours are long, the hands a few too less, but do I wake up raring to go? Absolutely! All this combined with visiting and experiencing new countries, is nothing short of a heady mix, a kind of a perpetual high, and no I having been smoking!

Working – The Road Warrior>

We are Now at an inflection point, with tremendous upside.

Along the way, what has built up is trust, a good working relationship, one where the CXO team relies and leverages off the strengths of the others, and compensates where required. The team is superlative in terms of their efforts, loyalty and feeling of belonging, and this is the ONLY place I’ve worked at thus far, where I’ve never had to crack the whip on a development team. The work just gets done, as if by magic, and that’s something that is really rare and something I cherish. I’ve never even had to even once request someone to stay late and finish work, or please come over the weekend. If there is work, nothing needs telling, it just gets done!

Whatever happened to the apprehensions about being based in Mysore? If I say I’m in heaven, that would obviously be a gross misstatement, but what’s not to like? Clean air, almost no traffic, cycling heaven (yes this is in heaven category), heart of Karnatic Music and Arts, peace and quiet to get work done, no long commute to and back from work, really inexpensive, delicious southern cuisine. In short no more apprehension, quite the opposite, I love it!

What next? For me? For Bank-Genie? I guess I’m at an inflection point as well, a fork in the road of sorts. On the one hand I completed fifty seven years this year, so I’d like to sit back, write, ride my bicycle, study, read, mentor, teach Students about the real world they are about to venture into (they are ill equipped to survive and succeed) and distribute the learning’s from a working life that started at the age of 18 years. Whereas on the other hand, I stay the course and bring this baby to term, watch it grow, and once it starts running at speed, recede into the shadows or the background, and be available as a counsel or sounding board as and when called.

All going as planned, I’m leaning more towards bringing the baby to term and beyond as there is real traction here, a tremendous opportunity. An opportunity for everybody at Bank-Genie to fulfil their potential, and an opportunity for Bank-Genie to be recognised as a formidable name as a FinTech that services the needs of banks both big and small, the microfinance eco system, and an opportunity for the CXO team to create a foundation for the nextgen to take to higher levels.

These are opportunities are seldom present themselves at large corporates and are available almost exclusively at the startups, smaller firms and companies, the ones fraught with challenges, yet most satisfying to ones soul. I’d pick a startup any day, and I’d urge students to take up roles at startups, for what you will learn at a startup is something no school will ever come close to teaching, and that is my next blog post. Look out for it. Cheers!


Guru Means Heavy….hmmm

There are some things that just set me off, one of them is misinterpretation of age-old Indian traditions, culture and doctrine handed down through generations from Father to Son, from Guru to Disciple, from Mother to Daughter. So when people start banding the institution of Guru, I get set off.

So today my friend Kimberly said something about people calling themselves Guru, and the number of people she’s come across recently, who call themselves “Guru”. She went on to opine that something wasn’t quite right about that. People calling themselves, Guru.

Kimberly then, is this Gori Chori, interpreted as “fair skinned foreigner). American India. Not to be mistaken with Red Indian. She just chooses to live, learn and teach in India. Kimmy is a teacher in her own right, so when she says something isn’t quite right with people calling themselves Guru, then we take notice.

So her post or rather comment on said topic, resulted in a flurry of comments, suggestions, opinions from the cognoscenti (self excluded from cognoscenti), about what Guru means. Self is included in one of the people responding to said comment from Kimmy. Being a response on FB, I had to keep it brief, though I had been set off! To summarise, someone said, Guru is within you, and someone else said, self-styled Gurus are just that, self-styled, or even worse, self-appointed, blah blah….

There are some things that just set me off, one of them is misinterpretation of age-old Indian traditions, culture and doctrine handed down through generations from Father to Son, from Guru to Disciple, from Mother to Daughter. So when people start banding the institution of Guru, I get set off.

One other thing makes me even more ballistic is the modern-day interpretations and indeed practice of “Yoga”. Just because they teach you to say the Gayatri Mantra at Yoga class, don’t mean you are learning Yoga! Yoga for weight loss? It will work, but if all we are learning is a form of exercise, and some really limited breathing exercises, then should be really say we are learning Yoga?

Let’s save my rant on misinterpretation of Yoga and all the malpractices surrounding it for another occasion, and in its stead PLEASE let me rant about misuse, misinterpretation and abuse of the word “Guru”.

I did say PLEASE, didn’t I?

For the ignorant….yes, this is a strong word (but then I do intend it to sting), Guru is limited to “teacher”, or let’s just say that this is the basic level of understanding most will have. I really don’t accept this, as Teacher is Acharya. Guru is so much more!

It’s really quite simple, learn from an authority before you seek to teach. And who exactly authorizes one to teach? Do we authorize ourselves? Does someone who exists at a higher plane authorize one to spread the good word? Clearly this is common sense! So what gives and where do people sum up the courage and gumption to appoint themselves as Gurus?

Guru is “Eternal Father”, and finding a Guru is the single most significant event in life. 

Sacinandana Das aka Sumir Nagar – Receiving Dhiksha

Finding your Guru, begging to be taken on as student and disciple, serving your Guru, the process of observation and learning, and this whole thing of the Guru and Disciple accepting each other is a process in itself. Both, the Guru and Disciple test each other and it is only then, that a formal association takes place.

So apart from being set off, and in addition to this rant, let me humbly submit that we be careful when us use the word Guru, and when we accept people to be Gurus.

Whereas Indian tradition describes this in great detail, if I were to allow some degree of latitude, then I would say that at the very least, let us agree to accept that the process of transmission of knowledge HAS TO BE from an authority on a particular subject, to a student, at the very least, worthy and capable of absorbing that body of knowledge and practice, let alone transmitting lessons learnt down the line.

Not meaning to get too technical, and in the interest of keeping this brief and (not necessairly light), I will merely touch upon the origins of Guru as per Indian thought and culture.

There are four Sampradayas or orders qualified and authorized to disseminate Sanatana Dharma, not to be confused with Hinduism. Sanatana is “a way of life”, based on higher principles of existence, Hindu is merely a geographical derivation to describe people south of the Hindukush mountains.

It is possible to have more than one teacher or Guru, but it is possible to have just one Spiritual Master or Guru in the truest sense of the word. Lot’s more to be said on subject, but I would relegate that to your desire to know more, and leave you with a simple way of looking at it….

First Time Out – Jumping Out of an Airplane – Solo Effort?

Take Skydiving….serious business this….do we just jump out of an airplane at the very first instance? Do we not do tandem jumps first? Don’t we investigate that the chappie inducing us to jump out of an airplane from a considerable height….that exhilarating first jump, is properly qualified and indeed certified? Don’t we take driving lessons, get a drivers licence and only then go on to teach our kids? Get the ratio?

Self styled Gurus, modern-day Gurus, just set me off! The relationship with Guru in the parampara or tradition of Guru-Shishya is deep and profound, and having experienced this,
it’s just difficult to let people off the hook when they go around concocting their own agendas and meanings.

End of Guru rant, you can wait for the next rant, till someone sets me off again 🙂


Technological Revolution: No Internet aka The Dark Ages

For the generation that has seen technology in the palm of your hand almost from birth, boys and girls I would like to say that, there was a time when there was no internet, and even worse, no cellular phones, only landlines to contend with, not to speak of the challenges of actually getting a landline (at least in India, way back). Yes people, those were the Dark Ages, very dark.

The topic for the day, well actually night, is life moving from the dark ages into the light.

My journey with technology really started when I was a kid, as is usually the case. My professional tryst with technology, is nothing but fate and circumstance. Nowhere on the distant landscape did technology seem to be on the horizon, yet here we are. Sumir Nagar – Chief Operating Officer & Global Delivery Head.

The childhood skirmishes with technology mainly consist of me taking things apart, and more often than not, failing to put them back together in working condition. Radios, cassette players, cars and bicycles (of course) included.

It even involves, yours truly, trying to peel off the coating of a speaker wire, which was nothing but a live wire. Stick wire in mouth, to strip coating, wet tongue contacting bare live wire, bzzzzzzz, Sumir falling off rather tall ladder, and bringing down the stereo speakers he’s trying to fix. Fortunately no broken bones, just a strange buzzing feeling throughout every fibre of my being.

If only that moment could have been caught on film, it would have got a lot of eyeballs on You Tube and then some. Minor detail, no You Tube, no Facebook, no social, and even more ghastly, no internet. Really no internet? Did such a time even exist? How quickly we forget, don’t we? Well for those of us “old” enough. Here comes Minton, saying “how old are you bro?”, and Lisa saying, “you posted it I didn’t”. So lets set that little item to rest… I am all of 54 years old. Happy people?

For the generation that has seen technology in the palm of your hand almost from birth, boys and girls I would like to say that, there was a time when there was no internet, and even worse, no cellular phones, only landlines to contend with, not to speak of the challenges of actually getting a landline (at least in India, way back).

Yes people, those were the Dark Ages, very dark.

Those were also simpler times, when family actually spent time doing fun stuff, actually spending quality time together, actually having meaningful conversations with each other, face to face. But this is not about lament, it’s about my experience of seeing technology actually take shape and come into an age of self driven cars and delivery by drone.

Technology has changed every single aspect of our existence, from the way we write and run computer programmes, to the kind of cars we drive, to the kind of bicycles we ride. How we have seen the music scene changing, from valve based radios, to circuit boards, from vinyl to spool decks, to eight track, to cassette tapes, to CD’s to Blue Ray, to internet based music.

Have you ever used a box camera, that too black and white, and graduated to polaroid, to SLR, to DSLR, to phone based cameras, and now comes the Moto Z Play with the Hazelblad camera Mod attachment! What a fantastic journey. Have you ever developed roll after roll (rather expensive) and then moved to viewing the photographs on screen, with the ability to edit?

We now exist in the world of the app, and increasingly find that there is an app for every little thing we can think about, even down to how we date. Swipe left for no, swipe right for yes?

This is the year of ’78 or maybe ’79, and I am first exposed to computer programming. There was this kindest, sweetest, most learned teacher in New Phila High called Mr. Winn, and he taught me the basic tenets of programing.

I often narrate this to the current gen of developers (we call then coders when we speak unkindly of them). I tell them to imagine shading punch cards, which are then punched and sorted, and are then fed into a punch card reader, from where we cut a ticker tape, from where we record a cassette tape, which is then put into this computer called a Wang, and we actually run the programme.

If the programme fails, and mine almost always did, you end up shading the cards all over again, and going through the abovementioned rigmarole again and again till we got it right. Mistakes were expensive and time-consuming, unlike now, when all you need to do is delete/comment, rewrite code, compile and run the programme again, all in a matter of seconds. Better yet, with the modern-day UI and drag and drop features available with the intelligent developer tools, you can actually see the impact of the code changes you make in real-time or near real time.

Now this is not an old vs younger generation thing, but it has been my observation and experience, that due to the fact that you could ill afford to get things wrong (the cost of rework being high and time-consuming), you did tend to be more particular and diligent, and more often that not, get things right the first time, whereas in the current scheme of things, you can rework things really easily, and therefore are more careless, less diligent, and tend not to do things right the first time out. Also we weren’t on FB, WhatsApp, Snapchat and what have you, so we were less distracted when we worked.

How many of us remember the old idiot boxes and have seen them move from black and white to color, and now to smart TV’s dishing out content on demand?

Call me daft, but I would easily regress into a world devoid of cellular phones, but I don’t think I would do away with computers. I use the cellular heavily and even carry two, but that’s just to separate work from personal. I think it’s a respect thing as well, if I message you before I call, it is to see if you’re busy or are able to speak with me. I get real irritated when people tell me things like, I saw that you read my message a long time back but you didn’t respond until much later. What frigging gives? My response at the extreme is simple, the damn device was paid for by me, the bills are paid by me, so I pretty much will damn decide when and IF I message you back! Such is my aversion to unwanted intrusion, that my WhatsApp is on my Dubai number, and that is one I really don’t give to everyone. I also have a secret number which I give ONLY to family and those who I care about, respect and trust implicitly. That that’s a really small number. Attitude you say? I say YES.

I must say that my generation has been most fortunate to have seen the old world or Dark Ages), devoid of all the needless distractions, and in later years see the technology transformation changing the way we work and indeed live. It’s like we were on the cusp of the old world transcending into something fascinating. Our cup of fortune runneth over as we now are seeing the advent of technological advancement into disciplines like Artificial Intelligence, space tourism, and seeing the efforts of Elon Musk and his like, force yet another transformation of how we live, think and indeed live.

Then is the generation preceding ours who got kinda left behind, but there are a few of them who had and have a keen desire to at least understand, if not catch up, to an era that’s changed around then so very rapidly that they are shell-shocked.

I allude to people like my father, all of 88 years, who printed out the entire user manual of the smart phone we presented him, just so he could operate the damn thing, and how he only recently purchased a laptop and sits day after day to study it and get it to do what he wants out of it. I must say I’ve been impatient with him at times, when he asks questions that to me are so very basic, that we don’t even think about it. There are two people who get a vote of thanks and gratitude for my foray into computer science, my father and my buddy Harish. Harish, because he literally begged, if not bullied me into buying a PC XT, dual floppy drive et all. My father because he somehow cajoled me to enroll for a Diploma Course from NCC when I was but a teenager, or maybe just after.

The XT gave way to the AT, which stood down for the 386 and then the 486. Storage and memory at a bare minimum, from floppy disk, to mini disk, to hard drives, to flash drives. Amazing changes, and the advancements continue.

It seems to me that I’ve been spared the same disapproving looks from my kids, who have been kind enough on occasion to label me, “the most tech savvy father” from amongst my peer group. I guess I thank my lucky stars that my life did take me on a technological journey, most meaningful, even though I didn’t see technology anywhere on the horizon during my early years. And that fortune is even more amplified (if that’s the word I’m seeking), when I can say I’ve worked in the business, operations and technology, have lived and worked on four continents, and have worked for the vendor community and the captives as well.

I’m at a crossroads of sorts now, and I sit scratching my head to figure out what I’m going to do next. I just hope that my journey is as exciting as its been, reversals and all, and I continue to learn new things, have new experiences and continue to come up trumps.

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