Published in Corporate Dossier, ET, June 11, 2010

In Hinduism, killing a Brahmin is considered the greatest sin. And yet, most astonishingly, God keeps killing Brahmins. Shiva beheads Brahma. Ram kills Ravan. Krishna encourages the beheading of Drona. Why so?

The word Brahmin comes from the root ‘Brh’ which means ‘to grow’. The Brahmin was the noble teacher, he who facilitated growth – provided the direction, the path, the intellectual wherewithal that enabled people to grow. But growth in Hinduism refers to all round growth – material growth (Lakshmi), intellectual growth (Saraswati) and emotional growth (Durga/Shakti). Growth refers not just to one’s own growth but to the growth of others too.

Intellectual growth manifests in increased sensitivity to people around us and to patterns in the world around us. Emotional growth manifests in an increased sense of security that makes us pay more attention to the development of those around us. Material growth cannot happen without emotional growth; emotional growth cannot happen without intellectual growth. Wealth generation and wealth distribution demand intellectual and emotional growth. Brahmins, the intellectuals, were therefore critical for the growth of society, as a whole.

Neither Brahma, Ravan nor Drona demonstrate these traits. When Brahma created the world, the world took the form of a woman. He got attracted to this woman of his own creation and wanted to possess her. So he chased her, determined to possess her. In disgust, Shiva took the form of Bhairava and beheaded him, which is why Shiva is called Kapalika, the skull-bearer. Ravan, son of a Rishi, kicked his brother Kuber out of Lanka to become its king and then went on to abduct wives of other men for his pleasure. Drona, also son of a Rishi, taught martial arts to the Pandavas and the Kauravas and as fee asked his students to give him one half of Drupada’s kingdom, so that he could settle a score with an old enemy. All three are more interested in their own material growth. Brahma wanted to control his creation, Ravan wanted to dominate the world and Drona wanted to settle a score. They did not seem to be interested in facilitating the growth of others, which was the Brahmin’s vocation. Perhaps that is why they were beheaded.

Vinit, who runs a successful spare parts company, has grown from a small 1 crore outfit to a 30 crore outfit in five years. He created this company, nurtured this company and now is a highly admired small scale entrepreneur. “But I am not happy,” he says, “I have more money than before. But I am constantly worried about attrition and competition and client servicing. I am afraid all that I have built will collapse.” Vinit’s personal wealth has increased, so has the value of his company. There is growth in the number of clients, the earning per client, in the number of employees and their respective earnings. Vinit should be happy, but he is not.  He feels his head will explode.

Vinit needs to relook at his vision statement put down years ago after he left his high paying corporate job in Memphis, USA and returned to India. It had nothing to do with profits. It was all about creating world class spare parts locally at a fraction of the price. His aim was to be surrounded by simple engineers who were grounded in reality. He wanted an organization with the warmth of a small organization, not the coldness of a large corporation. Somewhere along the line, he forgot all about intellectual and emotional growth that would facilitate this. It was all about material growth. Perhaps the reason for this is that intellectual growth cannot be measured, nor can emotional growth. In fact measuring intellect and emotions results in de-growth. So the head and heart was ignored in the pursuit of the wallet. This has resulted in a Vinit who is less sensitive than he was when he started out, and less secure. His empathy levels are at an all time low. The Brahmin has been corrupted. Time to behead him.

Brahma, though creator, is not worshipped in India. When Shiva beheads Brahma, Brahma loses his fifth head and is left with four. He is, in effect, cut down to size, shaken out of his madness, to step back and reflect on his enchantment with Lakshmi. In reflection lies realization of Saraswati and Durga. Only when there is all round growth will Brahma, and the Brahmin, be worthy once again of adoration.