krishnamb

Death by Mimicry

Business 16 Comments

Published in Corporate Dossier, ET, 26th March 2010

Jain documents say that in every era, there is a hero called Vasudeva who defeats a villain called Prati-Vasudeva. One such Vasudeva was Krishna who defeated the villain Jarasandha. But the Bhagavat Purana says that Paundraka, king of Karusha, declared that Krishna was not the True Vasudeva; it was he. So Paundraka wore a crown with a peacock feather. And he held a lotus flower in one hand and a conch-shell in another. Round his neck he put a garland of forest flowers, the Vana-mali. In his ears, he put earrings that were shaped like dolphins, the Makara-kundala. He draped the bright yellow silk dhoti or the Pitambara. He even got hair-dressers to make his hair curly just like Krishna’s. He insisted on eating rich creamy butter in each meal. He even played the flute in flowery meadows on moonlit nights and got his queens and concubines to dance around him. “See,” he said, “I do everything he does. I am the True Vasudeva. Krishna is the False Vasudeva.” The people of Kraucha, some gullible, some confused, some frightened, worshipped Paudraka with flowers and incense and sweets and lamps. Everyone wondered who was actually the True Vasudeva, since both looked so alike?

Paundraka’s courtiers pointed out to him that Krishna of Dwaraka had a Sudarshan Chakra, a wheel-shaped weapon that no other man has. “Oh that,” Paudraka retorted caustically, “He borrowed it from me. I must get it back from the impostor.” So a messenger was sent to inform Krishna to return the Sudarshan Chakra or face stern consequences. Krishna said, “Sure, let him come and get it.” Irritated that Krishna did not come to return the Sudarshan Chakra himself, Paundraka set out to Dwaraka on his chariot decorated with a banner with the image of the eagle Garuda on it, reinforcing his identity as Vasudeva. When he reached the gates of Dwaraka, he shouted, “False Vasudeva, return the Sudarshan Chakra that rightfully belongs to me, the True Vasudeva.” Krishna said, “Here it is.” The Sudarshan Chakra that whirred around Krishna’s index finger flew towards Paundraka. Paundraka stretched out his hand to receive it. As the wheel alighted on his finger, he realized it was heavier than it looked, so heavy that before he could call for help, he was crushed to a pulp under the great whirring wheel. That was the end of the man who pretended to be Vasudeva.

One often finds False Vasudevas teeming in the corporate world. They know to walk the walk and talk the talk but they simply don’t know what the talk is all about. They know how to dress, how to carry their laptops and their BlackBerrys, what cars to drive, which clubs to join, where to be seen, with whom, how to use words like ‘value enhancement’ and ‘on the same page’ and ‘synergy’ and ‘win-win’. In other words, they know the behaviour that projects them as ‘corporate leaders’, but they have no clue as to what leadership actually means.

At an interview in a fast-growing firm, Vijaychandra selected a young man who showed all signs of having the talent and drive of a leader. The young man’s name was Jaipal. He came from the right universities, he came with the right credentials and the right testimonies. He spoke with the right accent, and used the right words, and dressed the right way. He even played golf! He was fit to head the new e-business division. Two years down the line, however, despite all the magnificent power point presentations and the impressive excel sheets that impressed quite a few angel investors, the revenue was way below the mark. The market had just not responded. Jaipal knew how to talk business, but he did not know how to do business.

Vijaychandra decided to study what Jaipal had done in the past two years. Jaipal, he realized, had stayed in the right hotels and moved about in the right car, but he had never really gone down to meet the vendors and the customers. He really did not immerse himself in the market research. For that he had hired help. He focused on ‘strategy’ but not on ‘tactics’ – he loved boardroom brainstorming but not shop floor sweat. His organization structure was designed such that he kept away from the frontline. He simply assumed that his team would know what to do in the market place. He had never picked up the phone and heard the clients complaints – he preferred the summary of conclusions provided by reputed analysts. He did not hear his sales people whine and groan, he preferred the echoes of the market presented by strategy consultants. Vijaychandra realized this was a False Vasudeva – all imitation, no inspiration.

The False Vasudeva is always good at mimicry. And a good mime can fool an audience. But ultimately the audience has to pay when it is unable to distinguish mimicry from the real thing. Vijaychandra learnt this the hard way.

  • Satish Gundawar

    The problem is who will kill False Vasudeva in this era? or How?

    • S.M.PAHWA

      THE KRISHNA WITHIN YOUR OWN SELF. AWAKEN HIM. RECOGNISE THE IMPOSTER DEMOLISH HIM SAVE OTHERS FROM BEING MISLEAD.

  • deb

    i can figure out few false people now …thnks fr the insight…reading your article is such a pleasure and value add..

  • Ashish

    The more I read your articles, the more I begin to appreciate your use of simple mythological instances or stories to bring out the ills of every day corporate management.

    Most of these ills are known / realised by all but may be at the sub-conscious realm of the mind. A big benefit that I see arising from relation of theses ills to mythological context is that the ills are immediately brought to the Conscious level.

    And once at the conscious level, the key words (Sabha-Chaturya) or the characters (False Vasudeva, Manthara etc) immediately trigger an alert against the respective ills.

    For instance: When talking to the boss about an ill that he has – the story relating sabha chaturya is immediately triggered in the mind and “sabha – chaturya” inadvertently becomes a part of the discussion with the boss.

    Always eagerly look forward to any updates from your side.

  • Manmohan Singh Gill

    There are so many fake-vasudevas around that sometimes i wonder what purpose they serve in the ‘Largest Scheme of Things’. In fact it just hit me (i shudder and shake at the thought) that they might have a purpose, they just didnt slip in in an otherwise perfectly-planned Existingverse.

    while we can dive headlong into the examination of that thought MORE important is to take note of the fact that BECAUSE there are more fake-vasudevas than the one real vasudeva – the fakeness dispensing machine is touching many many many more people than the real one. This is not only sad, its dangerous. To hold on to the real vasudeva even for as much as a topic of conversation is becoming increasingly difficult. Millions of gullible naive people out there really dont understand the difference. (i dont mean understand in the scholastic way, i mean general appreciation).

    WE definitely are not what we think WE are.

    In the middle of all this ‘Un-Arrangedness’ of things, (with great pleasure) i read ‘Death by Mimicry’. I am happy to come across something so immensely readable and agreeable straightaway.

    Devdutt you are an expert in what interests me no end. I like your clarity even when you talk about an unverifiable legend and I’m your fan.

  • Ambadas

    fortune chaiser v/s fortune magnet.

    First I m grateful to u Devdutta ji such best thing u put in front of reader with the help of CORPORATE DOSSIER.

    1.IT HELP ME TO IN WHICH PATH OF LIFE I AM.
    UR SERIES IS ESPECIALLY PATH FINDER.

    2.FEAR V/S MOTIVATION
    INDRA – KRSNA

    3.RELATE WITH CURRENT SCENARIO THAT IS ‘MIND BLOWING”

    I request write on subject specially
    ” AAHAR,NIDRA, BHAYA,MAITHUN & MIND TRAINING”

    Thanking you

    Ambadas M. Khartmol
    09867797040
    ambadas01@yahoo.com

  • Snigdha Pani

    Dear Devdut,Having read your article I want to believe that though the world is full of false people one day truth will prevail. But where ever you see it is falsehood only that reigns supreme. Please tell me how to sustain faith in the supreme truth?

    Snigdha

  • JAYASHANKARAN

    YOU ARE ABLE TO CORRELATE THE MYTHOLOGICAL CONCEPTS AND CHARACTERS IN MODERN DAY ATMOSPHER WITH DIRECTNESS, CLARITY AND SENSITIVITY. THE WORLD WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF THE PERSONS WHO OUGHT TO READ SHOULD BE READING. WE, THE GREAT RASIKAS AND COMMONERS FULL OF WORLDLY WISDOM ENJOY AND DERIVE VICARIOUS SATISFACTION SINCE WE ARE ABLE TO RELATE THE IDEAS TO US.

    I ONLY WISH THAT SECRETARIES WHILE RESPONDING TO THE CALL OF THEIR CHIEF ARE ABLE TO GENTLY REFER SUCH ARTICLES.

    PRAY CONTINUE THE GOOD WORK. I AM ABLE TO SEE HOW PASSIONATE YOU ARE.

  • DMN

    Dear Devdutt, – very nice writing…

    Someone has asked who will kill the false Vaasudeva. Perhaps, that question should not have come… The Sudarshana (=good vision OR right sight or whatever Devdutt would like to interpret it as.. ) – will do the job! When the team underneath a false leader gets proper “vision” – the mere weight will crush the impostor :-)

  • Sibal Parveen

    Having worked in India and North America with top MNC’s , i can say that False leaders are everywhere and a top Falso only promte people like him – One Woders in the current context – satyamev Not Jayate !!!!

  • Rakesh Phartyal

    First of all even i think that there are lots of false vasudev in our world but no sudarshan is there for them…… It is like getting new “GYAN” all the time whenever i read your articles on the web or in ET management mytho… thanks :-)

  • VT Rajan

    Dr.Devdutt g!

    The world I live in is full of jargon churning, fake-gurus, who are full of themselves! Unfortunately, in teh corporte world, the Managements are so myopic, they love to listen to all those buzz words! So much so, have loads of friends, who always want to be on the same page, sing from teh same hymn sheet, have their ducks in the row, take things off line, keep them in the loop, ping them for anything,touch-base with them, when in town, synergize and re-strategize business Goals, adopt a multi-dimentional approach and so on!! Tired, my ears explode when I listen to the jargonitis!

    You have got me hooked and am addicted to you and your website!!

  • Anu

    Dear Mr. DevDutt,
    This is indeed a superb article.

    Of course you say, beware, there could be imitators and not actual leaders. Are there any qualities or parameters that actually differentiates the real from that of an imitator, or should the lay man wait for the final battle? Your views would be highly appreciated.

    I religiously follow your articles, and Business sutra and doing some marketing for you as well.

    Good Luck

  • Sam

    I am currently watching Sagar’s Original Shri Krishna and am on the episode of the fake Vasudev. This tv serial is brilliant. Also currently reading Krsna the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    Regarding the comments above

    Re “They know to walk the walk and talk the talk but they simply don’t know what the talk is all about. They know how to dress, how to carry their laptops and their blackberrys, what cars to drive, which clubs to join, where to be seen, with whom, how to use words like ‘value enhancement’ and ‘on the same page’ and ‘synergy’ and ‘win-win’. In other words, they know the behaviour that projects themselves as ‘corporate leaders’, but they have no clue as to what leadership actually means.”

    Sadly this so so true. I have come across many like this, they put their own self interests first and are expert at self promotion but at the end of the day contribute nothing of any substance or value. I myself put faith in Krishna when carrying out my work and place all credit to him when it goes well and blame myself for any mistakes.

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