Mischevious intentions

Business, Indian Mythology 12 Comments

Published in Corporate Dossier, ET, Oct. 21, 2011

Krishna brought the Parijata tree from Swarga, the paradise of the gods, and presented it to his wives: Rukmini and Satyabhama. Rukmini was Krishna’s poor wife who had eloped from her father’s house on Krishna’s chariot and had come to Dwarka with nothing except the clothes on her body. Satyabhama was Krishna’s affluent wife who had been given in marriage to Krishna by her extremely rich father Satrajit. She had entered Krishna’s house with a huge dowry. Satyabhama never lost an opportunity to dominate Krishna’s household with her wealth. So it was rather surprising that when Krishna presented the Parijata, Satyabhama insisted that it be planted in the garden of Rukmini. Everyone saw this as an act of graciousness, but Krishna divined Satyabhama’s intention.

A wall separated the gardens of the two queens. Satyabhama’s garden was located in the east, in the direction of the rising sun. The Parijata tree, planted in Rukmini’s garden would grow towards the sun and all the flowers would fall into Satyabhama’s garden. So while Rukmini would do all the work of taking care of the plant, Satyabhama would literally reap its benefits.

Realizing Satyabhama’s mischievous intentions, Krishna declared, “Since Rukmini will be taking the trouble of watering the plant and tending to its need, it is only fair that the plant bloom every time I spend time with her.” And so it came to pass that every time the flowers bloomed, Satyabhama knew her husband was with his other wife and so could never really enjoy the beauty of the Parijata.  Satyabhama finally apologized to her husband for her pettiness that he clearly did not appreciate.

As a manager and boss, it is necessary to understand the intentions behind the actions of our team. Appearances are often deceptive. Krishna could have made Satyabhama’s mischief transparent but that would have only led to denials and rage. Instead, he took decisions such that the message was passed without anyone’s dignity being wounded.

When Jivan Seth decided to divide his business between his two sons, he saw the elder son more than eager to let the younger son get the car dealership business, so long as he got the restaurant business. Jivan Seth realized this was because potentially the car dealership business had more risks that the restaurant business which was older and on more solid ground. He did not like the public display of affection shown by his elder son. He was being clever and mocking Jivan Seth’s intelligence and he clearly did not care much for his younger brother’s fortune. Confrontation would only lead to angry denials so Jivan Seth came up with a different solution. He declared that the two companies would be divided unequally with the condition that the operations belong to the minority stakeholder. Thus, the elder son got the maximum share of the car dealership business but would operate the restaurant business while the younger son got the maximum share of the restaurant business with operating rights over the car dealership business. This was not completely viable, but by simply raising this suggestion, Jivan Seth clearly communicated his displeasure. And the two sons got the message.

  • Awesome ! Awesome story and learning ! :)

  • Asha

    Great Implied Message….Devduttji, a person with malafied intention already knows that he is wrong….yet he does it and expects good things to happent o him/her….how?why so?

  • Rajesh

    Very Good Indeed very nice article…..great thought.

  • Amar Goyal

    sir any magzine if u publish in hindi plz send me


    The story of krishna is really a good example, but in todays world, his first wife would have simply killed the plant so that it cud never bloom and irritate her.

    So i believe just because you are wise enough to not hurt the 2 parties does not really stop the wrong doings.

    And those brothers would have simply fought the hell out to change what their dad did.

    No one actually cares for anyones emotions anymore. Is there really any emotion left in people. We are a consumer generation and so money is the most important love we have.

    Rest of the world can go to hell, thats the new generation thinking.

    And those who dont think that way are crushed by this society.

  • Vibha

    Awesome Article! Learning from Krishna’s Story gives best solution in awkward situation. Thankful to Mr. Devdutt for doing such a great work..

  • Kottu

    Its about time lol

  • Wonderful stories of the past beautifully told in the present. Must read more often the scriptures to bring about such analogies in my blogs too…

  • Sir, Now-a-days when things are done in a subtle manner like this, to pass the message, the person who is supposed to get the message merely quits.. It may be applicable for family business, but when it comes to a team environment, many a times, the concerned person escalates the issue or quits…

    Correct me if I am wrong.

  • Raj

    nice one

  • Rukmani was a princess and she married Krushna out of her own freewill. She married beneath her social status because she loved Krushna and she wrote to him to come and rescue her from a sham svayamvar where she was going to be forced to choose a prince she did not love.

    Satyabhama was given to Krushna as an apology for having suspected him for stealing the Svayamantak gem. Satrajit gave his daughter and the gem to Krushna as a public declaration of reconciliation with fellow Yadav chief. Though Krushna returned the gem to Satyabhama’s father, it continued to plague him for the rest of his life. Even the final battle between Yadava clans featured the gem and who stole it.

    So yes, Satyabhama may have been the daughter of a rich man, but she came with a whole set of problems them continued to plague Krushna and his family.

    Rukshmani may have eloped with Krushna but her father gave her many gifts and she was certainly not the poor wife. Indeed, as the first wife, her place was unassailable at all times.

    Parijat story in the SM Bhagvatam does not mention whose garden its planted in. Its probably a later addition to the original. What the original does say is that the tree was brought to earth to humble the pride of Indra and his wife. The original story is very much in keeping with the spirit of egalitarian values of the new world order Krushna was working to establish. He wanted a world where integrity, merit and righteousness rules. For this reason, he supported Pandavas over Kauravas and acted as a “king maker” rather than the king.

  • Rajni

    bullseye… Confrontation would only lead to angry denials!!!