The following column by U. Mahesh Prabhu was first published by BW Businessworld
In this era of globally intertwined economies, global corporations as well as local enterprises are facing – equally – the heat of countless challenges. All that defines “successes” of organizations today – mammoth or miniscule – is the ability of their leaders to lead at all levels, outside and within. Compartmentalization of departments, and delegating powers to these departmental leaders has often proved key in augmenting larger financial as well as overall successes of enterprises. This is the reason why business leaders, professors of management as well as thinkers are in relentless pursuit of redefining the ideas and ideals of a Leader.
In Mahabharata, world’s largest epic with over a 100,000 verses, is a small section where a King named Dhritarashtra is overwhelmed by his concerns of an ensuing of a great war which could bring peril upon his own children and, thus, is unable to sleep. To find some peace he seeks counsel of his half-brother Vidura, who’s said to have personified wisdom. While sharing various thoughts on wisdoms with the king, he also touches on the idea of wise.
We all know of the people who are good and bad; not many know the idea of Wise. The idea of Wise and Wisdom is the fundamental pillars behind scores of Vedic texts, including Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishad and Shataka. The wise are often described by words like Pundit, Rishi and Muni depending on their accomplishments on the path of wisdom. As Vidura tells to the blind king Dhritarashtra “In absence of wisdom life’s all but stress, strain and pain.” It’s only with wisdom that “one can find happiness, peace and, even, liberation.”
But then what is being Wise? Vidura, thankfully, offers 15 verses defining various qualities of a wise:
1. He who has not been overwhelmed by anything by the power of understanding, exertion of intellect, forbearance of knowledge and steadiness of mind is called Wise.
2. He who adheres to his duties with persistence, seeks no praise or admiration from masses and rejects that which is hurtful, keeps his faith in himself at all times and revers the good is called as Wise.
3. He whom neither anger nor joy, nor pride, nor false modesty, nor oblivion, nor vanity, can draw away from the high ends of life, is considered as Wise.
4. He whose intended acts and proposed counsels remain concealed from adversaries, and whose acts become known only after they have been done, is considered Wise.
5. He whose intended actions are never obstructed by heat or cold, fear of attachment, prosperity or adversity, is to be considered as Wise.
6. He whose judgement dissociated from desire, follows both virtue and profit and who disregarding pleasures choses such ends as are serviceable in both the worlds, is considered as Wise.
7. They who exert to the best of their energy, and act also to the best of their energy, and disregarding nothing as insignificant are called Wise.
8. He who understands quickly, listens patiently, pursues his objectives with judgement and not from desire and wastes not even a breath on the affairs of others without being asked is said to possess the foremost mark of Wisdom.
9. They who do not strive for objects that are unattainable, they who do not grieve for what is lost and gone, they who do not suffer their minds to be clouded amid calamities are regarded to possess intellects endued with Wisdom.
10. He who strives, having commenced anything, till it is completed, who never wastes his time and who has his own self under control is regarded as Wise.
11. They are to be regarded as Wise who always delight in honest deeds who tends to their happiness and prosperity and never shun what is good.
12. They who aren’t exalted by honours or grieved at shame and remains peaceful and who aren’t agitated like a lake besides a river are reckoned as Wise.
13. The man who knows nature of all creatures, who is aware of all the acts, and who is proficient in the knowledge of the means that men may resort to for attaining their objective is reckoned as Wise.
14. He who speaks boldly, can converse on various subjects, knows the science of argumentation, possesses genius and can interpret the real meaning of what is written in books is to be called as Wise.
15. He whose studies are regulated by reason and who never abstains from paying respect to those who are good is called Wise.
Wisdom is one of the finest virtues a person can have because it means that you have not only learnt from your experiences but can also help yourself, as well as others, live by them. It’s also a light that guides your life. Let you see the truth and doesn’t let you to be blinded by others. As they say clever people learn from their own mistakes but the wise learns from everyone’s; including their own. Isn’t this the very reason that we must search for not just “qualified” or “experienced” but also “wise” leaders?