Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Don’t Listen To Your Charioteer

Posted on: June 21, 2011

A scene from Mahabharata.

Pandavas and Kauravas are getting ready for a war, trying to get support from as many kings as possible. Yudhisthira (Leader of Pandavas) is counting on the support of his uncle Shalya, king of Madra.

As expected, Shalya comes to meet Yudhisthira. But he says he won’t be fighting in Pandavas’ side during the upcoming war. Because, he has already promised Duryodhana that he will be joining the Kauravas’ army, fighting against Pandavas.

Yudhisthira is disappointed, but he decides use this unexpected twist in his favor and requests Shalya for a vow. ‘Uncle, you are a master charioteer. During the war, you will be asked to be the charioteer of Karna, arch-rival of my brother Arjuna. Sooner or later, Karna and Arjuna will meet in face to face battle, at that time, I want you to praise Arjuna’s skills and dampen Karna’s spirits.’

‘Sure. But what good will it do?’

‘I am confident that no one in Kauravas’ army can beat Arjuna, except Karna. If Karna comes to the battlefield with full enthusiasm, he may go ahead and push for a win. On the other hand, if his charioteer repeatedly talks great things about Arjuna, he will get into a self-doubt and approach the battle with some disadvantage, Arjuna will use that and kill Karna.’

Dirty trick? May be, But then, “All is fair in love and war” – Shalya did what Yushisthira wanted and that ultimately helped Arjuna to finish Karna and take an edge in the Kurukshetra war.

This story may be coming from a very ancient epic. But we can see the same cunning strategy being applied today against many achievers. Sometimes, our friends or relatives or well(?)wishers tell us we won’t be able to reach our goals, many times, we ourselves push us into a corner in self-doubt, because we listen to our inner-mind saying great things about our enemy (or the target we want to reach).

So, it is better not to listen to your charioteer!



N. Chokkan …

21 06 2011


1 Response to "Why Not? — Don’t Listen To Your Charioteer"

Dear Chokkan:
This blog post reminds me of a workshop I attended ten years ago in the University.

The facilitator blindfolded one of the participant and told her your goal is to reach the only chair which is located in one corner of the room following the directions provided by the rest of the group. He secretly divided the rest of us into two groups. One was to guide her the right way and another to confuse her and not to let her find the chair.

The scene that followed was choatic, but the blindfolded girl found the chair after about 10 minutes.

The facilitator asked the girl how she managed to reach the chair. She said initially it was confusing. However, as time passed by she figured that a pattern was emerging. Some people were telling move right, move left, turn around etc. There was another set which was saying dont move right/left etc. In other words, there were positive and negative instructions. She apparently followed the positive instructions to reach the chair.

The facilitator had nothing more to add and he rested his case 🙂

Though I have attended many such workshops, this one had an lasting impression on me. Just like this story you have shared with us….
Many thanks for the same.

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