Indians are a funny lot. They say “Bharat Mata ki Jai!” at the drop of the hat, then don’t do the hard, collaborative work to actually ensure Vijay. They wring their hands at the present state of affairs, but they refuse to work together to achieve the common good. They demand that all help them in their personal projects (or public projects for personal gain), but are not interested in supporting others. Worse, they complain and cry when they do not receive assistance from those they had refused to support or opportunistically treated. That is the behaviour of children.
It is this childish intransigence, this recalcitrance of donkeys, that is the great bane of our society today. That is why this is a site for the Serious Person. Not the twerpish tweep who wants to feel included in a fun activity, not the opportunist who is looking to raise his profile or follower count, and not the traitor who cuts a side deal when the going gets tough. Bharatavarsha (and Jambudveepa) has for far too long tolerated those who sell out community interest for personal gain…the time is fast approaching for them to get “voted off the island”. Any community or family or tribe or state or nation is built on reciprocal duties and collaboration, and that is our topic for today.
This is a topic that dates back a long time for long time readers. As you may have read in our post Origins of Indian Stupidity, we severely criticised and berated the gyaani tendency towards individual success at team expense. That is why we specifically promoted the prong “Work as a Team, Dummy”. If you do not wish to work and cooperate across disciplines and specialties as a team, then no matter what your IQ, you are a dummy. All of us together are smarter than one of us , no matter what you believe your “Jedi” genetic code to express.
The belief that an individual or a select group alone could contribute to the cause is severely damaging. The crab mentality, diagnosed in Indians are Talkers not Doers, only underscores this absence of collaborative mindset. That is why we exhorted our Argumentative Indian to “Work as a Team, Dummy”.
Understand, first and foremost, that there are different types of intelligence and merit is not merely an exam score.
What is merit? Merely doing well on exams or swallowing and vomiting knowledge is not merit. Who has more merit, the poor labourer’s child studying by torchlight scoring 70 percent marks, or the privileged child with the benefit of a coaching class or a professor mother’s learning techniques, scoring 90 percent marks? Merit is not just analytical intelligence. Merit also includes competence, character, and strategic intelligence, which involves the ability to not merely perform a function per a set process, but to be able to see the big picture and adapt the function to changing requirements. If only one kind of intelligence is being emphasised in India today, it is because it makes for poor leaders, but excellent (white collar) labour.
II. Collaboration in a Globalized Context
Tom Friedman has long come under (justifiable) criticism for writing platitudes, to the extent that a Tom Friedman Op/Ed Generator was developed. He was predictably panned for his The World is Flat thesis as “Flat Man” by an Indian writer. Nevertheless, by simply rubbing shoulders with the global business elite, however wrong his theories may be, he does have some useful and intelligent insights. Here is what he had to say on collaboration [all emphasis mine]:
“Being a good collaborator or team leader will earn you a good new middle job for another reason. ‘We actually have no shortage of ideas,’ says John Doerr, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist. ‘What we are short is people who can execute them. Everyone has this image of the lone entrepreneur in a Silicon Valley garage. In reality, it takes teams of people to win, to translate a new idea into a new product.’ And the more complex the product or service, the bigger the team. That means, added Doerr, ‘that you need people who can work well with others, and, even more importantly, you need team leaders who know how to speak to people, explain, and inspire.” [2, 287]
“Clough quoted the head of a big engineering firm, who told him recently, ‘Don’t send me engineers who can be duplicated by a computer. I am sending that work to India. Send me engineers who are adaptable—and can think across disciplines”. [2, 327]
“Jerry Rao, the cofounder of MphasiS, the big Indian outsourcing firm, put it to me this way: ‘We have no one going into the liberal arts and everyone going into engineering and MBAs. We’re becoming a nation of aspiring programmers and salespeople.’[no wonder everything Indian is for sale…] Fifty years ago, the Sanskrit scholar was respected in India, Mr. Rao noted, but today it is all about becoming an engineer, a programmer, an MBA, or a doctor. ‘More people will get Ph.D’s [in the study of] Sanskrit in America this year than in India,’ Mr. Rao asserted, ‘and Sanskrit is the root of our culture!’” p.320
So while Indians are being outsourced the low-level code work or low level accounting or even low level science, medical, and legal work, the higher level matters pertaining to the standards, best practices, and even approach to aesthetics and Sanskrit are being retained or appropriated.
“To flourish in this age, we’ll need to supplement our well-developed high-tech abilities with aptitudes that are ‘high concept’ and ‘high touch’. High concept involves the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative.” [2, 322]
So for our vomiting vidhyarthis and haughty vidvans, hastily dumping the knowledge they know about history or literature in a haphazard article is not the way forward. You may actually be shooting us in the foot and hurting our cause by recycling colonial propaganda or by writing for the enemy’s perpective focusing on their victories while forgetting ours. That is the value of the High Touch and why knowledge must be shared responsibly, not for your applause and acclaim, but for the benefit of the cultural and common cause. Otherwise, you’re merely buzzfeed lite.
The West has outsourced their labour to India, India has outsourced its thinking to the West. That is why critical thinking and strategic thinking are superior to mere subject matter knowledge. The best engineer is rarely the Chief Technical Officer, CEO, or Owner. Da Vinci and even Steve Jobs himself were embodiments of this.
“Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist, scientist, and inventor, and each specialty nourished the other. He was a great lateral thinker. But if you spend your whole life in one silo, you will never have either the knowledge or mental agility to do the synthesis, connect the dots, which is usually where the next great breakthrough is found.” [2, 316]
“One of the best examples of that I can think of is the story that Steve Jobs, the cofounder of Apple Computer, told about himself in a commencement speech at Stanford University (June 12, 2005).”
“I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this…It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this even had a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography” [2, 318]
Further, the notion that someone has to support you or your caste or regional interests 100% otherwise he is your enemy or is “crooked”, only shows how morally bankrupt our current political culture is. When individual or caste interests are equated with state and national interests, then who is the one who is in fact “crooked”? The fake state guardian or the nakli nationalist is the one who wraps himself in the garb of state or national rhetoric while advancing his individual or caste agenda. Rather than saying “he is bad” or “No, he is bad”…maybe both have become bad, and both need to do some soul-searching. When you hate someone who shares 80-90% of your views and side with the common enemy who agrees with you on the other 10-20% simply to punish your own countrymen…then that is a textbook strategy for defeat. Why wail after the enemy turns on you next. The enemy works as a pack; no matter how powerful you are, you must do the same.
There is such a thing as the common interest. One does not cut down a common tree, merely because it gives fruits to your rival as well. It is the same way with families, communities, regions, nations, and common culture.
III. The Marginal Productivity of Teamwork
For the longest time people have criticised varna as breeding silo mentality, and today, plenty of evidence has been provided by our knaves to support this. But Varnashrama Dharma is not about living in silos and believing “only I have intelligence…or valour, or entrepreneurialism, and everyone must do what I say”. It is not about silo-isation, but about specialisation and collaboration. Even the Mahabharata refers to ministers and advisors coming from all four varnas. This is because for any kingdom or country to function properly, there must be understanding and respect for the capacity and skill set that each individual or sub-team has, rather than one person believing he is better than everyone.
Understand the principle of Combined Arms. A mass of ill-trained rabble, no matter how enthusiastic, will lose to the disciplined army using infantry, cavalry, and artillery in strategic fashion. This is why it is strategic intelligence that is the highest form of material intelligence. The musician, the linguist, the engineer, the physicist, the lawyer, the writer all have different forms of intelligence, but how can their club survive if there is no one who understands how they all go together and must work together? That is the value of strategic intelligence. That is the parable of the wheel and light. That is the value of working as a team as the 2004 US Olympic Team found out, coming in third after 20 years of dominating. A collection of the individually best players lost against tiny countries because the US team played as spoiled individuals and the others played as a team.
“the automatic American superiority of twenty years ago is now gone in Olympic basketball. The NBA standard is increasingly becoming a global commodity—pure vanilla. If the United States wants to continue to dominate Olympic basketball, we must, in that great sports cliché, step it up a notch. The old standard won’t do any more. As Joel Cawley of IBM remarked to me, ‘Star for star, the basketball teams from places like Lithuania or Puerto Rico still don’t rank well versus the Americans, but when they play as a team—when they collaborate better than we do—they are extremely competitive.” [2, 338]
That is also the value of the High Touch, that was mentioned above. Steve Jobs had people who performed better at engineering…but because he understood how engineering should go with design, he was the CEO, not the top engineer in his group.
Those decrying Varnashrama Dharma (in principle, as opposed to injustices committed in its name) should also remember that many private corporations appoint only family members to the board. In many parts of Europe, only the nobility gains entry. These royals exist today—what about this caste system? And this applies even to modern corporations where people of a common community are selected.
Understand that it is not merely programmers and engineers today who are being made coolies, but now even doctors, lawyers, accountants, mathematicians. That is what happens when everything is run like a business. That is because those who wish to dictate and give instructions don’t want you to be able to think for yourself, or worse, work together outside their auspices. They just want you to perform a function…that is what is being outsourced to you. An Indian may be cheaper to employ than a European, but a Filipino is now even cheaper and a machine, cheapest of all. That is the value of critical thinking.
Instead of fretting and being upset that someone has developed capabilities outside of your silo, be glad. The work of a strategic planner is in fact very difficult and very stressful, particularly when he (or she) lives and works in the public eye. Be glad that you can happily study your literature and give your gyaan, while he has the stress of facing public attacks. All that you have been asked in return is to give back to your society by contributing your piece of the pie…your pebble. That is how Ram Raj is constructed. Some of us are outstanding at math, let us celebrate their capacity and be glad they are part of our team. Others are outstanding scientists. Excellent, let them learn to work as a team. Still others are talented musicians or literary critics. Great! Let them collaborate to teach others. This is the marginal productivity of teamwork, and the importance of cross-disciplinary thinking and strategic thinking.
If you insist on eternal and external analysis, but don’t have any solutions to offer, then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Pride is your problem.
If you just realised that the obviously sickular site you supported because of your contest with a rival (or your delusions of grandeur) openly promotes politicians you despise, then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Greed is your problem.
If you are attempting to improve your standing by bringing down the leading rival under the veil of “scholarly critique”, then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Ambition is your problem.
And when your mutual enemy is praising your treachery, then you are truly lost.
Even more “sickening” are the hypocrites who behave as the conscience of the people, yet continue to opportunistically promote those who will advance their career, rather than work with those who safeguard principles. This band of careerist knaves is worst of all, and ,like the courtly parasites of yore, will issue prasastis for the flavour of the moment and occupier of the day. It is not a question of jumping for native or foreign, but how high. Kautilya despised such frauds.
Selfishness lies at the core of all these things. If Bharatavarsha has had a rough thousand years, it is because time and again, native rivals prioritised settling local scores over crushing common enemies, or lost heart after one setback or one battle. Remember, Prithviraj was no saint, but it is Jaichand whom we curse today. Learn to put aside rivalries by thinking long term rather than merely short. That is why you are told to know yourself and know your enemy, then you know how to prioritise enemies. Me and my brothers against my cousins, me and my cousins against the world. Selfishness is nothing but the refusal to priortise properly. Purniah found that out the hard way.
The reality is, treachery is not endemic to our people as is commonly asserted…usually by the colonised. National traitors existed and continue to exist in every culture (Benedict Arnold, Kim Philby, Delanoye are all names cursed by their countries). The question is, whether society as a whole, punishes this behaviour. India’s problem today is that such opportunistic, silo-minded, and myopic politicking backstabbers are viewed as “smart” rather than stupid or selfish. In other cases, excessive Moha by mothers, or brothers, or state compatriots leads to this excessive leniency to desh drohis as well. The Vidura Niti also speaks out against Kings who are “excessively merciful”. [4, 142]
Even if they don’t actually work for the destruction of their society, by merely being willing to gamble with societal security to improve their own standing, they have attained the infamy of “traitor”, and must at the very least be boycotted rather than rewarded with attention or business. Whatever may have been the law in the Satya, Treta, and Dvapara, do not expect Varnashrama Dharma to protect you from those consequences this late in the Kali. The costs of treachery are simply far too great. There is only one Law for National/Civilizational Traitors at this time.
Even worse, it is not merely communities that live in silos, but even individuals. Indians have taken the saying “every man is an island” to a ridiculous extreme. If when facing a highly coherent, highly disciplined, and highly cohesive enemy you wish to fight from regional, caste, or individual silos, your shatrus will only laugh at the incoherent babble and pseudo-intellectual pinheads they have to face. You cannot fight as individual warriors, but must operate as a unit.
You didn’t lose because you lacked valour, weapons, mardangi, or intelligence, you lost because you failed to work together effectively as a team. Yet even today, we have stubborn children bragging about IQ but refusing to work as a team, weeping over past defeats. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Remember, when such childish intransigence, such antagonisation of peers, and such adharmic knavery reaches a peak, the end result is vyasana. Because of your knavery, good men and women suffer and even die due to criminal negligence by their society. Why wail when your own sins revisit you and yours? “What did I do?!” you will ask. But the response will be “What didn’t you do?”. Remember, there are sins of commission and sins of omission, and all people, of all backgrounds and responsibilities, are accountable for both.
For our TFR fans, that alone is not a strategy, just a recipe for producing plentiful rabble. Numbers alone do not win the day, they just keep you in the match, and merely on the ropes. Without internal cohesion and internal collaboration, you will once again become prey to foreign machination and foreign collaborators.
Even that great global symbol of collaboration, Wikipedia, stands to lose when cabals of private interest seek to undermine it due to personal agendas. No great collaborative project can survive if people fail to put aside personal interests in the name of the common good. Nobody will ever agree with you 100%. That is the nature of Free Will. But if every person seeks to “fight his own way”, how can you present a coherent front against a highly disciplined and highly motivated enemy? If you can’t collaborate, or at least, can’t avoid the tendency to obstruct, get off the field.
IV. Collaborate or Die
There cannot be 10,000 generals for an army division of 10,000. There is 1 general, a few subordinate commanders (and allied commanders), a few dozen captains, a few hundred lieutenants, and thousands of enlisted men. And the same principle applies for Armies and Army Groups and Theatres. World War II was won with a Supreme Allied Commander coordinating Countries, Generals, and Armies in each theatre. Compare with the Rajput Kings who besieged Lahore, but failed to liberate it from the Ghaznavids because they bickered over who would keep it. That is the problem we have today. It is not “we need not all be on the same side”. In the battle between Dharma and Adharma, there is no third party. There is no Switzerland. Such opportunists who fail to protect their Mother while discussing her downfall, cannot avail of her protection when they need it. If you can’t put aside your Ego for the common good, get lost.
Focus less on relative position to real or usually imaginary rivals, and prioritise absolute gains of your common society. Rama said he worked for Lakshmana’s happiness. The Pandavas collaborated with each other.
It is also important to mention that collaboration here does not refer to “foreign collaboration” or “foreign collaborators”. National traitors such as Ambhi, Jaichand, and Mir Jafar are often titled with this lowest of titles and statuses, but a better term for them is “cooperator”, because they themselves had been “coopted” by national enemies. And perhaps therein lies the problem. Cooperation now has less stigma than Collaboration …no wonder Indians are specialists at the former and terrible at the latter.
Capitalism, Communism, Feminism, Sickularism, Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb, “Martial Races” , all are slave ideologies masquerading as liberation theologies. Catering to Greed, Hypocrisy, Gender Wars, Evangelisation, Persianisation, and (false) Pride, they provide the window dressing to help the Indian ghulam rationalise his or her exploitation (while behind closed doors the real masters [generally phoreign] laugh at Indian Stupidity).
This is how the foolish Indian rationalises his assigned subordinate position in his own native land. The slave basks in the reflected light of someone else’s glory, using native fuel. In contrast, rather than encouraging leaders, rulers, kings, and despots to be “charcoal burners”, Dharma encourages the diverse members of society and even humanity to become “garland-makers”. The common thread of dharma connects differing varieties of flowers, showing that there is nothing wrong in “Being Different”. No wonder the exemplars of composite culture are always berating Bharat Mata and Bharatiya Sanskriti…the slave ideology excuses them from the burden of being Indian. This is why they have no problem with this sign.
This is what gives us that pathetic philistine and haughty ignoramus known as the Adarsh Liberal. In the name of fighting “saffronisation” he or she advocates or advances blanchification, olivification, rougification, or whatever other colour revolution du jour is expedient, just as long as his or her membership in the pseudo-elite du jour is confirmed by phoreign saab. After all, they aren’t really collaborators (since they have little if any say in design), but rather, co-operators, of Indian slavery to phoreign interests. The question is not “who” but “how much” to co-opt such quisling cowards.
That is why critical thinking is superior to rote-memorisation and recitation. That is why strategic thinking is superior to theoretical analysis-to-paralysis. An ounce of practice is worth more than a tonne of theory.
For those reciting (and mangling) Kautilya, remember too that he advised against foreign rulers and foreign sympathisers, and advised caution when dealing with more powerful allies. This is because to them, the country they misruled exists only for their enrichment. Personalities come and go. Kings die. Scholars pass away, but it is the institution, the body of work, the collaborative effort known as Civilization, that lives on.
Fundamentally, the problem is our people have become so self-centered that they have become career free-lancers. When we can change companies, change passports, and change even wives…who needs loyalty to Dharma? For anyone familiar with Game Theory, Transactional opportunism will only get you so far. If you don’t have the sense to work as a team and to collaborate, how can you possibly succeed against those who do?
Hence, there is a need to define the Dharma of Collaboration: Sahakarana Dharma.
The very notion may seem strange, since, while the word may be familiar to many as there are Sahakaritas (cooperatives) in India, the notion of a Dharma of Sahakarana does not appear to have been called out. And yet, it nevertheless was intrinsic to Indic Society. Even moving past Varnashrama Dharma, where Kshatriyas politically led society, with others collaborating under their leadership (by giving advice, or financing public works, or by furnishing labour for common projects), Sahakarana Dharma existed within Agraharas, and Mathas, and Senas, and even Srenis. How else could common objectives be attained? Understanding how to work with, learn from, and teach not only in the context of superiors and subordinates but also peers, is a critical task for communities, monestaries, armies, businesses, and guilds to all function.
For our Jati champions, what can be a better example of Sahakarana Dharma than a Jati?—which is supposed to look after community members, help members in need, and preserve a common team culture? If you can have sahakarana dharma there, why can you not conceive of it on a grander scale?—are you that stupid?
Therefore, sahakarana dharma exists as it can be found in microcosm. It need only be brought out to the macro-level.
So what is the Dharma of Collaboration and what is its root?
V. Sahakarana Dharma
Sahakarana Dharma is rooted not only in Desa Dharma, but also in Nara and Stree Dharma. As we wrote in point 16 of Nara dharma you are part of a society, and so, have a duty to it. As adduced in 21, we have a system of recognising and respecting seniority. Not just father and uncle, but elder brother and younger brother. Senior and Junior. Team captain and Teammate. When there is a place for everyone and everyone is in his place, then you can function like a team. In fact, you must function like a team. That was why the examples from the Ramayana and Mahabharata were provided. Four and Five brothers time and again showed exactly how to collaborate. Bharata was not an opportunist despite having a possible claim to the throne and Arjuna did not threaten his Elder brother for the throne, despite being the greatest warrior.
The Arthasastra is a source of Rajadharma and Praja Dharma. Kautilya wrote rules of behaviour for officers and officials seeking service with the King and how the King should behave towards officers and officials. [5, 206] He also describes how joint activities and joint campaigns by allied kings should be conducted. [5, 616] Even for the average person, Chanakya also mandated that while “No one shall interfere in the affairs of a neighbour, without due cause…every one has the duty to run to the help of a neighbour in distress“. [5, 370] Therefore, by recognising the need for a community of mutual assistance, by recognising the need for a team, by recognising various skill sets and intelligences, you understand sahakarana dharma.
Principles of Sahakarana Dharma
1.Control your temper
2.Restrain your Ego
3.Prioritise Team objectives over Personal Objectives
4.Don’t be a sore loser or a selfish pig
5.Harmonise Svadharma with Samaaja Dharma
6.Learn the value of “shut up”. If you don’t know, don’t talk and don’t waste time
7.A pound of practice is worth a Tonne of Theory. This also means practice, run simulations & drill
8.Rather than obstruct and self-destruct, construct and be constructive
9.Those who wish to command, must first learn to obey
10. Let the expert drive, let the synthesizer synthesise, and let the leader lead
11.Know before you talk. Understand before you act. Research before your strategise
12.Give everybody a chance, but competence is king and courtesy is queen
13.Think short term, medium term, long term
14.Learn to Prioritise and Prioritise Problem Solving
15.Be practical. Be flexible. Look for complementary skill sets
16.Learn to communicate effectively. Don’t air grievances publicly
17.Work as a team when it works. Divide when it helps. Rejoin when necessary
18.Ask for opinions, but don’t expect advice to be taken
19.Stop cutting side deals. Punish those who do
20.If you are absent during our struggle, do not expect to be present during our success
21.Win as a Team, Dummy.
VI. Principles & Explanations of Sahakarana Dharma
Many of these are rooted in our traditional Dharmic Smritis and Puranas, but many are not. Many of these are, of course, common maxims in the business world today. As the times have changed, so too must Dharma adapt. But these are more than just buzzwords like “synergy”, but in fact highly useful principles that are required for any team to succeed. And what is a family, community, state, or nation but a team on a large scale?
If your specialty is history, and so is someone else’s, then either find a sub-specialty or create one through personal study. Rather than being competitive, be complementary and complimentary. Rather than being upset about someone knowing more, ask why you know less, and either cultivate yourself, or support this person or, at last resort, avoid this person. To succeed, however, you must first learn to…
Control your Temper. This is a terrible problem for Indians. When the fear of firing or physical violence is taken away, then the Indian temper knows no limits—twitter is exhibit A. This not the behaviour of adults, but spoiled brats. Control your temper.
Yadhyapakaarini kopah kope kope evam kartthavyah |350
He who controls his anger totally wins over everyone. [1, 168]
Restrain your Ego. No matter how talented or “learned”, you are not that important. No one person is greater than the team. No one person is the best at every skill or subject. That is why Kautilya wrote Naasthyahamkara sama satru. Ego is one’s greatest enemy.  Therefore, however highly you may think of yourself, set aside your Ego at least when there is a common threat. Personal honour is rooted in community and national honour, never forget this. This is because human beings operate on the basis of heuristics. Whatever your personal reputation, when they meet you, what is the first thing they see? Therefore, prioritise Team objectives over Personal objectives. It is not just Dharmic thinking but Smart thinking.
Don’t be a Sore Loser or a Selfish Pig. This is a perennial problem with Indians. Rather than understanding how to win, they self-flagellate or combust when they lose. What’s more, there is this strange black hole of selfishness that puts even five year old children to shame when it comes to something they really want. If you don’t get you want, get over it. Either wait your turn or try again later. Elections, positions, and titles are rarely permanent. So wait your turn and win the next time around. Don’t sulk like a child if you don’t get your way.
Contrary to popular thinking, Svadharma is not an invitation to treachery. In fact, svadharma means understanding your dharma with respect to societal needs. The buffoon who prioritises his own Moksha above societal well-being will attain neither. That is why Yudhisthira’s example of refusing heaven if his canine companion was not also let in remains an example to this day. The king who is so noble as to link his own salvation with that of his subject is the king who is fit to lead. This is because the true leader is not an opportunist. He doesn’t jump from ship to ship based on the direction of the wind. That is why it is important to harmonise one’s individual goals with societal goals, rather than the other way around. That is why Aspiration is superior to Ambition.
Learn the Value of “Shut up”. Shut up, listen, and learn. No matter how high your iq or who knowledgeable you are, there is always something you can learn, even from the least of personalities. Rather than expose your weaknesses to the enemy, the value of silence teaches you to wait for the enemy to expose his own weaknesses. When you learn to listen, you learn how to resolve problems, and ultimately, how to win.
Saasthroapi lokajno moorkha thulyah | 541
One who has the scriptural knowledge but no worldly knowledge is like a fool. [Again the fact is being emphasized that the scriptural dictates and social norms must concur.] [1, 189]
A Pound of Practice is worth a Tonne of Theory. Indians may love to memorise frameworks (usually marxist, but increasing MBA). At the end of the day, however, nothing beats first hand knowledge, and that comes from practice. As useful as direct combat (verbal or otherwise) may be, practice begins even before performance. Between theory and application is training. It is imperative that one train not just through memorisation, but through simulation and drill. When we are mentally and physically in shape, then we are truly fit for action.
Rather than obstruct and self-destruct, construct and be constructive. When you are trying to build a solution, or a house, or a strategy, it is important to focus on the task at hand rather than use this as an opportunity to infight or bring up old issues. Focus not on personalities but on practical matters. This not the time to win debates, but to exchange ideas. Brainstorm and build solutions that achieve the common task. Otherwise, shut up.
Atmachhidhram na pasyathi parichhidhrameva pasyathi baalishah | 342
Only a fool concentrates on finding faults in others and not in his own self [1, 168]
Those who wish to command must first learn to obey. This is a well known dictum dating back to the ancient world. The best leaders are those who don’t just give orders. They understand what it takes to execute orders. So before you can become a general, you must first be a jawan, or at least a lieutenant. Rather than expecting special treatment, gain trust through a track record of competence and performance. Anyone can give gyaan. The one who is promoted is the one who shows reliability, loyalty, competence, and tenacity. It is also key training for the higher position. The leader who understands how the system functions is the one who can give competent commands. That is the importance of sajjakarman, or preparation.
Let the expert drive, let the synthesiser synthesise, and let the leader lead.
Despite spilling as much ink as they have over varnashrama dharma, Indians have an odd tendency to forget about the importance of division of labour. What else can be expected in a country where people name children after dictators such as Stalin. Everyone thinks it is a zero sum game where all must try to become such a dictator. But teams are not driven by dictatorship. They are driven by sound collaboration. Every person has their talent or potential talent. Let subject matter experts drive their individual areas and give their views, let the managers and synthesisers put it together, and let leaders use all these inputs to develop strategies and assign pieces of the pie. Know before you talk. Understand before you act. Research before your strategise. When people just want to issue instructions like a gyaani, without underlying subject matter expertise, what else can be expected but failure? Play as a team, identify talents, and know when to step aside and let someone drive.
Give everybody a chance, but competence is king and courtesy is queen.
Indian egos are prickly enough as it is. The last think we need are thin-skinned gyaanis fulminating or quitting over being sidelined, neglected, or ill-treated. While people should wait their turn, eventually a chance should be given when the opportunity comes based on an individual’s competence. Not everyone is leadership material, but by giving them a chance when the stakes are low and when their competence has been demonstrated, their loyalty to the team will only grow. And whether they have the right stuff or not, always remember, courtesy is queen. How you communicate to someone is frequently as important as what you communicate. Learn to communicate effectively. Don’t air grievances publicly.
Be practical. Be flexible, and look for complementary skill sets. It is true that some aspects of life, such as the functioning of a yajna, the march of an army, and so on, required strict hierarchy and strict implementation of a ritual, precise pronunciation of a mantra, and obedient execution of a command. But also understand that at the higher strategic level, some flexibility, some times is required. Balance is needed between standardisation and intellectual creativity. One cannot be an excuse to stifle another. By being practical, we know when to give, when to take, and when to simple suck it up and get on with it. That is the value of understanding complementary skill sets. Sometimes someone, no matter where on the hierarchy, just knows better…and that’s ok. Being prepared to accept that and take (or refuse) advice is a sign of strength. Ask for opinions, but don’t expect advice to be taken.
Balance details with the Big picture. Excessive nitpicking wastes time, but critical details should be communicated. If you don’t get your way, don’t be a mummy’s boy and sulk. Just accept it as the decision of the group and move on, without wasting time. Silence is Golden.
Learn to Prioritise and Prioritise Problem Solving.
Selfishness is the refusal to prioritse properly. If people refuse to recognise that the good of the community comes before the good of the individual, the result is greed. But how does one prioritise? Dharma helps us understand what matters. In fact, Rajdharma is nothing but long-term politics. Therefore, think short term, medium term, long term, and that will help you understand how to prioritise, with long term mattering the most.
Work as a team (Upayojana or Vahni). Most of life’s great endeavours are not individual. For the longest time, even attainment of moksha was accomplished as part of a sampradaya. The highly individualistic cancer of this highly individualistic era of materialism, has caused us to gradually deny the divinity of flora, then fauna, then finally fellow humans. Learning to work for common good is not communist collectivism. Individual responsibility is not capitalistic selfishness. Reject the binary and work as a team of capable individuals. If work can be divided to sub-teams or individuals, then do so, but then regroup. If the team leader after a decent term is not performing, politely have him or her step down. If the team is not succeeding, then dismiss and try again later. Also remember, being unable to help is not the same as not helping. Just don’t cut side deals and sell out.
One of the most pathetic stories on Wikipedia involving an Indian had to do with a debate ironically about Dharma. A European had been mangling the page, removing all references to Hinduism. When a competent Hindu editor was attempting to restore, an argument broke out. A third editor, who was also Hindu and concerned about Hindu issues, attempted to intervene. While initially accepting the validity of what the second editor had to say, the third editor progressively began to waffle. Finally, after a separate side discussion, he effectively cut a deal with the European, and the two became “friends”, and the debate was (narrowly )lost because he refused to aid the other Hindu.
So friendly did he become with the European, that he began sending a list of the names from a prominent Internet Hindu yahoogroup, because the European had been mentioned. This was “Adharma” and “unfair” in his eyes…but apparently treachery wasn’t, in his book. As time wore on, this buffoon was singing “Ye dosti” planning editing efforts with his “friend”. So immature was his behaviour that even the European called him “a child” and genially (and condescendingly) chided him for his child-like credulity. But as could be predicted, one day, this foreign “friend” went too far in his anti-Hindu edits for our resident idiot, and he combusted in indignant bombast, citing that the European was “crossing all limits”. What did he expect? Because this stupid Indian had now lost his utility, this European ganged up with his European friends and had this Hindu editor banned. This is the fate of traitors who cut side deals. Fight when you have the chance and numbers, rather than wait for the crocodile to come for you.
So, if you are absent during our struggle, do not expect to be present during our success. The cheerleaders, the fake friends, the half-hearted supporters, the faint-hearted outragers, the petty and jealous rivals, none of these will have a seat at the table if they fail to do their Dharma. Dharma requires frequently working with those whom you cannot stand. It requires placing the common good above individual good, and so called “friendships”. That is why fallen soldiers and officers who fall in the line of duty are so honoured. Their sacrifice ensured not only that our society can survive, but that their own family can survive as well. It is not living that matters, but living rightly. So when your neighbours, and community members, and countrymen are suffering, do not turn a blind eye. Give what help you can. 5 or 10% will not break your bank. If it means skipping hakka noodles at the hotel once a month, you can survive. But do not be absent during the fight and expect to be accorded a hero’s welcome or a share of the pie if you did not earn it.
Win as a team, Dummy.
The single greatest obstacle facing us today is the refusal to work and win as part of a team. Each idiot desires to be an army of one, at best working to ensure only his hero or anointed saviour can lead the way. The obsession with individualistic games like cricket and tennis has only underscored this. Remember how an excellent doubles pair in Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi simply refused to play together due to Ego issues. When the team comes first, ego issues fade away. You don’t have to be best friends, you don’t have to be brothers, you just have to be professional and be civil and get the job done. If you would rather prioritise your ego trip over the safety and security of your civilization, then do not whine if it gets destroyed. Ask yourself if the petty injustice and small scale cheating you have to face is worth the death or dishonour of women and children. These are the stakes of collaboration or lack thereof.
That is why this exegesis on Sahakarana Dharma was required. If it did not exist in explicit terms before, it is because Rishis and Munis and Lawgivers like Apastambha expected their descendents to have common sense…Sahakarana Dharma was implicit and obvious to all but the selfish idiot. Due to the stupidity of the modern Indian, Sahakarana Dharma, the Dharma of Collaboration, is the need of the hour. Work as a Team, Win as a Team, that is the Way to Victory.
- Chaturvedi, B.K. Chanakya Neeti. New Delhi: Diamond. 2015.
- Friedman, Thomas L. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Picador. 2007.
- Malhotra, Rajiv. “Garland-Making and Charcoal Burning”. http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/h_es/h_es_malho_plural_frameset.htm
- Vidura Niti
- Rangarajan, L.N.. Kautilya. Arthashastra. New Delhi: Penguin.1992.