5 Workplace Lessons From Ganesha

5 Workplace Lessons From Ganesha

Ganesha is a Hindu deity widely worshiped in India. Known for his distinct appearance and unique characteristics, Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles. Thus, his blessings are sough at the outset of all things important. Stories of Ganesha hold some valuable lessons to excel at the workplace:

  1. Do what you ought to do (even if it means losing your head!!):

Parvati, the consort of Shiva, created a boy using her mystic powers. She adopted the boy as her son and asked him to stand guard as she bathed. Exhibiting a firm sense of commitment towards the task assigned, the boy didn’t allow even Shiva to enter the place. Unaware of the developments whilst he was in deep meditation, a miffed Shiva unleased his trident and beheaded the boy. This obviously didn’t go well with Parvati and she demanded her son be brought back to life. Realizing his mistake, Shiva asked his men to fetch the head of the first creature they came across. The men did as instructed and ended up getting an elephant’s head. Shiva joined the elephant’s head and the boy’s body and instilled life – giving the boy a distinctive appearance. Shiva also appointed the boy, his son, the leader of his followers. Which got the boy his name – “Ganesha” or “Ganapati”.  

You could face the wrath for doing what you ought to do, but eventually you’ll end up with something bigger, better and distinct!

  1. Pause and play smart:

One day Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya disagreed over issue. Shiva intervened and declared that the one to go around the universe thrice and emerge victorious in the ‘race’ would be have the final say on the issue. Without a thought, Kartikeya zipped into action. Ganesha contemplated for a minute and smiled. All he did was went around Shiva and Parvati thrice and waited for Kartikeya to return. A gasping Kartikeya arrived claiming himself as the winner. Ganesha argued, stating Shiva-Parvati to be his universe, which he circled much before Kartikeya could compete the three rounds of the entire universe. A delighted Shiva declared Ganesha the winner, much to the dissent of Kartikeya.    

Before you jump into obvious solutions, do pause and think if there are smarter ways to solve problems. With lesser efforts leading to desired results. 

  1. Give it back:

Kuber, the treasurer of the gods, lived a life of abundance and riches. In his bid to show off his wealth, Kuber invited Shiva for dinner to his city Alkapuri. Shiva declined the invitation and asked Kuber to invite Ganesha instead. Ganesha understood the intent behind the invitation and decided to teach Kuber a lesson. Ganesha ate all that was cooked. The hosts kept serving portions as Ganesha emptied platter after platter. Ganesha kept asking for more and soon the kitchens of Alkapuri ran out of food. Distressed, Kuber approached Parvati who happily shared the secret of satiating Ganesha’s appetite. Kuber apologized to Shiva and Ganesha, promising never to repeat the mistake. In another instance, the Moon mocked Ganesha’s pot belly. Enraged, Ganesha cursed the haughty moon to lose its glow and disappear. Moon apologized and plead for mercy. Ganesha forgave only partly and left the Moon with some dark spots, diminishing its beauty, its pride.  

There is no alternative to giving it back when needed. Simple!

  1. Ensure work doesn’t stop:

Vyas requested Ganesha to the pen the story of the Mahabharat as he dictated. Ganesha agreed conditionally, asking Vyas to ensure the dictation doesn’t stop until the epic is complete. Vyas agreed and the dictation began. Vyas kept reciting the verses and Ganesha filled leaves after leaves. In what turned to be a marathon writing session, Ganesha’s quill pen gave in and broke. Ganesha realized he would end up being the cause of disruption that he himself insisted Vyas to avoid. Holding the agreement sacrosanct, Ganesha didn’t spare a second thought as he broke his own tusk. Using the sharp end as a pen, Ganesha continued writing to Vyas’s amazement and appreciation.  

Let nothing come in the way of achieving goals. Not only will you reach the goals, you’ll also end up being recognized and appreciated. 

  1. Synergize:

A demon called Gajamukha did what most demons did. He pleased Shiva with rigorous penance and ended up getting a boon. Misusing his powers, Gajamukha wreaked havoc and conquered the heavens. Ganesha was tasked with taking the demon head-on and overpowering him. In what turned to be a fierce battle, the demon took the form of a mouse thinking a large and heavy Ganesha wouldn’t stand the agility of a small mouse. Gajamukha was captured and Ganesha did realize the merit in the trick. As the victor, Ganesha commanded Gajamukha to permanently retain the form of a mouse. He appointed him as his carrier for together the two distinct sized partners complemented each other well.

You should look at developing symbiotic working relationships. No one has it all and no one is too insignificant to offer nothing at all! 

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Not so colourful, yet enlightening – Holi!

Holi is popular in India for its bonfires and colourful festivities. Whilst the story behind it is rather dark, it still brings some valuable lessons with it. Here’s what happened:

A demon called Hiranyakashyap, in his bid to establish himself as the supreme self, sought immortality. He knew a penance for Brahma, the creator of the universe, would lead to a boon. The effort paid off as Brahma appeared. Though impressed, Brahma denied immortality stating that no boon could stand against the cycle of life and death. Hiranyakashyap, shrewd that he was, requested an alternative boon. He set five conditions for his death: 1. that death doesn’t strike him during the day or the night, 2. that no weapon should be able kill him, 3. that no god, human or animal be able to kill him, 4. that he dies neither inside the house nor outside and 5. that he dies neither on the ground nor in the sky. Hiranyakashyap smiled as the boon was granted. Convinced that he’s almost immortal, Hiranyakashyap went berserk expecting people to worship him as almighty! Those who didn’t, met fatal punishments. Hiranyakashyap’s sister Holika too attained a boon from Brahma making her immune to fire. The brother-sister duo thought they had got it all!

While the world shivered, Hiranyakashyap’s nemesis was nowhere but in his own house. His son Prahalad was a devotee of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe and didn’t accept his father as almighty. When all attempts to get Vishnu out of Prahalad’s mind failed, Hiranyakashyap decided to get Prahalad killed. Divine intervention from Vishnu invariably saved Prahalad’s life. Hiranyakashyap was left miffed when Holika reminded him about her boon. She asked him to arrange for a pyre, on which she would step in along with Prahalad. This time, things didn’t work as planned. Holika got charred to death. Like always, Vishnu’s magic saved Prahalad. In a debate that ensued, a frustrated Hiranyakashyap quizzed Prahalad on Vishnu’s whereabouts. Highlighting Vishnu’s omnipresence, Prahalad pointed to a pillar in the room, stating that Vishnu dwells in that pillar too. Hiranyakashyap knocks the pillar down with his mace. The room illuminates as a unique creature appears from the pillar. A human body with a lion’s head. The creature drags Hiranyakashyap to the main door of the house, puts him on his thighs and tears open his stomach with its claws. It was twilight. The creature was Narsimha, the fourth incarnation of Vishnu.

And here are some key lessons from the story:

1. Absolute power does corrupt absolutely: Hiranyakashyap’s five conditions worked well to start with and made him almost immortal. With no imminent danger in sight, he ruthlessly went about enforcing himself the supreme godhead of the world.

2. You’re smart only till someone outsmarts you: Vishnu circumvented each of the clauses smartly put by Hiranyakashyap and killed him without nullifying Brahma’s boon. Boons, if not handled well, become banes.

3. Miss the fine print and feel the heat: Holika, in her attempt to eliminate Prahalad, forgot the one condition that came with the boon. She was immune to fire if she and she alone encountered it. Here, she had Prahalad with her. Boons do backfire!

While you have a colourful Holi year on year, ensure you don’t wash off the lessons it offers.

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