Learning from Mahabharata at IIM Lucknow

The Mahabharata is a vast ocean of knowledge. We can always pick pearls of wisdom. Its significance lies in the fact that its lessons are as applicable in practical, realistic terms as they were thousands of years ago as they will be thousands of years later.

In a B-school, most of us spend the two years running after CV points. You win or lose, the chase never stops. Just like kings from the times of Kauravas and Pandavas practiced polygamy. They attended multiple swayamvaras, some had won, some had lost… but the chase continued. We, years later, are so similar to them! Even later in life, the quest for success never leaves our minds. But what is success?

These questions were beautifully answered by Swami Muktinathanand in the “Workshop on Ethics, Governance and Environment” session on 22nd February, when he addressed the first year students at IIM Lucknow and spoke in detail about the human mind. Swami Muktinathanand is the President of the Ramakrishna Math.


A good mentor is worth an entire enemy

“This B-school is a citadel of learning with a difference where management science is coupled with management arts,” he began. Amidst tough deadlines and regular classes, we hardly realised this. IIM Lucknow has proved to be a B-school with a difference. At the entrance gate we see a huge sculpture of Arjuna conversing with his mentor, Krishna.




The Mahabharata tells that a good mentor is worth an entire army. While Duryodhana chose Krishna’s large army, Arjuna chose Krishna who vowed not to pick arms in the war. Arjuna realised that both sides had fearsome warriors. He needed a friend and a guide which he found in Krishna, the master strategist. IIM Lucknow teaches this truth the moment you step inside. “Aham Brahmasmi” – Lord Krishna, my soul, the Brahm truth of my life.


Success and CV points!

In times to come, in the words of Swamiji, we all will become successful. But success is that which is sustainable. The last chapter, last verse of the Bhagwad Gita says,

yatra yogesvarah krsno
yatra partho dhanur-dharah
tatra srir vijayo bhutir
dhruva nitir matir mama”

Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. You will build up talent.


Know how to use your talent

However, talent is meaningless if you don’t know how to use it. You will be like Karna who is remembered as a great warrior but the murderer of Abhimanyu and the evil man who ordered the disrobing of Draupadi.


Use the right model at the right time

In Strategic Management, we learnt this. This learning roots back in the days of the Kurukshetra war when Krishna let Ghatotkach die so that Karna would not be able to use his Shakti astra to kill Arjuna. Krishna let Abhimanyu die in violation of all laws decided for the war so that even the Pandavas could break the laws to kill Duryodhana, Karna and Drona.


Swamiji says that in these two years, we will receive enough exposure for creating wealth for ourselves. But we need to learn optimisation of resources under given constraints. However, there will be little exposure for mastering our wisdom. We should remember the learnings from this two hours talk. “It is like a seed to be germinated throughout these two years and when you leave it will be a plant. In future the tree will breathe peace, success and joy. You will become a Rajarshi, an excellent administrator with rich knowledge, ethical conduct and professional success.”


(This article is written by Debalina Haldar, class of 2015 student at IIM Lucknow. Her novel, The Female Ward, was published in May, 2013. She is the Creative Head and Core Coordinator of the Media and Communication Cell at IIM Lucknow.)

Media & Communication Cell IIM-Lucknow

IIM Lucknow's Media and Communication Cell (MCC) serves as a communications liaison between the Institute and the external world. MCC also acts as the community building platform of IIML and ensures that all the student activities and initiatives at IIM Lucknow receive public recognition