Guiding Light: Leadership

This week we celebrated Rama Navami and next week is Hanuman Jayanti. Two great leaders – Rama and Hanuman. Rama as a king was more like a yogi and a wise person who could happily give up a kingdom without a thought, just to honour his word and his father’s word. Even though people would follow his lead, Rama’s style of leadership was people-oriented as he cared and was willing to go an extra mile for them. Even though not given to excessive displays of emotions, his feelings ran deep and true.

In fact, he was willing to sacrifice his needs for the sake of the people, like how he gave up a kingdom, conquered Lanka but did not annex it and made Vibhishana the ruler and walked away from it all. On the other side we have Hanuman, Anjaneya a classic example of a sevaka, a servant as a leader. A person, so phenomenal that he eclipsed the king that he served - Sugriva. It is doubtful if Rama could have successfully eliminated the Rakshasa threat in Sri Lanka if it were not for Hanuman.

Hanuman was given the task of finding Sita. Hanuman far exceeded the targets, to use corporate terms. Not only did he cross the sea and find Sita he put courage, enthusiasm, and cheerfulness into Sita. He gave her hope that Rama and the army would follow soon enough. He studied the defences of Sri Lanka, got an audience with the King, delivered a stern message, couched in diplomatic terms, destroyed half of Lanka before returning to report to Rama. If this is not exceeding targets, I don’t know what it is! At the same time, he was happy to be in the background.

No self-marketing. Maybe some people may think that it is a bygone value for a bygone era. Maybe. But history remembers such people even after thousands of years when our so-called leaders in society will be forgotten. These great leaders will continue to be remembered and revered as shining examples of what great leaders can be.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him @aarshavidyaf@gmail.com)

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