Timeless Leadership Lessons from the Epic Mahabharat

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Industry Leaders

Timeless Leadership Lessons from the Epic Mahabharat

Mahabharat is an ancient epic written during 500 BC. It reminds us of a historical narrative, which is timeless in its execution. Its teachings related to our value system, relationships, leadership, conflict resolution, and moral dilemmas are highly relevant to our lives today. The relevance of the Mahabharat today lies in its timeless teachings and insights into human nature and morality. Its lessons on ethics, the eternal struggle between good and bad continues to resonate with professionals from all walks of life. Through this article, Sanjay Desai, General Manager – Asia, Supply Technologies, draws parallel between some of the great Leaders’ qualities and how these can be aligned to our personal / professional well-being. 

Sanjay Desai

The Mahabharat is not just a story but also contains philosophical and ethical teachings. It addresses complex and timeless themes such as duty (dharma), righteousness, the nature of life and death, and the concept of the self. Let’s dive into some of these leaders’ qualities that can be successfully imbibed in our lives as well to bring out the best…


Krishna is the central figure in The Mahabharat. His character is depicted as a role model, a guide, friend, and philosopher, not just to Arjun but to Kauravas and Pandavas both. He showcases how to live a righteous life and fulfill one's duties. He is a great mentor & possess huge inner strength. His actions and teaching aim to find right balance & justice.

In the current context, most genuine leaders are great mentors, they are role models, and create young leaders. They do not force their way, instead they inspire others to follow them naturally. Modern day leaders define core principles, which include ethics and moral values. They practice these principles consistently during good as well as difficult times. This is where we can draw parallels between teaching of Lord Krishan with modern day leaders.


Dhritarashtra is portrayed as a tragic figure who struggles with his desires and duties. His excessive attachment to his sons highlights the dangers of favouritism and a certain lack of direction and indecisiveness which was his undoing. He is aware of his shortcomings but is unable to overcome them, which ultimately leads to his downfall.

Dhritarashtra's behaviour towards his sons as well as towards Pandav’s highlights what happens when you allow your judgement to be impressed by personal attachments and favouritism. In reference to the modern times, his example highlights importance of genuine leadership, integrity, impartiality & ability to make decisions. At times, these decisions are uncomfortable to take but they are meant to do greater good to people and organization at large!!


Sanjay is the advisor and close confidante to blind King Dhritarashtra. Sanjay has (celestial sight) or ‘Divya Drishti’ to see events which are happening in far distance like the war in Kurukshetra. Sanjay's character embodies qualities such as foresight, communication, storytelling skills, emotional intelligence, sheer dedication, and love for the job.

In the current context, a leader must have a good vision and an ability to create the ‘Big Picture’. We can relate Sanjay’s character to the modern-day Consultant or The Therapist. These specialized professionals help corporate professionals to learn and upgrade their skills to steer through different business dynamics. And these are the similar traits that can help a modern day professional to navigate the complexities and lead with integrity and clarity.


Kauravas are depicted as antagonists to Pandavas. They are hungry for power. Their approach is confrontational, intimidating to achieve their goals anyhow. They emit negative energy with a destructive mindset with disregard for ethical and social values.

The current generation of leaders can derive several critical lessons from the failures of the Kauravas’ life. By understanding and avoiding these pitfalls, leaders can foster an ethical, sustainable, and effective approach to leadership and cultivate a successful career path ahead. Effective leaders today adopt collaborative style to lean and leverage each other. They inspire and motivate their teams, fostering a positive and productive work environment.


Pandavas are portrayed as upholding ethical values, follow teachings of their guru. They display immense resilience in the face of adversity and stand up for their morale values. With their special skills, they also resonate with 5 senses (taste, hear, see, touch & smell).

Modern leaders strive hard to set high ethical standards, inspire trust, and promote a culture of integrity and accountability. They showcase and build a sense of equality and collaboration within their teams as well as across other functions. If we look at Pandavas’ individual prowess, we can resonate the diverse leadership in the current times. Modern day leaders exhibit a combination of these qualities which help them to scale greater achievements not just in their own career but others career as well.


Draupadi’s characterization is a symbol of strength, resilience, and purpose. She suffers humiliation in the Dice game in the Court. She has a single-minded purpose, which is to take revenge against Kauravas. She got all 5 brothers focused on this ‘Purpose’.

In today’s world, women face multiple challenges i.e. gender bias, glass ceiling, unequal opportunities. Despite these, women are increasingly asserting their rights, advocating for equal pay, and challenging discriminatory practices. They take on leadership roles and speak up against injustice and inequality. Draupadi’s character and behaviour inspire the current generation of women to have a purpose, stand up for their rights and go after their dreams!!!


King Karna is described as a noble warrior with strong sense of belonging to his duty. He stood up for what he believed is right. At the same time Mahabharat also shows his vulnerability. His undoing was his ego & misplaced loyalty in the bad company.

We can draw parallels between Lord Karna and modern-day professionals in terms of their hardships & struggles they face in their careers today. The modern professionals may have to navigate their way through favouritism, discrimination, and organizational biases. Like King Karna, modern day professionals also go out of their way to mentor others.

If we are able to imbibe some of these principles in our approach to lead, supply chain professionals will sure be able to turn the tides in their favours not only for their personal growth but also in building a highly resilient, strong and collaborative team that work together and bring out their respective best for the sustained organizational growth.

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