Source: E-mail dt. 07.04.2013


Leadership Reinvented: Cues from Sri Rudram


B. Prasanna Soundari

Assistant Professor, G.R. Damodaran Academy of Management,

Coimbatore - 641 062. Taminadu. India.


Rudram! The name sounds familiar but it eludes the mind. It happens almost every time. Pearls of our ancient wisdom are left to rot as we embrace the western ideology. The management gurus, the world over are boasting about servant leadership and infinite leadership. Across the globe the success stories prescribe a winning formula for those who lead: “selfless work towards boundless goals". The corporate world has evolved from the yesteryear autocratic leadership style to the trendy servant leader style, articulated by Robert Greenleaf. The irony is we boast of knowledge era having forgotten the great Indian Vedic era.

Sri Rudram, is a hymn devoted to lord Shiva. It is part of the Yajur Veda and one of the greatest of the Vedic hymns. Rudram is divided into 11 sections called Anuvakas. When one reflects on third Anuvaka                                                                                                                                                         

                                     Namah kakubhaya nishanginestenanam patayou namo|
                                                   (Salutations to Him who stands prominent, the wielder of the sword; to the prince of thieves, salutations)

It is natural to query, is Rudra a thief! On afterthought the mystery unravels. We have stolen the immortal status of the self and replaced it with our own limited conception of ego. Rudra is the divine force we look upon to steal our ignorance so that we are away from confusions. Definitely a person who resolves our perplexed mind in the ever changing corporate world is the acclaimed leader.

As the true meaning sinks, comprehending qualities of a leadership is as smooth as the breeze that flows through the fourth Anuvaka. The soulful chants

Namo grutsebhyo gratsapati bhyascha vo namo
(Salutations to you the covetous and greedy, and the leaders of such men)                                

Namo virupebhyo vishvarupe bhyascha vo namo
(Salutations to you who assume grotesque and monstrous forms and other diverse shapes)
Namo mahadbhyah kshullake bhyascha vo namo
(Salutations to you the great ones and the small ones)

describes Rudra as the creator and the worker, the significant and the minor. He is success and he is failure. It now becomes effortless to relate how a leader shapes the power within. A leader is one who is multifaceted. Will one refute a leader? Who radiates oneness of the team?

Namo jyoushthaya cha kanishthaya cha
(Salutations to Him who is senior and who is junior )

Adored is he who possesses this mesmerizing quality. The mantra from Anuvaka six embodies the epitome of leadership. To top it all the verse from seventh Anuvaka

Namo dhootaaya cha prahitaaya cha                                                                                  

 (Salutations to him who is the messenger and who is the servant)           

describes the infallible leader. Jesus, Mohammed or Ram all are considered as infinite souls who have defined leadership even before Management Science was born.  Reverting to Rudram, one can draw mind boggling Management thoughts. Today management gurus are easily drawn to lime light because of digitalization, but one should remember that there is no single author for Vedas, because just like the Internet it had capitalized on open source. It is time we Indians stop aping the west and get back to our basics.