Servant Leaders

The Bhagavad-gita is found within the ancient epic “Mahabharata”, famed as the longest poem in the world with over 100,000 verses. It contains numerous passages which are not only captivating but simultaneously instructive and insightful. In one such episode, the devoted Queen Kunti is faced with a quandary. Presently childless, she is fully aware of the urgency to beget offspring who can continue the family lineage and subsequently become the future leaders of society. Unfortunately, her husband Pandu has been cursed to die the moment he engages in sexual union. To solve the dilemma she invokes a divine boon and summons the heavenly gods to impregnate her by dint of their mystic potency. The sons produced become known as the “Pandavas”, the emblems of spiritual leadership.

Kunti first called upon the god of Judgement, Yamaraja. Consequently, the son Yuddhistira was born who was considered exemplary in morality, truthfulness and integrity. Next she summoned the god of wind, Vayu. From him, the son Bhima was born, who was famed as an embodiment of strength, vigor and power. Thirdly, she called upon the god of heaven, Indra. The outcome of that union was the famed Arjuna, who was a personification of devotion, spirituality and divine faith. A closer look reveals that Kunti strategically chose the heavenly gods to produce sons who would be fully qualified to guide society.

Leaders must embody these three qualities. They must have strength – the ability to make bold decisions, maintain clarity under pressure, show courage in daunting situations, and be willing to lead from the front. This strength needs to be tempered with morality – knowing the difference between right and wrong, being sensitive to human feelings, and showing maturity and awareness of the ramifications of each decision. However, both qualities must be founded upon a deep spiritual basis. Leaders who have this profound element to their character stand out – their ornaments are humility, compassion, incredible tolerance, positivity and unshakable faith. They function as servant leaders, uninterested in personal fame and selfish gain, but instead completely focused on bringing out the best in others. As Abraham Lincoln said “it’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

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