Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Can Character and Competence Coexist?
Here is a lively story from the Great Epic “Mahabharata”. I fondly recollect this particular recital – ‘
‘Dronacharya, the great Guru taught skills of archery to the Pandavas and Kauravas, the two royal family groups. Arjuna of the Pandavas was his favorite student. In the modern days, we talk of the inter-continental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads and all that. In those days the missiles in the form of arrows, backed by proper chanting of hymns would annihilate the targets. These chants to go with the astras were taught only to a select few by the Guru. The yardstick to identify the deserving was far different from what that our children face today as entrance tests.
The guru’s son Aswathama also studied with the royals and was as skilled in archery as Arjun. These classes used to be conducted at the Guru’s home, as these young students had to stay with the guru on a 24 by 7 basis and learn.
During one such practice sessions, Guru Dronacharya took Arjuna separately to a nearby forest and started teaching him the most powerful ‘Brahmastra’. It was the most powerful archery tool ever.
Dronacharya’s favoritism towards Arjuna aroused lot of curiosity in the Guru’s friend, ‘Why would he not teach of Brahmastra to his own son, Aswathama who demonstrated equal skill, perception and speed in learning?’ Unable to resist, the friend asked Drona the reason for his action.
What was interesting was Drona’s reply. He said, ‘My dear friend, I am not surprised that such a thought occurred to you. My son has all my competence too. But that is not just enough to use this astra. A balanced mind alone makes the astra work. Aswathama, in my humble opinion, lacks such balanced mind and ability to time.
Character without competence is an empty paradise, competence without character is a crook’s paradise. Charater with competence alone is the real paradise.