How To Win Friends And Influence People, According To Mahabharata

Stephen R Covey’s legendary book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ explains the six paradigms of human interactions – win/win, lose/lose, win/lose, win, lose/win, and win/win or no deal.

How To Win Friends And Influence People, According To Mahabharata1

  1. Win/Win is a mindset or approach to a situation that seeks to ensure the interest of all parties are considered. It is not an “either/or” proposition.
  2. Win/Lose is where one party asserts their interests over the interests of another. They subscribe to the “scarcity mentality” and believe “you must lose so that I can win”.
  3. Lose/Win means I cooperate with the other person to the degree that I lose so they can win. In this approach, the “loser” often walks away very resentful.
  4. Lose/Lose is when no one wins; both parties lose and both end up with very hard feelings. This approach does not serve to advance positive team dynamics and is very unhealthy for all parties involved.
  5. Win: The person operating with this paradigm says “I want to win. I don’t want you to lose, but getting what you want is your business, not mine.” They do not actively seek to ensure that the interests of the other party are considered.
  6. The Win/Win or No Deal mindset actively seeks the interests of all parties involved, including theirs. Even if no deal is the best outcome, the intent and engagement of this interaction sets the stage for possible Win/Wins in the future.

Also, we can find a parallel for this in the Mahabharata.

Mahabharat will be a truly breathtaking explosion of arts, culture, and beauty – a celebration of life’s exuberance and depth.

From one of the many stories from Mahabharat, this story from Udyoga Parva, relates a situation when Krishna was approached to become an ally, by both Duryodhana and Arjuna, as they were building up great armies before the battle at Kurukshetra.

Both Arjuna and Duryodhana rushed to Dwaraka to seek help of Krishna and Balaram, in case there was a war. When Arjuna reached Dwaraka, he found to his surprise Duryodhana was also camping to seek help from Sri Krishna. Duryodhana arrived earlier; Arjuna reached some time later. They told to wait for a while as Sri Krishna was asleep. While Duryodhana sat on a throne at the head of the bed, Arjuna stood at the foot  of the bed with his arms folded in respect. When Krishna wakes up, he first sees Arjuna and then Duryodhana. He greets both of them and enquires the purpose of their visit.

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Duryodhana was the first to speak: “War between the Pandavas and Kauravas may break at any moment. We both claim relationship with you. I came here before Arjuna. I should be given preference.”

Krishna smiles and says, ” O Duryodhana, you may have come first, but my eyes fell upon Arjuna first. In any case, I will help you both. On one side I offer my services; I shall wield no weapons and take no part in actual fighting. On the other side, there will be the whole army of mine. I have an army of a hundred million soldiers known as the Narayanas and they are invincible in war. They say that the younger of the two should be allowed to make the first choice, so let Arjuna choose first.”

Arjuna said with reverence, “I will be happy if you are with us, though you may not wield any weapon.” Duryodhana picks the army. Although Duryodhana would have liked both Krishna and his army on his side, he is nevertheless delighted at his good fortune and also at Arjuna’s stupidity.

Duryodhana also sought help of Balarama, who said, “You have been a great favourite of mine and I spoke in your favour at the Council held at the city of Virata. But my brother Krishna is siding Pandavas and I cannot quarrel with him. I have no heart in this war and I will not participate in it. However, it is true that you have wronged Yudhisthira and it would be better if you act justly in the matter.”

After Duryodhana departed, Krishna asked Arjuna, “You knew that I will not fight this war, yet why did you choose me?”

Arjuna said, “I know that you can slay them all but so can I. But you are a great man and your renown comes with you. So I chose you. Please be my charioteer. This is what I wish.”

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Krishna replied with a smile, “It’s nice that you compare yourself with me. I shall be your charioteer. Your wish will be fulfilled.”

Being through the above instances, one could able to witness the diverse approaches of Krishna and Balarama. Krishna has achieved a perfect win-win situation. He’s happy that he has been able to help both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Although he clearly knows that Pandavas are the good guys and Kauravas are the bad guys, as a respected person and a relative to both groups, he offers help to both – he doesn’t shirk away from his duties. Arjuna goes back with the feeling that he has got the best deal. Both Arjuna and Duryodhana are delighted with what they had now, claiming themselves to had best deal.

On the other hand, Balarama opts for a no deal scenario. His emotional instability leads him to a point where he cannot take sides. He loves Krishna – his brother, his friend, his playmate, and his guide. He also loves Duryodhana who is his star pupil (though Bhima is also his student in the art of fighting with the mace, he loves Duryodhana more). When he comes to know that Krishna has been picked by Arjuna, he realises that he cannot fight the Pandavas. And he cannot fight the Kauravas. Hence, he opts to not fight.

Hence, the above illustrations of Mahabharata, evidence some of the real-time instances of our lives where we call out of compulsion or other emotional bindings. While what matters and lead to the greater good is that opting a better stand whether to add value to everyone or else shall not taking it up at all.

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