Ethics in Organisation – A comparison with Mahabharatha

WE talk about ethics and practicing ethics in organization, but are we seriously doing that or we practice unevenness and we all suffer from its many vices namely greed, envy, pride, anger and hatred subconsciously waiting to come out somewhere or the other.

Its just not happening today, the same question is still hanging in the Olden times of Ramayana and Mahabharata – Let’s take few examples from Mahabharata.

Mahabharata – one of the greatest epic to study, Dharma, Karma (Geeta) and unevenness. We worship Lord Krishna who himself taught his friends and disciples – the Pandavas to win the war through deceit, lies and treachery.

Why is that?? Why did Krishna choose to do that, the simplest explanation to it would be that because Duryodhana and shakuni planned the evil tricks of defeat for Pandavas in the Game of Dices.

But even Mahabharatha does not give an explanation that Shakuni did cheat to win the game where Yudhishthra lost everything, including himself, his brothers and their shared wife and Queen Draupadi. Although it is mentioned that Shakuni and Duryodhana did talk about cheating but there is no clear evidence of the same anywhere in the epic, but it is evident that Lord Krishna did make the Pandavas win the war by trickery and deceit and not by Skills.

Being one of the major epics of Dharma and Karma- don’t we expect some ethical behaviour from the Pandavas and Lord Krishna, or may be some explanation for their behaviour.

Dharamraj Yudhishthara the eldest of the Pandavas, had also faltered, otherwise the one who practiced ethics would not agree to stake his beloved wife in the game of dices.

Ultimately after winning the war, troubled by the hollowness of the victory he decides to retire to the forest. Lord Krishna dies a prosaic death got killed by the arrow of a hunter who killed him by mistake.

Is it all because that we human beings have somewhere in our subconscious mind the so called unevenness present in some or the other forms. True it is.

No I’m no one to question the greatest epic of the History, but these are some of the things which trouble my mind as well.

What goes around up ultimately comes back down! Life is cyclic in nature and intent. Checking in on ethics-related beliefs and behaviours can be enriching to an organisation.

For Instance- Few examples from Present

What happened suddenly with Satyam’s B.Ramalinga Raju, why he committed the biggest fraud in the Indian Corporate History by swindling Rs. 7000 crores approximately? What made him do that when everything was going so smooth, Satyam has the best clients, best human resources, technologies and everything else. For his own greed he did not think of the loss of Investors who lost approximately Rs.23000 crores in the value of shares.
Also more than 50,000 employees faced an uncertain future.

Greed is too easy an answer for this, As Gurucharan Das – The writer of “The difficulty of being good” says.

It’s like cigarette smoking – to say you’re ‘only smoking half a pack instead of two a day’ is good, but it’s better to say that ‘I have finally stopped smoking’, and stop.

Another example: The Chief of HP was accused of Sexual harassment and has to leave the company, not only because he was proven guilty but also that he could not live up to the reputation of the Organization.

Why can not we ward of the evil of unevenness and try to be ethical.

These are some of the ways to be ethical found in the Mahabharata:

• Teach by example: not by ethical prophecy
• Societies are held together by Laws, customs and moral Habits and it is these adapting which we can be ethical.
• Win the trust of the people by your deeds not misdeeds
• As Bhishma adviced his prince “A man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not so good. Hence it is necessary for a prince who wishes to maintain his position to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge according to the necessity”
• Be true to oneself
• Have tolerance and patience in handling the teams and different work groups

  • “Have tolerance and patience in handling the teams and different work groups” – yes, this is the need of the hour, if we succeed on this we can overcome many unwarranted and unpleasant situations. – N jayaraman,

  • dhruva

    Amazing insight, outspoken and well putforth.

  • Pooja


    I am partially covinced from you, but as far as your statement on Mahabharata is concerned I am unconvinced.When you have wicked people around you sometimes you have to play tricky.One can fight ethically when the opponent is also ethical.Its just tit for tact.Most importantly if you want to know whether kurvas was unethical or did cheating or not you can read mahabharata by your own, & then maybe you will come to know why krishen ji has given all those direction to arjun.

  • Ramadevi

    There is a kural in Tamil which says ‘ Poimaiyum Vaimai idathae, nanmai payakkum enil’ meaning – even a lie is considered truth, if it is for a noble cause.

    I think this succintly answers your rumintion on Mahabaratha.

    To achieve one’s goals itis not enough to be only brave but also wise. There is no question of ‘deceit’ as when the battle is between good and evil. In other words, only thorn can remove another thorn.

  • Ramnath Venkatraman

    While your modern day examples are insightful, I believe there is no reason to drag Mahabharata into this. To understand the significance of our Epics and Puranas, you need to approach a wise Guru- Lord Krishna’s Leela and rationale for doing things cannot be understood by our ” modern analytical intellect “.

  • MKAvasthi

    very good article and its true

  • Mohan Das K J

    vry nice article related to business ethics in india

  • vidushi

    very very exemplifying!!
    will keep that in mind… )

  • Dr. Subhash C. Arya

    Very good Article. I must congratulates for writing such courageous things. In continuation for Mahabharata, Some ethical points are also there in Ramayana like:
    1. Rama killed Bali in unethical manner, without asking his fault.
    2. Rama sent his wife into forest full of beast. We do not follow this type of practice even with criminals.
    3. Rama killed Shambhuka, scholar belongs to lower caste.