The need for anticipation
Two great Indian epics offer parallels in preparation and risk management, which could well have been considered in relation to the CWG, says NOEL G DESOUZA.
India can be proud of three triumphs in recent days: the opening of the Commonwealth Games, a sharing of the land between Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya and relative peace in the Kashmir valley. All these three achievements are the result of persistence and calm work. The Ayodhya and Kashmir issues could have brought a cloud over the Games.
As we approach Diwali and ponder on the lessons we can derive from the Ramayana, two great personages stand out. They had anticipated the epic events and provided tutelage to the forces of Good against the forces of Evil. They were Vasishta and Vishwamitra. Anticipation, preparation and appropriate and timely action are the keynotes of success.
When launching any business venture, one needs to anticipate its strengths and weaknesses. One also factors in interference from rivals, and even from within one’s own organisation. The Beijing Olympics had predictable opposition from Western groups. When ultimately the Games appeared to become successful, the Tibet card was unleashed.
These events should have made some of the pitfalls that the Delhi Commonwealth Games would face, quite clear. In fact, many of the criticisms which the Games have faced in weeks close to the event were already made a year ago! There was then sufficient time to made amends.
Suresh Kalmadi, chief of the organising committee of the CWG spoke of a western conspiracy to constantly criticise the Games. Whilst the Beijing Olympics faced some criticism from western quarters, the Delhi Games received neither criticism nor obstruction exclusively from the west. Far from it, there were eastern interests that did not want the Games to be overly successful and, to our chagrin, there exist Indian groups who also opposed the Games.
It is debatable whether there was a west versus east conspiracy, because Greece also faced a lot of doubt and criticism from western, including Australian, sources as the Athens Olympics approached. Western media have not spared their own kind. During the global financial crisis there was considerable criticism of the banks, their bosses and of large-scale investment companies. The exposures concerned corruption and ethics. Lehmann Brothers, one of the largest US financial institutions, collapsed with a loss of US $3.9 billion, yet its head was allowed to walk away with a bonus of US $480 million.
The great destiny of Rama in the Ramayana could not have happened without the appearance of Vasishta at the court of Rama’s father King Dasharatha. This important personage undertook the spiritual preparation of Rama and Laxmana when they were still young. The massive work called Vasishtha Yoga, consisting of 32,000 verses, embodies that preparatory teaching.
It was only when Rama had sufficient spiritual preparation that he was considered appropriately equipped to undertake his great destiny. We have seen great ventures often fail because those who were supposed to implement the undertaking did not have the necessary spiritual and ethical preparation. Instead, one hears about corruption and this has unfortunately become the reputation, deserved or not, of the Delhi Games. There may be others in India who, because of inefficiency or inertia, contributed to the difficulties which the Games have faced.
India’s other great epic, the Mahabharata, shows Arjuna being given spiritual and ethical preparation through the Bhagwad Gita before the immense battle on the field of Kurukshetra. As the renowned French poet Verlain wrote in a terse verse about that battle: “(There were) saintly warriors before the sacred poets”.
The other sage was Vishwamitra who, legends say, was once a king named Kaushika. His arch-enemy was none other than Vasishta. During a battle between the two, Kaushika’s army was annihilated by Vasishta’s sole use of spiritual powers. Realising the superiority of mental powers, Kaushika renounced his throne, changed his name to Vishwamitra (Universal Friend) and dedicated himself to a life of austerities (tapasya) and mystical practices such as yoga and meditation, thus becoming a great sage (Brahmarishi). In legend he is said to be the father of the famous Indian archetypal woman, Shakuntala.
The wisdom and foresight which Vishwamitra possessed enabled him to foresee the immense future which lay before Rama. He therefore undertook the training of Rama and Laxmana in military warfare, including what has been described as “celestial” weaponry. Vishwamitra had anticipated the dangers which Rama would face in his life, and had begun training him to face the great battles which would become the feature of the Ramayana.
It will interest readers to know that an institute called the Vishwamitra Research Institute is located in Illinois, USA. Established by Dr. Urmila M. Diwekar, it specialises in aspects like mathematical modelling and deals with characteristics like uncertainty and risk analysis. The true focus of Vishwamitra’s belief in the pre-eminence of mental powers has not been forgotten.