The Story of Shalya and its Message

Long time back when I started my career, I had a boss who used to discourage me on any project I undertook – not just me, but anyone going to him to share a good idea or thought . He would instantly dismiss an idea with an off-the-cuff remark. One never knew the psychology behind it. Perhaps he was smarting under a complex caused by a similar treatment he got from his boss early in his career. One has to have steely nerves to withstand such an onslaught from a boss.This guy always reminded me of the infamous character from Mahabharata, Shalya. Recently, I happened to hear this little known story of Shalya in some detail. I will narrate this story since it has a message for all of us:

Shalya was a great warrior and was related to Kunti (he was the brother of Madri the second wife of Pandu)and hence was a natural ally of Pandavas. Before the war, Yudhishtira sent word to him to join the Pandavas. Shalya set out on his long journey to Hastinapur with his large army. On the way, excellent arrangements were made for his stay by his host. Great feast followed by endless entertainment made his journey very relaxing. Shalya was impressed and immensely pleased with the hospitality.  After he reached Hastinapur, he learnt to his dismay that Duryodhana, not Yudhishtira was his host during the journey. Therefore, he had to politely refuse to fight for the Pandavas. However, Yudhishtira extracted a promise from him to keep demoralizing Karna and dampen his spirits.

Most of us know the rest of the story of how Shalya becomes Karna’s Charioteer and discourages Karna at every stage of the war. He would keep praising Arjuna while pointing out the shortcomings of Karna. However, there is one little known or less publicized fact about Shalya. It appears he found his respect for Karna later in the war when he sees him fighting brilliantly.

The story of Shalya impresses me at different levels. Look at Duryodhana. The story highlights his brilliant human resource management. Yudhishtira may be virtuous, noble etc. But these things alone do not win a war. He scores a big zero in HRM(Human resource management). On the other hand, Duryodhana had shown on several occasions he was great in that department. Appointing Karna as the king of ”Anga Desh” at the most vunerable time of his life made sure to win the latter’s loyalty for life. This was a brilliant move, for if Karna had sided with Pandavas, there would have been no Mahabharata war! Likewise, see how he provided hospitality to Shalya to win over him. This is unbeatable in terms of strategy in human resource management. He first gathered information about Shalya’s journey and then provided excellent hospitality which ensured that Shalya would not defect to the side of Pandavas. This is akin to how corporates woo outstanding performers from competition in today’s world!

Another aspect highlighted by Shalya’s story is the strength of character of Karna. In spite all the negative comments by Shalya, Karna believed in his ability, showed his brilliance and even made Shalya applaud his bravery during the war!

Yet another point of interest in Shalya’s story is its relevance to our everyday lives. Don’t we all have our Shalyas within, not to forget the Shalyas outside? I can talk for myself. Early in my career, I wanted to become an entrepreneur. However, the Shalya within made sure I did not take the challenge. I was told repeatedly by the Shalya within: “This is not for you. You are a scientist fit only for the lab. Entrepreneurs are made of different stuff”. I succumbed and soon gave up my ambitions.

I can hear my Shalya within even now every time I try to take a big initiative whether it’s dieting or giving up caffeinated drinks. My Shalya would say: Learn to enjoy life. You only live once. Dieting stories are humbug. Coconut oil and ghee are great for health. Didn’t you read the news papers articles? You can binge on them, go ahead and enjoy.

The examples of Shalyas quietly dampening one’s spirits are plenty. Shalya’s character stands in stark contrast to that of Krishna as the charioteer. People who succeed in life are the ones who are able to activate their Krishnas within and suppress their Shalyas.

Published in: on September 11, 2016 at 1:30 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nicely written.Connectivity between Mahabharata and the modern day to day life has been brought out well..Activate Krishna and suppress Salya is a good message.

    • Thanks

  2. Stumbled upon your blog, bookmarking it, need to keep coming back !
    Very enriching!

    • Thanks

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