Two Critical Communication Lessons From The Mahabharata

Jan 03, 2019 1 Min Read

I am currently re-reading Mahabharata through the Three Volumes of the Amar Chitra Katha gifted to me by an extremely bright young friend, who I am mentoring.

Interestingly, I believe that the first basic principles for effective communications were actually laid out in the crucial conversations between Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana (Ved Vyasa) and Ganesha – the remover of obstacles, who was appointed as the scribe by Brahma the creator, to write the Mahabharata.

Vyasa pays obeisance to Ganesha as he invites him to be the scribe of the poem he composed. However, Lord Ganesha accepts to be the scribe as ordained by Brahma, on one condition… that he would write at a time only that what Vyasa would be able to recite without a pause.

Vyasa agrees and lays down a counter condition in return… that he would expect of Ganesha not to inscribe any narrative until he has fully understood and has total clarity of the meaning of that what he wrote.

READ: Better Communication: How To Ensure Your Team Gets It

With these two agreed conditions, writing of the longest recorded most beautiful poem in the world, began. The epic poem Mahabharata has 220000 verses, 100000 slokas (couplets) and 1.8 million words. Amazing!

Despite the above, the deep meaning of Mahabharata is so effectively relayed from generations to generations over the centuries, in a such a succinct and lucid manner, purely because of these two communication principles :

  • brevity and preciseness
  • total clarity and understanding

Most familial, social and corporate conflicts, in my experience, are generally outcomes of embroglios, purely on these two counts:

a) communications being long-winded, muddled, not precise and thus not cohesive; and

b) things inscribed without understanding the deep meaning, exact intent and clear implications of the narrative, on purpose or unintentionally.

Just thought of sharing with all my friends, refreshing revisions of the forgotten lessons for effectiveness and success, upon my re-reading of the Mahabharata.

Who says coaches don’t need to learn? Who says reverse mentoring does not work? Thanks to my friend, both are working for me.

Adil Malia is the CEO and managing partner of the FiRM. He has worked with various companies such as Godrej, GE, Al-Futtaim, Coca-Cola and Essar in India and overseas. Get in touch with him at

Reposted with permission.

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Roubeeni Mohan is a former writer at Leaderonomics who believes that written words have a greater impact than words said because it stays longer.

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