(This series unravels the dharmic dialogue between Narada Muni and Raja Yudhishthira in the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata. Part VII dealt with the fourteen possessions that a king should be prepared with; Part VIII follows.)
In the previous issue, we saw Narada Muni advising Yudhishthira on the fourteen possessions a leader or an administrator must have ever-ready at his disposal. It included forts, chariots, cavalry, treasury, cultural institutions and so on. Narada also reiterates that these possessions of the enemies must also be assessed.
The sage follows his inquiry with, 'O Supreme One amongst the Victorious, after examining yourself and your enemies, do you follow the eight duties before coming into an alliance?' After assessing the enemies, any kind of alliance is possible. One may choose to collaborate or take over or even withdraw. But it is necessary to undertake eight steps before the alliance is forged. What are those eight duties?
The first one is acceptance. Both parties must accept each other and also align themselves toward a common goal. The second one is giving gifts. Giving is an act of love and acceptance. Often, when two parties come into an agreement, they tend to gift one another something. The third is the utilisation of a joint workforce or the skillset of both entities. If two kingdoms or nations come together, or even if one is conquered or another surrenders, it is the duty of the administrator to use the talent of its people well. This lesson applies well even in modern businesses where mergers and acquisitions are so common!
Fourth is prohibition. The ruler has to be clear on what goods and services can be produced, created or traded. They must be sure of what is permitted, what is restricted and what is banned. We find that cultural differences can create conflicts regarding what is acceptable and what is not. This clarity in thinking sets the tone for administration.
On the fifth note, Narada asks Yudhishthira to watch his speech. Communication is key in forming alliances but it could also break alliances. If one is not sure or one is hostile, alliances can become a heated battle. The hatred or dislike once sowed in the minds of the subjects or followers, becomes difficult to erase. Kings, rulers and administrators must conquer, build and create. Good communication is key to achieving that.
The sixth point is to observe the conduct. With cultures coming together, there could be varying behaviours. Before getting into an alliance, these matters have to be observed, discussed and clearly agreed upon. The kings must be aware of how each will conduct himself in case of any situation — war, disaster, emergency, celebration, diplomacy. Conduct would also comprise an understanding of the different cultures in terms of language, clothing and food habits.
The seventh is regarding punishments. Both parties must come to a consensus on what crimes and violations deserve which punishments. Finally, but most importantly, purification — what are the things that both parties must purge within themselves? Accept and admit to sins and become better.
These are the eight things to discuss before getting into an alliance. We can see that these rules will apply to partnerships and businesses as well.