Mahaveer – the qualities of a true leader

Below are the notes & understandings taken down from Swami Mitranandaji’s talk explaining the depth of the word ‘Mahaveer’ that appears twice in Hanuman Chalisa.

Hanuman is said to be a Mahaveer. Mahaveer is a quality of an excellent leader. Leadership is not necessarily an inborn trait. It can be cultivated by anybody if they can rise up to the point of Mahaveer. To become a Mahaveer, one needs to have the below five qualities.

1. Ranaveer: A person who is brave enough to face any challenge in life, like a warrior, is called Ranaveer. Smooth roads have never made an excellent driver. Challenges are a must for becoming exceptional. If we take any great personality’s life, we can see that he must have come through a lot of strife and turmoil.

Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam: Born in a middle class family where he had to work in early childhood to support family income, faced more challenges as he couldn’t get selected for his dream job of becoming a pilot, finally became a visionary nuclear scientist and visionary leader, the 11th President of India Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Awards to his credit are Padma Bhushan (1981), Padma Vibhushan (1990) and Bharat Ratna (1997).

Narayan Murthy: Worked hard and passed IIT entrance exam but was denied admission since he couldn’t afford the fees and Narayan Murthy had to graduate elsewhere. After some time he self-sponsored his Masters from IIT-Kanpur. He started India’s first NASDAQ-listed firm, Infosys, with mere $250 which later created 70000 jobs, 2000 $-millionares and 20000 rs-millionares. He struggled in his life to become a visionary entrepreneur.

Dr. Jagdish Chandra Bose: Went to the University of London to study medicine but could not pursue his studies due to health problems. Later joined Presidency College in University of Kolkatta where despite being a victim of racial discrimination, lacking funding and equipment to conduct research, he made great discoveries and inventions in the field of physics and biology. In his research lab of 24 sq.ft area, he conducted researches and invented many instruments that are used today in modern forms of antennas, polarisers, waveguides, crescograph, etc. He was the inventor of Wireless Telecommunications and was also the modern scientists who proved that plants also undergo emotions, can feel pain, understand affection, etc. He was indeed a self-made Ranaveer.

Not just human beings, but we can see a lot of struggle in the lives of animals and plants too. A butterfly pupa takes a lot of effort to come out of the cocoon. A flower bud has to take a lot of pressure to blossom. But if try to help them out to lessen their struggle, they die. Struggle is not an option; it’s a requirement for excellence.

Hanuman was a Ranaveer. He never stepped back when he faced any challenge. There are a lot of examples in Ramayan when anybody else other than Hanuman would have hesitated to face the problem. Be it crossing the Indian Ocean to Lanka, fighting the demons and creatures on the way to Lanka, burning whole of Lanka single handedly (or tailedly) or be it bringing Sanjeevani herb for Lakshman, Hanuman never hesitated even for a second to take up the challenge. If such a quality is developed by a person, no doubt he can be a great leader.

2.Vidyaveer: One who is well-read and widely-read is called a Vidyaveer.Many a times we find people who are either of these but not both. Some people are well-read in scriptures or sciences like Psychology, but don’t know how to apply these sciences in daily life. What’s the use of such learning? Some are widely-read, like News channel anchors & reporters, and have the knowledge of all the things going around in the world, but their life may be a tragedy. Again, what’s the use?

However, people like Chanakya, Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha, Swami Chinmayananda, who were well-read in the scriptures and widely-read about the happenings all over the world, which helps them to make us understand how the knowledge of the scriptures is applicable to the daily life, in the field of economics, in the betterment of the whole society.

Both academic knowledge and spiritual knowledge are important for a person to be an exceptional leader.

Hanuman was well-read with the scriptures and also had worldly knowledge. When he went to Lanka to find Sita, he had understood the enemy well. He must have definitely studied them otherwise there is never a possibility of going inside the enemy’s land unnoticed by anyone. His knowledge of the scriptures helped him maintain his poise at all times, differentiate between the good and the bad, evolve as a selfless devotee who never wanted fame or recognition.

3.Daanveer: Daanveer means one who is never hesitant to do charity. For him, charity is not something that he does once in a while. For him, charity is a habit. Because, he has understood that sharing is not shrinking, but sharing is expanding.

John Nash came up with a theory called ‘Game Theory’ where if two or more players are playing a game, there can be a win-win situation for all the players of they stop competing against each other and start moving together by understanding each others’ strategy and giving scope for everyone’s growth. When they start to help each other, they start growing together as a society, as an economy.

So, if a company or a nation needs to grow, knowledge resources need to be shared and not selfishly kept for oneself. If there are four people and each has got a particular kind of sweet, when they decide to share a portion of their sweet with others, everyone gets to taste four different varieties of sweets.

Whatever we have in excess, needs to be shared. Not just shared, it needs to be shared intelligently. Suppose in a town, there is a mango tree that produces a very good variety of mango. If the owner intelligently plants its seeds properly in different places in the town by giving it proper water, light and manure, and also sharing such seeds with others, very soon the town will be full of mango trees that will be producing the excellent variety of mango.

Each of us has some quality or knowledge in a particular field. Once we have discovered that quality / knowledge, it will enhance the moment we start sharing it with others. It can be music, handicraft, a cooking recipe, knowledge of a subject, anything. When we teach such things to others, a process of inner growth begins in us. But again, we should do it intelligently. It should be sharing with the right person. A nuclear scientist of a country should not be trying to be a Daanveer by sharing information with its neighbouring country.

Hanuman once saw that Bheema (also Vayuputra) is very proud of his strength. So, Hanuman thought of teaching him a lesson. One day when Bheema was going through a forest crushing everything that came in his way, he saw an old monkey lying on his path. He ordered the monkey to move its tail that was blocking Bheema’s way. The monkey replied that it’s too old and it can’t move its tail which feels very heavy for itself. So, it requested Bheema to move it himself. With all his anger and arrogance Bheema tried to move the tail, but in vain. After many attempts, he realized that this is no ordinary monkey. Bheema finally accepted his defeat and bowed in front of the monkey pleading him to reveal his true form. It was then Hanuman took his real huge form that stunned Bheema. This way Hanuman tried teaching Bheema the quality of humility that Hanuman had.

When Hanuman was brought in front of Ravana after he burnt Lanka with his tail, Hanuman even advises Ravana explaining (sharing knowledge) to him how powerful Rama is, and that by giving Sita back, Ravana can avoid defeat in the war.

4.Dayaveer: Daya means compassion. Compassion is not a word or a sad expression that we make when we hear sad news. It is an action that is done by going out of the way to help somebody.

Mata Amritanandamai: Millions of devotees throng at her feet to get a glimpse of her, to get a warm hug from her. People from far and wide come to see her and go back contented for all their worries got destroyed with a few words uttered by her. She has set up number of hospices & hospitals for the poor where they are treated free of cost, in additional to the other spiritual and educational institutions set up by her

C.O.R.D. (Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development): An undertaking of Chinmaya Mission that works for the empowerment of rural women in India & Sri Lanka who face a lot of social and economic problems. Their work have been in areas like encouraging self-confidence in young girls, fighting social injustice, channelizing the unutilized youth potential in rural areas, arranging self-help groups in arranging financial resources, primary healthcare services, rehabilitation of differently-abled people, nurturing children, natural resource management, etc.
Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people all around the world work for such noble causes just out of compassion. Their work results in the upliftment of the whole society. They are the true leaders who work silently out of sheer compassion towards the needy.

Hanuman was full of compassion and love for everybody. When Sugreeva had lost his kingdom was being troubled by Vali, Hanuman served Sugreeva selflessly. When Lakshmana was sinking after being hit but a powerful weapon sent by Indrajit (son of Ravana) during the war, Hanuman rescues him by bring Sanjeevani. When Sita had almost given up hope of Rama finding her and was about to give up her life, Hanuman reaches there at the right time and saves her life. Bharat had taken a promise from Rama that if Rama doesn’t return back to Ayodhya exactly after 14 years, Bharat would give up his life the very next day. Due to the war, when Rama and his army get a bit delayed in reaching Ayodhya, Bharat was already setting preparations for his suicide. Once again Hanuman goes ahead and reaches Ayodhya on time thus saving Bharat.

For Hanuman, compassion was not a choice; it was his duty.

5.Tyaagveer: Tyaag in Sanskrit has several meanings. One meaning is ‘sacrifice’, other is ‘detachment’. One who is able to sacrifice and serve by staying detached is a Tyaagveer.

History of India is full of people who displayed this quality. We can have a list of freedom fighters who gave up their life for the freedom of the country. We have had scientists, mathematicians, poets, philosophers, seers and sages who lived a life for the betterment of the society. All these people, even though from different backgrounds, had one thing in common. They all had a higher cause for which they worked, they existed, they Lived. For them, life was not just earning a living for themselves or their families. For them, life had a higher purpose. A purpose to which everything else could be sacrificed. The purpose could be God or nation or mankind or anything. And for them, all these different purposes made the same meaning.

A recent example that we can easily think of can be Anna Hazare. Who is he? A retired army-man. No Member of Parliament. No MLA. No Politician. Just an ordinary citizen who wants to remove corruption like most of the other citizens of India. But what makes him a leader? It’s not his speech. Because many other politicians can give better speeches to move a crowd. Then what is it ultimately that made this man to start a revolution?

When most of us talk about fighting against corruption, there is the limit that we set to ourselves. Most of us just talk about it and at the end of the discussion accept the fact that we can’t do anything about it. But, this great person is ready to go to any extent, even sacrificing his own life, until the goal is achieved. At his age of 74, what is he going to gain personally even if corruption is totally removed during his lifetime? Think! It is the spirit of doing something for the nation, of doing something worthwhile in his lifetime so that he has made his life worth living.

Hanuman was an embodiment of sacrifice and service. Never ever in his entire life he did something for himself. When he was the minister of Sugreeva, he worked for Sugreeva. When he became the devotee of Lord Rama, Rama’s work was his work. In his life he had no personal goal.

When we say sacrifice in the literal sense, we mean, dropping something we have for a higher goal. But Hanuman was beyond that because he never had any personal possessions. He never considered any of his qualities also as ‘his’ qualities. So, as far as Hanuman was concerned, there was nothing ‘personal’ that he could sacrifice for Lord Rama. His purpose of existence was to serve Lord Rama.

For Tyaagveer, what better example can anybody think of other than Hanuman?

To be a leader of that standard, which Hanuman has set, is not impossible. We just have to keep contemplating on Hanuman Chalisa and start implementing the learning in us. The transformation will happen!

Jai Hanuman!
Jai Shree Ram!!


Hanuman Chalisa

To be strong, we need to meditate upon strength. To be knowledgeable, we need to mediate upon knowledge and in the same way to become wise, we need to meditate upon wisdom. Hanuman symbolizes all three – Strength, Knowledge & Wisdom. Hanuman Chalisa, a composition by Tulsidasji, is a very powerful tool for making ourselves achieve all the three. Below are the notes & understandings taken down from Swami Mitranandaji’s talk.