Archive for May, 2013

Strategy types, process and methods

May 29, 2013

In the last post – we have seen the key components of the “mantra

I try to cover my understanding from the same topic “On Strategy” related to types, process and method of strategy making in this post.

Four different types of strategies would be needed for a King (or Leader) :

अकृतआरम्भः – Starting something new internally or acquiring something new
आरब्धानुष्ठान – maintaining what has already been started or acquired
अनुष्ठितविशेष – Improving what is already in place
नियोगसंपदम् – Handing over to regular operations

A council of ministers (mantri-pariShad) should be consulted individually on all components of the ‘strategy under discussion’ followed by a collective session.  Sometimes “hypothetical scenarios” can be used to get the opinions from the ministers. (But in hypothetical scenarios the ministers’ opinions also may be hypothetical)

Everyone’s opinions should be considered, reasons for the difference of opinion should be evaluated and conclusion should be derived.

One should not spend too much time is deriving strategy. Once a conclusion is arrived, one should not go back to that aspect again.

Consulting with only one minister on all aspects may lead to sub-optimal strategy. Even two ministers could be biased on strategy. Three or four ministers are needed to arrive at an unbiased strategy. 

When the situation requires an urgent resolution, a quick tactical solution should be arrived at by consulting one or two ministers.

Strategy making should be done privately in a ‘closed group’ of ministers as described above. The strategy should be kept as a secret till its deployment starts. Leaking the strategic details is a sure recipe for failure. 

Finally cANakya concludes the chapter with a warning. One who has not studied artha SAstra thoroughly and unaware of all the considerations of a Strategy, is not eligible to be a strategist!

This brings us to the end of 15th adhyaya called “mantrAdhikAra”

Components of a "winning strategy"

May 28, 2013

Fifteenth adhyAya, eleventh prakaraNa  of artha SAstra deals with the topic of “winning strategy” making. 

It starts with “kRtya svapaksha parapakshOpagrahaH kAryArambhAM ScintayEt; mantra pUrvAH sarvArambhAH.”

Having made a good team, having understood the opponent’s team well, one should start making the strategy. Strategy precedes all endeavors.  
What are the aspects of such a “mantra” (strategy)?
1.        An approach to the project (karmaNAm Arambha upAyaH)
2.        An estimate of required human and material resources (purusha, dravya sampat)
3.        An implementation plan showing place and time of tasks (dESa, kAla vibhAgaH)
4.        A complete list of risks and mitigations (vinipAta-pratIkAraH)
5.        A well defined success criteria (kArya siddhiH) 
The above five aspects (or components) make up a winning strategy; says kauTilya.

What is to be done, resource estimation, a detailed plan of work-break-down structure, risk management plan and clearly defined exit criteria makes up a great strategy. 
This definition holds good even in today’s world. 

More in next post….  

On dissatisfaction and disloyalty

May 27, 2013

This post covers 13th and 14th adhyAyas of artha SAstra.

Till now we have seen building the visible and secret state administration layers and testing the loyalty of the appointed administrative officers.

Now, cANakya deals with the primary reasons that lead to dissatisfaction of appointed officers and making them disloyal and sometimes traitors.

Technical term used for “those who can be worked upon” to make them disloyal are “kRtya

kRtyas are of 4 types: (officers turn disloyal due to four  feelings developing)

“कृद्ध लुब्ध भीत अवमानिनः तु परेषां कृत्याः” says cANakya.

  1. kRddha varga (due to krOdha or anger) e.g, because a promise of ‘promotion’ has not been kept etc., leading the officer to develop anger on the King.
  2. lubdha varga ( due to lObha or greed) e.g, an officer may be addicted to some bad habits making him greedy. 
  3. bhIta varga (due to bhaya or fear ) e.g., an officer may have committed something wrong and has seen another officer being severely punished by the King for such wrong doing.
  4. mAni varga (due to mAna or pride or false ego ) e.g., an officer may develop a false self-esteem making him dissatisfied with the King/Leader. to

Officers do not turn disloyal due  to above four reasons are “akRtyas” who need to be respected and honored.

So, the ninth topic of the book deals with “officers turning disloyal” in Leader’s own territory and dealing with them and tenth topic deals with kRtyas in the other territories.

  1. A King should identify the kRtyas in his own territory and fix them using sAma, dAna, bhEda and danDa upAyAs. (Topic 9)
  2. A King should also identify the kRtyas in the enemy kingdom to weaken the enemy. (using sAma and dAna); A King should use bhEda and daNDa on the akRtyas and continuously show the defects in the enemy king to them. (Topic 10)

Note: Anger, Greed, Fear & Pride are the four feelings that corrupt the officers with power. Leader should be aware of this fact and properly deal with these  feelings of appointed officers.

This brings us to the end of 14th chapter and completes 10 topics on the subject.

కూర్మ జయంతి

May 25, 2013

భ్రమణ ధరాధరవరేంద్రభ్రమణంబునుదాఁ
గమఠేంద్రువీపు తీఁటను
శమియింపఁగఁజాలదయ్యె జగతీనాథా!

— పోతన భాగవతం నుంచి మహా వైశాఖి,  కూర్మ జయంతి సందర్భంగా

amara, asura kara vipari
bhramaNa dharAdhara-varEMdra bhramaNambunu dA
kamaThEndru vIpu tITanu
SamiyiMpaga cAladayya jagatInAthA!

amara (divine) asura (daemonic) hands churning using the mandhara mountain having supported by the ‘back’ of great kUrma Tortoise (kamaTham) was not even able to  alleviate the itch of the back of the Lord.

Essential meaning: The great task of churning the milky ocean (milky-way) to produce wealth by divine and daemonic forces using the biggest mountain as  churning rod, longest serpent as the churning rope, with LORD in the form of tortoise as basis to support their effort and make it fruitful, which produced all acceptable wealth (Goddess Lakshmi), health (Lord Dhanvantari), kAmadhEnu, kalpa vRksha etc., etc., was not even capable of scratching HIS back.

Even the greatest effort known to us is so insignificant and useless when comes in comparison with the Lord!

— Today is mahA vaiSAkhi, kUrma jayanti

Data Philosophers and data quality

May 24, 2013

After data scientists and data artists, another need is for “data philosophers”. made me think about the data philosophers.

So, the data scientists are focusing on the underlying technology to gather validate and process the ‘big’ data and the artists are using the processed ‘big’ data to paint and visualize the insights.

In this whole process due to its wide variety and velocity (two ‘V’s of big data!) are we missing on the rigor of quality of data?

Considering the 36 attributes of data quality in the 1972 paper of Kristo Ivanov – and evaluating today’s big data insights, I somehow feel there is a ‘big’ gap in the quality of ‘big data’.

I see some parallels in big data processing and orbit determination. As long as the key laws governing the planetary motion are unknown, whatever is the amount of the data from observation we have, we will not be able to explain the ‘retrograde motion’ of the planets. In the same way, if we do not have a clear understanding of underlying principles of the data streams, we will not be able to explain them. That is where we need the philosophers!

Now, I think I am becoming a “Data Philosopher” already!

Five intelligence agencies and more…

May 19, 2013

श्रुतवन्तमुपधाशुद्धं मन्त्रिणं कुर्वीत ..
SRtavantaM upathA SuddhaM mantriNaM kurvIta (A well learned and purified by secret testing should be made as mantri)

मन्त्रमूलाः सर्वारम्भाः ..
mantra mUlAH sarva ArambhAH (A well thought strategy is a good seed of every endeavour)

Says cANakya in his rAjaniiti sUtras… Having purified the council of ministers consisting of Thought Leaders (mantris) and amAtyas, the next key activity is to identify the “secret agents” (because to have a right strategy one needs intelligence!)

The prime minister (the mantri) will initiate identifying the agents working for five different establishments of secret service.

kApaTika : One who can quickly “see” the secrets of others, bold, student is a kApaTika.
udAsthita : One who has been a sannyasi a period of time and returned to the regular life, who is upright / pure, intelligent person is udAsthita. (One who failed to continue as a sannyasi)
gRhapatika vyanjanakaH : One who has been a good farmer, but now failed in his profession.
vaidEhika vyanjanakaH : One who has been a good trader, but who has seen losses in his trade.
tApasa vyanjanakaH : One who is a failed tapasi. Who has tried for magical powers and partially successful, who seeks name and fame and not really given up the normal life in search of ultimate truth. (not a real tApaSi)
These five types of “failed” people are the best suited for secret services working for the Leader undercover and providing all the needed intelligence to run the organization.
The above five types of “secret agents” stay in their places and keep feeding intelligence to the minister.
Other than these five types, there are satri, tIkshNa, rasada, bhikshukI agents who keep roaming around within and outside the kingdom and carryout the duties of collecting the information and sending it to the King.

एवं शत्रौच मित्रे च मध्यमे चावपेच्चरान्
उदासीने च तेषां तीर्धेष्वष्ठादशस्वपि

There are four types of people King / Leader should generally deal with:
1. shatru – enemies 2. mitra – friend 3. madhyama – middle one (neither enemy nor a friend) and 4. udAsIna – the indifferent ones… In all the four types of other Kings and their mantris, purOhitas, amAtyas, and commanders should be spied to know what is going on within and outside of the territory regularly.

Few notes:
It is important to the King to know what is happening around in his own territory as well as in neighbouring territories.
The failed ones will know not only how to win, they have experience of what causes failure and coping with the failure. So, Leader should use those who have good knowledge in their own field and failed due to the conditions beyond their control to act as “secret agents”.
This post covers the contents of 11th and 12th chapters of artha SAstra. (It has been a month since I started making these posts)

Data Artist – A new professional skillset?

May 17, 2013

In past few days, I have seen at least two blogs talking about “Data Artist”1.

The trend seems to go towards business centric data visualization of so called “big data”.

One who can use data as the paint and create art that can represent massive flows of data and visualize the patterns in a way business users are delivered with a lot of “information” in a single glance.

It is slightly different from the “Data Scientist” profession. Data Scientists are focused on technical process of collecting, preparing and analyzing the data for patterns where as the Data Artists specialize in visualizing the discoveries in an artistic manner!

“Scientific Artists” and “Artistic Scientists” with Data! Are we complicating the matter too much??

साक्षी नित्यः – Witness Eternal

May 14, 2013
 Jagadguru SrI Samkara bhagavadpAda AcArya’s divya jayanti is tomorrow. (15th May 2013) In a great work called “sarva vEdAnta siddhAnta sAra samgraha” bhagavadpAda describes the true self experience of deep samadhi as follows:

नाहं देहो नाप्यसुर्नाक्षवर्गो नाहंकारो नो मनो नापि बुद्धिः |
अन्तस्तेषां चापि तद्विक्रियाणां साक्षी नित्यः प्रत्यगेवाहमस्मि ||८३५||

वाचः साक्षी प्राणवृत्तेश्च साक्षी बुद्धेः साक्षी बुद्धिवृत्तेश्च साक्षी |
चक्षुःश्रोत्रादीन्द्रियाणां च साक्षी साक्षी नित्यः प्रत्यगेवाहमस्मि ||८३६||

नाहं स्थूलो नापि सूक्ष्मो न दीर्घो नाहं बालो नो युवा नापि वृद्धः |
 नाहं काणो नापि मूको न षण्डः साक्षी नित्यः प्रत्यगेवाहमस्मि ||८३७||

नास्म्यागन्ता नापि गन्ता न हन्ता नाहं कर्ता न प्रयोक्ता न वक्ता |
 नाहं भोक्ता नो सुखी नैव दुःखी साक्षी नित्यः प्रत्यगेवाहमस्मि ||८३८||

नाहं योगी नो वियोगी न रागी नाहं क्रोधी नैव कामी न लोभी |
नाहं बद्धो नापि युक्तो न मुक्तः साक्षी नित्यः प्रत्यगेवाहमस्मि ||८३९||

नान्तःप्रज्ञो नो बहिःप्रज्ञको वा नैव प्रज्ञो नापि चाप्रज्ञ एषः |
नाहं श्रोता नापि मन्ता न बोद्धा साक्षी नित्यः प्रत्यगेवाहमस्मि ||८४०||

न मेऽस्ति देहेन्द्रियबुद्धियोगो न पुण्यलेशोऽपि न पापलेशः |
क्षुधापिपासादिषडूर्मिदूरः सदा विमुक्तोऽस्मि चिदेव केवलः ||८४१||

अपाणिपादोऽहमवागचक्षुषी अप्राण एवास्म्यमना ह्यबुद्धिः |
व्योमेव पूर्णोऽस्मि विनिर्मलोऽस्मि सदैकरूपोऽस्मि चिदेव केवलः ||८४२||

The complete work can be found here:

My notes:  (rather a rough translation in to English)
I am not the body, not senses, not the ego, not the mind, not intellect, nor their effects internal or external. I am the eternal witness distinct from all these.

I am the witness of speech, witness of vital forces, witness of intellect, witness of intellectual activity, witness of mind, witness of mental activity, witness of all senses. Witness I am, distinct from all of them always.

I am not gross, not subtle, not long; I am not a child, not youth nor old; I am not blind, not dumb, nor impotent. Always been a distinct witness I am.

I am not the one who is not moving, nor the one who is moving, nor the one who is killing; I am not the doer, not the enjoyer,  nor the speaker. I am not the happier one nor the miserable one. I am always been the witness distinct from all these.

I am not yOgi, not detached, nor attached; I am not angry, not desirous, nor possessive. I am neither bound, nor striving for release, nor unbound. I am the witness ever distinct and independent.

I am not the internal illumination (of dream), nor the external illumination (of waking), not illumination nor darkness (of deep sleep); I am not the listener, not the thinker, nor the knower/understander. Ever distinct observer I am always.

In me body, senses, intellect or yoga do not exist; In me there are no traces of virtue, nor even the vice; I am far away from the hunger, thirst etc., always been free unattached consciousness I am.

I have no limbs like hands and legs, I have no faculty like speech nor vision; I have no vital force, no mind, no intellect. I am ever fulfilled like space and ever untouched by any of these! I am ever existent form of consciousness alone!

That is what I am – my true Identity. Let the grace of BhagavadpAda be on one and all… 

“Jaya Jaya Sankara! hara hara Sankara!!”

upatha – Testing integrity

May 12, 2013

In the 6th topic, cANakya touches the method of “Secret Testing” of integrity and loyalty of ministers.

Having appointed the amAtyas in less important portfolios, King should secretly test them before promoting to key positions. There are 4 types of upathas provided by past teachers of artha SAstra.

1. dharmOpatha (Testing in the name of dharma i.e, righteousness) – King creates situation where he disrespects the purOhita. Later purOhita approaches each of the amAtyas to rebel on the King. If the amAtya disagrees to do so, he is proved to be pure in the name of righteousness.

2. arthOpatha (Testing the integrity from the greed for power!) – King creates a situation so that one of the powerful military commander is removed from his job. This commander approaches each of the amAtyas provoking them to help him over-power the King. Ministers disagreeing to do so are proven pure in this test.

3. kAmOpatha (Testing the purity from seduction) – A sannyasini close to the Queen approaches each of the amAtyas and makes them believe the Queen is interested in them. (Rest of the story is well known!)

4. bhayOpatha (Testing uprightness when threatened) – King causes certain situations and puts the tested amAtya(s) in the jail for some silly mistakes! One of the appointed inmate of the jail tries to provoke the jailed amAtyas to retaliate against the King.

One who has proven pure in all 4 upathas can be placed in most trustworthy positions. 

But, kauTilya differs with this view…..

Applying such harsh tests have a great danger of corrupting a pure soul. One should not pollute the minds of good amAtyas by showing them the short-cuts to get the power. This is like mixing the poison in the pure water!

Once seeded with the poisonous thoughts of above 4 types of secret tests in the capable people like amAtyas, those seeds grow till complete destruction of the King/Leader. 

So, these four secret tests (dharma, artha, kAma & bhaya upathas)  should *NOT* bring the purOhita, King and Queen into the picture. Tests have to be conducted gently without causing the seed of corruption sets in the minds of those being tested. (That is the opinion of the great AcArya of artha SAstra.)

This brings us to the end of 10th chapter of artha SAstra called testing the purity using secret tests!

Qualities of a “mantri” (prime minister)

May 8, 2013

Qualities of a “mantri” (prime minister)

1. A national by birth
2. Born in a respected family
3. One who can correct himself
4. Proved himself by demonstrated skills
5. Who can see the truth beyond the bare eyes
6. Knows three time periods well
7. Great mental ability
8. Capable of applying the knowledge to situation s
9. Eloquent, good ability to express
10. Bold
11. Alert in current situation
12. Can encourage and influence others
13. Who can bear / cope up with difficulties
14. Upright
15. Friendly
16. Loyal
17. Having good character, power, health and sprit
18. Devoid of adamancy and fickleness
19. Generally liked by the people
20. Who does not create conflict

Above qualities are the assets of a minister. One who lacks a quarter (5) of them is madhyama i.e an average minister. One who lacks half (10) of the above is a poor (adhama) minister.

cANakya gives tips on how to examine the above qualities in a prospective minister.

Why amAtyas are needed? 
The kings profession involves three types of activities. (a) Leader is directly involved, (b) Leader need to get them done in his absence and (c) follow-up of previously started direct or indirect actions. (pratyaksha, parOksha, anumEya hi rAjavRtti )

These three types of activities always come together in various places within the kingdom.

Leader will not be able to attend to all of the activities himself directly as it is humanly impossible. Hence, the right persons need to be pre-appointed to take care of the activities of the Leader as needed.

Finally he concludes the 9th chapter
ब्रह्मणेनैधितम् क्षत्रं मन्त्रिमन्त्राभिमन्त्रितम् ।
जयत्यजितमत्यन्तं शास्त्रानुगमशस्त्रितम् ॥

Having grown the above good qualities by wise men (brahmaNa) , strengthened by the strategy of thought leader (mantri) , the victorious leadership of the king (kshatram) flourishes following the instructions of the SAstra.

Even this applies to an individual. kshatram means “capacity to do things”, brahmaNa means buddhi i.e., resolve and mantri is the mental ability. When the individual capability is empowered by the firm resolve towards the purpose and supported by a good mental ability and individual follows the right instructions of the SAstra, every individual will be victorious!

So, 1. wise direction, 2. right strategy and mental ability, 3. following the right instructions  are needed for an individual or a society to flourish.

This concludes the fifth topic called mantri-purOhitOtpatti and 9th chapter of artha SAstra