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Chanakya Thoughts: Paristhiti vs Manasthiti

We may not be able to directly control the situation, but we can use our intelligence to manage and lead any situation. We as human beings have been blessed to think out of the box, and also get deeper to think ‘Is there a box’?

by Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai

The pandemic has made the whole world to come to a stop. Never in the past, in human history has a single disease affected the whole human race so drastically. Even if we had diseases which spread across the world, like HIV, it did not make all the government machineries and public administration to come to a halt overnight.


So, in a situation that is totally out of control, does the great strategist Chanakya provide any solutions?

I glanced through Kautilya’s Arthashastra to get some tips on disaster management, managing natural and man-made calamities and control of epidemics. However, with a deeper thought, I realised that even though not directly, he had indirectly given us a direction on how to manage this situation.

“An arrow, discharged by an archer, may kill one person or may not kill (even one); but intellect operated by a wise man would kill even children in the womb” (Kautilya Arthashastra 10.6.51)

We may not be able to directly control the situation, but we can use our intelligence to manage and lead any situation. We as human beings have been blessed to think out of the box, and also get deeper to think ‘Is there a box’?

So, we need to look at any situation from a different perspective. And once we have this approach, we can see through a different light. The Paristhiti (situations) could be the same for one and all. But the Manasthiti (mind set) can be different for each one. That is where Chanakya would lead us to.

The classic example is how we look at a half-filled glass. One would say it is half empty and the other would say, it is half-full. But, Chanakya would think: “Now that it is already half-full, what I can do to fill up the remaining glass?”

This is a totally different mindset. Instead of positive thinking or negative thinking, Chanakya would bring in practical thinking. He was a strategist who would believe in action-oriented planning.

An action without a plan could be dangerous. And, a plan without action is useless. So, as Swami Chinmayananda, the founder of the world famous spiritual organisation Chinmaya mission, used to say, “Plan out your work, and work out your plan.”

Do not just sit there wondering what to do next? But do some strategic thinking and make an action plan. Worrying can lead us nowhere, while strategic thinking (Aanvikshiki, as Chanakya would call it) can lead us to progress.

While the same pandemic situation has made some businesses to shut their shops, on the other side many companies have made profits, even providing incentives and increments to their employees.

It is very easy to say that these are tech-based companies and they can work digitally or from home. But, that is only half truth. Even digital or tech companies, need to rethink their strategies to get business from clients (who may not necessarily be tech companies). So Chanakya would go beyond positive thinking to some practical thinking.

Thinking vs worrying

Most of us are worrying about a situation (Chinta) rather than thinking about solutions to problems (Chintan). Remember, no problem is permanent. Get prepared for the best that is yet to come. This is the time to make new plans, realign your goals and navigate through your ideas. It is the best time for business process engineering, to upgrading your skills and developing a ‘make it happen’ attitude.

Consult experts

At times we get stuck with our problems. If you cannot think ‘out of the box’, ask people who are not in the box. They will tell you how to come out of it. Consult some experts and they will help you. For instance, if you are facing a financial crisis (which is normal for everyone during these times), check with your financial advisor, he will give you a tip or advice you how on to handle the situation.

Take help of friends

Chanakya believed in friends who help you in difficult times. Never fight a battle alone, take some friends along. Even Amitabh Bachchan would give you a lifeline, ‘Phone a friend’, in Kaun Banega Crorepati when you do not know the answer. Finally, once your ‘Manasthiti’ is right, no ‘Paristhiti’ is wrong. You emerge as a winner, when the world focuses on failures.

(The writer is Founder-Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki, an author and an expert on Chanakya’s teaching)

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