6 A lesson to be learned from the story of "A confused ruler and his chaotic state" “अन्धेर नगरी चौपट राजा” .

A corporate lesson from the story of "A confused ruler and his chaotic state" “अन्धेर नगरी चौपट राजा”.

I belong to the Mithila region of India where there is popular folklore about a saint and a king. Being a fiction writer and a corporate researcher, I thought there is a corporate lesson from this story. Hence writing this story for connections.

This story advocates differential treatment to the employees based on their respective merits. This story also warns leaders that if you treat everyone equally, you will ruin your company as this king ruined his empire.

According to the folklore a saint lived on the banks of the river Koshi with his disciple in his Ashram. Most of their time was spent in worship of God, other religious activities, and the wrestling. After some time, Guruji decided to visit the countryside. The Guru-Disciple wandered into several jungles, kingdoms, and places for pilgrimage. They were enjoying at these places for a while and then moving ahead. Once they wandered into a strange country. He camped there in a hut. Once the Guru gave the disciple one rupee and asked him to bring some good vegetables from the local market.

One of his disciples was Gangadhar. He came forward to serve the order of his Guruji. This country was strange. The king loves the uniformity. Everything in that country was sold in one rupee. The salaries of everyone in that country was one rupee. Diversity of any kind was a crime.

Completely aloof from such rules, Gangadhar reached the vegetable market and started asking for a price for vegetables. He was surprised to see that all the items were being sold at the rate of one rupee. All types of vegetables were one rupee per kilo, ghee was one rupee per kilo, the sweets were also one rupee per kilo. Guruji and disciple had limited money and hence lavish dinner was not part of their routine. Gangadhar thought this is a country to settle in. In this country, they can eat all kinds of sweets daily. Though Guruji used to avoid lavish dinner due to spiritual reason, however, Gangadhar was not able to understand. He thought it is due to the lack of money that they were living in austerity. See so cheap prices of sweets, Gangadhar thought that Guruji would like his idea and hence instead of vegetables he purchased sweets for the dinner.

Gangadhar was happy that he will have lots of appreciation. He happily reached his hut with sweets. He explained everything to Guru Ji. Guruji said while meditating, “ My dear son Gangadhar, we should leave this place as soon as possible. It seems to be a dark city and the king here is confused. Our lives are in danger here".

But Gangadhar did not like the advice of leaving that country. Other disciples also supported Gangadhar. On the one hand, there was a simple and hard life, on the other hand in this country it was so cheap. He said to Guruji, Guruji, I have liked this place very much. If you permit, “we can stay for a few days, at least, if not forever”.

Guruji laughed at what Gangadhar said. He said, "Okay my dear sons, you can stay here for some more time. I want you to experience by yourself. However, whenever this confused king put you in danger, please call me". Learning by experience is better than learning by preaching. Disciples must learn the intended danger. Guruji started his travel once again. He started hopping from one country to another, from one jungle to the next.

The life of Gangadhar and his friends were seemingly very good. They would always buy sweets instead of vegetables. They wanted to enjoy it for some time now. They already knew the art of wrestling. In the morning they were practicing it and in the evening they were eating lavish dinner. Thus many months passed. Disciples, especially Gangadhar became very fat after eating so much sweet.

The king was still loving the rules of uniformity. Everything should be equal. One day the poor widow Kalawati's goat was grazing the crop in Pandit Deendayal's field. Deendayal got angry and hit him with a stick that killed the goat, accidentally. The weeping Kalavati reached the court of the king for justice. Hearing her words, the king who loved uniformity said, “only a life can compensate another life”. He ordered that Deendayal need to give his life because he killed the goat. He must die. King ordered that Deendayal must be hanged till death.

The Kotwal/police of the city caught Deendayal and presented him to the king. The king said to Deendayal, “either give back the life of the goat, make it alive or go to the gallows”. There was no way Deendayal would give back life to the goat. So the executioner took him to the gallows.

Deendayal was a lean man. The noose of the hanging rope was too loose for him. It was a public execution. The king himself was observing it. The king was also known for not taking his decision back. The rope was useless and could not be used for Deendayal. The execution was not possible. King could not take back the order. For some time the king kept contemplating and said to the executioner, go hang the most appropriate person, the thickest one in the vicinity.

The executioner set out with Kotwal in search of an obese person. While he was passing near Gangadhar's hut, he was massaging the oil and chanting there. Both stopped after seeing him. Kotwal said, "We found the person, we got the person with an appropriate neck."

Gangadhar was captured and brought to the court. He pleaded with the king, "What is my fault, why I am going to be hanged?" The king said, “Only a life can compensate life of the got. For me, everyone is equal, either you or Deendayal. Either Deendayal's life can compensate or your life. Since the neck of Deendayal is not suitable for the noose, and you are fit hence you need to die."

"No, this is not appropriate. I did not commit any mistake".

"I cannot take my order back. This is not allowed in this country. the hanging noose would fit into your neck, so you have to climb the gallows”.

Gangadhar remembered his Guruji's words. The executioner asked the last wish of Gangadhar. He said that he wants to meet his Guruji. Officials brought his Guruji from the adjacent village. Gangadhar saw in his eyes and admitted his mistake. He admitted the mistake that those kingdoms are dangerous where people are not treated according to their merit and where everyone is treated equally”.

Gangadhar was naïve and ignorant. It was the duty of the Guruji to save his life. Moreover, his disciple has already learned the lesson. The purpose of Guruji was solved. Guruji said to the executioner and the King, “I am also too fat, first I should be hanged”.

As per the plan, Gangadhar insisted that no he should be hanged. Guruji and Gangadhar had a continuous argument. To save a life, Gangadhar and his Guruji started beating each other. There was lots of commotion. The noose was fitting well to both of them. The executioner was confused about whom to hang.

Observing all of the commotions the king shouted angrily, “ Both of you are the idiots. Neither of you have any sense. You are beating and stabbing to each other to get hanged. What is the reason for this?

Guruji was looking for the opportunity. He said “O my lord, this is an auspicious time according to the special placement of stars. Such combination and orientation of stars occur only for a few moments in a thousand years. The person who will be hanged at this time will get five times bigger state and the glory than your state in the next life.

The king was not only foolish he was also very greedy also. He anticipated a five times bigger kingdom and glory. He said to the executioner, “Oh wait I will hang myself”. Saying this, he snatched the hanging noose from the executioner and put it in his neck and swung it to the gallows.

An empire was ruined, a kingdom was destroyed. Thanks to the policy of uniformity. In a successful empire, vegetables and sweets should not be sold at the same price. Gold needs to be expensive. Hardworking people should be compensated accordingly.


2 Madhubani Literature Festival, what I could experience

Before this, I attended Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Even I invited Mr. Sanjoy Roy the organizer of JLF as a speaker in the TED talk that I hosted last year. Some of my students also volunteered in JLF so I can claim that I have seen JLF succeeding very closely. When I was planning to attend the Madhubani Literature Festival (MLF) I had a clear understanding that nowhere it would be closer to JLF. I was a votary of thought that Maithili is on a decline and so the number of participants are ought to be very small.  However, the venue of MLF was equally exciting. The Rajanar of Madhubani is almost a forgotten place and need due attention from the country.  However, the list of speakers was giving me confidence that characteristic of the event would not be different. When I heard about MLF being organized a couple of months back, I conveyed to Dr. Savita Jha Khan, the organizer that I was interested in attending it.  In principle, I wanted to attend such events, but logistics has been a challenge. I thought I will combine it with my regular visit to my native place.

However the ground reality was different. Just one month back I went to my native place during Deepawali with my family. Hence, now I had to go alone. I cannot use my official leave.  When Dr. Khan asked me to confirm, I started calculating the leave I had to take, the ticket I had to purchase and the things I could do in this event. Then I realized, in such a case when we attend such an event, not only we make it successful but we also learn a lot. It is always give and take. Most importantly it gives immense opportunity to network with other people.    

Very soon, the poster started circulating on social media. My wife also saw the same and once told me, now there is no other option you have to go. It was Christmas and Newyear holiday around and price of the ticket was three times more. However, I decided I will attend on the last day, December 21, 2018. 

I started in the evening of 19th December and I reached Patna via Delhi by flight on 20th December and used savaari.com to book a taxi. My return flight was on 11AM on 22nd and hence could not take a risk to start my journey from Madhubani in the morning of 22nd. It means I had to reach Patna by 21st evening itself.  

On 21st morning when I reached the venue, I could see the Rajnagar palace was in two parts. The first part was the premise of a degree college and second part, more magnificent and profusely opulent however in the severe mutilated state was the main remains of the palace. The MLF team had already converted the courtyard of the palace into an open-air theatre. There was an elevated dais for speakers and chairs for the audience. There were numbers of kiosks on the periphery of the courtyard used as a makeshift shop for books, souvenirs, handicraft and various forms of Mithila Painting. In another corner, there was a Machan built for more cozy discussion which was used by ladies for more formal discussion. Other parallel sessions were arranged in the various halls of the first part of the palace (used as degree college).  

The format of the MLF session was a series of a panel discussion. A pre-decided topic was given to the moderator of the panel who opens the session with his thought.  It was followed by the opinion of the other panelist one by one. I attended three such sessions and what I could not find was the intense contradiction. Lack of intense contradiction could be understood in many ways, in many cases, it could be interpreted as a quality of engagement. However, my personal opinion the panelist wanted to be too polite for others and hence the intensity of argument was not big.  

For me networking with who-is-who of Maithili literary world was the main motivation and I was surprised to find “Mr. Girindranath Jha” a former journalist and CSDS researcher who gracefully opted to be a farmer. We were connected through social media and it was so nice to see him there. I also happened to meet Rajneesh K Jha another journalist who has been settled in Madhubani. Subhash Jha my long-term friend was in the organizing team and we met after 9 years almost. I could also meet Prof. Deoshankar Naveen of JNU.  There were many other Sahitya Academy awardees also. 

Since I had a constraint to attend on 21st December only, probably I missed the session on Short Story and Novel writing in which I have been involved since one and a half decade. Rather, I was one of the panelists of Baal-Sahitya. My introduction to this kind of literature was limited to the books that my son is going through. I spoke at my best. I attended three sessions and other sessions were intellectually more refined than ours.  

I could see there were around 60-80 people engaged in my session. In other sessions, this number was more. Some of my friends told me that here only those people are present who has been invited to present something. I could see the number of people purely as an audience was around 50%.  

I could understand that it is a global phenomenon. Prior to this, I have experience of attending lots of conferences on computer science and related areas. In such conferences, authors write a research paper which is reviewed typically by three experts and then they present their respective papers. Every author and other attendees need to register at the conference by paying a good amount. Registration fees of a good international conference are around 1000 USD. Even good Indian conference would cost more than Rs. 30,000. Organizer collects this money to fund expenses of the venue and all activities and logistics. Even in such an international conference that took place in universities, there are limited number of audiences other than the author of the paper themselves.  Therefore, from that point of view, it was truly following the global spirit. Even the weather was not so pleasant.  

It is to be noted that MLF did not have any registration fee or entrance fee like these conferences or like JLF. Therefore, the quality of arrangement was ought to be accordingly.  In three sessions that I attended, I could see the number of audiences was between 60 to 120. I have been told post-panel discussion cultural event was jam-packed and would have more than 300 audiences. This is better than a typical international conference. Therefore, the maiden episode of MLF, in my opinion, was a grand success. I have seen many people have complained about a few things.   

My recommendation for the organizer is following-- (1) Let us introduce research session also. (2) If possible, invite everyone who is pursuing Ph.D. in Maithili in an especially designated session.  (2) Engage more local people to take care of various logistics (3) Have more solo presentation from eminent people.  

I enjoyed being there. It was worth to buy an expensive ticket during this holiday season. Lunch was a truly sumptuous and it reminded me of the Bhoj I use to have in my childhood.   


1 Impact of history on my personal life?

It is amazing to connect historical event that took place 2000 years ago to my personal life. It is amazing to know if Ashoka would not have been so violent before transformation, I would have studied in an English medium school. Blame goes to powerful transformation phases of Ashoka during which he used his power to spread buddhism in the country for my rustic behavior.  
It is very imperative to understand that our life does get affected by historical events. I would like to answer this based on my personal experience.
Last year, I was in Varanasi to perform some religious rituals. Bank of the Ganges was crowded. I requested my priest to go to other side of the river by boat and perform the same ritual because it was serene and peaceful. There was no one to disturb. The priest said to me, “Are you a fool? Don’t you know, no religious ritual is performed in Magah side”?
I obeyed him, but I tried understanding the logic why ritual could not be performed on other side of Ganges and what was the actual meaning of Magah. While returning, I enquire with many but no one answered this appropriately. Finally, father of the same priest, an old man, explained me, “Magah" (मगह) stand for Magadh, a land known for violence, distress, and discord” almost 2000 years ago. Why someone would do religious ritual in such a notorious place.
Explanation of that grand old man reminded me. It was the same notoriety of Magadh who forced me to do my schooling from my village. It was purely a Hindi medium school where only 20% of students were able to pass the 10th board examination. My grandmother spent her entire life in my village. My father got a job in Gorakhpur. He wanted to bring all of us to Gorakhpur. But my grandmother was adamant. She said to my father, “Now since I spent most of my life in the village, at this eleventh hour I don’t wish to die in Magah”. With the explanation of old priest, now I understand, my grandmother did not want to die in Magadh which is considered to be a land of Violence and disharmony. Since father was only child of my grandmother and she could not have stayed alone, therefore, my family stayed in village and I had to do schooling in a place where 70% of people were failing in 10th board examination.
River Ganges separates Mithila and Magadh. People of Mithila, who gives value to traditional belief don’t marry their sons and daughters in Magadh region, which is a symbol of bad land. Workers from Magadh, tribes from Magadh and customs of Magadh are given a name, “Maghaiya" (मघैया). Anything which is Maghaiya is still out of bound for people of Mithila?