Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Motivation and Goal Setting

This article is the next in the series of articles that record my notes and observations from the Valmiki Ramayana, as part of my participation in the “Read Ramayana” project.

The articles written so far in this series have barely scratched the surface of this epic. But like a modern day cricket match innings that starts with crackling sixes and fours, there is so much to infer and absorb even in the initial Sargas(Chapters) of this epic, that I can’t help but appreciate and write about even the punctuation marks used in these sections. Also, learning about the details of the enormous background of this epic story excites me a lot. So here is one more item that I thoroughly enjoyed while reading and re-reading Sarga 2 of the Bala Kaanda. And it is here that I couldn’t but help make a note of the conversation between Lord Brahma and Rishi Valmiki. There are three slokas, in particular, that caught my attention -
Na Tey Vaaganruta Kaavye Kaachidatra Bhavishyati |
Ramakathaa Punyaam Shlokbadhdhaam Manoramaam|| (1.2.35)
Yaavat Sthasyanti Girayassaritashcha mahitale |
Tavadraamaayanakatha Lokeshu Pracharishyati || (1.2.36)

YaavadRaamayanakatha TvatKruta Pracharishyati |
TaavadOOrdhvamadhashcha Tvam Mallokeshu Nivatsyasi || (1.2.37)

In this Sarga, these slokas come at a juncture when Valmiki is ruminating on the spontaneous poetic Sloka verse that came to him, and Brahma has come to meet Valmiki. The slokas quoted above are Brahma’s words.
For a moment, lets forget the names Brahma and Valmiki. The person in charge of creating and establishing this Universe, the SrishtiKarta is speaking to a hunter turned Rishi. He tells the Rishi to pen the life story of Rama.
So what is happening here? The assignment is clear - Rama’s life story, all the known and unknown parts of it need to be recorded. And Valmiki has been identified as the candidate fit & worthy of this task, and this is where Brahma shows, by example, how to set goals and motivations for the the person who you have identified as the right fit for the task at hand.
All said and done, when executed, this work will become Valmiki’s first literary work. For a scholarly writer about to pen his first major piece, SrishtiKarta Brahma sets incentives, while at the same time instilling confidence about his capability about the task at hand. And the sequence of these is to be appreciated as well -
First verse says “Nothing that is away from the truth will be a part of your writing”. Now, this is a literal translation from Sanskrit to English, which is how things are expressed in that language, but what really is being said here is (paraphrased in active voice) - “Valmiki, whatever you need to know (in terms of facts and data) to complete this work, you will get all of it, starting with the brief you got from Rishi Narad.  Please use your newly learnt skill of writing ‘sloka’ verses to put all of this in an enjoyable readable format.”
Second verse says “As long as mountains & rivers exist on this planet, the story of Ramayana will exist.” To paraphrase this in modern day language, “There is a guaranteed uptake for such a work. I can foresee this uptake will last for as long as mountains & rivers shall exist, i.e. till the human race (as we know it) will exist, and along with it, your name will be remembered for generations to come. 
And the final third verse(quoted above) says “ And as long as the Ramayana(written by you) prevails, you will reside in all the three worlds(Upper world, Nether world and Bramhaloka)”. This would paraphrase to “Yours will be an established name among all kinds of living beings in this universe.” Ramayana was written at at time when name and reputation was valued the way we value money today.
So essentially, starting from assuring his commitment for all requisite inputs for the assignment at hand to discussing the future of the assignment’s output to discussing the assignee’s personal growth in accomplishing the project, Brahma not only gets the point across to Valmiki, he also teaches us how to discuss projects and project goals with people that we want to work with. 
Motivation is one of the oft-quoted and oft-misused terms in today’s corporatized world. Everyone is looking to instill this in peers and sub-ordinates, when they themselves suffer from its deficiency. In such times, it helps to know that motivation will come in abundance from within an individual automatically when she is presented with appropriate inputs and relevant goals and outcomes to pursue, both at the task level and on a personal level.

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