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Abhimanyu: Do you exercise caution entering the labyrinth of risky choices?

Updated: Feb 27, 2022


Blog #17

  • Do you believe in "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"?

  • Do you have good self-control or are you impulsive?

  • Do you find yourself unable to resist the "dares" from your friends?

  • Is your impulsiveness due to an anxious need to prove your self worth to yourself or family?

  • Are you having self-esteem issues? Struggling to keep up with the Joneses?

  • Do your friends and family exploit your impulsive instincts?

  • What if some challenges are really labyrinths where once committed, there is no going back?

  • Do you weigh the risks before you commit to the choices in front of you?

Mahabharata Context

.Prince Abhimanyu was the young son of Prince Arjuna and Subhadra, sister of Lord Krishna. He spent his childhood getting trained and educated by the Yadava family. Learning the art of warfare from Lord Krishna himself, Abhimanyu was a remarkably talented warrior and a precocious young man anxious to prove himself on the battlefield. He draws attention to himself on the very first day of war, earning the appreciation of Grandsire Bhishma himself. On the 13th day of battle, Arjuna is pulled away from the main theatre with a challenge battle that he accepts. Seeing Prince Arjuna now out of the scene, the brilliant Drona now forms a labyrinth battle formation (Chakravyuha) that no one except Prince Arjuna knows how to enter and exit defeating the enemy. The Pandava army is facing annihilation and certain defeat. Prince Yudhisthira looks within the Pandava army for someone who can save the day. Abhimanyu did know how to pierce and enter the labyrinth but not how to fight his way out of it. His youth and impetuous bravado forces Abhimanyu to accept the challenge to attack the labyrinth formation.

Abhimanyu gallantly leads the Pandava attack attacking the labyrinth but is quickly isolated from his army by the clever Kaurava army. This leads to the brave prince getting sucked in deeper and deeper until he faces all the greatest Kaurava warriors all by himself- Drona, Karna, Duryodhana, etc. Abhimanyu covers himself with glory in one-on-one combat defeating all of them, but is no match for their collective joint assault on the hapless warrior. Duryodhana leads the charge to then mercilessly slay the young prince. Abhimanyu's bravery that day is widely acknowledged as unparalleled in history. Abhimanyu's surviving son becomes the ultimate heir to the throne, once vacated by Prince Yudhistira.

Our null hypothesis about the Abhimanyu persona

Abhimanyu's character has some remarkable positive traits. He was a great student, honest, high integrity and a highly skilled powerful warrior. He was gallant and willing to take risks to protect his family and friends even though the price was his life. However, Abhimanyu's weaknesses are his impetuous streak of risk taking and his over-eagerness to please his family elders. Why was it his time to come play hero when there were so many more experienced warriors fully aware that defeat was facing the army that day? Did he fully understand the price of his gallant choice?

Lessons learned

Many of us get easily swayed by the dramatization and the allure of risk taking activities like adventure sports, entrepreneurship etc. Everyone tells us that the world belongs to the next Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. These things can lead to great success and yet can lead to many failures. Having the right preparation, advice, training, experience and skills does empower us to take good calculated risks. Even then these risk taking ventures do need a slice of luck. Are you strong enough emotionally, physically and financially to bear the costs of failure?

Are you better off saying not me, not this time, not now? Or does your pride and impetuousness want you to accept the "double dog dare" from your peers, friends or family. Abhimanyu's sacrifice teaches us to think twice, sleep on it and then think again before we accept risky ventures or activities. What % of Abhimanyu do you have in you?

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