The Bhagavad Gita is a timeless text for leaders that was composed by the philosopher-poet, Veda Vyasa, in the context of the battle of Mahabharata. This text is a battlefield sermon delivered by Krishna to Arjuna. The battle was a fight between the families of two cousins, Arjuna and Duryadhona, representing the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Arjuna is the chief archer and the leader of the Pandavas, and Krishna is his best friend, charioteer, and his battlefield coach. The context in which the 18 sutras of the Gita play out is not unfamiliar to the leaders of today. The psychological context of the Gita is the breakdown in performance of the leader, Arjuna. Arjuna suffers symptoms that are all-too-familiar to us in our own stressful times: grief, loss of meaning, and inability to carry the burden of mounting performance pressures.
The genius of poet Veda Vyasa crafts a poetic treatise on leadership in the middle of a historic battle that took place in Kurukshetra, which still exists in North India. In ancient India, history was not written down, as it is today. History was reported orally, as with the commentator on the ensuing battle of Mahabharata, whose name is Sanjaya. Sanjaya is a character in the story who reports on the battle like a modern-day television commentator. Yet the story of the historical battle of Kurukshetra goes beyond mere factual reporting of events.
Vyasa brilliantly transports us from the ...