Crisis Management - A Case Study of Arjuna's Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation by Sri Krishna


A crisis is  a stressful event or unexpected situation that pops up in our daily  life with a potential to hurt or destroy ultimate happiness. When  unanticipated negative occurrences challenge our survival ability, we  are psychologically thrown off balance. While a crisis may at times  be anticipated, its magnitude and effect are always down-played.

Mind  is the first factor in man to react to the sensory situations it  perceives so easily every time. Its  inevitable habit is to come out with lamenting and conflicting  conclusions, unless intelligence, the higher faculty, intervenes in  the process and starts imposing its competence for better  understanding. The discordance between intelligence and mind, between  wisdom and emotion, is the chronic ill of mankind, the society and  individuals. This is the crisis we face everyday.

Mind’s  misbehavior is generally left uncared for and its imbalance is  allowed to prevail resulting in man’s wrong responses ruining his  wisdom and thereby his welfare. The aim of crisis management is to  make a  man realize this grave inefficiency, inattention and imbalance and  enable him to face the crisis in the most effective manner.


Crisis  management is  the process by which an individual or an organization deals with a  major event that threatens to harm himself or the organization, its  stakeholders, or the general public. Since  all crises have also a non-human angle it becomes imperative that a  crisis is managed not only from a material understanding of its  genesis but also with spiritual tools which involves laying a solid  foundation or building a strong platform based on the disclosures of  the eternal scriptures. This foundation or platform involves a  mechanism, design, tactics or strategy to face and defeat any crisis.

During  the crisis management process, it is important to identify types of  crises which may be due to  external or internal factors. Some of the external factors for any  crisis are natural disasters, wars etc while internal factors are due  to one’s own loss of vision i.e. imperfect evaluation of life situations. Successfully defusing a  crisis requires an understanding of how to handle a crisis before  they occur.

The different phases of crisis  management are 1. The diagnosis of the impending trouble or the danger signals.2. Choosing appropriate Turnaround Strategy.3. Implementation of the change process and its monitoring.

Time  is the essence of crisis management. If the crisis is not averted  immediately when it is noticed, it’s likely it will become  incurable and all pervasive. When a crisis strikes, seeking an  outsider’s perspective is paramount. With such help smart leaders  understand that in the midst of crisis, there is opportunity.

Arjuna,  the great Mahabharata War veteran, was no exception to fall into the  clutches of a  major crisis in his career. His predicament and indecisiveness at a  critical time in the battlefield was the cause for the exposition of  the Universal Scripture, the Bhagavad Gita which lifted him from the  morass of conflict of interest. He sought and received the guidance  of an external source in the form of the Divine Teacher, Lord Sri  Krishna and successfully got over the crisis he created for himself.  Ultimately he became a highly successful warrior prince.

The  cause for this  transformation from crisis to achievement is the result of the  reorientation of the thinking process generated in the mind of Arjuna  by the teachings of Sri Krishna which popularly came to be called the  Bhagavad Gita.


We are all  so well aware of the story of the Mahabharata which hardly requires a  recapitulation here. We shall therefore straightaway go to the point  where Arjuna faces a severe emotional crisis in his life at the  battlefield of Kurukshetra. The crisis faced by Arjuna was not only  his personal matter but was posing a threat to human civilization and  its values then existing and the ages to come.

The  preparations for the epic war between Pandavas and Kauravas started.   Both the sides mobilized their troops and took their respective  positions in the battlefield at Kurukshetra, near modern day Delhi.

Sage Vyasa  offered Dhritarashtra the power of sight which would enable him to  see the events of war.  Unable to see the inevitable massacre of his  sons, the blind king desired to know the full details of the war. To  fulfill Dhritarashtra's request Vyasa bestowed Sanjaya, the trusted  minister of Dhritarashtra, with the divine intuitive vision by which  he could know not only the incidents of the battlefield but also the  ideas in the minds of the warriors.

After ten  days of war, Bhishma, the commander of the Kaurava army was severely  wounded and thrown off his chariot. When Sanjaya informed  Dhritarashtra about this incident the blind king became very sad and  asked him to narrate all the details of the war. The reporting of  Sanjaya about the events of war including the dialogue between Sri  Krishna and Arjuna at the battlefield is contained in the Bhishma  Parva of the Mahabharata wherein The Gita text finds place. The Gita  opens with the question of the blind king to Sanjaya asking him what  happened on the battlefield when the two armies faced each other in  the battle formation.

Poised for  battle, outstanding warriors in both the Kaurava and Pandava armies  assemble at the battlefield.  Bhagavan Sri  Krishna was the charioteer of Arjuna, the mightiest of the Pandava  brothers.  Arjuna asked Sri Krishna to place their chariot between  the two armies to enable him to have a look at all those with whom he  had to fight.  Arjuna surveys the armies.  He  finds his respected elders, teachers, friends and relatives in both  the armies, all prepared to lay down their lives.

Although  till that time he was in full fighting spirit, when he saw his  teachers, elders, brothers, relatives and friends standing before him  ready for the fight, his determination gave way to weakness of head  and heart He gets  disillusioned; falls into a state of utter despondency exhibiting  symptoms of physical stress.  He said “seeing these my kinsmen, O  Krishna, arrayed, eager to fight, my limbs fail me and my mouth is  parched; my body quivers and my hairs stand on end”. This  sight overwhelms him into an emotional stupor in which he loses  control over his body. His composure breaks down. He was overwhelmed  by the vagaries of his own mind.  A feeling of compassion took him  over. His self-confidence deserted him.

He puts  forward many pseudo intelligent and wise-looking excuses for not  waging a war for which he enthusiastically prepared himself a little  earlier. He prefers to live by begging or let himself be killed by  remaining unarmed than take up arms against his people. He felt that  to fight the war was sinful not sanctioned by religion and the  consequences would mean indefinite damnation in hell. He was heading  towards a total collapse of his entire personality. He lost his  enthusiasm to fight and told Sri Krishna that he did not want to wage  the battle against his seniors, relations and friends for the sake of  a paltry kingdom. So saying he throws out his weapons declining to  fight and sinks in his seat, confused, exhausted and grief-stricken.

When Arjuna  conveyed his determination against waging the war Sri Krishna assumed  the role of a crisis management consultant and gave him a good peace  of advice enlightening him what he should do. Krishna questioned,  disapproved and spurned the arguments put forward by Arjuna and  analyzed the subject in all its relevance and dimensions.

This is the  crisis situation presented to us at the start of the Bhagavad Gita  which is not materially different from the situations we face in our  daily lives particularly at work places. By the time we reach the end  of the Gita, Arjuna the victim of compassion and self-pity is shown  as a rejuvenated personality full of enthusiasm to do what was  expected of him in the circumstances. That is how the dialogue  between Krishna and Arjuna became a philosophical dissertation to  tackle the problems of day to day crisis situations.

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