Success Principles – based on Tantrokta Devisuktam

The scriptures are rich with lessons for our life. I am always fascinated by the depth of information that has been provided in our scriptures. One such is Devi Mahatyam (Sanskritdevīmāhātmyam, देवीमाहात्म्यम्). As part of the Markandeya Purana, it is one of the Puranas or secondary Hindu scriptures, and was composed in Sanskrit around c. 400-500 CE, with authorship attributed to the sage (Rishi) Markandeya. This describes the victory of Durga over Mahisashura and other demons.

One of the sections of this scripture is Tantotra Devisuktam. This is a section that praises goddess Durga in different ways. The goddess is extolled in different form. The important aspect of the terms used is the sequence in which they have been given.  I am beginning from the 17th shloka of the 4th chapter of the book. Each of the point given below is the way goddess is addressed in the text. They are listed in the same order as given in the text.

Durga is the form of goddess that is formed from the energies of all the gods. Durga represents power of synergy. What each god could not achieve was achieved by Goddess Durga. Each of these forms as expressed needs to be looked at as a form of power.

1.       Chetna – (consciousness)

 This refers to the cognitive power that we human has. Without this cognitive power, we human would be no different from an animal. Most successful people have excellent cognitive power. Their ability to learn from what they observe and use for success is noteworthy. Learning process is dependent on the cognitive power of an individual.

2.       Budhi – (knowledge)

 Cognitive power plays a critical role in building our knowledge. Improving cognitive power helps in improving knowledge. Knowledge refers to one’s ability to understand WHY and WHAT of anything that one deals with. Knowledge as power has played many important historical changes in society. Chanakya and many others are examples from our real life.

3.       Nidraa  — (Sleep, Slumber, Sloth)

 Sleep is an important activity in maintaining our Circadian rhythm. Whether sleep can save energy or not, sleeplessness definitely drains energy.

The Sanskrit Nidraa also refers to blindness due to sleep. Many individual with higher knowledge tend to behave as nothing more is left to learn. This actually creates a layer of ignorance around them that prevents them building competency for tomorrow. They tend to ignore the obvious signals of bad times.  One has to constantly be aware of this part of individual mind and keep it under control. This requires constant calibration of one’s level of knowledge as compared to what is required.

In other word, you should know what you do not know; you should also know what you know.

4.       Kshuda – (Hunger/ Appetite)

In place of sleeping over with a feeling of having all the knowledge, one must sustain the hunger for knowledge. This is the only way to remain competent to succeed in this competitive world. Hunger has the power to drive individual to higher levels of performance. The hunger is represented as Ambitions. There is no success without ambition.

5.       Kshaya –(Shape, Shadow)

Kshaya has different meaning. It can imply Shape and it can also refer to a shadow. In any case shadow also has a shape. It represents form and substance of ourselves and also the environment that we create around us. This shape should be based on our “Knowledge” and must allow space for changes depending upon our hunger/ appetite.


Managers and leaders in an organisation must have the ability to learn. Prof Prahalad has spoken about the need to continuous “Unlearning” and “Learning” . Hence “Ability to Learn” is a critical skill. One has to keep up with the knowledge. Competency is a combination of Knowledge, Skill and Process Abilities. 

Competencies of yesterday are of no use today;

competencies available today are not required tomorrow and

what is required for tomorrow we are not learning.

The competency building is affected by following factors:

  • Knowing what to build
  • Hunger or appetite to learn
  • Form and content of the artefact that is being absorbed

I recollect a famous quote on knowledge

I do not know what I do not know

I know what I do not know

I know what I know

I do not know what I know

6.       Shakti – (Power, Force, Might)


Power, Force or Might is an outcome of knowledge and the shape (form and substance). The strength of the power is dependent on the level of knowledge (as applied and demonstrated) and also what has been created by us (forms and substance).

 7.       Trishna – (Thirst)

 Thirst is similar to Hunger in many ways. The difference is while hunger represents “ambitions” , the thirst often represents “desire for more power”. The thirst to acquire more power is common. One is expected to build the power through people (team). Attempting to do all alone may convert the “thirst” into “greed”.  One must recognise the positive power of thirst and safeguard against the potential to get overpower by greed.

 8.       Kshanti – (Patience/ Forbearance)

 The thirst for more power makes us lose patience. The scripture has identified goddess with Patience/ forgiveness and forbearance appropriately.  Since the “thirst” quenching  would require people around you to rally with you. This would also mean that everyone may not have same passion and hence the pace may not match. There would be many around you who would also commit errors. Not that we do not make errors, but the impatience makes us angry for errors by others. Tolerance for errors is key to manage variations in the outcome provided by others.

Patience was used as power by Gandhi during Freedom Struggle. Patience as virtue is now becoming extinct, as patience is often referred as lack of capability.

9.       Jaati –(genus)

In Indian philosophy jati (genus) describes any group of things that have generic characteristics in common. Sociologically, jati has come to be used universally to indicate a caste group among Hindus. The caste as a concept is much later in Hindu system. I do not want to deviate into the genesis of caste system in Hinduism.

When we start working with groups of people to attain larger successes, we would need to recognise the groups and subgroups with different levels of competencies and aspirations. One need not become part of any of the group, but one is expected to be like Lotus that can standout within dirty pond with getting affected by the dirty pond. Recognising these groups and subgroups would enable one to manage the group’s outcome in more effective and efficient way.

10.    Lajja –( shame, modesty)

We all know the meaning of Lajja as Shame, but in Sanskrit Lajja also means modesty. Both are relevant from management of success point of view. We must be ashamed if we are not able to understand and manage the groups and subgroups in an effective way.

One need to be part of all groups / subgroups from the member point of view, but at the same time one should become a member of a group. Ones modesty in the approach can help in doing this without much of a problem.

11.   Shanti – (Peace)

Life can become easier and peaceful if one has learnt to manage the team (groups/ subgroups) with modesty. Such approach converts existing team into high performing teams. The leaders of such team can actually be in peace and focus of future growth.

12.   Shraddha – (Respect)

The leader is respected on attaining the stages as mentioned above. At the same time, respecting each other and each other’s views is essential to sustain the peace. The respect may arise due to several factors, but the ones that come because of Knowledge and Wisdom is more permanent.

The actions and inactions of the Managers and Leaders contribute to their success. It is important to know when to act and when not to act. May be sometime not to act itself. A friend of mine use to talk about a TWS as a problem solving tool. Unknowingly many follow this method. TWS stands for “Time Will Solve”

Chānakya (Sanskrit: चाणक्य Cāṇakya) (c. 350–283 BCE) was an adviser (Management Consultant in today’s jargon) to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta (c. 340–293 BCE). He believed in four ways—Sama, Dama, Danda, Bheda (treating with Equality, Enticement, Punishment or War and Sowing Dissension.) Each of these methods have an application and utility in managing team performance.  However, the critical aspect is to use each method at an appropriate time to get the best out of it. This method has power to give result. This energy can be productive if used constructively.

13.   Kanti – (loveliness , beauty , splendour)

The power of beauty, loveliness is known. In corporate world the brilliance of the leader attracts all necessary resources required for the business. This enables the first impression. The scripture has brought this later because the brilliance attained artificially do not last. The characters and powers mentioned before this (e,g, Respect, Peace, Modesty etc.) gives a brilliance that would be visible and would create positive  aura around one’s personality.

14.   Lakshmi – (Money)

Lakshmi represents money. Money as power needs no explanation. However, if one gets money after the previously listed virtues it will not become lead to greed. Money is possibly one of the key outcomes of all our efforts, but this scripture has affirmed that money is important but not everything.

15.   Vritti – (Waves of thoughts)

Vritti  is the state of mind (waves of thoughts) to express a variety of feelings and emotions. Vritties are result of past actions and experiences that have left an imprint on the mind. This is closer to the reflections that one must do on whatever one has achieved from time to time. This makes one stronger and enables learning from past successes and failures. In way it is an assessment of THINGS WENT RIGHT AND THINGS WENT WRONG.

16.   Smriti – (Memory)

Memories can help one to move ahead. Good memories would motivate us. Bad memories have the power to haunt us and quiet often shake our confidence.

17.   Daya – (Forgiveness)

All our experiences relates to events in past. All events have characters. The ability to forgive the individuals who might have contributed to some of our unpleasant experiences is a powerful management tool. Forgiving actually requires more strength than to fight. AHIMSA principle is based on this fundamental.

18.   TUSHTI – (Satisfaction)

Being satisfied with what has been achieved is important. This does not mean one should not ambitious. The satisfaction at the current level is necessary to push the bar up. Satisfaction is possible only when we have retained sweat memories and erased bad recollections. Forgiving the individual who have contributed to poor experiences can also give immense satisfaction.

19.   Matri – (Mother)

Mother is creator, developer and caretaker of all entity. The manager must behave like a “mother “ to all his/her subordinates

20.   Bhranti –( Mirage)

The success is always temporary. While it is important to rejoice and celebrate but one must also remember that the Mantra for success constantly changes. One will have to keep renewing the organisation. It is important to quickly come out of celebration and start working for next level of performance/ maturity.

The organisational performance and results need to be absorbed in a positive manner. Learning from successes and failures is key to have success in succession.

The shloka from where this was written is reproduced below:

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: