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From Kurukshetra to Karyashetra: Dilemmas to Determination

Ms. Deepti Patnaik

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Commerce & Management

In a world characterized by constant change and evolving responsibilities, the ability to effectively manage oneself has become a critical skill for personal and professional success. Self-management encompasses a range of skills and practices that empower individuals to take control of their lives, make informed decisions, and navigate the complexities of daily challenges. The ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata, unfolds on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where the Pandavas and Kauravas face each other in a colossal struggle for righteousness and power. Beyond its historical and mythological significance, Kurukshetra serves as a metaphor for the battles we face in our personal and professional lives. It is a canvas upon which the principles of self-management are painted, offering profound lessons that resonate through the ages (Taylor, 2007). In this article, let’s explore the importance of self-management and delve into practical strategies to enhance this essential skill.

Self-management is the conscious and deliberate effort to regulate and direct one’s own actions, emotions, and resources toward achieving specific goals. It involves a deep understanding of one’s values, priorities, and the ability to make choices that align with long-term objectives. While it includes time and task management, it extends beyond these aspects to encompass emotional intelligence, resilience, and adaptability (Gabriel, 2014). We can correlate the lessons we learnt from Kurukshetra in the journey to Karyakshetra — from the battlefield of dilemmas to the field of action — encapsulates the essence of self-management. Drawing inspiration from the Mahabharata, we learn that self-awareness, clear goals, effective time management, emotional intelligence, resilience, decision-making, continuous learning, and a robust support system are the pillars of successful self-management.

As we navigate our own battles in the modern world, let us heed the timeless lessons of Kurukshetra and strive to transform our challenges into opportunities for growth and self-realization on the vast field of action, our Karyakshetra.

Lessons of Kurukshetra

  1. Self-Awareness: Arjuna’s Dilemma

The epic begins with Arjuna, a skilled warrior prince, facing a moral and emotional crisis on the battlefield. As he surveys the opposing forces, he is paralyzed by doubt and compassion for his relatives and teachers standing on the other side. Arjuna’s inner conflict mirrors the importance of self-awareness — the foundation of effective self-management. Understanding our values, strengths, and weaknesses is crucial for making decisions aligned with our true selves (Karlsson & Nilholm, 2006).

  1. Setting Clear Goals: The War of Righteousness

The purpose of the Kurukshetra War was to establish righteousness (dharma) and defeat the forces of adharma (unrighteousness). In our personal and professional lives, setting clear goals based on our values is essential. These goals serve as guiding stars, helping us navigate challenges with purpose and determination.

  1. Time and Task Management: The Charioteer’s Role

Krishna, Arjuna’s charioteer and guide, imparts timeless wisdom on duty, discipline, and devotion. Managing one’s time and tasks requires a disciplined approach, akin to Krishna’s guidance. Prioritizing tasks and allocating time efficiently are crucial elements of self-management (Smith Ring, 2000).

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Krishna’s Counsel

Krishna’s counsel to Arjuna extends beyond the physical battlefield to the realm of emotions and intellect. Understanding and managing our emotions, as well as empathizing with others, is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. It is the ability to navigate the complexities of relationships and decisions with wisdom and compassion (Brackett & Elbertson, 2019).

  1. Resilience: Bhishma’s Vow

Bhishma Pitamah, a venerable figure in the epic, demonstrates unwavering commitment to his vow, even when it goes against his personal inclinations. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks and stay committed to one’s principles, is a vital aspect of self-management. Like Bhishma, we must stay steadfast in our pursuit of goals despite challenges (Hájek, 2017).

  1. Decision-Making: Arjuna’s Choice

Arjuna, after receiving guidance from Krishna, makes a firm decision to fulfill his duty as a warrior. Effective decision-making involves weighing options, considering consequences, and taking responsibility for the choices made. The battlefield of life demands decisive actions aligned with our principles (Gonzalez, 2001).

  1. Continuous Learning: Eklavya’s Dedication

Eklavya, though denied formal education, becomes a master archer through self-learning and dedication. The pursuit of knowledge and continuous learning is a cornerstone of self-management. Adapting to new challenges and acquiring new skills ensures personal and professional growth (Fojt, 19950.

  1. Building a Support System: The Pandava Brotherhood

The Pandavas, despite numerous trials, stand united as a formidable force. Building a support system of trustworthy allies, mentors, and friends is crucial. In times of difficulty, a strong support network can provide guidance, encouragement, and assistance.


Mastering the art of self-management is a continuous journey that requires dedication, self-reflection, and adaptability. By honing skills such as self-awareness, time management, emotional intelligence, and resilience, individuals can navigate the complexities of life with greater ease and achieve their personal and professional aspirations. As we embrace the dynamic nature of the modern world, the ability to effectively manage oneself becomes an invaluable asset on the path to success and fulfillment.


Brackett, M., & Elbertson, N. (2019, August). Emotional Intelligence. Character Lab Playbook.

Fojt, M. (1995, July 1). The new world of learning: continuous learning. Education + Training, 37(7), 1–32.

Gabriel, Y. (2014, August 20). Book Review: Occupy management! Inspirations and ideas for self-organization and self-management. Management Learning, 45(4), 499–503.

Gonzalez, R. (2001, December). Decision making in real life. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 14(5), 365–367.

Hájek, M. (2017, September 26). Resilience through Words? Resilience, 6(2), 95–111.

Karlsson, K., & Nilholm, C. (2006, March). Democracy and dilemmas of self‐determination. Disability & Society, 21(2), 193–207.

Smith Ring, P. (2000, April). The three T’s of alliance creation: task, team and time. European Management Journal, 18(2), 152–163.

Taylor, R. (2007, December). Develop your interpersonal and self-management skills Karen Stains Develop your interpersonal and self-management skills Radcliffe No of pages: 160 £21.95 9781846191077 1846191076. Primary Health Care, 17(10), 8–8.

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