Kaliyuga – An organizational paradigm

Kaliyuga – An organizational paradigm

Once Yudhishthira went alone to attend to some work and the four Pandavas – Arjuna, Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva decided to spend time with Lord Krishna.

They reached Lord Krishna’s residence and got talking. As they spoke at length, Arjuna asked Krishna, “What is Kaliyuga and how will it look like?”

Krishna smiled and shot off four arrows in different directions. He told Arjuna, “I want each one of you to go in one direction and bring back the arrow that I shot and also notice what you observe. Come back and narrate what you saw. That will answer your question”.

The four brothers went in different directions and as instructed, collected the arrows and came back to Lord Krishna’s house.

“What did you see?” asked Lord Krishna.

“I picked up the arrow from under a tree. There was a cuckoo singing melodiously but it was also feasting on the flesh of a rabbit”, said Arjuna.

“I picked up the arrow from near a ground where there were 5 wells….four of them were brimming with water, while the other one was bone dry”, said Bheema.

“I picked up the arrow from near a farm. A cow had given birth to a calf, it was licking and nursing it, after a while, the calf wanted to move away, but the cow would not let go. The calf finally managed to get away but not before the cow attacked it and both suffered some injuries” said Nakula.

“I picked up the arrow from near a mountain. A big boulder came tumbling down, destroying everything in its path but the moment it hit a small plant, it stood still”, said Sahadeva.

“What do you infer about Kaliyuga from what you have seen and heard?”, asked Lord Krishna.

The four brothers debated at length amongst themselves but could not come to any meaningful conclusion. They asked Krishna to explain the meaning.

Krishna said, “In Kaliyuga, the learned will preach in a sweet voice but will also exploit their followers as the cuckoo did. The rich will have money in plenty but will not share the same with those that need it, like the empty well. Parents will love their children to a fault and will end up harming themselves and their children in the long run like the cow and people will fall in character like the boulder from the mountain only to be stopped from falling further by the name of the Lord as did the plant”.

While this story is about Kaliyuga in general, I was trying to map this to an organization.

Are the actions below symptomatic of Kaliyuga in an organization?

  • Leadership espousing values but not living up-to the same,behaving like the cuckoo
  • Hoarding rewards and knowledge like the four wells
  • Favoring a few and harming them and oneself in the bargain like the cow
  • Acting in ways that destroy the culture of organization and taking it downhill like the boulder

What other signals would you read for Kaliyuga in an organization?

Would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Note :

For those unfamiliar with the terms and characters in the story :


Kaliyuga (is the last of the four stages (or ages or yugas) the world goes through as part of a ‘cycle of yugas’ as described in the Sanskrit scriptures. Kaliyuga is generally characterized by strife and discord from the right path.


In the Mahabharata, the Hindu epic text, the Pandavas namely, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, representing the side of the righteous, fought and prevailed in a great war against their evil cousins the Kauravas, which came to be known as the Kurukshetra War.

Lord Krishna:

Lord Krishna, is one of the major deity in the Hindu pantheon of Gods. He is worshipped as the eighth avatar of the God Vishnu. Krishna was the friend, philosopher and guide to the Pandavas.