Do we decide from Heart or decide purely on meritocracy?
Should there be rules guiding the decision-making process?
Answer to both these questions is affirmative. But maybe this mythological tale from the Mahabharat may force you to think otherwise.
Drupada and Dronacharya were childhood friends. Their friendship was so strong that one day they decided they would share their possessions once they grew up. Fortune favoured Drupada who had become the king of the land of Southern Panchala while Dronacharya was in abject poverty.
Now, it’s natural for Dronacharya to be jealous but he did not feel that way. He simply wanted some help from his friend. For the sake of his wife and son, Drona desired freedom from poverty. Remembering the childhood promise given by Drupada, he decided to approach him to ask for help.
However, King Drupada refused to even recognize their friendship and said, “Friendship was possible only between persons of equal stature in life. As a child, it was possible for us to be friends with because at that time we were equals. But now I have become a king.
“I would satisfy you nevertheless if you ask for alms befitting a Brahmin, rather than demanding your right as a friend. He added.
Drona went away silently, but in his heart he vowed revenge. This rage made him the martial arts specialist who trained all the Kaurvas and Pandavas. Dronacharya exacted his revenge on the battle of Kurukshetra from the epic Mahabharata.
The question arises, was Drupada wrong?
His conduct was wrong surely. He broke the promise made to friend but now he had a responsibility. He couldn’t have parted with half his kingdom to a friend and throw his subjects to his friend’s mercy. The subjects trusted him; how could he deceive them. As a king, he shouldn’t participate in granting personal favours. This would set a wrong example for his council of ministers and officers. So, he did the right thing by not breaking the rule.
However, on the other side we see Lord Krishna in Mahabharata who keeps bending rules. Was that wrong? Lord Krishna maintained fairness, aren’t rules and codes of conduct created to ensure fairness?
When rules do not generate fairness it’s time to bend them and ensure they meet the purpose. Understanding the purpose of code of conduct helps the leader bend it when the situation demands it. Thus, it seems that purpose is more important than rules and fairness is of paramount importance.
So at one place rules are to be used but in case the same come in way of fairness and humanity the decisions needed to be made differently.