IOU — Answering through Questions

Sahadeva, the prince, was the youngest of the five brothers known in the grand Indian epic Mahabharata, as ‘Pancha Pandavs’ (5 sons of King Pandu). Collectively, the five brothers had five qualities of a perfect king — honesty, strength, skill, beauty and wisdom.

Sahadeva was the wise one bestowed with a strange gift. By observing the present moment he immediately knew everything that had had happened in the past that created the present and what would happen in the future by studying the causal relationships within a phenomenon. He realized that one might predict the possibilities in the future if one cared to observe nature and reality very carefully.

But he was bound by a promise he made to Lord Krishna who instructed him, ‘Never tell what you know to anyone voluntarily. And when a question is asked reply with a question.”

Thus, even if he knew what was happening or going to happen he could neither able to tell people what he knew nor do anything to avert the inevitable.

So, for himself, Sahadeva waited for people to ask him the right question. People did ask him many questions — but almost never the right ones. Hence he was always wistful and forlorn.



This story gives us many important lessons.

1. The present moment is the most useful moment to understand what caused it and what might be the consequences in the future.

2. The ability to see reality can only be developed through the ability to question since proper questions have the power to lead us to the right answer.

3. Questioning is an important part in designing something new, solviing problems, finding why something happens so that wise decisons might be taken. Hence this art of questioning is useful for Innovation, Design Thinking, Systems Thinking and a whole lot of issues.

4. Wisdom can’t be transferred, taught, shared or given to someone. One has to find it out for himself/herself through one’s own doubts and questions.

5. There is a price to be paid for gaining wisdom. The vision a wise person sees is difficult to communicate and share with others. Hence a wise person is also a lonely person. 

6. However, a good leader/teacher initiatates learning in others to improve their performance by employing the skillful art of questioning.


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