July 4, 2019

Humility lessons taught by Lord Hanuman to Bheem

Amit Trivedi
Owner, Karmayog Knowledge Academy

Let us once again go back to the Mahabharata to look at one of the stories from the epic.

The Pandavs and Draupadi were in the jungle during their exile. One day, the wind placed a flower (called Saugandhika) near Draupadi. The sweet scent of the flower mesmerized her and she requested Bheem to get her that flower.  He set out in the direction from which the fragrance came.

On way to the flower, Bheem found an old monkey resting on the path. He asked the monkey to give him way as he was obstructing his path. In reply, the monkey politely declines saying that he was old and weak. Bheem got angry and said that the monkey should get out of the way since he was the greatest mace warrior and possesses great power. The monkey replies that if he has such strength, why don’t he himself make way by moving the monkey.

Bheem was the great warrior, an invincible one. Out of pride and confidence,  Bheem tried  to pull the monkey’s tail aside.But he could  not move it even a little bit. He put all his might in the endeavor, but in spite of his best efforts,  he  could not move even the monkey’s tail. He felt very humiliated and subdued. He realized that this was no ordinary monkey. He bowed to the monkey and asked who he was.Now, smilingly, the old monkey introduced himself.He was Lord Hanuman. Well, the story continues, but let us stop here and understand the lesson.

This is the story of one of the greatest warriors of his time – the mighty Bheem. His confidence in his strength was not misplaced. However, he lost to an unarmed, frail looking, old monkey. And the monkey had not even lifted a finger. This was a very big humiliation.

This can happen to anyone, in any field. However, let us restrict ourselves to the field of financial advisors. In our parlance, a financial advisor would be the Bheem – an expert in investment advisory, investment products and markets. And yet, there are instances when one is caught unawares.

A market crash, a rate increase, or a credit default could be among the most common factors that may humble the best of the financial advisors. So, who is Lord Hanuman in our field? Well, it is the collective wisdom of the many players, or simple market forces. Often, these look very meek and frail, as long as we are getting the desired results, and sometimes better than desired results. And then, Lord Hanuman (market forces, in our case) decides to remind us that we are not invincible.

The recent spate of credit defaults is a case in point. Highly rated debt papers were yielding high returns, and someone thought that one had found the magic formula for finding “underpriced” securities. And then, the inevitable happened. By the way, this someone could be anybody – fund managers, analysts, rating agencies, investment advisors, investors, media, or anyone else. The response of some people unaffected by these credit events is also very interesting. Some of them are taking credit for getting unscathed. Well, Lord Hanuman has not chosen to humble them yet, probably. (Note: My debt portfolio remained largely unaffected by the recent credit events, and it was pure, simple luck. There was and is no way for me to know how to stay away.)

In the story in the Mahabharat, Bheem realized that this was no ordinary monkey and immediately accepted the superiority of Lord Hanuman. As investment intermediaries, we got to bow down to the market forces, and maintain our humility. Lord Hanuman, then blessed Bheem that the Pandavs emerge victorious in the big war. We need the blessings of the market forces to emerge vistorious.

Humility is one of the greatest traits in financial markets. Arrogance could be a major factor that may cause the downfall of the best of the best.

4 Thoughts to “Humility lessons taught by Lord Hanuman to Bheem”

  1. The test of humility is, when the markets are bullish. There may be a tendency of the Intermediaries to gloat, over the reasons with seemingly long explanations, as to why the Portfolio performed better.
    Reverse is the case, when the markets are bearish. Maintain equanimity. Take credit where due.

  2. Awesome way to connect and drive home the point Amit bhai…

  3. Sandeep says:

    Very well written and explained!! Keep it up!!

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