Leadership Lessons from Lord Shiva

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Spirituality, Success

Forget your stuffy suits and power-point presentations, step aside boring business gurus, because the ultimate leadership masterclass comes courtesy of a blue-skinned, trident-wielding God chilling on a Himalayan peak. Lord Shiva, the Destroyer with a heart of gold (and a penchant for cobras as accessories).

Now, before you dismiss this article – Lord Shiva is an ascetic, what could He teach about business?! Hear me out. Lord Shiva has got more leadership wisdom packed in his persona than any boardroom could dream of. He’s the ultimate paradox: a fierce warrior who does the cosmic dance, and an ascetic yogi who’s also a devoted family man. He embodies the destruction necessary for creation, the stillness within the storm, the third eye that sees beyond the obvious, and so much more.


Let’s start with Lord Shiva’s depiction as Natraj – doing the cosmic dance Tandava, along with Goddess Parvati, His beloved wife. The rhythm of the dance is controlled by the damaru, the drum in His hand. The damaru’s beats briths galaxies and shatters stars. It marks the rise and fall of civilisations. In His other hands are forces that need to be in balance for creation to exist.. There is Fire that symbolises the transformative power of destruction and there is one hand which gestures peace and the promise of new beginnings. He wears a garland of skulls as a reminder of Life’s fleeting nature.

Beside him stands Parvati, his divine consort. Her serene form, draped in crimson robes, is a counterpoint to Shiva’s fiery dynamism. Her gentle hand rests on his shoulder, grounding his cosmic dance with earthly love. As Uma, the giver of light, she illuminates the path ahead, even in the darkest moments.

Their dance the Tandava, is not merely movement. It is the song of the universe itself representing the constant cycle of destruction and creation, the yin and yang of existence. Each step echoes the whisper of a butterfly’s wings to the roar of a new born sun.

This cosmic ballet has deep philosophical tapestry woven within it. Shiva’s dance and His movements are both fierce and tender, reminding us that both destruction and creation are necessary for life’s grand design.

Parvati’s presence signifies the ever-present force of love and compassion that tempers Shiva’s cosmic power. It shows us that within the dance of existence, there is always space for grace, for tenderness, for the dance of life itself.

How does all this translate into Business acumen?

A leader needs to have the ruthless efficiency of cutting losses and the nurturing touch of building a strong team. These need to exist hand in hand together within him. He needs to be utterly comfortable with both aspects. So comfortable, that it’s like a dance!

Ganga and Lord Shiva

Once upon a time, Ganga, the celestial river, flowed serenely in the heavens, a shimmering ribbon adorning the abode of the Gods. But Her celestial joy wasn’t enough. Drawn by the pleas of King Bhagiratha, whose ancestors were trapped in fiery purgatory, Ganga yearned to descend to Earth and grant them salvation.

However, Ganga’s heavenly torrent threatened to shatter the Earth upon impact. Enter Lord Shiva, the master of balance. With His matted locks like a celestial net, Shiva agreed to receive Ganga’s descent. 

The moment arrived. Ganga, a raging waterfall of divine purity, plummeted Earthward. Lord Shiva stood firm, His jata (dreadlocks) a majestic dam against Her onslaught. Ganga, initially furious at being restrained, roared and surged, trying to drown Shiva himself. But Shiva, the embodiment of stillness within the storm, remained unfazed. His calm presence slowly tamed Ganga’s wild fury. She realised that his restraint wasn’t meant to trap her, but to protect the Earth from her celestial might. His divine touch tamed her into a blessing upon the land.

Thus, guided by Bhagiratha and Lord Shiva’s grace, Ganga flowed down the slopes of the Himalayas, nurturing the land, and granting salvation to the trapped souls. Her journey became a symbol of life’s flow, reminding us that even the most powerful forces need guidance and balance to fulfil their purpose.

A leader may have the might and power of Ganga, yet he needs to learn humility before his power can truly serve the world. Otherwise, he will unknowingly leave destruction in his wake. His intention was to make a positive difference. He ends up creating chaos and misery. 

A leader needs to be coachable. He needs to be open to guidance. Even the mightiest of rivers need direction to reach their destination. 

Ganga is representative of pure Knowledge. Shiva keeps Her and tames Her and releases Her gently.

The discretion of what needs to be shared with whom and how, is a great quality for a leader to imbibe.

The Ascetic and the Family Man

Lord Shiva represents the two fundamental aspects of our being, the ascetic and the family man. The yearning for solitude and self-discovery, and the desire for connection and belonging.

The ascetic walks a solitary path. His gaze inward, seeking the stillness within the whirlwind of life. He embraces austerity, shunning material possessions and worldly entanglements. His days and nights are a dance with discipline, a tapestry woven with meditation and reflection. He seeks enlightenment, a communion with the higher self, a liberation from the cycle of cravings and aversions.

The family man finds solace in the laughter of children, his life a symphony of shared meals and bedtime stories. He builds a haven, a nest of love and security for those closest to him. He shoulders responsibility, a protector, a provider, a rock amidst life’s storms. He finds joy in the everyday, in the small victories and quiet moments of connection.

These are not two separate paths, rather they are two facets of the same journey. The ascetic, in his solitude, learns compassion for the human condition. He returns to the world, transformed, carrying the wisdom of his introspection. The family man, in the chaos of love and laughter, discovers the profound connections that bind us. He learns to let go, to surrender to the ebb and flow of life, embracing the impermanence of all things.

From a business perspective, a leader has to find his balance. He needs to carve out moments of solitude in the midst of a bustling office. Only, if he can tap into these moments of peace will he have the energy to continue without burnout. There is no point reaching the finish line and not being able to enjoy victory. 

Lord Shiva’s Third Eye

Lord Shiva pulsates with power. But perhaps no element is as captivating and enigmatic as His third eye, a blazing orb of wisdom and destruction nestled between His brows.

Unlike our earthly eyes, focused on the tangible world, Shiva’s third eye pierces through the veil of illusion. It delves into the depths of reality, perceiving the interconnectedness of all things, past, present, and future. This “eye of knowledge” grants Him the ability to see karma unfolding, destinies intertwined, and the hidden truths that lie beneath the surface.

Lord Shiva’s third eye is a potent force of creation and destruction. When opened, it unleashes a fiery gaze capable of incinerating negativity, ignorance, and evil. It symbolises a cosmic furnace, forging a brighter future from the ashes of the past.

The third eye represents the continuous learning process that every business leader needs to be engaged in. Exploring different perspectives and ideas so that they are open to change and growth. It reminds them that they should be ready to let go of what no longer serves them and move on with experience, making way for the new.


The churning of the cosmic ocean, Samudra Manthan, was a spectacle unlike any other. Devas and Asuras, celestial beings and demons, joined forces to extract the elixir of immortality hidden within its churning depths. Mountains served as churning rods, the serpent Vasuki as the rope, and Lord Vishnu, the preserver, Himself provided the fulcrum.

As the ocean churned, it yielded wondrous things – celestial weapons, the moon, the Goddess Lakshmi, and finally, a pot brimming with the coveted Amrita, the nectar of immortality. But then, something monstrous arose: Halahala, a poison so potent it could obliterate all creation. Panic struck both Devas and Asuras. Who would consume this lethal concoction and save the worlds?

Amidst the chaos, Shiva emerged, calm amidst the storm. He knew only He could contain the poison. With unflinching resolve, He swallowed the Halahala. The poison tried to surge through Lord Shiva. He held it in His throat, not letting it descend further. His throat throbbed, his face contorted in agony. Yet, he held firm, the poison contained within His throat, turning His neck a shimmering blue.

The poison transformed within His being. No longer a threat, it became a symbol of His immense power and compassion. From that day forth, Shiva was known as Neelkantha, the blue-throated one.

Sometimes, you may want to (or have to) say terrible things to people because of what they did, or the circumstances around you. There could be instances when things will move only when anger comes into the picture. There are simply no other options. Even when you are raging with anger, let that anger, that poison, be superficial, just from the throat, not from the heart. 

The poison which was once destructive, became part of Lord Shiva, making Him even more glorious and transcendently beautiful. Similarly, any negativity or challenge that comes to you has the possibility of being transformed into something new and beautiful, bringing you even more glory.

The Animals 

Around His neck, Lord Shiva has a King Cobra. One of His sons Lord Kartikeya has a peacock, while the other son, Lord Ganesha rides a mouse. Lord Shiva’s own vehicle is Nandi, the bull. Goddess Parvati rides a tiger. Apart from the fact that this family are clearly animal lovers, there is something else that’s truly significant. Each of these animals is an enemy of the other. A Tiger and a bull in the same house! A snake and a mouse together. And peacocks are known to kill snakes. Yet, all of them stay together in harmony, each bringing its own beauty and charm to make completeness.

Snakes signify awareness and alertness. Peacock are majestic and beautiful, associated with victory. The mouse nibbles the veils of ignorance. The tiger is ferocity and fearlessness. The bull represents unwavering loyalty and devotion, as well as fertility. He is a fierce bull radiating serenity, mirroring Lord Shiva’s paradox representing the duality that life is.

It is only in Lord Shiva’s presence that all these natural enemies become the best of friends. Each contributing to the whole, making it even better.

When creating a team, most leaders make the mistake of bringing together people who are like them, or whom they like. This can be a fatal mistake because this kind of a team will only amplify weakness. A leader needs to be able to create and manage teams that are made up of people who bring a diverse set of skill sets to the table that will get the job done. This will mean that weaknesses are eliminated and everyone will have clear objectives that contribute to the overall goal of the team.

Lord Shiva’s leadership lessons echo through the ages for those with ears to hear, a whispering melody in the stillness of the Himalayas. He reminds us that leadership is not just about power, but about balance, about knowing when to dance and when to meditate. It’s about channelling the fire of destruction to forge a brighter future, and embracing negativity and challenges to find hidden wisdom. It’s about building havens, not just in brick and mortar, but in the hearts of those around us. It’s about creating allies out of enemies, and cohesion out of chaos. 

Celebrate Shivaratri and know that the Lord Shiva’s blessings are yours to channel. May you and your organisation become a testament to the transformative power of true leadership.

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1 Comment

  1. Vijesh N

    That was a ton to convey so concisely, the golden leadership lessons! I hope to make it to the flowzone soon, for now i go with the flow. Thank you B&D!


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We (Bawa & Dinesh) are best-selling authors. Our three books have sold more than 100,000 copies. We have spoken at various corporate houses and educational institutions all over the world. We teach Meditation, Craniosacral Therapy and Bach Flower Remedies. We live at our beautiful home amidst nature at the Art of Living’s International Retreat in Bangalore. We love good food, music, reading, long walks and movies and theatre with happy endings.