“Sarma (सरमा) and advocacy perspective of Employee Engagement”


Sarama (सरमा) is one of the Vedic characters/ personality, present in 10th Mandala of Rigveda. In Rigveda the dialogue between Sarama and Pani is detailed.

Story of Sarama unfolds many truths and also guides us about how our conduct should be while advocating organizational strength.

Under the most spoken and urgent needs of modern organizations is employee engagement. One of the sign of an engaged employee is “Advocacy”, meaning how someone represents the organization to outside world.

Sarama and Pani Samwad- Dialogue between Sarama and Pani is excellent piece of story to understand this aspect of employee engagement.

Panis (पणि) were wealthiest sect of the society then, and were famous for their unlawful ways and means to collect wealth. They were also famous for their cunning, tactful, and miser behavior. Most of the wealth was collected by them was not used for greatness of society. In the olden time the wealth was measured with the animals you have, and their usage for farming would imply the prosperity of the place.  Amoung such Panis Brubu was one of the wealthiest as well chief of them.  Once they snatched most of the wealth of the area and kept it in a place, aloof from any usage, and were hidden in darker caves. Even reaching  to this place was impossible.

Indra the king of divine abode, wished to utilize this captured wealth by Pani for betterment of society and use it for purpose of agricultural usage. For this purpose he wanted one of the loyal, focused representatives and one who would advocate the purpose of his vision. After a keen analysis he found Sarma one who was equated as mother of Dogs, most appropriate to go and visit Pani and get the wealth from them, in case of difficult situation she should advocate strengths of Indra and his kingdom, his purpose and his pure attitude for society.

As per Indra’s instruction Sarma proceeded ahead for her mission. Way to reach Panis was not simple and joyful, as their abode was in darkness. When she reached crossing sea, rivers, mountains and the long journey, Pani were amazed and asked how did she made her way to reach them? As it was not possible to cross many hindrances.

Sarma replied “I am Doot (representative or envoy) of Indra. Yes I was afraid of water, however my mission took over that fear, and with this courage I have crossed sea and rivers and here I come to collect information from you, inform mission of Indra and to explain you the rightful things”

Pani replied with sarcasm “Oh how is that Indra? What his strength? What courage he carries? We are happy to be friendly with him and will make him chief of one of our cattle section”

Sarma the loyal representative of Indra’s kingdom informs “Indra has great strength, no one can win over him, and he can win over”

Pani subtly replies “Oh Sarma! The most beautiful one! You travelled so far and reached to an impossible destination, which is why we are happy. We grant you few cattle and you can happily take them for yourself. Use it for your personal benefits and as you know without war how one will be able to give such cattle. You can take a few of them, and be ours.”

The strongest reply of Sarma indicates many qualities. Qualities like being faithful, non judgmental, truthful, candid and goal oriented. Her reply was “Oh Pani! Your language is not of a warrior or soldier, you are bribing me, it shows your ill mentality, and it also reflects how you would be treating your own people. I order you to come ahead and negotiate with me for betterment of society or else we have enough strength to attack you”

Pani informs Sarma about how it is impossible to reach to the wealth hidden by them as it was kept secretly and tactfully. They also say “Gods (Clan and people of Indra) have sent you because they are afraid of war, and thus they have sent a woman for negotiation” Panis now diplomatically change their attitude towards Sarma and say “We consider you as our sister, and be with us, enjoy the wealth and be part of our Kingdom, you are intelligent and we wish to have intelligent people like you with us”

Sarma without delay said “I am on my mission of negotiating with you and not to surrender you. Either we reach to a win- win situation or get ready to face serious consequences of not reaching to an understandable solution”

Even after her candid information Panis did not bother to go ahead with negotiations, Sarma then challenged them and strategically challenged to run away from that place. Sarma with the help of Brihaspati, Som, Somabhishavkarta, Rishis and intelligent dogs, wins over Panis and the wealth was then used for Indra’s vision.

This small story and dialogue unfolds many attributes. Many of them are still prevailing in modern society.

According to me Indra was intelligent to use his manpower for appropriate work. He chose Sarma (mother of Dogs) over many other male colleagues like Brihaspati, Soma, Aditya and so many. Sarma was called as mother of dogs because of qualities she and her team possessed. Dogs are considered and loyal, intelligent, they can find path with intelligent usage of their senses, and they are courageous, faithful towards house / master / organization & so many.

Even though Pani played many tactics such as initially calling her as beautiful lady, later sister and then strength- less women and bribed her at each state, Sarma was focused and did not bother about her personal benefits. She did not give up and accomplished her mission.

It is important to select appropriate resource no matter which diverse background you come from. Gender, sexuality, clan, or class doesn’t matter when it’s a work towards specific work, what matters is inclusion of these varied background resources which gets you unbelievable results.

Such inclusion and representation of resources at various stages is beneficial for bringing the advocacy mindset among employees. If the employee is advocating your organization, to outside world, customers and even with competitors, it is one of the indicators of engaged employees with the organization, its vision and its mission.

Picture Courtesy: Representative Not of Sarma :: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chola_art





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