When I was a kid, my grandfather used to tell me stories from Hindu Myth and say “dEvarann nOD kalthko” (look at the gods and learn). Here is what I have chosen to learn.
The Ganesha Principle
Vyaasa was looking for a scribe to write the Mahabharata, and hearing about it’s length nobody wanted to do the task. Finally the sage approached Ganesha, who immediately agreed, but upon one condition. “I need a continuous supply of dictation”, he demanded, “else your book will remain incomplete forever”. Vyaasa put a counter-condition that Ganesha understand every word he writes, and thus the deal was stuck. Thankfully both parties lived up to their contracts, which is why the great indian epic exists today.
Ravana was taking the Atmalinga from Kailasa to Colombo when he saw the sun setting. Being deeply religious, he needed to do his Sandhyaavandane before which he needed to have his bath. Now, the property of the Atmalinga is that once it is kept on the ground, it stays fixed forever. Ravana thus had the problem of finding someone reliable to do the job for him. Once again, our hero surfaces at the right time disguised as a Brahmin boy, and by the time Ravana has had his bath, the Atmalinga is on the ground and fixed forever (this is supposed to have happened at Gokarna, Srirangam and some temple in Bihar).
The Hanuman Principle
Only one story here, and I’ll keep it short. Hanuman was asked to bring the Sanjeevini herb which grew on a particular mountain in the Himalayas in order to cure Lakshmana during the Battle of Colombo. The god he is, he decides that it is less effort to carry the whole mountain back than to search for the herb. So he carries the whole mountain to Sri Lanka.
The chief learning from Ganesha has been aptly summarized by Magnus Magnusson (or whoever is the Mastermind guy) – “I’ve started so I’ll finish”. Any job I do, any task I have to do, I like to do it at a stretch. Initially I thought this was restricted to programming (I still have to write all my programs in a single session), but of late I have figured out that it extends to all work I do. I face an inordinately long startup time after every break in work, and the only solution I find is to do what Ganesha did – do each task start to finish in one sitting.
Then there have been a number of blogposts, programs, essays and projects which I, for some reason put on hold for a while. They have been on hold ever since. Also, when I figure out that something I have started helping out on might have some malicious intent, I immediately put it down and fix it to the ground – thus ensuring that the malicious intent is “grounded”.
As for Hanuman, I have figured out during the last two months (of this job) that it sometimes takes less effort to do more than what is actually asked for! Especially when I have been working with tools like SQL, when my boss asks me to provide data for say 2-3 groups, I find it easier to pull out the data for all groups of items! And do it. Yeah, the boss does have the task of finding the “herb”, but they now have many more herbs, which they would have asked me to fetch anyways.
Unfortunately, I figured out that these two principles didn’t work out too well at my first job. I hope to figure out what kind of job will actually allow me to successfully apply these only learnings of mine from the Gods soon enough!