Yesterday, Facebook reminded me that it has been over six years since I started my journey of exploring the world of archetypes in Mahabharata for myself and bringing it into my coaching practice. This nostalgic picture that popped up on my timeline brought back memories of the sense of excitement that I had when I was part of this brilliant cohort organised by the TAO Leadership Academy in 2017.
2017 was a threshold year for me in many ways. At that point, I was managing learning and teaching yoga for two years since 2015 along with my work at Accenture and later Amazon. I was also designing and leading online digital marketing training for Digital Vidya team on weekends. I began the new year by quitting my role at Amazon India and founding Yōgaśāla. I had just graduated from the two-year Yoga Acharya program by YogaVahini Foundation under the guidance of Smt. Saraswathi Vasudevan and other senior mentors.
I began my journey into the world of Mahabharata archetypes with the third edition of Mahabharata Immersion at Ritambhara Ashram in Kotagiri. The immersion was designed and anchored by Raghu Ananthanarayanan, along with Sashikala ananth and Anuradha Ramesh.
When I joined the immersion, I was holding doubts and fears about my decision to leave the money and fame of the corporate world to craft a new path with a heart, following my intuition. I was still getting offers from many companies to get back to the trodden path. As I learned to look at myself and more importantly the different voices and fears within me, I felt something shift in me. The lens of Mahabharata archetypes gave me a language to articulate who am I, where am I, and why I am here. It helped me ask myself the all-important Arjuna question, “In Doing What I Am Doing, What Am I Really Doing?”
This is what inspired me to take the steps to be part of the coaching program offered by TAO Leadership Academy to get trained in working with the lens of Mahabharata Archetypes for myself and others in a coaching context.
It has been extremely insightful for me to work with the ‘Pandava Mandala’ or the inter-play of the heroic archetypes in Mahabharata within me over the past six years. I could see that while I was making my transition from being an employee to a solopreneur in 2017, my aspiration to significantly nurture my Bheema propensity, i.e, to invest more energy in anchoring my actions in my own passion. I could also see that coming from a strong streak of mentoring and counseling others in various capacities, I was feeling a need to significantly lower my entrenchment in the Nakula propensity, i.e, as I was experiencing the world as largely self-centred and I was feeling a need to be more like others in my world in this aspect. This is captured in the SC (who I am today), SI (who I wish to be), and OP (how I see others are) scores shared below when I took the test in 2017.
A year ago, I re-took the Pandava Mandala test and found how much my journey has transformed me in these years. My Bheema propensity score has significantly increased during this time. This is very relatable to me considering the volume of projects I have worked on in this span of time. I established Yōgaśāla as a space for personalised yoga teaching, designed some unique flagship programs such as Rāga Yoga, Pursuit in Happiness and Leela, and also curated over 15 retreats across India and abroad. From being a participant, I moved on to be a co-facilitator in Mahabharata Immersion Lab, Mahabharata Exploration Online, and Ramayana Exploration Online programs at Ritambhara. I also found a lot of joy and excitement in initiating, anchoring, and leading multiple projects across Yoga, Itihāsa – Purāṇa, and Decolonisation verticals at Ritambhara with my mentors, friends and peers.
This period also involved a lot of learning, unlearning, and re-learning for myself in different fields as reflected in my Sahadeva score and the aspiration I hold viz-a-viz this propensity. I completed my international certification in yoga therapy, got certified as a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and interactive theatre facilitator, completed my training in Transformational Coaching (ICF/EMCC) with Transcend International and Existential Universe Mapper (EUM) with @Reflexive Lens Consulting, and started my internship journey in process work with SUMEDHAS ACADEMY FOR HUMAN CONTEXT.
This period also saw me ask more fundamental questions about myself, my path, the kind of work I wish to invest in, and the kind of communities I wish to nurture in the long term. I took the critical decision to pivot my work into the leadership and organisational development space and registered Zensei Leadership Pvt. Ltd. to consolidate and take forward my passion for working with leaders and reimagine the future of work and career for professionals and teams.
Today, as I look back at some of the drawings from six years back, I am able to sense how some of the seeds of transformation of my inner voices have started unfolding and blossoming in different life spaces. I’m grateful to all the mentors, co-travellers, and friends I have met on this journey and to the many more that I am yet to meet on this path. 🙂
P.S: If you are new to this lens/framework, and are curious to explore your own leadership propensities through the lens of Mahabharata archetypes, feel free to reach out to me to set up a call to know more about how we use it in a coaching engagement.