Who Wins the War: The Archer or the Bow?


Devdutt Pattanaik, acclaimed author, mythologist and leadership coach speaks about the human touch of technology and how organizations can help bring more balance between mind, skills and technology.


How to use technology in today’s world? Are we   building great technology but mediocre people? How   can great technology make people better? These are   some of the pressing questions of how technology is   affecting people today.

The Technology Question

Across all sorts of fields, we see technology being used to replace the mind by creating uniformity of action through systems and processes.

This begets the question, are we only creating an illusion of collaboration and conversation?

Look at the story of Prometheus and Epimetheus, who are referred to as Bhrigu and Brihaspati in Hindu philosophy. While one fears the lessons of the past, the other fears the future. Organizations make similar mistakes with technology today. They are either afraid of repeating mistakes or unsure of what to do next.


The Trilogy of Mantra, Tantra and Yantra

Mythology shows us the way to how organizations can bring more balance to the use of technology, through Mantra, Tantra and Yantra. Mantra refers to the mind or in an organizational context, the person who thinks. Tantra refers to the body or the skills that labour brings. And lastly, Yantra is technology.

Every organization needs all three to function well. On its own, technology can’t function. It needs to be checked and aligned to your needs from time to time. Hence mantra or mind must check on tantra and yantra. This balance is needed at work as in life.


The Bow or the Archer?

As the bow and archer need to work in tandem to win a war (one can’t function without the other) so does technology need people. Technology continuously gets redundant as it is changing so rapidly, so it can’t function without people checking it and aligning it back to the need of the hour. Organizations must learn this.

Take the example of Arjun, who had the yantra (bow and arrow) and tantra (warrior skill) and yet froze in battle because his mind was not aligned. Hence, we do need technology, but nothing would work without the minds of the people behind it.

Ultimately, technology is meant to make us better, not invalidate us or breed mediocrity. The human side of technology must come to the forefront. As we move forward, we will have to abandon the technology we know. And adapt others that might be below us, but which we will need to survive.

When hiding in Virata’s court, Arjun the Archer needed to learn to become Arjun the Dancer. That’s the learning of the Shastras – reskill to survive.

Devdutt Pattanaik


Devdutt Pattanaik writes on mythology which he defines as cultural truths revealed through stories, symbols and rituals. He lectures on the relevance of both Indian and Western myths in modern life. In the last 25 years, he has authored and illustrated over 50 books, including Book of Ram and Yoga Mythology. Known for his TED talk and his TV shows such as Devlok and Business Sutra, he is a regular columnist for reputed newspapers like Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar.A medical doctor by training, He spent 15 years working in the pharma and healthcare industry. However, over the past decade has been fully immersed in exploring mythology and sharing its wisdom with the world.

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