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The Elements Of Leadership:
Compassion

T. SHER SINGH

 

 

 

 

 

There can be no claims to leadership without the necessary ingredient of compassion. Just as there can be no leader without those who are to be led.

Thus, the leader must, by definition, feel and exercise compassion in his dealings with those he leads. There needs to be an inherent empathy for and an understanding of those who give him the mandate to lead.

Here’s a story which illustrates the point.

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Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 19th Century Emperor of Punjab, was riding through his capital city of Lahore one day, accompanied by the royal guard. As they rode through a street bordered by a tall 15 ft wall on one side, a stone came flying over the wall and struck Ranjit Singh on his forehead.

Seeing the blood streaming down his face, the guards, also on horseback, immediately circled him to shield him from a further attack, while a number of them raced to the end of the street to check the source of the missile from the other side of the wall.

They returned within minutes with two prisoners, both obviously no more than ten or eleven years of age. They were plunked before the Maharaja and immediately questioned the reason behind the outrage.

“Why were you lobbing stones at His Highness?” demanded the soldier holding on to the two by the scruffs of their necks. “Who has asked you to do this?”

Terrified at the sight of the bloodied Maharaja towering before them, one of them stammered a reply: “No one, Sire, we were alone.”

“Then why ….?

“We were playing and had no idea what was happening on the other side of the wall.”

“And the stone …?   

The other boy piped up: “We were throwing stones at the tree to bring down some berries. We beg your forgiveness, Sir. One of our stones must have gone over the wall and … We swear we did not mean to ….”

The soldier shoved the two towards the guards standing behind him, saying: “Go whip them eight lashes each and then throw them into prison. This will teach them and other urchins to be more careful!”

“Wait!” roared the Maharaja. “Release them! They deserve no punishment.”

“But, but …” the soldier protested.

“And bring me two platters of gold coins and give each of them one before you let them go,” ordered the Maharaja.

There was a collective gasp from the guards. “But why, Sire? They are the culprits for sure … they confessed.”

“Well,” said the Maharaja, “can't you see, they are but children at play? Throwing stones at a mere tree rewards them with berries. It feeds them and satiates their hunger. And I, one who rules this land in the name of these people, the Master of all territories this side of the Sutlej, am I to be less than the tree?”

He looked down at the boys and smiled.

“If the tree gives you berries, surely I, the Emperor of Punjab, can do better. This time you were lucky to have struck a Maharaja. I can do better than give you just berries! Go home and be hungry no more.”



January 18, 2018


 
 

Conversation about this article

1: R Singh (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), January 18, 2018, 4:23 PM.

During his reign no one was given a sentence of death. Death sentences were abolished by him.

2: Baldev Singh  (Bradford, United Kingdom ), January 25, 2018, 8:56 PM.

This undefeated Sikh emperor whom the British, whilst ruling the rest of the subcontinent and having the largest empire in the world, couldn't defeat, officially honoured my forefather! His kindness extended to the kindness of my forefather who manned a watering spot near the Grand Trunk Road close to Lahore where he watered and rested the horses of the Khalsa armies who passed whilst fighting the Mughal empire! Great man, soul and human being ...

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Compassion"









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