Was lack of Constructive Feedback a factor in Shishupala’s death?

feedbackThe mythological story goes thus – A relatively minor character in the Mahabharata, Shishupala was born with three eyes and four arms and an accompanying heavenly prophesy foretelling that he would lose his additional arms & eyes when placed on the lap of his future slayer. His parents invited all kings of the world to Chedi and placed the child on their laps, but nothing happened. Finally, Shishupala’s cousins, Krishna and his brother Balarama came to visit. Shishupala’s extra arms and eyes fell off as soon as he was placed on Krishna’s lap. Realizing that her son would be killed by his own cousin brother, the terrified mother secured a boon from Krishna that he would pardon a 100 offences of Shishupala even when he deserved to be killed. Shishupala’s parents, in an attempt to provide him security, then placed him under the care of Krishna’s sworn enemy, the powerful Jarasandha. As he grew up Shishupala found a way to commit a 100 offences, the last one being at Yudhistra’s Rajasuya yagna and finally Krishna killed him.

All very well! But, was constructive feedback ever given to Shishupala?

On the one hand he had his well-wishers – his parents, his mentor Jarasandha and his close friend, Rukmi, the brother of Rukmini who hated Krishna and on the other end of the spectrum were his perceived enemies – Krishna and Balarama. His parents tried to protect him by pushing him into the arms of a person with his own personal agenda against Krishna and who naturally groomed him with similar views. His friends kept telling him that he was on the right track whenever he committed an offense in the eyes of Krishna. And Krishna too, just let him off after each offence, without taking the effort to make Shishupala understand what was wrong and what he could have done better. This was very much contrary to the amount of time and effort he had invested in Arjuna in the great war to shape his thought process. So, appears like a combination of lop-sided feedback – all positive from friends and all negative from adversaries contributed to Shishupala’s death.
This is very much the corporate scenario today. Well-meaning feedback mechanisms have been instituted by organizations to help employees improve their performance and eventually contribute to the organization’s holistic growth. But, it often translates into a forum skewed by bias extremities leading to either flowery comments or petty personal attacks and eventually provides little opportunity for growth and education in their roles as against the original objective of the whole process. Hence, it’s very important that feedback needs to be constructive and corrective rather than simply positive or negative. Every person in the system has a responsibility towards the other in ensuring that he has a clear picture of his performance from the inside out, to help create a culture of positive reinforcement. Finally, it’s essential that that this process should be consistent, continuous and actionable.

So, probably Shishupala would have lived longer and been an effective king, had he received timely Constructive Feedback.

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6 thoughts on “Was lack of Constructive Feedback a factor in Shishupala’s death?

  1. If I was the father, I would have placed Shishupala under the protection of Krishna himself. Foolish Father!!!

    Shishupala is one of the Dwar Rakshaka of Vishnu Loka. His name is Jai.
    When cursed by the Kumaras tat Jai, Bijay would be cast onto this earth, Vishnu asked them- Chose either of the two-
    1. You will live very pious lives for 7 births in bhuloka and come back to me.
    2. You will take 3 incarnations as my bitter enemy, and come back to me.

    The dwarpals were in no doubt that 3 lives were better than 7, so that they could come back early, and hence they were born as-
    1.Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha in the Krita Yuga, killed by Varaha Avatar
    2.Ravana and Kumbhakarna and were killed by Vishnu who descended as Rama in the Treta Yuga.
    3.Shishupala and Dantavakra who were killed by Vishnu who descended as Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga

    Given that I have started having severe allergies at the mere mention of the word “manager” or anything allied to it, I shall rather look at these stories to understand-
    1. How an enemy is born
    2. What are the dynamics of enmity
    3. At what point does enmity reaches a point of no return ( even though the sole purpose of Shishupala was to reach a point of return- to Krishna, as quickly as possible)

    P.S- I suspect the writer had an encounter with the HR very recently. (Hee Hee).

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  2. I knew the behind the scenes story, Sudipto but that was not relevant to the current context,..And your point on how the Dynamics are created in the first place are inputs for another post 😃

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  3. I doubt if any feedback would have made difference to his who and thought process. He was destined to be slain by the Lord and in the process stained moksha. Just like Ravana attained moksha after being slain by the Lord. Ignorance and ego( ahankaar) are more ancient than we can imagine. By the way, please don’t refer to the characters of the Mahabharata as mythological. It was our ancient history.

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    1. I disagree with your first point regarding Sisupala being destined to die at Krishna’s hands and hence not worthy of feedback. It’s almost as if he was set up for failure right at the onset and those associated with him cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility of trying point him in the right direction. If that attempt has been done and then he still is not able to take it in the right spirit, it’s another matter. But I don’t think the attempt was done there.
      Secondly, whether the Mahabharata was mythology or history is a matter of personal interpretation and calling it out as either does not take away anything from it’s essence, with which I think most are in agreement with

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  4. Very interesting stuff. All the way everyone is almost forced impressed that Shishupal was destined to have that outcome. Going back and recollecting, the reality is no one bothered to go beyond positive or negative expletives for Shishupal. Some constructive feedback was desired.
    In practical world its almost a wish to have constructive feedback. Each system is pleagued with some gaps. And the glaring gap across the board is what this write up points to.

    In some cases constructive feedback could be construed (through their acts) as waste of energies and time.

    Somehow I loved this comparison.

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