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Can marketing and Indian mythology be related? I asked myself over and over again. So, I did a little test and thought would share it here. I took up some theories of marketing and tried applying Indian mythology to it. I have only taken some characters from the Mahabharata for my study and tried to connect their personalities with a business or a management perspective as it would be simpler to connect them.

The 2 theories I used are Maslow’s model of hierarchy and the ERG theory. Let me explain Maslow’s model briefly.

Maslow believed that there are 5 basic stages that a human being needs to undergo to achieve what he termed ‘self-actualisation’. It is a stage where a person is satisfied and happy with the way things are around him. If a person has reached that stage, then he/she is happy and enjoys a state of bliss for long periods of time. The first 3 stages of the pyramid are deficiency needs while the 4th and 5th stage are growth needs.

The first stage is physiological stage. This is a state where a person hasn’t got the basic requirements that is food, water, shelter and sex. This is the most basic stage. If these needs are fulfilled then he goes on to the security needs. This safety and security needs include stability, security from the environment, freedom of anxiety and job security. The next stage is that of love and social needs. This is a stage where a person needs to feel loved, secured and wants to be socially accepted. It includes wanting to be respected, understood and is quite crucial in a job environment.

The 4th stage is esteem needs. This is a stage where a person wants to have a feeling of self worth and self-respect. People want achievement, power, prestige, status and power during this time. The final stage as I mentioned previously is the self actualisation stage.

The ERG theory is very similar to Maslow’s except for the fact that it puts the first two stages together and calls it the existence need. These are the needs that are required for the existence of a person. The 3rd stage along with a lower level of self-esteem make the relatedness need. People have a need to relate to each other and also have personal relationships. An advanced level of self-esteem along with self actualisation makes the growth needs. They are the growth and development needs that that will help a person reach his/her full potential.

Now if that’s clear, I will get to the fun part. Here is my list of randomly selected characters from the Mahabharata and where they stand according to the theories I mentioned above:

Draupadi– In my opinion she is stuck at her esteem needs. She would have been self-actualised had she given up on her idea of revenge. She had the urge to win back respect and the esteem that she had lost as the daughter-in-law of the Kuru clan. She was unable to let go of that.  According to the ERG theory, I would place her to have a need to be related to.

Bhima– Bhima was the second Pandava, he was considered a glutton. He had the constant urge to satisfy his hunger. He never seemed to be satisfied with little food. So, I think he was still stuck at the first stage. His basic needs were not getting fulfilled during his time in the forest (vanvasa). Bhima definitely had existence needs according to EGR theory.

Duryodhana– Duryodhana never felt secure. He thought that the throne should be rightfully his, but his security which was his home was going to be taken over by Yudhishtira. The only reason he waged a war was for the security of his throne.  Duryodhana was stuck at the safety and security needs, or the second level on Maslow’s pyramid. He also had the existence need according to the ERG theory. He felt his existence was in danger if Yudhishtira was alive.

Karna– Karna was a man who was looking for answers and he always wished to be respected by his peers. He wanted to be considered an equal because of his merit and not because he was a charioteer’s son.  He was ridiculed when he tried proving the same. The only person who gave him respect was Duryodhana. Karna would fall in the social needs category of Maslow’s hierarchy. With respect to the ERG theory, he would come under the relatedness need.

Krishna– The all-knowing, cool, calm and composed avatar of Vishnu knew what true happiness was. He was self-actualised and was in a state of spiritual joy that came from knowledge and using it right. He was a strategist of the genius category along with being a cool headed mastermind. He is on the final stage on Maslow’s pyramid and also comes under growth in the ERG theory.

Can you think of any other character who would fall under any of these categories? If yes, feel free to comment.