Five Qualities Of The Ideal Minister

[Shri Hanuman]“O sinless one, certainly, how can any king accomplish his objectives if he doesn’t have such a messenger working for him?” (Shri Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.34)

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एवं विधो यस्य दूतो न भवेत्पार्थिवस्य तु।
सिद्ध्यन्ति हि कथं तस्य कार्याणां गतियोऽनघ

evaṃ vidho yasya dūto na bhavetpārthivasya tu।
siddhyanti hi kathaṃ tasya kāryāṇāṃ gatiyo’nagha

1. Someone you can trust

This goes without saying, but you don’t want your minister to jump ship and work for the other side. In real estate transactions, there is something known as the buyer’s agent. They are supposed to work on your behalf for getting the best deal on the purchase of property.

Often times the agent for the buyer knows the agent for the seller very well. This can happen in a region where one particular real estate company has the market cornered, for both buying and selling. In the background, not known to anyone, the two agents work together to make sure a sale takes place. This is how they will get paid, after all. The buyer’s agent essentially has competing interests, especially if you are not really interested in a particular property.

[home for sale]Trust is even more important in a minister since the affairs of the state are at stake. War and peace. Chaos and order. Famine and prosperity. The paired conditions can arise at any time, especially with the slightest misstep in diplomatic affairs. You need someone representing your interests who will not turn their back on you.

2. Someone who uses their intelligence

You assign a specific task to a minister. There are explicit instructions. Such and such should be accomplished first. Then do this. Return with information so that the entire team of advisors can be briefed.

You still require a high level of intelligence. Otherwise, a robot could deliver a message. A tape recorder could return with the response of the other side. Human interaction involves give and take, question and answer. The minister should be able to apply intelligence in order to further the interests of the state.

3. Someone with ability

Any other outstanding abilities can only help the situation. If the minister knows how to speak several languages, for example. If they are deft at the art of persuasion. If they do not easily get discouraged. If they can read the situation and adjust accordingly. If they know when to speak and when to remain silent. If they know the strengths and weaknesses of the other side. These abilities are of great assistance to a leader.

4. Someone who doesn’t despair

There are competing interests. Your side wants something and the other side is looking for the exact opposite. If I ask for something, I am likely to be denied. That is why I have a representative working for me. They should not take the denial personally. In the best case, they should not even let me know about what went down. The final outcome is all that matters.

If the minister easily laments, then I have no hope. If they fall into despair at the slightest sign of adversity, how can I trust them to succeed? They should persevere. There is no great loss in failing if everything is attempted, but fear of failure cannot be the commanding force during the negotiations.

5. Someone who doesn’t seek personal glory

The minister is working for the leader, after all. They are not to seek fame and fortune for themselves. The pleasure of a job well done should be enough. Otherwise, the power goes to their head and there is lack of trust in the future. The desire for personal glory might also interfere with sober and rational thought, for achieving an outcome that is beneficial to the state.

Shri Hanuman meets all of these qualifications and more. From the Ramayana story we see that he begins as the minister for Sugriva, who is an exiled leader of the Vanara kingdom in Kishkindha. Hanuman is so loyal that he does not abandon Sugriva when the times are tough. He remains the go-to person, the one to trust.

Hanuman has a fateful meeting with Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana while in the forest. The order is from Sugriva to descend from Mount Rishyamukha and see what these two warrior-like men are doing in an area otherwise foreign to them.

The meeting goes so well that Rama remarks that every leader should have a minister like Hanuman. Rama is an avatara of the Supreme Lord, so this means that the person with the keenest discerning eye is able to immediately spot the splendid qualifications in Sugriva’s chief minister.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman transitions into the role of Rama’s minister seamlessly. He helps complete the transaction of an alliance between Sugriva and Rama, knowing that it will be beneficial to both parties. To this day he remains the gatekeeper to Shri Rama’s spiritual kingdom, and as a representative he acts in the best interests of that leader of men.

In Closing:

Not by failure discouraged,
Or by fame encouraged.

Looking for interests to meet,
To tolerate negotiation’s heat.

Intelligence and with eye discerning,
And careful not the bridges burning.

In Hanuman every qualification found,
In first meeting an impression profound.

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