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Qualities Of A Good Leader – Vidura Niti

Ancient Hindu thinkers gave a lot of importance to leaders and leadership. A bad leader means not merely a single bad person, but a bad fate for many. Vidura, the step-brother and learned minister of leader Dhritarashtra, has explained the most important qualities a leader should have, and has also spoken at length on leadership and administration. Vidura’s advice and utterances are known as ‘Vidura Niti’. The Vidura Niti is a small section of eight chapters (33 to 40) of the ‘Udyoga Parva’ of the great Indian epic Mahabharata.

Vidura prescribes the following values for a ruler to be a perfect leader: simplicity, purity, contentment, truthfulness, self-restraint, patience, honesty, charity, steadiness, humility, faith, exertion, forbearance, sweetness in speech, and good company.

  • A leader should wish for the prosperity of all and should never set his heart on the misery of his
  • subjects.
  • A leader should look after people who have fallen into adversity and who are in distress.
  • A leader should show kindness to all creatures.
  • A leader should never impede the growth and development of agriculture and economic activity
  • in his kingdom.
  • A leader should always do that which is for the good of all creatures.
  • A leader should always be ready to protect those dependent on him.
  • A virtuous leader is never indifferent to even the minutest suffering of his subjects.
  • A virtuous leader enlists the confidence of his devoted subordinates by zealously looking after their welfare.
  • A leader who renounces lust and anger, who bestows wealth upon proper recipients, and who is
  • discriminative, learned, and active is regarded as an authority by all men.
  • A leader who desires the highest success in all matters connected with worldly profit should, from the very beginning, practice virtue. Prosperity takes its birth in good deeds.

What a leader must avoid

  • The friendship of the sinful has to be avoided.
  • Misuse of wealth, harshness of speech, and extreme severity of punishment will ruin even firmly established leaders.
  • Evil-minded leaders, due to lack of sense-control, are destroyed by lust for expanding their territory.
  • A leader’s prosperity built on mere crookedness is destined to be destroyed.
  • A leader should never make a person his minister without examining him well. During examination, a leader should reject those who are ungrateful, shameless, who have wicked dispositions, and who don’t give others their due.