Ek Karta Dus Avatar: 10 Facets of Leadership from Indian Mythology

1 Sep 2023. Upasana Singh


In the grand tapestry of Indian mythology, Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, has taken on ten different avatars or incarnations, each embodying distinct characteristics and purposes. These avatars, collectively known as the Dasavatara, serve as a rich source of wisdom, not only in spiritual and moral contexts but also in the realm of leadership. In this blog, we will explore “Ek Karta Dus Avatar,” where leadership is viewed through the lens of these ten facets, drawing parallels to modern leadership and providing real-life examples.

Matsya Avatar (Guidance):

In Matsya Avatar, Vishnu guided Manu’s boat to safety during a catastrophic deluge.  Matsya Avatar symbolizes guidance through challenging waters. In modern leadership, this means providing direction during turbulent times. A leader should offer a clear vision, strategy, and mentorship to navigate uncertainties.

Relevance to Leadership: A great leader guides their team through turbulent times, providing a clear path and unwavering support. In an era of rapid change and uncertainty, leaders must guide their teams with clarity, empathy, and adaptability. Effective leaders act as beacons, showing the way forward while providing a sense of security.

Real-Life Example: Steve Jobs, who guided Apple through turbulent waters and transformed it into a tech giant.  Tim Cook’s guidance as Apple’s CEO has steered the company through market shifts, emphasizing innovation, sustainability, and customer-centricity.

Kurma Avatar (Support):

Kurma Avatar upheld Mount Mandara during the churning of the ocean. Kurma Avatar represents the strength to support. Modern leaders must provide unwavering support to their teams, just as Kurma upheld Mount Mandara. This involves nurturing a resilient and cohesive workforce.

Relevance to Leadership: Leadership isn’t just about giving orders but also about standing by your team, sharing their burdens, and fostering a culture of mutual support. Great leaders are pillars of strength. Leaders support their teams, bearing the weight of challenges and fostering a resilient and united workforce.

Real-Life Example: Sheryl Sandberg, who provided unwavering support as COO at Facebook, helping the company navigate challenges.

Varaha Avatar (Rescue): Varaha Avatar signifies the courage to rescue. Modern leaders should be willing to take bold actions to rescue their organizations from crises or pitfalls. This involves making tough decisions and taking calculated risks.

Vishnu took the form of a boar to rescue the Earth from the depths of cosmic waters.

Relevance to Leadership: A leader should be willing to take bold actions to rescue their organization from crises or threats. Leaders should have the resolve and decisiveness to confront and overcome challenges. Their ability to rescue their organization from adversity defines their leadership.

Real-Life Example: Winston Churchill, who led Britain through the darkest days of World War II.

Narasimha Avatar (Ruthlessness to Enemies):

Narasimha Avatar displayed ferocity in defeating the demon king Hiranyakashipu. Narasimha Avatar showcases assertiveness against adversaries. In modern leadership, this means protecting your organization’s interests, even if it requires tough actions.

Relevance to Leadership: Leaders must be assertive when confronting adversaries, protecting their organization’s interests.  Leaders must assertively defend their team and organization, ensuring that external threats or internal issues do not compromise their mission or values.

Real-Life Example: Indira Gandhi, who displayed strength in decisive actions during her tenure as India’s Prime Minister.

Vamana Avatar (Compassion):

Vamana Avatar demonstrated humility and compassion when dealing with the benevolent demon king Bali. Vamana Avatar exemplifies humility and compassion. In modern leadership, compassion creates a positive and empathetic work environment, fostering trust and loyalty.

Relevance to Leadership: Compassion in leadership fosters trust, empathy, and a nurturing environment. Compassionate leaders understand their team’s needs and feelings. This enhances motivation, creativity, and collaboration within the organization.

Real-Life Example: Mahatma Gandhi, whose compassion and non-violent approach led India to independence.

Parasurama Avatar (Revenge or Vengeance):

Parasurama Avatar wielded an axe to avenge injustices against the Brahmins. Parasurama Avatar represents seeking justice. While leaders should not seek vengeance, they must address past wrongs to maintain integrity and justice within the organization.

Relevance to Leadership: While revenge may not be ideal, leaders must address past wrongs to maintain integrity and justice. Leaders must ensure fairness, rectify injustices, and promote a culture where everyone is treated equitably.

Real-Life Example: Nelson Mandela, who sought justice and reconciliation after years of apartheid in South Africa.

Rama Avatar (Being Just and Adhering to Rules):

Rama Avatar upheld righteousness and the rule of law during his quest to rescue Sita. Rama Avatar epitomizes adherence to principles and justice. Modern leaders should uphold ethical standards and follow rules, setting an example for their teams and organizations.

Relevance to Leadership: Leaders must set an example by adhering to ethical principles and upholding justice. Leaders who prioritize ethics and integrity create a culture of trust and reliability, which is essential for sustainable success.

Real-Life Example: Abraham Lincoln, who led the United States through the Civil War, emphasizing the importance of justice and unity.

Balarama Avatar (Being a Companion):

Balarama Avatar was Lord Krishna’s devoted companion and unwavering support. Balarama Avatar represents unwavering companionship. Modern leaders should be approachable, supportive, and build strong relationships with their teams, fostering a sense of belonging.

Relevance to Leadership: Great leaders are approachable and supportive, building strong relationships with their teams. Effective leaders understand the importance of building a collaborative and cohesive team, where everyone feels valued and supported.

Real-Life Example: Tim Cook, who, as Apple’s CEO, continues to be a loyal companion to the late Steve Jobs’ vision.

Krishna Avatar (Playfulness):

Krishna’s playful nature and mischievous antics endeared him to all. Krishna Avatar embodies playfulness and spontaneity. In modern leadership, incorporating humour and playfulness can create a positive work atmosphere, reducing stress and enhancing creativity.

Relevance to Leadership: Leaders can use humour and playfulness to foster creativity, reduce stress, and build rapport.  Leaders who encourage a playful and innovative environment often find that their teams are more engaged, motivated, and productive.

Real-Life Example: Richard Branson, known for his playful approach to leadership at Virgin Group.

Kalki Avatar (Expectations):

Kalki Avatar, yet to appear, is expected to bring balance and renewal to the world. Kalki Avatar, yet to appear, is expected to bring balance and renewal to the world. In modern leadership, this relates to the leader’s vision for the future and their ability to inspire and set high expectations.

Relevance to Leadership: Leaders should envision a better future and work toward it, maintaining high expectations. Visionary leaders envision a better future and motivate their teams to achieve extraordinary goals, driving innovation and progress.

Real-Life Example: Elon Musk, whose visionary leadership in companies like SpaceX and Tesla embodies the expectation of a brighter future.


“Ek Karta Dus Avatar” unveils the multifaceted nature of leadership through the lens of the Dasavatara. Each facet offers valuable insights into the qualities and responsibilities of a leader. By drawing parallels to these ancient avatars and real-life leaders, we can gain a deeper understanding of effective leadership in the modern world. Just as Lord Vishnu adapts to the needs of the universe in his various avatars, a successful leader must adapt to the demands of their organization and inspire those around them to achieve greatness.

The Dasavatara, with its diverse avatars, offers profound insights into the multifaceted nature of modern leadership. These ancient archetypes provide valuable lessons on guiding teams through challenges, fostering support and compassion, and making assertive decisions when necessary. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of adhering to principles, building companionship, infusing playfulness, and setting high expectations for the future. By drawing parallels between these timeless avatars and modern leadership, we can better understand and practice effective leadership in today’s dynamic world.