ROI in storytelling

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ROI in storytelling

ROI is generally defined as ‘Return on Investment’ and almost always concerns ideas of business and finance. Let me put a slant on this for you – have you ever wondered about how much ‘return’ you would get if you invested in acquiring knowledge from storytelling? Imagine having a wealth of stories to give examples when you are tying to explain something complicated? Imagine reading about the past and in the process get inspired to find new ideas? Stories from all over the world are full of intrigue, suspense, espionage and pure entertainment.

Let me introduce to you 7 stories from two ancient epics that portray love, rules of war, polygamy and polyandry, ‘upstairs, downstairs’, good parenting, gambling and all its ill effects and the real return on investment.

Story Number 1 – Love

In the Indian epic, The Ramayana, Prince Rama is sent into exile for 13 years. His devoted wife, Sita joins him there. However, bad luck befalls them and Sita is abducted by the King of Lanka, Ravana. Now, Prince Rama goes in hot pursuit of his wife and enlists the help of the monkey race. Together, they defeat Ravana, and Sita is rescued.

Story Number 2 – Rules of War

Today, there is much talk of war – war in Iraq, civil way in many African nations and even small factions in Russia, terrorist attacks in many parts of Asia. Ever wondered what the rules of war are?

In the Indian epic, The Mahabharat, there was a great war fought at Kurukshetra. Prior to battle commencing, the rules of warfare were laid out as follows:

  • Each day the battle was over at sunset, and the hostiles mixed freely like friends.
  • Single combats might only be between equals and one could not use methods not in accordance with dharma (concept of duty). Thus those who left the field or retired would not be attacked.
  • A horseman could attack only a horseman, not one on foot.
  • Likewise, charioteers, elephant troops and infantrymen could engage themselves in battle only with their opposite numbers in the enemy ranks.
  • Those who sought quarter or surrendered were safe from slaughter.
  • Nor might one, for the moment disengaged, direct his weapons against another who was engaged in combat.
  • It was wrong to slay one who had been disarmed or whose attention was directed elsewhere or who was retreating or who had lost his armour.
  • No shafts were to be directed against non-combatant attendants or those engaged in blowing conchs or beating drums.

Story 3 – Polygamy and polyandry

Polygamy is the practice of having more than one wife. Polyandry is the practice of having more than one husband. Now in The Mahabharat, the two main female characters were both Queens – the first was Queen Kunti and the second was here daughter-in-law. Kunti was one of the two wives of King Pandu. Nothing very surprising about this. But her daughter-in-law, Draupadi, was the wife of all of Kunti’s five sons!

Story Number 4 – Upstairs, Downstairs

The caste system has its origins with the Aryan people. They were nomadic warriors how began to settle in India on or about 1500BC.

The Aryans divided their society into separate castes. Castes were unchanging groups. A person born into one caste never changed castes or mixed with members of other castes. Caste members lived, ate, married, and worked with their own group.

At the top of the caste system were the Brahmin – the priests, teachers, and judges. Next came the warrior Kshatriya caste who were mainly the nobility and ruling classes. The Vaisya’s consisted of farmers and merchants and the Sudras, was composed of craftworkers and labourers.

Is this so very different from the difference aristocracy and the working class? What about the upper middle class and the lower classes?

Story Number 5 – Good Parenting

In the Mahabharat, the great war is between two factions a ruling family. The father of the ‘baddie’ is a blind King. Throughout the epic, the blind King is constantly counseled by his advisors that he should discipline his son. Unable to do so, the blind King gives in to every wish of his child. This weakness on his part eventually leads to the destruction of his entire family!

Story Number 6 – Gambling and its ill effects

In the Mahabharat, Yudhisthira, is bound by the code of Kings to play a game of dice when invited to do so. Unfortunately, not at all adept at it, he loses. But what he stakes over and over again are not only his personal possessions but eventually members of his family including his wife, brothers and eventually his kingdom! He loses it all.

Story Number 7 – Real Return on Investment!

The apostle Paul in Galatians says: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6,7). This is very simply, a reward for anything at all can only be reaped if effort is put in. In Indian mythology, this is, in very general and simple terms, the concept of karma!


Aneeta Sundararaj is a published author and established writer for magazines, newspapers and journals. She created, developed and manages this website.


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