Dharma & Deception: Handling Cunning Adversaries

In the fast-paced and competitive landscape of today's world, dealing with cunning adversaries is a skill that can make or break your success. As the Shukracharya in Shukra Neeti suggests, strategic knowledge and, at times, even a touch of deceit can be powerful tools in your arsenal when facing those who don't always play by the rules. In this article, we will explore the practical utility of these age-old concepts in modern contexts, from the corporate boardroom to the political arena and even within the intricacies of personal relationships. Join us on a journey to uncover the strategies and tactics that can help you triumph over cunning adversaries while staying true to Dharma.


In the world of business, politics, and even in our personal lives, we often encounter individuals or entities who may not always operate with the best intentions. Dealing with cunning adversaries can be challenging, and success often depends on our ability to employ strategic knowledge and, at times, even engage in deceit without transgressing the precepts of Dharma. This concept is beautifully encapsulated in the following Vedic Sanskrit shloka from Shukra Neeti of Shukracharya:

सम्भ्रान्तिपूर्वकं विद्येत् विज्ञानं व्यवसायकम्।
मिथ्याचारैर्मिथ्याचारं शत्रोरुद्देश्यसेवनम्।।

This shloka suggests that one should employ strategic knowledge and engage in deceit when dealing with a cunning adversary, waiting for the right moment to strike. While this may seem controversial, there are practical utilities to this approach.

Understanding the Shloka

Let’s break down the shloka to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning:

  1. “सम्भ्रान्तिपूर्वकं विद्येत्” – This part emphasizes the importance of acquiring knowledge or information before taking action. In dealing with cunning adversaries, having relevant information about their intentions, strategies, and weaknesses is crucial.
  2. “विज्ञानं व्यवसायकम्” – Here, the shloka emphasizes that knowledge should be strategic or practical. It’s not just about knowing things but knowing how to use that knowledge effectively in a given situation.
  3. “मिथ्याचारैर्मिथ्याचारं” – This part suggests that sometimes, resorting to deceit or deceptive tactics may be necessary when dealing with adversaries who do the same.
  4. “शत्रोरुद्देश्यसेवनम्” – Finally, the shloka advises waiting for the right moment to strike or taking action against the adversary when they are vulnerable.

Practical Utility in Modern Contexts

  1. Competitive Business Environment: In the corporate world, companies often employ competitive strategies to gain an advantage. Understanding the market, competitors, and consumer behavior is a form of strategic knowledge. Using this knowledge to develop innovative marketing campaigns or product launches can be seen as a practical application. Similarly, engaging in competitive intelligence, which may involve discreet data gathering on competitors, can be considered a form of “mithyachara” or strategic deceit.
  2. Political Negotiations: In diplomacy and politics, leaders often engage in strategic negotiations. Gathering intelligence on the intentions and interests of other nations is crucial for informed decision-making. Additionally, politicians may use strategic rhetoric and negotiation tactics to achieve their goals, even if it involves a degree of deceit.
  3. Personal Relationships: While honesty and transparency are generally valued in personal relationships, there are situations where some level of strategic knowledge and even discretion may be necessary. For instance, if someone is dealing with a manipulative or deceitful individual, understanding their motives and being cautious in interactions can protect one’s interests and well-being.
  4. Legal Strategies: In the legal realm, attorneys often employ strategic knowledge and tactics to build their cases or defend their clients. This can include gathering evidence, assessing the opposition’s weaknesses, and presenting arguments that may not reveal the full truth but serve the client’s interests.


The shloka emphasizes the importance of strategic knowledge and occasionally employing tactics that may be viewed as deceitful when dealing with cunning adversaries. While these concepts may be controversial, they have practical utility in various modern contexts, including business, politics, personal relationships, and legal matters. It’s important to remember that the application of these principles should always be ethical and aligned with one’s values and principles – Dharma. Balancing strategic knowledge with moral integrity remains essential in navigating complex situations with cunning adversaries.

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