A CORNERED TIGER IS MOST DANGEROUS
(Twelfth in the series called “The Martial Marketer”. War strategies for work!)
What other choice did we have?
There was no retreat and no surrender.
Kill or be killed.
Kuberan was Agastya’s pet soldier. This young strapping officer wasn’t perfect but was learning fast. He wanted action, and he wanted to lead an attack.
Hunger is always good but is it the right time? How will one know without trying?
They were between Uraiyur and Thanjavur, making their way towards Sundara Pandyan’s main camp. The villages they crossed sang paeans of their local boy Sullaan.
Sullaan the brave, the mighty, the future of the Pandyan army. Sullaan was the son of Velan, the legendary Pandyan commander. Songs of his valor were sung in the campfire. Details of his strategies, bravery, and loyalty to Sundara Pandyan, all in verses set to tune. Village after village spoke about him until they came to a fort being held by the man himself!
Rajarajan asked Kuberan to lead the charge against Sullaan.
“This is your charge to lead. Pick your men and your strategy. Go, bring me that fort.”
Kuberan was charged up, and he organized a platoon. They staked out Sullaan’s fort and figured out the number of people inside. Kuberan resorted to their usual strategy of encirclement. He knew though, that this would not be enough. An extended siege would drain his men and resources. What could he do that would draw Sullaan out?
Kuberan sent a letter to Sullaan.
“Sullaan. I am Captain Kuberan from Rajarajan’s army.
I have heard a lot about you. You and I are the same age. From what I have heard, I respect your valor and achievements.
Sullaan, this is an opportunity for us to battle it out. A fight to decide which one is better. To decide whose songs will continue to play in the long wintry nights. I invite you to enter the battlefield and fight my men and me.
I promise you the people in your Kingdom will be safe from any harm. It’s just you and me, and our men — a fight to the finish.
If you accept my challenge, you will find me waiting on the battlefield in front of your fort at sunrise tomorrow morning.
For Valour, For Victory.
The sun was up bright and early. The rays started to melt the dewdrops on the leaves and grass. Kuberan’s men were standing in formation, looking towards the gates of the fort. The gates opened, and Sullaan and his men walked out. His men took the defensive formation, and both sides assessed each other. A long pregnant silence filled the area, like the lull before a storm. Both sides were ready and itching to get at each other.
Drums started rolling, and the playing of the bugle signalled the start of the attack.
Foot soldiers rushed in to attack each other. This was followed by the horsemen. Kuberan and Sullaan stood their ground, eyeing each other. The battle peaked with both sides equally poised and effective. At the right time, Kuberan played his conch, and two smaller sections entered the battlefield from either side. Sullaan and his forces were caught in this pincer grip. They would not retreat into the fort. They had no way out.
The scales had tilted. Kuberan had picked a war formation from the times of the Mahabharata war. He had some of his foot soldiers lie on the ground on either side, awaiting his conch to begin their attack.
It was 100 of Kuberan’s men against a much dwindled 10 of Sullaan’s men. Sullaan and his men were surrounded. Their death and Kuberan’s Victory was certain.
In war and life, there are moments like these, when time stands still. When things move very slowly. It was the same on the battlefield now.
Sullaan and his men stood in a circle, their backs facing each other. They were circling around with swords and spears on the ready. Surrounding them were layers of Kuberan’s men, waiting for Sullaan to drop his sword and concede defeat.
A roaring war cry roused them all. Sullaan gave a war yell with specific connotations. It was a trigger for his men and a key message. It was a counter-attack — to death. They attacked the men around them with a wave of anger and thrust not seen before in the day. Kuberan’s men were taken aback.
With Sullaan and his men in a circle, he forced Kuberan’s men to break their formation and adapt. This meant they had to attack in a ring as well. This meant that the number of people attacking at the same time was reduced. Sullaan and his men continued to wreak havoc. The confidence of Kuberan’s men was shattered as they continued to lose men.
It was a numbers game, though. And Sullaan did not have the numbers.
One by one, his men fell until there were only two of them. It was way past afternoon, and both sides were terribly tired. The remaining two men were also pierced, and they fell.
They were still alive, though, when they were brought into Rajarajan’s camp.
Kuberan had his Victory but at a significant loss. After Sullaan and his man were tended to, they were brought before Rajarajan and Agastyan.
Kuberan could not control himself. He asked Sullaan.
“What other choice did we have?
There was no retreat and no surrender.
Kill or be killed.
Sullaan succumbed to his injuries the following day. Some victories leave a bitter taste.
A victor who chose his way of life. And death.
The following night, Agastyan saw Kuberan ruminating, gazing into the fire in front. Placing a hand on his shoulder, Agastyan said:
- The enemy who has nothing to fear is the most dangerous. A cornered Tiger will do anything to escape.
- You had the advantage, yet you squandered it in registering the Victory in your mind before actually winning the battle field. You allowed Sullaan to dictate how your attack formation should be. Instead of breaking their rank and drawing them out, you encircled them and restricted the number of attacks you could make simultaneously.
- One must step back even when in front, to advance faster and farther.”
Lessons from Sun Tzu
- — — — — — — — — — -
This is the twelfth in the series called “The Martial Marketer”. War strategies for work!
1. Marketing Camouflage! Success is sweet.
2. A Trojan variation to defend and attack.
3. Victory at all costs.
4. Size does matter.
5. Fight the fight within, first.
6. The (marketing) warrior without vanity.
7. Playing with Perception.
8. Fools rush in.
9. An alliance is the way forward.
10. What will you do once your strategy is known?
11. When big attacks small?
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
mic @ PravinShekar.com .
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of seven books: Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell & a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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