The invisible line – the concept of boundary in family business

One of the most popular imagery in Indian mythology is that of the Lakshman-Rekha – the magical, protective line drawn by Lakshmana around their hut, asking his sister-in-law Sita to not step out of that boundary while he went in search of his brother Rama. Everyone knows that she does indeed step out of it, though out of good intentions, to face much travail that follows.

The concept of boundary is an interesting one in Indian culture. While the traditional family eats together, sleeps in the same room and shares intimate personal space, there are deep boundaries in relationships and interactions.

There are unsaid rules of interaction between people depending on their relationship, place in the hierarchy, social position and situation.  There are firm boundaries in the interaction between fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. In relationships of honour like those between a father-in-law and daughter-in-law or that between a son-in-law and a mother-in-law, the boundaries are stricter. There are boundaries in the relationship between a guru and his disciple, and in the interaction between the disciple and other members of the guru’s family.

To be continued...

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