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IMPLICATIONS OF BHAGAVAD GITA IN MANAGEMENT

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The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Indian spiritual and philosophical text and is more than 5000 years old.The Bhagavad Gita teaches how one’s aim in life can be achieved;howsoever it may be difficult.All verses are interpreted inducing immense interest to our modern managers. All the verses have their own reflections on management functions.

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IMPLICATIONS OF BHAGAVAD GITA IN MANAGEMENT

  1. 1. THE IMPLICATIONS OF BHAGAVAD GITA IN MANAGEMENT BY ANOOP MOHAN DOCTORAL RESEARCH SCHOLAR (PT) PSGR KRISHNAMMAL COLLEGE ABSTRACT The Bhagavad-Gita is an ancient Indian spiritual and philosophical text and is more than 5000 years old. It is one of the most popular and accessible of all Indian scriptures, which is to be studied by anyone interested in Indian philosophy. Arjuna got mentally depressed in the battle field when he saw his relatives with whom he has to fight.To motivate him the Bhagavad-Gita is preached in the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as counselling to do his duty while multitudes of men stood by waiting. Arjuna faces the problem of conflict between emotions and intellect. Gita teaches Honesty, Sincerity, and Truthfulness etc. Bhagavad Gita also shows how challenge as an opportunity to find the way to success, it only depends on you and you are your own alchemist. The Bhagavad Gita teaches how one’s aim in life can be achieved; howsoever it may be difficult. The greatest significance of the Bhagavad Gita lies in the fact that it proposes a solution to a central typical problem of human life that presents itself at a certain critical stage of development. We may say that Arjuna to whom the teaching is addressed is a representative man, and the problem that he faced arose at a certain height of ethical concern in the midst of an actual and symbolic battlefield Kurukshetra, which is also Dharmakshetra. Modern management is more concerned with productivity and prosperity. These are achieved through planning, direction, motivation coordination etc. These actions are generally called management functions. Bhagavad Gita contains beautiful ideas about the principles of management. All verses are interpreted inducing immense interest to our modern managers. All
  2. 2. these verses have their own reflections on management functions. It has the techniques to improve the knowledge, skill and education of the common man and make him more efficient and competent. It has the capacity to transform the productive potential into productivity. Key words: Bhagavad Gita, Business management, Leadership, Decision making. INTRODUCTION One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is preached in the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishnato Arjuna as counseling to do his duty while multitudes of men stood by waiting. It has got all the management tactics to achieve the mental equilibrium and to overcome any crisis situation. The Bhagavad Gita can be experienced as a powerful catalyst for transformation. Bhagavad Gita means song of the Spirit, song of the Lord. The Holy Gita has become a secret driving force behind the unfoldment of one's life. In the days of doubt this divine book will support all spiritual search.This divine book will contribute to self reflection, finer feeling and deepen one's inner process. Then life in the world can become a real education—dynamic, full and joyful—no matter what the circumstance. May the wisdom of loving consciousness ever guide us on our journey. What makes the Holy Gita a practical psychology of transformation is that it offers us the tools to connect with our deepest intangible essence and we must learn to participate in the battle of life with right knowledge? The Bhagavad Gita is a message addressed to each and every human individual to help him or her to solve the vexing problem of overcoming the present and progressing towards a bright future. Within its eighteen chapters is revealed a human drama. This is the experience of everyone in this world, the drama of the ascent of man from a state of utter dejection, sorrow and
  3. 3. total breakdown and hopelessness to a state of perfect understanding, clarity, renewed strength and triumph. Management has become a part and parcel of everyday life, be it at home, in the office or factory and in Government. In all organizations, where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose, management principles come into play through the management of resources, finance and planning, priorities, policies and practice. Management is a systematic way of carrying out activities in any field of human effort. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, say the Management Gurus. It creates harmony in working together - equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcity, be they in the physical, technical or human fields, through maximum utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important and essential factor for a successful management. Bhagavad Gita in IIM -Indore Now Gita becomes a management mantra that is being included in curriculum of The Indian Institute of Management at Indore. The institute has incorporated the Bhagavad Gita in one of its courses as a means of providing spiritual guidance in the corporate battlefield — a way to check western-oriented business ethics going the Enron and Satyam way. The sessions on the Bhagavad Gita are part of the course module on “Ancient oriental philosophy and spirituality.” The institute’s first batch of the recently launched one-year full-time Executive Post-Graduate Program in Management (EPGP) , that took them through the discourses on
  4. 4. Karma Yog and Raj Yog detailed in the Bhagavad Gita. The sessions were conducted by Swami Samarpanananda of Sri Ramakrishna Mission Viveka-nanda University (Belur Math), who imparted lessons on “how to develop and channelize their spiritual and mental energies to achieve excellence in the field of business management.” Bhagavad Gita in American university Bhagwad Gita has become compulsory for every student joining Seton Hall university in New Jersey, USA. This is a catholic university founded in 1856. The faculty consists of Muslims, Buddhists, Jews in additions to Christians. The translation of Bhagwad Gita by Stephen Mitchell is the text. None of the teacher is Hindu.The university wanted a transformational course that will influence the character and life of the students. So it wanted a course that seeks answers to perennial questions like the purpose of life, why are we here, where are we going “The journey of transformation”One third of Seton Halls more than 10,800 students are non- Christians. Many non-catholic also study here. It has significant no of Indian students.This is a core course for all students, whatever the discipline. Bhagavad Gita among Indian Corporates In October 2013, Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry and other CEOs had an unusual session at their annual conclave on ethics in Mumbai. An IIM director made a presentation on the relevance of the Bhagavad Gita in management. Mistry concurred. The result: copies of Timeless Leadership: 18 Leadership Sutras from the Bhagavad Gita, a book authored by this IIM Kozhikode director Debasish Chatterjee, have just been distributed across the Tata Group as the conglomerate looks to move beyond compliance to commitment and conscience. What makes the 5,200-year-old text so relevant in today’s business
  5. 5. and economic context? “The Gita is old in chronology but contemporary in essence. When basic business principles cease to work and when the rate of change outside is faster than change within, even businesses need deeper anchor points for decision-making not available in contemporary literature,” says Chatterjee of IIM Kozhikode. In the heart of the capital, India’s largest automaker Maruti Suzuki is busy training its leaders in self-management and time management. The two-day course module, also based on the Bhagavad Gita, seeks to improve efficiency, effectiveness and effortlessness. Already, employees are making a beeline for the sessions, believing it will improve personal as well as professional lives. While the focus of these ‘spirituality in business sessions’ may differ from company to company, their impact surely goes beyond professional to personal level. A Maruti employee, who has participated in the course, says it helps draw a great parallel between the shloka Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana in corporate life and real life. “Often we lose our cool over petty issues at work or at home. Practicing the mool mantra eases out things everywhere, gets things done fast and reduces stress,” he says. Not too far away, engineering conglomerate, Escorts has roped in a motivation trainer, and a Bhagavad Gita-specialist, to inspire its 20 union leaders. The leaders have to work with management and workers, aligning their priorities with both. This makes their job tough as the company has one of the strongest unions in India. Teachings from the Gita are expected to ease the task. State Bank of India, NTPC and NHPC, MMTC are among the growing list of corporates looking up to the Gita to solve management labyrinths. From mind control to value- based management, motivation and leadership, it seems to have an answer for everything.
  6. 6. As things stand, Lord Krishna seems to be emerging as the new Peter Drucker of management in India. After all, he is the one who imparted the timeless wisdom to his disciple Arjuna when he was indecisive about taking up arms in the epic battle of Kurukshetra in The Mahabharata. Vivek Bindra, corporate trainer and director, Global ACT, says, “Gita is beyond time, place and circumstances. The temporary solutions we are seeking from the West are often inadequate. And that is turning corporates to the Gita.” Bindra started in 2006 with 10 corporate clients. That number is over 100 now. Vice chairman at Piramal Enterprises, Swati Piramal agrees. “I think the importance of value is being recognised worldwide now.” Her group has, for many years, been following the values of Gita — knowledge (gyan), action (karma) and care (bhakti). “Our partners tell us that one of the reasons they want to work with us is because we walk the talk when it comes to our values.” Not surprisingly, in 2011, when Vodafone Plc was looking for a partner to meet shareholding norms in its India operations, it sold 5.5 per cent stake to Piramal Healthcare in what was termed as a “strange deal”. To the outside world, the engagement of telecom with pharma was surprising. But to both parties, it wasn’t.Given the regulatory uncertainty in the Indian operations, Vodafone wanted a partner who not only had the money but also believed in all the values that would allow Vodafone to focus on operations without bothering about the future of its shareholding. And that is the aim of most corporates — to be able to run their businesses smoothly and effectively. Motivated employees who can improve productivity with a smile are a bonus. “Spiritual texts often contain sound management principles that can provide vital lessons in a
  7. 7. corporate set-up. In addition to our regular programmes, we thought we could turn to the Bhagavad Gita for management insights,” says SY Siddiqui, COO, HR, IT & finance, at Maruti Suzuki. The teachings become even more relevant in today’s economic environment where businesses are saddled with debts and losses while employees are uncertain about their future prospects. “You need internal cohesion, external resilience, ability to deal with stress and an ability to operate beyond the ego. And the Gita helps in all of this,” says Chatterjee. Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) has opted for motivational soft skills programmes to improve their decision-making abilities. “When employees become push-start managers, learnings from the Gita help them become self-start leaders,” says Bindra. “This is precisely what Krishna did — he guided Arjuna to decide why fighting the battle was necessary.” At India’s largest bank, State Bank of India (SBI), it is the managers of SME branches (specialising in lending to small and medium enterprises) that require motivation. And so, the bank has started a course for them based on the principles of Gita. An employee at SBI, who has participated in the course, says the content is very relevant for today’s lifestyle. “We are seeking return from every action. The Gita helps us understand the spirit of Karma and focus on doing rather than expecting immediate returns. It taught me to listen to others and take their perspective into account — something I had forgotten to do,” she says. Bindra adds that lives today have become stressful and every day is like a battle. “Krishna trained Arjun to overcome depression and indecision in 48 minutes. Those similar questions are visible in today’s life and can be answered through the Gita.”
  8. 8. B-schools are also going all the way to increase the spirituality quotient in their courses. Corporate honchos as well as aspiring managers are now making a beeline to management courses to understand the importance of spirituality in business. IIM Kozhikode, for instance, has started a course on ‘Timeless Leadership and Self Incorporated’, based on insights from the Gita. “It is an open-ended course, which runs through the year,” says Chatterjee. Mumbai’s SP Jain Institute has made compulsory a course on ‘The Science of Spirituality’ under its executive MBA programme. IIM Indore too has incorporated sessions on the Gita as part of the course module on ‘Ancient Oriental Philosophy and Spirituality’. Despite Gita being an integral part of the Hindu culture, managers don’t look upon it as a religious text. “I clearly believe that this has nothing to do with religion or faith per se. We all recognise that the programme is management -focused and not on religious dimensions. It is about identifying the universal principles contained in the Gita and applying them to a corporate setting,” says Siddiqui. He is quick to add, while the classic management texts provide valuable insights for people, the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred texts offer fresh perspectives, contributing to the body of management knowledge. At the Piramal group, it is not only the values that are based on spirituality, but the group’s logo as well. The logo is the Gyan Mudra, the universal sign of knowledge. It is the sign of the hand when one is trying to gain knowledge — the tips of index finger and the thumb join to make a circle. “We have left the circle open as a symbol of humility. We believe that the circle of excellence is incomplete and that we want to learn more and keep an open mind,” says
  9. 9. Piramal. She has translated the teachings of the Gita into practical action. The group’s partnerships are based on values and quality is paramount — so much so that even the manufacturing facilities that don’t require approval from the USFDA have been designed in compliance with those norms. “Sometimes, it leads to delays. But we prefer long-term benefits over short-term gains,” she adds. As things stand, spirituality in business seems to be here to stay. After all, when the economy is down and all else fails, many do turn to the ancient texts for sustenance. And the trend is catching up outside India too. After 5,200 years, the wisdom of Gita is going global. Present Global Scenario Today, tremendous strides of modern science and technology greatly dominate and decisively determine the life style, living standard and economy of people all over the world. In the blinding brilliance of globalisation and liberalization, hunger, homelessness, oppression, unemployment, illiteracy, disease, etc. have fallen out of public visibility and conscience. Governments of the world over have begun to pursue global capital as their paramount priority, and have gradually retreated from their primary responsibilities of securing social and economic justice to the weaker and deprived sections of then-people. Mighty organizations like Multinational Corporations are guided by the mechanistic view of life which encourages fierce competition with mania of ‘survival of the fittest’. They are motivated by the restless desire for accumulation of unlimited wealth and power at the cost of horrible exploitation of human and natural resources. These Corporations largely control the legislative process, distort information received by the public through media and determine, to a significant extent, the functioning of our education system and the direction of academic
  10. 10. research. Corporate and business leaders are prominent on the board of trustees of academic institutions and foundations, where they inevitably use their influence to perpetuate a value system consistent with corporate interests. The whole world now seems to be in a process of Westernization. Western competitive and self-assertive model of business management is being followed in almost all fields of life. General Agreement of Trade in Services (GATS) which was signed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) initiated the liberalization of trade in services. The GATS has classified services into 12 sectors and education is one of them which includes primary, secondary, higher, adult and other education services. So, education has become a big service industry. As a result, universities which were once supposed to be the centres of learning are now allured by the idea of salesmanship for their commercial presence all over the world. In such fierce competitive environment, talented and highly qualified individuals are motivated by an endless thirst for money and elusive social position. Thus, the illusion of unlimited power nourished by astonishing scientific and technological achievements has produced the concurrent illusion of mistaking wealth and power for peace and happiness. The latter illusion is based on the failure to distinguish between knowledge and wisdom, between achievement and fulfilment in life. If modern management is partial in thinking that wealth and power is the final goal of life, then it is committing a blunder. Science and technology are not to be blamed for it. It is not the fault of technology, but of its blind use. Not only technology but even religion could be harmful if its purpose is not fully understood. Instances to illustrate this can be recorded in volumes, butHiroshima, Iraq, Moghul atrocities and Godhra could be readily cited. So, management science should be in a position to impart wisdom and vision to the top level modern managers in the world.
  11. 11. Indian Scenario Unfortunately, the present Indian management theories and practice, by and large, suffer from inherent inadequacies of transplanted system to an alien land. Most of our Management Schools work as factories for producing managers required for the task of creating “surplus” for their masters. In India, probability of managers belonging to an elite minority is higher than the developed countries like U.S.A. Pulin Garg and Indira Parikh during their research on Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad’s students found that the sampled respondents had minimal emotional reaction with their own culture. Most of them were products of western literature. During their course of study, they are not even made aware of the goals and commitments laid down in the Constitution of India. Nowadays, though business ethics is taught in Business Schools, it is taught as a routine matter, and not as a commitment to social, and ecological awareness. Sampal Singh has identified three models of education prevalent in the field of management, viz., Professional’s Model, Pragmatist’s Model and Humanist’s Model. Professional’s Model is based on the assumption of the existence of a systematic body of knowledge supporting managerial practice. On the other hand, the exponents of Pragmatist’s model, probably equate management with street smartness, and hence over emphasize the importance of interpersonal communication and negotiation skills, working on computers, developing superficial leadership qualities and impressive personality. Humanist’s model, however, aims at offering prompt service to their customers. There may be many more models – some extol profit making, some achievement, and some others evaluate performance in terms of a social benefit oriented economy.
  12. 12. Towards a Paradigm Shift All these models now seem to be on the turning point. Recently, management gurus in India have started discovering profound principles of management theory and practice in our ancient literature. It is a matter of great satisfaction that there is such an awakening. A welcome shift in paradigm is on the horizon. In the Western world also this paradigm shift from mechanistic view of life to the systems view has been gradually taking place. E. F Schumacher, the author of Small Is Beautiful maintains that man’s current pursuit of profit and progress which promote giant organization and increased specialization has in fact resulted in gross economic inefficiency, environmental pollution and inhuman working conditions. With the emphasis on ‘person’ and not on the product, he points the way to the world in which capital serves Man instead of Man remaining a slave to capital. The universal prosperity in the modern sense cannot provide a foundation of peace, because such a prosperity often increases greed and envy, and destroys intelligence, happiness, serenity and thereby the peacefulness of man. A distinguished Scientist Fritjof Capra, in his celebrated books, The Turning Pointand The Web of Life, explains the emergence of ‘systems thinking’ as a profound revolution in the history of Western scientific thought. In systems approach, the properties of the parts can be understood only from the organization of the whole. Systems view prepares the individual organization, big or small, to visualize its role and evaluate its performance in the context of a larger whole. This paradigm shift will make us redefine our concepts of Efficiency, Productivity and Profit, and transform our modern perspective of Managerial Excellence and Total Quality Management.
  13. 13. The Challenging Task Modern Manager is expected to be more creative and innovative. But his creativity depends on the stimulus of reward in cash or kind. It is more or less a ‘conditioned response’ promoted by Stimulus Response (SR) bond. Several corporates are now willing to create an atmosphere where creativity and innovation is encouraged. The official term for it is entrepreneurship. Conceptually, it means a situation where in a company uses the talents and dynamic abilities of its manager to develop innovative in-house project services. Such conditioned response has its limitations too. Though it helps creating ‘surplus’ for himself and for his company, it hardly makes any substantial contribution in the larger context of social equity and justice. Practically, all progress artistic, scientific, moral or spiritual is the contribution of individuals who did not work for “rewards”. So, Human Response (HR) management for the well-being of “ALL” i.e. for the individual and the universe has been the most important and challenging task before the art and science of management past and present. The Bhagvad Gita invites us to prepare ourselves for this challenging task. Secondly, the crisis of our time is a crisis of character. Today we come across instances where highly qualified managers, executives, bureaucrats working on the most important positions are involved in corruption, misuse of their power and authority. Some are reluctant to perform their legitimate duty as a public servant on account of tremendous political pressures or threats from the underworld. This is the real challenge that threatens the art and science of management today. It is at this critical juncture that the Bhagavad Gita comes to our rescue by presenting the holistic vision of life and action for the enlightenment of an individual who is at the centre of all human endeavours.
  14. 14. The Bhagvad Gita as Art and Science of Management The Bhagvad Gita is a world classic, comprised of chapters 25 to 42 from the Bhishma Parvan of the Mahabharata, renumbered 1 to 18. It is a divine dialogue between the enlightened teacher and the most earnest truth seeker that succeeded in handling the most critical situation in life and action. Vyasa excels in his poetic strategy while presenting Krishna’s universal message of managerial excellence with utmost clarity and simplicity. It is a unique poem interwoven with profound philosophy and practical wisdom, and with a passionate longing for the direct vision of Truth. Arjuna represents a lionhearted manager suddenly caught in the crisis of delusion and dejection. Krishna stands firm as the infallible guide (sarthi), who with the scintillating strokes of his ‘Yoga of wisdom in action’ scattered the clouds of Arjuna’s dejection and prepared him for the task of fighting against the evil forces for the welfare of all beings. The Bhagvad Gita emphasizes the importance of managing oneself whereas most of the modern management theories and practices deal with the problems of managing the raw materials, manpower, finances, infrastructure and other external factors. The Gita clearly points out the strategic role which managing oneself plays in the well being of the individual and the society. The ultimate goal of human endeavour according to the Gita is sarvabhutahitherata: ‘welfare of all beings,’ and that is to be achieved through selfless action. This goal is more sublime, much superior than the Western ideal of ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’ which is to be achieved through altruistic action. The value system in the Gita emerges from realization of the Self whereas the value system in the modem management theories arises from the tendency of self-glorification and self-assertion.
  15. 15. The Gita’s Basic Principle of Management: Know Thyself For overcoming these human frailties and inferior impulses the Gita emphasizes the need for realization of Self through direct vision of Truth. The Gita wants us to transcend the ego-centric little individual self and expand it to the higher consciousness of the Eternal Self; and ultimately identify ourselves with the Supreme Self, that is, Purushottama. This is what is meant by being atmavan, possessing the Real Self, or ‘Know Thyself.’ No action is a genuine act of the self unless it is performed in the wakefulness of the Supreme consciousness. Such action is called in the Gita as akarm, the Selfless action. It is also termed assvakarm (one’s own action), svadharm (one’s own duty), svabhavajakarm (action according to one’s own nature or birth) or varnakarm (caste duty). The art and science of merging the ego-centric little individual self (jivabhava) into the Universal Self is named as atmayoga, budhiyoga, svakarmayoga, svakarmayoga, rajavidya, adhyatmavidya or purushottama yoga in the Gita. The Gita’s Theory of Management: Purushottama Yoga The Gita develops and presents a profound theory of this Purushottama Yoga in the last five Slokas of Chapter XV. The Gita finds the Absolute reality in the vision of the Purushottama. He is both Kshara and Akshara, Mutable and Immutable, and, yet he is other because he is more and greater than either of these opposites. Purushottama, The Supereme Self, is capable of being both at once. This Purushottama consciousness is the highest peak of enlightenment where the individual perceives himself as the ‘Whole Unified Universe’. Whosoever is awakened in this Supreme consciousness is no longer bewildered by the world of dvandha (dualities) and moha (delusion); and stands firm in the performance of selfless action for the welfare of the world. The technique applied for attainment of this Yoga as mentioned in
  16. 16. the XI Chapter is divyachakshu which means imparting the direct vision of Truth to the aspirant. The Gita calls itjnanavijnanasamhitam (wisdom fused with vision). Management by Objectives (MBO) Modern Management practitioners do not make clear distinction between the terms goals and objectives. According to the Gita, the goal, i.e., the final destination of all human endeavour, is sarvabhuthahiteratha, welfare of all beings. This final goal should never be overlooked while setting varied objectives for the various programmes and activities undertaken by managements. Gita’s principle of yoga karmasu kausalam is often misquoted and misinterpreted as ‘excellence in action,’ or ‘a skilful completion of a given task.’ But the Gita wants us to give a serious thought to the consequences or results brought about by successful completion of a particular task. For instance, on 11 September, 2001 when highly talented but flawed human guided missiles were manoeuvred on an almost impossible trajectory at unimaginable speeds, they accurately pierced the pre-determined floors of the World Trade Centre in New York with the precision of a Rolex chronometer. The heat and explosions melted the sturdy steel and reduced human bone and bodies to mountains of ash! And thereafter with the strategy adopted in retaliation of the terrorist attack the U.S.A. may have lost more than it has gained! No doubt both the parties were at their best in executing their managerial skill and excellence. This cannot be considered as an instance of yoga karmasu kausalam; for, theGita ideal means planning, organizing, leading, controlling, executing, and performing all activities and programmes in conformity with wisdom and vision ofPurushottoma consciousness. It stands for devotion (bhakti), i.e., quality assurance. The action flowing from desire and the consequences of the
  17. 17. action on the world and the reflexive consequences on themselves are to be in considered in this holistic vision. The paradox of modern management is that it allows Bill Gates to be the richest man in the world; and at the same time it compels a poor Indian farmer to commit suicide for want of mere subsistence, or on account of his debt. The Principle of sarvabhuthahiteratha alone can help us to bridge the ever-widening gap between the haves and haves not. According to the Gita every work is to be performed in a spirit of sacrifice which aims at welfare of all beings; in a spirit of worship of the Universal Lord – Vishwarupa. They are the great thieves who do not help turning this cosmic wheel of Sacrifice. This concept of Sacrifice is explained in the Gita. Organizing The Gita enunciates the concept of Lokasamgraha maintaining harmony in the fourfold social order (caturvarnya) of the society according to the nature and functions of Gunas. This is often mistaken for caste system in India or class system in the developed countries. But it is the integrated vision of the society which visualizes healthy and harmonious development of its four major systems; namely, Education (Teachers community), Defence (Warriors community), Agriculture, Commerce and Industry (Farmers and business community), and Manual Labour (Workers community). Development and prosperity of a nation depend upon their full co-operation and harmony. Unhealthy competition amongst these systems or ailment in any of these systems will paralyze effective functioning of the whole system and ultimately spoil the individual and social health. This is the most sound principle based on the Gita’s holistic vision that the ‘whole universe is a living organism’ (purusha idm sarvam)
  18. 18. Controlling The Gita’s focus is on the conquest of the self. It does not believe in unnatural severe austerities or restraints for controlling the mind. It believes in sublimating the senses rather than suppressing the senses:Whenever the mind unsteady and restless strays away from the Purushottama consciousness, let him ever and forever lead it to the sweetness and light of the Self.He who withdraws himself from actions, but ponders on the pleasures of the senses in his heart, he is under a delusion. He is called a hypocrite.Nowadays most managers have to work under circumstances which create physical and mental stress and strains. The Gita gives a practical solution for managing such stress and strains in the following mantra:To him who is well-balanced in food and recreation; balanced in performing Svakarma, balanced in working and sleeping (work and rest) this Yoga gives relief from woeful stress and strains. Vision and Leadership Visionary leadership is the need of the day that can be developed by acquiring holistic vision of the Gita. This holistic vision enables managers to delve deep into human consciousness, to understand, guide, motivate, innovate and inspire their people by practicing the following profound management principles himself, which set forth the eternal value system. Whatever the leader (manager) does, others also do the same. Whatever standards he sets forth, the values he embodies are hailed as the model by his subordinates, staff members. So he must ever be vigilant in performance of his duties.The leader must be impartial. He can develop impartial views by practicing the behavioural patterns laid down for the Sthitaprajna, Yogarudha and Gunatita.
  19. 19. Decision Making Modern manager faces many dilemmas as Arjuna faced before the commencement of the battle of Mahabharata. The holistic vision of the Gitadevelops an ability to analyze as well as synthesize all aspects of a particular situation to arrive at a particular decision. The man of steadfast wisdom can hardly commit blunders. That is why the Gita gives full freedom to a leader and a manager for decision-making. Work commitment A popular verse of the Gita advises “detachment” from the fruits or results of actions performed in the course of one's duty. Being dedicated work has to mean “working for the sake of work, generating excellence for its own sake.” If we are always calculating the date of promotion or the rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then such work is not detached. It is not “generating excellence for its own sake” but working only for the extrinsic reward that may (or may not) result. Working only with an eye to the anticipated benefits, means that the quality of performance of the current job or duty suffers - through mental agitation of anxiety for the future. In fact, the way the world works means that events do not always respond positively to our calculations and hence expected fruits may not always be forthcoming. So, the Gita tells us not to mortgage present commitment to an uncertain future. Some people might argue that not seeking the business result of work and actions, makes one unaccountable. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible for the consequences of his deeds. While advising detachment from the avarice of selfish gains in discharging one's accepted duty, the Gita does not absolve anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his or her responsibilities.
  20. 20. Thus the best means of effective performance management is the work itself. Attaining this state of mind (called “nishkama karma”) is the right attitude to work because it prevents the ego, the mind, from dissipation of attention through speculation on future gains or losses. Motivation and self-transcendence It has been presumed for many years that satisfying lower order needs of workers - adequate food, clothing and shelter, etc. are key factors in motivation. However, it is a common experience that the dissatisfaction of the clerk and of the Director is identical - only their scales and composition vary. It should be true that once the lower-order needs are more than satisfied, the Director should have little problem in optimising his contribution to the organisation and society. But more often than not, it does not happen like that. (“The eagle soars high but keeps its eyes firmly fixed on the dead animal below.”) On the contrary, a lowly paid schoolteacher, or a self-employed artisan, may well demonstrate higher levels of self-actualisation despite poorer satisfaction of their lower-order needs. This situation is explained by the theory of self-transcendence propounded in the Gita. Self-transcendence involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself, emphasising team work, dignity, co-operation, harmony and trust – and, indeed potentially sacrificing lower needs for higher goals, the opposite of Maslow. “Work must be done with detachment.” It is the ego that spoils work and the ego is the centrepiece of most theories of motivation. We need not merely a theory of motivation but a theory of inspiration. The Great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941, known as "Gurudev") says working for love is freedom in action. A concept which is described as “disinterested work" in the Gita where Sri Krishna says,
  21. 21. “He who shares the wealth generated only after serving the people, through work done as a sacrifice for them, is freed from all sins. On the contrary those who earn wealth only for themselves, eat sins that lead to frustration and failure.” Disinterested work finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise. The former two are psychological while the third is determination to keep the mind free of the dualistic (usually taken to mean "materialistic") pulls of daily experiences. Detached involvement in work is the key to mental equanimity or the state of “nirdwanda.” This attitude leads to a stage where the worker begins to feel the presence of the Supreme Intelligence guiding the embodied individual intelligence. Such de-personified intelligence is best suited for those who sincerely believe in the supremacy of organisational goals as compared to narrow personal success and achievement. Work culture An effective work culture is about vigorous and arduous efforts in pursuit of given or chosen tasks. Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of work culture – “daivi sampat” or divine work culture and “asuri sampat” or demonic work culture. Daivi work culture - involves fearlessness, purity, self-control, sacrifice, straightforwardness, self-denial, calmness, absence of fault-finding, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, absence of envy and pride. Asuri work culture - involves egoism, delusion, personal desires, improper performance, work not oriented towards service. Mere work ethic is not enough. The hardened criminal exhibits an excellent work ethic. What is needed is a work ethic conditioned by ethics in work.It is in this light that the counsel, “yogah karmasu kausalam” should be understood. “Kausalam” means skill or technique
  22. 22. of work which is an indispensable component of a work ethic. “Yogah” is defined in the Gita itself as “samatvam yogah uchyate” meaning an unchanging equipoise of mind (detachment.) Tilak tells us that acting with an equable mind is Yoga. By making the equable mind the bed-rock of all actions, the Gita evolved the goal of unification of work ethic with ethics in work, for without ethical process no mind can attain an equipoise. The guru, Adi Sankara (born circa 800 AD), says that the skill necessary in the performance of one's duty is that of maintaining an evenness of mind in face of success and failure. The calm mind in the face of failure will lead to deeper introspection and see clearly where the process went wrong so that corrective steps could be taken to avoid shortcomings in future.The principle of reducing our attachment to personal gains from the work done is the Gita’s prescription for attaining equanimity. It has been held that this principle leads to lack of incentive for effort, striking at the very root of work ethic. To the contrary, concentration on the task for its own sake leads to the achievement of excellence – and indeed to the true mental happiness of the worker. Thus, while commonplace theories of motivation may be said to lead us to the bondage or extrinsic rewards, the Gita’s principle leads us to the intrinsic rewards of mental, and indeed moral, satisfaction.The Gita further explains the theory of “detachment” from the extrinsic rewards of work in saying: If the result of sincere effort is a success, the entire credit should not be appropriated by the doer alone. If the result of sincere effort is a failure, then too the entire blame does not accrue to the doer. The former attitude mollifies arrogance and conceit while the latter prevents excessive despondency, de-motivation and self-pity. Thus both these dispositions safeguard the doer
  23. 23. against psychological vulnerability, the cause of the modem managers' companions of diabetes, high blood pressure and ulcers. Assimilation of the ideas of the Gita leads us to the wider spectrum of “lokasamgraha” (general welfare) but there is also another dimension to the work ethic - if the “karmayoga” (service) is blended with “bhaktiyoga” (devotion), then the work itself becomes worship, a “sevayoga" (service for its own sake.) Utilisation of available resources The first lesson of management science is to choose wisely and utilise scarce resources optimally. During the curtain raiser before the Mahabharata War, Duryodhana chose Sri Krishna's large army for his help while Arjuna selected Sri Krishna's wisdom for his support. This episode gives us a clue as to the nature of the effective manager - the former chose numbers, the latter, wisdom. Old truths in a new context The Bhagavad Gita, written thousands of years ago, enlightens us on all managerial techniques leading us towards a harmonious and blissful state of affairs in place of the conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of motivation and so on, common in most of Indian enterprises today – and probably in enterprises in many other countries. The modern (Western) management concepts of vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, giving work meaning, decision making and planning, are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita. There is one major difference. While Western management thought too often deals with problems at material, external and peripheral levels, the Bhagavad
  24. 24. Gita tackles the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking. Once the basic thinking of man is improved, it will automatically enhance the quality of his actions and their results. The management philosophy emanating from the West, is based on the lure of materialism and on a perennial thirst for profit, irrespective of the quality of the means adopted to achieve that goal. This phenomenon has its source in the abundant wealth of the West and so 'management by materialism' has caught the fancy of all the countries the world over, India being no exception to this trend. My country, India, has been in the forefront in importing these ideas mainly because of its centuries old indoctrination by colonial rulers, which has inculcated in us a feeling that anything Western is good and anything Indian is inferior. The result is that, while huge funds have been invested in building temples of modem management education, no perceptible changes are visible in the improvement of the general quality of life - although the standards of living of a few has gone up. The same old struggles in almost all sectors of the economy, criminalisation of institutions, social violence, exploitation and other vices are seen deep in the body politic. Management guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita There is an important distinction between effectiveness and efficiency in managing. Effectiveness is doing the right things. Efficiency is doing things right. The general principles of effective management can be applied in every field, the differences being more in application than in principle. The Manager's functions can be summed up as:  Forming a vision  Planning the strategy to realise the vision.
  25. 25.  Cultivating the art of leadership.  Establishing institutional excellence.  Building an innovative organisation.  Developing human resources.  Building teams and teamwork.  Delegation, motivation, and communication.  Reviewing performance and taking corrective steps when called for Thus, management is a process of aligning people and getting them committed to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit - in search of excellence. The critical question in all managers’ minds is how to be effective in their job. The answer to this fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad Gita, which repeatedly proclaims that “you must try to manage yourself.” The reason is that unless a manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness, he or she will be merely a face in the crowd. The Ultimate Message of Gita for Managers The despondent position of Arjuna in the first chapter of the Gita is a typical human situation which may come in the life of all men of action some time or other. Sri Krishna by sheer power of his inspiring words raised the level of Arjuna's mind from the state of inertia to the state of righteous action, from the state of faithlessness to the state of faith and self- confidence in the ultimate victory of Dharma(ethical action). They are the powerful words of courage of strength, of self confidence, of faith in one's own infinite power, of the glory, of
  26. 26. valour in the life of active people and of the need for intense calmness in the midst of intense action. When Arjuna got over his despondency and stood ready to fight, Sri Krishna gave him the gospel for using his spirit of intense action not for his own benefit, not for satisfying his own greed and desire, but for using his action for the good of many, with faith in the ultimate victory of ethics over unethical actions and truth over untruth. Arjuna responds by emphatically declaring that all his delusions were removed and that he is ready to do what is expected of him in the given situation. Sri Krishna's advice with regard to temporary failures in actions is 'No doer of good ever ends in misery'. Every action should produce results: good action produces good results and evil begets nothing but evil. Therefore always act well and be rewarded. And finally the Gita's consoling message for all men of action is: He who follows My ideal in all walks of life without losing faith in the ideal or never deviating from it, I provide him with all that he needs (Yoga) and protect what he has already got (Kshema).
  27. 27. CONCLUSION From the above discussions we conclude that much of modern management principles existing today can be derived from the body of knowledge of Bhagavad Gita. One of the central ideas of the Bhagavad Gita is the performance of activities without attachment or any expectation of results. Thus, as the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita is of universal significance, to study it is to study man himself, to study life lord Krishna gives five stages of instructions in the Bhagavad-Gita. The Bhagavad Gita, the ancient spiritual text contains recommendations for the modern practice of management. The first stage is the general teachings for everyone. Then in a very sublime way He gives four more additional stages of teachings each more exalted than the previous. These teachings although extensive are delineated in a condensed form revealing only the essence. So after the general teachings there are the confidential teachings and then the more confidential teachings and then and then the most confidential teaching of all which Lord Krishna reveals in the super most confidential verses in the whole Bhagavad-Gita.. According to modern management principles, goal can be achieved through coordination of efforts. Bhagavad Gita also emphasizes this aspect emphasizing that prosperity can be attained through cooperation. If one does this natural duty with devotion and dedication, Gita says,one can attain not only growth and development, but success , prosperity and progress. It is time that modern management thinkers should embrace the importance of ancient Indian ethos in filling the gaps that exist in the existing paradigms of leadership and management.
  28. 28. REFERENCES Swami Vivekananda: 1901, The Vedanta Philosophy: An Address before the Graduate Philosophical society at Harvard University on March 25, 1896 (published by The Vedanta Society, New York) Radhakrishnan S:1962, 'Bhagavad Gita' published by Rajpal & sons, Delhi, Radhakrishnan S:1993, The Bhagavada Gita (Harper Collins Publishers) Bhawuk Dharam P.S:2011, Spirituality and Indian Psychology: Lessons from the Bhagavad-Gita (Springer) Websites www.vedantainstitute.co.in www.vedpradip.com

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