Modern management based on Bharatiya wisdom
The business world has discovered that top leadership must follow not only a Business Compass but also a Moral Compass in order to steer the enterprises they lead. Improving one’s Spiritual Quotient is now a business requirement, and will become even more so in the coming decades.
Bharatiya scriptures and sages provide a ready template for managers of all levels in this area. Consider a few aspects of some pearls of Bharatiya wisdom that have ready application in the realm of management.
In today’s modern world, every step is guided by modern managerial precepts. Management is what guides all subjects, whether it is finance and banking, the corporate sector, the manufacturing industry, the military and agriculture, the vast engineering field, or the health services. We have recently seen how poor management practises have caused chaos all over the world. This article is an attempt to delve into our rich heritage in order to find likely solutions in the Vedic and other scriptures to problems that modern man faces in carrying out his or her managerial functions.
The Bhagavad Gita discusses the modern (Western) management concepts of vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, giving work meaning, decision making, and planning. There is one significant difference. While Western management thought frequently addresses issues at the material, external, and peripheral levels, the Bhagavad Gita addresses issues at the grass roots level of human thinking. When man’s basic thinking is improved, the quality of his actions and their outcomes improves automatically.
The Western management philosophy is based on the allure of materialism and a perpetual thirst for profit, regardless of the quality of the means used to achieve that goal. This phenomenon stems from the West’s abundant wealth, and as a result,’management by materialism’ has piqued the interest of all countries around the world, including India. My country, India, has been at the forefront of importing these ideas, owing to centuries of indoctrination by colonial rulers, who instilled in us the belief that anything Western is superior and anything Bharatiya is inferior.
As a result, despite large sums of money being invested in the construction of temples of modern management education, no discernible changes in the general quality of life are visible, despite the fact that the living standards of a few have risen. The same old struggles in almost every sector of the economy, criminalization of institutions, social violence, exploitation, and other vices are visible deep within society.
The first management science lesson is to choose wisely and make the best use of scarce resources.
In Mahabharata, Duryodhana chose Sri Krishna’s large army for assistance during the curtain raiser before the Mahabharata War, while Arjuna chose Sri Krishna’s wisdom for assistance. This episode reveals something about the nature of an effective manager: the former chose numbers, while the latter chose wisdom.
Arjuna’s despondency in the first chapter of the Gita is understandable. Sri Krishna transforms Arjuna’s mind from one of inertia to one of righteous action, from a state of what French philosophers call “anomie” or even alienation to one of self confidence in the ultimate victory of “dharma” (ethical action.)
When Arjuna recovered from his depression and prepared to fight, Sri Krishna reminded him that his newfound spirit of intense action was not for his own benefit, not for satisfying his own greed and desire, but for the good of many, with faith in the ultimate victory of ethics over unethical actions and truth over untruth.
The everlasting nature of the soul is one of the fundamental concepts articulated by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. Even in modern management literature, the concept of a soul is gaining traction. Stephen Covey encourages professionals to listen to their “inner voice” in “The 8th Habit.” He refers to the four dimensions of a person when proposing the whole person paradigm: spirit, body, heart, and mind.
Shri Krishna mentions two types of work cultures that can be implemented in the organisation.
Daivi Sampat: This creates a divine work culture in which the Dharma is prioritised and activities are carried out in a righteous manner. It is ideal to create a divine work culture in order to achieve the aforementioned objectives. This work culture promotes self-control, fearlessness, sacrifice, directness, and transparency among peers.
Asuri Sampat: This is a demonic workplace culture characterised by egoism, personal desires, and poor performance. The lack of Dharma in such a work culture makes it difficult to meet the objectives.
It is interesting to note that Kautilya, after weaving an intricate organisation, moves on to establish policies and procedures, i.e. business processes. Arthashashtra has detailed policies for society, individual industries, labour and employment, natural disasters, and vice control. At this point, he demonstrates the breadth of his knowledge of the key component of effective and efficient business process implementation, namely the human aspect of management.
He observes that the State is a social organisation with an economic goal. Again, Peter Drucker and Kautilya are in sync here, as Drucker defines an organisation as having a “social dimension as well as an economic objective.” At this point, Kautilya reminds his Swamy that a thorough understanding of complex human nature is required for the State machinery to function effectively, efficiently, and honestly. He warns of two undesirable human nature attitudes to be on the lookout for and avoid: Pramada, which means excess, and Alasya, which means inactivity. According to Kautilya, this is where leadership is important.
Arthashstra, a work written in the fourth century before Christ, has remained relevant even after 24 centuries. Arthashastra is evidence of Bharat’s intellectual capital in its glorious past. We have the past’s tradition. We require the mindset to resurrect and recreate intellectual capital for the future.
A thorough examination of our ancient Indian scripture, which includes the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, and Mahabharata in addition to Arthashashtra, reveals a veritable treasure trove. This treasure contains the best guidelines for how man is expected to behave toward his family, society, and colleagues.
Hindu texts are a body of knowledge that assists individuals in comprehending the divine nature of the “ultimate truth” and in charting a personal path to self-realization. They are entirely spiritual knowledge that explains spiritual concepts through many analogies from the temporal universe and nature around us.
The Bharatiya scriptures contain a wealth of knowledge in the fields of science, spirituality, psychology, and management. A single person’s well-being and actions can have an impact on the outcome of an entire organisation.
The path to self-realisation is a “quest” that includes “practises” that systematically strengthen the mind, shape character, and shape behaviour so that humans can make their own decisions about how to live happy, productive lives, whatever “daily life tasks” that may entail.
By Pankaj Jagannath Jayswal