Lessons from the Vedas – Their utility in guiding contemporary life

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This article by Manisha Sarade

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The Vedas are believed to be the very breath of the Supreme Brahman and their import has reached posterity through the revelations experienced by sages and rishis. Time and again, the Lord assumes the form of preceptors to propagate this Vedic a tradition which is also known as Sanatana Dharma. The Saivite tradition reveres Dakshinamurthy, a form assumed by Siva to impart the esoteric values of the The vedic tradition to the sages Sanat Kumaras, the mind-born sons of Brahma, as the primordial Guru.

Sanatana Dharma is synonymous with righteousness and is the basis for the values of life, both material and spiritual. It has existed from time immemorial and is relevant to all people of all places and times. It is pertinent to both here and hereafter since it meets the worldly and spiritual requirements of man. Regardless of gender, age, profession, economic status in life, etc., the fundamental codes of conduct have to be followed, said Swami Paramatmananda in a lecture.

The Vedic wisdom can be set up fruitfully to the contemporary business organizations. The Vedic statements apply strangely to modern business management practices. There are two types of wealth mentioned in Vedas viz., prevalent wealth (Vittam) and potential wealth (Vedyam).

The word 'Veda' means knowledge of both matter and spirit. The Vedanta sutra states 'Athato Brahma Jignyasa’. Therefore, inquire about the & 'Absolute Truth’; In the human form of life one can understand the difference between matter and spirit. Just like when a machine is created its manual is created similarly Vedas exists from the dawn of creation. Vedas are apauruseya, which means they are not incorporating human knowledge. Anciently there was only one Veda of the name Yajur. The sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas were means by which people could be purified. To simplify the process and make them more easily performable, Vyasdeva divided the one Veda into four - Rig (prayers), Yajur (hymns for oblations), Sama ( same prayers and hymns for singing), Atharva (world maintenance and destruction) in order to spread them among men. After the Vedas were divided into four divisions, Paila Rai became the professor of the Rig Veda, Jamini the professor of the Sama Veda, Vaisampayana of the Yajur Veda, Sumantu Muni Angira of the Atharva Veda, and Romaharsana was entrusted with the Puranas and historical record. All these learned scholars, in their turn, rendered their entrusted Vedas unto their many disciples, grand-disciples and great grand disciples, and thus the respective branches of the followers of the Vedas came into being. The text of the Vedas is known as Samhitas. Within these Samhitas, there are portions known as Mantras, which contain prayers in the form of potent sound compounds revealed to great seers for different purposes.

(i) Kautilya’s Arthashastra

Chanakya, traditionally known as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta was an Indian teacher, philosopher, and royal advisor. He was a professor of economics and Chanakya, traditionally known as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta was an Indian teacher, philosopher, and royal advisor. He was a professor of economics and political science in the ancient Takshashila University. Chanakya is considered as the leader in the field of economics and political science in India.

Chanakya authored the ancient Indian political treatise called Arthashastra – which is considered as an important landmark in classical economics. Chanakya is often called the ‘Indian Machiavelli, although his works preexist Machiavelli’s since 1,800 years. Arthashastra literally means ‘the science of wealth’ or ‘economics’ as we know about it in modern parlance. However, collectively study of Arthashastra, one gets a sense that it's not meant to throw light simply on the subject of handling materialistic material resource, however additionally on the wealth that's intangible and can't be measured. The meaning of ‘wealth’ takes a completely new paradigm in Arthashastra.

Arthashastrais believed to have been written during the 4th century B.C. After a lapse of some 2300 years,Arthashastra still remains relevant today and is useful for present day leadership,management and organisations. Many of modern management principles prevalent today can be derived from the Arthashastra.

Kautiliya Arthasastra

In Kautilya’s treatise, the government was the organisation and its basic philosophy was to create a welfare state where the king was the leader. The successful achievement of the organizational purpose largely depended on the king. The leader’s primary goal according to Arthashastra is to fulfill the basic purpose of the existence of the organization – the philosophy. In Kautilya’s value-based management model, the philosophy of the organization is clearly defined. The leadership of the organization should be in consonance with and based on the organizational philosophy. Based on the organizational philosophy and leadership a corporate culture is developed which defines the values that are purported to guide the behavior of the members of the organization. All three components, organisational philosophy, leadership, and corporate culture are supplemented with general value guidelines. Organisations need to achieve their purpose based on the organisational philosophy and the leader of the organisation tries to get a response on the performance from various stakeholders of the organisation. Thus, Kautilya’s Arthashastra provides a total framework for the practice of values-based management.

Organisation Philosophy

Organisation philosophy defines the purpose of existence of the organisation. The organisational philosophy in broad terms covers the welfare of the various stakeholders and the society. In Kautilya’s treatise, the government was the organisation and its basic philosophy was to create a welfare state. By any definition the Kautilyan state was a welfare state par excellence in which the king was a model of personal purity and sobriety and is called upon to work for the happiness of the people.

Life and Organicism (History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization)

Value Based Leadership

The leader’s primary goal according to Arthashastra is to fulfil the basic purpose of the existence of the organisation – its philosophy. List of values, the leader has to possess which among others include:

(i) Piety, (ii) Truthfulness, (iii) Reliability, (iv) Gratefulness (v)Liberality (vi)Promptness (vii)Freedom from vices (viii) Long term vision and (ix) Conduct in conformity with the advice of elders

Organisation Culture

In order to fulfil the Organisational Philosophy, Kautilya understood the necessity of promoting values among other members of the organisation. Apart from their own field of work they must have among others the following values. (i) Integrity, (ii) Capability, (iii) Loyalty, (iv) Character, (v)Intelligence, (vi) Perseverance, (vii) Dexterity (viii) Friendliness (ix) Devotion (x) Amicability and (xi)Trustworthiness.

One of the major factors that has to be taken into consideration while appointing officials to various posts is their character and conduct. According to Kautilya’s scheme, Righteous behaviour has to be rewarded

(ii) Management lessons from Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Indian spiritual and philosophical text which is more than 5000 years old. One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is the Holy Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita means the song of spirit, the song of Lord. While a casual reading of Bhagavad Gita would leave one feeling that the book is about the personal struggles involved in engaging in warfare, the Bhagavad Gita represents much more the story of warefare.

The Bhagavad Gita represents the struggles encountered by all humans in everyday activities including the struggles of leadership. The Bhagavad Gita not only provides advice to modern day leaders and but also suggests important leadership qualities. The epic book of Bhagavad Gita has guided our personal lives and has also shaped the context of managerial decision-making and building an ethical decision-making ecosystem among Indian professionals. The principles of Bhagavad Gita reveal that managing men, money and materials in the best possible way is the most important factor for successful management. Lack of management causes disorder, chaos, confusion, wastage and destruction. Bhagavad Gita repeatedly proclaims that one must try to manage oneself. The modern management thinking of vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, giving work meaning are all well versed in the Bhagavad Gita. Among all the scriptures Bhagvad Gita is considerd topmost as the supreme Lord Krishna himself is speaking and answering the questions of his devotee Arjuna. Bhagvad Gita deals with five basic subjects.

Srimad Bhagvad - Gita (Sanskrit Recital Chapter 1 to 18 CD’s along with free text and translation of the Bhagavad Gita by Dr. Annie Besant) (Audio CDs with Book)

Jiva:- The soul, its nature, and its situation in this material world

Ishwara:- The Supreme Lord, how he is always with the living entities, his creative and destructive power. He is supremely enjoyed.

Prakriti:- The material nature (eternal energy of lord) and the three modes of material nature

Kala:- Time and its effect

Karma:- The action and reaction cycle.

The Bhagavad Gita is the summary of all Vedic philosophies and its teachings can be effectively applied to address any problem related to individual or organisation and is a strong source of illumination. The Bhagavad Gita suggest advices on humanistic and inclusive leadership and guides managers to seek higher level of consciousness while seeking for others influence, some most important qualities that a modern manager should follow maintaining proper role, being proactive with wisdom, self-sacrifice.

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता - Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (Vipul Bhashya)

From the above discussions we conclude that, much of modern management principles existing today can be derived from the body of knowledge of the ancient Indian scriptures. Through the wisdom's of Kautilya’s and Management lessons from Bhagavad Gita, we can not only promote a more ethical and responsible leadership on an individual or institutional level but also move towards the direction of restoring harmony among the Organisations towards

establishing a sustainable business through spiritual congruence. Service to the customer must be done with a free mind, without craving for the results of the work done. Work offers double benefit both personal and social. Thus, work should be worshiped. The ultimate message of Bhagavad Gita for business leaders and management practitioners is Nishkama Karma, meaning action performed without any expectations of fruits or results and treats action as worship. The action and the fruit and not two separate entities – the fruit is the action itself.

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