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Buddhism and Hinduism
Aug 04 2004 04:43 AM
Sri Buddha (Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.), an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was an oral teacher; he left no written doctorines.He renunciated his kingdom and trvelled everywhere to understand the sufferings of others.(1) sickness, (2) old age, (3) death, and (4) an ascetic. He then realized worldly happiness was an illusion, renounced his worldly life, and pursued a quest for truth as a wondering monk.
His followers codified later all his teachings and propagated all over the world and during that period Budhism was the largest religion. His main priciples are follows.
1 The Four Noble Truths
At the core of the Buddha’s enlightenment was the realization of the Four Noble Truths: (1) Life is suffering. This is more than a mere recognition of the presence of suffering in existence. It is a statement that, in its very nature, human existence is essentially painful from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Even death brings no relief, for the Buddha accepted the Hindu idea of life as cyclical, with death leading to further rebirth. (2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment, and grasping that result from such ignorance. (3) Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment. (4) The path to the suppression of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation. These eight are usually divided into three categories that form the cornerstone of Buddhist faith: morality, wisdom, and samadhi, or concentration.
Buddhism analyzes human existence as made up of five aggregates or “bundles” (skandhas): the material body, feelings, perceptions, predispositions or karmic tendencies, and consciousness. A person is only a temporary combination of these aggregates, which are subject to continual change. No one remains the same for any two consecutive moments. Buddhists deny that the aggregates individually or in combination may be considered a permanent, independently existing self or soul. Indeed, they regard it as a mistake to conceive of any lasting unity behind the elements that constitute an individual. The Buddha held that belief in such a self results in egoism, craving, and hence in suffering. Thus he taught the doctrine of anatman, or the denial of a permanent soul. He felt that all existence is characterized by the three marks of anatman (no soul), anitya (impermanence), and dukkha (suffering). The doctrine of anatman made it necessary for the Buddha to reinterpret the Indian idea of repeated rebirth in the cycle of phenomenal existence known as samsara. To this end he taught the doctrine of pratityasamutpada, or dependent origination. This 12-linked chain of causation shows how ignorance in a previous life creates the tendency for a combination of aggregates to develop. These in turn cause the mind and senses to operate. Sensations result, which lead to craving and a clinging to existence. This condition triggers the process of becoming once again, producing a renewed cycle of birth, old age, and death. Through this causal chain a connection is made between one life and the next. What is posited is a stream of renewed existences, rather than a permanent being that moves from life to life—in effect a belief in rebirth without transmigration.
Closely related to this belief is the doctrine of karma. Karma consists of a person’s acts and their ethical consequences. Human actions lead to rebirth, wherein good deeds are inevitably rewarded and evil deeds punished. Thus, neither undeserved pleasure nor unwarranted suffering exists in the world, but rather a universal justice. The karmic process operates through a kind of natural moral law rather than through a system of divine judgment. One’s karma determines such matters as one’s species, beauty, intelligence, longevity, wealth, and social status. According to the Buddha, karma of varying types can lead to rebirth as a human, an animal, a hungry ghost, a denizen of hell, or even one of the Hindu gods.
Although never actually denying the existence of the gods, Buddhism denies them any special role. Their lives in heaven are long and pleasurable, but they are in the same predicament as other creatures, being subject eventually to death and further rebirth in lower states of existence. They are not creators of the universe or in control of human destiny, and Buddhism denies the value of prayer and sacrifice to them. Of the possible modes of rebirth, human existence is preferable, because the deities are so engrossed in their own pleasures that they lose sight of the need for salvation. Enlightenment is possible only for humans.
The ultimate goal of the Buddhist path is release from the round of phenomenal existence with its inherent suffering. To achieve this goal is to attain nirvana, an enlightened state in which the fires of greed, hatred, and ignorance have been quenched. Not to be confused with total annihilation, nirvana is a state of consciousness beyond definition. After attaining nirvana, the enlightened individual may continue to live, burning off any remaining karma until a state of final nirvana (parinirvana) is attained at the moment of death.
In theory, the goal of nirvana is attainable by anyone, although it is a realistic goal only for members of the monastic community. In Theravada Buddhism an individual who has achieved enlightenment by following the Eightfold Path is known as an arhat, or worthy one, a type of solitary saint.
For those unable to pursue the ultimate goal, the proximate goal of better rebirth through improved karma is an option. This lesser goal is generally pursued by lay Buddhists in the hope that it will eventually lead to a life in which they are capable of pursuing final enlightenment as members of the sangha.
The ethic that leads to nirvana is detached and inner-oriented. It involves cultivating four virtuous attitudes, known as the Palaces of Brahma: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. The ethic that leads to better rebirth, however, is centered on fulfilling one’s duties to society. It involves acts of charity, especially support of the sangha, as well as observance of the five precepts that constitute the basic moral code of Buddhism. The precepts prohibit killing, stealing, harmful language, sexual misbehavior, and the use of intoxicants. By observing these precepts, the three roots of evil—lust, hatred, and delusion—may be overcome.
The message delivered to the world by the Buddha Sakyamuni Gotama over two and a half millennia ago was primarily and essentially for mankind as a whole, irrespective of clan and creed differences. He had no chosen people of any specific region whom he wished or needed to favor. In the world of the Buddha, men and women were of equal status, with no insinuation whatsoever of inferiority either of intellect or in the possibility of spiritual attainments. As a teacher, the Buddha covered both realms of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial beings. It is for this reason that he came to called the teacher of gods and men [ sattha devamanussanam ].
The genesis of this message to mankind came as a result of an observation said to have been made by young Siddhartha [ born into this world as a human ] while he was yet unenlightened and was only a Buddha aspirant or bodhisatta, pursuing his goal of enlightenment. In the physical world of human life, he saw a great deal more than others, i.e. you and I. This greater vision and keener insight, we are personally inclined to believe, was the result of a maturity of wisdom acquired through samsaric evolution. In the living process of being born, aging and decaying, of being subject to disease and dying, which in reality are no more than very natural processes, the young prince saw a genuine core of unsatisfactoriness or dukkha because of the unfailing and unacceptable trait of change lying within them.
It is our non-acceptance of these realities of life as they truly are and our inability to streamline ourselves against their harshness which bring the first category of pain or dukkha upon mankind. This puts the humans or the loka, as our young aspirant to enlightenment calls the humans in this context, in a very stressful situation - kiccham vata ayam loko apanno. He did sense it and see it. But we, as average worldlings, are too dull-witted.
There was also behind this vision the inherited Indian belief that the human life process is cyclical and continuous. It is called samsara. Death indeed does not terminate life. From death to death life goes on – mrutyoh sa mrutyum apanoti. The very process of living, and its psychic acquisitions in this very phenomenon, propels life ad infinitum, i.e. ceaselessly. The greatness of young Siddhartha and his dauntless spirit of adventure is seen at this point when he challenges this situation. He is determined to terminate this process. He is convinced that it is in this termination that there lies the salvation of mankind. It is called the departure or the stepping out - nissarana. It is the departure from the painful process of continuance in life.
This is the goal of Nirvana. Here the painful process of being born again and again is ended - Ayam antima jati. Natthi ‘ dani punabbhavo. So said the Buddha on discovering himself to be liberated. Speaking in a different idiom, it is said that at this stage the wheel of life turns no more – yattha vattam na vattati. Nirvana undoubtedly is an individual attainment. It is personal to each one. It is attainable in one's lifetime, here and now, if the needful has been done. Do not fail to appreciate that our Sakyamuni Buddha attained it at the age of thirty-five years and enjoyed its bliss for full forty-five years thereafter.
When the Buddha constantly says in his teachings that he preaches at all times two basic things, it is this concept of unsatisfactoriness in life or dukkha and its termination and elimination or nirodha – dukkhanc’aham pannapemi dukkhassa ca nirodham that is highlighted. It is through a logical analysis of these two basic items, the search for the cause of dukkha and the way leading to its cessation that one arrives at the total set of Four Noble Truths.
Let us now turn to another area of this dukkha besides the physical one of birth, decay etc. The Buddha himself presents to us other psychic or mental areas of dukkha origin. Being torn off from the company of dear and loved ones [ piyehi vippayogo ]as well as being pushed into the company of unloved ones [ appiyehi sampayogo ] bring about mentally painful stresses and strains. So is the inability to gain what one wishes for – yam p’ iccham na labhati tam pi dukkham. That is hope differed maketh the heart sick. This is a remarkably valuable insight, which Buddhism gives to mankind with regard to one’s personal relations and their inevitable consequences. In this area of psychic grievances, the Buddha says that all modes of grasping at things of the world, the process being named upadana, are equally productive of painful situations and lead to regeneration in a further samsaric continuance.
This, we wish to insist, is a remarkable insight into the reality of psychic phenomena in the world. In the area of human perceptual and cognitive activities, it is inestimably valuable to be forewarned about the consequences of these what appear to be normal processes of mental activities of humans. They are consequences in terms of the formation of our character or personality in our present life and also possibly in our lives to come. They appear to be normal and we choose to call them so in this context because they are the outcome of our reacting to sense stimuli received through our sense organs.
Five of these sense organs like the eye and the ear etc. are visibly located externally in our body. They literally bombard us all the time, both for attraction and repulsion in terms of our likes and dislikes. The mind as the sixth sense organ, located within, has a rich repertoire of built-in experience. In the regular cognitive process in our daily living, the formation of our judgements are directed by our acquired and stored up knowledge of the past which we call memory, possibly extending backwards, even to a life beyond the present. This we call the trans-samsaric consciousness [ vinnana-sota or samvattanika-vinnana ] which determines the quality of our lives from birth to birth.
We believe we have said so far enough to clarify the Buddhist position that every samsaric being is a product of his own creation. For each one, it is an individual self-wrought process at work, for personal elevation or degradation. There exist no place or person, within or without, who provides security to beings of the world [ attano loko ]. Nor is there anyone, according to Buddhism, who directs the destiny of the world [anabhissaro ]. If you seek the one or the other, you could not do so without stepping out of Buddhism. In doing so one automatically ceases to be a true Buddhist in spirit, no matter what claim one puts forward for its justification. Buddhist texts in fact call such a person an outcast.
Buddhism definitely tolerates no religious bigamy of soliciting or entertaining alien leadership and guidance – anna satthara. In Buddhism there is no room for qualitative or quantitative elevation in life through divine grace or celestial intervention. Affluence, success and prosperity are always products of endeavor and enterprise [ utthata vinadate dhanam ]. It is more honorable to take leave of Buddhism totally before embracing other alien divinities of your choice for favors, grants or whatever one wishes for.
It is this approach in Buddhism of giving every individual, man, woman or child the right to work out his or own salvation, without supplicating any external divinity and praying for grace that entitles it to be called anthropocentric in its process of religious development and glorification of man. Religious life of man as recommended in Buddhism gets him not only beyond the stresses and strains of life in the world as he lives here in our midst, but also redeems and elevates him to a state of transcendence which is well and truly beyond human.
It is the way of the Noble Eight-fold Path, worked out through eight successive stages, which brings humans, in their correctly acquired composure of the mind called samma samadhi, to the threshold of wisdom called samma nana. It is from here that one moves to the release in Nirvana, unmistakably known as samma vimutti. This is the highest achievable elevation and glorification of man, woman and child to be liberated from being mortals in the painful process of samsara and be admitted to the immortality, eternality and bliss of Nirvana. Call it by whatever name you will. The choice is yours. Once you have got there, you need names no more
In conclusion we can say that Buddhism is the most pios religion and it stand only for peace.
Bhagavad Gita and Management
Jul 03 2004 06:50 PM
Your website is informative and excellant.
Article is by M.P. Bhattathiry, Retied Chief Technical Examiner to the Government of Kerela, Radhanivas, Thaliyal, Karmana, Trivandrum, 695 002, Kerela, India, may be published in your website.
Bhagavad Gita and Management
by M.P. Bhattathiry
Mind is very restless, forceful and strong, O Krishna, it is more difficult to control the mind than to control the wind ~ Arjuna to Sri Krishna
One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita. Arjuna got mentally depressed when he saw his relatives with whom he has to fight. The Bhagavad Gita is preached in the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as a counseling to do his duty. It has got all the management tactics to achieve the mental equilibrium.
Management has become a part of everyday life, be it at home, office, factory, Government, or in any other organization where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose, management principles come into play through their various facets like management of time, resources, personnel, materials, machinery, finance, planning, priorities, policies and practice.
Management is a systematic way of doing all activities in any field of human effort. It is about keeping oneself engaged in interactive relationship with other human beings in the course of performing one's duty. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant -so says the Management Guru Peter Drucker.
It strikes harmony in working -equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcities be they in the physical, technical or human fields through maximum utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal.
The lack of management will cause disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and material in the best possible way according to circumstances and environment is the most important and essential factor for a successful management. Managing men is supposed have the best tactics. Man is the first syllable in management which speaks volumes on the role and significance of man in a scheme of management practices. From the pre-historic days of aborigines to the present day of robots and computers the ideas of managing available resources have been in existence in some form or other. When the world has become a big global village now, management practices have become more complex and what was once considered a golden rule is now thought to be an anachronism.
Management guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita
There is an important distinction between effectiveness and efficiency in managing. Effectiveness is doing the right things and efficiency is doing things right. The general principles of effective management can be applied in every fields the differences being mainly in the application than in principles. Again, effective management is not limited in its application only to business or industrial enterprises but to all organizations where the aim is to reach a given goal through a chief executive or a manager with the help of a group of workers.
The manager's functions can be briefly summed up as under:
. Forming a vision and planning the strategy to realize such vision
. Cultivating the art of leadership
. Establishing the institutional excellence and building an innovative organization
. Developing human resources
. Team building and teamwork
. Delegation, motivation, and communication
. Reviewing performance and taking corrective steps whenever called for
Thus management is a process in search of excellence to align people and get them committed to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit. The critical question in every manager's mind is how to be effective in his job. The answer to this fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad Gita which repeatedly proclaims that 'you try to manage yourself'. The reason is that unless the manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness that sets him apart from the others whom he is managing, he will be merely a face in the crowd and not an achiever.
In this context the Bhagavad Gita expounded thousands of years ago by the super management Guru Bhagawan Sri Krishna enlightens us on all managerial techniques leading to a harmonious and blissful state of affairs as against conflicts, tensions, lowest efficiency and least productivity, absence of motivation and lack of work culture etc common to most of the Indian enterprises today.
The modern management concepts like vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, meaning of work, attitude towards work, nature of individual, decision making, planning etc., are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita with a sharp insight and finest analysis to drive through our confused grey matter making it highly eligible to become a part of the modem management syllabus.
It may be noted that while Western design on management deals with the problems at superficial, material, external and peripheral levels, the ideas contained in the Bhagavad Gita tackle the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking because once the basic thinking of man is improved it will automatically enhance the quality of his actions and their results.
The management thoughts emanating from the Western countries particularly the U.S.A. are based mostly on the lure for materialism and a perennial thirst for profit irrespective of the quality of the means adopted to achieve that goal. This phenomenon has its source in abundance in the West particularly the U.S.A. management by materialism caught the fancy of all the countries the world over, India being no exception to this trend.
Our country has been in the forefront in importing those ideas mainly because of its centuries old indoctrination by the colonial rulers which inculcated in us a feeling that anything Western is always good and anything Indian is always inferior. Hence our management schools have sprung up on the foundations of materialistic approach wherein no place of importance was given to a holistic view.
The result is while huge funds have been invested in building these temples of modem management education, no perceptible changes are visible in the improvement of the quality of life although the standard of living of a few has gone up. The same old struggles in almost all sectors of the economy, criminalization of institutions, more and more social violence, exploitation and such other vices have gone deep in the body politic.
The reasons for this sorry state of affairs are not far to seek. The western idea of management has placed utmost reliance on the worker (which includes managers also) -to make him more efficient, to increase his productivity. They pay him more so that he may work more, produce more, sell more and will stick to the organization without looking for alternatives. The sole aim of extracting better and more work from him is for improving the bottom-line of the enterprise. Worker has become a hireable commodity, which can be used, replaced and discarded at will.
The workers have also seen through the game plan of their paymasters who have reduced them to the state of a mercantile product. They changed their attitude to work and started adopting such measures as uncalled for strikes, gheraos, sit-ins, dharnas, go-slows, work-to-rule etc to get maximum benefit for themselves from the organizations without caring the least for the adverse impact that such coercive methods will cause to the society at large.
Thus we have reached a situation where management and workers have become separate and contradictory entities wherein their approaches are different and interests are conflicting. There is no common goal or understanding which predictably leads to constant suspicion, friction, disillusions and mistrust because of working at cross purposes. The absence of human values and erosion of human touch in the organizational structure resulted in a permanent crisis of confidence.
The western management thoughts, although acquired prosperity to some for some time, have absolutely failed in their aim to ensure betterment of individual life and social welfare. It has remained by and large a soulless management edifice and an oasis of plenty for a chosen few in the midst of poor quality of life to many. Hence there is an urgent need to have a re-look at the prevalent management discipline on its objectives, scope and content.
It should be redefined so as to underline the development of the worker as a man, as a human being with all his positive and negative characteristics and not as a mere wage-earner. In this changed perspective, management ceases to be a career-agent but becomes an instrument in the process of national development in all its segments.
Bhagavad Gita and managerial effectiveness
Now let us re-examine some of the modern management concepts in the light of the Bhagavad Gita which is a primer of management by values.
Utilisation of available resources
The first lesson in the management science is to choose wisely and utilize optimally the scarce resources if one has to succeed in his venture. 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 who is an effective manager.
Attitude towards work
Three stone-cutters were engaged in erecting a temple. As usual a H.R.D. consultant asked them what they were doing. The response of the three workers to this seemingly innocent question is illuminating. 'I am a poor man. I have to maintain my family. I am making a living here,' said the first stone-cutter with a dejected face. 'Well, I work because I want to show that I am the best stone-cutter in the country,' said the second one with a sense of pride. 'Oh, I want to build the most beautiful temple in the country,' said the third one with a visionary gleam. Their jobs were identical but their perspectives were different. What Gita tells us is to develop the visionary perspective in the work we do. It tells us to develop a sense of larger vision in one's work for the common good.
The popular verse 2.47 of the Gita advises non- attachment to the fruits or results of actions performed in the course of one's duty. Dedicated work has to mean 'work for the sake of work'. If we are always calculating the date of promotion for putting in our efforts, then such work cannot be commitment-oriented causing excellence in the results but it will be promotion-oriented resulting in inevitable disappointments. By tilting the performance towards the anticipated benefits, the quality of performance of the present duty suffers on account of the mental agitations caused by the anxieties of the future. Another reason for non-attachment to results is the fact that workings of the world are not designed to positively respond to our calculations and hence expected fruits may not always be forthcoming.
So, the Gita tells us not to mortgage the present commitment to an uncertain future. If we are not able to measure up to this height, then surly the fault lies with us and not with the teaching.
Some people argue that being unattached to the consequences of one's action would make one un-accountable as accountability is a much touted word these days with the vigilance department sitting on our shoulders. However, we have to understand that the entire second chapter has arisen as a sequel to the temporarily lost sense of accountability on the part of Arjuna in the first chapter of the Gita in performing his swadharma.
Bhagavad Gita is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible for the consequences of his deeds. The Gita, while advising detachment from the avarice of selfish gains by discharging one's accepted duty, does not absolve anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his responsibilities.
This verse is a brilliant guide to the operating Manager for psychological energy conservation and a preventive method against stress and burn-outs in the work situations. Learning managerial stress prevention methods is quite costly now days and if only we understand the Gita we get the required cure free of cost.
Thus the best means for effective work performance is to become the work itself. Attaining this state of nishkama karma is the right attitude to work because it prevents the ego, the mind from dissipation through speculation on future gains or losses.
It has been presumed for long that satisfying lower needs of a worker like adequate food, clothing and shelter, recognition, appreciation, status, personality development etc are the key factors in the motivational theory of personnel management.
It is the common experience that the spirit of grievances from the clerk to the director is identical and only their scales and composition vary. It should have been that once the lower-order needs are more than satisfied, the director should have no problem in optimizing his contribution to the organization. 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 school teacher, a self-employed artisan, ordinary artistes demonstrate higher levels of self- realization despite poor satisfaction of their lower- order needs.
This situation is explained by the theory of self-transcendence or self-realization propounded in the Gita. Self-transcendence is overcoming insuperable obstacles in one's path. It involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself, team work, dignity, sharing, co-operation, harmony, trust, sacrificing lower needs for higher goals, seeing others in you and yourself in others etc. The portrait of a self-realizing person is that he is a man who aims at his own position and underrates everything else. On the other hand the self-transcenders are the visionaries and innovators. Their resolute efforts enable them to achieve the apparently impossible. They overcome all barriers to reach their goal.
The work must be done with detachment. This is because it is the ego which spoils the work. If this is not the backbone of the Theory of Motivation which the modern scholars talk about what else is it? I would say that this is not merely a theory of motivation but it is a theory of inspiration.
The Gita further advises to perform action with loving attention to the Divine which implies redirection of the empirical self away from its egocentric needs, desires, and passions for creating suitable conditions to perform actions in pursuit of excellence. Tagore says working for love is freedom in action which is described as disinterested work in the Gita. It is on the basis of the holistic vision that Indians have developed the work-ethos of life. They found that all work irrespective of its nature have to be directed towards a single purpose that is the manifestation of essential divinity in man by working for the good of all beings -lokasangraha.
This vision was presented to us in the very first mantra of lsopanishad which says that whatever exists in the Universe is enveloped by God. How shall we enjoy this life then, if all are one? The answer it provides is enjoy and strengthen life by sacrificing your selfishness by not coveting other's wealth. The same motivation is given by Sri Krishna in the Third Chapter of Gita when He says that 'He who shares the wealth generated only after serving the people, through work done as a sacrifice for them, is freed from all the sins. On the contrary those who earn wealth only for themselves, eat sins that lead to frustration and failure.
The disinterested work finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise. The former two are psychological while the third is the strong-willed determination to keep the mind free of and above the dualistic 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 empirical individual intelligence. Such de-personified intelligence is best suited for those who sincerely believe in the supremacy of organizational goals as compared to narrow personal success and achievement.
Work culture means vigorous and arduous effort in pursuit of a given or chosen task. When Bhagawan Sri Krishna rebukes Arjuna in the strongest words for his unmanliness and imbecility in recoiling from his righteous duty it is nothing but a clarion call for the highest work culture. Poor work culture is the result of tamo guna overtaking one's mindset. Bhagawan's stinging rebuke is to bring out the temporarily dormant rajo guna in Arjuna. In Chapter 16 of the Gita Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of Work Ethic viz. daivi sampat or divine work culture and asuri sampat or demonic work culture.
Daivi work culture - means 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 - means egoism, delusion, desire-centric, improper performance, work which is not oriented towards service. It is to be noted that mere work ethic is not enough in as much as a hardened criminal has also a very good work culture. 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 method or technique of work which is an indispensable component of work ethic. Yogah is defined in the Gita itself as samatvam yogah uchyate meaning unchanging equipoise of mind. Tilak tells us that performing actions with the special device of an equable mind is Yoga. By making the equable mind as the bed-rock of all actions Gita evolved the goal of unification of work ethic with ethics in work, for without ethical process no mind can attain equipoise. Adi Sankara says that the skill in performance of one's duty consists in maintaining the evenness of mind in success and failure because the calm mind in failure will lead him to deeper introspection and see clearly where the process went wrong so that corrective steps could be taken to avoid such shortcomings in future.
The principle of reducing our attachment to personal gains from the work done or controlling the aversion to personal losses enunciated in Ch.2 Verse 47 of the Gita is the foolproof prescription for attaining equanimity. The common apprehension about this principle that it will lead to lack of incentive for effort and work, striking at the very root of work ethic, is not valid because the advice is to be judged as relevant to man's overriding quest for true mental happiness. Thus while the common place theories on motivation lead us to bondage, the Gita theory takes us to freedom and real happiness.
The Gita further explains the theory of non- attachment to the results of work in Ch.18 Verses 13-15 the import of which is as under:
. 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 against psychological vulnerability which is the cause for the Modem Managers' companions like Diabetes, High B.P. Ulcers etc.
Assimilation of the ideas behind 2.47 and 18.13-15 of the Gita leads us to the wider spectrum of lokasamgraha or general welfare. There is also another dimension in the work ethic. If the karm ayoga is blended with bhaktiyoga then the work itself becomes worship, a seva yoga.
Manager's mental health
The ideas mentioned above have a close bearing on the end-state of a manager which is his mental health. Sound mental health is the very goal of any human activity more so management. An expert describes sound mental health as that state of mind which can maintain a calm, positive poise or regain it when unsettled in the midst of all the external vagaries of work life and social existence. Internal constancy and peace are the pre- requisites for a healthy stress-free mind.
Some of the impediments to sound mental health are:
. Greed -for power, position, prestige and money
. Envy-regarding others' achievements, success, rewards
. Egotism -about one's own accomplishments
. Suspicion, anger and frustration
. Anguish through comparisons
The driving forces in today's rat-race are speed and greed as well as ambition and competition. The natural fallout from these forces is erosion of one's ethico-moral fiber which supersedes the value system as a means in the entrepreneurial path like tax evasion, undercutting, spreading canards against the competitors, entrepreneurial spying, instigating industrial strife in the business rivals' establishments etc. Although these practices are taken as normal business hazards for achieving progress, they always end up as a pursuit of mirage -the more the needs the more the disappointments. This phenomenon may be called as yayati-syndrome.
In Mahabharata we come across a king called Yayati who, in order to revel in the endless enjoyment of flesh exchanged his old age with the youth of his obliging youngest son for a mythical thousand years. However, he lost himself in the pursuit of sensual enjoyments and felt penitent. He came back to his son pleading to take back his youth. This yayati syndrome shows the conflict between externally directed acquisitions, motivations and inner reasoning, emotions and conscience.
Gita tells us how to get out of this universal phenomenon by prescribing the following capsules.
Cultivate sound philosophy of life
Identify with inner core of self-sufficiency
Get out of the habitual mindset towards the pairs of opposites
Strive for excellence through work is worship
Build up an internal integrated reference point to face contrary impulses, and emotions
Pursue ethico-moral rectitude
Cultivating this understanding by a manager would lead him to emancipation from falsifying ego-conscious state of confusion and distortion, to a state of pure and free mind i.e. universal, supreme consciousness wherefrom he can prove his effectiveness in discharging whatever duties that have fallen to his domain.
Bhagawan's advice is relevant here:
tasmaat sarveshu kaaleshu mamanusmarah yuddha cha
Therefore under all circumstances remember Me and then fight (Fight means perform your duties).
Management needs those Who practise what the preach
Whatever the excellent and best ones do, the commoners follow, so says Sri Krishna in the Gita. This is the leadership quality prescribed in the Gita. The visionary leader must also be a missionary, extremely practical, intensively dynamic and capable of translating dreams into reality. This dynamism and strength of a true leader flows from an inspired and spontaneous motivation to help others. "I am the strength of those who are devoid of personal desire and attachment. O Arjuna, I am the legitimate desire in those, who are not opposed to righteousness" says Sri Krishna in the 10th Chapter of the Gita.
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 valor 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).
In conclusion the purport of this essay is not to suggest discarding of the western model of efficiency, dynamism and striving for excellence but to make these ideals tuned to the India's holistic attitude of lokasangraha -for the welfare of many, for the good of many. The idea is that these management skills should be India-centric and not America-centric. Swami Vivekananda says a combination of both these approaches will certainly create future leaders of India who will be far superior to any that have ever been in the world.
Praise for Bhagavad-gita
(click here to read Bhagavad-gita and Management)
"No work in all Indian literature is more quoted, because none is better loved, in the West, than the Bhagavad-gita. Translation of such a work demands not only knowledge of Sanskrit, but an inward sympathy with the theme and a verbal artistry. For the poem is a symphony in which God is seen in all things. . . . The Swami does a real service for students by investing the beloved Indian epic with fresh meaning. Whatever our outlook may be, we should all be grateful for the labor that has lead to this illuminating work."
Dr. Geddes MacGregor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Philosophy University of Southern California
"The Gita can be seen as the main literary support for the great religious civilization of India, the oldest surviving culture in the world. The present translation and commentary is another manifestation of the permanent living importance of the Gita."
Thomas Merton, Theologian
"I am most impressed with A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's scholarly and authoritative edition of Bhagavad-gita. It is a most valuable work for the scholar as well as the layman and is of great utility as a reference book as well as a textbook. I promptly recommend this edition to my students. It is a beautifully done book."
Dr. Samuel D. Atkins Professor of Sanskrit, Princeton University
"As a successor in direct line from Caitanya, the author of Bhagavad-gita As It Is is entitled, according to Indian custom, to the majestic title of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The great interest that his reading of the Bhagavad-gita holds for us is that it offers us an authorized interpretation according to the principles of the Caitanya tradition."
Olivier Lacombe Professor of Sanskrit and Indology, Sorbonne University, Paris
"I have had the opportunity of examining several volumes published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and have found them to be of excellent quality and of great value for use in college classes on Indian religions. This is particularly true of the BBT edition and translation of the Bhagavad-gita."
Dr. Frederick B. Underwood Professor of Religion, Columbia University
"If truth is what works, as Pierce and the pragmatists insist, there must be a kind of truth in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, since those who follow its teachings display a joyous serenity usually missing in the bleak and strident lives of contemporary people."
Dr. Elwin H. Powell Professor of Sociology State University of New York, Buffalo
"There is little question that this edition is one of the best books available on the Gita and devotion. Prabhupada's translation is an ideal blend of literal accuracy and religious insight."
Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins Professor of Religion, Franklin and Marshall College
"The Bhagavad-gita, one of the great spiritual texts, is not as yet a common part of our cultural milieu. This is probably less because it is alien per se than because we have lacked just the kind of close interpretative commentary upon it that Swami Bhaktivedanta has here provided, a commentary written from not only a scholar's but a practitioner's, a dedicated lifelong devotee's point of view."
Denise Levertov, Poet
"The increasing numbers of Western readers interested in classical Vedic thought have been done a service by Swami Bhaktivedanta. By bringing us a new and living interpretation of a text already known to many, he has increased our understanding manyfold."
Dr. Edward C Dimock, Jr. Department of South Asian Languages and Civilization University of Chicago
"The scholarly world is again indebted to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Although Bhagavad-gita has been translated many times, Prabhupada adds a translation of singular importance with his commentary."
Dr. J. Stillson Judah, Professor of the History of Religions and Director of Libraries Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California
"Srila Prabhupada's edition thus fills a sensitive gap in France, where many hope to become familiar with traditional Indian thought, beyond the commercial East-West hodgepodge that has arisen since the time Europeans first penetrated India.
"Whether the reader be an adept of Indian spiritualism or not, a reading of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is will be extremely profitable. For many this will be the first contact with the true India, the ancient India, the eternal India."
Francois Chenique, Professor of Religious Sciences Institute of Political Studies, Paris, France
"As a native of India now living in the West, it has given me much grief to see so many of my fellow countrymen coming to the West in the role of gurus and spiritual leaders. For this reason, I am very excited to see the publication of Bhagavad-gita As It Is by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It will help to stop the terrible cheating of false and unauthorized 'gurus' and 'yogis' and will give an opportunity to all people to understand the actual meaning of Oriental culture."
Dr. Kailash Vajpeye, Director of Indian Studies Center for Oriental Studies, The University of Mexico
"It is a deeply felt, powerfully conceived and beautifully explained work. I don't know whether to praise more this translation of the Bhagavad-gita, its daring method of explanation, or the endless fertility of its ideas. I have never seen any other work on the Gita with such an important voice and style. . . . It will occupy a significant place in the intellectual and ethical life of modern man for a long time to come."
Dr. Shaligram Shukla Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University
"I can say that in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is I have found explanations and answers to questions I had always posed regarding the interpretations of this sacred work, whose spiritual discipline I greatly admire. If the aesceticism and ideal of the apostles which form the message of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is were more widespread and more respected, the world in which we live would be transformed into a better, more fraternal place."
Dr. Paul Lesourd, Author Professeur Honoraire, Catholic University of Paris
"When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous."
"When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day."
"In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial."
Henry David Thoreau
"The Bhagavad-Gita has a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested by actions."
Dr. Albert Schweitzer
"The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race a living creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning for every civilization."
"The idea that man is like unto an inverted tree seems to have been current in by gone ages. The link with Vedic conceptions is provided by Plato in his Timaeus in which it states 'behold we are not an earthly but a heavenly plant.' This correlation can be discerned by what Krishna expresses in chapter 15 of Bhagavad-Gita."
"The Bhagavad-Gita deals essentially with the spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call of action to meet the obligations and duties of life; yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander purpose of the universe."
Prime Minister Nehru
"The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life's wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion."
"I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it."
"From a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled. Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures."
"The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity."
"The Bhagavad-Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to reveal the science of devotion to God which is the essence of all spiritual knowledge. The Supreme Lord Krishna's primary purpose for descending and incarnating is relieve the world of any demoniac and negative, undesirable influences that are opposed to spiritual development, yet simultaneously it is His incomparable intention to be perpetually within reach of all humanity."
The Bhagavad-Gita is not seperate from the Vaishnava philosophy and the Srimad Bhagavatam fully reveals the true import of this doctrine which is transmigation of the soul. On perusal of the first chapter of Bhagavad-Gita one may think that they are advised to engage in warfare. When the second chapter has been read it can be clearly understood that knowledge and the soul is the ultimate goal to be attained. On studying the third chapter it is apparent that acts of righteousness are also of high priority. If we continue and patiently take the time to complete the Bhagavad-Gita and try to ascertain the truth of its closing chapter we can see that the ultimate conclusion is to relinquish all the conceptualized ideas of religion which we possess and fully surrender directly unto the Supreme Lord.
"The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and pollen is the essence of flowers."
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