Hava Nagila!

Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid

Important Heritage Texts

The first and foremost of these texts is the Rig Veda.  The word “Veda” is derived from the root “Vid” – “to know” and refers to the source from which knowledge is gleamed: Vedas place great store on the unfailing acquisition of knowledge at all stages of life.  The end of the Vedas – Upanishads – extend the quest of knowledge further.  The epics which follow the vedic period chronologically had interwoven concepts with a well constructed story.  Here, the principal characters are portrayed as role models of the management tenets laid out in heritage texts.  While Ramayana provides a varied scenario with  well constructed dramatis – personae which bears comparison with contemporary managerial ideas, Mahabharata, the later epic looks at human interactions in a very modern way, especially in the area of leadership and value-management. Santi Parva 13/4 directs the manager “Avoid the two letter word   “mameti”  – All for me  and choose the three letter word  “na mameti “ – not only for me 1.

DVAYAKSHARASTU  BHAVET  MRUTYUHU

TRAYAKSHARAHA  BRAHMA  SAASVATAM |

              MAMETI  CA  BHAVENMRUTYUHU

                        NA MAMETI CA SAASVATAM ||

The Bhagavad Gita, a part of Mahabharata gives the condensed wisdom of higher thought, with a unique approach suited to modern times.  For instance, the plight of the misguided executives who cannot get any peace of mind is   portrayed in the Bhagavad Gita Verse 2.66

NAASTI   BUDDHIRAYUKTASYA NA  CAA  YUKTASYA  BHAAVANA |

NA  CAA  BHAAVAYATAHA   SANTIHI ASAANTASYA  KUTAH  SUKHAM | |

“To the unsteady, there is no knowledge, to the unsteady   there is no focusing either, and to the unmedatative no peace; to one without peace, how can there be happiness? 2″.

A whole lot of unhappiness in the world can be traced to people failing to have an integral vision, seeing parts and missing the whole.  This leads to unhealthy mental approaches to problems and the resultant inability to identify the root cause of the problem.  Every message gets interpreted to be synchronous with the person’s mental frame.     This concept of seeing things not as static, unrelated activities but as a compelling force to change, is brought out by a somewhat esoteric passage in the Brahadaranyaka Upanishad.  The gods, humans and the demons were studying under their father, Prajapati.  Having concluded their studies, the gods went to the father and asked him to give them (presumably a final) instruction.  He spoke the single syllable ‘da‘ to them and asked if they understood what was meant by it.  They did understand it to mean damyata’ (Controlling oneself).  Similarly the humans went to him and asked for instructions.  Again it was the same letter ‘Da’ and they understood it to mean ‘datta’ (to give).  When the demons went with a similar request, Prajapati repeated the same syllable ‘Da’ and the demons understood it to mean ‘dayadhvam’ (be compassionate).  The message ends with the heavenly thunder reverberating the same letter ‘Da’ advising the three qualities of practicing self-control, giving to others and showing compassion.

This passage contains a very powerful message to the entire humanity in general, and including the worldly-wise at large. The medicine is related to the malady.  The gods represent the set of people who are given to sensuous pleasures at all the times.  This very soon leads to the ‘Yayati-Syndrome’, where pleasures do not bring happiness.  For them, the solution lies in controlling their sense organs (damyata).   The second group represented by humans are core materialists, whole sole aim is acquisition of wealth.  They are selfish and self-centered, who are unaware   of the art of sharing.   The remedy for them is sharing (datta) with others, which brings real joy. The violent dictatorial types are represented by the demons.    They suffer from the exercise of indiscriminate power.  For them the panacea is compassion (dayadvam), to the weaker sections of the humanity.  It is a process of change in the mind-set, through which one sees the whole – and not the snapshots.   This process liberates them and by continuous practice elevates them to the Freedom State.

Artha Sastra of Kautilya can be considered as the most ancient single work on Economics, Finance, Management and Governance.  It portrays a government practising advanced concepts in central and state administrations which function in various tiers.

Kautilya mentions mines in the country that were managed by the government.    Mention also is made of government-managed woolen mills in the India of two thousand years ago.  Salt was also a government property, so too was spinning and weaving factories and the units engaged in manufacture had to have well-trained managers all along the line.    With such a massive cadre of officers serving the government, ancient Indians saw the imperative need for analyzing the human element.    Kautilya lists 40 possible ways of embezzlement of state revenue.  Indeed, there is a strongly worded   provision in the Artha Sastra against making revenue officials permanent.     Their work had to be carefully studied and such checks and balances were built in the administrative system.  Defence Expenditure amounted to over 50% in most of the states.   The land holdings were also huge 3.   It is natural that with such a high level of Administration and management activities, ancient India should have developed many concepts of management.

Previous | Next

Abstract | Introduction | Important Heritage Texts | Organizational concepts in Indian Heritage | Conceptual Model of Management | Governance and Administration | Governance and Administration in Tamil Sangam Heritage | Duties of a ruler as in Tamil Heritage Text | Fiscal Administration in Tamil Heritage Texts | SWOT Analysis | Knowledge Management | The learning of attitudes | Leader’s role in learning culture | Learning Models | The need for holistic knowledge | Conclusion | References

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