Hava Nagila!

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

The learning of attitudes

All management texts lay great emphasis on the need for right attitude to win in competitive Environment. While positive attitudes lead to increased productivity, solves problems with a reduction in stress and makes for an amenable human beings, negative attitudes lead to a burdensome life with resentment and high stress. These qualities are described in Gita at greater length under three well defined parentheses.

Gita explains the three gunas namely Sattva, Rajas and Tamas as representing three states of mind and attitudes. This sets the tone for executive behaviour in the day-today life in an organization.

A similar thought-current runs in the book by Marilyn Wheeler, which deals with three type of people. The first type is called ‘immature state’, where one withdraws emotionally or physically when faced with difficult situations. The opposite of this is the ‘controlling state’, where the person is in an aggressive mind. Both the types are to be avoided except on rare occasions. In a ‘freedom state’, perfect communication takes place leading to productive results. “It is a state that does not react to any type of difficult behaviour whether aggressive, passive or argumentative”.

The immature state is the exact equivalent of Tamasic qualities portrayed in the Gita.
TAMASTVA JNAAJAM VIDHI MOHANAM SARVA DEHINAAM |
PRAMAADAALASYA NIDHRAABHIHI SAANI BADHNAANI BHAARATA ||
This type represents a dull, idiotic, lazy and confused person creating depression in others as well. Qualities such as indecisiveness and avoidance of issues associated with this nature.

Similarly Rajasic qualities such as greed and over ambition are discussed in the sloka.
RAJO RAAGATMAAKAM VIDDHI TRUSHNAA SANGAMASAMUDBHAVAM|
TANNIBADHNAANI KAUNTEYA KARMA SANGENA DEHINAAM||
These qualities correspond to the controlling state, and the result is restlessness.

The nature of a satvic character, full of positive attributes, in contrast, is enlightened and interested in welfare and knowledge.
TATRA SATVAM NIRMALATVAAT PRAKASAKAMANAMAYAM /
SUKHASANGENA BADHNAATI JNANASANGENA CAANAGHA //
In conclusion, BG Sloka 14-6, states “from Satva flows knowledge, which leads to progress and positive results” (you win _ I win). From Rajas emanates greed resulting in one-upmanship and aggression (I win – you lose). Tamasic nature based on confusion and inactivity leads to failure and non-starters (I lose – you lose) .

This underscores the need for the people to know and be aware of their feelings. It is divided into two groups:
– metacognition – awareness of the thought processes and
– metamood – awareness of one’s own emotions.

The structure within which we operate often contributes to our behaviour. The structure is not a logical structure. It is the systematic structure developed over a period of time based on inter-relationship between various factors. The nature of structure in human systems is subtle because we are part of the structure. This means that we often have the power to alter-structures within which we operate. However, as Senge says, “more often than not, we do not perceive that power. In fact, usually we don’t see the structures at play much at all. Rather, we just find ourselves feeling compelled to act in certain ways”35. This opinion of Senge, of human being forced to act in certain ways is emphatically brought out in Srimad Bhagavatham in a conversation between Akrura and Dhritharashtra. Akrura advises the King to realise that the world is a dream and with the mind controlled by reason, to remain tranquil.
SAMAH SAANTO BHAVA PRABHO|

To this advice, the king replies that while the words of Akrura were like nectar, they fail to stick to his fickle mind, which was influenced by his attachments to his sons, even as a lightning does not get entangled with a cloud. Attachment to the sons becomes here, an obscuring factor.
HRUDI NA STHYATE CALE |

The concomitant factor is that of Learning Organisation. Peter Drucker calls it as ‘the only competitive edge of the developing countries’. Indian heritage has held learning and knowledge that flows out of it in great esteem. Chandogya Upanishad narrates the tale of the learned father advising the erring son Sweta Ketu to go and be a good student, for none in the lineage has lived without the knowledge of the Vedas, none was a Brahmin [the seeker of Brahman] by name only. Enhancement of knowledge was considered a primary duty of any citizen.

Education in Indian heritage not only aimed to develop the intellect of the student.
SAISAVEBHYASTA VIDHYAANAAM YAUVANO VISHAYAISHINAAM /
VAARDHAKE MUNIVRUTIVAAM YOGENAANTE TANUTYAJAAM //
Hitopadesa tells us that “Learning if not kept up by constant study is poison”.

The shining example is that of Brihu, who, at the bidding of his father Varuna makes penance repeatedly to realize Brahman. There is a fascinating sequence of his going from the lowest stage of concluding “annam” (food) is the Brahman; then at his father’s advice, he repeats his tapas to successively conclude that vital breath, mind and knowledge is Brahman. Finally, he realizes that it is Bliss that is Brahman. The multiple iterations of penance and effort till you know the Ultimate is the cornerstone of Knowledge Management in Indian heritage. It is also mentioned in the Tamil Text Tirukkural:
“A well dug in sand yields water as dug so learning, wisdom”

The concepts of Knowledge Management in Indian Heritage in comparison with the paradigms propounded by modern thinkers can be now discussed. Peter Senge, in his book “The Fifth Discipline”, starts with the problem of people clinging to fixed ideas that he calls as “Mental Models” which leads them to closed mind-set. This, in turn, makes them insensitive to their own lacunae in the attitude towards learning. Peter Senge describes ‘Mental Models’ as “deeply held internal images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting. Our ‘mental models’ determine not only how we make sense of the world, but now we take action. Two people with different mental models can observe the same event and describe it differently, because they looked at “different details”. Characterised as “Skilled Incompetence” by Senge, this mental model forces them to jump into “leaps of abstraction”. This leap into abstraction is a barrier to a Learning Organisation. The individual is not aware of the leap from particulars to a hasty generalization that occurs without a structured step-by-step process.

An outstanding example for the leaps of abstraction in hasty generalisation is seen in several instances in Valmiki Ramayana. Dasaratha wants to crown Rama the very next day, when Bharata is away. Conditioned by his earlier promise to Kaikeyi, he feels Bharata, despite his innate nobility, may be propelled by ambition. Dasarata believed that as minds of men are nonetheless inconsistent.
KIM NU CITTAM MANUSHYAANAAM ANITYAMITI ME MATAM /

Bharata again suffers as the victim of these leaps of abstraction on later occassions too; first when Guha seeing Bharatas’ huge entourage suspects his intentions(later he reverses his opinion); second, by sage Bharadwaja who harbours similar suspicions44 only to radically to reverse the conclusion afterwards and to organise a huge feast for Bharata.
KIMIHAAGAMANE KAARYAM TAVA RAAJYAM PRASAASATAHA /
ETADAACAKSHVE SARVE ME NA HI ME SUDHYATE MANAHA //
The mental process of the accompanying entourage also reflects this leaps of abstraction, when after enjoying the hospitality, they hastily decide to stay there for ever!”

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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