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Principles of Management as Prescribed by the Mahabharata Paper

Words: 2227, Paragraphs: 21, Pages: 8

Paper type: Essay , Subject: Bhagavad Gita

Western management philosophy may have created prosperity – for some people for some time at least – but it has failed in the aim of ensuring betterment of individual life and social welfare. It has remained by and large a soulless edifice and an oasis of plenty for a few in the midst of poor quality of life for many. It does not give a sense of fulfillment what an individual desires at the end. (Aids Foundation of Bill Gates may be an example. ) Mahabharat depicts a path of Dharma as the sole objective, be it individual or corporate, since the same ensures maximization of happiness of all groups.

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An unholy desire to achieve results by any means often becomes counterproductive in the long run for the corporation and the country as a whole. Hence, there is an urgent need to re-examine prevailing management disciplines – their objectives, scope and content. Management should be redefined to underline the development of the worker as a person, as a human being, and not as a mere wage-earner. With this changed perspective, management can become an instrument in the process of social and indeed national development.

Gita however talks about Nishkam karma which helps one to achieve results more effectively in the long run by pursuing a path of Dharma. The two main pillars of Gita are abhyas (practice) and tapasya (penance). Going by this the corporate sector should continue doing the right thing ceaselessly by adopting the right means with a single-minded objective in mind ( Abhyas) and should not get swayed under any temptations or distraction and bear the hardships in the short run( Tapasya).

With these two principles results will automatically come which will bring satisfaction to all groups be it customers, shareholders, vendors, workers, etc. 2. The Management Principles: 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. Mahabharat is not plainly the story of a war or a source of wisdom for philosophers. It exposes the secrets of leadership and the path to success. Mahabharat can be considered equivalent to other management bibles.

Whether it is man management, human/organisational behaviour, game theory, management by objectives, all aspects of modern management can be discovered in various characters and episodes of the great epic. Bhishma, an honest manager caught in diametrically opposed clashes, who was forced to take wrong decisions by forces beyond his power. Yudhisthira is a flawless example of managerial acumen. Karna, a manager who fought his way up the ladder but could not keep up with the pressure and tensions and met a tragic end. Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, a daredevil leader without a business-plan of escape.

He fought his way into the chakravyuha, but failed to come out and was brutally cornered and killed by Drona and others. Draupadi is the typical model of a woman powerhouse who kept others motivated till the goal is achieved. And Lord Krishna is the ideal example of a leader-manager who kept his eye on the target till the desired outcome was achieved. i) Honor Thy Competitor The Mahabharata tells us that one should never humiliate his competitors. Competitors should be treated with dignity. The great Kurikshetra War itself could be avoided if the pride of Duryodhan had not been hurt.

When Duryodhan came to the palace at Indraprastha of the Pandavas he was mesmerized by its beauty. He mistook the crystalline edifices to be water bodies and vice versa and every time he made such a mistake the Pandavas and Draupadi made no efforts to hide their amusement which hurt Duryodhan’s pride beyond repair which laid the seeds of war in his mind. ii) Business consideration above personal consideration Dhritarashtra was the patriarch of the Kauravas. He was extremely partial towards his eldest son Duryodhan. He was blind not only literally but also figuratively.

He was blind to his son’s faults. He took all decisions in Duryodhan’s favour irrespective of whether it was morally right or wrong– be it the decision of sending the Pandavas to 14 years in exile or planning to murder the brothers and their mother at Vanavrata. This led to disastrous consequences. A person who is the head of an organization must take his decisions with an eye to the general good overriding personal considerations. His extending favours to his close subordinates must not be at the cost of the corporate health.

He must keep his eyes and ears open and be aware of the limitations and shortcomings of his chosen successors or heirs. iii) Adaptability The Pandav brothers were not only great Kshatriyas skilled in weaponry and the art of warfare but also well versed in other humbler skills such as cooking, tending the cows and horses, dancing, etc. It was their versatility and adaptability that enabled them to complete their exile in the forest for 12 years and also the 13th year in disguise in King Virat’s court without any glitches.

Had these princes born into the royal household, used to the royal comforts of their princely heritage not been so adaptable and adjusting they would have found it difficult to bear the rigors of a forest life and the humiliating positions of attendants in the royal court. Similarly, a good manager should be conversant with all aspects of the organization he works for– from the shopfloor to the boardroom. He should be ready to exchange his suit for the gloves. iv) Making wise choices An important lesson of management science is to choose wisely and utilize scarce resources optimally.

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 the nature of the effective manager – the former chose numbers, the latter, wisdom. v) Attitudes towards work Three stone-cutters were engaged in erecting a temple. An HRD Consultant asked them what they were doing. The response of the three workers to this innocent-looking 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 the 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 our work for the common good. vi)Dedication towards work A popular verse of the Gita advises “detachment” from the fruits or results of actions performed in the course of one’s duty.

Being dedicated work has to mean “working for the sake of work, generating excellence for its own sake. ” If we are always calculating the date of promotion or the rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then such work is not detached. Working only with an eye to the anticipated benefits, means that the quality of performance of the current job or duty suffers It is not “generating excellence for its own sake” but working only for the extrinsic reward that may (or may not) result. Some people might argue that not seeking the business result of work and actions makes one unaccountable.

In fact, the Bhagavad Gita is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible for the consequences of his deeds. While advising detachment from the avarice of selfish gains in discharging one’s accepted duty, the Gita does not absolve anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his or her responsibilities. Thus the best means of effective performance management is the work itself. Attaining this state of mind (called “nishkama karma”) is the right attitude to work because it prevents the ego, the mind, from dissipation of attention through speculation on future gains or losses. ii)Self- actualization—The Ultimate Goal Today’s management principles say that satisfying lower order needs such as food, shelter and clothing ensures that an employee puts in his maximum effort and it keeps the employee motivated. However, that is not the case. It is a common experience that the dissatisfaction of the clerk and of the Director is identical – only their scales and composition vary. On the contrary, a lowly paid schoolteacher, or a self-employed artisan, may well demonstrate higher levels of self-actualization despite poorer satisfaction of their lower-order needs.

This situation is explained by the theory of self-transcendence propounded in the Gita. Self-transcendence involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself, emphasizing team work, dignity, co-operation, harmony and trust – and, indeed potentially sacrificing lower needs for higher goals, the opposite of Maslow. “Work must be done with detachment. ” It is the ego that spoils work and the ego is the centerpiece of most theories of motivation. We need not merely a theory of motivation but a theory of inspiration. viii) Work culture

An effective work culture is about vigorous and arduous efforts in pursuit of given or chosen tasks. Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of work culture – “daivi sampat” or divine work culture which includes fearlessness, purity, self-control and “asuri sampat” or demonic work culture which includes egoism, delusions, improper performance and work not oriented towards service. Mere work ethic is not enough. The hardened criminal exhibits an excellent work ethic. 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 technique of work which is an indispensable component of a work ethic. “Yogah” is defined in the Gita itself as “samatvam yogah uchyate” meaning an unchanging equipoise of mind (detachment. ) Tilak tells us that acting with an equable mind is Yoga. The Gita further explains the theory of “detachment” from the extrinsic rewards of work in saying: 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, the cause of the modem managers’ companions of diabetes, high blood pressure and ulcers. Assimilation of the ideas of the Gita leads us to the wider spectrum of “lokasamgraha” (general welfare) but there is also another dimension to the work ethic – if the “karmayoga” (service) is blended with “bhaktiyoga” (devotion), then the work itself becomes worship, a “sevayoga” (service for its own sake. (This may sound a peculiarly religious idea but it has a wider application. It could be taken to mean doing something because it is worthwhile, to serve others, to make the world a better place ) ix)Manager must show superior judgement In the book, the Mahabharata, we come across a king by the name of 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 thousand years. However, he found the pursuit of sensual enjoyments ultimately unsatisfying and came back to his son pleading him to take back his youth.

This “yayati syndrome” shows the conflict between externally directed acquisitions (extrinsic motivation) and inner value and conscience (intrinsic motivation. ) In today’s world also a manager must not be swayed by external vagaries. He must have a sound mental health which is the very goal of any human activity – more so management. Sound mental health is 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 tress-free mind. x) Manager must follow the ‘actions speak louder than words’ policy “Whatever the excellent and best ones do, the commoners follow,” says Sri Krishna in the Gita. The visionary leader must 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. 3. conclusion Sri Krishna’s advice with regard to temporary failures 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. All clouds will vanish. Light will fill the heart and mind. I assure him of this. This is the message of Holy Gita. This discussion doesnot suggest discarding of the Western model of efficiency, dynamism and striving for excellence but to tune these ideals to India’s holistic attitude of “lokasangraha” – for the welfare of many, for the good of many.

This is indeed a moral dimension to business life. What we do in business is no different, in this regard, to what we do in our personal lives. The means do not justify the ends. Pursuit of results for their own sake, is ultimately self-defeating. (“Profit,” said Matsushita-san in another tradition, “is the reward of correct behaviour. ” – ed. )

REFERENCES 1. You Can Win- Shiv Khera 2. managementparadise. com 3. citehr. com XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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