A few weeks back I was interviewing a youngster for a position of Business development in our company. His resume was impressive and more importantly his CV looked like a great fit for the position we advertised for. But what a disappointment it was to find that he fared very badly in the interview. Not that he was deficient in his communication skills. He was indeed quite communicative and made us believe that he had all the right qualifications and experience. It took a bit of effort on my part to expose his claims. It was a case of a guy claiming to be what he is not and overselling himself.
A little observation tells us that he is not alone in today’s world. Politicians, of course, excel in this art of hoodwinking people with false claims and promises. I find even multinational companies selling sophisticated equipments indulging in false claims. One has to be on guard to protect the interests of the company one works for as everyone is trying to play the game of one-upmanship.

What then is the solution to the malady? The answers come straight from Srikrishna’s advice in Bhagavadgita. Here’s His “Mann Ki Baat” for all of us:
Chapter thirteen of Bhagavadgita enumerates twenty desirable qualities for all human beings. We will consider here only three or four qualities relevant to our present discussion.

The first two are: Amanitvam and Adambitvam. Manitvam is an exaggerated opinion about one’s capabilities or achievements resulting in unrealistic expectations of praise or favour from others. In other words it’s pride. If the praise doesn’t come as expected, it would lead to disapointment and hurt. The demand for respect arises fundamentally because of a sense of deficiency or limitations within. If one is really confident that one has the capabilities in full measure, one would not demand respect. A hurt mind will only be preoccupied to retaliate rather than learn.(Isn’t this typical of a politician?).
Amanitvam is the absence of this pride. How is that to be achieved? A little analysis will be helpful. Even if one is highly qualified and learned, a careful self-assessment is enough to expose the illusion of a sense of achievement. After all, one merely happened to inherit genes responsible for intelligence from his parents who in turn gave him a good education and exposure in life. The individual, on his part, happened to have the good fortune of getting good teachers and ambience for pursuing higher education. Thus it’s a sheer coincidence of several factors falling in place for producing a result and one calls it as one’s achievement! Once you analyze and recognize these facts, there is absolutely no room for pride or MANITVAM. This is Amanitvam or absence of pride.

The second quality that one has to develop is ADAMBITVAM. This is the opposite of DAMBITVAM. While manitvam is pride based on some real qualifications, Dambitvam is self-glorification based on non-existent qualifications. Pretence and hypocrisy are the means by which one tends to present an exaggerated image of oneself merely to feel good or get some undue advantage. This arises due to refusal to accept ourselves as we are.

The third quality is a beauty by itself. It’s called ARJAVAM, which is loosely translated as rectitude or straightforwardness. This implies a complete alignment of thought, word and action. It’s such a beautiful quality to have that everyone gets attracted to such a personality. This quality is a prerequisite to be able to enjoy happiness and peace in life. It’s a great blessing, for, a lack of this quality results in a splintered personality which will NOT allow one to enjoy any of one’s possessions – be it wealth or name and fame.

The fourth important quality is Saucham, which is purity. Purity of Mind is indicated here as an essential requirement. Outward cleanliness is obvious for everyone to appreciate. Equally important is purity of Mind. An impure mind is a product of jealousy and anger.

Let us reflect on the advice given by SriKrishna today on His birthday.

Published in: on September 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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Play On Words…..in a profound way

The recent news from Russia about a petition to ban Bhagavad Gita on the plea that it preaches violence is what prompted me to write this post.
What I am going to narrate below is probably a rural legend(or a fabricated story?). Therefore don’t ask me to authenticate it. Not withstanding the facts about the episode, it is quite insightful.
It appears that a certain Maharani of Indore (Again, don’t ask me which Maharani or which period)was a very keen student of our scriptures.
When she reached a point where she was ready to be taught Bhagavad Gita, a highly learned scholar was appointed to teach her. The Guru started off with the opening SLOKA of the GITA, which reads as “Dharma kshetre Kuru kshetre samavetaa yuyutsavah; Maamakaah paandavaashchaiva kimakurvata Sanjaya”. The moment he started off with the first line, the Maharani asked him to stop and said that she already got the essential message of Gita. Asked by her Guru what she meant, she elaborated the message as follows:
Wherever you are or whatever station of life you are in, do your Dharma. How did she arrive at the meaning? By simple play of the first 4 words. Rearranging the first 4 words, it would read as: “Kshetre kshetre Dharm kuru”.
That was not all. She did a similar jugglery with the words once again. She pointed out that the first and the last word of the Sloka together conveyed that Dharma always wins:Dharma (SAN)Jaya.
This episode is an illustration of the fact that if one is positive minded, the most profound meaning may be culled from every word and phrase in the GITA. Conversely, if one is negative minded, one will see only negativity even in the most profound text. How can one explain, otherwise, the Russian contention that Bhagadgita teaches violence? One can only sympathize with such people.

Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 9:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Economic downturn and lessons in value based living

Quite a lot has been written about the present economic downturn,its causes,consequences,the brighter side of it etc. Everyone is unanimous in the opinion that it is going to inflict tremendous pain to millions of people. The rich will see significant erosion of their riches while the poor will become poorer and eventually suffer the most due to loss of jobs,homes,poor health care or even insufficient food and so on.
In a crisis like this,the onus of making a smooth transition into a more viable future squarely lies with the rich and prosperous businessmen, industrialists and of course the governments. It will necessarily be a tight rope walk on the part of these men because on the one hand they have to keep their enterprises afloat (which will require tremendous cost reduction) and on the other hand ensure that the measures they take will inflict the least pain to the people who depend on them. This will require very innovative solutions and equally importantly a fundamental shift in our value system. Otherwise the transition is guaranteed to be extremely painful for everyone of us.

When we look for lessons in values in life, we will be invariably drawn into a study of our scriptures,which are the obvious sources of rich values. To illustrate this point I have taken a few ‘slokas’ from our scriptures as examples.

Let us first explore the meaning of a couple of Upanishadic Shanti Mantras.
One of the popular Shanti mantras is:

“Sahanavavatu Sahanau bhunaktu saha viryam karvaavahai tejasvi navadheeta mastu ma vidvishavahai, Om Shanti Shanti Shantih ”

It translates as: “Together may He protect us.Together may He possess us. Together may we make unto us strength and virility. May what we have studied be full of light and power to us. May we never hate”.

To eloborate,a teacher of the Upanishads,in those days would invariably begin his teachings with a Shanti Mantra like the one quoted above. This particular mantra invokes the blessings of the Almighty and the blessings are sought for all the human beings – not for a selective few chanting the mantra. And what are the blessings for? It is for learning and getting enlightened together. It is for strength and virility for all. It is for divine grace and protection for everyone of us and finally it is also for His blessings to all to follow the path of non-hatred (‘ma vidvishavahai)’). The intentions of the teacher can be at once seen to be noble as it prays and seeks the wellness of the entire humanity.
And isn’t it pretty much similar to our economists and statesmen talking about ‘inclusive growth’ which has the objective of distributing the benefits of economic progress even to the poorest of the poor?
Let us analyse another well known Shanti mantra ” Bhadram karne bhih—-“. This mantra is full of suggestions for us all ‘to hear ,see and utter only auspicious things’. This is an exhortation to one and all to put to use all our God given resources in a highly positive manner instead of wasting them on meaningless sqabbling and rumour-mongering.

These two mantras basically set the tone and the framework within which all our activities and actions have to be undertaken. These values are for all times and occasions and particularly relevant to the present global crisis.
The present day leaders have to ensure that their policies benefit all sections of the society. They should declare this intent in their policy statements.

More specifically,our sciptures also define and prescribe the criteria for right action. I wil quote a sloka from Bhagavadgita to illustrate the point. In Ch 3 Lord Krishna talks at length about ‘Yajna’,which may be translated as Sacrifice. Swami Chinmayananda gives a brilliant interpretation (to Sloka #12 of Chapter 3 of Bhagavadgita),which is relevant to the present day. The sloka is:
“Ishtaan bhogaan hi deva daasyante yajna bhaavitaah.tair dattan aparadayai bhyo Bhunkte stena evatah”.
Literal translation is: “The devas nourished by the sacrifice will give you the desired objects. Indeed those who enjoy objects given by ‘devas’ without ‘offering’ is verily a thief “.
The sloka is explained by Swamiji thus : A member of a society who consumes without producing is a liability to the nation and should be deemed a thief.
This outright condemnation of selfish people in such strong terms is indeed highly significant in the context of the present crisis. The mega corporations and the men behind those corporations responsible for causing the present global crisis deserve to be condemned in such strong terms.

Proceeding further with the ‘sloka’ under discussion,the words ‘Deva’ and ‘Yajna’ are given very special interpretation. ‘Yajna’ is defined as “any self sacrificing work undertaken in a spirit of self-dedication for the blessing of all”.
‘Deva’ or the presiding deity is nothing but the productive potential in a given field. The potential which lies dormant can be invoked only by dedicated and sincere efforts(‘yajna’).

Let us try to apply the concepts behind the words – ‘Deva’ and ‘Yajna’ – for the present situation. We need to examine what is a ‘selfless action’ or sacrifice (‘Yajna’)and what is the productive potential to be realised(referred to as ‘deva’ in the sloka) in today’s context. Some eloboration of this is attempted below:

We all know that more than 2000 billiion US dollars of stimulus package(that is the cumulative figure from across the nations of the world) is being doled out to save the global economy from depression. Now the question arises as to how best this money should be spent.
-Are we going to use it for bailing out undeserving companies who caused the damage in the first place?
-Are we going to use it for subsidising the same old projects responsible for green house gas emissions?
-Are we going to use it on projects related to Green technologies?
-Are we going to use it on Pro-poor policies and projects for rural areas(improving agricultural yields,teaching farmers in the developing world on drought resistant crops etc)?
-Are we going to use the money on much needed basic health care and education infrastructure development?

The revival or stimulus package has got the potential to bring about transformation in any of the above areas. Obviously the first two options are selfish and self serving resulting in huge waste of our resources.

Selfless attitude(or ‘Yajna’ or sacrifice) will require us to spend the stimulaus package on projects of benefit to the disadvantaged and handicapped sections of the population. The last 3 options are typical examples which not only benefit the poor but also can provide employment to millions of people rendered jobless due to the recession.

It looks like the Governments across the globe will have to play a pivotal role in channelising the money for constructive projects of common good. For the first time,perhaps,after
the collapse of the Communist nations,governments of the Capitalist nations are being called upon to play a role wherein they can dictate terms to the private companies on how the money should be spent in accordance with principles of basic morality and social justice.

‘DHRITI’ and ‘BUDHI’ as Drivers of Success – A Perspective from Bhagavadgita

Dhriti ‘ in Sanskrit is a beautiful word with a lot of significance. And in Bhagavdgita,one will find this word being used on more than one occasion. As we will see now It provides a lot of insight into how success could be achieved in material or spiritual life.

In the Chapter 18 of Bhagavadgita, Krishna gives a series of Slokas differentiating the characteristics of a man of wisom (Saathvic Being) from those who are purely material minded and lazy.

The 26th sloka says: “Mukta sango anahamvaadi Dhriti utsaha sanvitah Sidhi asidhi anirvikarah karta saathvikmuchyate”

Here the important qualities of a wise (noble)man are enumerated: While there is no hierarchy of qualities,’Dhriti & utsah’(fortitude & enthusiasm) certainly do stand out as very important from the point of view of success in a mission. The other qualities such as being non-egoistic,unattached,being unnerved by success or failure are also equally important to cultivate.

Similarly in the 29th sloka–“Budhe bhedam dhritischaiva—“. Here the 3 types of ‘Budhi‘(intellect) & ‘Ddhriti‘(fortitude) are being introduced.

In the 30th sloka the desirable type of ‘Budhi’ is described as “pravirthimcha nivrithimcha kaarya akaarye bhayaa abhaye–vethi budhih–“

The discriminating intellect should know what ought to be done and what ought not to be done,what should be feared and what should not be feared etc.

Likewise in the 33rd sloka the desirable kind of ‘Dhriti‘ is desribed as “Dhritya yayaa dhaarayate manah pranendriya kriyah—avyabhicharinya dhritih–“

The ‘Dhriti‘ (or fortitide) should be so unwavering in its action that it exercises total control on the mind and senses(to align them towards the goal).

Here two things are considered very important – one is the ‘Budhi’ and the other is ‘Dhriti ‘. According to Swami Chinmayananda ‘Dhrirti ‘ signifies 3 qualities enriching one’s character. They are: Fortitude,consistency of purpose and actions. To quote Swamiji ” It is that power within ourselves by which we consistently see the picture of a goal that we want to achieve; while striving towards it,’Dhriti’ discovers for us the necessary consistency of purpose—.‘Dhriti ” paints the idea,maintains it constantly in our vision,makes us steadily strive towards it and when obstacles come,’Dhriti’ mobilises secret powers within ourselves(shall we say will power?) to face them all courageously,heroically and steadily”. Swamiji says there is no single word in English which captures all the above characteristics. For want of a better word Swamy Chinmayananda translates it as Fortitude.

This reminds one of the modern management’s way of conceptualising success in an organization. A succesful organization has to have a great deal of clarity on the following aspects:

1. A Vision,

2. A Mission

3. An action plan and

4. Resources needed to implement action plan.

Even if a single ingredient from the above recipe for success is missing there will be retardation of the growth process. Just to illustrate if an organization has no vision but has everything else in place,there will be lots of random activity resulting in confusion. One can argue on similar lines with respect to the other ingredients to success as well.

It seems to me that the powerful word ‘Dhriti ‘ carries with it the flavour of all the 4 components (that is vision,mision,action plan and resouirces) of success mentioned above. Obviously it has to be combined with another important characteristic ‘BUDHI ‘ which is nothing but a discriminating intellect. The discriminating power of intellect is instrumental in creating the right vision for the organization. ‘DHRITI & BUDHI ‘ have to go hand in hand to ensure that the vision is attained.

In the following post I will try to give a couple of live examples of oraganizations to illustrate the role of ‘DHRITI & BUDHI’.

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 7:51 am  Comments (2)  
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