We attend numerous meetings to figure out a vision/ mission statement for the organisation we work. Have we ever thought what is our personal vision?
Feeling proud to announce that my book The Gita Way is due for release by end of this month. Soon it will be available on Amazon for pre-order. Will update again the relevant link once it is released.
The Gita Way is an irreligious take on the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita. Without delving into either mythological or God-centric discourse, the book attempts to understand and explain various insights from the Gita through, in the author’s words, derived theory and application. The Gita Way attempts to shed light on matters of self-realisation, and identifying and following the path to achieve the purpose of life.
Within the framework of Vedic philosophy represented by Gita, this book explores:
- How to discover the swa-bhava, the inherent natural strength of our real-self?
- Is my profession aligned with my swa-bhava? What is my purpose of life?
- What is the real meaning of moksha, the liberation? How the realization of individual purpose leads us to attain supreme purpose we are born to achieve?
Using the principles of Gita, this book presents innovative findings on theory of prarabdha, the luck or destiny, role of knowledge and karma, continuous improvement, yoga of universal harmony and yoga of devotion. To highlight few, in chapter combined discipline of knowledge and karma, we introduce most important part of their research -centring. Centring summarizes power of combined application of yoga of knowledge and karma along with simplified theory of spirit and supreme spirit. Chapter Vision of Universal Form and Yoga of Liberation simplifies the meaning of moksha, the state of liberation by linking it to the attainment of the supreme purpose of life. Chapters on Yoga of Devotion and Continuous improvement focus on recipe of staying on the unique path of achieving individual goal.
Unlike other books on Bhagavad Gita, The Gita Way is not a chapter wise discourse. Instead it presents deduced concepts in first place supported with relevant reference from the whole Gita. For example, in the first chapter of the Gita Way, you may get a reference of last chapter of Gita relevant to the topic of discussion.
I was referring Bhagvad Gita in some other context and found that its philosophy is a great tool for personal effectiveness and success in life. In one word in which this holy book could be summarized is ‘Karma Yoga’. I tried to make some inferences related with philosophies of ‘Karma yoga’ in context on our personal and professional life. The question I tried to find answer for was how the philosophy of Gita can enhance my personal effectiveness and ensure a sure success in life?
In chapter 2,47; lord Krishna says “Only your rights to perform your prescribed duty are in your control, however, the fruits of your action are not. Therefore never consider yourself as the cause of the result of your activities and at the same time never attach yourself with inaction”. Action without attaching yourself to the fruits of action is a concept however at the same time lord says “direct your actions towards the supreme or ultimate goal of life, the Moksha. In our context the ultimate goal of life could be the real goal we want to achieve in this life. The goal of life could be anything depending upon personal choice. I want to become a CEO, or I want to be the best musician, sportsperson etc, or some short-term goal like I want to become sales and marketing head in next 5 years, or some financial goal like I want to have a worth of 100 cr assets in next 7 years or goals something else, measurable, individualistic of your own. If I extend the inferences of Bhagvad Gita’s Karma yoga, the starting point is focus on your karma.
To meet your goal of life you have to do set of sub goals which will direct you towards ultimate goal. Each sub goal need certain set of activities and the quality of performance of these set of activities are in your full control; however, the results of these set of activities may defer as you wish, as Gita says the fruits of your action is not in your control. So, it’s difficult to stay on the path to ultimate goal with such uncertainty in between. The Gita further says that you must act like a yogi, thus perseverance is must. How to deal with failures in between? In such situation Gita says take both success and failures with reasons firm and free from any doubt (Chapter 5, 9). In this context even rejoices of success can divert you from ultimate goal.
Next question is even if one is not attached with results in between activities and ultimate goal, how should one ensure the desired result in between to certain the ultimate result, which matters? Between activities and its results there is a natural process which is not in our control. This natural process consist of the environmental factors, quality of system in which the activity is performed, the activities and results of other individuals etc. To understand this let us take an example; suppose I want to drive home safely. In this case my quality of work is the driving skill, speed, following traffic rules, condition of vehicle like brakes, petrol etc. The quality of work is in my full control in this case. Now let’s assume there comes a sudden rain, roads become slippery and another individual, whose quality of driving in not in your control skids his car and smashes with yours. Now, even with my activities were in place, I could not control the outcome I desired. This is natural process, which is why the concept of luck or chance exists. Bhagvad Gita, gives a solution in the form of devotion to your work and believe in supreme. In chapter 3, 11 and 12; lord advises that do ‘yagya’ which will elevate demigods and in return they will fulfill your wishes even without asking for it. This needs proper analysis to understand in our context.
‘Yagya’ actually represent two things 1) your contribution to the natural process, the environment, the society etc 2) devotion with trust. In Hindu mythology the ‘Yagya were performed to get a certain result like rain, parenthood, or health etc. The context is changed, along with quality of activities; we need devotion and trust in supreme. We must also make sure that our activities should not negatively influence the environment and other individuals surrounding us. The people who does not believe in supreme power may devote them self to the Karma and trust them self to get the same ‘Yagya’ done.
So the karma yoga can be summarized in two actions 1) focus on quality action with devotion and trust in supreme or our inner self 2) Positive contribution to natural process.
Barbarika was one of the heroes of Mahabharata who never got his due in the history of time. The people, who know this character, know that he could have been the best warrior in the great war of Mahabharata. Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to prove this point.
Barbarika, who earned an exceptional skill to destroy the complete army in just one shot of an arrow, once demonstrated the same to Krishna. Krishna asked him to pierce all the leaves of a ‘Peepal’ tree. While Barbarika was chanting the mantra just before releasing the arrow, Krishna took one leaf of the tree and hid it under his foot. Barbarika released the arrow and it did what it meant, after piercing all the leaves it started revolving around Krishna’s feet. The demonstration of this skill surprised everyone who witnessed. Barbarika claimed that he could finish the war in just a few hours. The interesting part of the story was Barbarika’s pledge to fight always from losing side. Krishna knew that this warrior has the capacity to diminish any side, and so the other side will always be the losing one; and if Barbarika changes sides, he would kill everyone on both sides of the war. Krishna foresaw the consequences of using Barbarika in the war and decided that Barbarika should be sacrificed. He asked Barbarika, to whom he considers his guru. He replied that all the skills he earned keeping only lord Krishna in his mind, so he, lord Krishna, is the prime guru. Then Krishna asked for gurudakshina (fee or gift asked by teachers for their teachings). He asked the head of Barbarika in the gurudakshina. Barbarika took no time to cut his head and gave it to Krishna on his own and in return, Krishna granted him a wish to live till the battle of Mahabharata ends and watch the same from a nearby mountain.
Now I have two points to discuss. One, why was Barbarika sacrificed? Was that the only option left to Krishna? Two, if the consequences were different, could Barbarika have proved to be the greatest warrior of time?
Arjuna emerged as the hero of the Great war of Mahabharata. If I my assumptions are right, most of the heroes are made. On the way of their making, lots of Barbarika are sacrificed. The heroes we know need to be judged whether they are an Arjuna, a Barbarika or a Krishna. And if you want to be an Arjuna, you need a Krishna. This conclusion seems a little political and conflicting to the religious belief we hold. So I am leaving this topic open for a debate till my, opposite and concluding argument in next paragraph.
The other side of the argument is the indecisiveness of Barbarika. He made a pledge which could not make him loyal to anyone. If Krishna allowed Barbarika to participate in Great War of Mahabharata, he could finish the war only by killing himself because any side represented by Barbarika were the winning one. In this conclusion, lord Krishna took a call, in the interest of Dharma, and scheduled the destiny of Barbarika a little before. If I argue with religious belief in lord Krishna, there is a message in this story. Whenever there is indecisiveness in your mind, remember you are killed. Our skills and knowledge do not count when we are not on one side of a decision. You can only fight from one side.
Recently, this story is adopted in ‘theory of indecisiveness’ section of my book ‘The Gita Way’ which is due for release in May 2016. To know more about the book please visit.http://www.amazon.in/dp/9380914873
I saw a young man in hurry to catch the local train with a purpose. Then I saw a young boy moving his buffaloes in open field to feed them and enjoying alone by playing with a cricket ball. I also sew a sweet young couple moving along a village road, calm and cool without any talk. I see lot of similar and different people moving around with and without a purpose with some or other emotion without demonstrating any. Then I ask few questions to myself. Who among those are happy? Who among those going to create history? Who among those is both successful and satisfied with his or her success? Who among those inherited a lot to make his given identity and who’s going to create the same?
Then I saw a huge vegetation of forest land with dry but golden leaves waiting to disappear just before fall. I got some clue and some of my answer. The trees and disappearing golden leaves signify completion of a life cycle and transformation into a new one. End is not the right word so I am using completion which is destined. Good or bad, fruitful or fruitless the trees will lose their leaves. However; just before disappearing, leaves become golden representing prosperity which seems to be notional but actually not. Philosophically completion is good as it is followed by transformation and reincarnation and sets a fresh start. So in the end (actually at the completion) everything is good. All of my questions remain insignificant at this conclusion. Is that what Bhagvad Gita says as ultimate detachment?
I tried to derive the answer from Bhagvad Gita itself. The building block of human life cycle, philosophically, can be categorized into inherited wealth (money, language, religion, society etc. at the time of birth), learning (knowledge, attitude, skills, insights etc), Application of learning (KARMA), Wealth creation (Knowledge, money, language, religion, society etc) and finally dissipating wealth. In the whole process there is no physical gain. That’s why Gita questions attachment with physical gains. There should not be any confusion with inactivity. As there is a gain, the golden leaves, and the base of reincarnation, called spiritual gain. Spiritual gain comes from KARMA, the right activity for right purpose, the DHARMA, the ultimate goal. (DHARMA is not religion specific; it means the ultimate goal of human being). To know KARMA, adequate knowledge and adequate health is required to apply knowledge. This is where inheritance becomes important which is basically BHAGYA, the luck and it’s not in any one’s hand. So the only thing left is KARMA to gain real wealth. So the sights I mention in first paragraph have no difference. The real difference if can be measured with spiritual gains it would have been very easy to answer all my doubts. Even though, if I assume happiness close to spiritual gain, it’s almost impossible to decide by just watching. The rural boy playing with cricket ball and buffaloes could be happier than the chairman of a multi billion dollar company. Its difficult, so no measurement, no confusion. At the completion every things going to look like same, like golden leaves. Let’s gain a better root to make sure the new leaves waiting to sprout is more beautiful and healthy.
I had some busy months and few excuses of not writing. Actually it’s all about reflections and for last few weeks I was not able to feel any substance in my thought until two things happened to me. One was “Dasvidania” a Hindi movie and two; was my recent visit to one of the shopping mall in Mumbai.
‘Dasvidania’ is a movie about a person who knows that he’s gona die in next three month because of stomach cancer. And he make a list of ‘things to do’ for his rest of life. One by one he makes and completes ten wishes making his end a happier one and leaving his surroundings with a sense of accomplishments. The fact that provoked my thought is that none of us know how much time is available to complete the ‘things to do’ of life. And almost all of us even do not have ‘things to do’.
The second incidence shook my long debated believe in law of ‘Karma’. In the shopping mall there is a place specially marked for children where they got every thing to fun like jumping, dancing etc. And I saw a young boy on wheel chair, probably because of disorder from birth, staring at those of similar of his age, who were in fun, dancing and jumping. One could very easily see the helplessness in his eyes. What Karma makes him so? Why there is no level field for all?
The simplest answer is ‘the life is like that only’. We may decide our own actions but we need sound mind too to make us capable of doing so. My actions are ‘Karma’ and my sound mind is my ‘Bhagya’ or luck. There is limitation to law of ‘Karma’ as there are number of factors which we can’t decide. These factors are father, family, language, primary education etc. These are paternal assets we get as ‘Bhagya’, the luck. And if we are lucky enough to have sound mind we can decide the ‘Karma’ of our lives.
If you believe in Karma, you would not do anything just out of habbit.
Bagavad Gita says your Karma decided fortune of your future course of life and beyond. Quality of Karma becomes top most concern as our duty. Gita also says Karma should always be directed towards duty of Dharma. Literal meaning of Dharma is religion. But its significant is above that. It is basically your ultimate goal as directed by your purest inner self. So Karma should always be for a very positive purpose and so it should be carefully designed.
Most of us will agree that more than 99% of our Karma come just out of our daily routine or habit without any purpose. Very few of us takes care of a very long term objective while deciding education or career. Our bringing up comes under a high supervision of our parents so something we can blame to our surroundings; but not all. When we start taking our own decisions we must be clear about our ultimate goal or a long term perspective of our duties. It is true for our smallest activities too. We must carefully choose our talk, letters, comments based on relatively bigger objective. It can be done by self awareness and a live consciousness while in action.
The concept of “Nishkama Karma”, action without attachment to both action/work and fruits expected there after, as mentioned in Hindu holy book Bhagwad Gita, can solve many of the management problems and can confuse few too.
One of the most popular saying of Bhagwad Gita is always misunderstood. The following stanza is always misunderstood as ” Do your work/duty without expecting any fruit/result”. Actually it is slightly different and can be explained with some more concepts mentioned in the very beginning lessons of Bhagwad Gita. I have interpreted in some different ways and tried to think it from the management perspective.
The Gita limits our domain of influence to our “Karma” only and not thereafter (ref; chapter 2, 47). So results of “Karma” are not in our hand. But if the definition of word “Karma” is analyzed closely it will confuse the above interpretation. Karma is not merely work but it is work for duty. Karma is not only activity but also it is activity with a positive purpose. When there is duty or activity with a purpose, Karma becomes Dharma. “Dharma” can be correlated with the ultimate goal of the life. So, though you should not be instrumental in making your actions bear fruit (chapter 2, 47), you may design your actions for your ultimate goal, the “Dharma”. When we talk about fruits, it is actually outcomes of your sequence of actions in the way to ultimate goal. Good or bad, there should not be any attachment to these outcomes. And so these outcomes should not divert you from your ultimate goal.
What are the benefits of detachment from fruits? As per the Gita, in advance stage of attaining yoga, there should be detachment from “Karma” too. This also have very interesting interpretation but I will try to discuss it in some other post. All these attachments creates aggression, fear and anger. Carrying forward from the conclusion in above paragraph, aggression, fear and anger have all the potential to divert you from your ultimate goal by changing your course of actions in search of pleasurable fruits. So to make your goal and your actions intact we must have stable mind. The Gita defines it as “Samatva”, evenness of mind. (chapter 2, 48).
From management perspective, replace Karma with strategy and Dharma or ultimate goal with vision or mission of the organization and all the above interpretations will hold true.
Your comments carry significant value
References from Gita
Chapter2,47; Your right is to work only and never to fruit thereof. Be not instrumental in making your actions bear fruit, nor let your attachment be to inaction.
Chapter2, 48; “Samatva”, evenness of mind is called “Yoga”.
Chapter2, 56; The sage, whose mind remains unperturbed amid sorrows, whose thirst for pleasures has altogether disappeared, and who is free from passion, fear and anger, is called stable of mind.
Chapter2,57; He who is unattached to everything, and when meeting with good and evil, neither rejoices nor recoils, his mind is stable.