Bhagwad Gita The Manager’s Guide

Dr. D. Mukhopadhyay

It is an established fact that the Bhagavad Gita (The Songs of the Lord) or simply the Gita is one of the few books which has been receiving the fragrance of reverence all over the world and it has been guiding the people when they become directionless under certain circumstances which they are usually not familiar with or they come under the influence of sorrow, happiness or bewilderment. The Gita is the conversation between Arjuna, the warrior, and Lord Krishna, the Chariot Driver of Arjuna, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This conversation is in the form of Verses (Slokas) in Sanskrit and She is the embodiment of Eighteen Chapters containing seven hundred ‘Slokas’. Management is a subject that helps the managers to act or not to act, react or not to react, pro-act or not to pro-act in day to day span of economic operations in a business organization. Management is primarily used as a tool that helps the managers make decisions under different adverse as well as favourable situations concerning practical domain of their professional career. The managers are meant for making various decisions under the context of uncertainty, risk and uncertainty that he or she comes across during the time of performing managerial duties and discharging managerial responsibilities. The Gita has passed the test of time of five thousand or more years and has become universally relevant in every society irrespective of caste, creed, religion, gender, language and profession.
Management may also be considered to be a profession though there is higher degree of disagreement among the researchers and experts as to whether it can be treated as a profession. However, the managers may take the refuge under the umbrella of the Gita when they experience any crises in the day to day management affairs concerning an economic entity since it deals with the human problems during the entire journey to life i.e. since the time of birth till a life comes to an end. Managers are product of management discipline by and large though it is not an essential condition that an individual must go through formal management education in order to become a manager. The Gita helps the managers understand themselves and others including the subordinates, peers, and superiors. Many a time a manager comes across the situations of bewilderment which makes him or her indecisive owing to various reasons. Management or the manager faces or experiences many dilemmas like whether a manager should see first the personal interest than that of the cause of the organization he or she belongs to . In simplicity, management of an organization is a group of managers . The term ‘management’ is generally used to mean two things -one is the authority and the other is the management discipline which sharpens the decision making edge of the managers. Here we refer the second one in our discourse. Management as a decision making tool empowers the management to overcome various adversaries in the day to day commercial operations of a business organization. A person should be trained enough to face sorrows, enjoy the joy of success and endure the pain of failures in order to become a prudent manager and the Gita can give an affectionate asylum him or her when they are to act under the influence of those situations which are bound to commonly happen to any human being when it is in the form of mortal body. It is a very common experience that a manager is expected to come across the situations of anxiety, stress and perplexity while having a journey to accomplish result from uncertain future. It is customary for a manager to remain alert all the time with enthusiasm in order to achieve the supreme objectives of a business undertaking. A person should be free from the shackles of stress and anxiety and keep the degree of motivational influence as high as possible so that nothing is impossible in the lexicon of a manager. The Gita can immensely help an individual to become an effective manager and a noble human being. It is in totality the manifestation of education for mankind and a manager is a part and parcel of the same. Managers are trained in management education by and large but it may be naive to accept that contemporary management education models lacks valuable perspectives of life though there has been a recent trend to include certain portion of ethical value based educational flavor in the course-curricula of management discipline but that is quite insignificant in terms of what it should have been . In most of the cases, management education transmits only information, in some cases knowledge and hardly wisdom which is the purpose of any education. Managers need to have self-discipline while exercising authority and power.
A manager is supposed to be the practitioner of justice and fairness and not the that of unfair competition and exploitation. It is a necessity for a manager to develop the perceptibility in order to increase the feelings of compassion and diversity. The superior-subordinate relationship should overcome the fence of impersonalization , commercialism and irrelevance. According to the message of the Gita, education is a training of the body and mind of an individual by dint of which he or she gains ‘ work-efficiency, prosperity, self-esteem, self-possession, objectivity and clarity of thoughts’. The purpose of education is to gain knowledge in first instance which gets promoted to the level of wisdom and wisdom should be used for the purpose of well-being of the society. Business is empowered with factors of production by virtue of which the human wants removing goods and services are produced and distributed . These are the same inputs which can produce nectar and these are same inputs which can produce poison and it is the wisdom of the managers to opt which alternative shall be accepted as a decision. The Gita says , ‘education(vidya & jnana) is sacred and sanctifying’. She further says, ‘hard earned comfort is not bad but it cannot be the final goal of life’. According to the Gita, education is such an enabler which makes a person free from the shackles of ‘bias, fear, sorrow, stress, anxiety and egotism.’ A common man should pass the tests of these negative perspectives of life in order to become as well as to be promoted to the level of a manager who can solve the organizational problems in impersonal manner which should be the true version of the literature of management discipline. An individual needs to be ‘straight forward, frank, guileless, contended, free from greed, trustworthy and constructive’ in his or her approach to deal with people in an organization in order to be manager. An effective manager is one who understands the level of comprehension of the subordinates and who is able to quickly read the minds of the people around him. A manager should gain confidence of the people around him or her before acting or abstaining from action for the organization.
An individual should be absolute trustworthy of the people whom he or she leads from the front. A manager should guide the rank and file when they are in dilemma, conflicts and lack clarity of thoughts while taking any action or performing any task. Lord Krishna taught yogas to Arjuna only when he surrendered before the Lord Krishna and He never demonstrated his wisdom before that event . The Gita also teaches that to become an efficient and effective manager is to have patience, perseverance and self-control while exercising his or her authority. Lord Krishna addresses Arjuna as bharatarshabha (O! Mighty of mightiest among the Bharatas), gudakesa (Conqueror of sleep i.e. one who is always energetic and not the slave of lethargy), parantapa(vanquisher of enemies), anagh (blemishless) etc. According to the Gita, the most effective manager is one who trains, imparts skills and knowledge and guides the followers in the path of success . Lord Krishna arouses the power of critical thinking and thirst jnana more and more in Arjuna. According to the Gita, a person should be well-balanced, courageous, modest and efficient to be called a manager.
In the last Chapter of the Gita, Lord Krishna says that the superior must enlighten the subordinate and ensure that the subordinate understands what he needs to do. As it has been mentioned that the Bhagavad Gita is the collection of seven hundred Verses (Slokas) and each Verse is significantly distinct from other. The Gita is a Science and the treasure of Jnana and She is of high relevance for the executives, managers and management’s guide to run the day to day show of the business and helps in the process of scientific decision making which is one of the religious duty of the executives.
(The author is Professor of Management- School of Business & Dean-Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra)