Management by the Gita

Dr D Mukhopadhyay

Formal journey of Management as a practice of the managers started its journey with epoch making advent of ”Scientific Management” by Frederic Winslow Taylor(1856-1916). The manager is responsible for an organization or certain unit of it and a manager gets things done by and large through other people who belong to the rank and file in an organization and to get things done by other people is not a very easy task. The primary role of a manager is to deal with a human being that is a peculiar machine endowed with attributes of emotion, sentiment , sense of judgment, ego, attitude, rationale, reasoning, love for freedom etc . Very often , it is seen to witness a corporate debate ‘managers are born and not made’ or the reverse. The author of this write up is convinced to assert that managers are made and not born since management applies science with the help of art in day to day managing resources in the operational ground of an organization he or she belongs to and art is the producer of insights and vision. Moreover, management is experienced to be rooted in craft . Both the art and craft need to be learnt from different sources of knowledge. In this context, firstly, it is imperative to know who is a manager . Simply speaking, a manager, a formal designation or position , generally indicates the functions and roles played in the professional domain of knowledge in an organization by an individual. The term ‘manager’ stands for such an individual who is responsible to manage the resources in judicious manner so that economic benefit is measurable in term of money as globally accepted unit of measurement. The manager is primarily to remain prepared to answer what to do and what not to do keeping in view the best interest of the institution or the organization he or she is hired for. Classical functions of management include mobilizing, combining and allocating the economic resources in such a manner so that wastes and losses are minimal. The manager is to inspire, motivate and lead a league of individuals equipped with appropriate education and training in order to achieve the set target of a entity within the given time-frame. The success of a manager invariably depends upon quality of acquired management education and adequate training whose nucleus is made up of values, valour, conviction, winning and inspiring attitude and strong business ethics. All these attributes are generally acquired though rigorous education and training during a prescribed time-span so that an individual can emerge on the spiritual and foundational essence of being an effective leader . A leader is to lead an organization the front with the support of the inspired and motivated league of form of rank and file. In this context, the managers can take the refuge under the eternally blissful enabler ,the Bhagavad Geeta or simply the Geeta , for becoming successful in achieving mission of the organizations the they are responsible for. Education and training is the twin tool for transforming an ordinary individual to an effective manager who efficiently inspire, guide and lead the rank and file of the organization.
A Manager is essentially to maintain calmness and tranquility in the ocean of challenges and issues concerning problems through the practice of positive attitude, morality and ethical values . A manager must learn how to face challenges in day to day professional career and not to escape from the problems and the message of the Geeta can be of infinite value based strength which can act as the powerful guide when the manager becomes bewildered and consequently indecisive as was seen Arjuna confused and perplexed in the battle field of the Kurukshetra contained in the First Chapter of the Geeta. Arjuna was found to be under the canvas and claws of misgivings and lack of self-esteem and Lord Krishna uncovered the root of this dilemma by advocating that most of us are not aware of our infinite potential and capabilities. Lord Krishna further stated that that the courage to face life comes from a calm and steady mind which can help an individual to work most efficiently. Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to perform the predefined duties selflessly since acting without self-interest for the benefits of everyone is sacrifice. Knowledge is considered to be the strategic resource in the Geeta and Lord Krishna further says, ‘Verily, there exists nothing in the world purifying like knowledge’. Knowledge removes weakness by converting weakness into strength and makes someone aware of inner-strength and true potential which is nothing but enlightenment. There are hundreds of documented evidences that success comes through contemplation, calmness and steadiness of mind. Practice of concentration only can tranquil mind and a manager must have tranquil mind invariably to solve the problems and overcome the challenges. The disturbed mind gives birth of opaque and confused thoughts in the same way as the flame of lamp not sheltered from wind does flicker and cannot become the source transparent light. The unperturbed as well as tranquil state mind can cultivate knowledge and knowledge is the primary input for solving any problems. Therefore, practice of concentration is a must for an individual to become a trouble shooter who is essentially a manager. Lord Krishna goes on saying in the Geeta that overcoming ‘Lust and Anger’ is a must in pursuit of knowledge as fire enveloped by smoke is the same as knowledge overcast by lust. There are many instances that corporate executives have failed to avert the influence of lust while occupying the office of responsible position and power. It can be seen in the Sixth Chapter of the Geeta that Arjuna says,”’O Krishna! Verily, the mind is fickle, turbulent and unyielding, to control it, I think, is as difficult as controlling the wind itself”. Against this assertion, Lord Krishna replied, ” Arjuna! Undoubtedly, the mind is fickle and difficult to put it on rest, yet it can be brought under control by steady concentration and dispassion”.
The Geeta is a repository of values. It can be enunciated from the Geeta that whatever is done with desire, lust, vanity and self-glorification is inferior and whatever is done carelessly with evil and manipulated motive and thoughtlessness is useless and this is definitely essence of management education since fortune building of many in particular and the organization in general is involved with the unbiased practice of concentration by the manager. It is interesting to note that Marrie Jahoda, a renowned psychologist, elaborated the indicators of mentally healthy attitude towards self in her article entitled ” Criteria for Positive Mental Health” and they are Self acceptance, Self-actualization, Integration of Personality, Autonomy, Perception of Reality and Environmental Mastery ” and the Geeta prescribes the essence of those indicators of a ‘Satttvic Mind’. Self purification is a mandatory prescription for becoming an effective manager.
The mind of an individual is conditioned either by ‘any or combination of ‘ Tamas, Rajas and Sattva Gunas’ and judgments of a manager is greatly influenced by these Gunas. The un-illuminated self is dominated by Tamas and Rajas but Sattva makes everything transparent and enhances sense of vitality, strength and well-being. The person aspiring to step in the shoes of a manager of a modern business entity should keep in mind that responsibilities and authorities always go hand in hand and the degree of privileges should match the degree of responsibilities .
To demand for rights and privileges without discharging duties and responsibilities is unethical and unbecoming of a manager. The Verse 32 in the sixth Chapter of the Geeta contains, ‘ He who judges pleasure or pain everywhere, by the same standard as he applies to himself, that Yogis, O Arjuna! is regarded as the highest spiritual basis of life”. A manager needs to work with dexterity and to take refuge in intellect and he or she must not work under the slavery of emotion as it restricts an individual to use the power of discrimination. To sum up, the Geeta is the infinite source of practical wisdom that contains answer to every query of modern human civilization and it needs hardly any mention that corporate world is one of the important constituents of modern civilization . It can derive maximum benefits from the practice of the messages of the Geeta and dissemination the same to rank and file in general and the budding managers taking part in acquiring formal management education in particular who are supposed to be entrusted with the responsibility for navigating the society in the appropriate harbour of economic well -being.
(The author is Professor and Dean-Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, J & K)