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.)
A sound mental health is the very goal of any human activity?more so in 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 stress-free mind.
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 with 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.)
Management needs Those Who Practice what They Preach
?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. ?I am the strength of those who are devoid of personal desire and attachment. O Arjuna, I am the legitimate desire in those who are not opposed to righteousness,? says Sri Krishna in the 10th chapter of the Gita.
The despondency of Arjuna in the first chapter of the Gita is typically human. Sri Krishna, by sheer power of his inspiring words, changes Arjuna'smind from a state of inertia to one of righteous action, from the state of what the French philosophers call ?anomie? or even alienation, to a state of self-confidence in the ultimate victory of dharma (ethical action.)
When Arjuna got over his despondency and stood ready to fight, Sri Krishna reminded him of the purpose of his new-found spirit of intense action?not for his own benefit, not for satisfying his own greed and desire, but for the good of many, with faith in the ultimate victory of ethics over unethical actions and of truth over untruth.
Sri Krishna'sadvice 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.
My purport is not to suggest discarding of the Western model of efficiency, dynamism and striving for excellence but to tune these ideals to India'sholistic attitude of lokasangraha?for the welfare of many, for the good of many. There 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 Matsushitasan in another tradition, ?is the reward of correct behaviour.?) (The author is retired Chief Technical Examiner, Kerala Government Radhanivas Thaliyal, Karamana, Trivandrum-695 002.)