THE Hindu scripture Bhagwadgita (or the Gita) is widely read, interpreted and followed as a guide to happy living, as a textual key to spiritual transcendence of man. Its followers have claimed it to be a beacon of light to help man trudge safely through the jungle of life marked by uncertainties, miseries and difficulties of all kinds.
The Bhagwadgita written down as a battle side discourse by Sri Krishna to the warrior Arjun pitched in the battle between the armies of Pandavas and Kauravas in Kurukshetra, India many millennia ago. The epic battle called Mahabharata is believed to have been fought nearly 5,100 years ago.
Regarded as a sublime spiritual discourse, the Bhagwadgita means many things to many people. There are business tycoons who have credited Gita for their entrepreneurial success. The founder of Reliance Group Business Empire in India, the late Dhirubhai Ambani is one of them. He is quoted to have remarked to his son Anil Ambani that he had not merely followed the Gita but had lived on the ideology of the Gita through his life.
The modern work ethic draws largely from the theories of Capitalism and Socialism propounded by Karl Marx and the thesis of rational work culture put forwarded by Max Weber. In the last five or six decades, we have seen emerging on the global horizon the theories of modern management. These theories were encapsulated as distinct, specific academic disciplines and applied through defined professional careers.
What are the hallmarks of the work ethic defined in the modern management school?
We hear many jargons to explain the above work ethic. Some of these are – ‘Professionalism’, ‘Result Oriented’, ‘Time Management’ and ‘Dynamic Approach’. But with passing decades, the business and commercial world is witness to newer challenges throwing up the need to refine the existing theories. It will not take much for even the relatively less educated to understand that modern business world is far from ideal. But is the term ‘ideal’ well defined? Let us define ‘ideal’ grossly as something that fulfills everyone’s needs, provides due reward of labour and optimises happiness and satisfaction of all. We would at once then observe that modern theories and tools are neither perfect nor complete. They are beset with lacunae and deficiencies. Because the ground realities suggest so.
Let us now go back to the criteria of happiness, satisfaction and reward as enumerated in the Bhagwadgita. The single most important stanza of Bhagwadgita dealing with work culture is the one on Karma and its desired fruits. The Gita says that man should perform his Karma (duty) diligently without expectation of reward. He should concentrate his energy in the performance of Karma and forget about the fruits of action. Karma lies in his hands whereas the fruit thereof belongs to the realm of the Almighty Creator. Thus, according to Bhagwadgita, man should not crave or desire the fruits of his Karma. If he does his Karmas wholeheartedly, he is bound to get due rewards. The time and manner of the bestowal of these rewards is fixed by the all powerful and just Creator.
There are many distinguished personalities who claim to have followed the above injunction of Bhagwadgita in letter and spirit. But whether practical life experience validates the message given in the scripture is a moot point. The Bhagwadgita further enjoins upon a human individual to allay the five cardinal evils – kaam (desire), krodh (anger), ‘lobh’ (greed), moh (attachment or passion) and mada (ego). It also emphasizes on control of the errant and excitable mind. The holistic prescription of the Gita goes so far as to provide a regimen of diet and lifestyle to subdue evil tendencies of the mind.
(To be continued)