This article explores the principles of spirituality in the context of the corporate world, classifying them as a dynamic force in nature facilitating a very conducive atmosphere for growth and enterprise. In the principles, is found a treatment for the ego, mind and intellect of an individual that wipes away all egocentric assumptions and desire prompted anxieties – befitting the role of a leader. They also promise the mental stamina and equipoise to take on a challenge of a corporate battle or corporate complacency.
If you haven’t read part-1 of this series, here’s the link to that article – What the Bhagavad Gita teaches us about leadership ( part 1 )
Renunciation and Right Action
Renunciation means renouncing completely one’s ego and desires wherein, an individual comes to live in constant awareness of his fuller and ampler divinity. Krishna advises to renounce all actions unto Lord and fight free from all mental fevers.
The scheme of Self discovery creates devotion and dedication in the bosom of the man. This results in right action done with a sense of complete detachment. The God-conscious man becomes a disinterested observer of all that is happening within and without him. The individual detaches himself and observes his own activities in the world of activities Such an individual who can thus stand constantly apart from himself and observe the activity in inactivity and complete inactivity even in the highest activity called unactivity, is an intelligent, full grown human creature. This realization of the Self cannot be partial; to the realized, divinity or the Self is infinite and all-pervading. From the innermost sanctum of the spirit when he looks out, he realizes nothing but divinity everywhere in everyone at all times. Such a person, who has realized his own Self and the Self in all beings, has realized his essential infinite divinity. His actions will leave no mark on him. It is the ego centric activities motivated by desires and nothing else that can alone destroy the discriminative awareness which enables one to know, to feel and to experience the eternal divinity. It is this divinity that declares that the essential nature of a man as a spiritual being. With the death of ego, he becomes a perfect being. Such a perfect one is found to live, not sitting like a stone-statue but acting diligently, like any one else in the world except that he will not have any egoistic vanity. In deep sleep one is breathing, but, unconsciously. There is no consciousness as the ego does not function in sleep. Similarly when the ego ends, all activities take place instinctively. “Even while carrying on these activities, the enlightened has a constant awareness that ‘I do nothing at all’. This is state of God Consciousness. This attitude of total surrender of the sense of agency can come only to a perfect master who is centered and steadfast. This self-centeredness can emerge due to intensity of study, reflection and meditation. Or it can emerge due to self-absorption of one who after the final realization of the Self comes to live vitally the experience of the Self every moment. He is unconcerned; he is unperturbed; from the bottomless depths of his own being he watches on, in perfect detachment born of his realized knowledge, and he is ever confident that “I do nothing at all.”
A total detachment is impossible for the human mind. As long as there is a mind it has to
attach itself to something. Therefore, detachment from the false can be successful only when we attach ourselves to the real. The seeker is advised to surrender all his attachments to the lord and continue striving.
The philosophy of Gita does not ever hint at any kind of running away from the world of sense objects. “Krishna’s creed is to here and now, in the midst of situations in life, in this very world, and to experience them through our sacred vehicles of the body, mind and intellect. The only insistence is that on all occasions, a wise man should be master of the vehicles and not a helpless victim of these matter-envelopments. And the secret of this mastery in life is to live free from the tyrannies of attachments and aversions.” (The Holy Geeta).
Bhagavad Gita and Corporate leadership
True leadership is based on fundamental truth and concepts. The greatest treasure and reference manual for the leaders is the Bhagavad Gita. This ancient treatise with exhaustive discourses on Self, ethics and values and which has the counsel of Krishna for Arjuna that nothing is higher than a war against evil is replete with leadership lessons. The two concepts that stand out predominantly are “know thyself” and renunciation. Gita declares that leaders cannot lead effectively unless they know the ‘Self” and that renunciation is the ultimate leadership challenge. Gita defines renunciation as abstaining from selfish acts and detaching from the results of action. He implores to renounce negative thoughts, words and actions, indiscipline, dishonesty and lazy attitude, arrogance and ignorance. Gita’s teaching is a clarion call for integrity and pro-activeness. Shirking work and shying away from one’s responsibility because of apprehensions and anxiety is termed as deceptive renunciation.
The practice of renunciation facilitates the knowledge of the inner Self and the practice of righteous action at the organizational level facilitates the realization of Self through work. This approach provides an alternative paradigm, the application of which would help in optimizing human resource processes and sustaining them.
Krishna – the charismatic leader
Krishna is fine example of the most charismatic leader, who adapted himself to every situation and inspired his followers to stand up in their hour of truth and motivated them to righteous action. Krishna wielded all the leadership qualities that merit emulation. He was a dispassionate, objective and impartial man full of fortitude and valour. His equanimity, the sense of justice, his readily available disposition, independence, assertiveness and firmness in his decisions made him a true blue leader. He was forthright in his convictions – both duty-bound and honor-bound, did not misuse power, delegated power to lieutenants, motivated troops honorably, and led from the front. Motivation, facilitation, innovation, mobilization, preparation and determination are all found in Krishna functioning as a dynamic leader when He served Arjuna as a charioteer in the battle and counseled him in the hour of critical urgency. Krishna as a leader had the ability to develop a vision, sell the vision, take it forward and finally lead the charge.
Leadership lessons in Gita
Whatever the excellent and best ones do, the commoners follow, so says Krishna in the Gita. If the leader ever ceases to be vigilant in action then people would follow his footsteps in everyway. This is the leadership quality prescribed in the Gita. The visionary leader must also 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. Krishna created a synergy by leading from the front, motivating his troops into action, by listening, allaying and encouraging.
“Therefore under all circumstances remember Me and then fight” – Krishna in Gita.
The Super management guru Krishna served on the platter, management techniques in the Bhagavad Gita expounded thousands of years ago. These management techniques promise a harmonious and a blissful state of affairs as against the conflicts, tensions, low efficiency, absence of motivation, lack of work culture that mark the organizations of today. The modern management concepts like vision, leadership, excellence in work, attitude towards work, nature of individual , decision making , planning are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita with sharp insight and brilliant analysis.
“The driving forces in today’s rat-race are speed and greed as well as ambition and competition. The natural fallout from these forces is erosion of one’s ethico-moral fibre. So there is perennially the conflict between externally directed acquisitions, motivations and inner reasoning, emotions and conscience.
Gita tells us how to get out of this universal phenomenon by prescribing the following ways of living:
- Cultivate sound philosophy of life.
- Identify with inner core of self-sufficiency.
- Get out of the habitual mindset towards the pairs of opposites.
- Strive for excellence through work is worship.
- Build up an internal integrated reference point to face contrary impulses, and emotions.
- Pursue ethico-moral rectitude.
Cultivating this understanding by a corporate leader would lead him to emancipation. He is able to shift from falsifying ego-conscious state of confusion and distortion, to a state of pure and free mind which is Supreme consciousness, wherefrom he can prove his effectiveness in discharging whatever duties that have fallen to his domain.” (BhagavadGita and Management)
Gita primarily advises non-attachment to the fruits or results of actions performed in the course of one’s duty. Dedicated work has to mean ‘work for the sake of work’. If we are always eyeing the pay packets for putting in our efforts – looking at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the efforts will surely fall short of excellence, as our energy would be dissipated in comprehending the result of our work. This will result in inevitable disappointments. Anticipating benefits affect the quality of performance. This occurs on account of the mental agitations caused by the anxieties of the future. There will have to be a non-attachment to results primarily because of the fact that workings of the world are not designed to positively respond to our equations and hence expected results may not always occur. The universal premise is the larger picture of the life matrix and networking, as against the individual premise with a narrow dimension.
There is an argument that being unattached to the consequences of one’s action is a case of shirking responsibilities by disowning the state of agency. This is when Gita becomes very relevant when Lord Krishna explains the State of Self and the case of Unactivity- the most dynamic principle of Gita. The realization promised in Gita enables a being to be engaged in the most dynamic activity with his mind being at an absolute state of peace.
Gita promotes work for the sake of work – a total absorption in work that results in absolute work consciousness. The results are just incidental. Thus the best means for effective work performance is to become the work itself – to be none other than the Self. This situation is explained by the theory of Self-transcendence or Self-realization propounded in the Gita. It involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself, team work, dignity, sharing, co-operation, harmony, trust, sacrificing lower needs for higher goals and understanding that constant remembrance of God will facilitate the entire work activity as God is the CEO of the entire Universe. God is the great intelligence operating in and through everything.
The work of a self-realized person finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise. Detached involvement in work is the key to mental equanimity. The stillness in the equipoise enables the worker to feel the presence of the Supreme Intelligence guiding the empirical individual intelligence. In this will be a win-win situation both for the organization and the individual
Work culture means vigorous, utterly committed and an arduous effort in executing a work responsibility. Krishna belittles Arjuna, when Arjuna resolutely declares that he will not fight. With this Krishna has declared to the world that one’s righteous duty and work is the anthem of life. He orders for work consciousness to resurrect the Pandava Organization.
Aligning personal and professional goals
Gita also promotes aligning the personal and the professional goals. People of the organization should be motivated to align with the theory of the business. The organization should work towards getting people to want to move towards common vision. There will have to be an alignment between personal and organizational goals. This can be brought about with spirituality.
Individuals can begin to align with something that gives them a sense of purpose and belonging if a clear vision and values are projected by the organization. Organizations are no longer following the carrot and the stick or ‘the business of business is business’ theories. They are seeking a vision and a set of values to align the employees and the management team. The Vedic perspective is sought for aligning personal with organization vision and values. The Vedic perspective suggests that not only should there be higher purpose and values for both the Organization and the individual, but that these need to be synchronous with each other. The challenge for leadership is to define these goals and enable people to realize them.
In, Mahabharatha, we see Arjuna being encouraged to understand his role as a Warrior who must perform his duty to his family and to society. His personal vision has to be aligned with what is needed by the “Organization”, in this case his immediate family and society. If there is no alignment, he will not call his army to battle. So, Lord Krishna counsels Arjuna about his duty and detachment, thereby bringing about an alignment between personal and organizational goals.
After initiating Arjuna into all the cardinal principles of life, Krishna concludes by telling Arjuna and thereby the entire mankind:
“Thus has wisdom more secret than all secrets, has been declared to thee by Me. Having reflected on it fully do as thou choosest”.
Leadership and life is about taking decisions. The final decision and responsibility for its consequences was left to Arjuna’s independent thinking and understanding.
“MAN SHOULD LIFT HIMSELF BY HIMSELF” – is an open statement declared by no less person than Lord Krishna Himself. It is not cooed in a playful mood in the company of gopis on the Jamuna-banks at a hilarious hour of laughter and play, but roared to Arjuna on the battlefield at a serious moment of His life’s fulfillment as an Avatara”.
The core philosophy of Gita for corporate leadership has been discussed comprehensively to facilitate Gita consciousness. The paper has examined the Spirituality in Gita as essentially the spiritual leadership that emerges from attaining the higher states of Self-Awareness. Lucid theories emphatically prove that Gita is the treasure trove with leadership lessons that are universal in nature in terms of leadership theories and practices. Gita enables the intense calmness in midst of intense activity which alone can sanction effectiveness and efficiency. Gita displays the Knowledge and action combination. This combination brings about the Self-Awareness that ‘I am Joy’. This state of constant Self-Awareness will but result in optimal performance.