Management by the Gita

I recently watched a lecture from Prof. B. Madhavan in IIM at Bangalore, on ‘Management thoughts from Bhagavad Gita’. He presented his thoughts with a nice oratory style and deep conviction. All the participants seemed to be scholars, scientist, or others from the university. From his talk one can understand his deep knowledge in Sanskrit and also in Hindu scriptures.

The main thrust of his talk was that since most of the ancient Hindu scriptures were composed and passed through oral tradition, they have to say precisely their views on everything. Therefore they cannot write a separate text for religious views, spiritual views and secular/scientific views (like time management, economic management, etc.) So it is left with the person who reads them to chose the lens they read with. With a careful reading and understanding, one can see even economic and time management from them.

Then he quoted from the first sloka from the preamble to Brahmasutra Bhshya by Sri Adisankara on ‘pravarti’ ‘nirvrti’ in which one can see a clear message to manage time well. I was unable to record his exact thoughts, but he elaborately explained the introduction and rest of the slokas in Chapter one through his ‘management’ lens.

At one point, if I remember correctly, he quoted the famous sloka from Gita 4:4 ‘yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata; abhuyutthaanamadharmasya tadaatmaanam srujanmyaham’ (Arjuna, whenever dharma is on the decline, and adharma is in the ascendant, then I take avatara).’ How one can read ‘economic management’ into that?

Though this sloka talks about the ‘avatara’ of Krishna we need not limit it only to that but clearly see the economic management. For example if the onion prices shoots up to Rs. 100/- per kg, then like ‘aharma’ the price hike disturbs the normal life of middle class families. Then the government has to interfere by stopping exports, checking on hoarding, etc. to restore normalcy. In this way, they are reestablishing dharma in a similar way that Krishna took avatara to destroy dharma and restore back dharma.

These are not Prof. Madhavan’s exact words, by a summary in my own words. Since all the participants are students and staff from that famous University and the speaker himself is a professor, I cannot question his views as right or wrong. In fact I would encourage everyone to go to his website and listen to his lectures on YouTube and come to your own conclusions.

 

My concern is not to question such management thoughts from BG or any other Hindu scriptures, but to point out how the Gita manages to survive to be used, misused, and abused by all. Particularly after the BJP become the ruling party with a ‘threatening’ majority, now Hinduism and all its wings (scripture, tradition, faith, rituals—even a Hindu yoga?) are used to promote their hidden agenda of communalism.

For example, see the recent promotion of the Gita as the ‘National Book’ by our External Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj. Dileep Padgaonkar’s telling rebuke to her is worth noting:

The surest way to emasculate the uniqueness of the Bhagwad Gita is the way Sushma Swaraj and the dimmer lights of her ideological fraternity have chosen to tread. They regard it as the repository of all knowledge that humankind needs to help resolve every conceivable problem – material and spiritual, psychological and political, cultural and intellectual – confronting it. Such omniscience brooks no dissent.

The trouble with this line of reasoning lies in its monumental conceit. It is absent in the Gita itself….

We have to agree with Padgaonkar’s correct criticism on Swaraj’s promotion of Gita as the ‘National Book’ for all Indians. However one may try to extract a particular ideology — cultural, social, ahimsa, political, etc. no one can deny the ‘sectarian affiliation’ of the Gita with the Vaishnava Sampradhaya. Though Sankara and other non-Vaishnavite acharyas wrote commentaries on the Gita, as the concept of avatara remains one of the central philosophies/theologies of (Sri) Vaishnavas, the Gita is their scripture in every right. All other interpretations, though all kinds of ‘text torture’, should be considered as a personal agenda rather than promoting the Gita as the book for every Indians.

Sri Cho Ramaswami, the political satirist and the author of the Tamil political satire magazine Thugluk (Dt. 24-12-14 pp. 3-5) also has similar view. But he adds a new twist. According to him, though Modi too used the Hindutva agenda to come to the power, now he concentrates more on good governance and development. But his grip on the party becomes stronger each day. And some other leaders within the party do not like his hegemony (with Amit Shaha). At present there is no strong opposition to challenge Modi. So his power and authority will become stronger within the party. To curb this and keep him in his place, a few leaders like Sushma Swaraj (who once opposed him within the party) deliberately create such controversy to create trouble for Modi. And Cho’s advice to Modi is that he should curb such people before they go beyond his control.

Cho is known for his right prediction on such an internal fight, though his prediction on good things has never materialized much in the past. Since he is close to the Modi camp, who knows, there might be some truth in this too.

So the scope and future of Hindu scriptures (including that of other faiths) will have fresh hope and the religious figures need not worry or lament that the present generation has no interest or knowledge about them. Since the present generation needs lots of new insights to ‘manage’ so many things in their life, instead of registering for a Time Management class, they can achieve three tasks in one stroke: religious, spiritual and secular. But the poor religious preachers have to do extra study to address these demands for new ‘management’. Who knows? Soon ‘event management’ too will be done as per the interpretation on scriptures.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, 7-6-15