Thursday, 14 March 2013

Corporate Lessons from Mythology - 14

[Panchathantra Stories]

We all are clapping the movie “Life of Pi”. The same way there are Panchathantra stories which use animals, birds and human beings as the main characters to convey messages of worldly wisdom.
            These stories, 87 in all are dated back to the 2nd century BC. These stories are said to be a part of an educational curriculum for the two dull princesses, taught by Vishnu sharman.

            The stories adopt a case study approach of the modern schools of management. Each of them carries several lessons for us. Let us understand these stories.

            These stories present a case study method, currently popular in management education.Since these were lessons for preparing the princes for becoming a king, they are relevant for to-day’s managers. Let us look at some of these stories….

The Snake and the Frog

A snake lives near a pond, pretends to be suffering from the curse of a Brahmin.  His son was killed by snake, hence he cursed the snake that it will become the vehicle for frogs and could eat only what the frogs allowed it to eat.

Telling this story the snake allowed the pleasure rides for frogs in the pond. The king of frogs liked it and permitted the snake to eat the frogs of lower birth,when he saw the snake was less energetic, while giving pleasure rides.Quoting this permission the snake ate all the frogs.

We learn a few lessons on this. The desire for pleasure on the part of king was exploited, by the snake.

            The king did not bother about the sacrifice of his subjects for his own pleasure. Also we learn that one should not believe in the behavior of a person, which is not consistent with the character.

            A tiger will not become a vegetarian by our throwing steaks at it repeatedly. We have to be careful especially when we are offered free benefits by others. More Panchathantra stories to follow …. 

            Ancient Sastras says it all ….

Corporate Lessons from Mythology – 13

Does the desire for materialism go down with the advancement of age?
It is claimed that, philosophical mind automatically comes to you as the biological clock ticks. I read somewhere that our life span can be divided into these phases:

Designated as
Our role in this period
0 – 20
We have colorful dreams, we do not bother for anything
20 – 40
Migratory bird
We go in search of career to better environmental destinations
40 – 60
We bear the burden of the family
60 – 80
We slowly withdraw into a shell, looking more inwards
80 – 100
We wait for our final journey towards the eternal world

Our underlying philosophies are driven by the biological clock. Even Mahatma Gandhi attained refinement in the later part of the life. This is a natural process, isn’t it? What is there to cultivate in us? With the age, the desire for materialism and the philosophical outlook will set in. Why do we teach the youngsters on all these areas? This question was posed to me in one of the seminars on ‘Philosophy and the age’.

I replied to the young questioner this way – 

‘You are being over-simplistic in everything that you see. Your outlook is not driven only by biological clock. Even at a very young age, Gandhi struck to the set of values that he believed in. He never lied in his legal profession just to mint money. He did not pursue conviction towards values only in later stages of his life. He stuck to his values throughout his life.

The philosophical outlook is not directly proportional to the age profile today. Infact it is inversely proportional in many cases. For example, Politicians above 70 are very actively amassing wealth today. No one wants his school going child to know the extra money he generates through wrong means.

Corporate Lessons from Mythology – 12

 Is Desire a SIN? Is Desire for materialism
Automatically reduces with biological clock?

In continuation to the earlier blog on Karmic journey- A puzzle, let us try to find on answer to the above first question.

If everyone operates on a need only basis, what is the charm in life? Take the case of a student who aims to come first, a businessman who wants to succeed in his business.

All of them are setting a high ambition. You need to have greed acting as your motivational force. Then how do we live for need alone? That will make our life uninteresting!

Desire, like a fire is a natural source of energy and power. We can harness the energy of fire for productive purposes or we may be burned by it at our option.We may be either consumed by our desire or we may harness it for a noble cause. The choice is ours.

We would not have got the best of the inventions had we not been greedy. The myths like the ones that the world is flat would not have been debunked. On occasions like these, greed is good not just for own life, but for others as well.

When we desire, we have to focus on it and we have to develop the competence to attain it. We need not have to ignore desire and lead a life by compromising on what we got.Need means, “I can and will use the item”. Greed means, ‘I need it all’. Negative greed is “when I somehow need it all at any cost, even if it is denying others”.

We can and must be greedy without exploiting others. A creator’s greed is a boon to the society.We need simplicity but not poverty. Greed should not be excessive, should not deny the rights of others stakeholders. We should not go high on materialism that leads to unethical behavior.

The mythological powers granted to midas led to his own downfall due to his excess greed. There are so many such stories of excess greed. Bhagawat Gita says, ‘As a flame is covered by smoke, a mirror by dust and the foetus by the womb, so is the knowledge covered by the desire.

Desires are essential to life as air to breathe. We should not borrow desires from others. We need to examine our desires with a clear mind so that we filter the unwanted desires.

In short live like a ‘post it sticker’. The post it marks self sticking adhesive stick to the page when required. It comes out clean when we remove it without leaving the traces of the glue.

We need to knew the art of attachment and detachment like the ‘post it sticker’.

Greed is not a sin but pleasure without conscience and wealth without work are the deadly sins. We need to learn to live like a post it sticker.By the way, does the desire for materialism automatically go down with the biological clock?


Corporate Lessons from Mythology - 11

Karmic Journey- A puzzle

In one of the deliberations on corporate lessons from the Mythology, I was asked these two important questions by an intelligent young guy.

Question 1: Who keeps track of the good and bad Karmas?
Question 2: the desire for materialism- Is it inversely correlated to the age?
These two interesting questions came up from a very young guy.

Let us start with the question 1: When we say there “is a chief accountant general “ChitraGupt”, who keeps track of the deeds,the modern generation does not absorb this. Then how do we explain- how are the karmic deeds captured?

We say our life- be it good or bad is driven by past karmas. Therefore someone has to track - Isn’t it?
I gave this explanation. These days you have ‘smart cards’ which have intelligent chip embedded to it. These smart cards can retrieve information without having to access a central console.

They are the higher version of ‘traditional cards’. Like the ‘embedded chip’ in a smart card, our soul has an embedded chip.

This chip in the soul records all the deeds committed by us silently. It moves into another body along with the embedded chip.

This is a continuation of the karmic deeds into the next birth. That is how our karmic journey happens with inputs from the deeds recorded by the ‘smart chip’ in the soul.

What do you say? I asked the young guy. When you believe the smart card, you have to believe the smart recording ‘chip’ in the soul, I added. He said “yes.” I do not know whether it was a firm “yes” or not. What do you think?

In the next blog we explore answer for question 2: Is the desire for materialism inversely correlated to the age?

Corporate Lessons from Mythology – 10


We have several business practices in the modern world which vary from region to region. We justify the variations as the result of differing societal DNA.

We have descriptions on business practices from our mythology. What are they?
Failure to keep promise amounts to cheating. Harichandra lost everything but still struck to his commitment. King Dasaratha sent Rama to the forest, since he had to honor his promise to his wife.

The deals in the traditional markets were conducted through the fingers hidden under a cloth. Such deals are always honored. The fingers did the deal before, to-day the fingers on the computers carry out the deals. But are the commitments honored to-day?

Rig Vedha states – ‘A trader is like a honey bee which sucks the honey without damaging the beauty and fragrance of the flower’. It emphasizes the emphases the fairness in business practices.

As far as best practices for a manager – Patanjali gives several steps for a Raja Yogi. 
 – They are 

 -  Getting detached from the fruits and results of daily routines.
 -  Adherence to a certain discipline in action without being carried away by the pressures of  
 -   Maintaining emotional balance at all times
 -   Focusing on long term concerns of stake holders.
Ancient Sastras says it all ….

Corporate Lessons from Mythology - 9

Corporate lessons from Sastras

Yatha Raja, TathaPraja – As the king, so the people goes the saying. His style influences the people in his Raj. The same is described by peter Druker like this …
‘A bottleneck in the bottle is at the top’. He implies that the top management (similar to the king) influences the other levels of management.
But in the world of web, when the hackers, criminals, students and professors have an equal access – what can the so called corporate gate keepers do, when there are no longer any gates?
This argument is raised to counter the view that top management alone is responsible for the corporate reputation. In fact every one has to take the responsibility at all levels is the modern view.
Even this view is supported by the Sastras which says that unless you govern the self, you can not manage others. Thus the practice of values is stressed at the individual levels before we corporatize the same.
There are several organizational cultural issues we get from the Sastras, much before the so called western theories of organization. Some of them for you here…

            Dharmic Raj                 -           Righteous government
            Praja Kshemam            -           Welfare of the people
            YadYada Charati
            Sreshtah tat tadeva
            ItaroJanah                    -           Conduct of the elite is followed
                                                               By others.
            Udyogam Purusha
            Lakshanam                  -           Effort is the hallmark of a man

            Mate Sangosta
            Akarmani                    -           Avoid inaction

            Ma vidviShamaha                 Do not quarrel
            Yoga Samatva
            Uchayate                     -           Do not take extreme positions
            AhamBrahasmi            -           Self Awareness (I am the universal soul)

            Vanaprashtha               -           Succession management
                                                            (Giving way for next generation)

Kudumbakam              -           The whole world is the family of god
                                                (Corporate social responsibility)

Sarvam                         -           All things belong to God.
                                                (Corporate social responsibility)

There are many more. Ancient Sastras says it all. The modern corporate management techniques are only the new wine in the old bottle.