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SSVT Jeernodharana Kumbhabhishekam

Hindu Philosophy and Management Practices

Angarai Venkat Subramanian

wami Vivekananda proclaimed that Hinduism

is the mother of all religions pointing to the
core principles that provide all-around competence
which have been later adapted or echoed in other
religions and ways of life. His message can be
well tailored to need of these times, when we are
mostly engaged in activities for profit and sociability than in those concerning Moksha or philosophical questions and religious matters. For most of
us, the import of hindu religious principles is limited to supporting us in our worldly quests. It is thus
important for us to see how tenets of our religion
can be more effectively applied to our current life,
world and work environment. Hinduism is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon, comprising several heterogeneous religio-philosophical beliefs and
valuation approaches. This necessitates that we
supplement our known management approaches
with fresh analytical, and to a certain extent phenomenological, approach. We alslo need to recognize and understand the uniqueness and richness
of our thought & practice of the religio-culture principles in management philosophy and discipline.
The purpose of this article is not to provide a comprehensive essay about application of Hindu Philosophy in the Management arena, rather provide
a spark or two, for individual pursuit and research
in this very interesting area that consistently provides very rewarding experience. My effort in
this article is to bring attention some of the areas
that fascinated and intrigued me and I sincerely hope that the reader does feel the same way.
In 3rd century BC, Chanakya eloquently defined
the 11 golden principles for universal prosperity:
Sukha Mula Dharma (Dharma is the root
of happiness)
Dharmasya Mulartha (Wealth is at the
root of Dharma)
Arthasya Mula Rajyam (Prosperity
depends upon good governance)

Rajyamoolmindrajaya (Victory over the
self-control is the root of (stability of) state/organization)
Indriajyasya Moola vinaya (Humbleness
is at the root of self-control)
Vinayasya Moola vradhopsewa (Attending the elders is the root of humbleness)
Vradhasewya Vigynam (True wisdom results from the service of elders)
Vigyanentmanam sampdyet (With wisdom one becomes capable)
Sampaditatma Jittma Bhavati (A capable king/leader only become victorious)
10. Jittma Sarvarth sanyujayat (The Victorious happens to attain all the riches)
11. Arthasampat Prakratisampada karoti
(Economic Prosperity of the state create prosperity for the people).
The thought framework underlying this set of
principles is still relevant to our current management philosophy from an individual level to
that of a group or an establishment. We will try
to through some light on the fundamental management principles by reviewing them from the
value system of Hindu religion and philosophy.
Self-Management If one wants to manage or
lead any group, it always should begin with oneself
being well managed. Only a self-managed person
can manage the group effectively and efficiently.
So, the basic focus is on managing self. Bhagavad
Gita says that a Karma Yogi is a person performing his duty with detachment and as an observer (Saakshi-bhaav). Such person is enjoying the
work, process and not the result. So, the results
cannot frustrate him. The standard management
axiom is focusing on other to get work done while
our Hindu way says that management begins from
inside i.e. Self-Management. If the karma yoga
is blended with bhakti yoga then the work itself
becomes worship or even service, Seva yoga.

Preserving, restoring, and growing our temple

SSVT Jeernodharana Kumbhabhishekam

Effective & Efficient Structure In Vidur Niti
(Udyog Parva, Mahabharata), it is explained that
any activity should begin with clear understanding of objectives behind. This axiom goes beyond the traditional vision, mission, goals and objectives that we follow in the management best
practices framework and emphasizes the need
for metrics, critical success factors and monitoring requirements to be defined upfront. Further,
while referring to implementation and challenges of the resources, their interest, morale, commitment, passion and team dynamics, Kautilyas
upaayacatusthaya - four upaayas or approaches, i.e., saama- daana-bedha- danda: conciliation, gifts, rupture and force - comes to mind.

issue but may point to deeper personality issues.

In a broader stroke, this shows the conflict between externally directed acquisitions, motivations
and inner reasoning, emotions and conscience.

Inclusive Approach - Inclusive business model

could be declared an innovative and out of the
box, creative thinking but if we dig deeper, the
concept originated in 8th century work of Narayana in Hitopadesha. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is
a Hindu philosophical principle that inculcates an
understanding that the whole world is just one family (Vasudha = earth, Kutumbakam = family). The
moment there is a gap in the feeling of oneness
with other living beings, it may lead to injustice,
and depletion of peace in the society and other unLeadership Given our rich culture, long tradi- expected repercussions. At a more personal level,
tion, vast and complex socio-religious body, the this grand idea paves way for more understanding
great leaders cited as examples usually come and putting oneself in others shoes when dealwith spiritual and holistic aspects in their person- ing with human clients and customers. It injects
alities. According to Hindu doctrine, great lead- one of oft-missing aspects, empathatic outlook.
ership characteristics should be compared with It is indeed strange that while network servers in
different characters. While expressing happiness digital world serve the clients, in the real world
and joy, he should be like Lord Indra, when he is Governments / big corporations built and elected
punishing misdeeds he should be cruel like Yama by humans do not serve their people / employees.
Dharman, when he is donating for the betterment
and contributing to the well-being of the society he Decision Making The founder of modern manshould be like Lord Kubera, while fighting against agement, Peter F Drucker highlights 5 steps prothe enemies he should be brave, aggressive and cess for effective decision making. They are (1)
fierce like Skanda. He should have the depth of Define, (2) Analyze, (3) Develop alternate solusamudra (ocean), height of mountain (Himala- tions, (4) Evaluate & Decide the best solution
yas) and tolerance capacity like mother earth. and (5) Implement. Interestingly, Bhagavad Gita
gives us much deeper and holistic approach to
Importance of Value System In Mahabhara- the decision making process. The perspectives
ta we come across King Yayaati who, in order offered in Gita can be rephrased in contemporary
to revel in the endless enjoyment of flesh, ex- management terms as 8 steps: (1) Environmenchanged his old age with the youth of his oblig- tal Scanning & Searching, (2) Understanding the
ing youngest son for a mythical thousand years. Problem, (3) Develop strategic options and conHowever, he lost himself in the pursuit of sen- sult experts, (4) Compare and Choose from alsual enjoyments and felt penitent. He came ternatives, (when we choose from alternatives,
back to his son pleading to take back his youth. we could be free from anger, greed, selfishness,
revenge, jealousy and affection), (5) Validate the
This predicament is not limited to the itihaasa, but alternative on ethical ground, (6) Execution of decan be referred to as Yayaati syndrome when an in- cision with brilliancy and skill without ego, (7) Acdividual adopts deviant practices to attain success ceptance of result as God Gift, (8) Sharing the
in business. When one loses the moral values and results with parties involved like suppliers, employin the name of normal business hazards for being ees, customers, investors, society and community.
successful in business/life, or when pursues undercutting, tax evasion, greed, business strife for It is obvious that the basic premise is one and the
success, it is not mere lack of a value judgement same for both the Druckers guidance to decision
Preserving, restoring, and growing our temple

SSVT Jeernodharana Kumbhabhishekam

making and Gitas wholesome approach to that
process. But the significant difference in the principles propounded by Hindu Dharma relates to
ethical values, morality and social benefits which
are more pronounced than mere personal gains.
As Sri. K. Ravindran quoted, (retired police commissioner of Tamil Nadu and erudite scholar)
Ancient philosophy in India was not a set of dry
theoretical treatises evolved in caves in mountain
tops or deep in forests, but was the result of a
close study of mankind in his natural environment. Our Hindu philosophy is well prepared to
constructively address many management problems that are the foci of studies in modern behavioral science.

In conclusion, we want re-emphasize that the

purport of this article is not to suggest discarding
of the Western model of efficiency, dynamism and
striving for excellence. These principles have created a well-tested and reproducible framework for
productive management practices. But as Swami
Vivekananda emphasized, the combination of the
principles of western management philosophy
and the Hindu holistic attitude of Lokasangraha
-for the welfare of many, for the good of many
appears to be a more effective and efficient way
towards a complete and widespread success.
Such a synthesis will ensure productivity and
growth for any kind of enterprise that can also
support inner well-being and a service attitude in
the associated individuals.

References - 1) Arthashastra Chankya (2) Aspects of Hindu Morality Saral Jhingran 3) Himalayan Academy K. Ravindran 4) Indian Journal of Applied Research Jayen Thaker 5) Bhagavad Gita and Management
M P Bhattathiry 6) Enlightened Leadership Avadhoot Dandekar
Venkat Subramanian is the founder, President & CEO of ANGARAI, named after his native village in Southern India. ANGARAI is a professional management consulting firm established in 2003 and headquartered in
Greenbelt, Maryland. Venkat has developed Holistic Organization Change Management Solution models and
an effective Engagement Management Model and Methodology which are signature products of Angarai International, Inc.. He is a long term volunteer of SSVT and is also involved in many charitable activities in US and

Preserving, restoring, and growing our temple