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A Grand Success: Some Book Fair Statistics

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Whoever has visited the World Samskrit Book Fair in January 2011 in Bangalore got one message loud and clear: Samskrit is not merely surviving, it is very much thriving in the hearts of people, and has a bright future ahead as a living language and as people’s language. People who were skeptical whether there is enough public interest to sustain the program over four days, saw first hand that every venue at the fair including book stalls and exhibition was jam-packed most of the time. Not only that, at least a dozen book stall owners  closed down because their entire stock was sold in the first two days! It’s not merely curiosity about Samskrit, it is people’s thirst for Samskrit literature that was so amply demonstrated at this book fair. So much so, that both public as well as publishers want more such fairs to be held at multiple places, multiple times in a year.

The main auditorium was at least 70% full for all events, even those conducted in pure Samskrit, not just during the cultural programs in the evening. The area was equally packed with people during  Sri S.P.Balasubrahmaniam’s concert as during the Samskrit fusion music concert.

What this book fair demonstrated is the massive amount of Samskrit interest among the general public, not merely among scholars, as evidenced by the turnout for every kind of event.

The Verdict

  • “UNPRECEDENTED”
  • “UNFORGETTABLE”
  • “INCREDIBLE”
  • “BEYOND EXPECTATIONS…”
  • “When is the next…”

The World Samskrit Book Fair 2011 at a Glance

  • 128 publishers – a first time ever (100 publishers expected)
  • 154 stalls – all sold out (136 originally planned)
  • 12 Lakhs books sold – (5 lakh book sales expected)
  • > 4 lakh visitors ( 1 to 1.5 lakh visitors expected)
  • Rs. 4 crores worth of Books Sales ( 2 crores targetted)
  • 1.5 Lakh books given away as ‘Pustaka Prasada’ – a first!
  • 308 New Samskrit Titles + CD/VCD/Audio books released at the Book Release Functions – a record!

Some Interesting Facts

  • Dignitaries Included..
    • All Vice Chancellors of Samskrit Universities
    • Ministers & State representatives from 6 States (MP, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttarkhand, MHRD, Karnataka)
    • Spiritual leaders, Polititicians, IAS & IPS officers
  • More than 200 Schools & Colleges came to the Exhibition
  • 44 Schools participated in cultural events & competitions
  • 3 publishers sold off all their books on the very first day!
  • 50 stalls were empty on the third day
  • Largest number of books sold were – Modern and Simple Samskrit literature
  • Live coverage by Sri Sankara TV Channel
  • Live Web cast of the event worldwide

Six Great Programs, One Historic Event

Here are the statistics of the proceedings both leading up to and during the book fair. There were six programs:

  1. Spoken Samskrit Camps during November and December 2010
  2. Jnaanagangaa (ज्ञानगङ्गा) – Exhibition on the Samskrit-based Knowledge Heritage of India
  3. Cultural Extravaganza
  4. Samskrita Graama
  5. National Samskrit Conference
  6. World Samskrit Book Fair

Spoken Samskrit Camps

  • 520 ‘Speak Samskrit in 10 days’ camps during November and December 2010 in Bangalore.
  • New Developments in Bangalore:
    • 28 new Tutor Training Centers developed
    • 146 new Tutors trained to teach Samskrit through the medium of Samskrit
    • Lawyers, Professors, Doctors, Software Engineers among those trained
    • 300 new teaching centres formed in Bangalore, including at  Infosys, Yahoo, Microsoft, NetApp
    • More than 20000 Bangaloreans learnt to speak Samskrit

Jnaana Ganga Exhibition

  • Jointly organized by IIT Mumbai, ISRO, C-DAC, JN Planetarium, National Manuscripts Mission, Dhatu, Samskrita Bharati and many other research organizations
  • 25 topics and 500 charts covering Astronomy, Metallurgy, Medicine, Agriculture, Mathematics, Town planning, Management principles among others.
  • Models of Vyoohas from the Mahabharata war
  • Mini Planetarium
  • Models of various devices
  • Mobile Manuscripts Protection Unit

Cultural Extravaganza

  • Musical Performances
    • Samskrita Sangiita Kaveri by Vidwaan Sri Vidyaabhushana
    • Samskrit Fusion Music by Sri Rajesh Krishnan (Kannada movie playback singer)
    • Rasamanjari by Dr. S.P. Balasubrahmaniam
    • Samskrita Gaana Goshthi by Vidwaan Sri R.K. Padmanabha
  • ‘Dharmabhumi’ – Samskrit Ballet by Sri Prabhath Kalavidaru
  • Dance Performances
    • Manipuri
    • Bihu
    • Garba
    • Pala
  • Samskrit Film -’Blacharitam’ Directed by Smt Dr S R Leela
  • Samskrit Drama – ‘Kaarakam’ bu Chotipuri Gurukula Girl Students
  • Samskrit Kavya-Chitra- by Shatavadhani R Ganesh, Sri BKS Verma
  • Samskrita Yakshagana – by Sringeri Vidyapeeth
  • “Ashtaavakra” – a Samskrit Puppet show by Dhatu

Samskrita Grama

  • Walk through experience at a Samskrit Village
  • Experience of day-to-day Samskrit conversations @
    • School
    • Post Office
    • Mechanic Workshop
    • Graam Panchayat
    • Shops
    • Samskrita Grham & the portico
    • Children playing Samskrit
    • Samskrit street plays (veethi natakam) by Shibham Karoti & Maitreyi Gurukul students

National Samskrit Conference

  • 1300 volunteers
  • 7146 registered participants, more than 1500 local participants
  • Accomodation in 53 Kalyan Mantaps
  • 70 food counters in 4 Kalyan Mantaps under natural scenery
  • Delegates from 23 states & 2 Union territories
  • Delegates from 500 districts and 2100 Towns and Villages
  • Participation from 15 countries
  • Programs
    • Kavi Goshthi
    • Youth conference
    • Women’s conference
    • Science conference
    • Workshop on Management Principles
    • Shalaakaa Pareeksha
    • Seminar on Samskrit education
    • Seminar on Samskrit Book Publication

Samskrita Sangama on Jan 9, 2011 3-5pm

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The success of the historic and unique exhibition and the Sanskrit conference at the national level was highlighted during the occasion. The function began with an invocation by Smt.  Pramila Diwakar and an introductory speech by Sri Dinesh Kamat, the general secretary of Samskrita Bharati. He proclaimed that the event has truly showcased the treasure trove of Samskrit, and thanked people from all walks of life who came as guests, delegates, scholars, students and visitors, making the event a grand success. This spirit must begin the awakening of younger minds towards the quest for ancient wisdom. Books written by Sri Rama Jois – Dharma, Trivarga and Manu Smritiya Bhashya – were released on the occasion.

Sri R.C. Lahoti, former Chief Justice of India, said he was surcharged with emotion for the love of Samskrit. The event looked like a kumbha mela for learning and rejuvenating Samskrit.  He made a remarkable quote by Iqbal – “Sanskrit is the expression of immortal cultural views”, and Sri Aurobindo  - “Sanskrit is the most magnificent, prominent and sufficient instrument developed by human mind.”

Sri Rama Jois, former Governor and Chief Justice felt that the event should be recorded in golden letters being unique and historical. He gave elaborate contributions of Samskrit to universal progress.

V.S Acharya minister for Higher Education, Govt. of Karnataka, lamented that the past 50 years had seen neglect, decline and marginalized learning of Samskrit. This event is an attempt to showcase the language at its best. The installation of Sanskrit University is a great achievement in this regard. New awakening should be seen amongst youth for Samskrit renaissance.

Sri Braj Mohan Agarwal, Chattisgarh’s higher education minister, felt that as the language of religion, rituals and practice, Samskrit enlivens customs and culture and welcomed the organizers to organize such an event at Chattisgarh.

S. Raman, Managing Director, Canara Bank greatly acknowledged that Sanskrit is the only perfect phonetic language in the world, the event has been quite a stimulating and thrilling experience.

Sri Alex Director IAITR, Chennai claimed that Sanskrit capital of our country is now the  city hosting the event, Bangalore. It cannot demise since it is Devanagari i.e. perfectly made by the God –i.e.,  Srushti, Sthiti and Laya. As long as our body breath stays till then the language does exist.

V.V. Bhat, IAS, Secretary, Atomic  Energy Commission said the event is an unprecedented success and knowledge mining must be done to make a concrete agenda for research of Sanskrit. He appealed to advocate the significance of the language everywhere.

Satyanarayana Bhat, Samskrita Bharati thanked everyone present and all those who worked for the grand success of the historic event.


Why schools outside India teach Sanskrit?

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Author: Smt. Venetia Ansell (http://venetiaansell.wordpress.com)

St James’ Schools, London, age 4-18

It has a perfect system of sound and grammar which gives the child an excellent base for the study of all languages. Children love the order and beauty of the sound and the letters.

The language is sound-based and helps to sharpen listening and speech skills. There is a wider range of sounds and letters than in most other languages and this enables the child to grow quickly in precise speech.

Studying Sanskrit gives children access to one of the greatest stores of literature available and the children love the stories.

“It gives them brilliant linguistic training. Sanskrit scriptures are inspiring and full of philosophical concepts, which is why we teach it,” – Warwick Jessop, head of St James’ Sanskrit department

[quote taken from NDTV article 28th June 2010 - http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/sanskrit-thriving-in-uk-schools-34267]

Erasmus School of Primary Education, Melbourne, preparatory to grade 6

Sanskrit, being the oldest known language and the foundation for many modern languages, including English, presents a rich source of study and inspiration for children.  It is recognised by scholars as having one of the most perfect systems of grammar. Children enjoy the beautiful and pure sounds of Sanskrit which they begin to recite in their first year at school.

John Scottus, Dublin, primary and secondary school

The qualities of Sanskrit are the qualities you want your child to have. It is full of principle, precision and flexibility. It has a rich and uplifting effect even if you hear its sound without meaning.

The meaning of its vast literature is both deeply philosophical and utterly practical. It spells out every area of human life, including Ayurvedic medicine, psychology, yoga, vedic maths, rhythm, music, dance, etymology, grammar and methods for self-knowledge.

It is made complete in every way: it has a structured grammar covering every nuance, letter, word and sentence composition. The meaning of the word ‘Sams-krit’ is ‘made completely’.

It is often referred to as the language of the gods. Its effect can be felt immediately.

It makes you flex your mental muscle in an age when we have become too reliant on machines to do the thinking for us and where we have adopted ways of speaking which require minimal intelligent application. This gives the Sanskrit speaker a sharper mind which is able to retain vast amounts of knowledge with the ability to produce more harmonious and rich speech.

John Colet School, Sydney, primary school

The classical languages of Latin and Sanskrit are studied because they provide not only a background to the cultures of Europe and Asia, but an understanding of grammar, the basis for all future language learning.

Philosophy Day School, New York, nursery – fifth grade

(Sanskrit) is an astonishingly ordered and beautiful language, and its study is a brilliant training for the mind, affording unmatchable insight into the very nature of language itself. Its grammar is unrivalled in its comprehensiveness and refinement. Its sounds are pure and have remained unchanged over the ages.

The structure of the Sanskrit alphabet, which children are introduced to in Kindergarten, is scientifically ordered in its differentiation of mouth positions. The sounds of the alphabet are comprehensive in their range, and considerably broaden the linguistic skills of the children at an early stage.

Sanskrit has one of the richest and most extensive literatures of all known languages, such as the The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. It introduces children to vast epics, profound scripture, subtle philosophy, voluminous mythology, exquisite poetry and much else.

The practice of Sanskrit calligraphy is an art in itself. The study of Sanskrit enhances and provides an excellent grounding for any other language the child studies later on.


Why Samskrit?

Posted by on l, j F, Y

Author: Smt. Venetia Ansell (http://venetiaansell.wordpress.com)

In the 19th century, Thomas Babington Macaulay instigated a major change in the Indian education system.  Macaulay famously wanted to create “a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect” and sought to do this by championing English as the medium of instruction in place of the traditional Sanskrit-based education.  Leaving aside the heated debate over ‘Macaulay’s children’, no one can deny that English has become the lingua franca in India not just for education but for much of everyday life.

As Macaulay realised, language is central to any culture.  Not only does it provide continuity, connecting diverse peoples across time and space, but it also moulds and is moulded by that culture. And, in spite of the many languages, old and modern, that India has spawned, it is Sanskrit that stands tall behind almost all of them. Sanskrit is, as it were, the linguistic and literary fabric that stretches the length and breadth of India.  India without Sanskrit would not be India.

Thanks in part to Macaulay, Sanskrit has withered as English has flourished.  The language, and all it stands for, now faces two related risks.

There is a growing reliance on translations into modern Indian languages, and particularly English.  Translating Sanskrit texts is a start, and certainly helps make them more accessible, but it is hardly a solution. A children’s version of the Pancatantra in English, Hindi or Kannada is undoubtedly a good thing but Ayurvedic doctors depending on English translations of the major medical treatises  is not.  In addition, a vast amount of material is lying in lakhs upon lakhs of undiscovered, undeciphered, untranslated and unpublished manuscripts throughout the country.  India needs more people who can read the Gita themselves rather than yet another translation of the text.

The second danger is that Sanskrit becomes just one more dead language.  In the West, Sanskrit thrives in the world’s best universities with brilliant scholars and plenty of funding (well, relatively speaking).  But if Sanskrit is to avoid the fate of ancient Greek, which prospers in the stone colonnades of Oxbridge colleges but is no better than a corpse to the rest of the world, it cannot exist solely as a source of dry academic study.  Sanskrit has outlived its European sisters, Latin and Greek, by many centuries because it has continued to be used not just for religion and government – as Latin was for many years – but also for teaching, scholarly discussions, new compositions, fresh commentaries on old works, the media and of course everyday conversation.   If Sanskrit is to live on, it must be spoken and written as well as read and heard.  People need to actively engage with Sanskrit.

Many of Sanskrit’s most enthusiastic supporters are NRIs, living abroad or just returned; you never appreciate something until you’ve lost it.  In another generation or so, metropolitan Indians growing up in English-as-a-first-language households may well see the value of Sanskrit and the passport it provides to their cultural heritage.  The irony is that by that stage they will struggle with the language as much as the many Westerners who – attracted by yoga, ayurveda, vedanta and even Panini – now learn Sanskrit.  And in the meantime, who knows how many manuscripts will have succumbed to leaks, insects, fire and old age, and how many pandits will have taken their knowledge, passed down for hundreds of years, with them to the funeral pyre.


Bhagavad Gita: Ideas for Modern Management

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Author: Prof. B Mahadevan, Dean (Administration), Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

This is based on a talk delivered by Prof. Mahadevan  in a seminar on “Towards a New Paradigm of Business management – Alternative Perspectives from Ancient Indian Wisdom”, held at IIM Bangalore on December 12, 2009.

Introduction

Bhagavad Gita is one of the most popular of the ancient texts not only among the Indians but also among the westerners. In fact Robert Oppenheimer who successfully exploded the first atom bomb on July 16, 1945, at Alamogordo, New Mexico was greatly attracted by Gita. Watching this event from a distance, he was supposedly uttering a phrase from Bhagavad Gita[2]. Bhagavad Gita has inspired many of our national leaders and provided them strength, moral courage and clarity of thought with which they have led the country in its struggle. Arguably, these are important elements of making a good manager or a leader today. Herein lies the motivation for this article. But what is really interesting is that these ideas are available not only in the Bhagavad Gita but also in the ten Upanishads and for that matter in several ancient Indian texts.

Before we look at one or two interesting aspects of management from Gita, it is important for us to appreciate the multi-faceted nature of ancient Indian texts. We need to get this aspect abundantly clear so that the real value of the ancient Indian texts is fully understood. Further it also informs us that only if we approach the ancient Indian texts with such a perspective we will be able to gainfully understand its usefulness to solve today’s problems.

Ancient Indian texts – Multi-faceted perspectives

First of all we must understand that the Ancient Indian texts could be read with different purposes. For example, a true bhakta of Lord Krishna may want to read Gita as it is a matter of religion to him. He may do a daily paraayana of some of the verses.  Many of us can identify with this role. On the other hand, a student of philosophy or a person with a deep desire to search the inner truth or meaning of “self” or a spiritual seeker may view Gita as a spiritual text. Again some of us may fit into this role. But there is a third aspect to Gita and other such texts, which many of us are not aware of. Many of us perhaps did not also think of such a possibility. This is what I call as “secular” or a “material” perspective. By that we mean a set of ideas that help us conduct our life sensibly more from a day to day, working perspective. This is referred to as secular because in this perspective there is no need to bring in the notion of religion or spirituality.

Therefore all these ancient texts provide three distinctive perspectives.  It all depends on how we want to read it.  Let me look at one or two examples from Gita to understand this point clearly.

Is Gita a Religious text or a Secular text?

Let us look at a pair of famous shlokas – famous because it was a title song for the Mahabharata serial.

  • यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत । अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम्‌ ॥ 4.7 ॥
  • परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्‌ । धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ॥ 4.8. ॥

For the first time in Bhagavad Gita Krishna manifests himself as God through these two shlokas. In the first three chapters he has been engaging in conversation with Arjuna more from a level of a “cousin”. That is what we implicitly infer from a reading of the Gita. Quintessentially this is the “Avathaara Purusha” dimension brought through this shloka.  At a first reading one can easily detect the religious angle.

Whenever there is a deterioration of dharma the God takes one more incarnation (Avathaara) to uphold the dharma. The incarnation of God, as the next shloka suggests, is to protect the good people, destroy the evil ones and restore Dharma in the society once again. That is how the cardinal principle of incarnation manifests here in terms of the context, motivation and purpose.

This is one way of looking at it.  However, the same set of shlokas could be understood as a profound management concept because that is what you will find in the instructions of many engineering and management schools. Let us understand this perspective with respect to these shlokas.

Stability and long term sustainability of the system happens because there are regenerative points.  When the system attains disequilibrium and shows signs of being unstable and going out of control measures have to be taken to restore the equilibrium in the system.  This is a classical systems engineering idea according to which there are regenerative points in the system.  If the regenerative points are not there, the system will go unstable.

One can easily relate this to well-known concepts in Economics & Management. The demand – supply equilibrium, pricing decisions in alternative market structures, the way in which organizations continue to root out bad CEOs or Managers over time, the mechanisms to prevent opportunistic behaviours in the long run (and variations of this such as Prisoner’s Dilemma) could all be explained by this basic axiom laid out in this shloka.

Is Gita a Spiritual text or a Secular text?

Let us look at one more example.  In chapter 2 of Gita, when Lord Krishna begins his set of arguments to convince Arjuna the need to fight against the Kaurava army, the first idea he brings into focus is the notion of time. What strikes you is that this idea is in stark contrast to modern day pre-occupations with quarter-to-quarter guidance ritual that investment bankers are going after. However that is not the point of our discussion now. Let us look at one of the shlokas from this argument of time and its impact.

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि ।

तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा अन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही ॥  2.22. ॥

The easy and direct meaning to this shloka runs as follows:

Just as a person discards an old and a torn shirt and wears a new one, the soul (Atma) also discards an old body and acquires a new one. What a simple way to explain a complex idea of a chain of birth and death events! There is a spiritual angle to it. It is a profound spiritual thought here and true seekers of knowledge will revel on this idea and deeply contemplate.

Now we shall look at an alternative perspective of this shloka.

In order to be successful and sustainable organizations need to continuously engage themselves in discarding old ideas (mind set!) & embrace new ones. This is the fundamental building block of innovation and creating competitive advantage.

This shloka echoes and reinforces the recent work by Joseph Schumpeter[3] on creative destruction and innovation followed by a number of other researchers. The most important issue in management of change is one of mind set.  The biggest challenge in organizations is mind set inertia.  You can discard many things but mindset is very difficult to discard. This puts realistic limits to creating better organizations over time.

Another example can be found in a paper titled “May the Whole Earth be Happy: Lokaa Samstaa Sukhino Bhavnatu” written by a Canadian, Stafford Beer in 1994[4] in an Operations Research Journal. In this paper, Beer shows how a shloka in Chapter 3 of Gita (3.27: अहङ्कार-विमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते) indeed relates to some of the issues that arise in cybernetics and control theory. He also mentioned several other concepts from the Ancient Indian wisdom in the same paper relating them to certain management principles.

Relevant thoughts for Management

If we develop the skill, orientation and attitude to draw upon the repository of knowledge for our day to day living issues (such as Business Management), then we will realize that the world of ancient Indian wisdom opens up. One may locate a number of direct and relevant thoughts in these texts. Let us look at one or two examples from Gita on the issue of relevant thoughts for today. The following shloka from Gita, chapter 3 is a case in point:

अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुषः ।

अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः ॥ 3.36.

In this shloka, Arjuna raises a question which is very pertinent to most of us. We have had several occasions in our personal and professional life during which we would have internally asked the same question.

Who is behind all these bad or wrong things that people do? Although I am not interested it appears I am forcibly involved into this.

In fact you ask managers who have erred in their decisions or committed some blunder, you ask fathers who have made blunders of scolding their children or taken wrong decisions about their daughter or son. They will always say something similar to this shloka.  There is this feeling – I have become a victim of a  situation as though somebody is pushing me to do wrong things.  We have gone through this frame of mind in our daily life.  We are going through this frame of mind every now and then in Management. Krishna offers some explanation as to why this is happening in the shlokas that follow.

Gita also offers perspectives on how to manage certain things in life, understand complex things that we go through in simple terms (just as the example of birth and death). It also offers direct ideas and sets us in a state of contemplation. One example will help drive this point.

मात्रास्पर्शस्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः ।

आगमापायिनोऽनित्याः तांस्तितीक्षस्व भारत ॥ 2.14.

The meaning of the shloka is as follows:

As long as the five senses are active in gathering the signals that come into contact with them, we will experience the world of dualities – hot and cold, peace and sorrow etc. You cannot run away from the world of dualities as they happen continuously and are also impermanent. Learning to handle them is important.

Stress management is a big issue today. Most of the knowledge and help we get from the modern day thinking is to suppress or divert our attention from the issue of stress. They implicitly operate with an assumption that stress will be inevitably generated and the solution lies in doing something about it once we are stressed. “Let us kill it or run away from it by some means after it happens” is the basis for stress management. We do not seem to address why one should get stressed in the first place.

On the other hand, this shloka addresses this issue and truly provides us an idea for “managing” stress. It is all about signal processing.  We have to differentiate between signals and noise.  That is the idea here. We don’t do so because we don’t have the capability of signal processing. That does not mean we can turn off the apparatus and stop receiving the signals. That happens only when we are in a state of coma.  That is not what Lord Krishna is saying.  Gita never recommends running away from problems.  On the other hand it seems to suggest that understanding problems in the right perspective is key to managing them.  That is the greatest management lesson that one can learn. The idea of managing the world of duality (समत्वं योग उच्यते) has been one of the key messages in the Gita and it has been repeatedly emphasized not only in chapter 2, but also in several other chapters.  This could very well be the cornerstone of developing superior self- and people management skills and leadership traits.

Basic approach to work in Gita

Management is all about doing work, doing it efficiently and ensuring that results follow. Viewed from this perspective, Gita offers counter-intuitive ideas on these issues (see figure for a basic framework depicting this).

The nature of work according to Bhagavad Gita

The nature of work according to Bhagavad Gita

Work & Its effectiveness as the Core

Often people comment that the central message in Bhagavad Gita is about the notion of karma yoga. Of relevance to management is the notion of karma yoga and its essence in terms of work.  It will be very useful to understand how this issue is laid out in the Gita. First of all Lord Krishna establishes a paradigm that there is nothing called “the state of inaction”.  He clearly says in chapter 3 that there is nothing like akarma (no action or inaction) (3:5 न क्स्श्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत्‌).  There is nothing like a state of inaction.  Why did he say that? Because only then we will focus on the issue of how to do work correctly.  It is natural then for us to ask how to do work.  He says enjoy complete degree of freedom (3:9 यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः, 3:31 श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तः मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः) and total joy while engaging in work. That is the idea.  While we are in the thick of work can we enjoy? Gita emphatically replies in the affirmative. Krishna goes to the extent of saying that with such a perspective to work, we may realize that even when we do a lot of work, we do not feel like indeed engaging in any work (4:20 कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः).

If you think that this is a utopian idea simply ask a mother tending to her child with great love and dedication. She will relate herself to this shloka. If only we could ask some of the greatest social workers and inspiring leaders that this society has produced they might have replied in the affirmative.

This is again in contrast with our understanding of work and its effects on us today. One of the biggest problems that we are facing in our daily life, professional work and personal life is that we don’t seem to enjoy what we are doing.  Swami Ranganathananda mentions that there was no word like boredom in the dictionary about 400 years – 600 years ago[5].  Today the children say “I am bored”.  Young professionals want to adopt the western model of “weekend getaway”. We need weekend getaways if work is perceived as drudgery and an avoidable aspect of our life. Such a perspective can never get the best from work place that modern business management is worried about. What is this boredom?  Why does it happen? Because we don’t enjoy what we are doing, we get bored.

The basic tenet of Gita is antithesis to this idea that work could be drudgery. First understand there is nothing like state of no work. We cannot run away from work as there is nothing called “no work”. Further if you enjoy complete freedom of doing work result has to follow.  That is the basic line of argument that I see in Gita.  Lord Krishna says that it is possible that you can have complete degree of freedom and enjoy work. This is the basic thread of argument I see in the text which I think is very relevant for management.

Axioms of work

As we have already seen, there is no escaping from work. Therefore, let us understand how the axioms of work have been proposed in Gita. There are four aspects to this, which is very well brought out in this famous shloka in Gita:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूः मा ते सङ्गोस्त्वकर्मणि ॥ . 2.47.

A direct translation of this shloka is as follows:

You have the right to work but never to the fruits of the action. Further you do not have the right to the root cause of the fruits of action. You also do not have the right to remain in the society without performing any work.

As we notice from the above translation, there are four components of the axiom of work defined in Gita. It is much easier to explain the rationale of the last component. When one is told that he/she has to do the work, he/she does not ask for results or bother about what causes these results, the normal tendency in some cases is to say, “well in that case, I am not interested in doing the work”. The last component takes away that possibility. Since in Gita, the notion of non-work or inaction is not a feasible alternative, the last component makes sense. The most difficult part is the second and the third component. How can someone do the work and yet not have the right for results? This requires some more articulation and understanding of the idea.

Let us see it from the management perspective.  The current day thinking and this are in loggerheads. We are told that we need to work for results. Why is then Lord Krishna advocating the antithesis of this? In order to get this clear, let us trace some side effects of working for results. Many of us with some work experience will be able to relate to these side effects:

  • Result orientation can make one wary of failures, we may refuse to undertake great activities (modern risk management issue comes into play). Yesterday I read in the paper that an 8th standard student ended her life because she did not clear the exam. What a tragedy and what a side effect that we need to face?
  • We have a tendency to excessively focus on ends instead of means. This is what most working in Multi-National Companies are busy doing. Modern day managers spend significant time to manager “performance reports” rather than “performance” itself.
  • In order to be good in managing the performance report, “process orientation” must  give way for “result orientation”
  • What are results at the end of the day? They are issues of the future about which we spend our time in the present. Therefore, we may tend to escape the dynamics of “present” and go after “future”

The apparent confusion that we have in understanding this shloka is that when we say you have no right to the results, it merely suggests that take off your pre-occupation with results and have a process orientation. Results must follow automatically. Is it not what the total quality management (TQM) philosophy is also arguing about? Further, you may ask, why do we want to take the fixation from results and instead concentrate on the work itself? The simple answer to it is that by doing do it lets you literally “get lost in work”. When one gets lost into work, the traditional barriers of efficiency and motivation are broken and the individual treads into extraordinary performance born out of inspiration. Perhaps, that is how a Nobel Laureate or a great scientist or a visionary leader would have spent several years of his/her time.

We often say when we do very interesting things in life, “I never knew how time passed” That is a good indication of our ability to practice कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन. This is neither an unknown or impossible idea to mankind. Every day we all practice this when we have deep sleep. We rise from the deep sleep and remark that we had a sound sleep. By that what it means is no matter what sound others made in the vicinity I continued to sleep. Try to sleep with an objective of having a 6 hour sound sleep and work for the result, you will not get sound sleep.  Your mind will work very hard to find out how to ensure 6 hours of deep sleep and in the process you will get tired. Maybe after some time when the analytical and result-oriented mind gets fatigued, you will slip into deep sleep.

The ancient Indian texts such as Bhagavad Gita are profound and are meant to open up the horizon in the minds of the people. Therefore it is hardly surprising that we can draw such alternative ideas and thoughts from such texts. However, in order to benefit from this immensely, in the domain of management, we need to step out of the world of rationality and tread into unknown areas. Perhaps a nearest reference to this idea in modern day is “out of the box” thinking or thinking “without” the box. This in itself is a paradigm shift in perception that we need to make in our own mind.

Conclusions

There are several other useful ideas in Gita for management. There are specific ideas for management that address issues pertaining to self, self-mastery and self-assessment. There are also specific suggestions on the leadership traits.

Bhagavad Gita and for that matter in several other ancient Indian texts offer a unique value proposition. We can have spiritual progress, we can have material progress too in a very balanced way.  We can have happiness, not only success.  This could be one of the good reasons for us to look at some of these and make our own notes. There is a greater promise and potential for much larger perspectives in ancient Indian wisdom and much greater propensity to draw out of it and apply in a variety of situations.


[1] This is based on a talk delivered by Professor B Mahadevan, Dean (Administration), Indian Institute of Management Bangalore in a seminar on “Towards a New Paradigm of Business management – Alternative Perspectives from Ancient Indian Wisdom”, held at IIM Bangalore on December 12, 2009. mahadev@iimb.ernet.in

[2] http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/ai/aboutopp.htm

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Schumpeter

[4] Beer, S. (1994). “May the Whole Earth be Happy: Lokaasamastaa Sukhino Bhavantu”, Interfaces, Vol. 24, No. 4, 83 – 93.

[5] Swami Ranganthananda, (2000). “The Universal Message of Gita”, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkatta, Vol. 1, pp. 430 – 437.


Call for Participation in Workshop

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The organizers of the Samskrit Book Fair have announced a workshop during the Samskrit Book Fair entitled “Strategic Transformation of Samskrit Institutions” coordinated by Prof. B. Mahadevan, Dean, Indian Institute of Management, BANGALORE.

This workshop is open to the academic community in the domain of Samskrit. Heads of departments, Professors, Readers and Lectures who are active in research and teaching and have a keen desire to make impactful changes in Samskrit teaching and research are welcome to apply for the workshop. The seats in the workshop are limited to 40.

How to Participate

At this time, the workshop organizers solicit participation requests from those in the Samskrit academic community. There is a screening process to select the participants among those that apply.

For further details and participation instructions, please visit the workshop page.


Karnataka Government announces special leave facility for Teachers attending Samskrit Book Fair 2011

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The Karnataka Government has announced the following measures to facilitate visit by  teachers/faculty members of educational institutions to the World Samskrit Book Fair.

  • Special leave facility for those attending the book fair during January 7-10.
  • Allottment of budget for purchase of books at the fair.

To avail themselves of this facility, institutional visitors such as faculty and students need to print and attach the Govt order letters  in PDF when applying for leave to attend the fair.


Press Release on Sep 20, 2010 by Justice M. N. Venkatachalaiah, President, World Samskrit Book Fair

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Date: Sep 20, 2010

A World Samskrit Book Fair (WSBF) is being organized from January 7th to 10th 2011 in Bengaluru jointly by all the Samskrit Universities, Government of Karnataka, Samskrit Academies, Oriental Research Institutes, International Association for Samskrit Studies, National Manuscript Mission, Samskrita Bharati and other NGOs working in the field of Samskrit. Such a Samskrit Book Fair is being organized for the first time in modern history.

Due to the advent and popularity of Indian knowledge systems like Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta, Bhagavadgita etc. all over the world during the last few decades, there is a renewed interest in learning Samskrit language, the key to the treasure house of Indian knowledge tradition. This sudden spurt is also due to the people’s longing to go back to the roots, and to access the primary sources. With this background, and to make Samskrit books available at one place, the World Samskrit Book Fair (WSBF) is arranged. Not only books in Samskrit, but books on Samskrit literature in all the Indian languages will also be showcased in the WSBF.

14 Samskrit Universities including Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan under MHRD, Govt. of India, 120 Samskrit PG Depts. of General Universities, 16 Oriental Research Institutes, 7 Sanskrit Academies, a few dozen NGOs and about 100 Publishers will be participating in the Book Fair. Participants are also expected from about 20 countries.

The venue will be National High School grounds, Basavanagudi, BANGALORE. As part of the Book Fair, there will be a three day National Conference of Samskrit scholars, a large Exhibition on “Knowledge Heritage of India” and cultural programs in the evenings. 1008 Samskrita Sambhashana Shibirams (10 Days’ Speak Samskrit Classes) in 1008 places of Bangaluru city will be organized as a prelude to Book Fair, where in about 30,000 people are expected to learn Samskrit. About 10,000 delegates are expected to participate in the conference and about 2 lakh visitors would visit the Fair.

One of the objectives of the Book Fair is to give a fillip to modern Samskrit literature and to produce and publish Samskrit learning material based on new methods and approaches to language learning. Efforts towards this end are already going on in different parts of the country and a few hundred new books, CDs and DVDs would be released in the Book Fair.

Scholars of international repute will participate in the Conference, which would highlight ancient solutions to modern problems and the relevance of Samskrit in today’s knowledge-driven world. Samskrit being the common pan-Indian cultural language, this Book Fair and the conference would be an ideal occasion to experience national integration and national harmony.  Both the conference and the exhibition would show to the world the secular and harmonizing facets of Samskrit literature and the Samskrit community.

Samskrit language is complementary to all the Indian languages, Kannada in particular. Hence the Book Fair would also showcase the contribution of Karnataka, Kannada language in particular, for the growth of Samskrit and Samskriti. Books in Kannada, related to Samskrit literature will also be published. Efforts are being made to translate famous Kannada works into Samskrit and publish them during the Book Fair.

The Karnataka Samskrit University and other Samskrit institutions of Karnataka are also actively working for the success of the Book Fair.  The Dept. of Higher Education, Dept. of Primary and Secondary Education, Dept. of Kannada and Culture of the Government of Karnataka have assured their fullest support for the Book Fair.

We appeal to the public of Karnataka to extend all their cooperation and support for this cause. Those who are interested in more details may kindly visit our website – www.samskritbookfair.org or call +91-80-26721052.


Participating Publishers List is now available

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A number of publishers have already confirmed their participation in the book fair, and a lot more are in finalizing their plans.

The up-to-date list of publishers can now be viewed online.


Invitation for Publishers

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The World Samskrit Book Fair will be the largest ever Samskrit publishing event to date, with an estimated 100,000 attendees and over 100 publishers.  The fair will provide an opportunity for publishers not only to market and sell their titles, but also to engage with key figures in the industry and to collaborate with their peers in Samskrit publishing.

Who Will Be Attending?

The fair attendees will include a diverse range of Samskrit scholars, students and lovers of the language and its literature from all over India and beyond.  Attendees are expected from various fields including:

  • Education: including curriculum decision makers, university faculty,  school teachers and students
  • Scholarship: including research institutes, independent scholars and visiting faculty and students from outside India
  • General interest: including over a million Samskrit enthusiasts linked to Samskrita Bharati and those interested in Indian philosophy, science, yoga, ayurveda.

Which Publishers Are Invited?

The organisers invite active participation by publishers of books, video and audio, both in the Samskrit language proper as well as publications about the Samskrit language and literature in other languages from:

  • Commercial Indology and Samskrit publishers
  • Institutional publishers
  • NGOs and not-for-profit organisations
  • Individual publishers

Publishers are asked to exhibit only those of their books and rich-media publications (audio, video, eLearning etc) that are Samskrit-related.

What Are the Advantages of Participating?

Sale opportunities:

  • Institutional buyers will include educational, research, religious and government bodies.  The government has allocated funds towards book buying at the fair, so sales to educational institutes in particular are expected to be high.
  • Arrangements are also being made to fund discounts on material purchased during the fair.
  • Samskrit scholars and students
  • General public

Business and networking opportunities: The fair will act as a platform for the Samskrit publishing industry to meet, exchange ideas, form partnerships and discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the Samskrit publishing world today.  Participants will include:

  • Samskrit-related publishers
  • Leading figures from the Sanskrit community
  • Retailers and service providers

Publicity opportunities, including:

  • Media coverage
  • Author and book promotion: including the chance to promote your book or author in a free publicity event

If you are a publisher and would like to know how to participate in the book fair, visit our Publisher Information Page.