Karmic Economics: Economy from perspective of Karma

Exclusive to Vedic Management Centre by U. Mahesh Prabhu

Economics is an important part of our lives – whether we understand it or not, it plays a crucial role in the way we live, perceive as well as work. Personal or professional, our lives are always affected, directly or indirectly, by significant economic initiatives and programs run by governments around the world. As a “global village”, governments are more concerned about economic consequences than military ones. This is the reason why we haven’t had a world war since the dawn of a globalized economy.

Today, the concept of power has more to do with economic acceptance and success than military ones. Why do you think a few despots continue to rule some of the important parts of the world amid a democratic and economic superpower? Once the idea of globalization is sought, wars are frowned upon. War is then used to threaten your adversary into submission.

We see economists increasingly growing into one of the most revered as well as feared professionals. Most economists use complex theories, logic, and even jargon when asked simple questions. Most people don’t understand these terms and are embarrassed to ask the meanings of terms like subprime loans, balance of payments, budget deficits, consumer credit protection, repo rate, econometrics, etc. As a result, when an economist is interviewed by journalists on media channels, viewers seldom understand.

Less than one per cent of the global population invests in stock exchanges around the world, yet when one market falls on its indices, other stock markets miles away follow suit. The state of stock markets is often compared with the economic status of nation. Why is it so?

Economics is spoken about in various hues and colours – micro economics and macroeconomics. Hardly anyone understands it well, yet people are aware that economic sanctions against a nation can cripple their personal as well as professional endeavours. It’s safe to say that economics has come to be like god – nobody can explain it, few understand it, and fewer can work with it.

Because of this, we see economists increasingly growing into one of the most revered as well as feared professionals. Most economists use complex theories, logic, and even jargon when asked simple questions. Most people don’t understand these terms and are embarrassed to ask the meanings of terms like subprime loans, balance of payments, budget deficits, consumer credit protection, repo rate, econometrics, etc. As a result, when an economist is interviewed by journalists on media channels, viewers seldom understand.

In 2008, when banks in United States went bankrupt and other banks were soon to follow suit, economists cum bankers who once worked with such banks were consulted to provide solutions. As a result, nepotism crept in and the bankers who ought to have been penalised were not only bailed out, but went home with thick pay packages! Instead of revolting against this, people chose to hurl allegations as well as abuse on politicians.

Most politicians, who are also the easiest targets, barely know a thing or two about economics. So, when there is an economic situation, they cannot but help calling in an economist to fix it. Politicians seek immediate results for they have elections to win to stay in office; they don’t care if the fix is short term or permanent. They are satisfied if the symptoms slowly disappear while the disease worsens. It’s like medicating a body subjected to chronic pain with a strong doze of painkillers. The economic woes facing the world today – whether it is Balance of Payment (BoP) in many European countries, economic stagnation of the Chinese economy or even rampant poverty in African nations – are due to the ineffective plans of economists, implemented by ignorant politicians and judged by clueless citizens.

In 2008, when banks in United States went bankrupt and other banks were soon to follow suit, economists cum bankers who once worked with such banks were consulted to provide solutions. As a result, nepotism crept in and the bankers who ought to have been penalised were not only bailed out, but went home with thick pay packages! Instead of revolting against this, people chose to hurl allegations as well as abuse on politicians.

When people ask if there’s a solution to such problems, it must be clearly understood that a solution cannot be sought without first identifying the problem. Problems can seldom be found if you fail to understand the subject.

In Vedic (or ancient) India, kings and their counsellors were first taught Artha Sutras, which, in very simple terms, explained complex connections between people’s pursuit of happiness, good conduct, the meaning and relevance of well-earned wealth, it’s relativity to governance, and the best suitors to hold key positions in government, and the like. In simple terms, these Sutras, or axioms, explained the connection between economics, politics, and diplomacy. That was also because, unless an individual understands those three subjects, it’s virtually impossible to understand a leader’s role, let alone deliver on it effectively.

Even today, if you ask an economist to explain the reason for the global economic slowdown, s/he’ll provide a naïve or superficial answer at best. Even the best economists won’t provide an abstract answer to explain why things are the way they are and how they can be resolved. This is also because economists don’t understand politics; politicians don’t understand economics; diplomats barely understand politics or economics. As a result, we’ve three professions apparently designed for better universal governance, but at loggerheads owing to their ignorance.

In Vedic (or ancient) India, kings and their counsellors were first taught Artha Sutras, which, in very simple terms, explained complex connections between people’s pursuit of happiness, good conduct, the meaning and relevance of well-earned wealth, it’s relativity to governance, and the best suitors to hold key positions in government, and the like. In simple terms, these Sutras, or axioms, explained the connection between economics, politics, and diplomacy. That was also because, unless an individual understands those three subjects, it’s virtually impossible to understand a leader’s role, let alone deliver on it effectively.

This situation stems from an inadequate education system. There’s hardly a school, college or even a university which can explain – in one course – economics, politics and diplomacy for a better world. By creating specialization areas we’ve created professions without solutions. It won’t be wrong to suggest that “modern” political, economic or management education offers nothing to simplify life. Artha Sutras do just that.

Artha Sutras utilize the concept of Karma, explained in earlier Vedic texts like Upanishads or Vedanta, to put things in perspective. Unfortunately, people understand Karma as destiny. Karma is deed – what you do. The Law of Karma is, subtly put, Law of Causation – cause and effect. Even science accepts the idea that every cause has an effect and every effect leads to a cause. Unless we understand this, there’s no way to create a better life –for ourselves or for the world.

Karma Yoga or Path of Karma explains the art and science for any individual to work in a way so as to have the right effect – not just on a personal level, but universal level as well. Since the Vedic period, people were taught the ideas of Karma, Dharma, and Artha at a very young age. Those who have studied the Artha Sutras understand the fundamental vedic concepts of Dharma, which is not religion but good deeds, and Karma, which is not destiny, but actions (past and present) as well as a result of those actions. Through these concepts, we can decode the commensurate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom hidden in the Artha Sutras.

We can thus come to understand even complex economic scenarios. For example, the complex economic situation has arisen due to the conversion of stock markets into economic gambling houses. When stock markets were born, they were made available for business people to find an easy way to raise money to build their enterprise’s products and/or services. Eventually, trading stocks itself became a profession and because greedy stock traders began manipulating the system for their own benefit. When this was discovered by the authorities, the system was regulated. To bypass these regulations, stock market bigwigs utilized their financial muscle to employ politicians to do their handiwork. To ensure that the masses remained ignorant of their misdeeds, they employed complex jargon, which began to be taught at universities. These began to churn out economists with great bookish, but hardly any practical knowledge. This situation hasn’t changed, with no solution in sight.

In simple terms, powerful people have used their colossal wealth to buy out the custodians of political power and to influence the academic system; this has led to the complex and painful global economic situation. But, what exactly are economics, macroeconomics and microeconomics?

These terms can be easily explained using simple concepts mentioned in the Artha Sutras. People seek happiness – happiness is only that which gives you an emotional sense of peace and prosperity. That doesn’t qualify to be called as happiness which stems from a sadistic mentality or that which causes pain to others. To ensure that people attain happiness, good conduct is necessary. The enforcement of this good conduct can be effectively achieved through good governance. Governance is made possible by people who display self-restraint and good conduct themselves. Good conduct alone isn’t enough – you need knowledge and, importantly, wisdom. It’s only through wisdom that situations can be better assessed and resolved.

Today, many of the world leaders are lacking these qualities. Power is absolute and to attain it, every conceivable approach is employed – ethical as well as otherwise. When people in power take to devious ways, it results in a trickledown effect. Yatha Raja Tathaa Praja – like the king, his people. The Law of Karma also suggests that people often follow those in positions of power and influence.

The Law of Karma clearly states, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” If you do good, you receive good. However, there’s no particular time frame to for a favourable response. This is also because if you have done something bad, then you’d have to reap its result first, before reaping the next. If you have hurt someone yesterday, then you’ll certainly have to face the consequences of that action before reaping the fruits of helping someone today. Therefore, Kautilya says, “An individual is a sum of the actions of his past and present.”

Interestingly, the Law of Karma doesn’t believe in luck. Everything is a result of your own actions. Also, the Law of Karma is applicable to institutions as well as nations. If one looks at the power-mongering empires of the past and their demise, it all becomes clear.

The Law of Karma clearly states, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” If you do good, you receive good. However, there’s no particular time frame to for a favourable response. This is also because if you have done something bad, then you’d have to reap its result first, before reaping the next. If you have hurt someone yesterday, then you’ll certainly have to face the consequences of that action before reaping the fruits of helping someone today. Therefore, Kautilya says, “An individual is a sum of the actions of his past and present.”

When politicians turned stock markets into gamble houses where you could bet on almost everything from stocks, metals, currencies, and even economic position, it was symptomatic of Karma of greed. Many made money as a result, but an even greater number lost wealth. It was Karma. According to the Artha Sutras, “Any Karma of lust, anger, greed, infatuation, ego and envy is sure to have disastrous consequences”. That is exactly what we see in the world today. Greed that was first evident in stock markets was replicated across other western nations, where the same consequences can be observed. To fix bad Karma, one must display good Karma. Of course, there is no running away from past Karmas, but it is only by accepting past Karmas that can we experience and learn from our mistakes before correcting them.

1 responses on "Karmic Economics: Economy from perspective of Karma"

  1. ऊँ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय नमः

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