The Yoga of Management

Yoga is known to many as an exercise, posture, and meditation. This kind of Yoga is called Astanga Yoga which happens to be a small part of larger Yogic Knowledge practiced and professed by Yogic seers.  The Sanskrit word Yoga comes from the root word Yuj which means to link or connect, it can also mean Path. One of revered Vedic scripture – Bhagavad Gita – offers significant insight into this subject. Each of Bhagavad Gita’s 18 Chapters teaches 18 different Yoga which could be interpreted in a way as to find balance, happiness, success as well as opulence in our corporate life. Here’s my perspective of this timeless wisdom for business leaders and managers to attain their full potential:

Exclusive to Vedic Management Center by U. Mahesh Prabhu

Yoga is known to many as exercise, posture, and meditation. This kind of Yoga is called अष्टाङ योग: Astanga Yoga which happens to be a small part of larger Yogic Knowledge practiced and professed by Yogic seers.  The Sanskrit word Yoga comes from the root word Yuj which means to link or connect, it can also mean Path. One of revered Vedic scripture – Bhagavad Gita – offers significant insight into this subject. Each of Bhagavad Gita’s 18 Chapters teaches 18 different Yoga which could be interpreted in a way as to find balance, happiness, success as well as opulence in our corporate life. Here’s my perspective of this timeless wisdom for business leaders and managers to attain their full potential:

  1. विशाध योग: Vishada YogaPath of dejection. Problems are natural in life. But when they arise it’s important to find some solid solutions. In the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is depressed and wants to give up the fight for he thinks it makes no sense. Arjuna in many ways is feeling what most of the people feel at work – frustration, irritation as well as anxiety. When under the influence of these conditions people often consider giving up, rather than standing their ground and doing whatever the best they can. The problem in such a situation is not as much as the situation but the state of mind – dejection. When such feelings are uprooted without a trace we all know how insurmountable we can be. Overcoming such path of dejection – विशाद: Vishada – and having a constant steady and unfettered mind is among the most important objectives of Yoga. Most people with trivial problems are at this stage of Yoga.
  1. संख्या योग: Samkhya Yoga Path of Analysis. Everyone in the corporate world understands the significance of Analysis. There are also extremists who believe in Analysis until paralysis. It’s important to shun extremes in life. Extremes – good or bad – is counterproductive. In Analysis, it’s important to be objective rather than subjective. To able to see the greater good in even difficult situation one needs to have a mind that’s grounded. When the mind is bereft of negative feelings and impressions we make better Analysts. Samkhya Yoga is an analytical path to find a way out of the path of Vishada.
  1. कर्म योग: Karma Yoga Path of Action. It talks about action and reaction – Law of Causation or Karma with greater depth. Its emphasis is on teaching how excessive sense for personal gratification can lead to bondage and eventually to the destruction of all that is good. It also suggests why activity should be performed with detachment. One of the greatest challenges in today’s business environment is unhealthy competition. This sense of extreme competition comes from a sense of insecurity – which too can be translated as Vishada. Fear is a very negative component. It hurts greater than it can ever help. Thus, we see there are so many stress-related diseases, including Hypertension, Diabetes, and Debility, faced by business leaders as well as managers. Karma Yoga also explains the greater wisdom of nature. How everything happens with a cause. Even science can testify to the fact that nothing happens without a cause and causes lead to effect and the process goes on. Karma is how the universe works. Understanding the Karma Yoga is a quintessential element to find peace at work, even in a competitive environment, while staying away from all manifestation anxiety and fear.
  1. ज्ञान योग: Gyana Yoga Path of Knowledge. Vedic scriptures lay significant emphasis on understanding and knowing who we really are – It explains how we are not the body. This knowledge is important because we often think too much in the materialistic sense making us grow more ignorant as well as greedy. The ignorant, according to Bhagavad Gita is also greedy. This is because greed yields negative Karma, which ensures a negative effect. If you know that only good yields good and bad – bad, you have understood the true knowledge about the working of the materialistic world. So, if you knew that something is bad would you pursue it? Therefore, the person who is corrupt, greedy, jealous, pompous, egoistic etc. are verily the ignorant people who often suffer in life owing to their ignorance of the truth. Gyana yoga enlists various truths that are important in achieving that is best for one and all and help us lead an efficient, effective as well as prosperous professional as well as personal life.
  1. कर्मवैराग्य योग: Karma Vairagya Yoga Also known as Karma Sanyasa Yoga – it explains actions and inactions. The true meaning of renunciation. Since for every action, there is a reaction – cause, and effect – some may think of inaction as a solution. Bhagavad Gita explains with exceptional brilliance how inaction is also an action. It explains why people must work in some way or the other even to sustain their bodies. It explains how even eating, drinking, sleeping is an action as well! You’ve, therefore, no escape from your Karma – if you are wasting your time, you’ve to bear the consequences arising thereof. The best Karma, however, is that where you work without the fear of failure or excitement of success. Maintaining a perfect mental equilibrium is a precursor to being called a योगि: Yogi.
  1. अभ्यास योग: Abhyasa Yoga Path of the practice of self-control. This is also known as Astanga Yoga – the yoga as we know it today. When you begin a profession it’s natural for you to have some impediments on working efficiently. The greater efficiency can never be reached unless you’ve persistently worked with dedication and loved the very work you do. Ashtanga Yoga as the Yoga is known today enables you to prepare your mind and body for the challenges of daily life. It enables you to build a strong body as well as a peaceful mind – both important for having persistence. Persistence is the key to achievement. When you are working without hurting the fine balance of nature – धर्म Dharma – without any traces of fear of failure or concerns about success – you’ve verily conquered yourself and are a Yogi.
  1. परमहंस विज्ञान योग: Paramahamsa Vigyana Yoga Also called as Vigyana Yoga – it’s the path of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be taught or coached. It’s something to be realized. It comes because of a person’s work, experience as well as dedication to good – Sadhana. When you understand the cause of Vishadha and have conquered your senses with relentless Sadhana you attain a stage called Paramahamsa Vigyana. Through this stage, you are better prepared to lead, guide as well as mentor your colleagues, family, friends, kith as well as kin. Your life is a perpetual bliss once you attain this state of Paramahamsa.   
  1. अक्षर परब्रम्ह योग: Akshara Parabrahma Yoga Understanding the nature of physical entities, material activities, and ever-changing material manifestation. Vedic sages believed that it’s not possible to understand the world unless we understand our deep and true inner self – This understanding of Atman is an important precursor find a connection – युज् Yuj – with every being in the universe. We understand people in greater detail when we truly learn and understand knowledge of आत्म Atman –  आत्मबोध Atma Bodha. Through this understanding, we can better ourselves as well all around us – in family and organizations. This realization of the connection between one and all of all living creature leads to true compassion – which results not just in good thoughts and action but also true prosperity for all.
  1. राज विद्या गुह्य Rajavidya Guhya Yoga Connecting with the supreme consciousness. Knowing consciousness isn’t as same as realizing it. The intent of Vedic knowledge is to not just to teach but also motivate people to follow them. If that which is truly good is practiced – greater good is naturally achieved. This understanding and adherence of greater good are what could be understood as Rajavidya Guhya Yoga.
  1. विभूति विस्तार योग: Vibhuti Vistara Yoga Path of manifestation of opulence. Vibhuti is often translated as ‘Holy ash’. Vibhuti also means Opulence – great wealth and luxury. One of the greatest mistakes people do is to confuse currency with wealth. Currency is a tool to achieve wealth. Wealth is that which makes us happy. Happiness is that which is attained without Kama (Lust), Krodha (Anger), Moha (Infatuation), Mada (Ego) and Matsarya (Jealousy) – also known as Arishadvarga. When you attain anything without these six impediments or blemishes your life only enriches. This enrichment is verily the विभूति Vibhuti – Opulence. Understanding and realizing this opulence is, therefore, important.
  1. विश्वरुप दर्शन योग: Vishwa-Rupa Darshana Yoga Path to the vision of universal form. Says भर्त्रिहरि Bhartrihari in वैराग्य शतक: Vairagya Shakta “For a foot that has footwear, it’s as if the entire world is covered with carpet. For those with fears and sadness – the entire world is filled with fear and sadness.” The mind can be delusional when we don’t find balance. These delusions are a result of ignorance (about Atman) and excessive attachment. As Krishna rightly points out “From delusion comes anger, through anger sense of good judgment is lost, through loss of good judgment wrong decisions are made and through wrong decisions comes disaster.”
  1. भक्ति योग: Bhakti Yoga Path of devotion or love. There are various ways to achieve what we desire. Path of love or devotion – Bhakti – is verily an important one. If we do, that which we do, with a sense of love – भक्ति भाव: Bhakti Bhava – we are verily doing a positive Karma. Through this Bhakti Bhava, we also ensure the destruction of hate – which is important in establishing all that is good. Though विज्ञान Vigyana – or Wisdom – we realize that hate cannot kill hate. Hate can only beget hate. By shunning hate totally we first arrive at a state of indifference eventually leading to love and compassion. While we may seldom approve of the negative qualities in people – we are sure not to hate them when we realize the idea of Bhakti Bhava. This is because we know what’s in us is also in the – आत्मा Atman – and that which they are doing is because of their ignorance. With this knowledge, we are better equipped to resolve all home and work conflicts. Making productive as well as happy work environments.
  1. क्षेत्र क्षेत्रझ विभाग योग: Kshetra Kshetrajna Vibhaga Yoga Also called Prakriti-Purusha Viveka Yoga – the path of nature – the enjoyer and consciousness. We are not this body, we are Atman – that very conscious energy that, like so many other energies, is neither created nor destroyed. So, when we realize that we are Atman we verily know that we have neither born nor dead – let alone suffering. When the suffering is only for the body – we ourselves are bereft of all the fears. Through this absence of fear and other negative tendencies arising thereof, we realize our full potential. We can think objectively, have compassion, be bereft of hate and through thereafter can make a positive contribution to the world we live in. When we know that we are not the body – a great many stress levels come down and body benefits from it because a lot many ailments resulting from stress are annulled. Greater efficiency, greater competence as well as success can be attained even while remaining detached from the results.
  1. गुणत्रय विभाग योग: Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga Path of the three divisions of modes – Sattva, Rajas and As per Vedic teachings there are only three ways to divide things – for the sake of greater understanding of the material world. These are सत्वं Sattva (Good), रजो Rajas (Middling) and तमो Tamas (Bad).
    1. सत्व Sattva is the quality of intelligence, virtue, and goodness and creates harmony, balance, and stability. It is light (not heavy) and luminous in nature. Sattva provides happiness and contentment of a lasting nature. It is the principle of clarity, wideness, and peace, the force of love that unites all things together.
    2. रजो Rajas is the quality of change, activity, and turbulence. It introduces a disequilibrium that upsets an existing balance. Rajas is motivated in its action, ever seeking a goal or an end that gives it power. It possesses outward motion and causes a self-seeking action that leads to fragmentation and disintegration. While in the short-term Rajas is stimulating, and provides pleasure, owing to its unbalanced nature it quickly results in pain and suffering. It is the force of passion that causes distress and conflict.
    3. तमो Tamas is the quality of dullness, darkness, and inertia and is heavy, veiling or obstructing in its action. It functions as the force of gravity that retards things and holds them in specifically limited forms. It possesses a downward motion that causes decay and disintegration. Tamas brings about ignorance and delusion in the mind and promotes insensitivity, sleep, and loss of awareness. It is the principle of materiality or unconsciousness that causes consciousness to become veiled.

Understanding the greater wisdom about these three qualities is important in having a greater understanding of the material aspects of life.

  1. पुरुशोत्तम योग: Purushottama YogaPath of supreme enjoyment. When we know that we are not the body but Atman, we can bring lesser stress in our lives, through this lesser stress we can understand people and circumstances objectively, through this objective we know what’s good and bad, through this understanding we pursue that which is truly good. By these good actions or कर्म Karma, we beget that which is good. Through goodness comes bliss that which perpetual in nature and, eventually, we ourselves personify good – we become Purushottama. Thereby ensuring the path of supreme enjoyment – Purushottama Yoga.
  1. दैवासुर संपद् विभाग योग: Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga The path of Divine and Demonic qualities. There are qualities that determine us if we are good or bad. Good qualities are that which puts on the path to the greater realization of our self, work as well as objective. Bad qualities are that which diverts us from the path of understanding our self, work, and objectives besides causing troubles to those around us. But when we choose a path that is good, it’s certainly not easy. Since many most often deter from a difficult path, Bhagavad Gita offers us solutions to overcome such impediments when they arise.

As per Vedic scriptures, there are nine predictable impediments on the path of Yoga, along with several consequences that grow out of them. While these impediments are natural – overcoming them is said to be of “utmost” importance. These nine kinds of impediments are:

      1. व्याधि Vyadhi Disease, illness, sickness
      2. स्त्यन Styana Mental laziness, inefficiency, idleness, procrastination, dullness
      3. समस्या Samasya Indecision, Doubt
      4. प्रमाद Pramada Carelessness, negligence
      5. आलस्य Alasya Sloth, languor, laziness
      6. अविरति Avirati Sensuality, want of non-attachment, non-abstention, craving
      7. भ्रान्ति दर्शन Bhranti Darshana False view of perception, confusion of philosophies
      8. अलब्ध भूमिकत्व Alabdha Bhumikatva Failing to attain stages of practice
      9. अनवस्तितर Anavasthitatra Instability, slipping down, inability to maintain balance
      10. चित्त विक्षेप Chitta Vikshepa Distraction of mind
      11. ते Te Blaming on others and things outside for failure
      12. अन्तर्य: Antarayah Obstacles, impediments

However, there is a single underlying principle that is the antidote of these obstacles and their consequences, and that is one-pointedness of mind – एकाग्रचित्त Ekagra Chitta. Although there are many ways in which this one-pointedness of mind can be achieved the principle is uniform. If the mind is focused, then it is far less likely to get entangled and lost in the mire of delusion that can come from these obstacles. The key to overcoming obstacles is not to get distracted. विचार Vichara constant recollection of the Yogic knowledge is key to staying focused on the positive attitudes, actions or situation in life.

  1. श्रद्धात्रय विभाग योग: Shraddhatraya Vibhaga Yoga The path of three divisions of faith. This chapter of Bhagavad Gita enables us to understand practices which result in actions that personify goodness, passion, and ignorance. It’s a significant chapter on understanding and choosing an efficient lifestyle for ourselves. It helps people in ensuring सत्व Sattva through diets, habits, and thoughts. Vegetarianism is an important element in nurturing सत्व Sattva.  A healthy lifestyle, too, is important in living a life that’s not just blissful but also prosperous.
  1. मोक्ष उपदेश योग: Moksha Upadesha Yoga Path of renunciation. Renunciation is the perfection of Yoga. Yogi is one who works as per his धर्म Dharma without being attached to the results. Working on this path of Dharma one can be free from the bondage of action and reaction. Renunciation can also be interpreted as retirement. It’s important for us to know when to call our day. We often in many organizations that older people cling to their positions in fear of losing their relevance or power. Instead of helping the organization grow with their experience they turn into impediments themselves. Such people, no matter how smart or resourceful, are obvious impediments to organizations as well as society. They serve neither their own good nor that of their organization. To retire and offer their advice (only when they are asked for) is important for creating a conducive environment for nurturing future talents – for organizations are designed to outlive individuals, including their founders.

To conclude, it could always help to remember this simplest of a definition of Yoga, offered by Krishna himself in Bhagavad Gita: योग: कर्मसु कौशलं  “When you perform your duties and abandon all attachment to success or failure with an evenness of mind it is verily Yoga.”

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