Managerial Effectivenes-A Holistic View from The Bhagavad Gita

Work Culture and Ethics  in Work                                            
Work culture means vigorous and  arduous effort in pursuit of a given or chosen task. When Bhagawan Sri Krishna  rebukes Arjuna in the strongest words for his unmanliness and imbecility in  recoiling from his righteous duty it is nothing but a clarion call for the  highest work culture. Poor work culture is the result of tamasic guna  overtaking one’s mindset. Bhagawan’s stinging rebuke is to bring out the  temporarily dormant rajasic guna in Arjuna. In Chapter 16 of the Gita Sri  Krishna elaborates on two types of Work Ethic viz. daivi sampat or divine work  culture and asuri sampat or demonic work culture. 

1. Daivi work       culture. - means fearlessness, purity, self-control, sacrifice,       straightforwardness, self-denial, calmness, absence of fault-finding,       absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, absence of envy and pride. 
2. Asuri work       culture - means egoism, delusion, desire-centric, improper performance,       work which is not oriented towards service.

It is to be noted that mere work ethic is not enough in as  much as a hardened criminal has also a very good work culture. What is needed  is a work ethic conditioned by ethics in work. It is in this light that the wisest  counsel enunciated in the Gita ‘yogah karmasu kausalam’ should be  understood.

Kausalam means skill or method or technique of work which  is an indispensable component of work ethic. Yogah is defined in the Gita  itself as ‘samatvam yogah uchyate’ meaning unchanging equipoise of mind.  Tilak tells us that performing actions with the special device of an equable  mind is Yoga. By making the equable mind as the bed-rock of all actions Gita  evolved the goal of unification of work ethic with ethics in work, for wiihout  ethical process no mind can attain equipoise. Adi Sankara says that the skill  in performance of one’s duty consists in maintaining the evenness of mind in  success and failure because the calm mind in failure will lead him to deeper  introspection and see clearly where the process went wrong so that corrective  steps could be taken to avoid such shortcomings in future.

The principle of reducing our attachment to personal gains  from the work done or controlling the aversion to personal losses enunciated in  Ch.2 Verse 47 of the Gita is the foolproof prescription for attaining  equanimity. The common apprehension about this principle that it will lead to  lack of incentive for effort and work, striking at the very root of work ethic,  is not valid because the advice is to. Be judged as relevant to man’s  overriding quest for true mental happiness.

Tilak explains the import of this theory by saying that if  any work is done with the sole idea of reaping personal benefit out of such  work, and thereafter if there is any obstruction in the matter of getting the  desired result or benefit, then the chain of misery starts. Thus while the  common place theories on motivation lead us to bondage, the Gita theory takes  us to freedom and real happiness.

Work Results
The Gita further explains the theory of non- attachment to  the results of work in Ch.18 Verses 13-15 the import of which is as under: 

If the result of sincere effort is a success,  the entire credit should not be appropriated by the doer alone.  
If the result of sincere effort is a failure,  then too the entire blame does not accrue to the doer.

The former attitude mollifies arrogance and conceit while  the latter prevents excessive despondency, de-motivation and self-pity. Thus  both these dispositions safeguard the doer against psychological vulnerability  which is the cause for the modem managers’ companions like Diabetes, High B.P.  etc.

Assimilation of the ideas behind 2.47 and 18.13-15 of the  Gita leads us to the wider spectrum of lokasamgraha or general welfare. There  is also another dimension in the work ethic. If the karma yoga is blended with  bhaktiyoga then the work itself becomes worship, seva yoga. A Mahatma Gandhi  and Swami Vivekananda are illustrations.

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