Management Principles by Ancient Scriptures

- By Aryaki Sethi

Ever wonder why some organizations are more successful than others? Why are employees of certain companies or members of certain groups more dedicated? This and many more indicators of success are all a result of effective management. Management can be understood as an organization of physical resources and manpower to achieve objectives. What is interesting is that these concepts for flourishing in the corporate world are similar to the strategies used by rulers, decades ago, in growing their empires! Let us dive into Ancient scriptures and see what they can teach us about modern management.

Ancient Indian religious texts such as the Vedas that talk about truth, amazingly, also talk economics. The Vedas propagate that ethics, awareness, responsible behaviour and good governance are the core skills of management. They advocate hands-on learning through experience, cognitive learning, observation and reflection. While this idea was suggested in the 1700 BC, to me, it seems like this is the purpose behind internships and mentoring programs that newcomers in any field consider crucial to kickstart their careers.

Old scriptures are not only revived but also uniquely interpreted by modern-day business moguls. In the Corporate Chanakya, Radhakrishnan Pillai explains the political strategy given by the great Indian mastermind Chanakya in his book Kautilya Arthashastra and how to apply these principles to corporate management. He explains that a leader should avoid over-attachment, anger, greed, pride, arrogance and over-excitement and instead, be enthusiastic, motivated and grounded. Pillai throws light on the 7 pillars of success and rewrites them as the 7 pillars of business, which create wealth.

Such themes are found beyond Hindu scriptures in both the Bible and the Quran. The Bible teaches us how to build team spirit, which then determines if members of a group will compete amongst themselves or cooperate to meet the group’s goal. In the first book of Moses called Genesis 6, Noah is asked to build a boat by the lord. He was quick to approach the task but soon found his workers demotivated and turned to God to suggest a solution. God pointed out that Noah must stop speaking of the boat to his workers but instead to speak of the journey and of the destination. God teaches Noah that when people realise that sink or swim, they shall be together, they are more motivated to cooperate and work collectively.

It is truly impossible to speak of management and group organization strategy without reflecting on the two great chronicles of Mahabharata and Ramayana. These epics teach us both the do’s and don’ts of working in teams. The biggest mistake that leaders must avoid is the ignorance of Ravana. As a leader, one must encourage constructive feedback and reflect on suggestions. Ravana, blinded by his own might, refused to see the catastrophic effects of kidnapping Sita despite the warnings of his ministers, brother and wife. If team members do not feel respected and valued, they may be tempted to switch sides and cause the downfall of the enterprise, just as Vibhishana led to the demise of Ravana. Effective management strategy about realising the demand of the situation and not simply running after the best member. While Arjun will always remain the most glorious character of Mahabharata for his skill and undeniable friendship with the mentor of the Pandavas, Krishna, it is arguably the coming together of Bhim’s power, Yuddhishtir’s principle, Nakul and Sehdev’s ayurvedic knowledge that won them the war. Management is about being the Krishna to empower employees in their area of expertise and helping them uncover their potential.

In conclusion, we must understand that Ancient scriptures are the best examples of learning from others’ experiences. How we perceive them is our choice. Should we consider them as tools to create division, promote superstition or establish supremacy? Or consider diving into this vast ocean of knowledge and collecting invaluable life learnings. It is up to us to draw on wisdom from our rich cultural heritage, apply them in the current context so that the future is built on a firm foundation.


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About the Author

Aryaki Sethi is a content writer and mental health advocate. She is currently pursuing Bachelor of Applied Science , Psychology and Health Sciences from the University of Toronto Scarborough.