Vedic study and its application


Modern management has evolved over the last hundred years and is understood to have been relearned from the military. The basic thrust of modern management is of course to increase profit for the organization. However, in order to reach this target there are several essentials that need to be fulfilled. These essentially relate to bringing about a work culture that would go a long way in increasing the efficiency of the system. Inherent in this is the task of improving firstly the smallest unit in the system, the man. Here, man’s qualities of communication, leadership and other values are sought to be improved upon. Linked to this is the building of an efficient team with total dedication of delivery of the group’s allotted task.

If we go back in time to the Vedic man (more than 7000 years ago) and the philosophy he was expected to abide by, we will see that the entire system was created in such a way that the adult was wedded to a life of purity in communion with nature. He understood that he was a tiny part of Cosmos and therefore in order to have a balanced eco-system he was expected to behave in a certain way. He also realized that he had to live in total harmony with his larger family. In following these precepts he would be able to contribute his share for the ultimate growth of his unit family. In many ways therefore there are several similarities between the modern management of a present-day corporate unit and the way Vedic families performed. It is apparent therefore that the corporate world has a lot to learn from Vedic philosophy so that the philosophy from the days gone by can be applied to benefit the running of a company in today’s modern times.

Henri Fayol

To Henri Fayol goes the credit of having rationalized the principles of Modern Management. Born in Istanbul in 1841 he worked as an engineer in a mining company in France subsequently reaching the top of the company that employed around 1000 employees. During the course of his rise within the company Fayol propounded and explained the 14 principles of management he thought were the most important. His basic idea was that these principles would help managers organize his staff as well as interact with them. These principles were later published in a book written by him wherein Fayol also created the list of six primary functions of management that were to go with the principles.

The 14 Principles of Management

Times have changed and so have the way the modern manager looks at management. However, Fayol’s contribution to modern management is priceless although these principles are rarely referred to today. The ones that are more important are:

1.   Division of Work. With employees specializing in different fields the output increases because of increase in efficiency.

2.   Authority. With authority comes responsibility. However, all managers need to have the authority to give orders to their team members.

3.   Discipline. An organization must be disciplined in order that system can work.

4.   Unity of Direction. As a corollary, there should be one manager for a team with a common objective.

5.   Subordination of Individual Interests. The group objective should be more important than the interests of individuals within the group.

6.   Order. The place of work should be clean and tidy besides being safe for employees.

7.   Equity. It is incumbent on the manager to be fair to each of his employees balancing discipline with kindness.

8.   Esprit de Corps. Team spirit is essential for the growth of an organization.

9.   Unity of Command. Each employee should have only one supervisor, valid for one plan to function.

Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was hailed by Business Week as “the man who invented management”. To Drucker goes the credit of having influenced leaders from different organizations across diverse sectors of society that include General Electric and IBM besides Red Cross and Procter & Gamble among many others. Drucker is also credited for having predicted several developments that occurred in the 20th Century. These developments included decentralization and privatization as well as the economic boom in and rise of Japan as an economic power in global terms.

Some of Drucker’s Principles of Management

·         Management is about human beings.

·         Joint performance is essential in order to make weaknesses irrelevant and strengths effective.

·         Management is deeply embedded in culture since it concerns the integration of people into one common venture.

·         Enterprises require shared values and common goals.

·         Training and development essential for every enterprise that will therefore need to be learning and teaching institution.

·         In any enterprise there will be different people with different skills sets doing different types of work.

·         The final bottom line for a successful business is a satisfied customer.

Problems with Business Models Today

There is therefore no dearth of principles that guide business managers today. Yet, as one is aware, the biggest problem lies in the fact that today’s business dealings are often not principled. It is for this reason that ethics in several cases remains a low priority and the results are there for all to see in the form of scams, creative accounting, Ponzi schemes and other corrupt practices that one can see regularly on our news headlines. The basic problem lies in the fact that today’s business models are not based on ethics but on profits alone. It is for this reason that one faces sub-prime crisis and other corporate scams that occur since the managerial decisions have been driven by the greed factor. Here, Drucker’s words are relevant. He said “it is not good enough to do well; it must also do good But, in order to do good a business must first do well”. (Pearce et al 2010). It is here that Vedic Studies can help turn Modern Management around so that there is no failure of the institution. We now need new management paradigms. There is a need to integrate “the existing management model with ethical values” that are available in our ancient Vedas, Upanishads, Gita and other Hindu scriptures.

Using Ancient Indian Sagacity

The question therefore is how to use ancient Indian sagacity towards making positive changes in modern management methods. For the answer to this question let us turn to our country’s rich traditions that go back thousands of years and search the ancient Indian scriptures that include not only the Vedas and Upanishads but also the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata besides Bhagvad Gita, Manusmriti and Arthashastra among others.

The true strength of Hinduism is based on dharma or the right way of living. There is no requirement of basing your life on a set of dogmas. This tradition of dharma evolved over thousands of years by the rishis. The primary scriptures are the Vedas and the Upanishads that are the oldest known scriptures in the world. The focal point of these scriptures is truth. For this reason the average Hindu today believes that though the ways are many, the truth is only one. Today when one looks around one finds that the life of an average Hindu revolves around dharma. It is dharma that in a way controls and guides every aspect of one’s life whether it is the family or society, politics or business and art. The belief in every Hindu is that following the path of dharma ultimately leads to the innermost self known as the atman and one’s communion with Brahman after attaining moksha.

Dharma and Karma

The basic belief among Hindus then is that one has to live out one’s karma till moksha is obtained by taking repeated births or Samsara. During these births one has to follow the path of dharma although the scriptures do accept that there are different spiritual paths open to different people. The different paths can be those of devotion or bhakti, action or karma and knowledge or Gyan besides the belief in God or Bhagwan. It is also accepted that one’s actions are free-willed. However, virtuous actions lead one closer to Brahman while actions that are evil lead the atman astray thereby making it more difficult to attain moksha, or freedom from rebirths.

Vedic Restraints

According to Hindu scriptures there are 10 Vedic restraints or Yama and 10 Vedic practices or Niyama. The Vedic restraints include ahimsa and satya besides brahmcharya or divine conduct, daya and saucha or purity among others. On the other hand the Vedic practices include remorse or hri, contentment or santosha and donating or dana and vrata or sacred vows besides japa or recitation and tapa or austerity. The object of these rigorous set of Vedic practices was to aid in the spiritual inquiry of answering the following questions:

·         Who am I?

·         What is the object of my coming to this world?

·         What am I to do next?

·         What is the riddle in the nature of life?

According to Peter Drucker

According to Peter Drucker workers need to ask questions such as:

·         Who am I?

·         What are my strengths?

·         How do I need to work?

·         What will be my contribution? (Drucker 1974).

Further, one can quote the late Steve Jobs of Apple Computers: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”. (

The Answers Lie Within

If you study the above two paragraphs closely you will appreciate that Hindu scriptures do prepare you to face the world in a more objective and focused way. Steve Jobs was talking about an “inner voice” that is the Atman while the “heart or intuition” symbolizes the Brahman. A Hindu who has been trained in Vedic precepts will link his Atman with the Brahman thereby unleashing the infinite power that lies within each of us. it becomes evident that the answers lie within. The sages from days gone by came to the conclusion that one has to break the eternal cycle of life and death. Only when one is able to do that does one obtain moksha or communion with our creator. When we are born we have to bear the pain and suffering of unhappiness, our objective being to do our duty or dharma towards our fellow beings and the environment we live in. So, dharma must guide our destiny.

Our destiny is guided by karma as well. Every action of ours, in thought, word or deed will bring about a result. This result will be good if our karma has been good and it will be bad if our action has been bad. The moral consequences of all our actions will be conserved similarly by nature. The important part is that we are free to do whatever we want to do and thereafter our karma will decide our destiny. Our destiny is spread over different cycles of birth and death till we manage to break out of the cycle and attain moksha with Ishwara, the manifested form of Brahman.

The Application of Vedic Precepts

Finally, one has to appreciate the answer to the eternal question of why we are here and thereafter apply the answer towards governing one’s life. It is only in following a life based on dharma that one will be able to overcome the karmic cycle and attain total peace. It is this awareness that needs to be instilled into the corporate world.


The subject of finding common ground between the corporate world and the ancient world of Vedic philosophy is vast. The above is an attempt in this direction.

1.   Mind Tools
2.   Modern Management Through Ancient Indian Wisdom Towards a More Sustainable Paradigm Anindo Bhattacharjee
3.   Revisiting Drucker on Modern Management
4.   Hinduism at a glance (