What management teaches us today with jazzy power point presentations in air conditioned rooms, the ancient kings taught their prajas in the durbars ; Chanakya and Lord Krishna taught us thousands of years ago in the war field. It’s just that over a period of years the format for presenting this knowledge has changed and got distorted. Most of the books on strategy and self development which are written by the present age scholars and self acclaimed gurus owe their success to all these ancient spiritual philosophers and sacred texts. This knowledge is a timeless wisdom and therefore it has sustained civilizations, ages and times. With the changing face of the society and man’s quest for knowledge the format for presenting these truth has changed. I think the corporate world today has a lot to learn from these ancient management techniques in the area of administration, better time management , ethics, leadership, communication skills, team work and etiquette. Recently we had a training at our office and it was conducted in the Large Scale Interactive Process (LSIP)method, however this form of training was practiced in the ancient gurukul system where students were grouped into smaller study groups encouraging team work, sharing, accepting others opinions and assimilation of knowledge.
The other day I received an email from my closest pal, aged 12 regarding Chanakya and his sutras. He was learning about Chanakya in history and it compelled him to learn more about his teachings. Once I read the sutras I was convinced about its application even in the current times. The knowledge is very much alive, it’s just that people have to become more aware, take little time off to read the old scriptures, the purports, understand the meaning behind those sacred texts. What is called as globalization today, was coined by the ancient sages and rishis as “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” – One World, One Family long ago . It’s just that over the last few years the senior management is realizing the importance of these old shastras in current times, though many are still skeptical. They rely on foreign authors, speakers and management gurus without realizing the fact that this knowledge originated in their own land. All these workshops and seminars are heavily priced at the leadership level.
Two books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra and Nitishastra which is also known as Chanakya Niti. The Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. Nitishastra is a treatise on the ideal way of life, and shows Chanakya's in depth study of the Indian way of life.
A few of these sutras and their relevance in current times from Chanakya’s desk
1) "Learn from the mistakes of others... you can't live long enough to make them all yourselves!! " - Chanakya
One of the most important sutra which is relevant in today’s time after the Satyam episode. All the senior management must have this sutra on their desktops. Business must be conducted in a ethical manner though the motive is profits. Maximization of profit must not be at the cost of cheating people and unethical trade practices.
2)"A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and Honest people are screwed first."- Chanakya
Most of us would have experienced this in relation to our government services. You try to be transparent and open to the government officials if you have broken the rules, but the policeman favors the person who has violated the traffic rules and offers him a bribe. In the worldly life, survival is of great importance. Every individual must be able to apply these rules for his livelihood and survival.
3)"Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous."- Chanakya
A wise person will never get angry on himself and others, he will only show anger just like a mother does to her child. Similarly, in business if your competitors are ahead of you and a threat to your market share then ensure that your marketing strategy is competitive enough to entice the customer and give the competition a tough fight.
4)"The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you."- Chanakya
I am sure the patent , trademark theory in business originated from this sutra. That is the reason that many corporates today patent their inventions and protect their trademarks, logos and any developments in research. In business terms any new technological innovation can be monetised and if it has to saved from the competitor then it has to be patented.
5)"There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth." - Chanakya
This relationship is so true in today’s context where a media company supports a particular political party. Or a political party is too friendly with a media channel. It’s a relationship of TRPs and reach to a better voter base. The bitter truth is very evident by the media coverage. We are made fools by our very own people and media. Similar example is of freebies that are being offered by the retailers to clear of their inventory. But human beings keep on accumulating loads of stuff which is not necessary for them.
6)" Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions - Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead."
Such a beautiful anecdote given by Chanakya on planning before proceeding with any kind of project. Create the objective and scope of the project clearly before proceeding for execution. More often projects are started with huge investments without a clear idea of their feasibility and success rate.
7)"As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it."
We all have fear in some form or the other. Fear of speaking in public, fear of heights etc. Slowly and steadily we need to work on our way to fearlessness individually and professionally also. Some companies also do not come out in open fearing that they may lose business or their manpower would be poached. However, this fear has to be removed by empowering people within the company and creating a good professional reputation for the business.
8)"The world's biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman."
In India currently our population is 50 % youth and this is the best time to get the youth to vote and get good leadership in the country. Today’s youth has a global outlook and is willing to take lot of responsibility for the country. Many of them run their own service projects and NGOs dealing with specific social and rural issues. Woman empowerment has also helped women seek better careers and professions which was just a dream in the past. Women are born leaders.
9)"Once you start a working on something, don't be afraid of failure and don't abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest." - Chanakya
10)"The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction." - Chanakya
This sutra is applicable to all the people who devote themselves in the serive of the poor and the needy and empower people in all ways. In our current times Mata Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev etc are doing good social service and empowering the globe helping in peace efforts, betterment of health, stress management.
11)"God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple."
The current scenario in the world of terrorism is created because of the wrong ideologies of God. Chanakya explained this in his sutras in such a simple manner that god is the feelings in the human being. Our spiritual journey towards our Self is of utmost important to understand God. Majority of the wars are manmade in the name of God.
12) "A man is great by deeds, not by birth."
The other day I had got a forward asking me to remember the last 10 Nobel Prize winners. With great difficulty I could manage 2 names. But when i was asked to name the people who put a smile on my face, who could help me in troubled times, I could easily list 5 names. Every person has immense potential and it just needs to blossom.
13) "Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness."
Much before Dale Carnegie wrote How to make friends and influence people? Chanakya has given a one liner on making friends
14) "Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends." - Chanakya
A very beautiful tip on parenting, the way to deal with children in various age groups.
15) "Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person."
Many of us do not read books which will open our mind and help us in broad thinking. We are too busy with prime time television and soap operas. It is the time to get back to our sacred texts, scriptures, understand the meaning and give the right interpretations to our next generation. They help us in building good human values. Not many parents read stories to their children these days because they are too busy with soap operas or busy with gadgets (mobile phones, laptops) etc.
16) "Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth." -Chanakya
The need of the hour in India is the education of the rural youth, children and women. We will pave our way for success if we empower the rural public. They are more action oriented and need direction. Only Youth can empower youth and You, so let each one of us take responsibilities in whatever way possible.