Employee Engagement: Sant Dnyaneshwar Perspective

Dnyaneshwar MaharajIn modern days Employee engagement has become important aspect for organizations. Many companies deploy variety of activities to increase the engagement. Most of the big corporations are now keeping engagement as strategically important aspect to understand and project organization’s health.
Along with the company’s vision HR has also started putting their vision statement and invariably employee engagement is becoming necessary parts of their vision statement.
Today leaders are not content to have their people be “satisfied” Instead, leaders want their people to be “engaged” because – the thinking goes – if they are engaged, involved, invested, etc., they will work enthusiastically to further the interests of the enterprise, and they will be more likely to stay committed and connected to the organization over time.
Engagement can affect employees’ attitudes, absence and turnover levels and various studies have demonstrated links with productivity, increasingly pointing to a high correlation with individual, group and organizational performance, a success measured through the qall-signs-indicate-that-current-and-emerging-leaders-need-to-have-a-0dO2n6-clipartuality of customer experience and customer loyalty
According to (Kahn W. A., 1990) employee engagements is the harnessing of organization member’s selves to their work roles: In engagement people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally during role performance.
During my doctoral research on the same subject, I observed there is no common or universal definition for employee engagement…
Sant Dnyaneshwar is one of the great literary scholars about 700 years back in central part of India. He translated Shri Mad Bhagvad Geeta (Geeta as popularly known), in common colloquial or spoken language Marathi. His literature pieces are excellence by par.
You might wonder why did, I switched over the topic of Employee Engagement to a saint poet or literary scholar. However this is not a diversion from the main topic. In absence of the universal definition and collection of information about employee engagement during my doctoral research I came across many attributes of “Employee Engagement” however it was opinion of many scholars. While compiling whole of these concept I traced parallel with a literature piece composed by Sant Dnyaneshwar I felt these lines of him covers most of the concepts given by vivid scholars under one umbrella.
This blog is to cover those concepts/ attributes of employee engagement vis-à-vis Sant Dnyaneshwar’s composition.
Vigor, Dedication and Absorption are major aspects of Employee Engagement tossed Maslach et al.
Kahn talks about engagement levels as Cognitive, Emotional and Physical. Csiksentmihalyi talks about 2 important aspects Job Involvement and Flow.

Let’s explore all above attributes and Saint Dnyaneshwar’s Composition.
मी माझें मोहित राहिलें निवांत । एकरूप तत्व देखिलें गे माये ॥१॥
In this line of his composition he says “I realised the one inherent motivating reality of the universe (in our context organization) and being part of it, I am enthralled and at peace”
In this stanza he narrates that, he has identified that factor which makes you feel, you are engaged with the organization. He says after realizing this I am at peace, which also underlines the deeper feeling of an employee when he is engaged with organization.
Employee engagement is a psychological condition; it’s a feeling and emotion.
द्वैताच्या गोष्टी हरपल्या शेवटीं । विश्वरुपें मिठी देत हरी ॥२॥
All experiences of duality have disappeared, and my universal form itself has dissolved in Hari
Let’s consider Hari in this line as “Vision of the organization”. This goes in line with the concept given by Csiksentmihalyi’s concept of Flow, according to him Flow means “Holistic, sensation, people feel when they act with total involvement”
The total involvement in job, work comes only when there is no difference seen in the organization and self. Its a feeling of being in-charge of your work area or entrepreneurial feeling for the work.
Sant Dyaneshwar talks about two aspects “Duality is disappeared” and “self’s organizational form is dissolved in Vision”
One can explore and get more detailed and can say it is due to the feeling of Vigor, Dedication and Absorption.
छाया-माया-काया हरिरूपीं ठायी । चिंतिता विलया एक तेजीं ॥३॥
Reflection (Cognitive), the illusion (emotional) and physical being if towards Hari, and when self remember it I get merged into its sole radiance
As per Khan engagement takes at 3 levels

1. Cognitive

2. Emotional

3. Physical/ Behavioral

An engaged employee is congruent with his/her thought, felt and outcome level. Sant Dnyaneshwar emphasizes importance of all these 3 levels to be congruent in order to see that radiance (engagement in our language).
ज्ञानदेवा पहा ओहंसोहंभावा । हरिरुपीं दुहा सर्वकाळ ॥४॥
Dnyanadev says observe the principle of “I am” “I am that”, that offers the ultimate everlasting satisfaction.
Sant Dnyaneshwar doesn’t stop here, he also gives remedy to bring engaged environment at organization. He says Observe the principle “I am” and “I am that” from both employee as well as employer/ organization side. He also stresses upon the time, when should this be done? He says सर्वकाळ (sarvakaal) means always.
As an elaboration to this, here congruent employee needs to know what all is expected from my job, manager, organization and people around, on the other hand organization also needs to know what are the cognitive, emotional , economical and social needs of employee in order to have that everlasting satisfaction.
One important aspect that we can take from सर्वकाळ (sarvakaal), is that such engagement is outcome of continual actions and not one or two activities in order to get the engagement.

Hope these verses will guide all of us working in and for organization in whatever level will lead to engaging environment

 

Image Courtesy : http://jcos.mauligroup.org/web/AboutUs.aspx?id=2

http://www.clipartkid.com/all-signs-indicate-that-current-and-emerging-leaders-need-to-have-a-0dO2n6-clipart/

Buddha and Negotiation Skills

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Buddha, in one of his discourse underlines how Negotiation can be done, I am yet to get any other master of management even define negotiation skills like Buddha talks about. He says
‘‘भोगे संहरमानस्स, भमरस्सेव इरीयतो। भोगा सन्निचयं यन्ति, वम्मिकोवुपचीयति॥
this could mean honey is the outcome, like a bee the negotiator should be in relationship with flowers. The bee gains from the flower and the flower remains as radiant as ever after the bee has visited. The bee doesn’t buzz off and leaves the flower in absolute wreck or ruins it. The aroma of flower remains as it is, the negotiator has just taken the essence of flower and converted it in Honey.

DSC00176During negotiation one faces many issues, like how will I know what’s going on in the mind of other party/ person etc., which reminds me of another metaphor given by Buddha. While Buddha informs his disciples about such unknown skillfulness he says सचित्तपरियायकुसलो भविस्सामी, meaning – who is not skilled in the ways of others’ minds? ‘I will be skilled in the ways of my own mind.
Suggesting “ask your own mind, it would reflect the same”. When his disciple asked him “how to do this”? Buddha smilingly replies – It is just as if a woman or a man—young, youthful, and fond of ornaments—would look at her or his own facial reflection in a clean bright mirror or in a bowl of clear water. If they see any dust or blemish there, they will make an effort to remove it. But if they do not see any dust or blemish there, they will be glad about it; and their wish fulfilled, they will think, ‘How fortunate that I’m clean!’
This is same as modern management thinkers keep emphasizing on principles like… “Maintain Full Disclosure” or “The most important person to know in a negotiation is your-self” or “The value of something is always in the eye of the beholder”
I feel Buddha is the best teacher who can teach us lessons on negotiation. Since throughout his life, he has negotiated with himself, others, his disciples, kings, adversaries, challengers and situations.

twa_webex_monksdebate-10In Tipitaka under Samyutta Nikaya comes a discourse of Bhuddha to his disciples called as Magga-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Path. When I read this sutta and traced parallel between negotiation skills. Buddha advises his disciples over 8 paths. One who follows these principles in negotiation would be a successful negotiator. We can take them as characteristics of being a great negotiator.

Principle Characteristics Characteristics in the language of Buddha in Pali Characteristics according to modern management experts
Right View One show understands the Problem, knows the origin of problem, looks for cessation of problem, knows ways leading to the cessation of problem दुक्खे ञाणं, दुक्खसमुदये ञाणं, दुक्खनिरोधे ञाणं, दुक्खनिरोधगामिनिया पटिपदाय ञाणं Listening

(Self, Others and situation).

Right Intention Whose intentions are for resolving Issue, intentions of non-ill will. Intents of harmlessness, and one with intention of win-win. नेक्खम्मसङ्कप्पो , अब्यापादसङ्कप्पो, अविहिंसासङ्कप्पो Problem solving intentions
Right Speech One who abstains from false speech, abstinences from divisive speech, harsh speech, doesn’t have idle chatter.

Not shouting, one who do not give false promises or evidences.  Or gives baseless speech.

मुसावादा वेरमणी, पिसुणाय वाचाय वेरमणी, फरुसाय वाचाय वेरमणी, सम्फप्पलापा वेरमणी Effective Speaking
Right Action He restrains from the destruction of life of relationship with person(S) he is dealing with or negotiating. He abstains from taking what is not given, abstinence from any kind of monitory, non monitory advances or sexual favors. Remains within moral and ethical boundaries. पाणातिपाता वेरमणी, अदिन्ना दाना वेरमणी, अब्रह्मचरिया वेरमणी Problem solving
Right Livelihood One who has abandoned – a wrong mode of livelihood or forcefully ending negotiation or becoming too adamant without base just because he wants to win in negotiation. अरियसावको मिच्छाआजीवं पहाय सम्माआजीवेन जीवितं कप्पेति Decision making
Right Efforts Makes Efforts to abandon of arise of evil unwholesome states.

Generates desire for the maintenance of arisen wholesome states, for their non-decay, increase, expansion, and fulfillment by development of stronger relationship.

Makes an effort to arouse energy, to apply mind, and strives for sustained balance.

उप्पन्नातनं कुसलानं धम्मानं ठितिया असम्मोसाय भिय्योभावाय वेपुल्लाेय भावनाय पारिपूरिया छन्दं जनेति वायमति वीरियं आरभति चित्तं पग्गण्हाति पदहति Assertiveness
Right Mindfulness One who dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

 

One who dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

काये कायानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं; वेदनासु वेदनानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं;

 

चित्ते चित्तानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं; धम्मेसु धम्मानुपस्सी विहरति आतापी सम्पजानो सतिमा, विनेय्य लोके अभिज्झादोमनस्सं

Rapport Building
Right Concentration Buddha Gives 4 stages of Knowledge for concentrating over a subject.
One who is accompanied by thought and examination, with enthusiasm and happiness सवितक्कंल सविचारं विवेकजं पीतिसुखं पठमं झानं उपसम्पज्जन विहरति। Working towards goal without misunderstanding
With the subsiding of thought and examination enter into internal confidence and unification of mind.

With the fading away as well of enthusiasm, being balanced and, mindful and clearly comprehending

वितक्कजविचारानं वूपसमा अज्झत्तं सम्पसादनं चेतसो एकोदिभावं अवितक्कंत अविचारं समाधिजं पीतिसुखं दुतियं झानं उपसम्पज्जो विहरति।
He is balanced, mindful, one who dwells cheerfulness. पीतिया च विरागा उपेक्खको च विहरति सतो च सम्पजानो, सुखञ्चज कायेन पटिसंवेदेति, यं तं अरिया आचिक्खन्ति – ‘उपेक्खको सतिमा सुखविहारी’ति
With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by balancing win- win status. सुखस्स च पहाना दुक्खस्स च पहाना पुब्बेव सोमनस्सदोमनस्सानं अत्थङ्गमा अदुक्खमसुखं उपेक्खासतिपारिसुद्धिं

DSC02588Modern management experts talks about effective speaking, listening, reducing misunderstanding, rapport building, problem solving, decision making, being strong on your rightful actions and dealing with difficult situation. I feel we can learn many in-depth lessons from the stories of Buddha and his great negotiation skills. More to come… stories of Buddha and his negotiations. Till then enjoy the path explained by Buddha on effective negotiation skills.

Picture courtesy:

https://thisworldahead.com/2014/10/04/photo-gallery-the-sera-monastery-debate/#jp-carousel-1448

http://www.abercrombiekent.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Buddhist-monks-debating-Dan-Wiencek.jpg

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Buddha-reflection-54007874

 

Communication Skills and Hanuman

lord_hanuman_flying-normalIn modern days communication skills are important in every field especially in management. Many of us face a lot of issues in honing our communication skills.

In Indian education system in general and in Arts, Music, Yoga or Dance to be specific, people even today recite praises of Hanuman before starting their work. They remember Hanuman with below mentioned praise…

बुद्धिर्बलं यशोधैर्यं निर्भयत्वमरोगता | अजाढ्यं वाक्पटु:त्वंच हनुमत् स्मरणात्भवेत् ||

Hanuman is praised with qualities like wisdom, strength, fame, courage, fearlessness, health, briskness, and Excellence in Communication.

Is Hanuman praised for his excellence in communication? can we read something about his traits, attributes and characteristics of communication? This blog specifically concentrates on Hanuman and management lessons with reference to his communication skills.

It’s a story from Ramayana when Hanuman met Shri Ram very first time in person. Rama along with Laxmana walked upto Kishkindha area where he wanted to meet Sugriva – the master of monkey’s army to seek his help for searching his kidnapped wife Seeta.

At that moment, Hanuman, Sugriva’s ambassador was sent to meet both Rama and Laxmana and to verify that they are not from Sugriva’s enemy side. Hanuman came down from the top hill to meet both of them and informed them that he wanted to verify their identity.

I am not going to narrate the whole story here; the important aspect of this blog is the characteristics as identified by Rama about Hanuman as excellent communicator.

After listening to Hanuman carefully, Rama pick points few traits of Hanuman’s communication and narrates these characteristics one by one to Laxmana.

  • Well read:
    नानृग्वेदविनीतस्य नायजुर्वेदधारिणः । नासामवेदविदुषः शक्यमेवं प्रभाषितुम्

Here Rama pin point importance of being well read. He informs Laxmana “Unless one is well read and studied the subject in-depth one cannot communicate so beautifully”

  • Command over language:
    नूनं व्याकरणं कृत्स्नमनेन बहुधा श्रुतम् । बहु व्याहरता ऽनेन न किञ्चिदपशब्दितम् ॥

Rama narrates one more important aspect of communication he says “I am sure he has learnt the language so well. Observe that when he spoke he hasn’t spoken anything not in line with the language he is using” and underlines importance of command over language

  • Body language and expressions:
    न मुखे नेत्रयोर्वापि ललाटे च भ्रुवोस्तथा । अन्येष्वपि च गात्रेषु दोषः संविदितः क्वचित् ॥

Rama narrates the importance of body language used by Hanuman for his effective speech. He tell Laxmana “His expressions, eyes, face, eyebrows and all the limbs were in line with the subject he wanted to communicate”

  • Preciseness and voice modulation:
    अविस्तरमसंदिग्धमविलंबितमद्रुतम् । उरःस्थं कण्ठगं वाक्यं वर्तते मध्यमस्वरम् ॥

Rama further says underlining the importance of being precise, simple and non complex. He says “His expression is not too elaborate, not confusing, not dragging and not very fast. It has risen from his chest and delivered in a medium tone through his throat’”

  • Relating to others:
    संस्कारक्रमसंपन्नामद्रुतामविलंबिताम् । उञ्चारययति कल्यार्णीं वाचं हृदयहारिणीम् ॥

Rama underlines the importance of relating others as one of the important aspect of communication of Hanuman. He says “The language he spoke is richly endowed with grammatical purity. It is wonderful and auspicious. It is neither too fast nor too slow. It is captivating the heart and relates to other’s mind’

In the same context Rama further says qualities of Hanuman as

“अनया चित्रया वाचा त्रिस्थानव्यञ्चनस्थया । कस्य नाराध्यते चित्तमुद्यतासेररेरपि ॥

‘The voice, the delivery from the three spaces namely the bottom of the chest, throat and head are wonderful and clear. Whose mind will not be pleased by such a word even if he is an enemy raising a sword?’

  • Listening
    During the conversation when Rama and Laxmana spoke to Hanuman about their purpose of meeting Sugriva, Laxmana also pin points excellent characteristic of Hanuman.

प्रसन्नमुखवर्णश्च व्यक्तं हृष्टश्च भाषते । नानृतं वक्ष्यते वीरो हनुमान् मारुतात्मजः

The pleasant facial expressions reciprocates his concern for us and with this, one can easily say that he is a keen listener

promoted-media-optimized_5558b8f7c121aRama further informs importance of having such great people as employee or brand ambassadors with such excellent communication skills as…

एवंविधो यस्य दूतो न भवेत्पार्थिवस्य तु । सिध्यंति हि कथं तस्य कार्याणां गतयोऽनघ ॥ एवं गुणगणैर्युक्ता यस्य स्युः कार्यसाधकाः । तस्य सिद्ध्यंति सर्वार्था दूतवाक्यप्रचोदिताः ॥

Those people who won’t have such excellent communicators; I wonder what they must be doing? All the objectives of a leader prompted by ambassadors/ employee will be accomplished if he has such person(s) around, who are endowed with such qualities.

Hanuman was no doubt the most cherished, admired, loved and adored ambassador in whole mankind. And thus he is one who accomplishes his tasks swiftly and adored for his communication skill even today by modern world.

With so many managerial and leadership qualities, Hanuman is a great leader to study for his “servant or service leadership” or “Situational Leadership” qualities. We will speak more about his leadership qualities in future blogs. Till then wishing for honing our communication skills as learnt from great Hanuman.

Picture Courtesy:

http://www.bhmpics.com/view-lord_hanuman_flying-normal.html
http://www.axs.com/cleveland-museum-of-art-returns-khmer-sculpture-enters-into-agreement-53919

“Sarma (सरमा) and advocacy perspective of Employee Engagement”

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Sarama (सरमा) is one of the Vedic characters/ personality, present in 10th Mandala of Rigveda. In Rigveda the dialogue between Sarama and Pani is detailed.

Story of Sarama unfolds many truths and also guides us about how our conduct should be while advocating organizational strength.

Under the most spoken and urgent needs of modern organizations is employee engagement. One of the sign of an engaged employee is “Advocacy”, meaning how someone represents the organization to outside world.

Sarama and Pani Samwad- Dialogue between Sarama and Pani is excellent piece of story to understand this aspect of employee engagement.

Panis (पणि) were wealthiest sect of the society then, and were famous for their unlawful ways and means to collect wealth. They were also famous for their cunning, tactful, and miser behavior. Most of the wealth was collected by them was not used for greatness of society. In the olden time the wealth was measured with the animals you have, and their usage for farming would imply the prosperity of the place.  Amoung such Panis Brubu was one of the wealthiest as well chief of them.  Once they snatched most of the wealth of the area and kept it in a place, aloof from any usage, and were hidden in darker caves. Even reaching  to this place was impossible.

Indra the king of divine abode, wished to utilize this captured wealth by Pani for betterment of society and use it for purpose of agricultural usage. For this purpose he wanted one of the loyal, focused representatives and one who would advocate the purpose of his vision. After a keen analysis he found Sarma one who was equated as mother of Dogs, most appropriate to go and visit Pani and get the wealth from them, in case of difficult situation she should advocate strengths of Indra and his kingdom, his purpose and his pure attitude for society.

As per Indra’s instruction Sarma proceeded ahead for her mission. Way to reach Panis was not simple and joyful, as their abode was in darkness. When she reached crossing sea, rivers, mountains and the long journey, Pani were amazed and asked how did she made her way to reach them? As it was not possible to cross many hindrances.

Sarma replied “I am Doot (representative or envoy) of Indra. Yes I was afraid of water, however my mission took over that fear, and with this courage I have crossed sea and rivers and here I come to collect information from you, inform mission of Indra and to explain you the rightful things”

Pani replied with sarcasm “Oh how is that Indra? What his strength? What courage he carries? We are happy to be friendly with him and will make him chief of one of our cattle section”

Sarma the loyal representative of Indra’s kingdom informs “Indra has great strength, no one can win over him, and he can win over”

Pani subtly replies “Oh Sarma! The most beautiful one! You travelled so far and reached to an impossible destination, which is why we are happy. We grant you few cattle and you can happily take them for yourself. Use it for your personal benefits and as you know without war how one will be able to give such cattle. You can take a few of them, and be ours.”

The strongest reply of Sarma indicates many qualities. Qualities like being faithful, non judgmental, truthful, candid and goal oriented. Her reply was “Oh Pani! Your language is not of a warrior or soldier, you are bribing me, it shows your ill mentality, and it also reflects how you would be treating your own people. I order you to come ahead and negotiate with me for betterment of society or else we have enough strength to attack you”

Pani informs Sarma about how it is impossible to reach to the wealth hidden by them as it was kept secretly and tactfully. They also say “Gods (Clan and people of Indra) have sent you because they are afraid of war, and thus they have sent a woman for negotiation” Panis now diplomatically change their attitude towards Sarma and say “We consider you as our sister, and be with us, enjoy the wealth and be part of our Kingdom, you are intelligent and we wish to have intelligent people like you with us”

Sarma without delay said “I am on my mission of negotiating with you and not to surrender you. Either we reach to a win- win situation or get ready to face serious consequences of not reaching to an understandable solution”

Even after her candid information Panis did not bother to go ahead with negotiations, Sarma then challenged them and strategically challenged to run away from that place. Sarma with the help of Brihaspati, Som, Somabhishavkarta, Rishis and intelligent dogs, wins over Panis and the wealth was then used for Indra’s vision.

This small story and dialogue unfolds many attributes. Many of them are still prevailing in modern society.

According to me Indra was intelligent to use his manpower for appropriate work. He chose Sarma (mother of Dogs) over many other male colleagues like Brihaspati, Soma, Aditya and so many. Sarma was called as mother of dogs because of qualities she and her team possessed. Dogs are considered and loyal, intelligent, they can find path with intelligent usage of their senses, and they are courageous, faithful towards house / master / organization & so many.

Even though Pani played many tactics such as initially calling her as beautiful lady, later sister and then strength- less women and bribed her at each state, Sarma was focused and did not bother about her personal benefits. She did not give up and accomplished her mission.

It is important to select appropriate resource no matter which diverse background you come from. Gender, sexuality, clan, or class doesn’t matter when it’s a work towards specific work, what matters is inclusion of these varied background resources which gets you unbelievable results.

Such inclusion and representation of resources at various stages is beneficial for bringing the advocacy mindset among employees. If the employee is advocating your organization, to outside world, customers and even with competitors, it is one of the indicators of engaged employees with the organization, its vision and its mission.

Picture Courtesy: Representative Not of Sarma :: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chola_art

 

 

 

Dharma and Nyaya : Dharma and Justice

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As Manu says in Manusmriti

परित्यजेदर्थकामौ यौ स्यातां धर्मवर्जितौ। धर्मं चाप्यसुखोदर्कं लोकनिकृष्टमेव च।।
The desire, wealth and the heartfelt wish which is adverse to Dharma should be rejected, if it’s not enough reject that Dharma which is adverse and which will pull you in great difficulty or the Dharma which will be unfavorable of the whole society and its beings.

It’s very interesting to know that Manu himself guides on the principles given by him and guides thru his Smiriti (scripture) to reject the principles & values which are not in line with Dharma or even reject that Dharma which is not for benefits of larger meaning of society, structure or your own true purpose.

As per Mahabharata,

गुरोरप्यवलिप्तस्य कार्याकार्यमजानत: | उत्पथं प्रातिपन्नस्य न्याय्यं भवति शासनम् ||

One who is elderly and holds power or authority, if puffed up with pride, and is unable to discriminate between the proper (Dharma)  and improper (Adharma) thing to be done, has taken a wrong path, punishment to such a person is Justice.

An old story from Ramayana gets reminded whenever the topic of Dharma and Nyaya or Justice gets open. In this story a person who was rejected and treated like stray dog explains the way of justice to Shri Ramachandra.

This is a time when Shri Ram was ruling the mighty Kingdome of Ayodhya. He and his obedient brother Laxman followed a ritual before taking their dinner. Laxman would reach out to the door of palace and see if anyone is hungry and has not eaten that night, once he confirms that there is no one who is hungry at the door of palace, Shri Ram and Laxman would eat their supper.

One day Shri Ram requests Laxman to see at the door of the palace, if anyone is hungry. As per the rule Laxmana shouted at the door step “Is anyone hungry tonight?” He followed that there is a man who was treated by society like a stray dog is crying at the door step of palace.  Sri Ram and Laxmana called the man and asked for the reason of his pain and cry.

The man replied “I have been beaten by a Brahmin (knowledgeable clan of the society). Shri Ram ordered the Brahmin man to be present in the court room, and asked “is this man telling the truth? Have you have beaten him?”

Brahmin said “Yes I did. He was sleeping on the road with his dirty cloths, smelling like dog and he was blocking my way, hence I have beaten him with a rod. These dogs like people should be treated like this.”

Shri Ram understood that this was a crime done by Brahmin, he turned to the man who was beaten and asked him “What do you wish me to do with this Brahmin who has beaten you with a rod?

The man replied “Make him the head of department of ethics in the university”.

Ram smiled and asked the man “This Brahmin who has beaten you with rod and you wish him to the head of ethics at university? Once he becomes head of department he will have many students and followers, how will that be a justice for you?”

The man replied “I was also head of ethics department once upon a time, and I just preached and did not follow what should have been followed. The power, fame and wealth of that post made me go against the principles of that post and I made many mistakes, and by means of the law of karma now I am suffering like a stray dog. Let this Brahmine also be on that post and understand how unethical he is behaving and if he doesn’t behave as per the principles of the post he holds, he will also be like me one day- a stray dog”

Nature of the person and the requirement of job being done, many a times they are opposite to each other, in this tussle questioning and deciding what is right and what is wrong is the essence of dharma and the outcome or decision is Nyaya for self and others.

Let’s take example of one more story; this story is from Buddhist literature.

Once, Buddha and his disciples visited the Capitol City- Shravasti. Some of his disciples went out to collect alms in the city, while returning back, clouds gathered in the sky and it started raining. To take a shelter from the rain, these disciples went to a nearby place, which happened to be the court of judgment. And they saw that the judge is corrupt and he was accepting bribe from the people. And it was not only one of the judges following this corrupt path but most of them were following same path. They ignored the arguments of both the sides and the decisions were given in favor of people who were paying them bribe. All the disciples were upset to see this kind of scene.

When they returned to Buddha they narrated this incidence to Buddha and said “these judges were corrupt, they were Adharmi (not following dharma), till date we were thinking that the one who sits on the seat of judge provides justice, it is the path going against truthfulness, they are providing judgment which is against the Dharma, their behavior is against the Dharma”

Buddha explained them “Oh Bhiukkus (disciples), the judge who follows his own directionless path, doesn’t abide to the basic values of the post they are holding, not doing their duties as per the principles of the job they are doing are not following the path of Dharma”

He further explained “Judge who gets into the depth of the case. Weighs the right and wrong of the case and his judgmental options then further he decides the appropriate judgment is the one who follows Dharma”

He gave two gatha (principles) at that time

न तने होति धम्‍मट्ठो येनत्‍थं सहसा नये। यो च अत्‍थं अनत्‍थज्‍च उभो निच्‍छेय्य पंडितो ।।

असाहसेन धम्‍मेन समेन नयती परे। ध्‍म्‍मस्‍स गुत्‍तो मेधावी धम्‍मट्ठोति पवुच्‍चति ।।

One who takes a decision or provides judgment without thinking is not the person follows the path of Dharma

And the person who thinks, questions and ponders on what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, follows the path of thinking, questioning, decides with the mind of equality and with the neutral mind  is the greatest,  knowledgeable and just person following the path of Dharma

During the period of vanavaas or exile the eldest among the Pandavas, Yudhisthir in search of shelter entered inside a Place of a Rishi (Monk). The place is called aashram, where the knowledge is imparted by Rishi (monk) to the disciples. Following is the conversation amoung Rishi and Yudhisthir.

Rishi asked “Who are you?”

Yudhisthir replied “As of now a person from forest, a sufferer of Adharma and injustice. We are in search of Dharma and justice (Nyaya)”

Rishi replied “Are you in search of Dharma or Nyaya?”

Yudhisthir said “Is there any difference between them? I believe they are same or inseparable”

Rishi smiled and said “Yes indeed they are inseparable, however I can teach you Dharma and I can’t grant you justice. A university or knowledge centre can teach you what is Dharma as well as you can read and learn Nyaya, but the justice has to be done by self or by authority.  Nyaya is attached to punishment or reward. For Nyaya you have to have tussle with your thoughts.  And for Nyaya you have to defeat your enemy, however for Dharma you have to defeat your on deflecting thoughts. Justice can be asked while Dharma has to be practiced. Nyaya has authority however Dharma has responsibility. Dharma comes from knowledge and Nyaya comes from principles, belief system. One can grant justice but one cant grant the Dharma it has to be followed”

Yudhistir replied “Indeed Nyaya and Dharma are partners but they have separate existence”.

As one of the Subhashita says,

शस्यानि स्वयमत्ति चेद्वसुमती माता सुतं हन्ति चेत्, वेलाम्बुनिधि र्विलङ्घयति चेत् भूमिं दहेत् पावकः । आकाशं जनमस्तके पतति चेदन्नं विषं चेद्भवेत्, अन्यायं कुरुते यदि क्षितिपतिः कस्तं निरोद्धुं क्षमः ॥

If the earth who produces grain eats all of it, mother who is the reason of giving birth kills an innocent child, sea crosses the limits, and if fire burns the earth, if sky falls, food becomes poison and the person who is suppose to follow duty goes against it, who is powerful to stop them?

And the key for following dharma is justice.

As we have seen that 10 characteristics of Dharma, which are also the basis of Justice or Nyaya

धृतिः क्षमा शमोऽस्तेयं शौचमिन्द्रियनिग्रहः।  धीर्विद्या सत्यमक्रोधो दशकं धर्मलक्षणम् ॥

धृतिः Dhruti- Determination, क्षमा Kshama- Forgiveness, शमः Shama- Control of mind, अस्तेयं Asteyam- Non- Stealing, शौचं Shaucham- Purity of Physical Body, Mind and Soul, इन्द्रियनिग्रहः Indriya Nigraha- Usage of senses , धीः Dhi- The ability to question , विद्या Vidhya – Knowledge , सत्यं Satyam- Truthfulness , अक्रोधः Akrodha- Anger less

Base of both Dharma and Nyaya is questioning and then reaching to the truthful action.

One of the important aspect of Nyaya and Dharma is Mercy or Compassion, following is a scripture guides us what can be the base of Dharma.

त्यजेत् धर्मं दयाहीनं विद्याहीनं गुरुं त्यजेत् । त्यजेत् क्रोधमुखीं भार्यां निःस्नेहान् बान्धवांस्त्यजेत् ॥

One should reject Dharma which is intolerant and dis-compassionate or merciless. Reject the teacher who is without knowledge; Give away angry spouse and leave the friendship or relationship where there is no warmth.

I will continue this blog series on Dharma with more stories and more compilation from ancient scriptures. Keep reading and keep sending your suggestions.

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Dharma – Why do we need it?

Photos-of-horses-7

In one of the ancient Sanskrit quote the importance of Dharma is given precisely.

आहारनिद्राभयमैथुनं च सामान्यमेतत् पशुभिर्नराणाम्।  धर्मो हि तेषां अधिकोविशेषो धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः ||

Hunger, sleep, fear and sexual desires are the basic needs of human and animal. However “Dharma” is the only gift given to human which differentiates themselves from animals. One who behaves or do not practice “Dhrama” in their life is equal to animal.

So if I take religion as Dharma then, am I a human? That’s the question which will differentiate the literal meaning of Dharma and the repeatable and ritualistic practices called religion.

I have seen many people coming to me and explaining about their religious practices. A post mid aged person explained me his daily routine about his multiple worships in a day, attending religious functions on festivals, also his weekly visits to the religious places, but during the talk his focus was more about explaining me his obedience to the religious duties and still the sufferings he faces in life. Outcome of this interaction was more like “I follow all rituals; still why am I suffering?”

As it is said in

दीर्घा वै जाग्रतो रात्रि: दीर्घं श्रान्तस्य योजनम् । दीर्घो बालानां संसार: सद्धर्मम् अविजानताम् ॥

Night feels longing to the one who is awake for whole night or suffering from insomnia. Even a little distance appears to be stretched to the one who is already tired of walking. Life sounds long to the people who do not know true Dharma.

The question remains if religion is not true Dharma, then what is Dharma? Before answering this question, I feel we need to understand the importance of Dharma. When we are talking about Dharma, we are surely not using the so called literal translation of it “Religion”.

During ancient time, there was a rich man. He was rich with few assets and a stock of animals. Among them he owned horses of premier clan. He was blessed with a son, and a very faithful servant. He was rich as well as generous; he used to do charity thru a village temple. Because of his humble, charitable, simple and approachable nature he was not just liked by people of that village but also by neighboring places, cities and villages. One day he died and before his death he wished to distribute his wealth among his son, servant and the village. Amoung many wishes of the wealth distribution, he had a wish of distributing his 19 premier clan horses. He wished his half of the horses should go to his only son; one fourth to the village temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.

The village elders, experts, lawyer came together for such distribution of wealth, but they could not stop scratching their heads as the biggest question was, how can they give half of the 19 horses to the son? You cannot cut a horse and distribute. It was a big puzzle for everyone. More than a fortnight they could not decide upon the solution.  Owing to such a dilemma a Dharmacharya (one who follows the path of Dharma/ righteous duties and provide judgment) from the capitol city was called upon, who was a very good friend of departed rich fellow.

The wise man arrived riding on his horse. The village experts told him about the rich man’s last will and testament which stated that half of the (19) horses must be given to his only son; one fourth must go to the temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.

The wise man laughed and said he will immediately resolve the issue and distribute the horses as per rich man’s will.

He placed all 19 horses in a row standing next to one another. Then he added his own horse as the 20th horse. Now he went about giving half of the 20 horses – that is ten horses to the son. One fourth of 20- that is 5 horses were given to the temple committee. One fifth of twenty- that is 4 horses were given to the faithful servant. Ten plus five plus four made 19 horses. The remaining 20th horse was his own which he promptly mounted, spoke a few inspiring words, and rode back home.

Surprised and amazed villagers admired his knowledge and the way he handled the issue which was like a mountainous problem for the experts, lawyers and elders of the village. While parting from the village Dharmacharya laughed once again and called all the experts and elders of the village. He said a few words and left from the village.

His words were inscribed in the mind of every villager and still today this story is part of various ancient Indian scriptures and tales.

He said “In our daily lives, in our daily affairs, simply add “Dharma” and then go about facing the day’s happenings. Ever come across problems in life that are seemingly insolvable? Add the Dharma principle in our daily lives and the problems will become lighter and eventually will disappear. In the manner of the ice which, with the addition of the water will turn into water and that will eventually evaporate as steam and disappear. And how do we add Dharma in our daily lives? Through pure thoughts, learning from each experience, adding devotion with sincerity of purpose and dedication, that only total faith can bring about.”

He further explained “Dharma is like the 20th Horse; after addition of this horse to the problem, the problem got resolved and even after the problem is resolved Dharma remained intact and pure. This purposeful addition of Dharma in our daily life will bring us and guide us for looking at the problem to solve it. One’s mind is pure and intentions are clear and the heart is full of simplicity and holiness, such a person is accessible to Dharma instantly and he becomes an instrument in the service of Dharma.”

Most of us know this, however the question in mind remains like Duryodhana- Prince of Kaurava had in mind.

जानामि धर्मं न च मे प्रावॄत्ति: । जानाम्यधर्मं न च मे निवॄत्ति: ॥

Duryodhana says “It’s not like, I cannot discriminate between Dharma and Adharma, Even though I have knowledge of Dharma, I am not able to put it into practice and it could not be my nature, and I could not leave the path of Adharma (opposite of Dharma).”

Be part of this journey of Dharma and let all our nature be full of Dharma. Let’s understand a basic principle

जलबिन्दुनिपातेन क्रमश: पूर्यते घट: स हेतु: सर्वविद्यानां धर्मस्य च धनस्य च

Drop by drop a vessel gets filled by water, likewise knowledge, dharma and money gets collected. Meaning no matter how small that knowledge, amount and act (filled with Dharma) may be, do not neglect it.

I will continue this blog series on Dharma with more stories and more compilation from ancient scriptures. Keep reading and keep sending your suggestions.

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Dharma- Introduction

Balance

As civilization progresses, the concept of belief and faith should be more refined and acceptable, however in current situation we see that this is becoming worse and intolerant. Everyone thinks that their view, opinion and understanding are the most appropriate and eternal. In the pursuit of objective of human life, people have taken their own path and progressed upon. There would be difference of opinion, conflict or agreement and consensus. During the freedom fight of India there were two friends, one among them was Lokmanya Tilak and the other one is great socialist Agarkar. They worked together and built many educational institutes in India. However they differed on one point and which became the point of separation of their path and ideology. According to Tilak it is Freedom 1st and then social uplifts and changes, and Agarkar said no matter you get freedom, what is the use of it, until there is no social maturity? I still feel in today’s condition Agarkar was somehow right to think so far.

Indian philosophical base is strong, eternal and timeless. It was applicable in ancient time as well as it is applicable in modern days, however we have conveniently forgotten it and conveniently accepted few things which were superficially taken by society. Today “Dharma” is translated as religion, and we have degraded the term “Dharma” itself. We classify ourselves as Christian, Islamic, Buddhist or Hindus. And we call that sect as religion, and it also got translated literally by Indians, and we call Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism as religion.

I shall try to narrate and express many stories folding and unfolding from the ancient scriptures and from Indian mythology. The unfolding of Indian philosophy primarily be taken as Vedic – coming from period of Veda, Pauranik- Coming from Puranas and mythological stories, period when Buddhism and Jainism was overpowering the basic belief of Veda and Purana, medieval period- period when Islam came to India and then the modern time.  I will try to unfold the concept of Dharma in this series of blogs.

Manu an ancient philosopher during vedic period is known for many reasons. However his writings and expressions are of careful study. In one of his quote he mentions धर्म एव हतो हन्ति धर्मो रक्षति रक्षित:’- (Dharma Eva Hato Hanti Dharmo Rakshti Rakshita) what is Dharma? One who protects Dharma, the Dharma will be protector of him. Manu further explains Dharma. He gives 10 characteristics of an act which can be called as Dharma. Any action which is following the path of these 10 characteristics can be considered as Dharma.

धृतिः क्षमा शमोऽस्तेयं शौचमिन्द्रियनिग्रहः।  धीर्विद्या सत्यमक्रोधो दशकं धर्मलक्षणम् ॥

  1. धृतिः Dhruti- Determination
  2. क्षमा Kshama- Forgiveness
  3. शमः Shama- Control of mind
  4. अस्तेयं Asteyam- Non- Stealing
  5. शौचं Shaucham- Purity of Physical Body, Mind and Soul
  6. इन्द्रियनिग्रहः Indriya Nigraha- Usage of senses
  7. धीः Dhi- The ability to question
  8. विद्या Vidhya – Knowledge
  9. सत्यं Satyam- Truthfulness
  10. अक्रोधः Akrodha- Anger less

It might look a complex structure of Dharma, however I shall try to simplify for all of us. In one of the quote of Bhuddha, he proclaims

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your scriptures. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it

(एथ तुम्हे, कालामा, मा अनुस्सवेन, मा परम्पराय, मा इतिकिराय, मा पिटक सम्पदानेन, मा तक्कहेतु, मा नयहेतु, मा आकार परिवितक्केन , मा दिट्ठिनिज्झानक्खन्तिया, मा भब्बरूपताय, मा समणो नो गरूति। यदा तुम्हे, कालामा, अत्तनाव जानेय्याथ – इमे धम्मा अकुसला, इमे धम्मा सावज्जा, इमे धम्मा विञ्ञुगरहिता, इमे धम्मा समत्ता समादिन्ना अहिताय दुक्खाय संवत्तन्ती ति, अथ तुम्हे, कालामा, पजहेय्याथ। )

This quote of Buddha and the characteristics given by Manu for recognizing the act as per Dharma goes hand in hand. Dhi- धीः Questioning is one of the fundamental characteristics of Dharma.

The wonder of this word धीः- Dhi is so much that it reflects and unfolds many aspects of questioning itself. धी: – Dhi talks about aspects of questioning, thought, reflection, intention and opinion. Dhi can thus be seen reflected into various levels

Transformation of Dhi can be seen from Thought to opinion as

Thoughtà Questioningà Reflection à Understanding à Disposition or Intention à Opinion

As mentioned by both the philosophers Viz Manu and Buddha, the base is questioning and then finding your path.  And may be thus, the Intelligence is बुद्धि – Buddhi where “Bud” means to perceive. One who perceives the “Dhi”.  The act of perceiving his or her own thought, questions it, reflects upon the answers and post understanding intends to make appropriate opinion is Buddhi or Intelligence.

In a story of Shanti – Parva of Mahabharata; wife of Naga counsels him on what is Dharma. Serving and obeying Guru is dharma of student, Bearing knowledge and exploration is dharma of a Brahmine(one who is in search of knowledge), following instructions of manager (swami) is dharma of employee, protecting and nurturing people of nation is the dharma of nation’s leader or king, protecting all living beings is dharma of soldier, trading without cheating and respecting customer is dharma of trader, serving the nation/ world is dharma of all human being.

She further explains, a common homely man should protect the environment that’s his/ her dharma, following the controlled behavior is dharma of human limbs/ organs.

Questioning who am I? Why am I here? Whom do I belong to? And discovering the mind is dharma of a sanyasi (monk).  Protecting and listening to spouse is dharma of partners.

This series of blog on “Dharma” will unfold many stories and examinations by various scholars.

Dharma is prominent path according to Indian philosophy. Among the 4 purushartha – Object of human pursuit viz Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, Dharma is the base and path for rest of the purusharthas.

Ishopnishada says,

हिरण्मयेन पात्रेण सत्यस्यापिहितं मुखम् । तत्त्वं पूषन्नपावृणु सत्यधर्माय दृष्टये – The face of truth is covered with a golden disc, unveil it, so that I who love the truth may see it

Let this series of blog be that truth which will unveil the cover over the face of truth- Dharma.

Compiled by

Sandeep Sadanand Chaugule

Abhishek Koli (Pali and Buddhism scholar)

 

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