Dharma and its Role in Business: Sri Sathya Sai Paradigm

There is no virtue greater than Dharma. There are four types of Dharma [i]: 
i. Vyakti Dharma (individual/personal ethics), 
ii. Grihastha Dharma (householder ethics), 
iii. Samajika Dharma (societal ethics), 
iv. Rajya Dharma (national ethics). 

Each of these is mutually interdependent and inextricably interlinked. So, if individual / personal ethics are not proper, householder ethics decline; societal ethics are adversely affected, and consequently, national ethics deteriorate. So, Rashtriya Dharma (national character) and the welfare of the nation are dependent on the proper observance of the Vyakti Dharma (individual character). It does not make any sense if one country tries to copy the management styles of another country in an unempirical way. Such replication often leads to wastage of resources and many undesirable side-effects. This is what is happening in many countries, including India. What is good or suitable for one country need not necessarily be good for another. We should bear in mind the circumstantial variables such as local conditions, individual attainments and the specific needs of a country while evolving the policies and procedures. The culture and values of India are different from those of others. These different scenarios cannot be construed in the same manner. The artificial integration of different sets of values of different countries may result in the dilution of values of a less dominant country. 

India: Then and Now

In the field of business too, a similar situation has come into existence in India. By blindly following the business models of one country or other, India would mess-up its economy by inappropriately using its valuable resources. In bygone ages, India was a model to other countries. After visiting other countries in Asia, a king from Greece came to India to study the conditions here, especially concerning education and religion. He was impressed by the Gurukula system of education and the kind of relations that existed between the Guru and the Shishyas. Every Ashram (centre of learning) was a great learning centre, despite the absence of any of the paraphernalia available in the modern universities today. The students were prepared to undergo all kinds of hardships to obtain knowledge from Gurus. He also noted the discipline and elevated character of the students. He gathered texts like the Upanishads and the Gita and recognised the value attached by Indians to truth and integrity. He made a study of the Bible, the Quran, and Buddhist texts, and found that all of them laid stress on Truth. He noted that the Bible declared: “Righteousness exalteth a nation”. In the Quran, he found that only by adherence to Truth, could one become a good human being. He noted the essential truth, which was common to all faiths and recognised that in Bharat, there was religious tolerance and harmony as part of the people’s code of ethics. He decided to follow India’s systems and practices in Greece. Alexander, the Great, came to India at the command of his Master. On his way back to Greece, he took along with him a small amount of Indian soil, a vessel full of Ganges water, copies of the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata and the blessings of an Indian sage. 

Notwithstanding India’s priceless heritage, many people in this country conduct themselves similar to those under the shade of a lamp, who, ignorant of its light, are attracted to far-off things. It is the charm for glamour, which is responsible for the sorry- state of affairs in our country. Hence, in the field of Management Studies, we should give due place to Indian culture and values. Communication is an important aspect of business management, but care should be taken to use it within the judicious limits. Unrestrained use of communication patterns and styles may cause considerable damage to the country in its own way. For instance, if media gives unwarranted focus to undesirable matters and affairs the news immediately spreads to other parts like wild fire, which may do more harm than good.


[i] Dharma here refers to ethics as applied to the individual, family, society and the nation. Ethics is not an English equivalent for the Sanskrit word Dharma. However, it is used here depending on the context.

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