“What is there in this world that is not spiritual?” – By A. Sethuraman

Sethuraman (extreme right) chanting Vedam on Rama Navami Day at Brindavan - April, 2003 
“What is there in this world that is not spiritual?”- A question which I would treasure for life. This is something which Bhagawan has been conveying to us for decades (and maybe for many lives!). I was preparing for a spiritual quiz programme in the Mandir, during the first year of my MBA at Prasanthi Nilayam. There was a question regarding the spiritual insight behind a certain incident in the epic – Mahabharata. A brother from the M.Tech. class, who was along with me in the quiz, came up with an answer different from what I had in mind. Either of these answers could have been appropriate, but I voiced my opinion saying that my answer was a more spiritual one. To this he asked me, “What is there in this world that is not spiritual?” I could not answer his question at that point of time. The question posed by this brother remained at the top of my mind for quite some time. I pondered over it again and again and also studied some of the books written by Bhagawan. I did find some valuable answers and insights that I feel maybe useful to all of us. 

At this point in time, when I stand at the portals of my professional pursuits, I certainly cherish these five most precious years spent at Bhagawan’s Lotus Feet in Brindavan and in Prasanthi Nilayam. It has been a great learning experience. Bhagawan has often said, “Living with God is True Education”. I am sure each one of us has had his share of learning at His Lotus Feet. The integral system of education as imparted in Bhagawan’s Institute is something very wonderful. It has helped me in developing a holistic perspective towards life. What we learn in the classroom is not different in principle from what Bhagawan imparts in the Mandir. 
Sri Sathya Sai at Brindavan
Bhagawan has often written and spoken on the importance of Atmadharma and Paradharma in our lives. Put in very simple terms, Atmadharma is the supreme responsibility of every individual to go back to where he has come from – attaining Liberation or Moksha, God-Realisation or Self-Realisation, by whatever name different people may refer to. Paradharma comprises all the subsidiary Dharmas which are added onto us from time to time; for example as a son, daughter, mother, father, husband, citizen of a nation etc. Bhagawan says that these subsidiary Dharmas though important in their spheres, have to be followed with the full knowledge and consciousness of the inner basic Atmadharma. i.e. every Paradharma must be pursued in synchronisation with the more fundamental Atmadharma.

By Bhagawan’s Grace I could discern this sublime principle embedded in some of my favourite subjects like Corporate Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, Management Control and Decision Support Systems. I clearly remember what one of our professors used to say very often, “In the real world of business, we do not come across stand alone issues like Production, Finance, Marketing, Strategy, etc. They may appear to be so but that is just to facilitate a certain amount of systematization and order. Every activity, whether Operational, Middle Level or at the Corporate Level is to be pursued directly in line with the Corporate Strategy which is, in turn, a function of the Corporate Mission and Vision.” 

The Corporate Vision is the brainchild of a company’s founder(s). It is the foundation upon which the entire edifice of corporate structure is built. The vision, which is abstract in nature, gets expressed in the form of a company’s mission statement. For example, Walt Disney who founded the world famous Walt Disney Inc. concretized his vision in the form of a mission statement, which reads, “We are in the business of making people happy.” This one statement forms the common thread that strings together all the activities of the company at all levels. Going by the theory of corporate strategy, three things are very important for the achievement of a vision – strategy, structure and control systems. 

Strategy lays down the broad plans for achieving a vision. Initially, plans are laid down for the long term. Yearly, monthly, weekly and even daily plans are derived from there. When enacted efficiently and effectively, they contribute to the achievement of the corporate objectives. Structure helps in organizing and allocating the resources and people of the company in such a manner so as to facilitate the implementation of the corporate strategy. Control systems refer to all the policies, procedures, rules and regulations, so as to ensure that the company’s resources are optimally utilized and its people work towards the achievement of its corporate objectives. In order to achieve their corporate objectives, Top Management has to ensure that all these three elements are always in line with the company’s vision. 

Coming to our own lives, each one of us is a company in ourselves. Bhagawan being the very cause of our existence is to be deemed as the most important stakeholder – The Shareholder. The maximization of wealth to the shareholder is the underlying principle upon which all our endeavours should hinge. The other important stakeholders towards whom we have obligations include – parents, relatives, the society at large and other creatures. In the holistic perspective of spirituality, all of us have the same vision – God Realization, Self-Realization or Liberation – by whatever name we may call it. Mission statements may differ, strategies may vary, structures and controls systems in place may be diverse, but the Fundamental Vision remains the same for each one of us. Strategies may be as diverse as the number of paths taken by different seekers. We structure our lives, relationships with family, society and the world at large in different ways. Control Systems exist within us broadly at two levels – control of the mind and control of the senses. In order that we achieve the fundamental vision, harmony between strategy, structure and control systems is indispensable even in these ‘companies’ of ours. It is only the close coordination between several instruments in an orchestra that produces scintillating pieces of symphony. Similarly, the responsibility of each one of us is to orchestrate the various strategies, structures and control systems in our companies so that we do not lose sight of the fundamental vision at any point in time.

Bhagawan has often emphasized the fact that all our learning, knowledge and actions, however great they might appear to be, are in vain if they are not dedicated to God. The same message is echoed in the theme of Sri Adi Shankara’s “Bhaja Govindam”. Thus, in simple terms there is just one End – the rest are manifold means to achieve this End. 

As a concluding note, I only wish that the readers gain from what is actually tacit in the content of this article. My comparison of life to a company having a vision, mission statement, strategy etc. is not intended to show how these concepts from the corporate world can be applied to our lives. Rather, the very intent of this article is to emphasize that everything has its roots in spirituality. Principally, these concepts have been in existence since aeons. From time to time man has only discovered and tried to apply what is already latent in him. Perceiving things from a holistic viewpoint and basing all actions on the same provides a sense of direction to, and reveals the true meaning of life. 

- A. Sethuraman
Student (2000-2005), Department of Management and Commerce
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Currently, Assistant Manager at Dr Reddys Laboratories Biologics Division, Hyderabad

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