Spirituality in Management: Means or End?

Spirituality in Management: Means or End?

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Item Code: IDK217
Author: S.K. Chakraborty & Debangshu Chakraborty
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 0195692233
Pages: 266
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.7" X 6.5"

The one unambiguous and unanimous lesson from Bharatvarsha's (i.e. India's) tryst with spiritual religion is: first to discover the Divine within, and then to manifest It without. And, consequently, to be Blissful to oneself and to others. This keynote rings consistently in all the streams of Bharat's core culture' comprising Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Sufi-Parsi mysticism, though originating I Persia, also resonates with the same note as the 'core culture'. This common mandate is woven into all the roles and functions humanity and society should performs-in principle.

Now that even business organizations and management literature have begun to show interest in Spirituality, it is in some respects quite encouraging. Yet, it has been deemed important to re-iterate the above essence. For, it would be erroneous to create a kind of 'secular' or 'business' spirituality. Such branding may relegate Spirituality too to an instrumental status for gratifying sensual, hedonistic goals. This book, therefore, offers critical insights into some of the authentic V pseudo concerns in recent engagements with Spirituality. It aspires to stimulate serious and honest interest in spirituality. It is well to be conscious that the zeitgeist of the present times has turned upside down the dictum we had learnt in our boyhood: 'If wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost; if character is lost, everything is lost'. Today the overriding mantra seems to be: 'If character is lost, nothing is lost; if wealth is lost everything is lost'.

As for the contents of the book, the chapters are largely independent pieces. However, the connecting thread of Spirituality strings them together. Some cross-referencing has been done. Hence, the reader could begin anywhere without incurring loss of meaning. Each chapter has received nourishment from the authors experience garnered through continuous and thorough involvement with members of secular organizations throughout India, and at times in the West also. Such experience, stretching across a period of almost twenty-five years and nearly eight thousand participants, has accrued from intensive Workshops conducted for there or two whole days each time. Each group of participants (twenty to thirty) is exposed to one, two or three modules of conceptual of experiential learning. The contents of these modules are organized around several foundational concepts, theories and processes of Yoga-Vedanta (Y-V) psycho-philosophy. Throughout the text numerous real-life, contemporary examples of spirituality-in-action illustrate the principles highlighted in the volume. They first 'become', then 'do'.

Interpretations of organizational issues addressed below are set against the wider canvas of Indian culture-both past and present. The future depends critically on how we evaluate these antecedents. Especially, if her past essence is spurned, the future too might reject her. Therefore, this book has not shied away from touching on a few controversial issues. Superficial politeness has been avoided while dealing with them, Falsehood and opportunism of a disconcerting degree afflict large sections of Indian intellgentsia. This is bringing no good to any quarter; rather irreparable harm is being done.

Truth or Wisdom of the Spirit has always been possessed by persons of tyaga (abnegation) The history of the human race proves this fact irrefutably. But decisive drift of the human mind since the 18th century has been towards bhoga (hedonism). The more the better. Overloaded with matter, crushed under its weight, typical 21st century minds cannot recognize their incapacity for Truth, for Spirit – even for clear thinking. Fragmented, vested 'truths' in endless succession are creating bewildering chaos. Yet the much-derided superstitious ancient mind had left a virgin Mother Earth for succeeding generation. The enlightened scientific mind has, however, since the 18th Century, been bequeathing to us a groaning Mother Earth. It is this vital Truth which awaits its hour in the new discourse on Spirituality in business, technology management and much else. Once this begins to happen stock phrases like self-actualization, achievement motivation etc. will carry theoretical meanings and practical implications altogether superior to those implied even in the seminal writings on these topics. Only then could man, instead of business, become the 'measure of all things'.

Another angle of the theme of this book. The centralized and volatile, rights-driven and conflict-creating urban culture of the present is hostile to Spirituality. This is an issue of paramount principle. Whether such a state of affairs can be undone, sooner or later is no question. It is the decentralized and stable, duties-inspired and cooperative grass root culture of organic times (at least in Bharatvarsha) which had produced the long line of spiritual giants-the rishis. There are disquieting sings that the 'don't care, except bottom line' attitude of business and commerce is trying to make an ally of even Spirituality as a technique for its own ends. Pray, let us be sensible enough not to fiddle with the priceless legacy of the rishis. This perspective too should exert a sobering influence on the newborn glamour-child called 'business spirituality' (much like 'business ethics') in the scorching lap of despotic economism.

Months after completing this manuscript, and during the third revision of this preface, we perchance came upon these words of Swami Vivekananda (spoken in reply to the welcome address by the Maharaja of Khetri): 'Whoever tries to bring the past to the door of everyone, is a great benefactor to his nation' (Complete Works, vol. iv. P.324). This was an immensely gratifying retrospective endorsement of what this book has attempted.

The authors thankfully acknowledge the following Journals for the inclusion of our papers published by them, with appropriate modifications and/or extensions, for this book –
Journal of Organizational Change Management (Vol.17, No.2, 2004) – for Chapter 3
Management Review (Vol.18, No.2, 2006) (IIM Bangalore) – for Chapter 4
International Journal of Social Economics, September 2007 – for Chapter 7
Vilakshan (Vol.3. Issue 2, 2006) (XIM-Bhubaneshwar) – for Chapter 6
Vedanta Kesari (December, 2006) – for Chapter 8

The authors are also grateful to Mrs. Paushali Chakraborty for continuous help in transferring the handwritten chapters on to the PC with alacrity and dexterity.

From the Jacket


Spirituality pervades every sphere, be it business, management, governance, health care, or any other secular engagements. This book explores and analyses how spirituality can stall degenerative trends in these areas.

After pioneering the indigenization of the 'soft' aspect of management in India and four-and-a-half decades of teaching, S.K. Chakraborty, along with his co-author Debangshu offer glimpses of the deep structure relationship between ethically healthy performance and spirituality. The volume is enriched with illustrations from the long history of spirituality inspired leadership practices that provide positive inspiration to Indian businesses and everyday life.

The study cautions against a casual or glib approach to spirituality that can never be another instrument or programme for the single-minded pursuit of unquestioned business goals. It should also not be treated as just another new pasture of so-called research. It is essentially not an intellectual landscape. It is, first and foremost an experimental-realization journey for the sacred.

This book offers critical insights into spirituality-in-action that will be useful for leaders and managers of enterprises, scholars and researchers in management, sociology, and psychology, and post-graduate students in these areas.

S.K. Chakraborty is farmer Professor and Founder Convenor, Management Centre for Human Values, IIM Calcutta.

Debangshu Chakraborty is lecturer, Department of Management, BIT (Mesra), Kolkata Centre.


Preface ix
1.Introduction 1
2.Values for Spirituality in Organizations: Some Common Doubts and Problems 12
3.Spiritual Psychology for Leaders 25
4.The Spiritual Law of Ethical Work: Niskkam Karma 49
5.Crumbling Value and Ethics: What Scientists See and Say? 81
6.Human Stress: Secular and Spiritual Approaches 101
7.Sustainable Economics: 'Spirinomics' in Hindu Thought and Experience 127
8.Human Relationships in the Workplace: A Few Spiritual Clues 158
9.A Few Architects of Indian Industry: The Architecture of Their Minds 167
10.Leadership Truths: Kautilya, Harshavardhana, Kalidasa 181
11.Will-to-Yoga, Ego and Leadership: Research or Realization? 197
12.Afterword 214
References 230
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