Management Precepts and Practices in Ancient India

November 24, 2010
School of Arts and Sciences, Amritapuri

Can ancient wisdom guide our future leaders? In his recent talk, titled Management – Precepts and Practices in Ancient India eminent scholar of Sanskrit and Indian studies, Dr. C. Rajendran indicated, that indeed, it can.

ShradaShrada, the newly organized association of commerce and management students at the Amritapuri campus recently invited Dr. Rajendran for this talk that provided an introduction to the definition of management – getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives efficiently and effectively.

Elaborating on management’s six functions — planning, organizing, staffing, leading, controlling and motivation — Dr Rajendran stated, “Planning is basically making of a blue print of the vision; deciding what needs to happen in the future and generating plans for action.”

Drawing on ancient management techniques presented in the Arthasasthra, the classic Sanskrit manual for state administration, Dr. Rajendran explained, “The state had seven components of management: King, Ministry, Territory, Fortified City, Treasury, Army and Ally.”

He added that the author Kautilya believed in the management motto that one wheel was not enough to move a cart.


In addition to Kautilya, Dr. Rajendran spoke about Lord Krishna, Buddha, Bharthrhari, Patanjali, Vishnu Sarma, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. He referred to all of them as India’s management gurus.

“The Bhagavad Gita is a manual for non-attached action; the Pancatantra gives us parables for crisis management,” he explained.

Specifying Sri Krishna’s guidance, “Your right is to work only; not for its fruit,” as a relevant management maxim to imbibe, Dr. Rajendran recalled the success story of former Indian Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was neither well educated nor had any degrees in management. During his four years of administration, he was able to turn around the Indian Railways from a loss-making organization into a profit-making, smoother-running enterprise.

Practice YogaDr. Rajendran advised the students. “You can manage stress by incorporating yoga and meditation into your daily routine. Stay away from a stressful, frustrating lifestyle.”

He pointed out that modern management was plagued with problems of eroding ethical values due to greed and cut-throat techniques. Today’s managers often neglected global environmental concerns and experienced stress, uncertainty and a lack of self-fulfilment.

“My experience at Amrita was wonderful,” Dr. Rajendran later shared. “I am very happy about the way in which students received my talk. I see a professional approach everywhere on your campus.”

A visiting professor at several universities in India and in Europe, Dr. Rajendran has published 23 books and nearly 200 research papers. He is associated with organizations such as the Kerala Sahitya Academy and Sri Lal Bahdur Sastri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth.

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