about 3 years ago
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Today, it is international Yoga Day and it is wonderful to see the whole world celebrate; celebrating yoga like a festival! This is one thing we Indians will be ever be grateful to PM Modi for.

We all, in our small way have been trying to inculcate the practice of yoga in our day-to-day life; be it breathing right or standing erect or practicing the surya namaskara’s. There is no doubt that with regular concentrated practice, life can change for the good and we will see a change from within and on the outside. And that gave rise to the thought – why can’t India Inc also practice yoga? Why can’t Indian companies incorporate the ashtanga’s of yoga as propounded by Patanjali (the founder of yoga, not Baba Ramdev)? This becomes all the more relevant in the backdrop of Indian banks floundering and drowning under the deluge of bad debts.

Ashtanga = ashta (eight) + anga (limbs). So, we are talking broadly about the eight limbs of yoga. And the word ‘yoga’ is derived from the root word in Sanskrit, ‘yuj,’ which means to unite – yoga unites the mind, body and soul. Thus we look at the eight limbs which will unify all aspects – physical, mental and spiritual of Indian Inc.

1: Yama

This refers to ethical or righteous behavior and five tenets have been marked -

  • Ahimsa: nonviolence.
  • Satya: truthfulness.
  • Asteya: non-stealing.
  • Brahmacharya: non-excess (often interpreted as celibacy)
  • Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed.

If India Inc could follow even this one limb, couldn’t all the problems be resolved? 90% of the problems we face today are on account of excesses or larger-than-life living, lack of honesty, no transparency and greed. Yes, greed is essential to drive ambitions but should it overtake common sense and ethical behavior too?

2: Niyama

This refers to self-discipline, positive observance and its five tenets are:

  • Saucha: cleanliness
  • Santosha: contentment
  • Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
  • Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one's self
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: Celebrate your aliveness and surrender to it

It is the duty of India Inc to have a Swachcha Bharat – clean and pure from inside and outside, respect the workings of the company while taking care of the environment around it. Being content or Santushta is often said to be end of all growth but if one can find contentment in all new activities, isn’t that a healthier way for growth? Discipline is extremely essential – especially fiscal. Introspection is something which India Inc never indulges in but if one could become self-observant, surely taking the wrong decisions can be corrected. Even after following yama and niyama, we need to surrender– the ultimate truth is that nothing is really in our control except living right.

3: Asana

This, in yoga, refers to the various postures practiced with great concentration and discipline which leads to an inner journey of self-discovery. For India Inc, we could take it as the various processes which a company follows to manufacture a product or deliver a service. If done with complete dedication, with the focus that customer needs to be happy, not cause it any harm and not with an aim of making maximum profit, no company will fail. Are the pharma companies listening?

4: Pranayama

This refers to the observing and controlling of breath, which is our life force. For India Inc, it is the employees which are its life force. Not just controlling and observing, this is about recognizing and respecting their importance – without employees any company will grind to a complete halt. The textile mills strike in Mumbai, once the hub of making cloth, says it all.

5: Pratyahara

This fifth limb of yoga means withdrawal. This is the ability to objectively observe our cravings: habits that are perhaps detrimental to our health and which are likely interfere with our inner growth. Half the problems of India Inc and banks would not have come forth if promoters and some greedy bankers had observed and curbed their “cravings.”

6: Dharana

This is about concentration; we focus our attention on a single point which is the first step towards meditation. India Inc needs that focus – the fact that majority of the companies are selling off assets in non-core to concentrate on core activities is a pointer the very same fact.

7: Dhyana

This is meditation or contemplation. Where dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus. Promoters of companies need to contemplate, to understand where they are going and what is actually the purpose of their company – merely making profits cannot be an aim. Maybe social good or what it spends on philanthropy could translate into dhyana for India Inc.  

8: Samadhi

This eighth and final limb is the actual objective of yoga – merging with the divine. This is essentially peace. Can India Inc find an answer to the existential question – what it wants from life? It can find it’s peace from the true happiness it brings to its employees, to the society around it, to the country it lives in and the world it exists in. Working for betterment of lives and environment can indeed lead India Inc from prakruti to purusha.

These eight limbs for India Inc may seem too farfetched, Utopian even but at the end of it all, isn’t it all about living right, ethically and morally? Now that is not too much to ask for!

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