Corporate musings

Leadership Lessons from Bhagavad Gita #32 – Rules !


Chapter 2 verses 52 and 53 –

यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति |
तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च || 52||

yadā te moha-kalilaṁ buddhir vyatitariṣhyati
tadā gantāsi nirvedaṁ śhrotavyasya śhrutasya cha

yadāwhen; teyour; mohadelusion; kalilamquagmire; buddhiḥintellect; vyatitariṣhyaticrosses; tadāthen; gantāsiyou shall acquire; nirvedamindifferent; śhrotavyasyato what is yet to be heard; śhrutasyato what has been heard; chaand

Translation – When your intellect crosses the quagmire of delusion, you will then acquire indifference to what has been heard and what is yet to be heard (about enjoyments in this world and the next).

Link to the page – https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/2/verse/52

श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला |
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि || 53||

śhruti-vipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niśhchalā
samādhāv-achalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi

śhruti-vipratipannānot allured by the fruitive sections of the Vedas; teyour; yadāwhen; sthāsyatiremains; niśhchalāsteadfast; samādhauin divine consciousness; achalāsteadfast; buddhiḥintellect; tadāat that time; yogamYog; avāpsyasiyou will attain

Translation – When your intellect ceases to be allured by the fruitive sections of the Vedas and remains steadfast in divine consciousness, you will then attain the state of perfect Yog.

Link to the page – https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/2/verse/53

My interpretation –

In the corporate world, the biggest debate is always between following the rule in spirit or letter. Let me share an example – an executive takes leave for two days and then is not to be heard from for two weeks. The rules to deal with absconding employees is slightly different in each organization but generally it will be a 2 or 3 step process – 24 hours after un-notified absenteeism, call the employee, 48 hours later send the first letter, maybe 96 hours later send a registered post, two weeks or four weeks later declare employee as absconding. Some variation of this process will exist in most organisations. Lets assume, this employee who hasn’t shown up for two weeks works for an organization which declares an employee as absconding after two weeks.

So after two weeks and two days of silence, the manager gets a call from the missing employee and he says, “am sorry I haven’t been coming to work, but my mother was on her deathbed with kidney failure, and luckily my kidney was a match and as soon as I landed in my native place, I was whisked off to the hospital and today is the first day that I have surfaced. Apologies for not informing you, but am an only child and my parents are uneducated, infact there is no internet connection yet in my remote village. I will take another four weeks before getting back to work. Please don’t throw me out of the company.” .. what should the manager do? A manager who follows the rule in letter, will simply say “sorry, can’t do anything, you are already terminated. Bye.” That manager will be the kind of “sadhak” who just performs the rituals laid out in the scriptures without understanding their spirit. And there are plenty of these kind of folks… it offers comfort and stability when you follow the laid-down rules. No greys please. 

Another evolved manager’s answer would have been “Am so sorry to hear about your mother’s health. Am glad that your kidney was a match. Just take rest and help your mother to recover. Don’t worry about your job. Its waiting for you when you return. I have unfortunately despatched the termination letter as per our company rules, but just ignore it. I will take care of it”. This is a manager who follows the rules in spirit and does not bother about making exceptions where needed. Ofcourse the presumption in this case is that it is a valued employee under extraordinary circumstances behaving out of character. Before anyone throws a rule book at me, I deal with all rules as guidelines to deal with people, and I have always tried to help managers to flex their “people” muscle and deal in the greys. Btw my ex-colleagues know that I would have asked the first manager in this example to quit as he/she had behaved without compassion.

What Lord Krishna says in these two verses is what I described in the above example – the rituals laid out in our scriptures are “nice” to do and offer comfort and stability, but once you evolve and discover the truth, the rituals are no longer meaningful. In other words, don’t stick to rules in letter, focus on the spirit of the rules.

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