History is full of eminent people who have inspired and motivated us with their exemplary works both at a personal and spiritual level. One such ancient Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, and royal advisor was Chanakya.
Chanakya’s most well-known work is the Arthashastra which contains 528 sutras (aphorisms) for administration, economics and household finance. His Sutras are a wonderful set of guidelines that help individuals, households, organizations to achieve goals and be successful. Chanakya’s sutras, rooted in spiritual values, are an ocean of wisdom contained in an urn of water and hence they are ever relevant.
Chanakya Sutra 1 (Foundations)
सुखस्य मूलं धर्मः
THE BASIS OF HAPPINESS IS DHARMA (RIGHT CONDUCT)
Every being wants to be happy always. Anything we do in our lives is to attain happiness, whether it is short-lived or not. From students to scientists, common man to Head of States, pauper to prince, all want to be happy. Many seek various ways and means to seek and achieve this Happiness. Chanakya says that the ‘basis of this happiness is Dharma or Right Conduct.’
What does Dharma mean? Chanakya says that you can see your Dhrama as related to your profession or stage of life (student, householder, renunciate, etc.). However, it changes as these circumstances and situations change. Hence, Dharma is very subtle. From a greater perspective Dharma means righteous conduct, action or behavior for individuals in a society. Chanakya has proposed six virtues/values, practicing which could mean that one is Dharmic in conduct. These six values are:
- Cleanliness (of body and mind)
From a deeper and spiritual perspective true Dharma is to realize your true Self and your true potential as that Self. And this does not change. Sri Sathya Sai Baba has taught that true Dharma is to be immersed in Atmic bliss and realization that all is Brahman and Brahman is all-pervasive. When the ego is subdued, selfishness conquered, impulses are conquered, when identification with the body as being the true self is given up then you know that the goal of dharma is the merging of the wave in the sea, merging of the ‘s’elf in the ‘S’elf.
How is Dharma relevant for modern businesses? Happiness is indeed a goal that modern managers and organizations work towards. The happiness of shareholders, suppliers, customers, society, regulators, employees importantly, and other stakeholders. When an organization functions righteously, it bears a focus on high-quality offerings. When an organization is successful in creating an environment for employees to practice the values of truth, forgiveness, cleanliness, non-cruelty, non-violence, and non-jealousy at the workplace, there will be improved productivity, a sense of “esprit de corps” among the team, a positive and nourishing superior-subordinate relationship and motivation to follow the values of the organization that are based in Dharma. When Dharmic principles become the basis for your actions then they permeate into everything you do, and that is what you carry to your workplace as well. Similarly, when an organization exhibits integrity in the ways it serves its’ customers and stakeholders it builds trust and a sense of loyalty in them, which yields success. All of this has the potential to lead to the happiness of the customers, suppliers, shareholders, society, and regulators.
In this manner, Right Conduct is the basis of Happiness!