Spirituality in Workplace & Choice of Action

Spirituality in Workplace & Choice of Action

K Shankaran,
Director – Corporate Affairs, TTK Prestige Limited.

“Dharma is the one that sustains the universe; dharma is the one that sustains the society; dharma is  also the one that sustains the individual “.

Individual is the starting point. Therefore, the individual should know what Dharma is and the process  of leading a life that leads to Dharma.

When a group or individual fails to adopt the practices that lead to Dharma, and many others attempt to emulate such wrong role models, the larger society becomes polluted. When the situation spirals out of control, God  descends as Avtar to destroy  Adharma and establish Dharma. (Krishna Avtar is the stellar example for this   – ‘Sambavaami Yuge Yuge”). 

The above brief is easy to read; may be hazily  understood;   may be  a fascinating subject for discussion and promoting  oneself as an intellectual;. But the key to adoption and experiencing bliss in this world lies in the clarity of what is ‘dharma’

This is where Upanishads come to our help.  “Katho Upanishad”  teaches us the Art of Decision Making in day-to-day life.

  1. The human race alone is endowed with  the power of choice amongst various options  and the faculty of discrimination to make the right choices  for a fruitful life.
  2. Every moment in his life, he is confronted with the compulsion to take a decision and act on it.
  3. The choice of decision he makes can be oriented to Dharma or Adharma.
  4. The choice is based on two principles – Sreyas and Preyas
  5. The  principle of Sreyas looks difficult but confers enduring benefit i.e. Dharma
  6. The principle of Preyas is tempting and tastes sweet in the beginning but ends in utter bitterness. Such decisions are against Dharma and the pleasure is  just superficial and transient. In contrast , in the principle of Sreyas the pleasure is permanent.
  7. In ‘Preyas Decision’ one is completely led by sense organs, temptations, immediate gratification of senses, utter selfishness and feelings of hatred, jealousy, bias, prejudice, frustration etc. These actions are ‘Adharmic’.   The only question he asks is  ‘What is in it  for me”. He will not take up any activity if there is no sensory gratification or material benefit or publicity to him.
  8. Imbibing good habits is also a part of Sreyas. For, decisions taken when one is intoxicated or craving for some immediate sense pleasure will always go wrong.
  9. What constitutes Sreyas based choice and thus Dharma:

    a. Will the course of action benefit only me at the cost of others or assuage my ego or cravings of my weak senses ?
    b. Can I take this path without harming society, while benefitting all/ most of my family members? Will the course of action will benefit everybody in the organization or society or most sections of the organization/society?
    c. Will it fall under the category of justice and fair-play?
    d. Will it be of benefit on a long-term?
    e. Is the solution permanent or at least long-lasting?

    If the answer to ‘a’ is negative and positive for all the other questions, then the action leads to ‘dharma’. Whatever the role one plays – a simple common man, head of a family, head of an organization or function, head of the Government – all these questions are relevant to take the right decision that falls in the realm of ‘Dharma’.
  10. Even after filtration there may be more than one choice that falls in the domain of Dharma. At this stage  one  must examine the precedents set by ‘Great Men’. Here come the learnings from Epics, life-history of noble-men, etc. Follow that precedent.
  11. If there is no such precedent available, choose the one in good faith without any hidden agenda – ‘a calculated risk’. Dharma will certainly sustain you.
  12. If a decision is taken based on ‘Sreyas queries’ one is acting out of pure conscience and all such actions will lead to adhering to Dharma.
  13. Dharma is also contextual. Murder  committed by a common man is Adharma. Killing of enemies by Army is ‘Dharma’ as it protects the country and its citizens.
  14. Dharma is also duty. Dharma of a simple family head is  to protect his family adhering to honesty & good behaviour;  that of  elders  is to  guide the younger generation on the path of righteousness; that of a son is to take care of his parents; that of a student is to show respect to his teacher and learn without any distractions; that of  a businessman is to run the business keeping in mind the interest of all stake holders;  that of a State  is to protect its subjects and treat them fairly and equitably.

Let me narrate one live example from our own TTK Prestige, a precedent for us to follow

We were looking for land in Uttarakhand for establishing a factory. The Govt officer suggested one piece of land near Rishikesh close to the Ganga River bank. He said he could give exemptions such as  providing generator, pollution permission etc.  even though it was a ‘silent zone’. The land was available at  a cheap  rate and the cost of labour was minimal. But  I was conscious that a factory  in that location would disturb the environmental peace and  the chances of some effluents escaping into the river cannot be avoided  despite pollution-treatment equipment. I placed this commercially economical option before the Chairman and explained to him that though we may be legally  right and saving on both capital costs and labour costs, we would not be morally right as it would harm the environment. I provided an alternate land 70 kms away in an industrial estate. There was a fivefold increase in land costs and the labour cost was twice as high as compared to  Rishikesh. Our Chairman vowed to not spoil ‘Mother Ganga’  for the sake of saving money or earning profits at the cost of the society and  thus we chose Roorkee site.

In simple words Dharma is the one which helps the upliftment of living beings. Therefore, that which ensures the welfare of living beings and their upliftment materially and spiritually  is surely dharma..

Whatever creates rift  is Adharma, and whatever puts an end to rift  and brings about unity and harmony is Dharma. Anything that helps to unite all and develop pure love and universal brotherhood, is Dharma. Anything that creates discord, split and disharmony and foments hatred, is Adharma. Dharma is the cementer and Sustainer of social life.

Bhagavat Gita describes the eightfold path of Dharma:

“Worship, Study, Charity, Austerity, Truth, Forgiveness, Compassion and Freedom from greed is the eightfold path to Dharma. The first four can also be performed by a hypocrite, but the last four can only exist in a great soul”.

Is it difficult to bring spirituality in workplace?  Not at all. After all it provides wealth,  health and happiness  to all.
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