by M.P. Bhattathiry
(RETD. CHIEF TECHNICAL EXAMINER TO THE GOVT. OF KERALA, RADHANIVAS, THALIYAL, KARAMANA, TRIVANDRUM)
in this universe, in one respect man’s condition is the same. No matter
how vastly different he may be in the outer appearance of his life, different
countries, different races, different cultures, different languages, different
ways of living, eating, dressing, etc., he may be completely different
in all of these aspects, but there is one thing that is the same to all
human individuals. And it is this factor that binds them into a global
unity. If analyzed, it will be discovered that all humanity is engaged
ceaselessly, day after day, from the cradle to the grave, only in trying
to avoid painful experiences and in trying to attain that which gives them
seeker, let me ask you this one very important question. Since the time
of creation, is there one single individual who has been born onto this
earth who can stand up boldly and declare, "In my life I have never experienced
any sorrow or pain or suffering whatsoever. My whole life has been a life
full of joy, full of happiness, full of bliss". You will find that there
is not even one single individual on earth who has not had at some time
or another some type of pain or suffering or grief or sorrow.
This is a world
of pain and sorrow. With a few minutes thoughtful reflection you will see
that this is so. Many painful experiences are brought about by natural
forces beyond our control—floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, cyclones, fires,
famines. Then there is suffering brought about by other forms of life—germs,
microbes, bacteria, viruses, insects, reptiles, animals. But by far the
greatest source of suffering is caused by man himself. It is suffering
that is self-created, that arises within our own psychological self due
to desire and attachment for worldly objects—love and hate, anger and passion,
fear, worry, tension, anxiety, jealousy, envy, greed, frustration, disappointment,
disillusionment, the sorrow of separation, bereavement, and all other varieties
of restlessness of mind due to our multitude of desires.
happiness is to be found in objects and experiences. Everyone thinks, "If
I could only attain certain objects, if I could only possess them, if I
could experience them, I will get happiness." In spite of countless disappointments
and disillusionments, man never learns.
There is not
an iota of happiness in earthly objects. No object is perfect. They do
not have in them the power or ability to give you lasting happiness or
joy because they are finite and they are imperfect. Otherwise, they must
be able to give a homogeneous state of happiness to all beings at all times
under all conditions. But what do you actually see?
If you like
milk and you take a glass full of sweetened milk flavoured with spices,
the first glass may give you satisfaction. And if you are pressed upon
to take another glass, the second glass may give satisfaction, but it is
not the same degree of happiness or pleasure as was the first glass. And
if your stomach is already full with two glasses of milk, if you try to
take a third glass of milk, it becomes unpleasant, it becomes undesirable.
And if it is forced upon you, a fourth glass of milk produces nausea and
you will have to throw it up. Where then is real happiness?
If milk had
in it the power of giving happiness, it must be able to grant you this
happiness at all times, under all conditions. It cannot change its nature.
Such examples show that all experiences derived from the contact of senses
with their respective sense-objects ultimately are experiences that end
the great world teacher, Lord Krishna had this very important insight to
impart to us when he said: "O Arjuna, all these experiences brought about
by the contact of one or other of the five senses with their respective
sense objects, these experiences are ultimately the source of sorrow. There
is no real happiness in these sense contacts and sense experiences. They
are but mere momentary sensations afterwards giving you pain."
since ancient times by religious seers who had attained self-realization
by chanting them, mantras are words or syllables in Sanskrit which when
repeated in meditation helps you transcend into a higher state of consciousness.
As sound energies that have always existed the universe, they cannot be
created or destroyed and command the power to heal you physically &
spiritually. At the very basic level mantras help you to concentrate in
meditation. And once you enter its auspicious circle, the mind instantly
gets focussed and you discover a new realm of peace and tranquility.
of all mantras, Om, is the root of all sounds, thus letters and therefore
of all language and thought. The "O" is generated deep within the body,
from inside the navel, and slowly brought upward joining with the "m" which
then resonates through the entire head. Chanting Om in a whisper correctly
for twenty minutes relaxes every atom in of every cell of your body.
A mala (garland
of Sandal or Rudraksha) is often used in accompaniment. It has one hundred
and eight beads plus the larger `meru' beads. Holding it in the right hand,
start at the meru and roll the beads along one by one between your thumb
and third fingers while repeating your mantra. When you reach the meru,
roll the mala in the opposite direction. Do not cross over the meru bead.
GITA AND MANAGEMENT Introduction
has become a part and parcel in everyday life, be it at home, office, factory,
Government, or in any other organization where a group of human beings
assemble for a common purpose, management principles come into play through
their various facets like management of time, resources, personnel, materials,
machinery, finance, planning, priorities, policies and practice.
is a systematic way of doing all activities in any field of human effort.
It is about keeping oneself engaged in interactive relationship with other
human beings in the course of performing one's duty. Its task is to make
people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant
-so says the Management Guru Peter Drucker.
harmony in working -equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements,
plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of
scarcities be they in the physical, technical or human fields through maximum
utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal.
of management will cause disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction
and even depression. Managing men, money and material in the best possible
way according to circumstances and environment is the most important and
essential factor for a successful management. Managing men is supposed
have the best tactics. Man is the first syllable in management which speaks
volumes on the role and significance of man in a scheme of management practices.
From the pre-historic days of aborigines to the present day of robots and
computers the ideas of managing available resources have been in existence
in some form or other. When the world has become a big global village now,
management practices have become more complex and what was once considered
a golden rule is now thought to be an anachronism.
Guidelines from The Bhagavad Gita
There is an
important distinction between effectiveness and efficiency in managing.
is doing the right things and
is doing things right.
principles of effective management can be applied in every fields the differences
being mainly in the application than in principles. Again, effective management
is not limited in its application only to business or industrial enterprises
but to all organisations where the aim is to reach a given goal through
a Chief Executive or a Manager with the help of a group of workers.
functions can be briefly summed up as under:
vision and planning the strategy to realise such vision.
the art of leadership
the institutional excellence and building an innovative organisation.
motivation, and communication and
performance and taking corrective steps whenever called for.
is a process in search of excellence to align people and get them committed
to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit.
question in every Manager's mind is how to be effective in his job. The
answer to this fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad Gita which
repeatedly proclaims that 'you try to manage yourself'. The reason is that
unless the Manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness that
sets him apart from the others whom he is managing, he will be merely a
face in the crowd and not an achiever.
In this context
the Bhagavad Gita expounded thousands of years ago by the Super Management
Guru Bhagawan Sri Krishna enlightens us on all managerial techniques leading
to a harmonious and blissful state of affairs as against conflicts, tensions,
lowest efficiency and least productivity, absence of motivation and lack
of work culture etc common to most of the Indian enterprises today.
management concepts like vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in
work, achieving goals, meaning of work, attitude towards work, nature of
individual, decision making, planning etc., are all discussed in the Bhagavad
Gita with a sharp insight and finest analysis to drive through our confused
grey matter making it highly eligible to become a part of the modem management
It may be noted
that while Western design on management deals with the problems at superficial,
material, external and peripheral levels, the ideas contained in the Bhagavad
Gita tackle the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking because
once the basic thinking of man is improved it will automatically enhance
the quality of his actions and their results.
thoughts emanating from the Western countries particularly the U.S.A. are
based mostly on the lure for materialism and a perennial thirst for profit
irrespective of the quality of the means adopted to achieve that goal.
This phenomenon has its source in abundance in the West particularly the
U.S.A. Management by materialism caught the fancy of all the countries
the world over, India being no exception to this trend.
has been in the forefront in importing those ideas mainly because of its
centuries old indoctrination by the colonial rulers which inculcated in
us a feeling that anything Western is always good and anything Indian is
always inferior. Hence our management schools have sprung up on the foundations
of materialistic approach wherein no place of importance was given to a
is while huge funds have been invested in building these temples of modem
management education, no perceptible changes are visible in the improvement
of the quality of life although the standard of living of a few has gone
up. The same old struggles in almost all sectors of the economy, criminalisation
of institutions, more and more social violence, exploitation and such other
vices have gone deep in the body politic.
for this sorry state of affairs are not far to seek. The western idea of
management has placed utmost reliance on the worker (which includes Managers
also) -to make him more efficient, to increase his productivity. They pay
him more so that he may work more, produce more, sell more and will stick
to the organisation without looking for alternatives. The sole aim of extracting
better and more work from him is for improving the bottom-line of the enterprise.
Worker has become a hireable commodity, which can be used, replaced and
discarded at will.
have also seen through the game plan of their paymasters who have reduced
them to the state of a mercantile product. They changed their attitude
to work and started adopting such measures as uncalled for strikes, Gheraos,
sit-ins, dharnas, go-slows, work-to-rule etc to get maximum benefit for
themselves from the organisations without caring the least for the adverse
impact that such coercive methods will cause to the society at large.
Thus we have
reached a situation where management and workers have become separate and
contradictory entities wherein their approaches are different and interests
are conflicting. There is no common goal or understanding which predictably
leads to constant suspicion, friction, disillusions and mistrust because
of working at cross purposes. The absence of human values and erosion of
human touch in the organisational structure resulted in a permanent crisis
management thoughts although acquired prosperity to some for some time
has absolutely failed in their aim to ensure betterment of individual life
and social welfare. It has remained by and large a soulless management
edifice and an oasis of plenty for a chosen few in the midst of poor quality
of life to many. Hence there is an urgent need to have a re-look at the
prevalent management discipline on its objectives, scope and content.
It should be
redefined so as to underline the development of the worker as a man, as
a human being with all his positive and negative characteristics and not
as a mere wage-earner. In this changed perspective, management ceases to
be a career-agent but becomes an instrument in the process of national
development in all its segments.
Gita And Managerial Effectiveness
Now let us
re-examine some of the modern management concepts in the light of the Bhagavad
Gita which is a primer of management by values.
of Available Resources
lesson in the management science is to choose wisely and utilise optimally
the scarce resources if one has to succeed in his venture. During the curtain
raiser before the Mahabharata War Duryodhana chose Sri Krishna's large
army for his help while Arjuna selected Sri Krishna's wisdom for his support.
This episode gives us a clue as to who is an Effective Manager.
were engaged in erecting a temple. As usual a H.R.D. Consultant asked them
what they were doing. The response of the three workers to this innocent-looking
question is illuminating.
'I am a poor
man. I have to maintain my family. I am making a living here,' said the
first stone-cutter with a dejected face.
'Well, I work
because I want to show that I am the best stone-cutter in the country,'
said the second one with a sense of pride.
'Oh, I want
to build the most beautiful temple in the country,' said the third one
with a visionary gleam.
were identical but their perspectives were different. What Gita tells us
is to develop the visionary perspective in the work we do. It tells us
to develop a sense of larger vision in one's work for the common good.
verse 2.47 of the Gita advises non- attachment to the fruits or results
of actions performed in the course of one's duty. Dedicated work has to
mean 'work for the sake of work'. If we are always calculating the date
of promotion for putting in our efforts, then such work cannot be commitment-oriented
causing excellence in the results but it will be promotion-oriented resulting
in inevitable disappointments. By tilting the performance towards the anticipated
benefits, the quality of performance of the present duty suffers on account
of the mental agitations caused by the anxieties of the future. Another
reason for non-attachment to results is the fact that workings of the world
are not designed to positively respond to our calculations and hence expected
fruits may not always be forthcoming .
So, the Gita
tells us not to mortgage the present commitment to an uncertain future.
If we are not able to measure up to this height, then surly the fault lies
with us and not with the teaching.
argue that being unattached to the consequences of one's action would make
one un-accountable as accountability is a much touted word these days with
the vigilance department sitting on our shoulders. However, we have to
understand that the entire second chapter has arisen as a sequel to the
temporarily lost sense of accountability on the part of Arjuna in the first
chapter of the Gita in performing his swadharma.
is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible
for the consequences of his deeds. The Gita, while advising detachment
from the avarice of selfish gains by discharging one's accepted duty, does
not absolve anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his responsibilities.
is a brilliant guide to the operating Manager for psychological energy
conservation and a preventive method against stress and burn-outs in the
work situations. Learning managerial stress prevention methods is quite
costly now days and if only we understand the Gita we get the required
cure free of cost.
Thus the best
means for effective work performance is to become the work itself. Attaining
this state of nishkama karma is the right attitude to work because it prevents
the ego, the mind from dissipation through speculation on future gains
It has been
presumed for long that satisfying lower needs of a worker like adequate
food, clothing and shelter, recognition, appreciation, status, personality
development etc are the key factors in the motivational theory of personnel
It is the common
experience that the spirit of grievances from the clerk to the Director
is identical and only their scales and composition vary. It should have
been that once the lower-order needs are more than satisfied, the Director
should have no problem in optimising his contribution to the organisation.
But more often than not, it does not happen like that; the eagle soars
high but keeps its eyes firmly fixed on the dead animal below. On the contrary
a lowly paid school teacher, a self-employed artisan, ordinary artistes
demonstrate higher levels of self- realization despite poor satisfaction
of their lower- order needs.
is explained by the theory of Self-transcendence or Self-realisation propounded
in the Gita. Self-transcendence is overcoming insuperable obstacles in
one's path. It involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself,
team work, dignity, sharing, co-operation, harmony, trust, sacrificing
lower needs for higher goals, seeing others in you and yourself in others
etc. The portrait of a self-realising person is that he is a man who aims
at his own position and underrates everything else. On the other hand the
Self-transcenders are the visionaries and innovators. Their resolute efforts
enable them to achieve the apparently impossible. They overcome all barriers
to reach their goal.
The work must
be done with detachment.' This is because it is the Ego which spoils the
work. If this is not the backbone of the Theory of Motivation which the
modern scholars talk about what else is it? I would say that this is not
merely a theory of Motivation but it is a theory of Inspiration.
The Gita further
advises to perform action with loving attention to the Divine which implies
redirection of the empirical self away from its egocentric needs, desires,
and passions for creating suitable conditions to perform actions in pursuit
of excellence. Tagore says working for love is freedom in action which
is described as disinterested work in the Gita. It is on the basis of the
holistic vision that Indians have developed the work-ethos of life. They
found that all work irrespective of its nature have to be directed towards
a single purpose that is the manifestation of essential divinity in man
by working for the good of all beings -lokasangraha. This vision was presented
to us in the very first mantra of lsopanishad which says that whatever
exists in the Universe is enveloped by God. How shall we enjoy this life
then, if all are one? The answer it provides is enjoy and strengthen life
by sacrificing your selfishness by not coveting other's wealth. The same
motivation is given by Sri Krishna in the Third Chapter of Gita when He
says that 'He who shares the wealth generated only after serving the people,
through work done as a sacrifice for them, is freed from all the sins.
On the contrary those who earn wealth only for themselves, eat sins that
lead to frustration and failure.'
work finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise. The former
two are psychological while the third is the strong-willed determination
to keep the mind free of and above the dualistic pulls of daily experiences.
Detached involvement in work is the key to mental equanimity or the state
of nirdwanda. This attitude leads to a stage where the worker begins to
feel the presence of the Supreme Intelligence guiding the empirical individual
intelligence. Such de-personified intelligence is best suited for those
who sincerely believe in the supremacy of organisational goals as compared
to narrow personal success and achievement.
means vigorous and arduous effort in pursuit of a given or chosen task.
When Bhagawan Sri Krishna rebukes Arjuna in the strongest words for his
unmanliness and imbecility in recoiling from his righteous duty it is nothing
but a clarion call for the highest work culture. Poor work culture is the
result of tamo guna overtaking one's mindset. Bhagawan's stinging rebuke
is to bring out the temporarily dormant rajo guna in Arjuna. In Chapter
16 of the Gita Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of Work Ethic viz. daivi
sampat or divine work culture and asuri sampat or demonic work culture.
culture - means fearlessness, purity, self-control, sacrifice, straightforwardness,
self-denial, calmness, absence of fault-finding, absence of greed, gentleness,
modesty, absence of envy and pride.
culture - means egoism, delusion, desire-centric, improper performance,
work which is not oriented towards service. It is to be noted that mere
work ethic is not enough in as much as a hardened criminal has also a very
good work culture. What is needed is a work ethic conditioned by ethics
It is in this
light that the counsel 'yogah karmasu kausalam' should be understood. Kausalam
means skill or method or technique of work which is an indispensable component
of work ethic. Yogah is defined in the Gita itself as 'samatvam yogah uchyate'
meaning unchanging equipoise of mind. Tilak tells us that performing actions
with the special device of an equable mind is Yoga. By making the equable
mind as the bed-rock of all actions Gita evolved the goal of unification
of work ethic with ethics in work, for without ethical process no mind
can attain equipoise. Adi Sankara says that the skill in performance of
one's duty consists in maintaining the evenness of mind in success and
failure because the calm mind in failure will lead him to deeper introspection
and see clearly where the process went wrong so that corrective steps could
be taken to avoid such shortcomings in future.
of reducing our attachment to personal gains from the work done or controlling
the aversion to personal losses enunciated in Ch.2 Verse 47 of the Gita
is the foolproof prescription for attaining equanimity. The common apprehension
about this principle that it will lead to lack of incentive for effort
and work, striking at the very root of work ethic, is not valid because
the advice is to be judged as relevant to man's overriding quest for true
mental happiness. Thus while the common place theories on motivation lead
us to bondage, the Gita theory takes us to freedom and real happiness.
The Gita further
explains the theory of non- attachment to the results of work in
Ch.18 Verses 13-15 the import of which is as under:
If the result
of sincere effort is a success, the entire credit should not be appropriated
by the doer alone.
If the result
of sincere effort is a failure, then too the entire blame does not accrue
to the doer.
attitude mollifies arrogance and conceit while the latter prevents excessive
despondency, de-motivation and self-pity. Thus both these dispositions
safeguard the doer against psychological vulnerability which is the cause
for the Modem Managers' companions like Diabetes, High B.P. Ulcers etc.
of the ideas behind 2.47 and 18.13-15 of the Gita leads us to the wider
spectrum of lokasamgraha or general welfare.
There is also
another dimension in the work ethic. If the karm ayoga is blended with
bhaktiyoga then the work itself becomes worship, a seva yoga.
mentioned above have a close bearing on the end-state of a manager which
is his mental health. Sound mental health is the very goal of any human
activity more so management. An expert describes sound mental health as
that state of mind which can maintain a calm, positive poise or regain
it when unsettled in the midst of all the external vagaries of work life
and social existence. Internal constancy and peace are the pre- requisites
for a healthy stress-free mind.
Some of the
impediments to sound mental health are
The driving forces
in today's rat-race are speed and greed as well as ambition and competition.
The natural fallout from these forces is erosion of one's ethico-moral
fibre which supersedes the value system as a means in the entrepreneurial
path like tax evasion, undercutting, spreading canards against the competitors,
entrepreneurial spying, instigating industrial strife in the business rivals'
establishments etc. Although these practices are taken as normal business
hazards for achieving progress, they always end up as a pursuit of mirage
-the more the needs the more the disappointments. This phenomenon may be
called as yayati-syndrome.
we come across a king called Yayati who, in order to revel in the endless
enjoyment of flesh exchanged his old age with the youth of his obliging
youngest son for a mythical thousand years. However, he lost himself in
the pursuit of sensual enjoyments and felt penitent. He came back to his
son pleading to take back his youth. This yayati syndrome shows the conflict
between externally directed acquisitions, motivations and inner reasoning,
emotions and conscience.
us how to get out of this universal phenomenon by prescribing the following
philosophy of life.
inner core of self-sufficiency.
Get out of the
habitual mindset towards the pairs of opposites.
Strive for excellence
through work is worship.
Build up an internal
integrated reference point to face contrary impulses, and emotions.
understanding by a manager would lead him to emancipation from falsifying
ego-conscious state of confusion and distortion, to a state of pure and
free mind i.e. universal, supreme consciousness wherefrom he can prove
his effectiveness in discharging whatever duties that have fallen to his
under all circumstances remember Me and then fight' (Fight means perform
Needs those Who Practise what the Preach
excellent and best ones do, the commoners follow, so says Sri Krishna in
the Gita. This is the leadership quality prescribed in the Gita. The visionary
leader must also be a missionary, extremely practical, intensively dynamic
and capable of translating dreams into reality. This dynamism and strength
of a true leader flows from an inspired and spontaneous motivation to help
others. "I am the strength of those who are devoid of personal desire and
attachment. O Arjuna, I am the legitimate desire in those, who are not
opposed to righteousness" says Sri Krishna in the 10th Chapter of the Gita.
Message of Gita for Managers
position of Arjuna in the first chapter of the Gita is a typical human
situation which may come in the life of all men of action some time or
other. Sri Krishna by sheer power of his inspiring words raised the level
of Arjuna's mind from the state of inertia to the state of righteous action,
from the state of faithlessness to the state of faith and self-confidence
in the ultimate victory of Dharma(ethical action). They are the powerful
words of courage of strength, of self confidence, of faith in one's own
infinite power, of the glory, of valour in the life of active people and
of the need for intense calmness in the midst of intense action.
got over his despondency and stood ready to fight, Sri Krishna gave him
the gospel for using his spirit of intense action not for his own benefit,
not for satisfying his own greed and desire, but for using his action for
the good of many, with faith in the ultimate victory of ethics over unethical
actions and truth over untruth. Arjuna responds by emphatically declaring
that all his delusions were removed and that he is ready to do what is
expected of him in the given situation.
advice with regard to temporary failures in actions is 'No doer of good
ever ends in misery'. Every action should produce results: good action
produces good results and evil begets nothing but evil. Therefore always
act well and be rewarded.
the Gita's consoling message for all men of action is : He who follows
My ideal in all walks of life without losing faith in the ideal or never
deviating from it, I provide him with all that he needs (Yoga) and protect
what he has already got (Kshema).
the purport of this essay is not to suggest discarding of the Westem model
of efficiency, dynamism and striving for excellence but to make these ideals
tuned to the India's holistic attitude of lokasangraha -for the welfare
of many, for the good of many. The idea is that these management skills
should be India-centric and not America-centric. Swami Vivekananda says
a combination of both these approaches will certainly create future leaders
of India who will be far superior to any that have ever been in the world.
In the Rig
Veda, the universal truths propounded explain the universal order of life
in three planes
( to the Soul )
( to the body in terms of Dharma or worldly life )
( in terms of the cosmos )
order of life in these three planes is then linked to the Supreme encompassing
the three planes. Thus all terms / names mentioned such as Indra, Agni,
Vayu etc. have exoteric and esoteric significance in each of the three
planes as understood by the individual Soul depending on the spiritual
evolution of the Soul
The Sama Veda
consists of hymns (many of them common with the Rig Veda) which when sung
in the appropriate manner will strike a chord in enabling one to understand
the universal truths and order of life depending on their stage of spiritual
evolution. The source of the musical patterns of the Sama Veda hymns is
derived from the vibration / sounds of the cosmos. This reveals that spiritual
evolution can be achieved through music (by hearing as well as singing).
The Yajur Veda
consists of hymns from the Rig Veda along with other hymns which when recited
in the performance of a yajna / havan will enable the Soul or the beneficiaries
to understand the universal truths of the Veda in any or all of the three
planes of its meanings depending on the individual's stage of spiritual
evolution. Though the Yajur Veda is associated with performance of Yajna
for worldly gains, it is understood that the individual beneficiaries will
ultimately evolve spiritually and subsequently undertake these Yajnas for
the spiritual and material benefits of mankind as a whole. The Yajur Veda
has two distinct schools of presentation and following as explained below.
The Veda is
followed in the Northern parts of India has mantras in the form of the
Veda and Brahmanas (explanatory notes to the mantras) presented in the
Satapatha Brahmana. The Shukla Yajur Veda is said to have been taught by
the "Sun" to sage Yajnavalkya and hence the name "Shukla" or "White" Yajur
in the Southern parts of India has Veda mantras and Brahmanas intermixed
- that is, the Brahmanas follow the mantras as explanatory notes in the
Veda text itself. Since Shukla Yajur Veda is known as "White", this Yajur
Veda has been denoted as "Krishna" or "Black" Yajur Veda. Both the versions
are accepted as authentic and both schools are practised widely.
Veda, when understood in the external plane, is generally known to contain
hymns common to the Rig Veda including others for the sole purpose of performing
"Magic" or to communicate with ghosts and spirits or for curing ailments.
However, when viewed in the spiritual plane, the Atharva Veda expounds
universal truths of the oneness of the universe, the way to live in communion
with the world of evolved souls, to pray for a healthy life and finally
to merge with the Supreme.
All the Vedas
provide the same knowledge to experience the Supreme through different
The Rig Vedi
would approach this goal through prayer and intellectual pursuits.
The Sama Vedi
through musical renderings of the hymns.
Vedi through Yajna and invocation of Agni to carry the message of the hymns
to the Supreme.
Vedi through tantra or other rituals.
All the Vedas
provide the same knowledge to experience the Supreme through different
paths. The Rig Vedi would approach this goal through prayer and intellectual
pursuits. The Sama Vedi through musical renderings of the hymns The Yajur
Vedi through Yajna and invocation of Agni to carry the message of the hymns
to the Supreme. The Atharva Vedi through tantra or other rituals. The Vedas
propound and accept all forms of religious practice in the pursuit of understanding
and merging with the Supreme. Hence it is highly secularand tolerant in
its teachings by ultimately preaching.
and Peace come to One and All irrespective of Faith, Creed, Colour and
Social order of the Society including Beings of other forms of evolution."
definition, meditation is engagement in contemplation, especially of a
spiritual or devotional nature. To elaborate further, meditation is an
attempt to concentrate mind on a single form or an idea or an aspect of
divinity at the exclusion of all other forms, thoughts, and ideas. The
mind is focused inwards, and this effort of concentration acts as a stimulus
to gain access to knowledge of 'object of meditation'. The aspirant makes
an attempt to minimize perceptions through senses - inputs through special
senses like touch, sight, hearing, etc. - by detaching mind from sense
organs in the brain. This helps in controlling restlessness of mind, in
favour of inner contemplation. The mind, as if, is made still. Meditation
may be, therefore, taken as a 'passive' activity! But is it really so?
changes observed in the human brain and nervous system during mediation
run contrary to this belief of 'passivity' attached to meditation. Unprecedented
progress and research in neurobiology, investigative neurology, and study
of neurotransmitters in the last two decades has given a great fillip to
the study of neuro-physiology of Meditation and Yoga. Altered State of
Consciousness can be brought about by hypnosis, drugs (e. g. LSD), sleep,
etc., but here we are trying to study a state specific science of altered
consciousness brought about by meditation alone.
We shall attempt
to review the progress in neurobiology in the recent years. An attempt
is made to throw light on this new and fascinating subject. The terms used
are technical, but, as far as possible, an attempt is made to simplify
to explain the neurophysiology of meditation is purely hypothetical.
and Changes in Neurophysiology:
One of the
ways to control physiological reactions to psychological stimuli is meditation,
Yoga, Zen Buddhism etc. The scientists take Transcendental Meditation (TM)
as the uniform technique, and base their observations on the study of the
subjects engaged in this form of meditation. In summing up the results
the scientists have come to conclusion that the effect of meditation is
a "wakeful, hypo-metabolic state".
They have found
1) Yogis could
slow both heart rate and rate of respiration,
2) Yogis could
slow the rate of metabolism as confirmed by decreased oxygen consumption
and carbon-di-oxide output.
(EEG - recording of brain activity) in Yogis showed changes of calmness
in the form of "alpha rhythm" during both eyes closed and eyes open recordings.
4) Their skin
resistance to electric stimulation was increased (indicating increased
tolerance to external stimuli).
Our usual 'defence-alarm'
reaction to emotional and physical stress is in the form of "fright, flight,
and fight" mediated through over-secretion of certain neuro-transmitters
and neuro-modulators, namely adrenaline and dopamine by way of stimulation
of sympathetic nervous system. Under the influence of these chemicals and
hormones, we reflexively become panicky or aggressive, our blood pressure
rises. Thus stress and anxiety is the end result if we allow our natural
age-old sympathetic reactions to act and to come to surface. We try to
run away, become fearful, or fight the situation. But today these 'defence-alarm'
reactions have no place in our lives. Rather, they should be replaced by
more calm and serene reactions of equanimity and fearlessness. The need
is to just 'face the brute, and it will go away'. Such desirable reactions
of non-aggression and peaceful attitude are generated by Yoga and meditation.
on Yogis and The Zen Meditations:
Raja-Yoga claim that during the state of samadhi they are oblivious to
the internal and external stimuli, and they enjoy a calm ecstasy during
that state. A study was undertaken to record the electrical activity of
their brain during this state by means of a regular and useful test known
as electroencephalography EEG. Physiological and experimental studies have
demonstrated that the basis of conscious state of brain, among other things,
is due to activation of "reticular system" in the brain-stem in response
to internal and external stimuli. These stimuli bring about various changes
during sleeping and wakeful states of the organism and these can be studied
The study was
carried out on four subjects during the state of concentration and meditation.
Effects of external stimuli, like a loud gong, strong light, thermal simulation,
and vibrations were studied. The results were compiled and analyzed. It
was observed that two Yogis could keep their hands immersed in extremely
cold water for about 50 minutes (raised pain threshold). During state of
meditation, all of them showed persistent "alpha activity" in their EEG
with increased amplitude wave pattern, both during 'eyes closed' and 'eyes
open' recording. It was observed that these alpha activities could not
be blocked by various sensory stimuli during meditation. It was also observed
that those, who had well-marked "alpha activity" in their resting EEG showed
greater aptitude and zeal for maintaining the practice of Yoga. Similar
observations and results were obtained when EEGs were recorded in persons
adept in Zen Meditative technique. Can we say that only those persons who
exhibit such recording of "alpha wave rhythm" in their EEG are fit for
Yoga? and be designated as right candidates for meditation and Yoga practices?
(Such experiments are indeed very few and the number of yogis examined
is also very small. Therefore, scientifically and statistically these observations
have only a tentative importance. Further research is definitely called
for, albeit it will have its own limitations.)
and Neuro-modulators: These are chemical substances released at the Neuronal
Synapses (nerve junctions). They act by altering electrical membrane potential
by opening up channels that permit diffusion of Sodium, Potassium, and
Calcium ions in and out of the nerve cell. They not only transmit the message
from one cell to another, but also selectively facilitate some information
while inhibiting the other. Moreover, the action of Calcium ions permits
transfer of electrical events into molecular changes that can alter functions
of the nerve cells permanently, i.e. change cellular function to subserve
a memory or learning response.
affect the neuro-transmitters by influencing neuronal plasticity, growth,
or differentiation. Different types of receptors, as present in different
regions of brain, can account for the complex and multiple effects of medication,
meditation, concentration, and contemplation. This may be effected through
actions of specific type of neuro-transmitter and neuro-receptor.
a sub-type of glutamate receptor appears to mediate the function of brain
plasticity, a process considered important in learning and memory.
helps in memory, motivation, perception and cognition. It is also involved
in attention and arousal functions of ascending reticular system. Decrease
in the levels of this neuro-modulator leads to loss of memory, senile dementia
- Alzheimer's disease.
Excess of serotonin,
another important neuro-modulator, leads to hallucinations, as seen in
LSD consumption, which causes increase in serotonin level. This discovery
called attention to the correlation between behavior and variation in brain
serotonin content. Selective depletion of serotonin, in animals, causes
prolonged wakefulness. It also plays important role in circadian rhythm
and sleep cycle.
and modulators like nor-epinephrine cause changes in mood - excess leading
to elation, and deficiency causing nervous depression. It also controls
food intake, regulates temperature, and hormonal secretions.
Excess of dopamine
level is responsible for schizophrenia and psychosis.
factor is a hormone like peptide that is responsible for the growth and
maintenance of various brain structures.
hypothesis to explain the altered state of consciousness brought about
by intense and prolonged mediation may be constructed as follows:
process adds higher centres to the primitive nervous system. These higher
centres have inhibitory influence, in other words they suppress the functions
of lower centres. Thus, the brain stem is controlled by the higher limbic
system, and the limbic system in turn is controlled by still higher neo-cortex.
The neuro-modulators with their influence on various neuro-transmitters
effectively bring about this inhibitory modifications and inter-relations
among various brain centres (hierarchy).
involuntary movements like tremors and chorea are suppressed by basal ganglia
through the action of dopamine and acetylcholine synergy. Any imbalance
in these neuro-modulators causes involuntary movements like chorea, tremors
(Parkinson's Disease etc.). Similarly, loss of cortical control over the
motor neurons of spinal cord leads to exaggerated muscle and tendon jerks
due loss of inhibitory control of the higher motor cortex.
keeps all the involuntary movements, hyper-reflexivity, rage, aggression,
and similar animal tendencies under check so that it can effectively pursue
its own highly developed activities of logic, memory, reason, language,
calculations, judgement, and concepts, etc. Conscious, willful, imaginative
functions are therefore, normal state of awareness of the human beings.
acts as a constant repetitive stimulus, certain qualitative and quantitative
permanent changes develop in the nervous system. The neuro-transmitters
and neuro-modulators may stimulate growth of dormant or latent neurons
to develop a centre (or centres) which on the evolutionary ladder is/are
still higher than the present day cerebral cortex. The brain may develop
new connections and plasticity resulting in the capacity to think, to rationalize,
and react in a different way to the sensory input than what is expected
by present day physiologists. For want of name, we may label such higher
center as 'God Module'. This higher centre will exert inhibitory control
over the present day neo-cortex, and thereby, over the mind as a whole
(consciousness, reasoning, conceptual thinking, willing, feeling, and doing,
etc.)! The consciousness and all mental activities will hence be suppressed.
The person will reach a state beyond mind itself - transcendental awareness!
ascent is from the least evolved state of consciousness to near perfect
state, after which the mind itself will cease to be, and there will remain
only non-dual experience."