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Holistic Management

Swami Tejomayananda

The Sanskrit word Mananam means reflection. The Mananam Series of books is dedicated to promoting the ageless wisdom of Vedanta, with an emphasis on the unity of all religions. Spiritual teachers from different traditions give us fresh, insightful answers to age-old questions so that  we may apply them in a practical way to the dilemmas we all face in life. It is published by Chinmaya Mission West, which was founded by Swami Chinmayananda in 1975. Swami Chinmayananda pursued the spiritual path in the Himalayas, under the guidance of Swami Sivananda and Swami Tapovanam. He is credited with the awakening of India and the rest of the world to the ageless wisdom of Vedanta. He taught the logic of spirituality and emphasized that selfless work, study, and meditation are the cornerstones of spiritual practice. His legacy remains in the form of books, audio and video tapes, schools, social service projects, and Vedanta teachers who now serve their local communities all around the world.

Holistic Management

By Swami Tejomayananda


Management implies many factors: a manager, the resources to be managed, the goal to be achieved and the methods to be employed. It is very clear that the manager has to be a human being; because a machine does not manage things by itself; a human being has to install the machine. First of all, a manager has to learn to manage himself; only then can he manage others. He has to have a good value system from where he can draw his strength and function efficiently.


Resources to be Managed


All the things to be managed fall under three categories – man, materials, and money. Without building up and managing monetary resources we cannot function successfully. The material to be managed may vary. In business, the material will depend on the kind of product to be generated. In educational institutions, it is of entirely different kind. In a household, it is different still.


A renowned professor of management told me that ultimately all management boils down to the management of “man.”  And there are only two types of men – those who have difficulties and those who are difficult. It is perhaps easier to manage people who are difficult, because you already know they are difficult.


The Goal


A person has to manage the resources for a particular purpose. The goals may vary depending on whether he is managing a household, an institution, a political party, and so on. However the wider goal has to be kept in mind. If the people, for whose happiness and welfare we claim to function, are themselves exploited or made miserable, it defeats the very purpose. We talk about industrialization, globalization, liberalization, and so on, but in the process, all the nations are reduced to the state of markets only – either a good market, or a potential market. Most people are reduced to the status of consumers, only to be exploited.


Methods of Management


We hear of many systems of management, like the American model, the Japanese model, the Indian model, the Eastern model, Indian ethos, and so on. There are many systems, but I don’t think any system is foolproof. The success or failure of the system ultimately depends on the person who is going to manage. In the political arena, for example, a dictator may happen to be very democratic and benign like Bhagawan Ramchandraji, while democracy may see the emergence of great dictators. Sometimes, in a democratic system, the people elect their own persecutor!


Values in Management


We may know many theories of management, but without values they have no value. We talk of value-based management, value-based business, value-based education, value-based politics – we know it all. The problem is that we do not implement it. We do not live our values. There is corruption everywhere; even in religion, there are fake samnyasi! It has become a way of life. Now we call it “co-operation,” not corruption. All of us know in our hearts that everything has to be value-based, but there is always a feeling that it cannot be done. Some thought has to be given to this.


There are four kinds of people:


1.      Those who are unscrupulous and have no values at all.

2.      Those who have values but are not able to live up to them.

3.      Those who accept values, but that it is not possible to practice them in today’s world and so consider them irrelevant.

4.      Those who have wrong values in life.


If one has no values at all, one’s life will be valueless and this type of life is not worth living. If one has the values but is not able to life up to them, the only thing one has to do is to become strong. And if a person has the wrong values, God help him!


It is the third kind of person I am concerned about now, because his attitude is very insidious and dangerous. Are values really irrelevant today? Is it true that nobody respects values?


A little thinking shows that all of us respect values, and respect only those people who respect values and are able to follow them. There is no doubt about it. The only problem with us is that we want to see those values in someone else!  I may earn money by whatever means, fair or foul, but I want my accountant to be very honest, my servant to be honest, and my security person to be honest! I may speak the truth or not, but I want others to speak only the truth. But the power of truth is such that even when a person tells a lie, that person claims that he is telling the truth, because the lie, the untruth, has no face to show, it goes in the name of the truth only.


Another interesting thing we observe is that the mafia – or the underworld doing dishonest business – flourishes, because even in their dishonest business there is honesty. The business may be dishonest, but among themselves a perfect unwritten law exists. Sharing of profits and money is done as per their given word.


One of the greatest assets in business is credibility. Once it is lost, everything is lost. You may cheat once, twice, but if your credibility is lost, you are finished.


A businessman who was teaching his son said, “Son, in business two things are very important: one is integrity and the other wisdom. Integrity means that once you have made a commitment, a promise, you must fulfill that, even if you have to suffer a loss for it sometimes. Wisdom is to avoid giving any promise, making any commitment!”


For instance, take match-fixing in sports, does anyone like that? No. Why not? It is because something within us revolts against it. There is an innate sense of values in us. We may applaud a person for great achievements, but we respect a person only for what he is. What one has and what one is are totally different things.


The great values of life never become irrelevant and ultimately they alone succeed. Thus, lasting success is achieved by hard work, honest, loyalty, integrity; it is achieved by these values alone and not by anything else.


Sacrifice vs. Compromise


There are two ways of living: one is called compromise and the other sacrifice. In both, a person has to renounce something. God has made life in such a way that without renouncing you cannot live here. Inhaling is possible only when you exhale also. If you say you won’t exhale, you cannot live. Without giving up the lower, you cannot get the higher; you cannot grow. In compromise man gives up higher values and ideals for lower gains. In sacrifice he gives up lower things for the higher. Renunciation is involved in both.


A man of compromises has never become an ideal anywhere in this world; only a man of sacrifice becomes an ideal, a leader worthy of respect. This is a historical truth. So our thinking must be “I have to renounce anyway, either this or that. What am I going to renounce? When I renounce my ideals, my values, it means I am selling myself, selling my soul. On the other hand, by refusing to compromise, I may suffer a little, undergo some hardships, and forego some comforts. So what? One has to pay a price for everything. So be it.”


Some people come to me in their old age, having retired from high positions, with all the comforts life can offer, but suffering from sleepless nights. There is a small thing call conscience. You continue to keep quiet, but for how long? All those memories of past misdeeds are haunting them. The price has to be paid in this manner. In compromise there will be immediate pleasure, no doubt, but pain follows in its wake. It is better to die once than to die of guilt moment to moment. Only when that type of conviction comes is it possible to sacrifice.


Holistic Management


In holistic management, “holistic” means “whole” as well as “holy,” that is, purifying. It includes all the factors discussed so far. Without this vision and without these values no management can be successful. Doubting these values and thinking they are irrelevant is more dangerous than not having them at all. The world is very straightforward. Fire seems to say, “Touch me not. I am hot. If you touch me you will be burnt.”  If you follow the rule, the rule itself will protect you but if you don’t, be ready for the consequences.


Strangely enough, man is not afraid of committing sins; he is only afraid of being caught. He is not afraid of action; rather, he is afraid of consequences. If you do not want the consequences, then why do you indulge in that action? There is a beautiful saying in Sanskrit, paraphrased as follows: “People want the results of meritorious deeds, like happiness, and so forth, but they do not want to do meritorious deeds. They do not want the consequences of sins but they commit sins deliberately!”


Now the choice is yours. That is the beauty of human life; we can become devatã (divine beings), or we can become dãnava (demons); both are possible. If we want to be happy, there is no choice other than to follow a proper value system. Nobody wants to live a life of suffering. We have to stand up and try our best, so that at least we can say that we tried. Of course, when we try, it is a trying period, but it will lead to joy and a great sense of fulfillment. It is immaterial whether others appreciate and applaud or not. We would have lived a life of right values. That is the most important thing.


Values are never irrelevant; they are independent of time and space. Values are not for others alone – they are first for us, then for others. Be afraid of the consequences of your actions. Everybody has to renounce; don’t live a life of compromise; make it one of sacrifice – the choice is yours. This is holistic management of yourself and thereby of others.



Chinmaya Mission Boston is located at:

1 Union Street, Andover, MA – 01810

Phone: 1-866-RAM-DOOT



Chinmaya Mission offers weekly Bala Vihar classes and adult Satsangs at Andover, Westborough and Nashua, NH. Please visit web site for additional registration details.


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