The stories from mythology are always fascinating. These stories not only entertain us, but also educate us about life, when we interpret them though rationality. Business Sutra by Devdutt Pattanaik is one such entertaining, informative and educative book that teaches the basics of business leadership and human nature through the stories of Hindu mythology. It takes us through a series of one page stories that bring out important lessons in business management. The book is vivid with stories, descriptions and illustrations, which are all made by the author, in an enjoyable and creative way.
The book emphasises the importance of belief in the context of business. What we believe in, is how we behave and how we behave decides the course of our business. The core activity of running a successful business is always the effective management of people and resources. Mythology and its various interpretations, give us an insight into getting a good belief system in place. These belief systems are those principles and thoughts that are worthy of being cared about. In this competative dog – eats – dog world where everything is driven by greed, lust and individual insecurities, we need a proper belief system so that we can care about the right things which in turn will lead to the right behaviour, which will then lead to successful businessess. The book talks about this in its five different parts, each dedicated to a certain way of thinking, symbolised by a Hindu God.
All of us have the need to find purpose in life. We want to have a sense of satisfaction in our day to day life so that we feel it all adds up to a greater good. One always feels the need to rise above mediocracy and achieve greatness in one’s life. The Mythological literature helps us in understanding and achieving this through our actions. Every character that we observe, in the puranas and the epics, is an excellent characterisation of our own emotions. Upon close observation, we can always find parallels between the characters and ourselves. We all have shades of each character in us, we are all subjected to the emotions they feel in our day to day life and the stories have morals upon which we should decide our belief systems.
The book models business to be a yagna – a fire sacrifice to impress a devatha. The Yajaman – the doer of the yagna needs to put in the swaha – sacrifice so that the devatha might give the thathastu – the result. The book takes us though the various attributes the Yajman needs to have, so that he can understand himself and the devatha. Also, it talks about the various resources he needs to arrange for, so that he can impress the devatha. It talks about the understanding of both the individuals and the resources. The book also explains real world scenarios as examples where a particular business principle might be applied. The stories are very entertaining to read and the business scenarios are very close to the real world. The book holds a mirror to one’s own life and teaches and course corrects his various actions.
The book is structured into five sections and is represented by five Gods. The first chapter is about the vision statement, dedicated to Kama, the God of desire. Here it talks about the various needs that we have as humans and why we strive so hard to satiate these desires. It talks about greed, the hunger to take more than that one needs and its implications. One important lesson we should take away is that human potential is always much larger that human aspirations. All of us take various kinds of stress and tensions in life, however, what differentiates us from the rest is the greatness of the reason for which we take such stress. If our targets and our path to achieve them are appropriate, then there can be possibility of success.
The second, third and fourth sections are dedicated to the three Goddesses- Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati as the represent prosperity, power and rationality respectively. It talks leadership lessons as well as resource management. It illustrates various stories from mythology to bring out valuable lessons in talent management, wealth management and leadership. As a reader, I was quite surprized to realise the depth of knowledge that our mythology holds. I have been hearing and reading mythology since childhood, but this book does a great job at bringing out the hidden nuggets of wisdom that is there in the entertaining stories.
One’s most formidable ally is always oneself. One needs to embrace rationality to be able to take advantage of his own potentials. We always tend to say and do things under the influence of emotions. Our emotions are driven by our experiences. These emotions tend to shut down our ability to think and reason. We say things in anger, frustration or sadness, without realising its implications. To develop one’s rationality is a serious mental exercise as it involves mastering one’s emotions. The mythological literature tells us how to do so, not just for self but for all those who would like to associate with us.
The final question in life is always about justice. At the time of death, the God of Death – Yama maintains the balance sheet of the good and bad deeds done by us. Hindu mythology believes in Karma – actions and its consequences. It believes in doing good things so that we can reap good things. It believes in heaven and hell. While it is disputable as to wheater heaven and hell exist up above the skies, it’s a fact that our actions, good or bad will always lead to respective consequences. Heaven and hell is right here, and right now. The ultimate lesson that one needs to take from the mythological scriptures is the law of Karma. To make a heaven for oneself, one needs to understand Karma. Practising positive habits, such as compasion, empathy, trust, friendship and love towards fellow beings is our way to build heaven, right here and right now.
Business Sutra is a nice, enjoyable and relatable book, more so if you enjoy business and mythology. It is also a good book if you enjoy art and illustrations. I recommend this book to most business leaders, aspiring professionals and those who are looking to find a sense of direction in life.
Happy Reading !!