Book Review: The Yogic Manager


The art of yoga, is the way to good living, as we all know. Combining yoga with the principles of management, is quite novel and unique to say the least. The book draws inspiration from the epic, The Mahabharata, especially the gem within that epic, The Bhagavad Gita, which is the series of conversational pieces between Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna/ Dhananjaya. In the Foreword of The Yogic Manager: A Business Novel Inspired By The Mahabharata, Dr. Dipak C. Jain, Chaired Professor of Marketing, INSEAD, very aptly writes that the author, Avinash B. Sharma, “By drawing from ancient Vedantic wisdom, [he]seeks to provide modern managers with a robust, aspirational model that can help them and their organizations play a transformative part in making the world a better and safer place.

Through the book’s central character, Arjun Atmanand, a management consultant at Characterra Consulting, where he has been working for the last eight years, the author, presents the crises most people in managerial positions face in their public as well as private lives. Catastrophe strikes when Arjun’s conscience clashes with Characterra’s founder and his boss, Raja Sahamkar. At a session with his counsellor, Arjun mentions his dream where everyone of his acquaintances are running beside him, in circles, similar to the Chakravyuh in the Kurukshetra war of The Mahabharata, whose entry and exit points were known only to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. In such a moral crisis, Arjun meets Yogi who, Krishna-like, teaches the former the intricacies and politics of The Mahabharata, woven into the fabric of our modern day life.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern day Management, had talked about the famous mirror test. He had once written in the Harvard Business Review, ‘Ethics requires that you ask yourself : What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning?’ The Yogic Manager has been written to build that all-important and necessary bridge between the interdisciplinary principles of Management with the practices of Yoga and the philosophies of Vedanta, the author emphasises in his introduction. He further states that, “I will refer to this union of Management with Yoga-Vedanta as Yogic Management.

Management’ is ‘man’ (mind) plus ‘agement‘ (making mature). “Management is the act of making knowledge productive by maturing the instruments of knowledge work.” The exigencies and intricacies of The Mahabharata have been woven deftly, wittily, and craftily into this work of business fiction. The journeys which Arjun and Yogi undertake through time and space, amidst varying pages of history , urges our ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. When the writer, through the words of wise Yogi, states that “There must be a balance between knowledge( Jnana) and action( karma)” and that “Atma can be realized through Yoga and meditation”, we couldn’t agree more. In Yoga-Vedanta, there exist three worlds or planes of existences – material plane (Earth/ bhur), intermediate plane (the atmosphere/ bhuva) and the spiritual plane (Heaven/ swaha). We know from our ancient scriptures that one should continue doing one’s actions and duties, without expecting any result, concrete or otherwise. According to Yogi, who is also the voice of the omniscient author, “A Yogic Manager works for the sake of ‘Dharma’ (righteousness, duty) while remaining non-attached to the results (fruits) of the work”.

Also, “Yogic Managers are more than just managers. We are the subset of managers that apply the principles of Yoga-Vedanta to do work, not just form results, but for righteousness.” Even though unnecessary repetitions have made the book a bit tedious, there are gems of knowledge that lie embedded in this work. The fact that the Orient and the East had a lot to learn from our ancient texts was an eye-opener. The Japanese word ‘zen’ is derived from the Chinese ‘Chan’ , which in turn comes from the Sanskrit ‘dhyana’, meaning meditation.

The Yogic Manager is the first in the Yogic Management series, confesses the writer in his epilogue to the book. Even though the book is a work of business fiction, it would satisfy readers who would like to delve and appreciate innovative ways of retelling the epic, The Mahabharata. The book would, most probably and desirably, lead them away from the rat race and lead them to a peaceful, harmonious and healthy living, where all the elements of the ecosystem are at a balance with each other. Modern day managers should surely give this book a read. It could help them arrive at a resolution of their outer and inner conflicts, if they happen to confront them in life.

Title: The Yogic Manager: A Business Novel Inspired By The Mahabharata
Author: Avinash B. Sharma
Publisher/ Imprint: Jaico Publishing House
Pages: 200
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/Business
Rating: 3.75 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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