Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Reading Guide: 3F. Pattanaik. Business Sutra.

Make sure to check out the overview of Devdutt Pattanaik's Business Sutra. In Week 1, DP connected mythology and business management (1A), contrasting Western, Chinese and Indian perspectives (1B). Then in Week 2, the focus was on hunger (2C) and on decision-making (2D). The first part of this week was about violence (3E), and to finish up this week, there are two topics: seduction and churning.

Week 3 Reading F:

Audible Chapter 8: Seduction Kindle-1776

Seduction is not compulsion: "No one is obliged to receive what we give. No one is obliged to participate in the exchange. Not everyone needs to be compelled into desirable behaviour."

Business is seduction Kindle-1781

The first story is about how Rishyashringa, who had never seen a woman before. To help Dasharatha have children and to end a drought in another kingdom, a princess, Shanta, must seduce Rishyashringa: "Unless Rishyashring is seduced, neither Dashratha nor Lompad can have what they want."

You can find out more about Rishyashringa and about Shanta at Wikipedia.You may be surprised to find that legends tells us that Dasharatha was Shanta's father, although she was adopted and raised by another king.

He who satisfies hunger becomes desirable Kindle-1798

The next story comes from the Jatakas: "A young lad overheard a merchant say that a good entrepreneur would find opportunity even in a dead rat. The lad picked up a dead rat and wondered what opportunity there could be in it." Step by step he is able to go from the dead rat to becoming a rich merchant.

You can find out more about the Buddhist Jataka tales at Wikipedia, and there are some Jataka reading options for this class! If you are curious, you can read a traditional version of the jataka here: Cullaka-Setthi-Jataka. It has a very elaborate frametale which explains why the Buddha told this particular story to his followers; the story of the dead rat (mouse) begins where the Buddha says, "Once on a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares in Kasi..."

Many devatas need to be seduced Kindle-1817

This section begins with the story of a chariot festival at a temple of Jagannath: "Before the satisfaction of the presiding deity, the wood, the carpenter and his instruments have to be pleased. [...] In business, too, the yajaman depends on many devatas for his success. Each one needs to be acknowledged and paid obeisance to."

The result is not just one yagna but a series of yagnas called sattra: "We have to feed many devatas and many yajamans have to feed us."

You can find out more about Jagannath at Wikipedia. This is also the origin of the English word juggernaut!

Every devata has a devata of his own Kindle-1842

DP describes the hierarchy of devas: "When the devas are in trouble they turn to their father Brahma. When Brahma cannot solve their problem, he takes the devas to Vishnu. When Vishnu cannot solve the problem, Vishnu takes Brahma and the devas to Shiva. When Shiva cannot solve the problem, Shiva takes Vishnu and Brahma and the devas to the Goddess."

Problems work their way up, and then back down: "The Goddess does not really have to solve the problem of the devas. She has to solve the problem of Shiva. Why is he not able to solve Vishnu's problem?" (and so on)

You can find out more about Devi, the Goddess, at Wikipedia.

So too in the human world: "Every yajaman has a devata and every devata, in his capacity as yajaman, has a devata of his own."

Every devata's hunger is unique Kindle-1863

The puja room looks both north and east, which DP describes as a paradox: "Just as the rising sun of the east indicates growth, the Pole Star of the north indicates permanence or stability. Accordingly, the puja room is grounded on the paradoxical and universal desire for growth on the one hand and stability on the other."

Distinctive offerings are then made to each of the gods: "Each deity is given his/her favourite food, flower and leaf. [...] Each deity is given his/her favourite food, flower and leaf."

You can find out more about the ritual of puja at Wikipedia. You can also read about the bilva leaf given to Shiva and the tulsi leaf offered to Krishna.

Every devata matters depending on the context Kindle-1884

DP invokes the term kathenotheism, "which means every god is treated as the supreme god turn-by-turn. [...] In drought, Indra who brought rains was valued. In winter, Surya, the sun god was admired. In summer, Vayu, god of the winds was worshipped."

So too in business: "Importance is a function of context, which makes all businessmen followers of kathenotheism."

There are many kinds of gods: "personal gods are called ishta-devata; household gods are griha-devata; family gods are kula-devata; village gods are grama-devata, and forest gods are known as vana-devata."

You can find out more about kathenotheism at Wikipedia.

Not all devatas are equal Kindle-1905

DP then tells the story of how different gods and goddesses claimed to be the mother or the father of Kartikeya: "Gauri, Krittika, Saravana, Ganga, Vayu and Agni, six deities claimed to be the mother of the child-warlord, and each was right from their own point of view."

You can find out more about Kartikeya at Wikipedia. (Remember the story of the race around "the world" with Ganesha from the beginning of the book...?)

Seducing multiple devatas is very demanding Kindle-1926

DP compares two unusual marriages: Chandra (moon) who is married to the 27 daughters of Daksha, and Draupadi, who has five husbands, the Pandavas: "Though Chandra marries the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha, he prefers only one—Rohini. Only a threat from Daksha makes Chandra pay attention to his other wives. [...] By contrast, Draupadi treats all her five husbands equally and constantly tries to satisfy each of them."

DP describes Krishna and the gopis as another symbol of equality: "the dance of Krishna and the gopikas forms a perfect circle, with each one equidistant from him despite their varied personalities. This circle is called the rasa-mandala."

This too applies to business: "When we rely on rules, regulations, reward and reprimand to get our work done, it means we want to domesticate our devatas, rather than seduce them."

You can find out more about Chandra and about Draupadi at Wikipedia, and also about the dance of Krishna and the gopis.

Seduction needs to satisfy both parties Kindle-1952

To illustration different kinds of seduction, DP tells the stories of two beauties, Menaka and Mohini: "When the seduction benefits only the yajaman and leads to material growth for him, the yajaman is Menaka. When the seduction benefits both yajaman and devata and also generates intellectual and emotional growth, the yajaman is Mohini."

As you've been before, the god Indra feels threatened by the tapas of a human sage: "Menaka is an apsara sent by Indra to distract the tapasvi Kaushik from his austerities."

Vishnu's avatar Mohini gives the amrita only to the devas, not the asuras: "By giving amrit to the devas, Mohini liberates them from physical death but condemns them to mental boredom. For life has no purpose, and the devas end up chasing thrills and excitement to fill their waking hours. By denying amrit to the asuras, Mohini grants the asuras a sense of purpose. They feel like victims and are determined to get back what the devas stole from them."

You can find out more about Menaka at Wikipedia, and also about Mohini and the amrita.

Sometimes, the yajaman also needs to be seduced Kindle-1977

DP tells more about the origins of Kartikeya, focusing now on Shiva, who burns the god Kama to ashes. To seduce him, Gauri (Parvati) in the form of Kamakshi must use a different approach: "She approaches Shiva not as a damsel but as a devotee, determined to marry him and have his offspring. Impressed by her devotion, Shiva marries her and together, they produce Kartikeya."

Moving from Mount Kailash to the city of Kashi, Shiva becomes a householder, but reluctantly; he prefers to be digambar, the naked one: "He wears nothing. At best, he is wrapped in animal hide and smeared with ash." 

Vishnu, in contrast, has elaborate clothes: "Implicit in Vishnu's costume is the existence of different communities: farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers, miners, smelters, smiths, jewellers and traders. In other words, Vishnu's form symbolizes the idea of sanskriti."

DP compares the Shiva-Vishnu contrast with the forms of Buddha, meditating with eyes shut, and the more engaging Bodhisattva, especially in the female form, Tara: "Tara performs the function of Kamakshi and Mohini. She is the glue of sensitivity and compassion that binds the hermit and the marketplace."

Another pairing is between Shiva and Annapurna: "Shiva, who outgrows hunger, gets a wife who is also known as Annapoorna, the provider of food. He embodies the human potential and she embodies nature's resources. Both need to be realized.

You can find out more about Kamakshi at Wikipedia, and also about Mount Kailash and the city of Kashi, also called Benares or Varanasi. You can also read more about the Bodhisattva and about Tara. Finally, there is an article about Annapurna, the goddess of nourishment.

~ ~ ~

Audible Chapter 9: Churning Kindle-2020

Remember the Churning of the Ocean of Milk? DP finds a great metaphor in churning: "In a churn, one needs to know when to let go; otherwise, the act of churning turns into a tug-of-war."

The organization is ultimately a set of people Kindle-2025

To express the variety of people, DP turns to the heavens with the taras known by the constellations they belong to, and the grahas, who have individual identities in Vedic astrology, along with personalities of their own: "Everybody yearns for an optimal alignment of grahas, rashis and nakshatras. This is colloquially called jog, derived from the word yoga."

To make this good alignment, a yajaman must be "a magician, a jogi. Sometimes he is also called a 'jogadu', the resourceful one, admired for his ability to improvise or do 'jugaad' with the resources at hand." (See Reading Guide 1B for more about jugaad.)

You can find out more about Jyotisha at Wikipedia,along with articles about the individual grahas: Ravi (Surya), Soma, Mangala, Budha, Bhihaspati, Shukra, Shani, Rahu, and Ketu.

Every organization is a churn Kindle-2060

DP uses the metaphor of churning for the forces and counterforces in any organization, with Vishnu directing: "Vishnu alone knows when to pull and when to let go, how much to pull and how much to let go, who should pull and who should let go."

Vishnu is Chaturbhuj, Four-Armed, with a tool in each hand: conch, wheel, lotus, and club. The tools are balanced: "The conch-shell and lotus are instruments of seduction. The wheel and the club are instruments of violence."

You can find out more about Vishnu's Panchajanya shankha (conch), padma (lotus), Kaumodaki gada (club), and Sudarshana chakra (wheel) at Wikipedia.

If strategy is the force, then tactic is the counter-force Kindle-2081

Vishnu finds a balance between the two different types of sight: "Vishnu rides an eagle or garud, and rests on the coils of a serpent or sarpa, which is to say he has both a wide view, as well as a narrow view. [...] The big picture is garud-drishti, or the bird's-eye view or strategy. The more detailed, context-specific picture is sarpadrishti, or the serpent's eye-view or tactic."

DP then tells two stories about royal succession, one from the Ramayana (Rama and Bharata) and one from the Mahabharata (Shantanu, Satyavati and Devavrata a.k.a. Bhishma).

You can find out more about Garuda at Wikipedia, and also about Rama and Bharata, and about Shantanu, Satyavati, and Bhishma.

If creativity is the force, then process is the counter-force Kindle-2102

This section contrasts Kama and Yama: "If Kama is about innovation and ideas, Yama is about implementation and documentation."

Vishnu again is the balance: "Vishnu is a combination of both Kama and Yama. His conch-shell and lotus represent his Kama side, as everyone loves communication and appreciation, while his wheel and mace represent his Yama side, as everyone avoids reviews and discipline."

DP also invokes the folklore figures of Shekchilli who follows only Kama, Gangu Teli who follows only Yama, and Mitti ka Madhav (or Gobar ka Ganesh) who follows neither, while Bhoj balances both as Vishnu.

You can find out more about Kama and Yama at Wikipedia, and also about Gangu Teli, plus the legends of King Bhoja. You might also enjoy this more detailed article by DP about all four: Dreamers and Implementers.

If ambition is the force, then contentment is the counterforce Kindle-2125

DP returns again to the contrast between the devas and asuras, stability and growth: "The devas want to maintain the status quo whereas the asuras are unhappy with the way things are. The devas want stability, the asuras want growth."

Their attitudes towards change are different: "The devas fear change and do not have an appetite for risk while the asuras crave change and have a great appetite for risk."

And so the devas practice yagna while the asuras do tapasya: "The devas enjoy yagna, where agni transforms the world around them; the asuras practice tapasya where tapa transforms them, making them more skilled, more powerful, more capable."

The opposites need to churn: "They need to form a churn, not play tug of war. In a churn, one party knows when to pull and when to let go. Each one dominates alternately. In a tug of war, both pull simultaneously until one dominates or until the organization breaks."

You can find out more about devas and asuras at Wikipedia.

If hindsight is the force, then foresight is the counterforce Kindle-2146

The devas and asuras each have their own gurus, Bhihaspati and Shukra: "Brihaspati is the guru of the cautious and insecure stability-seeking devas. Bhrigu-Shukra is the guru of the ambitious and focused, growth-seeking asuras. [...] Brihaspati stands for hindsight and Shukra stands for foresight. Brihaspati is logical, cautious and backward looking while Shukra is spontaneous, bold and forward-thinking."

Indra does not heed Brihaspati's warning that as asuras attacked in the past, he should be ready for another attack: "Indra learned that the asuras had attacked Amravati, but he was too drunk to push them away."

Likewise, the asura king Bali ignores his guru's warnings, and so Vishnu's avatar Vamana deprives him of his kingdom.

An organization needs both types of gurus: "Brihaspati relies on memory while Shukra prefers imagination. Both are needed for an organization to run smoothly."

You can find out more about Bhihaspati and Shukra at Wikipedia, and also about Bali and Vamana.

Upstream forces need to be balanced by downstream forces Kindle-2173

DP now turns to the two aspects of Shiva: "In Kailas he is Adinath, the primal teacher, who offers cosmic wisdom. In Kashi, he is Vishwanath, the worldly god, who offers solutions to daily problems."

You can find out more about Mount Kailash and about Kashi (Varanasi) at Wikipedia.

Balance is the key to avoid a tug of war Kindle-2187

Now DP looks at the gods who have two consorts; there are many examples.

Vishnu, with Shridevi and Bhudevi: "Vishnu has two wives, Shridevi and Bhudevi. Shridevi is the goddess of intangible wealth and Bhudevi, the earth-goddess, is goddess of tangible wealth."

Shridevi is usually associated with Lakshmi, while Bhudevi is the earth-goddess, but DP suggests that we can also look at Bhudevi as being like Lakshmi, who is "bhoga-patni, offering material pleasures," while Shridevi is like Saraswati, who is "moksha-patni, offering intellectual pleasures."  

You can find out more about Lakshmi and Saraswati at Wikipedia, and there is also an article about Bhudevi.

Shiva is another god with two consorts: "Shiva also has two wives— Gauri and Ganga—one who sits on his lap and the other who sits on his head; one who is patient as the mountains and the other who is restless as a river."

You can find out more about Gauri (Parvati) and the river Ganga at Wikipedia.

Krishna has many wives, but DP singles out two in balance with one another: "Krishna has two wives, Rukmini and Satyabhama, one who is poor (having eloped from her father's house) and demure, and the other who is rich (having come with her father's blessing and dowry) and demanding."

You can find out more about Rukmini and Satyabhama at Wikipedia.

Even Ganesha is part of the pattern: "Ganesha has two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, one representing wealth and the other representing wisdom. The pattern that emerges is that the two wives represent two opposing ideas balanced by the 'husband'."

The impact of an organizational decision varies depending on the source Kindle-2215

DP now returns to the hierarchy of the devas and how they affect one another: "when Indra blinks a human dies; every time Brahma blinks, an Indra dies; every time a Vishnu blinks, a Brahma dies; every time a Shiva blinks, a Vishnu dies; and every time the Goddess blinks, a Shiva dies."

You can find out more about Devi, the Goddess, at Wikipedia.

In a shifting world, organizations need to be organisms Kindle-2236

Now DP contrasts static organizations and dynamic organisms: "The organization is a set of rules that people follow whereas the organism is a set of people who follow rules."

He invokes Indian villages as a model for connecting global and local: "Most Indian villages have a local village-god or grama-devata who is linked to the grand, cosmic distant and abstract bhagavan, who oversees everything. The gramadevata knows how to translate the global view to local conditions."

Villages are also connected: "There is the grama-devata who looks at problems within the context of the village, and the kula-devata who looks at the problem within the context of a particular community that is spread across many villages."

You can find out more about gramadevatas at Wikipedia.

In an organism, individual potential and context are taken into consideration Kindle-2263

Many of the idea from the first half of the book are now coming together: "In an organism, every yajaman looks at the devata, and encourages the devata to do the same. Every yajaman clarifies who his immediate team of graha is and who the distant team of tara is. The yajaman works to evoke the potential of his devata and helps him deal with his context so that he delivers. The cascade creates an organism."

Remember how at the very beginning of the book, DP promised a shift from goals to gaze? That is what is now taking shape:

Organisms thrive when the yajaman is flexible Kindle-2288

DP adds one last concept to this chapter — liminal beings: "Liminal beings are creatures that belong in-between, neither here nor there, but on the threshold. A liminal being is a translator, an intermediary."

Ganesha provides an example: "Ganesha is one such liminal being. He has the head of an elephant and body of a human, thus he stands at the threshold of the animal and human world."

Again, there is balance: "Ganesha's axe is used to slice things apart and his noose to bind loose things together neatly. The axe represents analysis and the noose, synthesis."

The elephant-driver (mahout) also shows balance: "A mahout uses the ikshu or sugarcane to draw the elephant in a particular direction. He also uses the ankush or elephant goad to make sure the elephant goes in the desired direction and does not stray from the path."

It's like the proverbial "carrot-and-stick," but the ankush has a double nature, unlike the stick: "The ankush has two parts attached to the tip of a short iron bar: a sharp tip and a hook. The sharp tip is used to goad the elephant forward. The hook is used to hold him back."

You can find out more about mahouts at Wikipedia.

And this ends the first half of the book! The next section moves from drishti, observing objective reality, to a new perspective: divya-drishti, observing subjective reality.

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