Pearls of Wisdom

At a time when large parts of the world were steeped in intellectual darkness, this country was home to some of the not so well known giants whose teachings and writings are even today a source of eternal knowledge and inspiration. Ancient literature of Indian origin has expounded profound wisdom on many aspects of human life.

One has to dwell deep into these ancient writings that are collecting dust in the dwindling number of brick and mortar libraries to get a glimpse of the pearls of wisdom that are embedded in them. These are repositories of very powerful thoughts many of which have universal application. The impregnable powers of logic and analysis and the attention to details in some of these works have baffled scholars and have turned some of the very successful entrepreneurs into serious students.

Entrepreneurs will benefit immensely if they can lay their hands on them. They can enrich their entrepreneurial skills with ancient insight. The various books on Vedanta and ancient Indian classical are indeed a treasure house. They educate us on the laws of life and living and help us gain knowledge about our intrinsic Self.

It is not possible to array all of these works here. But mention must be made of at least one of the very best amongst them whose teachings have universal application even today.

There was this man , don’t know when he was born, could be 300 B.C. or 150 A.D., who helped Chandragupta, a boy of royal line, but fostered by a cowherd, to become the King of Magadha. Kautilya, more well known as Chanakya, bought the young lad and he gave the lad education that befitted a king. Together they fought another king and won the kingdom for Chandragupta.

Kautilya who practiced all the tactics that he preached, is the author of a practical work called Arthashaastra, meaning the science of politics and in its widest sense the art of running a government. . The book portrays the philosophy that promotion of the welfare of the subjects”; leads to wealth which in turn helps enlarge the empire. Kautilya said “The source of the livelihood of men is wealth”. So entrepreneurs and wealth creators lay your hands on this great work and draw inspiration!

His work deals with a host of topics – On adversities, calamities, succession, self control, duties, responsibilities, security, conspiracies, service. organogram, customers, planning, budgets, accounts , audit, treasury, revenue, financial rules, penalties and punishments, trade and transport, laws, foreign policy, war and whole range of variegated issues. As a student, this great work humbles you.

In today’s world of ingenuity, spontaneity and rush, the maxim for entrepreneurs is to build the right team with the right people and the right rewards. Many of the modern day entrepreneurs who have evolved will remember the saying that the difference between running a business and ruining it, is “i” Consider what Kautilya said several hundreds of years ago.

“In the happiness of his subjects lies the king’s happiness; in their welfare his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever pleases his subjects”.

A powerful thought that is relevant even today and every word pregnant with meaning. These are the words couched differently that adorn the corporate corridors of today in the form of vision and mission statements.

All entrepreneurs assume risks in the right proportions for without risks there is no reward. Managing risks and not avoiding them, is the art perfected by entrepreneurs. Kautilya even thought about this hundreds of years ago and had this to say.

“In the interest of the prosperity of the country, a king should be diligent in foreseeing the possibility of calamity, try to avert them before they arise, overcome those which happen, remove all obstacles to economic activity and prevent loss of revenue to state.”

Consider some more of the valuable quotes from his work. They have considerable depth.

“Just as it is impossible not to taste honey or poison that one may find at the tip of one’s tongue, so it is impossible for one dealing with government funds not to taste, at least a little bit, of the King’s wealth.”

“A single assassin can achieve, with weapons, fire or poison, more than a fully mobilized army.” How true it is today.

“Just as elephants are needed to catch elephants, so does one need wealth to capture more wealth. .” India’s entrepreneurial prowess is as old as our ancient history. Present day entrepreneurs who are endowed with talent enriched by an enviable culture and those who have been successful and have the temperament , can channel the energies of our youth into activities that can create more wealth for this nation, as Kautilya said .

“The root of wealth is economic activity and lack of it brings material distress. In the absence of fruitful activity, both current prosperity and future growth are in danger of destruction.”

-V.V. Ranganathan is the Country Leader & National Director for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program in India.

The English translations of the quotes have been obtained from the book edited and translated by L.N.Rangarajan.

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