You’ve got the money, the job, the friends – the IQ, the EQ and every other Q – so why is it that you still feel unhappy? Could upping your VQ or Vedanta Quotient be the solution?
One evening, 10 years ago, over a piping hot cutting chai back home in Mumbai, someone told me life can be fulfilling and beautiful even without a high-flying job, swanky cars, brands and a splashy apartment, and I laughed silly, even called that someone a total loser. However, over the years I have understood that the person was in fact the ‘wise one’. And that was my first brush with Vedanta philosophy.
When we look around us today, we see so many people in a rush to win life’s rat race. Gadgets and gizmos help them connect to their goals, yet there is an emptiness. Some of us laugh it off, some of us ignore it and some call it a crisis—a mid-life one or career. Why is it that after years of enjoying our work, one fine day, we realise that we are stuck in a rut? And if we really are in a rut, how do we get out of it? How do we get our groove back?
“On the one hand, the world is improving, and on the other, our unhappiness and stress is also increasing. Why?” asks Angajan M K, Vedanta philosopher with over 25 years of study and research in Vedanta and experience in management and leadership consulting and training. “People begin to wonder why when they have everything—money, success, a loving family—they still do not have a sense of fulfilment. That’s when they begin to investigate what is going wrong with life,” he adds. And it is at this point that many turn towards spirituality to get real answers.
At times our need for answers is so crucial that many of us fall prey to many a baba, guru and swami. My mum’s friends always wanted me to follow a guru to ensure that all my life’s problems are solved. Thankfully, I don’t believe in god men. But I feel that we often forget the one essential teaching of our scriptures and that is to use our intellect at all times and to rationalise. There is a reason for most of our scriptures being in a question answer form as Angajan points out. “If you want to really follow something you need to question it and understand it and not just follow blindly. We need to think, reason, question, use our intellect and then accept it,” he explains.
It is not strange that recent times have witnessed a surge in modern day mythologists and management philosophers, who derive insights from ancient Indian texts like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Bhagwad Gita as well as the Upanishads and apply them to modern day businesses. Then there are some who use these similar texts to help people curate their life by helping them manage their personalities and lifestyles. They also help businesses in managing their key asset—human capital—to ensure optimum performance and tackle issues like burnout and dissatisfaction.
In fact some of the best leadership literatures are found in our Indian scriptures like the Mahabharata, Bhagwad Gita, Upanishads, Ramayana and so on. These spiritual literatures basically talk about managing life, our personality, and people, which in essence is life management. “My source of information is scriptures and my objective is to draw people’s attention to our own scriptures to manage life better. I train corporate professionals to manage human capital through my course called art of self-mastery. I also have courses on team building and motivation of the human capital to maintain and achieve the corporate vision, as well as other conventional courses like stress management, time management, harmony in human relations, etc. All these courses are based on our scriptures,” says Angajan.
There has been a gradual shift in the paradigm. In the ancient times it was all about the intelligence quotient or the IQ. Later the focus shifted to Passion Quotient or PQ and then to Moral Quotient, which is MQ. Some people are very passionate about achieving success and in the process they compromise basic ethics and morality and hence the need to bring in MQ. From MQ, years later, the focus shifted to AQ or the Attitude Quotient and then it was Emotional Quotient, followed by a spotlight on the Happiness Quotient. Now everyone is suddenly talking about Spiritual Quotient and who else can be a better teacher than our Vedas to teach about balancing spirituality and leadership goals for a common good and inclusive growth.
While Vedanta philosophy has found acceptance in the West already, we are witnessing a trend wherein Indian businesses also want to go back to our own roots like their western counterparts and understand the concepts of management and leadership in our indigenous context and from our own point of view. Vedanta is now accepted in corporate classrooms and goes beyond reading about the battle between Kauravas and Pandavas at Kurukshetra. It is now, more about understanding the thinking and sheer strategy used by Lord Krishna and Arjuna to defeat the mighty Kauravas.
What is the key to eternal happiness? It is not success, status, money or prosperity. It is knowledge. Knowledge of our purpose in life. It sounds like spiritual gibber gabber. But it really is not. According to Angajan, the ultimate purpose in our life, as the scriptures say, is to discover ourself, to know ourself. This according to Vedanta is known as the atma bodha. Once we understand ourselves and what really gives us happiness, we can surely work towards being happy.
“Today, most people don’t have a purpose in their life. There are two important days in our life. One is the day we are born and the other is when we discover WHY. Everyone knows the day they are born, but very few people know ‘Why’ they are born. So when we know why we are born, we begin to live for ourself, for a purpose, and then it doesn’t matter what the other person has got,” says Angajan.
There are many people who have given up their high-flying jobs to do things that they like, such as painting or cooking or even travelling, only to develop their choices into viable professions. Now, they are working and happy at the same time. So what exactly is Vedanta philosophy, and how can it help us?
To start with, vedanta is derived from two Sanskrit words, veda, meaning knowledge and anta meaning end. Thus vedanta means culmination of knowledge. From an individual point-of-view, vedanta can help us transform our life by knowing ourself. “The only way to transform our life is to transform ourselves. Our life is the product of our thinking. So if we want to change our life, we need to change our thoughts. If we want to improve our life, we need to improve our thoughts. The law is that one cannot change the fruit without changing the root, the fruit being a better quality life, which includes success, prosperity and peace of mind,” explains Angajan. This does not mean that we should give away our worldly professional pleasures like professional growth and ambition. Vedanta only helps us identify the thin line between ambition and greed and points us to a path to help us achieve all that we desire for our own happiness and of those associated with us—our family, employees, etc. thereby leading to an inclusive growth.
So if you are currently at the cross roads of your professional life, just like I am, we need to realise that it is not just about the next pay cheque or checking every item on our wish list. It is about creating a win-win environment where our success and contribution leads to a greater good. One that leaves us feeling satisfied and happy.