Kamasutra, Business management and the first blog ever- published 23 centuries ago
Well, before you get alarmed or all excited- this post is not going to be about how to get close to your secretary. Or as Nury Vittaci puts it- “It is not about 64 positions in which you can screw your business rivals complete with diagrams”
This post is more than just a review of Nury Vittaci’s book- ” Kamasutra of Business- Management principles from Indian Classics”- it is to document what I read for my future citations.
One of those books with an extremely easy read, I would say it is a must read for all book lovers- to learn from the wisdom of the ancients- in an easy going way. It has some real eye opening facts about the relatively unknown amazing amazing facts, nuggets of wisdom from ancient India and the way the ancients paved the way for business management principles that are timeless.
I am not just stating the facts, but even depicting the era to demonstrate context. (BC= Before the birth of Christ; BCE= before current era – same as BC and CE= contemporary era; almost same as the concept of AD)
Though humanoids have been around for more than a million years, humans used tools since about a hundred thousand years- but it is only very recently that we have ‘advanced’ very fast- probably from around 5000 years back.
India in particular, the author (non Indian by the way) finds-had been quite advanced. Many ancient scriptures propagate scientific ideas close to what the scientists today believe. The Vedas for example, (the founding scriptures of Hinduism) were written about 1500-2000 years BC (about 40 centuries ago)- and cover some stuff that foxes scientists even now. For example, they talk about the concept and corelation between time, space and matter- in a way that is recognized by the contemporary scientific world in only the modern era.
There is not only evidence of scientific genius (surgery was first done in India- including plastic surgery, mathematics got the zero from India- making computer science possible with binary system, astronomical sciences with complete use of logarithmic tables complete with latitude and longitudes, the very mathematical astrological sciences etc. And yes- they did not consider Pluto to be a planet either)- from tens of centuries ago- but even that of thought leadership, economics, society and intellectual gems. One of the cradle of civilizations, there is evidence that first written language might have developed there itself. One of the oldest pieces of writing in existence come from the Indus Valley civilization – still undeciphered and about 5,500 years old.
Though examples from the book cover the implications of what was written or done centuries ago- in today’s business environment, I would limit this article on some key ancient anecdotes and nuggets.
Consider this- did you know:
- The Kamasutra is not a book of sex. As it is widely believed to be. As a matter of fact, all copies of the book in west contain only 20% of the actual matter in KamaSutra. Actually less than 20% of the book is about sex!
- The man who wrote Kamasutra (Vatsyayana) was celibate- a young man not married. Ever. A sage and a researcher- Most of his work is a compilation of works from other ancient sages- with observations from Vatsyayana. This happened about 16 centuries ago!
- World’s first management guru was a sage scholar from India (Chanakya-around 350 BCE) who used his techniques to build an empire bigger than Western Europe
- Traders in Ancient India built an Atlantis like lost city. It had traffic jams, high technology and Credit Cards! It even exported city infrastructure details to far away countries. And it is not completely lost.
- This city (Harappa/Mohenjodaro) probably invented the first franchise model- where know how and processes were exported to various countries to set up franchisee like model. A la Starbucks and McDonalds. Oh and we are talking about 4300 to 5000 years back!
Life balance=Kama(Sensual Pleasure)+Artha (material wealth/business/profession)+Dharma (virtue)
OK I am simplifying things. But for mere mortals like me, this is cool enough.
Chanakya: The genius scholar who was treated badly by his (incapable) king ‘Nanda’ and the king’s psychophants is fired. He vows to avenge. And does so ultimately- creating a huge empire in association with Chandragupta Maurya- a solid CEO if you may- who led from the front and rose from virtually nothing. In doing so, he also authors many awesome management books- notably Arthashastra- the book on economics, polity and statecraft.
Ashoka: Widely popular as Ashoka the Great- his work is inscribed on the Indian Flag and currencies (the wheel and the lion with 4 heads signifying the light of wisdom is travelling to all 4 corners). He was the emperor who brought the most of India under one leadership, a ferocious warrior turned monk who sent his kids to as far as Sri Lanka to preach no-violence and dhamma (his philosophy from a mix of Budhism and Jainism)- and the first blogger ever in the history of the world.
Yes I said Blogger. His blog posts were not on an easy publish CMS like wordpress and distributed through aggregators though. They were dictated on a regular basis via an oral commentary- inscribed in stone- and affixed in various parts of India- on the thoughts of an emperor to the people. (Commenting was not possible as you could imagine- but more recently people would have inscribed spam- “Raju loves Lata” types- Stone Akismet anyone?)
Considering he was the grandson of Chandragupta- we are probably talking about 23 centuries ago (270 BC). It was then he established such concepts like Animal Welfare (!), peace, environmentalism and established a concept that even modern day America is struggling to find. An efficient healthcare system- where taxpayers were assured treatment- and payments were taken as per standards of living!!
One of his blog posts (Edicts- the twelfth rock letter) mentions the importance of religious tolerance.
These concepts were thousands of years ahead of their time.
And after all these things, one cannot but feel saddened by the lost significance of such great works, thought leadership and intellectual prowesses lost by the onslaught of foreign invasion and colonizations- most of whom were interested in plundering their colonies to the stone age.
Well- here’s the news- they are still surviving and kicking ass. Big time.
thumbnail courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dido/116042215/sizes/m/in/photostream/