Theory of ‘karma’, mind management part of IIM Lucknow’s latest course on Indian philosophy

New Delhi: The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow is offering an elective course on “The Wisdom of Indian Philosophy” to groom future industry leaders in their approach towards real-life tasks by deriving inspiration from India’s roots, according to officials.

While the course is taught in English and has some traces of modern theories, it primarily relies on the tenets of Indian philosophy derived in Sanskrit from Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Samkhya Karika, and Upanishads with references from the Bhagavad Gita.

The course is created and floated by Professor Anadi Pande, who was motivated to introduce this curriculum to students in order to help them manage their selves better, reduce stress and anxiety, amongst other things, to enhance focus and improve quality of mind.

“We live in a highly globalised, dynamic, and changeable world, with surfeit of information, intense competition, the acronym BANI aptly sums up its characteristics. Samkya, Yoga and Vedanta enable us to connect with our true nature, achieve peace, and have a focused mind. “A superior mind is a tremendous instrument which can not only de-stress, improve our psychosomatic condition but enable us find innovative solutions to challenges in our workplace and the material world,” said Anadi Pande, course coordinator and Professor, Strategic Management, IIM Lucknow.

Pande said Indian philosophy predates Thales of Miletus, who is regarded as the first Greek philosopher and creator of western philosophy, by at least a millennium. “This dynamic course employs a holistic and integrated approach, by incorporating numerous fields such as metaphysics, aesthetics, epistemology, sociology, psychology, ethics, life sciences, and even the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and man’s interactions with the outside world,” she said.

The course is 15 hours long, and currently running its fourth year. In the current academic year, the elective is running in both the Lucknow campus for the core MBA programme and at the Noida campus for Working Executives MBA programme.

“In order to strengthen the conviction of the students, the course is not a mere teaching of India’s prized scriptures. The course bridges the old adages with contemporary research and medical evidence on theories of consciousness. This way, students can see the real-life implications of such teachings.

“The curriculum also serves to sensitise students to the ideas of ethical action, which may be of use when they embark into the corporate world. One of the primary objectives of this programme is to equip students with skills and ethics that promote organisational well-being and ideal corporate citizenship. The theory of Karma is also an important part of this course,” she said.

The course targets Indian philosophy and its three dominant systems — Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta. It also grazes over concepts and theories around ethics, which may perhaps serve as an inspiration for one’s conduct in life. Various Sanskrit sutras are also recited and discussed in the classroom, to help students feel more connected to Indian philosophy.

“Hierarchy of organisations is hierarchy of minds. And where this principle is violated, the organisation suffers. Achieving ‘Samadhan’ which is the essence of Indian philosophy and its ethics, means ability to harmonise multiple perspectives in a solution that resolves all conflicts. Such competence is an extremely prized, inalienable skill of a leader.

“The journey to inculcate the competence of samadhan necessarily goes through building emotional intelligence and resilience. Indian philosophy is a highly rational and practical philosophy. What is good for spirituality is very valuable for sustainable material success as well,” she said.

Pandey explained that an integral part of this course is “Mind Management” which teaches students how to develop meditative practices like Kriya Yoga to improve their ability to focus, have a clear mind, and stay sharp. This can in turn also aid their decision-making skills.