Radhakrishnan Pillai, formally educated in management and consultancy, has an MA in Sanskrit and a doctorate in Arthashastra.
Director of SPM Foundation and part of the University of Mumbai team, he designs various leadership programs. He is the founder- director of Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership, (www.ciplmumbai.in) a leadership academy which trains political leaders and aspirants. He is also the founder of Atma Darshan, a spiritual tourism venture.
Pillai is the recipient of the Sardar Patel International award 2009.
Let me tell you a story...
There was once a young man in Mumbai who wanted nothing more than to succeed in the world of business. He had studied management in colleges that extolled the virtues of the western ways of understanding this subject. Soon enough, he worked his way up the corporate ladder, but finally decided to set out on his own. After all, who wants to be bossed over by someone else?
His first venture was in the realm of spiritual tourism. Since no one in his family had ever been an entrepreneur, he had to learn everything about setting up a business on his own. By the grace of God, and the support of his business partner, the business began to do well. From being a manager in someone else’s company, he had become the leader of his own business.
His next step? Creating a well-known corporate entity. He met people and discussed his ideas and plans with them, learning from people, making copious notes, reading books, attending seminars, and training programmes. And yet, nothing helped. Something vital was missing in his pursuit for knowledge. He was not able to figure out what this missing piece was, for a long time.
The answer was right within him.
Since his childhood, he had found guidance in a spiritual organisation and had been blessed by many spiritual masters. During a spiritual discourse a Mahatma said, “India, our motherland, has great history and legacy. Our Rishis were no ordinary men — they have studied and perfected every science in this world. Only if we were to look back into our glorious past we would find solutions to all our modern problems.”
This was the divine message he had been waiting for.
Management has been recognised as a science since the 1950s. One of the fathers of modern management is Peter Drucker. But didn’t ‘management’ exist in India even before the I 950s and the Drucker era? As a nation we have over 5000 years to our credit. Did we not have management scientists in our country before the 20th century?
In the ancient Indian scriptures — Ramayana, Mahabharata, the various Upanishads — he found brilliant discussions of management strategies. Why was it that us Indians, always look at what is wrong with India and never appreciate what is great about our country? As a nation we have survived the test of time. Even though we are still a growing economy, we are not a failed nation. In the past, our country had achieved the peak of success for thousands of years. How many nations can boast of such a heritage?
He now realised that the missing piece which would help his business grow was to look ‘within’ rather than outside. The western principles of management are undoubtedly good, but even his own ancestors were extremely good at management.
Thus, one day, while looking for Indian books on management, he stumbled upon Kautilya’s Arthashastra, written by the king-maker, Chanakya. Who has not heard about this book? Even he had. But hardly anyone from his generation had studied it. He bought a copy.
A few pages into the book, he was upset! He could not understand anything! He read the pages over and over again, but ilic message of the book was out of reach. The subject itself seemed dry and boring. He felt the author had made everything seem more complicated than necessary.
He said to one of his mentors, “I do not understand anything in the Arthashastra, even though I am trying my best to learn from it.” His mentor told him, “In India, we consider the scriptures to be mirrors. They reflect who you are. So if you do not understand Arthashastra, do not blame the mirror. As you grow and experience life, you will understand the book better.”
That year, he went on a pilgrimage to Kailash ManSarovar, the holy abode of Lord Shiva. One evening, a voice seemed to speak to him, ‘Make Kautilya’s Arthashastra your life-long pursuit. Don’t just study it, but apply it in your life. Live the Arthashastra. He could not believe that he was listening to his own thoughts, this had to be divine intervention!
He had heard about an ashram in Kerala, dedicated to the research of ancient Indian scriptures. He declared to the Acharya (teacher) in charge of the ashram, “I want to study the Arthashastra.” The Acharya was happy to see the young man’s interest, but said, ‘You will have to come here and learn it under the Guru-Shishya Parampara.” This meant taking a break from the business and staying in the ashram and studying under a Sanskrit scholar.
This was not an easy decision for a businessman from Mumbai. But, with the help of his partner he took time off from the business, and studied the wisdom of the Rishis. The time he spent in the ashram changed his life forever.
He realised that each modern management theory had already been explored thousands of years ago in the Arthashastra.
With a deeper knowledge of management he now returned to his urban life to apply what he had learned. Immediately, he experienced success! His business grew and people were impressed with his new skills. When they asked him how he had achieved success, he said, “Two things helped me — the grace of my Guru and the knowledge of Kautilya’s Arthashastra”
Friends, this is my story. Every word is true. But, the story does not end here. In fact, this is where the story begins....
After I returned from Kerala I applied Kautilya’s practical and perfect theories to my own business (Atma Darshan, www.atmadarshan.com). Even though Atma Darshan brought me success, something else began to happen. My friends from the corporate world urged me to share this knowledge I had gained.
I was invited to speak at various seminars, conferences, and training programmes in India and all over the world. Businessmen consulted me on several matters. Well-known publishing houses and newspapers asked me to write about how Kautilya’s wisdom could be applied to modern businesses. I was also asked to host a radio show.
I met so many people who are interested in Indian management and Indian wisdom. Despite the differences between them with regard to age, nationalities, designations, and industries, all those who participated in my workshops and chose to attend my seminars felt a deep respect for Chanakya’s genius.
And then came the support of the SPM Group of companies which allowed me to delve deeper into Arthashastra. I am now fully devoted to the cause of the promotion and application of Indian management ideas. Today, I am the Director of the SPM Foundation which aims to ‘Make India strong and self sufficient’ in the ancient Guru—Sishya Parampara method.
This book is a documentation of all my ideas that I have shared with millions of people from the corporate world, all across the globe, about how to apply Chanakya’s practical solutions to solve day -to—day problems in modern businesses.
Corporate Chanakya is not just about me. It’s about you and everyone else who wants to practise the principles of Indian Management in their work and wants to be successful.
When I started on my journey to learn and teach Chanakya’s ideas I was not sure about how it would work. It was just an idea, a dream. I took my first step and then thousands of well-wishers joined me and encouraged me along. The number of people who are responsible for making this book a reality is endless. I must acknowledge some of these wonderful people who gave me strength right from the start.
CHINMAYA MISSION I am a ‘product’ of the spiritual organisation Chinmaya Mission (www. chinmayamission. com). I met my Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993) when I was a child. He is my spiritual and management guru. Gurudev said, “A single ideal can transform a listless soul into a towering leader among men.” This statement has been the guiding principle of my life.
Today, Swami Tejomayananda, the global head of Chinmaya Mission, continues to give me the same support. He chose the beautiful name of my first company — Atma Darshan (vision of the self).
Among hundreds of Acharyas (teachers) of the mission, some with whom I am closely associated require mention — Swami Sacchidananda, Swami Sadananda, Swami Ishwarananda, Swami Swaroopananda, Swami Mitrananda, have encouraged me to spread the work of Chanakya.
Swami Advayanandaji — the Acharya in-charge of Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF) accepted me as a student of CIF where I learnt the complete 6000 sutras of Arthashastra and this has been the turning point in my life.
DR. GANGADHARAN NAIR, former Dean of AdiShankara Sanskrit University; Kalady, Kerala, my teacher and my guru of Arthashastra. His wife, Dr. Uma Devi Nair, herself a Sanskrit scholar, was like a mother to me while I was studying the Arthashastra.
VENKAT IYER, my friend since childhood and later my partner in the company Atma Darshan. Without his support, I couldn’t have spent time learning about Chanakya’s work. He also runs a successful venture called Wealth Tree Partners (www. Wealthtree.in).
MUULRAJ CHHEDA AND SPM GROUP, came as a godsend. Muufraj, is the Director of Swati Energy and Projects Private Ltd, part of the SPM group of companies. SPM stands for Strength, Progress with Maturity; and is also the initials of the three Founder brothers — Shantilal, Pravin, and Mavji Chheda. They supported my research and promotion of Chanakya’s works.
Today, I am the Director of SPM Foundation (www. spmfoundation.in) the education wing of SPM Group (www. .spmgroup.co.in) the vision of which is to bring back ancient Indian knowledge and apply it to our modern day problems. The other directors of the SPM Group — Rajen Chheda, Kinnjal Chheda, Niket Shah, Guruvinder — and their spouses have supported me in my search of knowledge. Each day, when we sit for lunch together, I call it my ‘classroom’ where words of wisdom from senior members have always given me insights into the intricacies of human nature.
MTHR GLOBAL, is More Than HR Global (www.nthrglobal.com). The core team — Rajesh Kamath, Vipul Agarwal, Ashish (krey, Rajesh Gupta, and Preeti Maihotra —were the first to christen me ‘Corporate Chanakya’. I dedicate the title of this book to them.
MUMBAI UNIVERSITY’s Dr. Shubhada Joshi, Head of Department of Philosophy, and her team, give my work on Chanakya the academic outlook it required. SPM Foundation partnered with the Mumbai University for offering joint programmes on ‘Chanakya’s Management Ideas and Indian Philosophy’.
WORLDSPACE SATELLITE RADIO’s Karthik Vaidyanathan, Harish Puppala, Seetal Iyer came up with a wonderful idea for a show called ‘Ask Chanakya’ on Moksha, a h;innel on Worldspace. I hosted at least a hundred shows.
Also, I am grateful to my other ‘media friends’ — Dinesh Narayan, Meenal Bhaghel, and William Charles D’Souza for their Mipport.
Gautam Sachdev promoter of (www.indiayogi.com) introduced my first online e-course based on Arthashastra. My course now has students from over 25 different countries. I am glad that I can use technology to take Chanakya’s message to the world.
Several MANAGEMENT GURUS supported my thirst for knowledge. I would like to thank Dr. Subhash Sharma, Dr. M.B. Aihreya, Debra and William Miller, Sudhir Seth, and Dr. Anil Naik.
I am grateful to the POLICE FORCE — Sandeep Karnik, (IPS) Dhanraj Vanzari, Milind Bharambe (IPS), Satish Menon (Railway Protection Force) — who made me realise that behind lie tough looking cop there is a human being who feels just like you and me.
MY FAMLY, especially my parents, C.K.K. Pillai and Sushila Pillai, have my heartfelt gratitude. Coming home late at night, not being sure of a regular income while I developed a business, missing weekends and family time while prioritising professional commitments, my life would never have been smooth without my wife Surekha. Her parents Shekhar and Dhanvati, and her sisters Sarikha and Chandrika bring joy to my life.
My FIRST STUDENTS OF ARTHASHASTRA — Mala Thevar, Yogesh Sanghani, Anuraag Gupta, and his sister Seema Gupta, and Anupam Acharya. Their dedication to knowledge has given me the confidence that this good work will continue for many long years after I am gone.
And I must thank Ranjit Shetty, my friend from the Chinmaya Mission, who has decided to dedicate all his time to implementing the ideas of Chanakya.
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