Bhagvad Gita & Leadership Effectiveness

The divine words emanating from the lotus lips of Lord Krishna are contained in Bhagavad-Gita. The glory of Gita is infinite, unlimited and immeasurable. No doubt, it has been termed as an epitome and embodiment of all scriptures culminating into Supreme action and knowledge (Sarva-Shastra- Mayee).

Authors: Dr. S.K.Tamotia, B.E. (Hons), ME, D.Engg (Hons), FIE, FISTD, FAIMA, FIIM, MICWA, MIPM, MIChE, MICA. Dean cum Director General & Vice Chairman, Bhavan’s Centre for Communication & Management, Bhubaneswar, Former CMD of Nalco , President & CEO of INDAL & HINDALCO.
Prof. R.N.Patnaik, B.Tech (Met), M.Tech (Hons) IIT, GDMM – Gold Medallist – IIMM, DIM, FIE, Chartered Engineer. Director (Marketing) & Associate Professor, Bhavan’s Centre for Communication & Management, Bhubaneswar.

The divine words emanating from the lotus lips of Lord Krishna are contained in Bhagavad-Gita. The glory of Gita is infinite, unlimited and immeasurable. No doubt, it has been termed as an epitome and embodiment of all scriptures culminating into Supreme action and knowledge (Sarva-Shastra- Mayee). Thus Gita, an unfathomable, infinite treasure house of boundless wisdom, is respected throughout the world. It states two paths for God realization i.e. the ultimate tranquillity of life which is the ultimate objective of every life. The two paths are the path of knowledge (Sankhyayoga) and the path of action (Karmayoga).

Hence, the easiest way to attain God is through continuous knowledge and dedicated selfless action. Perhaps, no other scriptures teach this essence of action and knowledge together for salvation.

Gita through its seven hundred verses, in eighteen chapters has explained various facets of leadership effectiveness like the qualities of a leader, superiority of selfless action and the inferiority of self –interested and self vested actions (chapter II). It explains what action is and what is inaction? The necessity and secrets of action for all human beings for survival including that for God himself, in the interest of the world order (chapter- III). The Gita also discusses Meditation ( Dhyanyoga) for attainment of Supreme peace for self control and self realization. Meditation is essential for all leaders and managers to enhance their effectiveness (Chapter –V). The important subject concerning mind-control has been discussed in Chapter VI. In chapter XVI, noble or Godly qualities and demonic qualities of human beings have been described and the respective fruits of these qualities are explained vividly. This will enable all to follow exemplary qualities for peace and prosperity in the social context and differentiate between good and bad, God and evil. Here, lust, anger and greed have been termed as three gates to hell. Last but not the least, the chapter XVIII describes the path of knowledge.

Who are leaders & Managers? The leaders and managers can be defined as those who are responsible for some activities executed in a perfect manner to be followed by others. They are:

  • Children of tomorrow.
  • Students & teachers.
  • Mothers & house wives.
  • Industrial managers & workers.
  • Reformers, writers, poets, artists & sports persons.
  • Administrators & lawyers.
  • Engineers, doctors, scientists & farmers.
  • All professionals & entrepreneurs. .

Now let us discuss what various challenges are before leaders / managers. The details below are not exhaustive but could be some to increase our effectiveness.

  • To manage growth of the organization & self.
  • To manage productivity, quality, speed, competitiveness, sustainability & social accountability of the organization.
  • To manage ambition & expectations of self and other workers.
  • To control mind & senses of self and others (emotions & anger).
  • To manage workers, higher ups & subordinates.
  • To manage self, time & stress for optimum output.
  • To motivate others & self for continuous quality output.
  • To manage family & society and remain happy throughout their existence.
  • To manage and contend external forces in and around the organization.
  • To manage environment and balancing the nature.
  • And so on …….!!!

Having understood, the various challenges, in this chapter we will discuss the following aspects of leadership and management.

  • Qualities of leader.
  • What is action & inaction?
  • Anger – the greatest enemy.
  • Expectation – the biggest De-motivating factor.
  • Motivation.
  • Control of mind.
  • Dedicating all actions to God & believe in suprem.


In order to be successful in life and to be an exemplary role model in the society, everyone of us must possess the qualities as prescribed in Gita. These qualities can be practiced in a simple manner once we understand the meaning and spirit of the same. This has been explained in Chapter- 16 - Vibhaga Yoga verse 2 & 3 - Divine & demonic qualities.

अहिंसा सत्यमक्रोधस्त्यागः शान्तिरपैशुनम् ।
दया भूतेष्वलोलुप्त्वं मार्दवं ह्रीरचापलम् ॥ १६-२॥
तेजः क्षमा धृतिः शौचमद्रोहो नातिमानिता ।
भवन्ति सम्पदं दैवीमभिजातस्य भारत ॥ १६-३॥

When Arjun asks Lord Krishna in the battle field as to what are the various qualities a stable minded person must have, the Lord Krishna explains: Non Violence, Truthfulness, Absence Of Anger, Sacrifice, Peace, Absence from malicious gossips, Compassion towards all creatures, Absence of attachments, Mildness, Sense of Shame while violating social norms ,Absence of frivolous pursuits ( Light hearted) , Vigor, Forgiveness, Righteousness, Purity , Loyal, Law abiding are the Godly qualities of leader or manager or God realized persons.

The Lord does not stop there while describing the GODLY qualities. Another extremely high philosophical definition was delivered on Action & Inaction in Chapter 4- verse 18– Karma, Sana’a Yoga, Knowledge, action & renunciation.

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः ।
स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् ॥ ४-१८॥

This means: One Who SEES ACTION IN INACTION and INACTION IN ACTION, is the wisest , as he has performed all sides of Actions.
On further analysis we find that while performing any action , we should analyze the various aspects of actions which have been ignored or left out ( for various reasons) . In case, some actions are ignored, then the total Action becomes In- action and not considered completed. This means an action must be planned meticulously and executed perfectly with full devotion so that the desired results can be achieved..
The action & in-action as said by Lord Krishna Confused Arjun and hence through Chapter -4 – verse 20 to 23, Lord Krishna clarifies the three significant definitions of actions.

त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः ।
कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः ॥ ४-२०॥
निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः ।
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ॥ ४-२१॥
यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः ।
समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ॥ ४-२२॥
गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः ।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥ ४-२३॥

This means : The three true definition of actions are :

  • Which is performed without Desire, Purpose, Hope, Greed, Fruit of Attachment & Confusion.
  • Which is Performed duly Contented, without Jealously, with knowledge, self controlled, liberated, in balanced Mind during Success & Failure .
  • Which is performed without attachment , Without Identification, with Knowledge of self, performed with sacrifice. Finally such Actions are dedicated to Supreme ( GOD, Nature & all Creation)

Hence, the definition of In-action is quite clear:

Which is performed with desire, purpose, hope, greed, expectation of result , attachment in a confused state of mind. performed not contented and happily , with jealous mind, without approval of conscious and not in balanced mind . Which is performed with materialistic attachment , identification of self & full with selfish motives.

2. ANGER :

Anger has been considered as the biggest enemy of a leader or a manager or even for a common man. We are aware that simple intolerant sarcastic angry words of Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, infuriated Duryodhan , the son of Dhritarastra. This led to Mahabharat War. The war between Rama and Ravana was due to great anger of Ravana to take revenge and Laxman to cut down nose of Ravans’s sister. The world war II was initiated by the angry Hitler and the Iraq – US war was started by angry Saddam Hussain and angry Americans.

The readers may appreciate here that:

  • Most crimes are committed by angry people for revenges.
  • Anger ultimately leads to social embarrassment & legal hassles.
  • t leads to war, fights and bloodshed.

Even great social reformers and philosophers have warned against Anger.
Lord Buddha : You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. How much more grievous are consequences of anger, than the cause of it.
Mahatma Gandhi : Anger &Intolerance are the enemies of in-correct understanding .
Einstein: Anger dwells only in the heart of fools.
Let us now discuss what Gita has to say about this important aspect through Chapter-2- verse 63 Sankhya Yoga ( Yoga of knowledge)

क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोहः सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः ।
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ॥ २-६३॥

This means, from Anger comes delusion or illusion; from delusion, loss of memory; from loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination; and from the destruction of discrimination, the man perishes. Gita has further termed lust , anger and greed as three gates of hell in chapter 16 verse 21.

त्रिविधं नरकस्येदं द्वारं नाशनमात्मनः ।
कामः क्रोधस्तथा लोभस्तस्मादेतत्त्रयं त्यजेत् ॥ १६-२१॥

This means, Triple is the gate of the hell, destructive of the self due to lust, anger and greed. Therefore, one should abandon these three vices.


Gita further analyzes that the main cause of Anger is attachments & desire through chapter-2 verse -62

ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते ।
सङ्गात्सञ्जायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ॥ २-६२॥

This means:
To a man, thinking about sense objects, their arises, attachment to them. From attachment, arises desire and from desire, arises anger against those who come in-between as hindrance. Even jealously may be a cause for anger.
Hence. the management theory today is love all –the poorest, the down trodden, your fellow workers and all you come across. Be compassionate and sensitive to their agony ,pain, sorrow & rejoice in their success and happiness. You must work for them as they are the means of your success.


As per Gita all should work without expectations and fear, because expectation leads to leads to frustration and unhappiness. Gita clearly states that, one who works without attachment, fear & anger, taking total refuge In ‘God’, purified by knowledge , he attains ‘God.

वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः ।
बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः ॥ ४-१०॥


Peace of mind & happiness is the ultimate objective of human existence. No one can give effective output without peace of mind. Therefore, in all religious scripts all activities are directed towards attainment of peace. Peace directs to happiness and containment. This is only possible through a stable mind. Gita vividly describes it through chapter -2, verse 66.

नास्ति बुद्धिरयुक्तस्य न चायुक्तस्य भावना ।
न चाभावयतः शान्तिरशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम् ॥ २-६६॥

This means :There Is no Self Judgment , when the mind is unsteady .The unsteady mind can not concentrate. Such unstable mind can not have peace, and without peace , how there can be happiness. (chapter-2-66)


Lord Krishna has been adjudged as the greatest motivator. In the battle field of Kurukshetra, Arjun refuses to fight the Kauravas , particularly Drona – his Guru, Bhisma – his grand father and other elders as he may commit sins. Krishna motivates him in Chapter II of Gita, that it is not a sin to kill elders as they have committed great sins by past deeds and deserve to be killed. Even the lord shows to Arjun in his Biswarupam that all those elders are already dead before they are killed. After lot of persuasions Lord Krishna , motivates Arjun to kill them. The Lord motivates him to perform his duties. He gives his own example .” There is nothing in this world for Him to do. He has nothing to attain which he has not attained. Yet he continues to work for maintaining the world order.” This has been explained through Chapter-3 verse 22.

न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन ।
नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि ॥ ३-२२॥

This means : He Arjun ! there is no duty in all the three worlds for ME to perform, nor is there anything worth attaining, which is unattained by ME ; yet I continue to work relentlessly.
Lord Krishna further explains Arjun that he must work only, without expecting any result or the fruit for his action. His attachments should not be cause of his inaction. This has been enumerated through chapter-2 verse 47 - Sankhya Yoga , the Yoga of knowledge.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥ २-४७॥

Lord Krishna motivates Arjun to do his duties by participating in the war with full dedication. Even if he dies while destructing the evil persons, he will be worshipped in the society. The mortal body may die but not the soul. Your soul can not be destructed , It is ever lasting and formless. Hence do not fear to do righteous things. If you do not perform righteous acts you will have to face destruction

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ॥ २-२३॥

This means :He ! Arjun , soul cannot be cut by weapons nor can fire burn it. It cannot be wet by water nor can wind dry it. The soul is ever lasting. II2.23II


Lord Krishna further motivates Arjun that he is a mare doer. All actions are performed by HIM. HE has already fixed the destiny of evil doers. Hence in this battle field , HE will do everything through Arjun only. HE manifests through him ( Arjun) and rescue the universe from the tyranny of wicked people possessing demonic disposition and protect innocent, weak , helpless, pious and virtuous souls . The wicked souls are those, who persecute innocent and virtuous men, and have vices like lying, hypocrisy, theft, adultery, amassing wealth by unfair means etc. This manifestation of God may be in any form. This aspect of the motivation is particularly relevant in the present day society which is badly effected by corruption, scams, exploitations, oppressions & suppressions, extortions, extremisms etc, amongst leaders, managers and people at high level. There is chaos everywhere and all over the globe. The humanity , animal world and other living things are at the risk of survival. Lord Krishna explains all these aspects through the verse 7 & 8 in chapter IV.

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥ ४-७॥
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥ ४-८॥

Meaning : Whenever, there is decline of righteousness, virtue and prevalence of vices, which destabilises the social order, then I manifest Myself to rescue noble souls by destructing evils..


Even after all these motivations and persuasions, Arjun is confused, whether Krishna is really a God incarnation or the GOD himself. Therefore, Lord Krishna exercises the last weapon of motivation with fear element. He shows His “Viswarupam” – the vision of cosmic form. He exhibits all his might and power to prove that HE is Omnipotent , Omnipresent & Omniscient. This is well depicted through verse 10 & 11 in chapter no 11 ) Visvarupadarsana Yoga– the vision of cosmic form)

अनेकवक्त्रनयनमनेकाद्भुतदर्शनम् ।
अनेकदिव्याभरणं दिव्यानेकोद्यतायुधम् ॥ ११-१०॥

दिव्यमाल्याम्बरधरं दिव्यगन्धानुलेपनम् ।
सर्वाश्चर्यमयं देवमनन्तं विश्वतोमुखम् ॥ ११-११॥

This means :Having many mouths & eyes, looking wonderful, decked with devine ornaments & garlands , holding many weapons, wearing all garments, sandal pastes all over body. Full with wonders, infinite having faces all around, cosmic In form – The Supreme God


Gita is a store house of knowledge. Hence, sharing of knowledge for the benefit of mankind is scripted as the best pious Karma. This is more significant in the present context as the people do not know what their leaders are doing. The managers do not share knowledge with their subordinates which could benefit the organizations.

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप ।
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ॥ ४-३३॥

This means : He ! Arjun , The Best Of All Sacrifices Is The Sacrifice Of Knowledge ( Sharing ). In Knowledge, Work & All Materialistic Sacrifices & Things Culminate (Chapter-4-33)


Gita has always stressed on Karma Yoga & Gyan Yoga. Performance of action has always been given the topmost priority and considered as the noblest. However, it has been observed on several occasions, even if a man has put all his sincere and dedicated efforts, he does not get the desired result which can benefit all in the society. Therefore, Lord Krishna tells Arjun that he should have total faith on him and should take refuge in him with all his followers as by doing this he will get supreme peace and GOD himself. Once a performer dedicates his mind, intellect and senses to GOD , he will achieve Brahmam which is truth, consciousness and bliss.

तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत ।
तत्प्रसादात्परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम् ॥ १८-६२॥

This means :He ! Arjun (Bharat) take total refugu in Him alone with all your being. By His mere grace you will attain Supreme peace and the eternal abode. II 18.62 II
Conclusion : Bhagvat Gita is a vast bottomless, unfathomable ocean of knowledge and wisdom, . The more we dive inside with patience and perseverance, we get precious gems of understanding truth , subconscious , self, true peace , actions and inactions help us in God realization or have qualities which are Godly in nature. According to Gita, actions prescribed can be performed balancing between Karma Yoga & Gyan Yoga. However, path of knowledge is not opposed to action. There is no place for action with vested or interested motive. Self realization leading to salvation ( Mokshya ) can be possible with the culmination of path of knowledge and the path of action (Karma Yoga & Gyan Yoga). At that point sub-conscious within is refined and ready to mix with the Supreme. Gita believes that all that exists is Brahma and Brahma alone and all other phenomenal existence is illusory and Brahma is nothing but embodiment of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss (Brahmabhutam). Hence, strong belief and practice in “Truth, Consciousness and Bliss” will take us a step closer to God realization.

In this complete study we have tried to stress on few verses which are relevant to present day leadership & system. Gita being a vast treasure house, it is not possible to describe in few pages the knowledge and wisdom contained in it. Hence, we be beg to be excused. The English translation of Sanskrit words have been taken from Swami Shivananda & Shankaracharya’s texts.




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