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ATI lecture

Induction program for IAS Officers


Administrative Training Institute Lecture
A very good morning to all of you. First of all, I must congratulate you for having been
accepted into the IAS cadre, which is the most exalted service in this country. Today onwards,
your induction program starts. I will be handling your first class, so to speak. In fact, the formal
inauguration of the induction program will begin after my class.
Let me begin by introducing myself. I was trained as a Mechanical engineer. I worked in
an Engg company before I joined the Ramakrishna Mission. I joined the Mission in a tribal center
in Karnataka, called Coorg. I am told there are some officers from Karnataka; they will appreciate
it when I say that Coorg, although a tribal area, is one of the most developed districts in that State.
Then I spent about four years in Belgaum, working to set up a brand new Mission center there
under the direction of a senior monk of our Order. That was a great learning experience. I am glad
to learn that the present DC of Belgaum is also here today in this program. Then I spent about 8
years in Arunachal Pradesh, running a school and a hostel. Since the last four years, I am serving
in the Polytechnic College at Belur Math. So much about me.
Now, about you all; let us all get one thing straight before I start my lecture. Each one of
you has sufficient life-experience, in some cases, much more than me! The topic I wish to talk
about is Motivation, dealing with stress & depression, and goal-orientation. Let us accept the
fact that each one of you has all these qualities in sufficient measure, and it is in recognition of
this fact that the Government of India has decided to confer IAS upon you all. So, let us not waste
time in trying to deal with those topics in the regular manner.

Introduction:
Yet, here I am, standing before you, ready to tell you something. What is that? I wish to
share some ideas with you all today. Of course, those ideas do deal with motivation, and stress &
depression management, and with being goal-oriented. But, I will be sharing some invaluable
experiences, mostly from my life, and some from the lives that I have observed keenly. Those
experiences will certainly help you in some way or the other.
You all have had many opportunities to observe at close quarters how other IAS officers
have conducted their work. You have been part of many such teams in your long career. You
would have certainly observed some exceptional qualities in some officers and also some
extremely mean behavior in some other cases. All of you have lot of such information stored in
your brains. These few days that you are under induction training, spend time in analyzing those
memories. I remember an incident from my days as a novice in Ramakrishna Mission. Once I was
discussing a particularly mean behavior of a senior monk with my Mohonto. Then I asked him,
why do monks behave like that? That Swamiji replied, You see, such things happen in your
presence only as a lesson for you. The Divine Power that runs this world gives you such exposure
with the hope that later on, when you become a senior monk like him, you will know what
behavior to avoid!
I propose to speak about four separate topics, all of them closely related to one another.

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Achieving goals:
Listen to a story. There was an absent-minded professor. Lost in some intricate
mathematical problem, he went out of his college, hailed a taxi and told the driver, I am in a big
hurry. I need you to drive as fast as you can. After some time, the professor asked the driver,
Hey, did I tell you where to go? The driver said, No sir. But I am driving as fast as I can! Such
is the condition of most teams. We put in all our energies and time and resources, and we dont
have a clue where we have to go. Bhagawan Buddha says, If you dont know where you have to
go, any road will do.

Dealing with stress, depression:


As administrators, the destiny of millions of people is in your hands. That is a huge
responsibility. There is a famous psychologist called Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He points out that
a mismatch between our responsibilities and our skills is what causes stress and freaks us out.
We had a revered monk called Swami Yatishwaranandaji. He would say Work never
killed anyone; worrying about work does. So there is a way of working such that we dont stress
out. Work can be enjoyable. It can be a rewarding experience. I say enjoyable and rewarding
because work done properly can be very transformative on us. That particular way of working can
be learned. The organization I represent, Ramakrishna Mission, has the secret of working in such
a way that it doesnt create stress in us. I will speak about that later on. What this ATI intends to
do is a part of that scheme; during the next few days, you will develop insights into some areas
that you will need for working in your fields. Many skills have been identified and they will be
imparted to you. Many of those skills you already have. Some more will be given here.
But I wish to point out that merely having the requisite skills for your particular work
does not prevent you from stressing out. Why? Lack of domain skills is just one factor that causes
stress in us. And Csikszentmihalyi points out only that one factor. Suppose a person is extremely
skilled in his area; he may yet experience intense stress. We see this happening regularly. Hence,
I have identified four important stressors, apart from lack of domain skills pointed out by
Csikszentmihalyi: Boss, Principles, Family, and Health.
You all have a boss. In most cases, it will be an elected MLA or Minister. There is also
your Department Commissioner or Chief Secretary above you. Now, these people could create
situations for you which stress you out unreasonably. Then there is the situation where, your boss
orders you to do something and that clashes with the principles you have. Your value-system
clashes with the value-system of your boss. These force-imbalances can create enormous stress in
us. You all know what I mean. Then there is the manner in which your Boss speaks with you, or
about you! Those words can hurt you very badly.
Then there is your family. The age you are all in, your children are grown up, and are
about to get settled. There is a daughter who has to be married, or a son who is planning to get a
job somewhere out of India. These are situations of great disruption in the even flow of family
life. There is no provision in your work place for accommodating these stressful situations of
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your personal life. No matter what happens in your home, your work will continue to make
unrelenting demands on you.
Lastly, there is your own health. As you grow old, problems set in. It is very natural. But,
it is also very frightening. When your regular medical check-up tells you that you have three
blocks which need to be operated, stresses can run very high!
Life has a habit of bringing all these stressful situations together! That is the hell of this
world.
Truly speaking, there isnt much to do regarding most of these situations. Let me assure
you, nobody in this world knows how to manage or avoid these stresses. Buddha and Swami
Vivekananda had them. The best psychologists and doctors had them. The richest men and the
poorest beggars had them. No one is free from stress in this world. You will just have to live with
most of them. That is because, the events of your life cannot be manipulated. There is however
one aspect on which we can do something. That is regarding facing criticism from our Bosses and
those around you.
Your boss says something mean to you. Now, if you get even, if you say something
equally mean or worse, a part of your ego will get satisfied. But that will be very costly! You
could lose the prize posting you now have and end up as Director of Dry Land Development
Board! Or worse, you could be kept on Compulsory waiting! On the other hand, if you dont
say anything, your inside starts hurting so bad, you feel like hell. Those words keep echoing in
your mind for days together! That is what causes stress! Continued stress leads to depression. If
only you could digest those harsh words, you would be normal again.
When I was serving in Belgaum Ashrama, there was a DG-IG of Police in Karnataka
called V V Bhaskar, who was a close friend of ours. One day, he told me, Swamiji, do you know
what happened today? I was engaged in some work in my office building and hence I was away
from my chamber. The Home Minister called. I wasnt there to answer his calls. He must have
called some three or four times. (You must remember that those were the pre-mobile days; we
depended on the land line.) Later when he called, I was in my seat. The moment he heard my
voice, he shouted at me, Where the hell were you? Grazing cows? (This Home Minister later on
went on to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka, and also an important Central Minister; as
such he is a fine man; but, bosses too have their own stresses that drive them crazy!) I replied,
Sir, I am an ordinary Government servant. I genuinely aspire to that job of grazing cows; that is
what Sri Krishnas associates did. When I heard this, I was thrilled! Look at the wonderful
manner in which this officer had learnt to digest such a bad comment. Now, this is something that
nobody teaches another person; if some one knows how to do this, he or she has certainly
discovered the way to do it all by oneself. This skill of how to digest criticisms and harsh
comments is a vital life-skill, which we must develop in order to have a good, sane, balanced life.
There was another IAS officer called S V Ranganath in Karnataka. He was popularly
called SVR. I used to meet him often regarding some land issues for our Belgaum Ashrama. He
was then Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister. He later retired as the Chief Secretary of that
State. He was a really amazing person I met in my life. I used to observe him day after day;
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meeting hundreds of people ranging from illiterate villagers to officers to powerful MLAs &
MPs. Never once did I see him lose his temper. Some people used to berate him very harshly. All
the anger they had on the CM or ministers or the Government, they would release on him! And he
would patiently digest it all, never losing his focus, always coming back to the central issue at
hand. One day, I asked him, How do you do this, Sir? His reply was unique. I in fact noted it
down, it was so good. He said, Every day morning I tell myself, you should be patient and
calm. People come to see you and talk about their problems. You should patiently listen. Do not
lose temper. You should be genuinely interested in their problems. You should be courteous and
understanding over the phone. You are in the office for the man who comes to get the job done.
You should be aware of your responsibility. Look at this technique! He said this to himself
every morning. I knew his family life too. He had many unresolvable problems. He had a
mentally retarded son called Ganesh. There was no peace at home; yet no one could tell how
disturbed he was on his personal front. At work, he was amazingly calm. We must understand
that nothing was bottled up in SVR. He had resolved those conflicts within. That is what we want.
Notice how focused SVR was on the person who would come to meet him. That is one
common quality we find in great leaders. They are like the lion which is about to hunt. If you
observe it, you will find all its senses focused on the prey; the lion doesnt bother itself with
anything else; nothing disturbs it at all. All its muscles are tight and it is wholly concentrated on
the movements of the animal it is going to hunt. That kind of focus, with no distractions, is what
leads to a stress-free life.
Listen to an interesting incident. You know, monks also get old and get retired from
active life. Of course, we dont have a fixed age limit like you all have; but we too retire. When
monks retire, there are some places designated to house them. We call them Arogya Bhavan.
There is one such Arogya Bhavan in the outskirts of Bangalore. I used to go there often since I
knew the Mohonto of that place well, Swami Raghaveshanandaji. His pre-monastic name is
Shankar Maharaj. He was a very positive minded person, always happy, always cheerful. One day
he and I were sitting in his office, talking about something. Behind me was the door to his
chamber. In came an old Swamiji, Swami Vibudhanandaji. You know how old people are
cranky, restless, and unhappy. It is difficult to deal with them. He came in and directly asked the
Mohonto, Hey Shankar, tell me, are you happy here? Instantly, Raghaveshanandaji replied,
Oh, the Divine Mother has kept me very happy here! There was genuineness in his reply. Then
Vibudhanandaji shouted at him, Headquarters did not send you here so that you could be happy.
They sent you here to keep me happy! Remember that! Saying this, he walked out.
Now, this old Swamiji was able to spell it out. Most people who come to meet you in
your office do not spell it out. But that is the idea!
When I was working in L&T, I used to meet a wonderful Engineer called Jitendra Kumar
(popularly known as JK). He was the General Manager of that factory. He later retired as the VP
of L&T. I had to go to his chamber many times a week, for various discussions. The first time I
went in, he was busy and I waited on a chair before him. I saw that the name plate on his table
was turned towards him. So, the name was facing him and I was seeing the backside of that
nameplate. I turned it around. Then we talked and I came out. After some days, when I went in
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again, I noticed that the nameplate was again placed wrongly. I rectified it. Yet again in my third
visit, same thing happened. I asked him, Sir, someone is placing your nameplate wrongly. It is
always kept facing you. What he said took me by surprise. He said, I myself keep it that way. I
asked him why. He said, You see, Ravi; you came in to meet me; you already know that I am the
GM here; you simply cannot afford to forget that fact! But, sometimes, during the course of the
day, I forget that I am the GM! So, I need to be reminded about that!

Motivating others: (Domain knowledge)


Moving over to our next topic, how to motivate others. Again, as I said in the beginning,
you all have a life time of experience leading teams, being part of teams, egging others on,
infusing enthusiasm in your subordinates. I dont need to tell you much there.
I wish to highlight just two points here: Compassion & inter-cultural understanding.
What do I mean? I will try to explain to you through some stories and incidents.
During the American War for Independence in the 1770s, George Washington was the
leader of the team that fought against the British for independence. Once, the whole team was
travelling on horseback. George Washington led the group. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas
Jefferson, James Adams, and other great persons were there. At one point, they reached a river
which had to be crossed. At the bank of that river was an old lady who also wanted to cross the
river. George Washington looked at her for a moment, then led his horse forward, and crossed the
river. Others followed suit. At last came Jefferson. When he came to the bank, that old lady asked
him to carry her across. Jefferson put her up on his horse, crossed the river, and put her down.
George Washington had watched this entire thing. He went up to the old lady and asked her, Hey
lady, I too saw you at the river bank; so did many others; but you asked Jefferson for the ride;
why? Why didnt you ask any of us? The old lady didnt know who they were. She clearly
replied, Well, I looked at each one of you in the eye. Each one of you had great resolve in your
eyes. I knew you were on some important mission. But, I saw compassion for an old lady only in
this gentlemans eyes.
Just look at this! The others in the group Washington, Benjamin Franklin & others
too were very great people, very compassionate. Just read the Preamble to the American
Constitution they wrote, to understand this point. Yet, the poor old lady discerned compassion
only in Jeffersons eyes. This is something you all will need to develop specially.
Many people will come to you for various kinds of help and assistance. Are you sure you
are not putting them off? The way you dress, the way you carry yourself, the way you arrange
your office, the very look in your eyes do they welcome the common man, or do they put them
off? No one will tell you in so many words, but this is the fact. Many people will not like to
approach you. Why? Are you a bad person? No. It is the way you bear yourself. There is a sense
of greatness around you. Take special care to cultivate this Thomas Jefferson kind of
personality, so that the common man will feel like approaching you, will open up to you about his
problems.

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I told you I joined Ramakrishna Mission at a tribal center called Ponampet in Coorg
district of Karnataka. That place is a strange place. There are two categories of local people there.
One is the filthy rich coffee-estate owners. The other is the BPL coffee-estate workers. The
Mohonto Swamiji had a habit of sitting outside the temple after the evening Arati. Many of these
local coffee estate workers would come by and meet him and talk to him. Now, this revered
Swamiji had many devotees spread all over the world. One such devotee had gifted him a
beautiful Persian foot rug. You know how those things are a riot of bright colors, and exquisite
designs. I thought I would put that foot rug on the floor before his chair so that he could use it
when he meets his evening audience. He came by that evening, saw the new, colorful foot rug, sat
down and called out to me to change the foot rug on to the other side. Now, you should know that
although those Persian rugs are very beautiful on one side, they look hideous from the other side!
So, I thought the Swamiji did not know this and tried to enlighten him on this matter. He simply
cut me short and said, Look here Ravi, these are simple village folk who come here to meet me;
if they see such a costly foot rug here, tomorrow onwards they will slowly stop coming here. So,
do as I ask you to; change it on the other side so that it doesnt look so gaudy. This feeling for
the common man in that revered monk was a great eye opener for me!
Let me tell you one more incident. This happened when I was in Aalo in Arunachal
Pradesh. During my tenure in Aalo, I saw some seven or eight DCs; all wonderful officers. Some
of them were tribal officers; some were non-tribal officers, who came from other parts of the
country. Since the DC of Aalo was Ex-officio Chairman of our Managing Committee, I got close
to all of them. There was one particular officer, a very young IAS officer, who was from Jaipur,
Rajasthan. He was a man with a great heart, wonderful ideas and genuine motive for helping the
backward people of Aalo. He was a young man; so he naturally had his own ideas of what
development means. Once he got the idea of renovating his DCs office and giving it the typical
modern IT office look. He discussed this idea with me too. I told him frankly that it was not such
a good idea, for obvious reasons. The common Arunachali would be put off in such plush
surroundings. Instead I suggested him to have two portions in his renovated office one part
which would be traditional, and the other which would be modern. In the traditional part, he
would meet the local people and in the modern part he would hold his meetings and receive
outside guests. But he lectured me on how we must not water down development for the tribal
people and that they too deserved the best and stuff like that. Like I said, his motives were beyond
doubt exceptionally good. Then what happened is there was once a brief fight between two
tribes and the problem reached the DC. There were hartals and protests before his office. A
person of one tribe had died in the fight and those tribals wanted to bury that body inside the DC
office compound! One thing led to another and the angry mob rushed into the DCs office. There
they destroyed most of the glass tables and leather chairs. The DC was livid! After it had all
cooled down, when he was discussing the events with me, I told him softly that this act of
vandalism was not about the unruly nature of the people; it was their way of expressing
unhappiness about the disconnect that the ultra-modern architecture depicted! He did not agree,
but I still hold that to be the case.
It is essential to try and understand the cultural biases we ourselves entertain within
ourselves. It is also essential to try and understand the cultural modes of the people we are meant

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to serve, and the people we are meant to work with. I consider these two things as indispensable
domain knowledge in administrative officials, in any organization.
When I was in L&T, one of the projects I worked in was the Bokaro Steel Plant
modernization. It was a grand project with technical knowhow from VAI, Germany. My company
was the project coordinator. We had bagged the entire modernization order from SAIL and we
had sub-contracted parts of the work to certain other companies who were experts in their own
fields. Hindustan Construction Corporation was hired to take care of the civil construction.
Rexroth was hired for the thousands of miles of critical hydraulic piping. ABB was hired for the
instrumentation part. I handled the project coordination meetings twice a day with engineers from
all these companies on site. After a couple of months of work, the ABB guys came in. In the first
project coordination meeting after ABB joined us, I placed a plan I had drawn up for the next
course of action before the whole team. Everyone agreed on the plan except the ABB engineer.
He was an elderly person, with a very sweet smile. But he smilingly disagreed with my plan. I
excused myself and came back with an alternate plan. That too was perfunctorily cut down by the
ABB guy. I was a young, inexperienced engineer, without much imagination. I was feeling highly
stressed. I called up my boss in Calcutta. His name was Mr. Nilanjan Roy. I told him my
predicament. Then I requested him for a strange favor. I asked him to use his influence and get
ABB to send another engineer in this persons place! Such steps are not uncommon in project
implementation. Mr. Roy assured me he would look into it. After sometime he called me back
and asked me the name of that ABB engineer. He was a Sri Lankan gentleman. I told his name.
Then, very interestingly, Mr. Roy asked me if that engineer had expressed his disagreement with
me through words or through gestures. A very strange question, because only when he asked me
this question did I think about it. Yes, the ABB guy had vigorously shaken his head; no words
were exchanged. Mr. Roy scolded me and said that the poor guy had all along expressed his
agreement, for Sri Lankans always express consent by shaking their head from side to side! Now,
who would have imagined such a reversal of signals!
You would have thought I would have learnt my lessons at Bokaro. But no. I committed
that same mistake yet again when I was in Aalo. I was a monk now. I looked after the school
there, as I said before. In the beginning days at Aalo, one day I caught a boy smoking in the
school toilet. I brought him to my office and scolded him severely. All through, I found him
looking at the blank wall, avoiding eye contact with me. I repeatedly asked him to look at me, but
he would continue to look at the wall. Such defiance! I was upset over the whole incident. What
place had I come into? Young boys are so defiant. How would I work here? That evening, I was
talking to a guardian of another boy in the hostel about some other issue. I told that gentleman
about the behavior of the boy in the school. You know what that gentleman told me? Arre,
Swamiji, why do you think that was defiance? That boy did the right thing! In our culture here,
we do not look at our elders in the eye! Looking in the eye to elders is defiance!
That is the reason I raise this point here today. Agreed we all have sufficient life
experience, but this cultural bias runs really deep. Unless we learn to free ourselves of this terrible
bias, we really cant function effectively as administrators.

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Motivating Self: (The secret of working)


So much about dealing with stress & depression, being goal-oriented and about
developing vital domain knowledge; Now, I wish to talk to you about the other issue that I hinted
at in the beginning of my class today how to motivate oneself?
Why is this even becoming an issue? You are all self-motivated enough, or else, the
Government of India would not have selected you all to be IAS officers. Yet, deep within your
hearts, you all know how things are. There is a continuous conflict raging there; a continuous
fight. If given a very good deal, many would like to take VR or something like that and be Free
of the enormous pressure of work! Why is that so? You all put in more than an honest days
work, much beyond the expected 8-10 hours; and that too for years after years. Yet, at the end of
the day, most of you need relaxation; you need to go to the Club and have a peg of whiskey!
Why is that so?
Let me tell you what is happening here: this whole problem arises because of our present
conception of work. We all work. What is this work that we do? Our present conception of
work comes from a couple of great thinkers of the 18th & 19th century. Karl Marx, Adam Smith,
Jeremy Bentham, etc. all gave some ideas about work that human beings do. And we have
accepted those ideas and have created a society based on those ideas. And see where we are
today! We are a mess today only because we have accepted their ideas without any introspection.
Of course, the philosophies that these great ones espoused are all at loggerheads with one another.
Marxs Communism and Smiths Capitalism are exact opposites, superficially. Yet their ideas
about work are uncannily similar. What is that? Every work that man does can be converted into
money! That is the idea. If the work we do cannot be converted to money, we feel cheated. We
lose motivation for work if what we do does not translate into money. Of course, it could also be
something else like public recognition or brownie points from our Boss. But, it is always about
getting something else from someone else for the work we do! That is what is motivating us
today and it doesnt always happen. That is the problem. There is so much work we do that
nobody finds out about; you simply cant encash that!
You will recall that I had told in the beginning today that I represent an organization that
holds the secret of work, a special kind of working that makes you free. That is the conception of
work that Swami Vivekananda gave to us. He said, Every work that man does has at least two
aspects to it; one aspect of it can be converted to money; get that portion of your work converted
into money and use that money; we need money too for daily life; but there is that other portion
of work that you do which cannot be converted into money; what purpose does that portion of
work serve for us? If you learn the technique, you can convert that portion into developing
something inside you called variously as Character or Personality or Spirituality.
Listen to a story and you will understand what I am trying to express.
A young Sannyasin went to a forest; there he meditated, worshipped, and practiced Yoga
for a long time. After years of hard work and practice, he was one day sitting under a tree, when
some dry leaves fell upon his head. He looked up and saw two birds fighting on the top of the
tree, which made him very angry. He said, What! How dare you throw these dry leaves upon my
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head? With these words he angrily glanced at them, and a flash of fire went out of his head
such was the Yogi's power and burnt the birds to ashes. He was very glad, almost overjoyed at
this development of power he could burn the birds by a mere look. After a time he had to go to
the town to beg his food. He went, stood at a door, and said, Bhavati Bhiksham Dehi. A voice
came from inside the house, Wait a little, my son. The young man thought, You wretched
woman, how dare you make me wait! You do not know my power yet. While he was thinking
thus the voice came again: Boy, don't be thinking too much of yourself. There is no bird here
that you can burn! He was astonished; still he had to wait. At last the woman came, and he fell at
her feet and said, Mother, how did you know that? She said, My boy, I do not know your
Yoga or your practices. I am a common everyday woman. I made you wait because my husband
is ill, and I was nursing him. All my life I have struggled to do my duty. When I was unmarried, I
did my duty to my parents; now that I am married, I do my duty to my husband; that is all the
Yoga I practice. But by doing my duty I have become illumined; thus I could read your thoughts
and know what you had done in the forest. If you want to know something higher than this, go to
the market of such and such a town where you will find a Vyadha (The lowest class of people in
India who used to live as hunters and butchers.) who will tell you something that you will be very
glad to learn. The Sannyasin thought, Why should I go to that town and to a Vyadha? But after
what he had seen, his mind opened a little, so he went. When he came near the town, he found the
market and there saw, at a distance, a big fat Vyadha cutting meat with big knives, talking and
bargaining with different people. The young man said, Lord help me! Is this the man from whom
I am going to learn? He is the incarnation of a demon, if he is anything. In the meantime this
man looked up and said, O Swami, did that lady send you here? Take a seat until I have done my
business. The Sannyasin thought, What comes to me here? He took his seat; the man went on
with his work, and after he had finished he took his money and said to the Sannyasin, Come sir,
come to my home. On reaching home the Vyadha gave him a seat, saying, Wait here, and
went into the house. He then washed his old father and mother, fed them, and did all he could to
please them, after which he came to the Sannyasin and said, Now, sir, you have come here to see
me; what can I do for you? The Sannyasin asked him a few questions about soul and about God,
and the Vyadha gave him a lecture which forms a part of the Mahabharata, called the VyadhaGita. It contains one of the highest flights of the Vedanta. When the Vyadha finished his teaching,
the Sannyasin felt astonished. He said, Why are you in that body? With such knowledge as yours
why are you in a Vyadhas body, and doing such filthy, ugly work? My son, replied the
Vyadha, no duty is ugly, no duty is impure. My birth placed me in these circumstances and
environments. In my boyhood I learnt the trade; I am unattached, and I try to do my duty well. I
try to do my duty as a householder, and I try to do all I can to make my father and mother happy.
I neither know your Yoga, nor have I become a Sannyasin, nor did I go out of the world into a
forest; nevertheless, all that you have heard and seen has come to me through the unattached
doing of the duty which belongs to my position.
So, the technique is sacredness & disinterestedness with respect to work. These two
ideas need a lot of attention from all of us. We are all workers. This idea of sacredness has to be
brought into the work we do. Yes, we need to feel that the work we do is sacred. You may
wonder - what sacredness is there in these lifeless Government processes that you will be
working out? We can understand sacredness associated with a temple or an Ashrama. The work

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done in a temple, puja and other things, or work done in an Ashrama, seva, lectures on spiritual
topics, and other things, those are sacred. But, how can this dry work done in a Government
Office be sacred? Some other time, I will go deep into the detailed philosophy of this issue and
explain it to you. For now, know this for sure, that if you cannot bring in the idea of sacredness
into the work you do in your workplace; your life will forever remain unfulfilled.
I used to go to the Government Secretariat in Karnataka, called Vidhana Soudha for our
Belgaum Ashrama work. I used to marvel at a statement written in golden words over that
building. Governments work is Gods work. Those words are written on that building. Just
look at the conception of work here!
Now, let me say something about that other requisite unattached work. What is that? Is
it callousness? I will do what needs to be done; even if it is going to send thousands into problem,
I will do it; why? I am unattached to the work, you see! Every act of the Devil will seem to be
unattached work!
I will explain this concept through a favorite story of mine.
There was once a king whose close friend was a monk. This king, as you all can
understand, had a very stressful job. Indeed, what job can indeed be more stressful than that of an
all-powerful, absolute monarch? So, one day he went to meet his friend the monk in the forest
and told him, I am fed up with running this kingdom. I have decided to renounce it all and go
somewhere and live a low-key, peaceful life. The monk commented, Is that so? Well, let me
seeyou must certainly have made provisions for your successor? The king had made no such
arrangement. His own son was but a small boy. But he was planning to choose someone from his
large kingdom so that he could hand over its reins and be free. However, since he was a
conscientious king, who took his kingship very seriously, there was a nagging fear that he might
not get the right kind of successor who would care for his immense kingdom just the way he had
done all these years. The monk understood all this. He volunteered, Say, why dont you gift your
kingdom to me? The king was overjoyed. Where could he get a better successor than his closest
friend?! So, he gave away his kingdom to the monk. There was a visible relief on the kings face
now. The monk asked him, Where will you go now? What is your next plan? The king said,
Well, I will now go to my palace, take some money, go to a neighboring kingdom. I know many
trades. I will earn my livelihood there. The monk stopped him, Hey, wait. Did you say my
palace just now? Remember that the palace, along with everything in the kingdom is now mine!
The king was indeed taken aback. Yes, what the monk said was indeed true. Without another
word, he turned and was about to go away when the monk stopped him and said, Say, my friend,
you said you are ready to go elsewhere and do some job and earn your living. What do you say if
I offer you a job right here? This was indeed acceptable and he agreed. Then the monk said,
Well, you see, I have just come upon this huge kingdom. I am a monk. I live according the voice
in my soul. I need a trust-worthy man to look after this beautiful kingdom on my behalf. You
have sufficient experience in running kingdoms. Say, I will fix a certain amount as salary for you.
Why dont you run this kingdom on my behalf? The king readily agreed. Thus he went back to
his palace and went about managing his kingdom exactly the same way as it was before. A month
later, the monk came to meet the king in the palace. He asked the king, How are you? Are you
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facing any problems now? The king now replied, I am doing fine. Problems, yes, of course there
are; but I and my team of ministers keep solving them on your behalf.
This is exactly how it happens when we start involving God in our daily activities. The
load of our responsibilities then rests on the Lord just as the load of running the kingdom now
belonged to the monk. The kings mind was now free to face the problems and solve them as and
when required. That is the way to work in an unattached way.
I will bring my class to an end here. Just before I began my class, these two Officers from
Manipur asked me, Why did Ramakrishna Mission take so long to come to our State? I had
promised them that after my class, I would answer them. You see, when Jesus Christ wanted to
build his Church, he called aside one of his trusted disciples and said, Look here, you will form
the stone on which I will build my Church. In Greek, the word for stone is Petrus. Therefore
that disciples name became St. Peter. So, until Jesus found his Peter, he too couldnt do much.
Similarly, Ramakrishna Mission waited till its worthy students from Manipur studied in its
wonderful schools in Deoghar and Purulia and Narendrapur, and became IAS officers. Then,
when those St. Peters were ready, the Mission started constructing its edifice in Manipur.
I am happy I could talk to you all about some ideas very dear to me. I wish each one of
the very best in your new assignments. May our country benefit from your conscientious work.
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