By SANJEEV CHOPRA
The Isha Foundation and the IC&AS Association organised an online interaction of the members of the Association with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on 30 May, 2020. Sadhguru, as most readers would know, is a global thought leader who dwells seamlessly on an entire range of issues – from the rejuvenation of rivers to spiritual quest for seekers, immersion in social work as well as reinterpreting our past to understand how nations must have a civilisational, rather than a ‘power’ based perspective. And last, but not the least, his focus is not on the external world, but inner engineering.
Let me take the readers to the stimulating, spiritually enthralling, emotionally fulfilling conversation which and gave the members a sense of purpose and direction in these trying times of COVID. The panel from the IC&AS included Dr Milind Ramtek from the Tripura cadre, Balamurugan from Punjab, Vijaylakhsmi, who is currently with ISRO at Bengaluru, Kaushal Raj, the current DM of Varanasi, Rajesh Lakhani from the Tamil Nadu cadre and Amit Ghosh from UP.
He appeared on the screen with an impish smile and a Namaskar and reminded us that we were the ‘spine’ of the governance system. Not the head, not the heart – but the spine, which is strong, yet flexible, and which ensures that we can stand erect, take a leap, bend forward, or stretch the arms – depending on the current requirement. The spine for the body, as well as the nation, therefore, had to be strengthened to take the multiple challenges facing us as individuals as well as administrators.
Your columnist briefed Sadhguru about the motto of the Service, ‘Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam’, which is drawn from the 51st verse of the Bhagwad Geeta. The context is the description of a Sthitpragya: a person endowed with the wisdom of equanimity, who is firm in his thought and action under all circumstances. The ideal person is not swayed by every gust of wind: he is committed to excellence in action. Perfection in action is Yoga.
Sadhguru complimented the Service for having Yoga as an ideal, and also because this is what makes the Service so committed to action on the ground. He reminded us that Yoga is for Union – the understanding that we are part of the Universal and the Divine. If our action is directed not by any narrow, selfish or sectarian interests, we are actually performing Yoga. Yoga is not something out there… it’s not external. The most important issue for administrators is their ‘attitude’, for obviously while everyone cannot do everything, we must do everything that is within our remit. Sadhguru suggested that we should retain our sense of compassion for everything and everyone around us. The conversation then moved on the element of Trust, and Sadhguru pointed out that the colonial administration was built on ‘control’, rather than Trust, and that it was only recently that government had started believing its own citizens. Building Trust was therefore one of the most important elements of good governance. He urged upon the members of the Association to reach to the youth in educational institutions and talk to them about anything and everything. Like conversations in a family – the subject could be anything, it was the thought and the connect that was more important.
He also advised administrators, especially those at the cutting edge, to ensure that those who come in direct contact with the citizen – the dealing assistants and those on the facilitation desk – should realise they are dealing with citizens, not subjects. Officers had to be fully involved and immersed in their work – the sense of detachment is not from the job, but from the results thereof! Perceptions will follow the reality on the ground, and in any case we should be bothered about what is, rather than what is perceived!
What should be the hallmark of a good officer? Sadhguru put this quite succinctly. The purpose of life is to seek ‘profound experience’ and make a ‘meaningful impact’ in the positive sense. In fact, this is what makes us human!
Sadhguru then dwelt upon the distinction between an individual’s tryst with spiritual quest and ‘organised religion’. Sadhguru was quite clear and candid in his view that while the spiritual quest puts an individual in the direction of Truth and each individual has to find the Truth for herself, organised religion, especially those in the Semitic tradition, were based on a belief system in which Truth came in the form of a final commandment. For the individual seeker of Truth, the ultimate goal was Liberation or Mukti, and this could only be accomplished by the individual herself!
IC&AS proposed to have these engaged conversations at regular intervals, and your columnist will keep you posted about them.
(Sanjeev Chopra is an Indian Administrative Officer of the 1985 batch. He is currently the Director of the Lal
Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration,
Mussoorie. He is the honorary curator of a literary festival held annually in Dehradun.)