Business Sutra is a book about doing business using the principles found in old Hindu, Jain and Buddhist stories. It is written by Devdutt Pattanaik, a physician who pursued his interest in myths and is now an authority on the using principles in Indian mythology for achieving success in business. In this book he attacks the modern Western notion, which he feels is deep rooted in the Greek and Biblical philosophies, that business management is all about setting objective goals and strategizing to achieve them. The book, in detail describe the ancient Indian way of doing business with a subjective vision and how it is effective even in today’s chaotic, unpredictable and intricate web like scenario. It details mostly every aspect of modern business, from finance to production to man management and tries to find solutions that are quite simple, but effective.
In the first chapter the author emphasize the importance of belief in a successful business. It also gives a background about the book, how it got written and what to expect from it. Second chapter tells us how the Western way of Business Management is evolved by feeding on the principles of ancient Greek and Biblical culture. It also gives a bird’s eye view on Chinese (and even Japanese) way of doing Business- based on principles of Tao, Confucius and Bodhisatva. Then it describes how these systems are totally different from the Indian way and why the propagators of these systems are bound to find the Indian method puzzling. After that in five sections Business Sutra is revealed to the reader.
The first section- Kama’s vision statement is about desire that is the root of all transactions and innovations. This is basically an introduction where the terminology and ground level concepts are revealed. Business is equated to a Yagna done in olden times. Yajamana who performs the yagna, gives his offering to a devata as Svaha. Devata, in-turn receives it and gives back his blessing as Thathastu. Svaha is the input that the business owner, Yajamana, invests and return to the investment is Thathastu. Devata is the customer or the person who receives the offering from Yajamana. The importance of goals is minimized and more emphasis is given to gaze. The next three sections describe the three levels of gaze that increases the chances of success progressively- Drishti, Divya Drishti and Darshan. Drishti is the way of Vasudev, who is the man of action and sought Lakshmi or wealth. Divya Drishti is the way of Chakrvarthi, who walks the path for Durga or power. Darshan is the path of Thirthankara who attains Saraswathi or knowledge.
The book is filled with interesting and uplifting stories from mythology. There also are highlighted examples from modern corporate environment that is relevant to the myths and principles described. But the major attraction is the pictures that are hand drawn which doubtlessly establishes the point author wants to emphasize. Business Sutra is a long book that needs a certain amount of time and effort invested to fully realize and utilize its potential. To be of good use, this book needs to be studied rather than just read. It may put off certain readers in its initial pages as the terminology can be confusing for starters.But once the ground work is over and the stories and myths starts, it becomes more and more engaging and interesting. I will definitely recommend all to read this book at least once as many of the principles can be useful in your life even if you are not associated with any kind of business.