Ayurvedacharya’s commentary on ‘life management’
Very recently, in fact just mid last week, I read a very interesting synopsis of a discourse or let’s call it a speech. It was delivered by an Ayurvedic scholar-- Ayurvedacharya. We will call him the guru, for the sake of brevity.
Generally not being inclined to any subjects in his area of expertise, after almost inadvertently browsing through the headline capturing the guru’s key message, I was about to switch to my favourite page. But somehow my eyes froze on the clipping. And there was nothing very attractive about the headline itself. In fact, it was a benign advice to the lawyers, in whose gathering this speech was made-appealing them to maintain their mental health in the face of intellectually challenging and intense environments they constantly work in.
But, something made me read the whole report. And good I read it!
Leave alone being any authority in spirituality, I can’t even claim to be a serious student of it! Yet, what was presented as a reportage of the speech set me thinking.
So, what was the essence of the speech?
The Acharya (guru) said that anna (food),vastra (clothing) and nivara (shelter)are the means of livelihood—mere living(he calls it ‘upajeevika’). And he further went on to say that prem (love),maya (affection),bhakti( devotion),shradhha (faith) and samadhan (contentment) are the means of life(he calls it ‘jeeviaka’ ).The readers already know that any word prefixed by ‘upa’ signifies subservience. Therefore, in this particular case, upajeevika is subservient to jeevika i.e. the guru is making a clear distinction between life and livelihood by denoting the latter as qualitatively subservient.
And, why did I get attracted towards what is seemingly a very basic, commonsensical thought?
Simply because, on the cursory reading, it looked like Abraham Maslow restated after good 60-70 years, but one more read and it actually made me think that what was being stated was quite different, more insightful than Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs!
Let’s quickly understand what Maslow said. He said humans have multiple needs and they keep getting those fulfilled in a hierarchical way. Basic(he calls them physiological) such as food, clothing, shelter and then moving up(in steps of hierarchy) all the way to self-actualization.
Very interestingly, Maslow goes with a surgical precision in defining needs at every stage, whereas our guru slots them into just two parts jeevika and upajeevika, as described above. To me though, two factor classification made by the guru is very profound, because he subtly applies the test of ‘quality’ to the way life is lived. Without saying it in so many words, he distinguishes two types of lives—one earned through employing basic means of livelihood and the other earned through qualitatively superior means such as love, faith etc.
Many thoughts crop up in my mind—some relevant (I think!) and some random(I’m sure!)!
1: Does the root of the way Maslow explains his theory lie in structured and logical manner in which generally any body of knowledge is developed in the western world?
2: Does the manner in which the guru explains his thoughts an obvious outcome of the way, we, in this part of the world, look at life?—with a holistic orientation that is multi-layered, multi-leveled and most importantly with a high degree of simultaneity of all the variables.
Although the two questions above have been structurally framed as questions, I’m sure, the readers have figured out that they indeed are statements!
3: Herzberg(another social scientist known for his two factor theory of motivation) makes a distinction between hygiene factors and motivators, while explaining the human motivational aspects. In short, his case is that while hygiene factors, by themselves, don’t provide motivation, their presence ensures ‘lack of dissatisfaction’—e.g pay—when pay is received by an employee on a pay-day, it doesn’t necessarily motivate him, but when it doesn’t happen, it is certainly dissatisfying for an individual. Whereas, growth and advancement, recognition for achievement are the motivators—i.e their presence itself leads to motivation and satisfaction.
Now the question: Is Herzberg going away from Maslow and going closer to our guru?
Answer, to my mind--‘yes’ and ‘no’. ‘Yes’, because Herzberg at least recognizes simultaneity of the variables. And ‘no’, because he still goes on to make a sequential classification by saying that hygiene factors at best keep de-motivation at bay but it’s only the motivators that have a positive impact.
Finally the moot point: I really find freshness of thought when our guru moves further to say that those who set their life-goal as upajeevika are surely in for leading an imbalanced life both from the physical health perspective as well as holistically. And on the other hand, those who pursue jeevika as their life-goal actually head for life-actualization!
I find this thought very interesting because the guru so easily and seamlessly transcends physical health issues to go into life actualization ones. Truly, a remarkable way of commenting on life with an ayurvedic orientation!
I don’t if all (or any!) of the above makes sense to the readers, but given my excitement about what I read, I couldn’t resist jotting my thoughts down—may be in pursuit of my self actualization!
As always, every comment from you is a welcome one!