Deciphering Scriptures to Decode Skill Development

Deciphering Scriptures to Decode Skill Development

Deciphering Scriptures to Decode Skill Development

India was known as ‘the Golden Sparrow’ in ancient times as appropriately echoed by Mark Twain in his quote, “The birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday’s bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations – the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined”. In addition to being wealthy and prosperous, India’s socio-economic progress was at its peak. According to economic historian Angus Maddison, in his book “Contours of the World Economy”, India had the world’s largest economy during the years 1 AD and 1000 AD.[1]

Reference to the history of the above era and beyond helps decode skill development.

Writing this blog impassioned the following core concepts:

1) Concept of Svadharma (one’s own nature) as per one’s guna (attributes) combination and preponderance of one guna over the other.

2) Leader-making approach of the Arthashastra.

3) Developing the intellect.

4) Entrepreneurship development.

The concept of gunas (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) being our material cause is extensively written in our scriptures (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Arthashastra etc.). It takes a philosophical bend when one ponders over it and contemplates on its essence teachings. For a layman it is important to know that Sattva in us helps us to know things (illuminating factor), Rajas in us helps to carry on our activity and Tamas is the holding factor.[2] We all have a preponderance of one of these three gunas, which becomes our inherent nature.[3] Bhagavad Gita, Vedanta and Arthashatra emphasize that our primary duty is to find this inherent nature. The Scriptures also warn us that if one does Paradharma (work opposite to or other than our inherent nature), it will retard progress.[4]

1)  Concept of Svadharma

Schooling in ancient India followed the Guru-Shishya Parampara (where teachers taught students in gurukul). “Gu” means darkness and “Ru” means light. So, “Guru” may be translated as one who leads from darkness to light. The Guru is a teacher who steers the student’s life from ignorance to wisdom and shows the path to enlightenment. The conditioned mind is subject to distortion and blind spot which when left to ourselves, we often lean towards imbalance. The perspective of a teacher helps us to see our limiting patterns as well as our full potential. The teacher’s main duty is to give proper infrastructure for the Svadharma to manifest. Our experience proves we need no motivation to do what we really like and hence when we take up jobs in accordance to our Svadharma, we excel in it. The key take away therefore is that our schools should provide infrastructure and good opportunities for students to explore various dimensions of their personality and figure out their inherent nature.

Teachers should play a primary role to help them in their endeavor. Technology can be supplementary. To adhere to Svadharma is a socio-economic task and once known it should be nurtured and given a direction. Micro level prosperity will then lead to macro level development. This inherent quality, when polished, is skill. Skill development should empower people to optimize their capacity, creativity, boost future innovation, lead to work satisfaction, increase in productivity, encourage investment, lower unemployment and under employment thereby reducing inequalities. Without skill development human resource can be a liability to a nation rather than being an asset. Today’s education demands a unique mix of the ancient Indian school pattern along with the modern methodology of instruction complemented by a state of art infrastructure. Once the Svadharma is identified, consistency and dedication to one’s job will ensure excellence. The sutra or the formula for this excellence is elaborated in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (1.14).[5]

2) Leader-making approach of Arthashatra

Currently India is one of the largest populated countries in the world and our main natural resource is our people. Unfortunately, either their potential is greatly under-utilized or completely unutilized. Skill development is the key to unlock that untapped potential. Imperatively, the Indian education system has to emphasize the exploration of the rich Indian traditions in strategic thinking.

Arthashastra is one such ancient text that is a rich treasure of strategic thinking. Written in Sanskrit by Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, around 321 B.C. in Magadha, it deals with issues of state, society, economy, administration, law and justice, internal security, defence, diplomacy, foreign policy and warfare. Divided into 15 books, it has 6,000 sutras. The Arthashastra is a practical manual of instruction for the kings. The duties of a king and the leadership qualities described in the Arthashastra are relevant even for today’s leaders.

The Arthshastra helps us understand Kautilya from the point of view of a  Kingmaker. He was credited for masterminding the defeat of Nanda dynasty and Alexander in India. He coined the concept of a Nation. Qualities of a leader, his daily routine, training program, study schedules etc. are written very elaborately in the text. The need of the hour is to have good leaders who can draft and implement suitable policies to eradicate unemployment.

It is important to take such texts to our younger generation as it accentuates Shravan, Manan and Niddhidyasan (study, reflect and practical application). By doing this, information is churned into knowledge which when applied becomes wisdom. Radhakrishnan Pillai authored Chanakya’s 7 secrets of leadership, which is a good adaptation of the Arthashatra, where a leadership model is explained in the modern-day context.[6]  Drawing inspiration from the ancient Indian wisdom, the Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership (CIPL) aspires to train future leaders.[7]

3) Developing the intellect

Man has 3 tools: Body, mind and intellect. The body is like a vehicle for action. Mind is the seat of impulses, feelings and emotions; and the intellect, that of discriminative knowledge, reasoning and analytical thinking. In most of the human beings the intellect is reined by the mind. Such a person oscillates in the range of likes and dislikes and hence is in a constant flux. But a person who has reined the mind  is the one who is capable of problem solving. People who are not caught in the holocaust of the mind are the need of the day.

Skill development finally boils down to self-management as mentioned in  Vedanta. Linking education and skill development is very important. Extended schools can help gain various skills. Problem-solving approach has to be developed and logic and reasoning abilities enhanced rather than rote learning. Intellectual development should begin early in life. The education system should encourage curiosity in children, develop the art of thinking and reflecting on what is taught. Emotions and feelings though important should not influence and dictate over reason and logic. The Vedanta academy aspires to adopt a liberal approach to develop the intellect of the youth.[8]

4) Entrepreneurship Development

Entrepreneurship is a vital economic activity today. We need visionaries so that we can generate jobs for our fast-growing population. Entrepreneurs should start “Skill development” programs to minimize unemployment. Many more platforms have to be created, as career ladders are not the same any more. Critical thinking skills are very important. Due to globalization and technological advancement, time and space is no more a limitation to find the right job, provided one is skilled. Collaborative research is picking up. Cultural competencies, ready to adjust and adapt are the order of the day. Character building is the need of the hour. Entrepreneurs should be good at SWOT Analysis i.e. spotting the strengths and weakness of  his/her team and be foresighted about the future opportunities and prepare to face the threats. This will help anticipating and delivering new and different skills that will be needed in the future. The Swaraj University seeks to focus on self-designed learning programs to explore basic business skills.[9]

It is of utmost importance today to motivate students to be entrepreneurs rather than employees. Holistic and integrated approach of skill development should be included to smoothen the transition from college to work stage. The barriers demarcating different disciplines are breaking and hence open system, freedom to choose subjects, design courses etc. should be incorporated in our education policy. Higher education in India is at crossroads. an reforms in education have become urgent.

Thus, the four points elaborated above, sourced in our Scriptures, if recognized and implemented in sincere earnest will definitely lead to Skill Development and consequently to Economic Prosperity.



[1]Madison, Angus (2007). Contours of the world economy, essays in macro-economic history. pg. 379.

[2] Arnya Hariharananda Swami (2012). Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati, pg.18.

[3] Parthasarthy A. (2010). Governing business and relationships, pg. 37.

[4] A. Parthasarathy (2011).Bhagvad Gita, pg. 250.

[5] Swami Veda Bharati (1986) Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with the exposition of Patanjali. pg.202.

[6] Pillai Radhakrishnan (2014), Chanakyas 7 secrets of leadership, pg. 2.




PalmSutra – Patanjali Yogasutras in 4 Hours – UDEMY Course

PalmSutra – Patanjali Yogasutras in 4 Hours – UDEMY Course

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Decoding the Patanjali Yogasutras with the Movie ‘Inside Out’

Decoding the Yoga Sutras – ‘Inside Out’.

Patanjali Yogasutras with Inside Out. This paper attempts to decode glimpses of the ‘Yogasutras of Patanjali’ one encounters while watching the movie ‘Inside Out’. In order to appreciate this paper, it is important that the reader knows the Patanjali Yogasutras adequately and has seen the movie as well.

Yogasutras Of Patanjali:

The Yogasutras, widely regarded as the authoritative text on yoga, is a collection of 195 aphorisms compiled by sage Patanjali. These “threads” (as sutra translates from Sanskrit) of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.

It is divided into 4 chapters. The first chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras has 51 sutras and mainly focusses on Samadhi and hence the name – Samadhi Pada. The second chapter contains instructions for practice and is called as Sadhana Pada containing 55 sutras. The third chapter instructs us about the progression of our practice and is named as Vibhuti Pada containing 55 sutras. Finally, the fourth chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is about liberation and hence appropriately called as Kaivalya Pada containing 34 sutras.

The movie- ‘Inside Out’

‘Inside Out’ is a 2015 American, 3 Dimensional, animated comedy- adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The film was directed by Pete Docter. The film is set in the mind of a young girl named Riley Andersen, where five personified emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust —try to lead her through life as her parents move from semi urban Minnesota to San Francisco.

Docter first began developing ‘Inside Out’ in 2009, after noticing changes in his daughter’s personality as she grew older. The film’s producers consulted numerous psychologists who helped analyse the story by highlighting the neuropsychological findings that human emotions affect interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them. The film received several awards, including a BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, Critics’ Choice Award, Annie Award, Satellite Award, and Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. In 2016, the film was named as the 41st best film of the 21st century, from a poll of 177 film critics from around the world.

Summary of the movie

Riley, a young girl leads a pretty good life, with her adoring parents, participating in hockey etc. She loves Minnesota, her home state. When she is uprooted from her mid-western lifestyle and moved to the busy and chaotic San Francisco, her emotions; Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and (her most key emotion) Joy, start to disagree on how to deal with this dramatic change, which causes problems up in Headquarters, the central working place for the five emotions.

She needs her emotions to guide her through her new school, new people, and new life. But, an accident involving Riley’s happy memories changes her entire outlook. Joy and Sadness need to find her memories and return them to the Headquarters before it’s too late. Joy and Sadness disappear, symbolizing her difficulty accepting her new life. Joy and Sadness go on a quest to return home and save Riley.

All of us have several brain functions that govern our response to various situations. The functions responsible for Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust are characterized and the details of the activities they do to run the life of young Riley right from her birth is what drives the story. When a sudden change in the life or Riley upsets their rhythm, they try to control the situation too much, which creates more confusion for Riley. Their adventures in an attempt to restore normalcy is what forms the crux of this movie.

Comparing ‘Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali’ and the movie ‘Inside Out’

The opening statement in the movie is “Do you look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head” and as a yoga sutra student one can find answer to this in the sutra no 3.19 (प्रत्ययस्य पर चित्त ज्ञानम्॥३.१९). There are many interesting parallels we can draw while watching this movie. Some of which are as follows.

The main protagonist of the movie is this girl named Riley. As soon as she is born, her parents say “You are a bundle of joy” and one sanskara of joy is made and rolls down to the storage section. The emotion ‘Joy’ is introduced. She is this bubbly golden ray emanating girl operating the main station/ head quarter in the mind. She is happy that Riley is happy. As she is basking in this emotion she hears the baby cry. She is shocked to see that the station is taken over by Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger, one after another.

When we observe the equation here, we see that there are 4 negative emotions to one positive emotion in us. Joy tries to be in the forefront (to maintain तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपे अवस्थानम्॥१.३॥) at any cost but others always wait for an opportunity to move her and take lead. This can be related to sutra no 1.4 (वृत्ति सारूप्यम् इतरत्र॥१.४॥). Sadness particularly always waits patiently in the aisles, to takeover when Joy is a bit slack or unaware.

So we can conclude that when we are unaware, our mind will gravitate to sadness and brood over the past and future. It takes effort to be equipoise (अभ्यास वैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१.१२॥). Also sutra no 2.33 (वितर्क बाधने प्रतिपक्ष भावनम्॥२.३३॥) can be applied here to get back to our own true nature (by following Pratipaksha Bhavana), to combat a situation where the external condition or our own emotions try to go against us.

Furthermore Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger can be compared and related to the following respectively:

Viparyaya sutra no 1.8 (विपर्ययो मिथ्या ज्ञानम् अतद्रूप प्रतिष्ठम्॥१.८॥) leads to sadness (we can also add here the sutras related to Avidya from the second chapter).

Abhinivesha sutra no 2.9 (स्वरसवाही विदुष: अपि तथ: अIरूढ: अभिनिवेशः॥२.९॥) is the main source of all fears.

Disgust can be seen as an outcome of aversion i.e. sutra no 2.8 (दुःख अनुशयी द्वेषः॥२.८॥).

Anger is generally because of the fact that we get things which we are averse to and not which we are attached to.

Then memories 1.11 (अनुभूत विषय असम्प्रमोषः स्मृतिः॥१.११॥) are introduced in the movie. The core memories are shown as the most important time recorded in Riley’s life. These core memories charge 5 islands (hockey, goofball, friendship, honesty and family islands). These islands have to be in good health because these consecutively make her personality pleasant or harsh. We can compare these to Yamas sutra no 2.30 (अहिंसा सत्य अस्तेय ब्रह्मचर्य अपरिग्रहा यमाः॥२.३०॥) and Niyamas sutra no 2.32 (शौच सन्तोष तपः स्वाध्याय ईश्वर प्रणिधानानि नियमाः॥२.३२॥. To maintain good health of these islands we need to follow Yamas and Niyamas. To do so accurately one has to follow Pratipaksh Bhavana sutra no 2.33, 2.34 (वितर्क बाधने प्रतिपक्ष भावनम्॥२.३३॥), (वितर्का हिंसादयः कृत कारित अनुमोदिता लोभ क्रोध मोह पूर्वका मृदु मध्य अधिमात्रा दुःख अज्ञान अनन्त फला इति प्रतिपक्ष भावनम्॥२.३४॥). Sutra no 1.33 (मैत्री करुणा मुदित उपेक्षाणां सुख दुःख पुण्य अपुण्य विषयाणां भावनातश् चित्त प्रसादनम्॥१.३३॥) also helps in a big way to maintain our internal sanity.

When Riley is 11yrs, her family moves to San Francisco. Joy is outweighed by the other 4 emotions. Joy tries to step in and hold the fort but she is pushed back. Fear and Sadness dominate all along. Pandemonium of thoughts prevail which can be compared to sutra no 1.5 (वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टा अक्लिष्टा:॥१.५॥ and sutra no 1.6 (प्रमाण विपर्यय विकल्प निद्रा स्मृतयः॥१.६॥).

Slowly and steadily Riley’s 5 islands are ruined as Joy is pushed to the bottom.

Joy and Sadness leave the headquarters to fix the core memory and the others stay back at the headquarters to manage Riley’s emotional balance. But without Joy all falls apart.

When Riley sleeps, Disgust and Anger rests too. Fear waits in the aisles watching her dreams (अनुभूत विषय असम्प्रमोषः स्मृतिः॥१.११॥).

The projector team project dreams. Joy tries to make Riley happy while she is dreaming. Sadness wakes Riley up by projecting fear from her unconscious mind (fear of the clown) and wakes her up. (स्वप्न निद्रा ज्ञान अIलम्बनं वा॥१.३८॥)

The train of thought although accompanied by obstacles helps Joy reach the headquarters. Joy realises by now that sadness is equally important in life. (परिणाम ताप संस्कार दुःखै: गुण वृत्ति विरोधाच्च दुःखम् एव सर्वं विवेकिनः॥२.१५॥)

She lets Sadness take charge of the station for some time so that Riley can fully relive her sad memories and then let go of it (प्रकाश क्रिया स्थिति शीलं भूत ईन्द्रि अIत्मकं भोग अपवर्गार्थं दृश्यम्॥२.१८॥).

All the islands are restored as Riley finds her balance. Then Joy takes over the main station as in sutra no 4.34 (पुरुषार्थ शून्यानां गुणानां प्रतिप्रसवः कैवल्यं स्वरूप प्रतिष्ठा वा चितिशक्ति: इति॥४.३४॥ and sutra no 1.2 (योग: चित्त वृत्ति निरोधः॥१.२॥) and sutra no 1.3 (तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपे अवस्थानम्॥१.३॥). The movie ends with a happy note.

The whole essence of the Yoga Sutras is to make us understand, that as human beings our effort should be to return to our own true self. The same motive drives the movie ‘Inside Out’.