Whither Wisdom? Exploration into Alternative Sources and Methods of Learning

  • Sanjoy Mukherjee Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Keywords: Art of Questioning, Value-based Education, Transformation, Sustainable Future


The great poet T S Eliot lamented thus:

“Where is life we have lost in living?

Where is wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is knowledge we have lost in information?”


The authentic critics of mainstream management education are well founded in their arguments. Sumantra Ghoshal and also Warren Bennis and many more voiced the need for evolving theories and practices of management beyond the classical models of leadership and management. Time has come to take a look into wisdom traditions of the East and the West to break the cocoons of a structured yet fractured modernity. The oral and conversational traditions of the East have a gold mine of wisdom just waiting to unfold for global welfare, common good and planetary sustenance. This will give a new boost to the emerging concern for human values, business ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability of life and work both from macro and micro dimensions. Time has come for some deep and radically different thinking beyond the corridors of dominant modes of conceptual and instructional modes of pedagogy without any disrespect.

“Unless we increase in wisdom as much in knowledge, increase of knowledge will be increase in sorrow.” (Bertrand Russell). The evidences of sorrow and disaster at the levels of the individual and organizations are evident enough worldwide from Enrons to the economic meltdown.

The present paper attempts to offer a few gems of thoughts and ideas from Indian classical wisdom with its practical implications for modern management. The sources range from the ancient to modern – from the Upanishads and the Gita to Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda among other Indian stalwarts in thought leadership as well as in the arena of meaningful and globally beneficial action. Tagore created an educational institution in the lap of nature while Vivekananda was the founder of probably the first Indian international twin-organization, with headquarters in India and centers world over, that was rooted in Indian

spiritual wisdom but channelizing itself in social and educational activities.

The paper will also throw light into alternative methods of learning from the art of questioning to the ethics of conversations till silence –from upholding the exuberance of positive emotions beyond the reach of reason. Inspiration will also be drawn from the life and work of Swami Vivekananda, the volcanic monk of India and the founder of the first global Indian institution, who was a living synthesis of East and West, of contemplation and action.

Sri Aurobindo, the Cambridge educated teacher, revolutionary and finally a seer spiritualist from India had proclaimed: “There are two great forces in the universe – silence and speech. Silence prepares, speech creates.” Are we willing to dissolve in silence awhile for re-creating our turbulent and bewildering world towards a semblance of sanity, joy and freedom?