Dr Devdutt Pattanaik is best known as India’s leading mythologist who drew the lessons for Indian business from its myths and ancient lore. He has written extensively on mythology and its relevance in modern management.
YourStory caught up with him recently at the India Inclusion Summit held in Bangalore. He told us about how he started his career as a medical doctor, worked in the pharmaceutical industry for about 14 years, before deciding to devote his whole attention into studying mythology. About five years ago, he started writing his much popular books on the relationship between mythology and management. “As is belief, so is behaviour, so is business,” he says.
What is myth? “Myth is subjective truth. Your truth and my truth. We get access to these truths through stories, symbols and rituals. If I want to understand the subjective truth of India, I look at the stories, symbols and rituals that are common in India.”
Why is it important in management? “It depends on how you look at business. Do we look at business as a set of targets, rules, etc or do we look at business as a set of people? If our approach is the latter, then how people think is critical to business.”
“Through, mythology, what we get access to is the wisdom of our ancestors. Thousands and thousands of years of understanding how humans think.”
“Mythology enables us to appreciate that human beings are 99% animals.” What does that mean? “It means that every person you meet, whether it is your vendor, investor, or customer or employee, essentially, has primal animal instincts. At one level he is predator, he is hungry and he wants food, we can call that salary. At another level he is prey. He is constantly fearful if he will be exploited one day,”he says.
Listen to the video interview to learn more.