Value (Lakshmi) is created from knowledge (Saraswati). But you have to constantly learn new skills and upgrade the existing ones in order to create anew or sustain the value you’ve created.
Around fifteen years ago, when the concept of “knowledge economy” was being increasingly talked about and becoming mainstream, I had the opportunity to commission Thota Tharani, a renowned artist from Chennai, to do a series of paintings on Lakshmi and Saraswati. One of the paintings I had requested him to do involved combining both Lakshmi and Saraswati into one single image. Using a combination of colours (maroon for Lakshmi, yellow for Saraswati and adornments unique to each deity), he came up with this beautiful image.
My alma mater was also involved in providing advice as well as funds so that the painting described our service offerings succinctly and found its pride of place in the office reception.
Over the years, having re-invented myself into different avatars in my profession, I find that not only is value (Lakshmi) created from knowledge (Saraswati), one has to constantly learn new skills and upgrade the existing ones in order to create anew or even sustain the value created.
How do we, then, know which are the new skills we require or what are the upgrades we need for the existing ones?
While this is essentially dependent on the industry the individual is operating in and the role he is playing within the industry, from a process point of view, Deepawali is a good day to reflect and take stock of your capabilities. (On a side note, most traditional businesses used to have their accounting year from Deepawali to Deepawali till the Taxman made it compulsory to have the financial year as the accounting year.)
Imagine yourself as a unit of enterprise with Deepawali as your accounting year and reflect on your capabilities and core competencies that brought you to where you are today.
Ask yourself: How is the market evolving?
What are the emerging trends? What kind of capabilities are sought after? What are my current skill sets? Where is the gap?
In other words, resort to Fair Value Accounting and mark to market your current skills and capabilities. Do not resort to Historical Cost Accounting and rest on your past laurels. Write down your capabilities, determine the knowledge and skill gap and start working on building them afresh. Learn, re-learn.
In other words, seek the blessings of Saraswati on the day the world celebrates Lakshmi.
Paraphrasing this commentary by Swami Ranganathananda from his book The Charm and Power of Gita (P 53):
“The more knowledge you have, the more wealth you can create; except through efficient work inspired by knowledge, there is no other way to gain wealth. You cannot create wealth by magic and mystery.
Saraswati is primary and Lakshmi is a by-product of Saraswati. Pure science is Saraswati and applied science is Lakshmi.
We in India have to relearn how to worship them. Merely making arati, waving of light, before their picture is not the way to worship them. Go to the university, study, think for yourself- that is how you become students of Saraswati and hard work, teamwork, trying to improve efficiency- that is how we have to worship Lakshmi.”
Knowledge. Saraswati. Economy. Lakshmi. Knowledge Economy. Saraswati Lakshmi.
Having given that sagely advice, I must admit that this is not as easy once you hit the fifties.
As an entrepreneur, through the thirties and forties, I could successfully morph myself from one role to another, but having reached early fifties, it is getting increasingly difficult to re-invent myself.
I guess I need to pray harder to Saraswati.
Om Tat Sat.