Bhakti-Tirtha Swami Krishnapada was born John E. Favors in a pious, God-fearing family. As a child evangelist he appeared regularly on television. As a young man he was a leader in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s civil rights movement. At Princeton University he became president of the student council and also served as chairman of the Third World Coalition. Although his main degree is in psychology, he has received accolades in many other fields, including politics, African studies, Indology and international law.
His Holiness has served as Assistant Coordinator for penal reform programs in the State of New Jersey, Office of the Public Defender, and as a director of several drug abuse clinics in the United States. In addition, he has been a special consultant for Educational Testing Services in the U.S.A. and has managed campaigns for politicians. Bhakti-Tirtha Swami gained international recognition as a representative of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, particularly for his outstanding work with scholars in the formerly communist countries of Eastern Europe.
As the only African-American Vaishnava guru in the world, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami directly oversees projects in the United States (particularly Washington D.C., Potomac, Maryland, Detroit, Pennsylvania, West Virginia), West Africa, South Africa, Switzerland, France, Croatia and Bosnia. He also serves as the director of the American Federation of Vaishnava Colleges and Schools. In the United States, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami is the founder and director of the Institute for Applied Spiritual Technology, director of the International Committee for Urban Spiritual Development and one of the International Coordinators of the Seventh Pan African Congress.
This book discusses leadership in a distinct way: It explains how to "be in charge," to rule, or to lead, with the mass of people in mind. The method presented in this book seeks to train leaders "as if people mattered." In short, it espouses "servant-leadership" - a phenomenon that allows a leader to see his or her identification with those whom they lead. It teaches how to be a servant and a leader at the same time.
While such concepts have been beaten into the ground, as it were, this book proposes something new, something that augments existing leadership techniques, even those that are progressive and "spiritual." Many prominent, principle-centered leaders are tired of talking or writing about spirituality in the work place and now they want to see it more actualized. They want to move beyond outdated conceptions of servant-leadership, or empty slogans such as "managing as if people mattered," "empowering people in the workplace," etc.-these are well-intentioned first steps, but are still generally operating on old paradigms.
This is so because these systems of management normally still seek to use people for mundane results, or to satisfy the lesser goals of would-be managers and/or their dependents. Such CEOs and "leaders" of corporations may resemble actual servant-leaders as the term is commonly understood, but they are usually opportunistic businessmen who by good fortune or other endeavours managed to secure a position that they often do not deserve. In the same way that politicians often use God's name to bolster their efforts and to pursue their personal agenda-while actually having little or no interest in God consciousness-most contemporary leaders speak of progressive conceptions of leadership and spirituality merely to win adherents and supporters. Their primary concern is continually how to use people to make things happen rather than making things happen for the people.
Our discussion of servant-leadership goes beyond these superficial approaches. It is, however, extremely complex and broad-based, and unless one is serious about understanding it as it is, one would do well to put this book down right now. What you will read here includes expressions of servant-leadership on both elementary and mature platforms, from introductory concepts to subtle nuances of developed theory. Our basic thesis is that true (and mature) servant-leadership is impossible without embracing a deeply developed form of universal spirituality. This is so because the mature servant-leader is a natural philosopher and spiritualist; these highly evolved components are as fundamental to his or her way of being as food is to any other living organism.
A true servant-leader assesses the primary needs of his dependents and compassionately serves them. For this to occur, the servant-leader must have a profound understanding of the highest good, which necessarily goes beyond mere material requirements. Ultimately, a servant-leader focuses on our identity as spiritual beings, as people who undergo material experiences even though, at their very core, they are beyond matter. Thus, the mature servant-leader must assist in servicing the soul, the real identity of each and every individual. It is the soul that is the highest expression of humanity and mature servant-leadership has little meaning without recognition of this.
As a final note, it should be pointed out that many of this book's insights in the realm of servant-leadership are based on ancient India's Vedic literature, particularly the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Mahabharata. The story of Grandfather Bhishmadeva, as found in the pages of these holy books, is especially replete with details on the importance of servant-leadership. Moreover, the minutiae of spiritual government are nowhere as developed as in these ancient texts, which analyze the perfection of a ruling class in terms of theological science. It is not necessary for readers of this work to familiarize themselves with these ancient Indian texts. The present book sifts through the essential teachings of ancient India's sages, and offers our readers a summarization of all its teachings in relationship to the subject at hand. However, when one comes across unfamiliar terms and personalities, the reader should consult the glossary for assistance. Throughout the book, please keep in mind that when we refer to Krishna, we are referring to the same one God with whom we are familiar. And the term Vaishnava refers to those who worship God according to these ancient traditions. Armed with these elementary words and concepts, we are prepared to delve into our first lessons in mature servant-leadership as derived from the Vedic literature.
This book focuses on the subject of leadership by using the proven methods of the Vaishnava ruling class in ancient India. These teachings have universal application and are not confined to the geographical location that gave them birth. We specifically look at the great warrior-mystic Bhishmadeva's instructions to Yudhisthira, as well as at insights from the life of the great Prithu Maharaja, a renowned king described in the ancient classic, Srimad Bhagavatam.
Before delving into specifics, however, we would first like to look at the general idea of leadership and how it has been viewed in modern times. As a beginning point, let us appreciate that everything a person does has some kind of "leadership" component, either directly or indirectly. This can be seen in the simple fact that every act invariably influences someone in some way. The Bhagavad-gita, which is part of the Mahabharata, clearly says that "Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues." (Bhagavad-gita [henceforth, Bg]. 3.21) This is true in all arenas, whether political, economic, academic or social. Leaders help form our worldview. They set patterns for us to follow. Sometimes they impose those patterns upon us. Even if we reject a given leader's patterns, we still find ourselves having to deal with them, sometimes even emulating them. For example, the United States is a world leader, and even though there are countries that hate American policy and culture, so many of them base their own policies on those found in. America. Therefore, one way to examine world history and civilization is to study its leaders, the policies they set in motion, the examples they project, and what the people in general follow or rebel against. In this way, all world concerns and crises have something to do with leadership.
We may wonder, if leadership is such a strong force behind almost everything we do, why does society suffer, even in the face of good leadership? We see that even when the Lord, avataras, incarnations, and great prophets appear, societies are still beset by difficulties. In a world where things are by nature temporary and limited, obstacles are par for the course, an inevitability that must be accepted as part of life. When deeply contemplating the world in which we live, it seems as though "difficulty" is synonymous with "existence." It is a simple statement of fact that a true leader does not deny the limitations and drawbacks of the material world, and in fact uses these to help others come to a higher level.
It is also true that the ability to recognize good leadership is almost as important as good leadership itself. Not everyone recognizes the incarnations or great messengers when they appear in human form. We must be taught how to recognize incarnations, gurus, teachers, and great leaders. There must be systems of being able to distinguish the bona fide from the deviant. In fact, good leadership entails making such distinctions and teaching others how to do the same.
There is a story in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that illustrates the faith citizens once placed in proper leadership, and how good leaders were gauged by how well their citizens fared in their day-to-day lives. Once, in the ancient city of Dvaraka, a priest's wife gave birth to a son, who immediately died. The father took his dead baby to King Ugrasena's court, berating the king for the untimely death of his son. The priest told King Ugrasena that he must be directly responsible for his child's death, because the untimely death of a child was unheard of in a kingdom where the king was properly executing his duty. Obviously, this was a time much unlike our own: Not only did people have extremely high expectations of a good ruler, but the ruler was able to fulfill every need of his faithful constituency. Before going further, let us pause and consider some universal characteristics of authentic leaders:
1. They love people and are sensitive to their emotions and needs
2. They help people feel happy and secure
3. They create lasting value at all times
4. They are philosophers-they seek to convey ultimate abiding truth
5. They lead from the inside out, knowing that character is power
6. They are principle centered
7. They are powerful visionaries
8. They keep everyone engaged according to their propensitie
9. They are experts at delegation and empowerment
10. They are servant-leaders who leave behind a culture of enduring excellence.
Improper leadership causes imbalances and crises in the lives of the citizens. Under proper leadership, however, the demigods reciprocate by showering the people on earth with food, health and wealth. In ancient cultures, particularly Vedic culture, it was recognized that higher powers were pleased when good leadership reigned. Even in post-modern society, it is acknowledged by progressive thinkers that the environment virtually rejoices when leadership is good, and that the world is generally a better place. This correlates with the idea that demigods are pleased when witnessing the work of a good leader.
The quality of leadership and the people's ability to recognize good leaders when they are present are important. When both are present, society flourishes. Such conditions were present hundreds of thousands of years ago in Saiyayuga, the age of great piety. There were both powerfully qualified leaders and citizens equally qualified to support them-and to recognize when leaders were no longer performing their duties properly. Thus, it is said that "the leaders make the people and the people make the leaders." As the people's collective consciousness becomes elevated, they will naturally produce more elevated leaders from among them; as the leaders' consciousness becomes elevated, they will support a more elevated citizenry. When the leaders are weak, the people are weak. When this is the case, it is a matter of the blind leading the blind. Society becomes a venture of tremendous speculation, frustration, and diminishing returns.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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