What is this woman dressed in a sari doing in the Vilnius Cathedral square? To the capital of Lithuania Rajita Kulkarni came with her Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We are happy to announce that this dynamic indian leader shared with us her insights about woman’s role in the world of today.
Rajita Kulkarni now is leading Sri Sri University in India. She is the President of World Forum for Ethics in Business. No doubt, this indian woman is what a true global leader is. Also her feminine beauty shines through her – wherever she travels in the world, she stands out with her sari. Of course, outer beauty is not the most important. The leadership coach Rajita Kulkarni emphasises that true beauty comes from within.
Is it possible for the women to be a leader and at the same time to shine with feminine beauty? Many times I have seen that women in high positions become strict, never talk about feelings. They behave and even dress like men.
I don’t think we need to do that. We should be confident of ourselves, our capabilities and our womanhood. As women, our qualities of empathy, nurturing, sensitivity, ability to collaborate are very vital for leadership.
I have always enjoyed living my full feminine side. Wherever in the world I go, I wear a sari.
So you say that women should take care of their beauty?
Yes why not ? But anything that is done to the extreme is not good. Its important that we don’t get obsessed with our external beauty so much that we do things that are against nature and not good for our body. The effect of such treatments etc is also temporary. However, you do have to look decent and presentable.
I always say, “No matter how much make up you wear, Spirituality is the only thing that makes you up in the real sense”. When you meditate and live a conscious life, the inner glow comes. When you shine from within, then you are comfortable with how you are. This beauty that shines through, it is permanent.
I guess you are not speaking about special outlook, like models have. This inner beauty is in every women’s heart, isn’t it?
Yes, we have to go beyond the beauty of exteriors. If the women has a beautiful body but is sad within, what is the use of her so called beauty? On the contrary, if you are confident, feel secure and happy, the beauty that you radiate is very serene and powerful.
I think even in fashion industry awareness is increasing. Of course, there the women have to maintain a certain outlook. But nowadays they are encouraged to be healthy.
Can you share what changed inside you when you started meditation?
When I did my first Art of Living course something really changed inside me. I was not the same again. I felt so good, so awakened. I felt I got what I did not even know I was looking for. It was a very beautiful experience of my life. I told so many people after that: “You have to experience this, it is so beautiful”.
I felt so energized and so enthusiastic. I felt capable of everything. I felt so empowered that I could deal with everything in life. It was amazing.
How spirituality came to your life?
I come from a very learned family. My grandmother was a very learned women, she was very well aquainted with spiritual scriptures. She read the Bhagavad-Gita every day. She taught me and my brother to chant it and we used to chant it from a very small age So we always were in environment of knowledge , of appreciating the scriptures, of reading them and hearing stories from mythology.
When I met my Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji, I was twenty one years old. After finishing university, I joined Citibank. It was a very big job at such a young age. I kept getting promoted and getting bigger roles. The practice of meditation made me dynamic, empathetic, creative, energetic and responsible.
Can you say for sure that spiritual practise helped in your career?
Definitely. The last years in Citibank I was the head of Asia Pacific for customer advocacy and training development. I was travelling three weeks a month to various countries.
My colleagues always used to say: “Ah, you look so fresh. You don’ look jetlagged”. Of course, I am also a human being, so after flights I needed rest. But definitely because of my spiritual practices I was able to handle the pressures at work much better.
What are the essential values of your life?
1. My number one value is commitment to my dharma. I am the President of Sri Sri University, so it is a big responsibility.
2. Number two value for me is kindness in the heart. I am very conscious of my approach to others and how I relate with them.
3. And number three is to live my life truthfully.
You care so much about ethics in business world. Why this is so important to you?
Isn’t it? Imagine if you are living in the world where everybody is cheating. If there is no trust, how can we live? Ethics is about living and doing the right things. It is doing to others what you want to be done to you.
If we had a meeting today planned, isn’t it ethical for me to come and show up for this meeting on time? What if I just forgot? Similarly I wouldn’t like if you did it. So I should not do it to you. So ethics get expressed in very tiny moments of our life.
In the business world nowadays awareness is much higher. A lot of people care not about just making money, but making it the right way. And there is a lot of research that shows that companies who make money ethically do better in the long run, their customer satisfaction is much higher, employee loyalty and retention is much higher than others.
You wouldn’t like to work for the company which is cheating it’s people, isn’t it?
Some people claim that, according to indian scriptures, women’s role is to raise children and care for her husband. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on the contrary – he has that women have to play important roles in society.
The three main goddesses in the Indian tradition are Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati. Durga is the Goddess of Defence, Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth and Sarasvati is the Goddess of Education. All these three ministries are run by women! There are incredible stories of great queens who have led historical wars and protected countries and their people. That breaks stereotypes about women who only have to be restricted to their family, isn’t it?
Women have great qualities which are needed in the world today. Do you know that in the coming century empathy is one of the key qualities that is gonna be required for leadership position?
Women are very good in resolving conflicts. Women are very good in leading teams.
Now the organisations in the world are becoming more and more flat. In such a world you can’t lead by authorities. You have to lead by inspiration. I think women are able to do that well.
Guruji is saying that women can bring people of diverse nature together.
Yes. Our mothers kept our families together and they understood what is needed by every child, every member of the family.
What can women do if they face discrimination?
I always tell everybody: “Don’t think what you cannot do. Think of what you can do and keep doing it”. I have traveled all around the world and met thousands of people from all strata of society. Some people complain that our world is not perfect. But I feel we just have to make our own way in it.
Another thing is I have seen that some women want the privileges of being a woman, and at the same time demand equal rights and things. If we want equal rights, we have to fulfill our professional duties as good as men do.
Now we are in a technologically advancing world. We have to keep up with the times. The nature of life is to evolve. And each of us has to take responsibility for our evolution.
Now you have made this e-magazine. If you have decided to make it on paper, it would be expensive. Also people are reading the paper magazines less today. So you have done a right thing by going online. You found your way.
Life isn’t easy for those who just sit in one place waiting for life to happen to them. You have to make it happen.
But some people think that it is enough to pray or meditate – then everything is given. Isn’t it so?
Definitely there is a lot of power in prayer. There is also a saying that God helps those who help themselves. If I want to drink water, it is stupid to pray: “Water, come to my mouth”. I have to get up, take a glass of water and drink it, isn’t it?
In indian scriptures there is a lot of emphasis on self effort. You have to put your hundred percent. Only then you relax and leave it. Then you say: “Ok, now whatever is, is”. But before that you have to give your hundred percent.
What would your advice for women who are stressed trying to combine their family life and business life?
What is important is the not the quantity of time, but the quality. If you are a mother and spend hours with your children, but stressed, it is not good enough. It is better to spend twenty minutes, but hundred percent.
I think women have to focus on their self care too. It is very important. Not about just physical self care but also mental and emotional self care. I am a big advocate that we should meditate every day. Not long – just twenty minutes. The important thing is to meditate every day. Then it becomes a habit and helps to relax. When you are calm and stress free it is much easier to deal with challenges.
If you are stressed and tired all the time, how can you do good things? If I want medicine I go to the doctor who is healthy. If the doctor is coughing all the time I don’t risk taking cough medicine from that doctor.
Similarly for us to live our life to its full potential it is very good to take some time for ourselves. If you want the arrow to go front, you first pull it back. The further we pull it back the further ahead it goes. So is life. The more we dive deep, the higher we rise!
Author: Ginta Gaivenyte
Photos used from the personal Rajita Kulkarni album.
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