Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Karma-Yoga: Construct Validation Using Value Systems and Emotional Intelligence

Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Karma-Yoga: Construct Validation Using Value Systems and Emotional Intelligence

Article excerpt

The construct of Karma-Yoga was validated using value systems and emotional intelligence in two studies. The first study based on a group of 60 executives found that that the essence of Karma-Yoga is a sense of duty or obligation towards others, and that believing in the law of karma, existence of a soul, and salvation lead to Karma-Yoga. Individuals who rated high on Karma-Yoga preferred other oriented terminal values such as 'a world at peace' as compared to self-oriented terminal values such as 'mature love'. On the other hand, individuals who rated low on Karma-Yoga showed exactly the opposite preferences. High Karma-Yoga individuals rated moral values like being 'responsible' and being 'obedient' significantly higher than low Karma-Yoga individuals. The second study based on a group of 37 students found that Karma-Yoga was highly correlated with emotional intelligence.


For an enduring and sustainable progress of societies, it is important that leaders identify and build on the core cpmponents of the cultural ethos and customize some of the cultural artifacts to suit modern times (Krishnan, 2003). The relationship between humankind and work has been elaborated in India through the BhagavadGita. The Gita, which is part of the epic Mahabharata, explains the philosophy of right action or Karma-Yoga using the situation of Arjuna, a warrior on the battlefield who finds himself helpless when he is called to action. The text of the Gita is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna where Krishna explains the meaning of life, the place of work within life, and the right way to work.

An earlier study (Mulla and Krishnan, 2006) identified two dimensions of Karma-Yoga viz., sense of duty or obligation towards others and an absence of desire for rewards. The dimensions of Karma-Yoga were then validated using two facets of the personality trait of conscientiousness, viz., dutifulness and striving for achievement, using hierarchical regression and a test for moderation. They found that belief in the Indian philosophy enhanced duty orientation, and absence of desire for rewards enhanced life satisfaction. There was moderate support for their hypothesis that dutifulness was more strongly related to Karma-Yoga when achievement striving was low than when it was high.

According to Rokeach (1968), human personality consists of three distinct domains. The behavioral domain which consists of observable behaviors, the affective domain which consists of feelings, emotions, and attitudes, and the cognitive domain which consists of the intellect, which reasons and evaluates. The Karma-Yoga construct has already been validated in the behavioral domain (Mulla and Krishnan, 2006). This paper attempts to further validate the Karma-Yoga construct in the cognitive and affective domains using Rokeach's universal values and emotional intelligence respectively. In addition to the two dimensions of Karma-Yoga identified by Mulla and Krishnan (2006), this study also explores an additional dimension of Karma-Yoga i.e., equanimity to pairs of opposites.

Before we explore the concept of Karma-Yoga, it is important for us to understand some of the fundamental beliefs of Indian philosophy, which form the foundation of Karma-Yoga.


Despite the numerous schools of thought, three beliefs are fundamental to Indian philosophy (Dasgupta, 1991, p. 71). First, the belief in the karma theory i.e., all actions that are done have the power to ordain for their doer's joy or sorrow in the future, depending if the action is good or bad. Often, individuals may be required to take birth in another body to fully experience the joy or suffering that is due to them because of their past actions. The second belief is in the existence of a permanent entity, called atma or soul, which is our true unknown nature, pure and untouched by the impurities of our ordinary life. The third belief is about the doctrine ofmukti or salvation. …

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