Vedic and Modern Perspectives
Dr. Radha Sharma**
Emotional intelligence (EI), capacity for knowing oneself and others and relating to them in
an appropriate way, has been found to play a pivotal role in practically all areas of human
functioning in recent years. It is an evolving construct among both academics and practitioners
and multiple perspectives have been adopted across the globe (Sharma, 2008). In this paper an
attempt is being made to explore the EI concept in the ancient Indian literature comprising
Vedic and Puranic literature of Bharatvarsha (ancient India). Bharatavarsha refers to the
total Indian subcontinent named after Emperor Bharat, who was the first and the only
emperor to rule composite India. The paper briefly introduces ancient India and its literature to
provide a perspective on EI from the ancient literature.
* Hemanth Goparaj, M. Sc, M.B.A, is Dy. General Manager-HR, Karvy Ltd. He has 18 years professional
experience in both manufacturing and service industries. He is registered for Executive Fellow Programme in
Management (Ph.D.) in Organisational Behaviour Area at the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.
His area of interest is Emotional Intelligence.
** Radha Sharma is Professor of OB and HRD at Management Development Institute, India. She has completed
research projects supported by World Health Organisation (WHO); UNESCO; McClelland Centre for
Research and Innovation; IDRC, Canada and Government of India. She is the recipient of Outstanding Cutting
Edge Research Paper Award, 2006, AHRD (USA), Outstanding Management Researcher Award, 2008 AIMS
International (USA) and Best Faculty Award: Excellence in Research, 2006 and 2007 from Management
Development India. Her research and training interests include emotional intelligence, stress and executive
burnout, leadership, change management, competency mapping, and 360-degree feedback. She specializes in
psychometric testing and has advanced professional certification in MBTI from Association of Personality Type.
She has a certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the British Council, the New Academy of Business,
UK and The World Bank Institute. Her publications include several books and 80 papers in national/international
journals/conference proceedings. Her books published include: Change Management (2009/08/07); and
Organisational Behaviour (co-authored with Steven McShane and Mary Ann Von Glinow (2010/09/08/07/
06), 360 Degree Feedback, Competency Mapping and Assessment Centers (2004/03/02), Enhancing Academic
Achievement: Role of Personality Factors, (Concept, 1985). She has also contributed in the International
Encyclopedia on Organisational Behaviour published by Pentagon Press.
1 Paper presented at Inaugural Indian Academy of Management Conference at XLRI, Jamshedpur, India: Dec.
24 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
Rigveda in the first epoch (Yuga or Indian period), Yogavasishta in the second epoch, Gita
in the third Dwapara and Viveka Choodamani in Kaliyug have references on ‘Mind’ and
‘Intelligence’. It can be gleaned through the literature that in all the yugas the path of
attaining success has been through self effacing behaviour and perseverance, which are
similar to Self Awareness and Self Management clusters of Emotional Intelligence. Vishnu
Puranam—the mythological stories reflect various preachings which also relate to Emotional
Intelligence. The paper will trace the ancient wisdom on emotional intelligence and relate
it to the modern concept of EI. (Ananda Koomaraswaamy-1967)
The history of Indian literature can be divided into different ages which have contributed
to faith as a whole. The first is the pre-Vedic age, which goes back to the time of the early
Indus valley civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, established around 2400 BCE;
these cities were destroyed by 1700.
The Vedic Period and the Vedas
As per Indian mythology, 9,000 years had passed before Vedic Age and all the literary
works had appeared during those years. The Vedic Period or the Vedic Age refers to that
period when the Vedic Sanskrit texts were composed in India. The society that emerged
during that time is known as the Vedic Period (Age) Civilization. The Vedic Civilization
flourished between the 1500 BC and 500 BC on the Indo-Gangetic plains of the Indian
subcontinent. This period can be linked to Kaliyug—the current epoch. (Stephen-Knapp-
There has been oral tradition in different yugas which was passed on over periods and later
took the form of books. Several scholars have written several books during these periods and
the famous books are
Vedas—told by Brahma—written by Vyasa in Satyayug.
Yogavasishta—told by Sage Vasisht to Rama— written by Vasisht in Tretayug.
Bhagavad Gita—told by Lord Krishna to Arjuna— written by Vyasa in Dwapara.
Viveka Choodamani—Manishi Panchakam. Atmabodha— written by Shankaracharya
Rigveda in the first epoch/ Yogavasishta in the second epoch, Gita in the third Dwapara
and Viveka choodamani in Kaliyug have references on ‘Mind’ and ‘Intelligence’. It can be
gleaned through the literature that in all these yugas (periods) the path of attaining success
has been through self effacing behaviour and perseverance, which are similar to Self Awareness
and Self Management clusters of Emotional Intelligence. Vishnu Puranam—the mythological
stories reflect various preaching which also relate to emotional intelligence.
The Origin of Veda
Some scholars have suggested that the Indo-European invaders known as the Indo-Aryans
came and conquered most part of India and Persia by about 1500 BCE. They carried with
Emotional Intelligence 25
them some Gods and hymns dedicated to them. These collections of hymns were labeled as
Vedas. The Vedic age is referred to when Hinduism had commenced. The Indo-Aryans
became the rulers of India, and their Gods became most important in the pantheon, but
earlier Gods were still revered. The Aryans also brought with them a distinct class structure,
which included a priest class, a warrior or ruling class, and the trade or merchant class. The
native people who were subject to Aryan rule were incorporated into a fourth class. This is
the basis for the caste system which still is very much a part of Indian life. By the end of the
Vedic period, these castes were called, Brahmans, Kshatriya, Vaisyas, and Sudras respectively.
The Vedic Gods were led by Indra, the archetypical thunder god, and they got their strength
from the drink Soma, a form of ambrosia.
From around 900 BCE to 500 BCE, as Aryan culture spread further into the subcontinent,
Hinduism underwent some major changes. This period has been referred to as the Brahmanic
Age. It was during this time that the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas fought for supremacy.
New thought had been adopted, with the idea of the soul or atman becoming a major part
of Hinduism and the transmigration of that soul becoming a foundation of the religion. It
was during this time that the Brahman caste asserted that the Gods need human priests to
keep their power, and some of the rishis, or sages, became more powerful than the Gods.
Sacrifice became the most important form of worship. The major Vedic deities began to fall
from their high positions and were slowly usurped by the cults of the three gods who came
to dominate Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
From 500 BCE to about 100 CE, the age of Buddhism and Jainism put Hinduism in
decline. The Buddha’s doctrine took India by storm, and the older religion was almost
suppressed. Hinduism still included its child into itself, however, and was able to survive
the storm with new ideas. Sacrifice went out of favor, and influence by the ascetic worshipers
of Jainism and Buddhism led to the composition of the Upanishads. It was also during this
time that Vishnu and Shiva completed their eclipse of Indra and the other Vedic Gods.
Epic or Classical period
The next age was the Epic or Classical period, the time of the great Hindu epics the
Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These great works were compiled into their present form
during this time, but their origin goes back at least to Vedic times. The Puranas were also
composed at this time. Finally, around 1000 CE modern Hinduism developed, when the
religion once again became the dominant faith on the sub-continent.
THE FOCUS OF ANCIENT INDIAN LITERATURE
Major emphasis of Indian Literature was philosophical. In several Indian literary works,
Supreme Self is defined as the ultimate object that every individual tries to realize, identify
and sometimes succeeds to identify it. Supreme- Self is not related to God as God has no
shape. It could be in the work the individual does or in any activity an individual performs.
Literary works have mentioned that salvation—Moksha, can be equated with total
26 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
Prominence of Indian Literature
puraNeshu cha vaishNavam;
Bharate Bhagavad geeta
dharma shaastreshu maanavam.
(Source: Padma Purana)
(Among the hymns of the Vedas, the Purusha Sukta is the highest; among the puranas
Vishnu Purana is the best; among the sections of the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita is the
crest jewel; and among the Indian law books the Manu Dharma Shastra is the greatest).
This sloka is the basis of Indian literature and the belief of most of the people in India.
FIGURE 1: ESSENCE OF INDIAN LITERATURE BROUGHT OUT IN VARIOUS EPOCHS
Emotional Intelligence in the Vedas
What is meant by Veda? One meaning is eruka (awareness). Another is thelivi (intelligence).
A third meaning is viveka (discerning/discrimination). According to Indian tradition, the
Vedas are apauru seya “not human compositions”, being supposed to have been directly
revealed, and thus are called Shruti (“what is heard”).
The Vedas have been mainly concerned with the Pravritti Marga (the path of action). Thus
different branches of knowledge—physics, chemistry, botany, economics, music, etc., are
covered by the Vedas. These are concerned with the external world. Hence the Vedas have
been considered dualistic. Only the Upanishads have taught the Nirvritti Marga (the path of
knowledge) by going within oneself. This means that, of the four Purusharthas, the four
main goals of man- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha—the Vedas have been concerned
with only the first three.
The Upanishads declared that the nature of the Supreme can be grasped only by the Path of
Knowledge. Knowledge is of two kinds: Para Vidya and Apara Vidya (the higher knowledge
and the lower knowledge). According to this view all that is acquired by the educational
process today falls in the category of Apara Vidya (lower knowledge). Knowledge relating to
Emotional Intelligence 27
Dharma, Artha and Kama also comes in this category. Only knowledge relating to Moksha
(liberation) constitutes Para Vidya (the supreme knowledge) and one needs to acquire this
Para Vidya. This knowledge is found in Vedanta. The Upanishads come at the end of the
Vedas. The essence of all the Vedas is to be found in these.
Self Awareness: the universal outlook of the Vedas
Veda is derived from the root “Vid”, which means, “to know”. The Veda teaches how to
achieve purity of heart, getting rid of impurities. The Vedas have been declared to be infinite
and hence beyond the comprehension of common people. In the beginning there was only
one Veda. The Vedas have a universal outlook, embracing all that is noble and sacred. They
have taught the principle of samatwa (equality) in respect of everything. They have
proclaimed the concept of oneness. They taught people to face joy and sorrow with equal
While Veda is Dvaita—dualistic, Vedanta is Advaita (non-dualistic). Non-dualism is the
means to experience Ananda (bliss). The ego (‘I’) principle is predominant in the Vedas.
Vedanta has declared that the elimination of the ego (“I” and “Mine”) alone can lead to
Realization. The ‘I’ has to be rooted out, as long as one adheres to the ‘I’; one is bound to
the phenomenal world. One cannot attain the Higher Knowledge and cannot rise above
self. Therefore, one has to understand the distinction between the Vedas and the Upanishads.
To study it considerable time and effort were needed. Vyasa, who compiled Veda, divided
it into different parts to enable people to study as well as practice the teachings of the Veda.
Out of the countless number of hymns, Vyasa gathered some Rigs and compiled them in
the Rig Veda, collected some yajus to form the Yajur Veda and some Samans to make up the
Sama Veda. The Rig Veda is mainly devoted to hymns in praise of various deities. The Yajur
Veda consists of mantras for worshipping the deities. The mantras of the Yajur Veda are used
in the performance of yagas and yajnas (sacred ceremonies) and in doing acts of charity.
Each Veda has three sections: Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
FOCUS ON SELF-SUPREME SELF
Goleman’s framework of emotional intelligence talks about self- awareness and self
The main embodiment of all vedas and Indian Literature is the teachings on Self-Supreme
Self. The word “Atman” (pronounced in Sanskrit like “Atma”) is interpreted as the “main
essence” of man, as his Highest Self. “A” in this word means removes. “Tma” means “darkness”.
Therefore “A-tma” or “Atman” means “which removes darkness and bring shining”. The
word “tamas” — “ignorance”, “spiritual darkness” — has originated from atma. Atman is
the Divine part of everyone’s multidimensional organism. Interspersed throughout the
hymns collected in the Rig Veda are references to a single god or single principle which is
the source or the totality of all other divinities and phenomenon in the universe.
Upanishadic literature talk about this unitary or single divinity, power, or principle to the
exclusion of most other gods, so that philosophically Indian thought during the Vedantic
period moved towards the One in the dichotomy of the one and the many, approaching in
28 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
many instances some of the same conclusions Parmenides and the Eleatic philosophers did
in ancient Greece.
This single, unitary divinity had several aspects and names in the Upanishads, one of the
most important of which is Atman, a word that originally meant “breath” or “soul” or “vital
principle” (as the word “Atmen” does in German). As a cosmological principle or deity,
Atman seems to be something like “universal soul” or “universal spirit.” In the Brihad-
Aranyaka Upanishad, Atman is explicitly called a Person that created the universe by first
splitting himself into male and female halves. In the Chandogya Upanishad, this single god
is called Brahman, and is “the One without a second”; this Brahman is not only the principle
and creator of all there is, but is also fully present within each individual.
This dual conception, Brahman and Atman, gets worked out in the following way. Brahman
can be located both in the physical, external world and also in the spiritual and inner world
where it is present as Atman, “universal spirit.” Now every human being has an undying
soul (atman) which, because of samsara, lasts through eternity from life to life; this undying
atman is a microcosm of Atman, the universal spirit.
By understanding yourself, by coming to know one’s own soul, one arrives at the knowledge
of Atman itself; the key to understanding the nature of the one unitary principle of the
universe is to see one’s (undying) self as identical with that principle: “tatvam asi”:
(Chandogya Upanishad VI.8.4ff.)
Brahman is the totality of the universe as it is present outside of individual; Atman is the
totality of the universe as it is present within individual; Brahman is the totality of the
world known objectively, Atman is the totality of the world known subjectively.
This equation fundamentally underlies the whole of Krishna’s teachings concerning dharma
in the Baghavad Gita. In Vedanta, Nirguna Brahman, or Parabrahman is the Supreme
Godhead (the Unmanifest Absolute). The Atman, or Paramatman is the Supreme Self.
These two are actually one and the same.
The Atman – Brahman state is of the nature of infinite Being, infinite Consciousness,
infinite Bliss (Sachchidananda). It is unitary, perfect, eternal, unchanging, and encompasses
all opposites and all possibilities within itself. It is the Supreme Self (Paramatman) or One
Consciousness within all beings; that Reality or I-ness or Awareness which remains in all possible
states of consciousness and without which one would not exist. It is the Source and Essence of all
beings; for everything that exists is in its essence THAT. Yet it is beyond all opposites it is
also beyond human conceptual understanding, and so can only be described imperfectly.
The Atman (IAST: Atman, Sanskrit 🙂 is a philosophical term used within Indian Literature
and Vedanta to identify the soul. It is one’s true self (hence generally translated into English
as ‘Self ’) beyond identification with the phenomenal reality of worldly existence.
Philosophical schools such as Advaita (monoism) see the soul within each living entity as
being fully identical with Brahman – the all-pervading soul of the universe, whereas other
schools such as Dvaita (dualism) differentiate between the individual atma in living beings,
and the Supreme atma (Paramatma) as being at least partially separate beings.
Emotional Intelligence 29
Thus atman refers to the individual soul or the observer. Within Advaita Vedanta philosophy
the Atman is the universal life-principle, the animator of all organisms, and the world-soul.
This view is of a sort of panentheism (not pantheism) and thus is sometimes not equated
with the single creator God of monotheism. Identification of individual living beings/souls,
or jiva-atmas, with the ‘One Atman’ is the monistic Advaita Vedanta position, which is
critiqued by dualistic/theistic Dvaita Vedanta.
Dvaita Vedanta calls the all-pervading aspect of Brahman Paramatman quantitatively different
from individual Atman and claims reality for both a God functioning as the ultimate
metaphorical “soul” of the universe, and for actual individual “souls” as such. The Dvaita,
dualist schools, therefore, in contrast to Advaita, advocate an exclusive monotheistic position
wherein Brahman is made synonymous with Vishnu. Aspects of both philosophies are
found within the schools of Vishishtadvaita, Vedanta and Achintya Bheda Abheda.
In some instances both Advaita and Dvaita schools may accommodate the other’s belief as
a lower form of worship or practice towards the same ultimate goal.
EXCERPTS FROM ANCIENT LITERATURE ON EMOTIONAL
If emotional intelligence is viewed as a mental ability (Salovey and Mayer) that involves the
ability to rationally deal with emotional information and action to improve an individual’s
thinking and direct him towards success, then the Ancient Indian literature also focuses on
self and in his journey towards success. As per ancient Indian literature, Individual should
metamorphise himself to get positive thoughts and perform positive actions.
The Rig Veda states, “Aano bhadrah kritavo yantu vishwatah”, implying, let noble thoughts
come to us from everywhere. These collections of thoughts should encompass all aspects of
human existence and lead to the corner stone: Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, the whole world
being one family.
To quote Rig Veda, “Aaiam Najaha Paroveti Laghu Chetasam Udara Charitanamtu Vasudeva
Kutumbakam” (Sharman, Vishnu: Panchatantra –Jataka tales). It means that people who
do not get positive thoughts are those who differentiate and categorise people as their own
or different thoughts whereas people with noble thoughts, believe that the entire creation
of God is one family that is Vasudeva Kutumbakam.
An individual likes to develop friendship with everyone without any differentiation; in fact
one considers every individual as one’s close friend. These thoughts have been expressed in
the following verses.
“MITRASYA MAA CAKSUSAA SARVAANI BHUUTAANI SAMIIKSANTAAM
MITRASYA CAKSUUSAA SARVAANI BHUTAANI SAMIIKSE
MITRASYA CAKSUUSAA SAMIIKSAA MAHE”
30 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
He also feels that every one considers him as close friend. “May all living beings look upon
me as their friends and may I too treat them as my own friends. Oh God, do arrange things
in such a way that all (living beings) behave with one another like true friends”.
Social Awareness: Empathy
The ancient Indian literature treats a person as living being ‘Jeev’ who has a soul
(consciousness). The soul takes different forms in the form of a body or an individual. The
individual sees every soul as his soul and everyone’s suffering as his suffering and develops
empathy. Every activity is treated as duty to God and these thoughts make the individual
dutiful; thus he is dedicated to whatever he does.
YASMIN SARVAANI BHUTANI ATMAIVAABHUUT VIJAANATAH
TATRA KO MOHAH KASSOKAH EKATVAMANUPASYATAH
“He who visualizes all beings as souls in his mind does not feel infatuation or anguish at
their sight, for he experiences oneness (sameness) with them”.
Rig Veda states that individual with positive thoughts develops relationship by chanting
Om Sahanabhavathu; sahanau bhunaktu; sahaviryam karavaavahai. This small verse (shloka
or chant) signifies that “Let us move together in unison. Let us live in harmony in
communion with each other.”
EVOLUTION OF THE MODERN CONCEPT OF EMOTIONAL
From Plato to Goleman and Boyatzis several biologists, psychologists and neuroscientists
have worked, and are still working, to study the concept of Emotional Intelligence and its
relationship with success. Some have related the success of an individual to an individual’s
ability or to his brain. It is interesting to note that curiosity and passion to know more
about emotions began some 2000 years ago when Plato wrote, “All learning’s have an
emotional base.” Since then, scientists, educators and philosophers have been working to
determine the importance of emotions. The beginning was made by (Spinoza) in 1677. In
the 20th century, the momentum for research on emotional intelligence got accelerated.
Psychologists and researchers attempted to develop conceptual framework for emotional
intelligence. In the early 1940s, psychologists began to think and write about intelligence,
focusing on cognitive aspects such as memory and problem-solving. However, there were
researchers who recognized non-cognitive aspects and emphasized their importance.
For instance, David Wechsler defined intelligence as “the aggregate or global capacity of the
individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.”
He referred to “non-intellective” as well as “intellective” elements, by which he meant
affective, personal and social factors.
In 1943, he proposed that the non-intellective abilities were essential in predicting the
ability to succeed in life. He tried to show that in addition to intellective factors there are
also definite non-intellective factors that determine intelligent behavior. Wechsler was not
Emotional Intelligence 31
the only researcher who saw non-cognitive aspects of intelligence to be important for
adaptation and success.
In the late 30s, Robert Thorndike wrote on “social intelligence”. Unfortunately, the work of
these early pioneers was largely forgotten or overlooked until 1983 when Gardner began to
write about “multiple intelligence”. Gardner proposed that “intrapersonal” and
“interpersonal” intelligences are as important as the type of intelligence typically measured
by IQ and related tests. Rosenthal and his colleagues at Harvard discovered over two decades
ago that people who were best at identifying others’ emotions were more successful in their
work as well as in their social lives.
When Salovey and Mayer coined the term emotional intelligence in 1990, they were aware
of the previous work on non-cognitive aspects of intelligence. They described emotional
intelligence as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own
and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information
to guide one’s thinking and action.”
Ability-based EI model
Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer (1990) who defined EI as “the ability to monitor one’s
own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this
information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” They have developed Ability-based EI
model. Salovey and Mayer’s conception of EI strives to define EI within the confines of the
standard criteria for a new intelligence. Following their continuing research, their initial
definition of EI was revised to: “The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to
facilitate thought, understand emotions, and to regulate emotions to promote personal
The ability based model views emotions as useful sources of information that help one to
make sense of and navigate the. This ability is seen to manifest itself in certain adaptive
behaviors. The model proposes that EI includes 4 types of abilities:
Perceiving emotions — the ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures,
voices, and cultural artifacts- including the ability to identify one’s own emotions.
Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all
other processing of emotional information possible.
Using emotions — the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities,
such as thinking and problem solving. The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize
fully upon his or her changing moods in order to best fit the task at hand.
Understanding emotions — the ability to comprehend emotion language and to
appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding
emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions,
and the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.
Managing emotions — the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others.
Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative
ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals.
32 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
A study of store managers in a retail chain found that the ability to handle stress predicted
net profits, sales per square foot, sales per employee, and per dollar of inventory investment.
(Lusch and Serpkenci, 1990) Emotional intelligence has as much to do with knowing
when and how to express emotion as with controlling it.
The Emotional Competencies (Goleman) model.
In the early 1990s, Goleman developed a conceptual, model of EI which eventually led to
his book, Emotional Intelligence. The model introduced by Daniel Goleman focuses on EI
as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. Goleman’s
model outlines four main EI constructs.
Self-awareness — the ability to read one’s emotions and recognize their impact while
using gut feelings to guide decisions.’
Self-management — involves controlling one’s emotions and impulses and adapting
to changing circumstances.
Social awareness — the ability to sense, understand, and react to others’ emotions
while comprehending social networks.
Relationship management — the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others
while managing conflict.
Goleman included a set of emotional competencies within each construct of EI. Emotional
competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on
and developed to achieve outstanding performance. Goleman opined that individuals are
born with a general emotional intelligence that determines their potential for learning
emotional competencies. Goleman’s model of EI has been criticized in the research literature
as mere pop-psychology. (Mayer, Roberts, and Barsade, 2008)
The Bar-On model of Emotional-Social Intelligence (ESI)
Reuven Bar-On (2006) developed one of the first measures of EI that used the term Emotion
Quotient. He defines emotional intelligence as being concerned with effectively understanding
oneself and others, relating well to people, and adapting to and coping with the immediate
surroundings to be more successful in dealing with environmental demands. Bar-On posits
that EI develops over time and that it can be improved through training, programming,
Bar-On hypothesizes that those individuals with higher than average E.Q. are in general
more successful in meeting environmental demands and pressures. He also notes that a
deficiency in EI can mean a lack of success and the existence of emotional problems. Problems
in coping with one’s environment are thought, by Bar-On, to be especially common among
those individuals lacking in the subscales of reality testing, problem solving, stress tolerance,
and impulse control. In general, Bar-On considers emotional intelligence and cognitive
intelligence to contribute equally to a person’s general intelligence, which then offers an
indication of one’s potential to succeed in life. However, doubts have been expressed about
Emotional Intelligence 33
this model in the research literature (in particular about the validity of self-report as an
index of emotional intelligence) and in scientific settings (see, e.g., Kluemper, 2008) it is
being replaced by the trait emotional intelligence (trait EI) model discussed below.
The Trait EI model
Petrides et al. (2000a, 2004, 2007) proposed a conceptual distinction between the ability
based model and a trait based model of EI. Trait EI is “a constellation of emotion-related
self-perceptions located at the lower levels of personality”. In lay terms, trait EI refers to an
individual’s self-perceptions of their emotional abilities. This definition of EI encompasses
behavioral dispositions and self perceived abilities and is measured by self report, as opposed
to the ability based model which refers to actual abilities, which have proven highly resistant
to scientific measurement. Trait EI should be investigated within a personality framework.
An alternative label for the same construct is trait emotional self-efficacy.
The trait EI model is general and subsumes the Goleman and Bar-On models discussed
above. Goleman and Mayer, Salovey and Caruso have argued that by itself emotional
intelligence probably is not a strong predictor of job performance. Rather, it provides the
bedrock for competencies that are. Goleman has tried to represent this idea by making a
distinction between emotional intelligence and emotional competence. Emotional
competence refers to the personal and social skills that lead to superior performance in the
world of work.
“The emotional competencies are linked and attached to emotional intelligence. A certain
level of emotional intelligence is necessary to learn the emotional competencies.” For instance,
the ability to recognize accurately what another person is feeling enables one to develop a
specific competency such as influence.
Similarly, people who are better able to regulate their emotions will find it easier to develop
a competency such as initiative or achievement drive. Ultimately, it is these social and
emotional competencies that we need to identify and measure if we want to be able to
predict performance. Every researcher and human behavioral psychologist has inferred that
emotional intelligence is the ultimate mantra for individual success.
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF WESTERN AND INDIAN LITERATURE
Emotional Intelligence has been widely covered by researchers across the west using a
variety of approaches. However, the triggering factor for Emotional Intelligence has not
been dealt with adequately. The researchers have focused on ability (Peter and Salovey), or
competency (Goleman, 1995) emphasized that emotions play major role in driving
individual towards success. However, ancient Indian literature, has stressed on self, its
characteristics and its relationship with the external world. Every individual has soul which
is called Atman. It is in equilibrium with the external soul—Brahman (Paramatman). Few
people who devote heir lives for the development of others and have stood for several causes
have become historical figures because they have understood the concept that Atman and
Paramatman are one and same. Gandhi using his emotional intelligence led the country to
34 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
Vedas, the first ancient Indian literature which were evolved in first epoch –Krita yugam,
have described at length the concept of Atman and Paramatman. Even the sub branches of
Vedas called Upanishads and Vedantas have emphasised on Atman –Paramatman concept.
During second Epoch—Tretayugam, the dialogue between Rama and sage Vasishta, before
Rama was sent with sage Vishwamitra to forest has talked on Atman –Understanding the
concept of Paramatman. Preachings of sage Vasishtam to Rama are in the book—Yoga
Vasishtam. Vasishta uses word called Jivan Muktha- person understanding his own potential
and realising that potential so that his inner soul is in equilibrium with external souls.
In the next epoch Dwapara Yuga—Lord Krishna—has focused on Karma Yogi and Stitha
Pragna concepts. When a person understands his responsibilities and duties and involves
himself with full devotion in whatever activity he performs well and is said to be Karma
The characteristics of a karma yogi in Bhagvad Gita are:
A Karma Yogi is one who is free from, greed, anger, egoism and lust. He will not expect any
fruits for his actions. He will not have any desire for name and fame, approbation, thirst for
applause, admiration and gratitude. He will be humble and free from hatred, jealousy,
harshness. He is free from crookedness, meanness, miserliness and selfishness. He will move
and mix with everybody without distinction of caste, creed or color. He will have adaptability,
tolerance, sympathy, cosmic love and kindness. He will adjust with the habits and ways of
others and will have an all-embracing and an all-inclusive heart. He will always have a cool
and balanced mind along with the presence of mind. He will bear insult, disrespect, dishonor,
censure, infamy, disgrace, harsh words, heat, cold and the pain of diseases. He will have
absolute faith in himself. (Bruce, 1990)
In the Kaliyuga several scholars have contributed thoughts and ideologies but the prominent
among these have been – Viveka Choodamani and Atma Bodha by Shankaracharya that dealt
in detail with Atman Concept. Atma Bodha written by Shankaracharya has shown the path
for the self to understand itself.
Realising one’s potential is termed as Jeevan Muktha.
Atman, through eight fold stages has become -Jeevan Muktha (liberation from all materialistic
Emotional Intelligence 35
A person who is able to understand himself is said to be wise man and his characteristics
Characteristics of A KARMA YOGI (Outcome of High Emotional Intelligence)
In karma- yogic stage person becomes Stitha Pragna.
Buddhir jnanam asammohah
ksama satyam damah samah
sukham duhkham bhavo ‘bhavo
bhayam cabhayam eva ca
Ahimsa samata tustis
tapo danam yaso ‘yasah
bhavanti bhava bhutanam
matta eva prthag-vidhah
Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from doubt and delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control
of the senses, control of the mind, happiness and distress, birth, death, fear, fearlessness,
nonviolence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame and infamy — all these various
qualities of living beings are parts of supreme self and these qualities are present in every
Ihaiva tair jitah sargo
yesham samye sthitam manah
nirdosam hi samam brahma
tasmad brahmani te sthitah
Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered
the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already
situated in Brahman.
36 Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
Equanimity of mind, as mentioned above, is the sign of self-realization. Those who have
actually attained to such a stage should be considered to have conquered material conditions,
specifically birth and death. As long as one identifies with this body, he is considered a
conditioned soul, but as soon as he is elevated to the stage of equanimity through realization
of self, he is liberated from conditional life.
In Indian concepts the knowledge of Brahman and Atman is well discussed that realising
one self makes an individual more intelligent and more successful.
A comparison of western and Indian model reveals that EI in the Indian context focuses on
higher levels of self ‘the supreme self ‘Atma Bodha aligning self with external world ‘Atman
and its equilibrium with the external soul- Brahman’ for social outcomes which are
transcendental in nature rather than economic/materialistic. Awareness of self focuses on
raising one’s level of consciousness to the extent that a person forgets about differences of
self with others and treats everyone like a family ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ –this helps in
developing tolerance and unity in diversity. India being a multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic
country has survived with this intrinsic phenomenon on emotional intelligence.
Concept like karma- yogi stresses on devotion to duty without expecting personal gains
explains the hard working nature of Indians without much caring for return. Focus on
Jeevan Muktha- realising one’s potential is another typical characteristic of Indians who
devote enormous amount of time and effort in realising their potential even in scarce
situations. Above all equanimity of mind is the most important aspect for Indians and people
engage in variety of spiritual activities to maintain it. Thus emotional intelligence is deeply
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