Business Ethics from Zoroastrianism

“Good thoughts, good words, good deeds” is the mantra of Zoroastrianism. It is one of the ancient religions, as old as Hinduism or maybe older. Before Christ, it was the main religion of Persia, though now the numbers have dwindled. I am reading the English translation of old Zoroastrian prayers and am impressed by the insight given about ethical conduct. According to me, the same principles are still applicable in the business environment.

1.      Bases of Ethics

The very essence of Zoroastrianism is captured in the Vispa Humata prayer mentioned in Khordeh Avesta:

All good thoughts, good words and good deeds are produced with (good) intelligence. All evil thoughts, evil words and evil deeds are not produced with good intelligence. All good thoughts, good words and good deeds lead the doer to heaven. All evil thoughts, evil words and evil deeds lead him to hell. The result of all good thoughts, good words and good deeds is heaven. Thus it is manifest to the righteous person.”

Doesn’t the above paragraph form the baseline of business ethics? A person with good intellect and integrity is far more valuable to an organization than a genius lacking ethics. Right attitude and behavior are essential traits in the corporate world.

2.      Battle of Ethics

Interestingly enough, the Zoroastrian religion is based on the battle between God and Satan.

“God, the creator of the world, Ahura Mazda, is all good and no evil originates from him. Satan Angra Mainvu is the source of all evil in the world. Ahura Mazda stands for truth and order whereas Angra Mainvu creates falsehood and disorder. The battle between good and evil will continue until the end of the world. At the end, God will be victorious.”

Corporate world faces an ongoing battle between constructive people and destructive people within the organization. Management identifies and defeats saboteurs to mitigate various risks. Sometimes the battle is small; sometimes it becomes a full-scale war at global level. The good leaders become knights in corporate war zone.

3.      Medium of Ethics  

Fire and water reflect duality and are considered incompatible, as fire cannot sustain in water. However, in Zoroastrianism both are agents of purification.

“In Zoroastrian cosmogony, water and fire are respectively the second and last primordial elements to have been created, and scripture considers fire to have its origin in the waters. Both water and fire are considered life-sustaining, and both water and fire are represented within the precinct of a fire temple. Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire (which can be considered evident in any source of light), and the culminating rite of the principle act of worship constitutes a “strengthening of the waters”. Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom is gained, and water is considered the source of that wisdom”

Metaphorically speaking, in corporate world water represents business ethics and fire symbolizes fraud risk. Business ethics provide the guiding principles for building a healthy corporate culture and various frauds give insight on areas of weaknesses. The evidence in the investigation lays the ground for being victorious in an ethics battle. The lessons learnt from each fraud strengthens the organization culture.

Closing Thoughts

Ancient wisdom states fight the good battle to make the world a better place to live. Leave a legacy for which people will remember you forever and God will welcome you warmly. The sacrifices made now will give dividends later. So let us have the wisdom to learn from Zoroastrianism and do the right thing.

Shouldn’t this battle of ethics be fought in Indian corporate offices? What do you say?

References:

  1. Zoroastrianism
  2. Khordeh Avesta


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One comment on “Business Ethics from Zoroastrianism

  1. Nice post which A person with good intellect and integrity is far more valuable to an organization than a genius lacking ethics. Right attitude and behavior are essential traits in the corporate world. Thanks a lot for posting.

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