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March 17, 2005

Innovation and Vedanta:

Taittiriya Upanishad talked about the Creation process:

  • First came Aakaash (Space) – No shape, infinite possibilities. In infinite space, there is no movement.
  • Then came Vayu (Air) – The flow of air is the flow of life. It has two sensory characteristics - Sound & Touch
  • Then came Agni (Fire) – It is connected with Buddhi (intelligence). It gives the vision – the ability to see.
  • Then came Aapa (Water) – Along with air, it sustains life. It enables taste.
  • Then came Prithvi (Earth) – It provides the grounding, the stability. It creates smell.

These are called the pancha bhutas (the five basic elements). Together they formed the first life forms, which became food for each other and the human being emerged.

Creativity/Innovation from a Vedantic perspective – ‘Everything comes from space – the space of infinite possibilities. To Invent / Innovate is to give form to one of the possibilities.’

If I were to make a dense and integrated statement about the creation process it would be: Human being is grounded in the body, caught by the desire, sustained by the life force, water, is intelligent through Buddhi, moved by Manas and limited by Chitta.

Innovation requires:

  • The right environment to sustain life
  • A seed to be planted in the environment that initiates the creative process
  • Food for sustenance

Any creativity aligned to the pancha bhutas in a natural way will sustain, if not it will wither away.


One should have the right Sankalpa or intention for creativity. It could be:

  • For my Dharma (to be my true self), my Artha (to find true meaning), my economic sustainability, my Kama (to fulfill desires) or, for my Moksha (liberation)
  • For my own benefit – to further my role and its contribution to the world.


There are three kinds of spaces:

  • Bahyakash – Outer Space
  • Chidakash – Mind Space
  • Deharakash – In the heart space


Humans are the only one who can operate in the space where there is Creation/ Destruction. Pushing beyond the existing framework (breaking the barrier) in the outer space will create an idea in the mind, which will take root in the heart.

Breaking the barrier requires awareness.

Awareness can be:

1) Physical – direct perception through the five senses
2) Intuitive – seeing things as they are before being influenced by perceptions
3) Extrasensory/Instinctive – seeing things as they would be / could be

Awareness creates the pre-condition for Innovation.

Following factors are important to bring about Innovation:

  • State of Mind – attitude is important
  • Pathanjali yoga is a very good way to become innovative. The eight stages of yoga described by Patanjali are:
    • Bahiranga Yoga (external)

      • Yama – Principles
      • Niyama – Practice
      • Asana – Steady and comfortable posture of the body
      • Pranayama – Breath control
      • Pratyahara – withdrawal from sense objects
    • Antaranga yoga (Internal)

      • Dharana - Immovable concentration of the mind
      • Dhyana - Meditation
      • Samadhi - pure state of Consciousness


  • It is said that Mind Waves are subtler than the body waves
  • Create a gap, instead of jumping from one task to another, as these could be the ‘Creative gaps’, when ideas are formed
  • Then one needs to discriminate, using Buddhi
  • Then one needs to prototype the idea


Creation/Innovation requires transcending 3 gaps:

  1. Clear Intention (intention gap)
  2. Engagement gap – (letting go of what you are dearly holding on)
  3. Enquiry (awareness gap)


What is being inquired is Devata. – the enquirer is the Rishi. How to attain what one desires is the Chandas or the grammar that ties Rishi and Devata together. When Awareness become part of the attention that is when ‘Innovation’/’Creativity’ takes place.


What could be a very valuable practices are:

  • Developing a reflective mindset (counter intuitive)
  • Activity to Action – being busy stops creativity
  • Identity needs to be reshaped

From a Vedanta Perspective, removing the layers of conditioning, that is, Unlearning will help one become more innovative. In other words one must let go what one has learned to become innovative.


In the West, innovation occurs at the Bahyakash level. Manifestation capabilities are high in the west because people in the west have much more focus on how things happen in the outer world (bahyakash) and the measure of success or progress is based on what happens out there. On the other hand, in the east, much happens at the chidakash level but it does not manifest because people in the East are caught up with judgments, knowledge, wisdom and comparisons. Whenever we do bring that tacit knowledge to our conscious mind and put our mind to translate our inner understanding, we are able to manifest. The best example is how some of the Indian companies are growing in the software development arena. The next step for India would be to bring innovation and creativity to software development so that they are not just offering services but also products and design. The next frontier for the east and the west is to ‘ come from our hearts’ – our ability to explore Deharakash – that is the true source of creation.


Source of Creativity is at the Spirit level, and the process would include:

  • Awareness
  • Flow
  • Engagement

All the three are essential, as only one of them would not create the space for creativity.

1) Awareness - Awareness by itself will not work as we have embodied awareness
2) Flow – More number of people when engage in the creative space will result in the flow of innovation
3) Engagement – It is a continuous process and we need to engage with it as the Process of Innovation/Creativity is not a one time activity.

Maybe, being Creative could be facilitated well through:

  • Seva (Service)
  • Sadhana (Practice)
  • Satsang (Community of kindred souls)


‘Kaizen’ a Japanese word for continuous improvement has been at the heart of the quality movement of the 80s and 90s. According to TQM (Total Quality Management) innovations could occur in small increments when everybody takes responsibility for continuous improvement. What happens to the magnitude of continuous improvement if we are already bought into Kaizen philosophy—do we increase innovation?


Next Week we can discuss about “Collective Innovation”
Or continue on the same topic and cover:

  • The 5 Gaps in innovation
  • Habits vs Creativity

Posted by pkaipa at March 17, 2005 12:18 PM

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