Religious Overlay On The Civil

That person who is awake in those who sleep, shaping desire after desire; that, indeed, is the pure. That is the Brahman that, indeed, is called the Immortal. In it all the worlds rest, and no one ever goes beyond it. This, verily, is that kamam kamam: desire after desire, really objects of desire. Even dream objects, like objects of waking consciousness, are due to the Supreme Person. Even dream consciouness is proof of the existence of the self.

No one ever goes beyond it: cf. Eckhart, “On reaching God, all progress ends”.

Source: Kathopanishad

At first instance, one might think that one was reading a religious text, or a commentary on a religious text. Plus, with the reference to Meister Eckhart, one might think that this was perhaps some blend of religious beliefs.

It’s actually the motto, in multiple languages (and as slightly edited for commas and related, by me) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, as I found out last night. Students were required to discuss the choose a country and to discuss the development of the accounting profession in that country, and the profession’s influence on the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards. One student chose India.

I was struck by the religious overlay, and asked why such strong religious referencing existed in relation to a professional association. The student replied that such was necessary to legitimize the organization of Chartered Accountants, following India’s independence from Great Britain. This was so, notwithstanding that the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India had a long and illustrious history, both pre- and post-colonization.

It turns out that the motto was requested by the leadership of Indian Chartered Accountants, at the time of the formation of the Institute, post-independence, in 1949. It was given to the Institute by guru Sri Aurobindo.

Legitimacy through explicit religious association. Also seems to assume religiously homogenous membership and public. Positive in the virtue, strength in the legitimation, timeless in the sentiments…but limiting in the reference?

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1 Response to Religious Overlay On The Civil

  1. Did the student offer any examples of how this motto was applied in the professional life or actions of an Indian CA? I am often skeptical of mottos and mission statements, because they often speak of ideals, the application of which I find it hard to observe in corporate actions. I make no effort to teach mission statements as part of Strategy, unlike some of my colleagues. One can recite the Lord’s Prayer every day but can one operationalize it consistently in one’s actions?

    What, by the way, is the mission statement of the equivalent Canadian or American accounting organizations?

    When I think about it, describing a reality that exists beneath the evident, and finding the truth beneath the observed, is not far off what accountants do. Is it idealism to say so, or is it only the trappings that are unfamiliar?

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