STRESS is always a problem to many. For Rajah Kumar, Philips Malaysia chairman and chief executive officer, karma yoga is his answer.
Karma yoga is a yoga of action and there are other types of yoga such as asana yoga (yoga of exercise which many people practise now) and jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge).
Karma yoga means to perform to the best of one's ability and with awareness, without being overly attached to the outcome or the results. It is not about praying or meditating.
“It is all about thinking and how you condition your mind. This is a tool to focus your mind,” said the calm and cheerful Kumar at his office in Petaling Jaya.
Born and bred in Chennai, India, Kumar served as general manager of Philips Singapore in 1979. He was appointed regional manager in 1990.
In August 2002, he was transferred to Malaysia to take charge of the operations here.
Kumar, who learned karma yoga as a young boy from his father, a senior police officer, said: “It was very challenging when I first started work as techno-commercial manager in 1971 with Philips (India).
“My father told me: 'Don't worry about what you get, just do what you are supposed to do. You must fully condition your mind'.”
For Kumar, karma yoga not only became a good form of exercise; it became a part of his life.
“Karma yoga is more of a way of conditioning the mind to focus on work, with determination and without thinking about the fruits of labour,” he said.
According to Kumar, this form of yoga would purify one's heart.
He said egoism, hatred, jealousy, ideas of superiority and all the negative qualities would vanish, and humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance and mercy would take over.
It would enhance creativity, sharpen one's ability, clear peoples' minds, and improve quality of life, he said, adding that it also helped him to improve the attitude of his employees.
“Karma yoga has taught me to think that brightness in the office is important as the lighting would affect the mood of the day and harmony in the office,” he said.
His cheerful attitude has also brought harmony for himself, family and friends. After 10 hours in the office, the first thing he looks forward to when reaching home is to enjoy dinner with his wife and mother.
“I make sure I find time to attend to them everyday and listen to what they have to say.”
Then he listens to music – he loves all types of classical music.
After that, he usually reads to relax.
“Every evening I make it a point to read something, especially biographies,” he said, adding that biographies inspired him as he learned how people faced difficult times and the kind of challenges they had undergone.
Kumar holds a double degree in physics and electronics engineering from Madras Institute of Technology and has an MBA from the University of Leicester.
He hopes to get a PhD in engineering by year-end.
As a nature lover, Kumar loves driving with his family, especially during weekends.
“It is wonderful admiring nature along the highways.”
After living in Malaysia for five years, Kumar has had the chance to drive to Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar, Johor Baru, Kuantan and some other places in the east coast.
“We usually stay overnight and immerse ourselves in the beauty of the countryside.
“We also like to sit down in a coffee shop and observe people. The environment and people's characters vary and they remind me of India.”
Kumar said small towns like Kuala Kangsar and Batu Pahat were similar to some places in India.
“Although there are nice golf courses throughout the country, I don't play the game when I am travelling with my family,” he said.
He added that golf was relaxing and challenging and he played once a month with his friends and business partners.
“Other than travelling within Malaysia, I would travel with my family to India or perhaps visit my son in the US, or other countries,” he said, adding that his son was now practising medicine.
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