Divine Eagle and Nagas: The Upanishadic inspiration for the Chartered Accountant

Perhaps no other profession reposes so much trust and faith as that on a Chartered Accountant. The nation pins its hope on the Chartered Accountant, expects the CAs to be ruthlessly impartial while discharging their duties. Yet, it is the legal profession, the oldest, that is considered as the noblest.  

Ya Aeshu Suptaeshu Jagruti (Sanskrit), the founding motto of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, which means “a person who is awake in those that sleep”, is at stake here. And it is time to have the role of a CA, the partner in nation-building, regarded as a nobler profession than that of a lawyer. For that to happen, the CA themselves must believe and act as the epitome of trust, faith and hope. 

Since its founding on July 1, 1949, ICAI has been doing yeoman service to the nation. Governments have steadfastly been relying on statements of accounts signed and sealed by a CA, taking them as true and fair, if not correct. Such trust placed on a CA hence makes it our bounden duty to be vigilant, even during our sleep. 

In this regard, there is an inspiration in the mascot of the Institute, the Garuda, and its motto, which were proposed by Sri Aurobindo. The philosopher, yogi, maharishi, poet, and Indian nationalist’s choice of Garuda as the mascot packs strong symbolism. As the Vahana of Lord Vishnu, Garuda flies faster than thought and destroys the Nagas and Serpents. 

In Verse 10.30 of the Gita, Sri Krishna says:

Vainateyashcha Pakshinam” (I am Garuda, the son of Vinata, among the birds).

For the newly founded ICAI in I949, the connection between Garuda and the Nagas, was crucial to the philosophy contained in its mascot.

In the words of Sri Aurobindo, “….the winged Garuda (is) revered to be the cupbearer of divinity, who opens his vans to the sunlight and soars to the highest seat of Vishnu.” 

And Garuda is the eternal destroyer of the Naga, “The symbol of the mysterious earth-bound force in man.” Since their rivalry stems from the Nagas having cheated the Divine Eagle, making them the permanent enemy of eagles — the ICAI emblem serves as a constant reminder to be vigilant in fighting the cheats. 

Given the gravity of the task, it was no coincidence that the first meeting of the ICAI Council in New Delhi in 1949 was on August 15th, Sri Aurobindo’s birthday (1872). 

Today, as members of one of the oldest professional bodies created by an Act of Parliament of Independent India, we should reflect on this profound birthday message and rededicate ourselves to our sworn service of the nation, society, and humanity as a whole, stand up to the trust and faith reposed on each one of us.

Let us all resolve to abide by the rules and regulations of our Institute, not just in letter but also in spirit and fight the cheating Nagas in the world of numbers.

Happy CA Day, 2021.


1 The ICAI Logo – A little known Story

• Refer the article written by Om Prakash Dani