The logo of an organization packs in both heritage and brand DNA. Not to mention trivia gems. Think the swoosh and you’ll think Nike. The genial, bearded and bow-tied Colonel Sanders is the KFC mainman. MontBlanc’s snow-tipped mountain-top and McDonald’s golden arches are as well-known as the brands themselves. Nestle’s ’small nest’ bird family has stood for baby food, milk and milk products for the past nearly 100 years.
Logos pack in more than corporate identity. They are about history and heritage. Although very well-known, few people buying a Lacoste T-shirt will know the crocodile motif is a reference to founder Rene Lacoste’s fearsome reputation on the tennis court. Fewer still will connect the Goodyear winged shoe with the Greek god Hermes. Or the Dove pigeon as a peace logo harking back to its military antecedents. That’s perhaps why history of logos can be both an interesting and rewarding subject. Take the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, a professional body which was set up in 1949 under an Act of the Parliament. Its Garuda with an Upanishad quotation logo was actually conceptualized by Sri Aurobindo. And like most logos, the history of its conceptualization also packs in as much trivia gems as its DNA and brand identity.
Chennai-based chartered accountant CS Shastri, a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and a Council member of the ICAI, sought his advice on a symbol that would capture the spirit and intent of the newly formed organization. According to Prasanta Mukherjee, who wrote about the history of the organisation’s emblem in `The Chartered Accountant’ “Sri Aurobindo gave CS Shastri the emblem with a Garuda in the center and a quotation from the Kathopanishad: Ya esa suptesu jagarti, One who is awake amongst those who are asleep.” This logo was finally selected amongst all the suggestions which were received.
The choice of Garuda as a mascot was an interesting one. The Garuda packs in strong symbolism as the Vahana of Lord Vishnu. He flies faster than thought and destroys the Nagas and Serpents. Sri Krishna, in the Gita, in the verse 10.30 says:
“Vainateyashcha Pakshinam” (I am Garuda, the son of Vinata, among the birds.)
The connection between Garuda and the Nagas is crucial to the philosophy of the logo for the newly founded organization. As Sri Aurobindo once described the connection between Garuda and Nagas thus, “….the winged Garuda revered to be the upbearer of divinity, who opens his vans to the sunlight and soars to the highest seat of Vishnu,” is also the eternal destroyer of the Nagas and “the Naga is the symbol of the mysterious earth-bound force in man.” The emblem was placed and adopted at the first meeting of the Council of the Institute in New Delhi on August 15, 1949 which happens to be Sri Aurobindo’s Birthday. What a coincidence!
By O.P. Dani
Om Prakash Dani, is a Fellow Member of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Past President of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India & Member of the Executive Committee of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry. To express views/comments on the above article, write to him at - email@example.com