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Book – Pearls of Vedic Wisdom to Succeed – Interview with Author Arun Kumar

The book titled ‘Pearls of Vedic Wisdom to Succeed”, written by Dr Yogi Devaraj (Author), Arun Kumar (Author), Venugopala CV (Author), (published in August 2018) is a journey into the minds of great Vedic masters. To know more about the book, I did an interview with Sri Arun Kumar one of the authors of the book. You can learn more about the book through the interview.
  • “Pearls of Vedic Wisdom to Succeed” How do you explain the term success in Vedic context?
Vedic Wisdom is applicable to all walks of life. Success means achieving the desired goal. Vedic philosophy helps a sincere seeker to attain the ultimate goal of Moksha, a professional such as Arjuna to excel in the profession, succeed in being a good parent, succeed in becoming a better human being. This is what is advocated by Purusharthas.
  • There are numerous books on Vedic Wisdom. How different is your book from those already available?
Numerous good books are available. Though while reading, one might feel good but after finishing the reading you are back to where you started. The comprehension and understanding are not complete. Then we end up deciding that Vedic philosophy is terse, complex and not for everyone. 

Being a software veteran with 31 years of experience I had to read several software books. After reading a book I definitely try to comprehend and understand the knowledge the book is trying to convey and good software books do a pretty good job in imparting the knowledge to an astute reader.
In the same way just like a good software book, I have put in the effort to convey the Vedic philosophy in a most simple and scientific manner. After reading various Vedic literature for 15 years, the works of Ramana Maharshi had a profound impact. It is that essence I am trying to convey crisply in the book.

For example, if you try to read the quotes on the back cover, some of the quotes about Sentient Life Energy is directly borrowed from the book. Those three quotes by themselves convey the Vedantic message. One can read these quotes by visiting the book page at Amazon website.

The book ensures that it is not just a good read but there is a guaranteed takeaway for a shrewd reader.

  • We live in the age of tweets and short texts. How difficult it was for you to condense Vedic teachings so that it will appeal to the twitter era?
I think the previous answer is applicable to this question also. As mentioned just the quotes in the back cover are by themselves adequate to provide the enlightenment. The Preface also just by itself tries to convey the essence of Vedanta. The Mahavakya section also conveys the Upanishadic message. The discussion of Vivekas such as Drig-Drishya Viveka, Pancha Kosha Viveka, Traya Avasta Viveka, each one conveys the same message using different articulation. The narration in rest of the book again help in understanding the Vedantic message.

An incident happened which bears the testimony of the effectiveness with which the book tries to convey the Vedic teachings. One of my colleagues who happens to be a software engineer from REC Warangal, with 12 years of experience, happened to review multiple versions of the manuscripts and in the process gained enlightenment. We have mentioned it in our Acknowledgements section. He says that he can now be in Silent Awareness and experience the Sentient Life Energy at ease and will.
  • ‘This book is not about any faith, belief or religion.’ This is mentioned in your flyer. Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) follows the teachings found in Vedas. Why cannot it be said that this is the true teachings of Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism) as found in the Vedas? Why are we being so defensive?
Sanathana Dharma is NOT a religion, but a way of life. If the philosophy is weak, dogmatic and draconic then one needs to be aggressive. It is with fear, cohesion, cruelty, conversion and barbaric blasphemy laws the dogmatic religions are held together by force. Today scientists, thinkers, rationalists, engineers, etc. do not take their religion very seriously.

Thus, it is not the question of being defensive. Our Vedic philosophy is not just a philosophy but a science in itself. Hence, it is presented confidently just like any topic in other scientific subjects such as Mathematics or Physics is presented.

  • They (Vedic teachers) firmly believed that life is not a journey from womb to tomb – so says the book. Vedic wisdom is all-inclusive. How effectively does the book communicate this important aspect Vedas?
I am quoting three paragraphs directly from the book. These paragraphs show the difference in thinking of eastern and western philosophy. Amazingly the difference is very subtle.
Man wonders, “I can think, therefore I exist”. Veda thunders, “I exist even if I cannot think”, pointing to the deep sleep state where a person cannot think because the mind is at rest. We do exist during deep sleep though we cannot think during that time. Veda does not stop there. It goes even further and emphatically says it is not “I can think, therefore I exist” as proclaimed by Descartes. In fact, Veda says it is the other way around, “I exist, therefore I can think” pointing to the Chit Shakti (Sentient Energy), the Atman or the Self which if not present, the body and the mind are declared dead. Then where is the question of thinking? To think, the Self which is the real “I” should exist. One of the critiques of Descartes, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard says that the first part of the statement, “I think” itself presupposes the existence of “I” rendering the second part “therefore I exist” redundant. Vedanta says that the presupposed “I” is nothing but the Self, Atman, Consciousness or the Life Energy. 
It appears as though the views of Descartes and Vedic philosophy are diametrically opposite. Actually, they are much closer than one could imagine. From where Descartes had reached it is not even a leap but a very very tiny step to reach the point of Vedanta. Descartes to his credit had touched the peak a human mind could reach by saying, “I think, therefore I am”. Antoine Leonard Thomas gave it a fuller form by saying, “Since I doubt, I think; since I think, I exist”. All Vedanta is asking is “who is the doubter?”, “who is the thinker?”. Know the doubter. Know the thinker. In the previous section “Pancha Kosha Summary”, the great master Vidyaranya urges us to “Know the Knower”. 
Vedanta is asking us to realize that a doubter can exist without any doubt. A thinker can exist without any thought. A knower can exist without knowing anything in particular. A thinker to think the mind is required. A thinker to exist without thinking, the mind is not required, rather a calm mind is required. This may be called as leaving the mind behind, ignoring the mind or transcending the mind. A thinker can comprehend the mind, but the mind cannot comprehend the thinker (Kena Upanishad 1.1 – 1.3, Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad 3.7.20, 3.8.11). We need to leave the domain of “thinking” and enter the domain of “experiencing”, “existing” and “being”. Just exist as a thinker without doing any thinking, devoid of any thought. Exist as Sentient Life Energy being in Silent Awareness.
  • The aim of teachers of Hinduism is to kindle the fire of inquiry. Teachers of ancient India only gave guidelines it was for the student to carry forward the study and find more through intuition. Is the book capable of making a person yearn for more and study the teachings of ancient India in more depth?
Definitely. But I also believe if one has a good understanding of the subject then one should be able to provide greater depth in a single book itself. To give you few examples, English Grammar by Wren & Martin, C Programming language by Kernighan and; Ritchie, C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup, Manku ThimmanaKagga by Kannada writer DVG, Vivekachudamani by Shankaracharya, Pancha Dashi by Vidyaranya, Bhagavadgita, etc. In all these examples a single book is good enough to take the reader to the destination. Then only as a matter of interest a reader can read other books on the same subject.

I have also put in the effort to make my book belong to the same category so that the reader gets as much essence of Vedanta and greater comprehension and insight in to Vedic philosophy.
The book makes use of the works of Shankaracharya such as Vivekachudamani, TattwaBodha, Atma Bodha, Aparoksh Anubhuti, etc., works of Vidyaranya, works of Ramana Maharshi. The book quotes several verses from 19 Upanishads and several verses of Bhagavad Gita and few from Ashtavakra Gita.
  • Sentient Life Energy – The book is promoted using this term. Can you explain the term and how did the Vedic teachers use the sentient life energy in their teachings?
The book is actually promoted using two terms namely; Silent Awareness and Sentient Life Energy. I coined those terms to convey the Vedic message in a unique way.

According to Vedanta, the Atman is Sachidananda which is Sat, Chit and Ananda. Sat means Existence, Chit means Sentience or Consciousness or Awareness and Ananda means Bliss.

I latched on to the terms such as Chit, Chit Shakti and Chetana and coined the term Sentient Life Energy. Several Upanishads describe the Atman as “it is because of which we see, we hear, we breathe, etc.” The same I am trying to convey using the term Life Energy.

Vedic wisdom gives importance to internal quest but not by ignoring the external quest. So, there is balance. Today, there is only external quest and therefore there is imbalance. How does the book explain the importance of internal quest and balance?

I request you to visit the Amazon website and take a look at the Table of Contents of the book. That should give you an overall picture of the topics the book covers. At this juncture let me request you to order your personal copy from Amazon. The kind of questions you have asked, I am sure that the book would not be disappointing and you would definitely enjoy. Just want to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed answering each of your well thought out and compiled questions.

Value-based living is stressed while discussing Purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha) and Karma Theory.

Morals and ethics are stressed while discussing Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Sarve Jano Sukhino Bhavantu, Loka Kshema, etc.

The purpose of following Vedic philosophy is to become free from bondage and sorrow of Samsara, attain Individual Peace and contribute towards World Peace. This message is strongly conveyed by the book and hence the book should convincingly persuade scientists to take Vedic philosophy more seriously than before.
  • “This book is a revolutionary step to usher in the golden era of ethics, morals and value-based living.” Dr. Chinmay Pandya, Vice Chancellor, Dev Sanskriti University used these words to describe the book. How does the book explore the need for value-based living?
The answer to the previous question is applicable here also. Dr. Chinmay Pandya with his vast experience was able to quickly spot that our unique plank of Energy and calling Atman as Sentient Life Energy is a more effective way of reaching the message than using the regular terms such as Atman, Soul, Consciousness, etc. Because the moment you use the word energy, the readers would have studied about the term right from their school days and are quite familiar with the term “energy”.

Dr. Chinmay Pandya also noticed the emphasis given to the morals, ethics and values-based living.
Finally, the book says the single clarion call given by Vedanta is “Drop the ego”. No need to change your God or religion. You can still love your Jesus and Pope, Allah and his Prophet, Krishna and the Gurus. All you need to do is surrender completely to the God you love and drop the ego. If you are an atheist, then drop your ego by being in Silent Awareness. Can there be any greater secular message than this?

All these messages and other important contents of the book combined made Dr. Chinmay Pandya to call the book as a revolutionary step.
  • We have caused total imbalance in nature through our greed. Due to this, human beings and other life forms are facing innumerable problems and suffering. The importance of harmony in nature is a core theme of Vedic wisdom. Does the book explore this aspect?
Yes. At numerous places, the book talks about the greed and selfish desires. The topics under which this theme is discussed are Arishadvarga, Pancha Klesha, Vanaprastha Ashrama, Dropping the Ego, VasudhaivaKutumbakam, Global Peace, etc.

The imbalance created by human greed is reflected in the following paragraph extracted from the book that discusses “Artha” topic under the section “Purushartas”.

A report on global inequality dated October 13, 2015, from“The Guardian” says that half of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 1% of the population. Scientists, Thinkers, Statesmen, etc., have to wake up and quickly start emphasizing the utmost importance of moral values and ethics right from the Primary School level so that the future generations can reverse the current situation. Subramanya Bharathi, a fiery and revolutionary poet in the Tamil language, expresses his most heartfelt thought by saying that we need to quickly ensure that for the entire humanity “scarcity becomes scarce”.
  • What words do you have for readers who want to buy the book? How should they approach the book?
I am extracting portions from the Preface and pasting it here.
This work is not just for the spiritually oriented. This humble work of ours is also intended for college students, professionals, doctors, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, philosophers and all others who delight in getting their intellect churned.

The book intends to cater to three different kinds of readers.

A curious reader who is interested in getting a comprehensive introduction to the ancient Indian Vedic philosophy and to realize how even in the modern era the time-tested Vedic wisdom could be applied to lead a happy, peaceful and stress-free life. Vedic concepts also help to staunchly face one’s challenges and difficulties of life without losing the smile or enthusiasm.

A sincere seeker who is interested in knowing about the energy that is powering our heart, lungs, eyes, ears, hands, legs, the entire body and is providing us with life every moment. Vedanta calls this energy as ‘Chit’ meaning Consciousness or Sentience. This book helps one in attaining the ultimate goal of realizing and grasping the life-giving Sentient Life Energy, the Self, Awareness, Consciousness or Atman.

An aspiring and motivated individual with an open mind to explore how Vedic ideas and methods could, in fact, be used to succeed in attaining the desired goals in any field.
You can find out more about the book and authors here at the official website.