After writing three books, has the writing taken on a new role, has it become a more creative thing for you or are you still focused solely on the philosophy?
For me my stories have a core philosophy, the story is only to convey those philosophies. On that I’m very clear and they are all largely driven by Vedic and Upanishad philosophies. There are also some philosophies from other religions, but the majority are Vedic and from Upanishads because that’s what I know more of.
What else do you recommend reading for anyone who gets interested in these philosophies after reading your books?
Read the translations of the Upanishads. The big points of Hindu philosophy are in the Upanishads. Pick up any of them, there are many.
They are not light reading. You can’t flip through it. You have to spend maybe six months with an Upanishad. You read a page, put it down, think about it, talk about it with other philosophers. There are discussion groups. That’s how you understand what the Upanishad is trying to convey. The Katha Upanishad for example has this lovely conversation between Yamaraj and Nachiket. And you can breeze through it in fifteen minutes, but you won’t understand it. Or you can spend two months understanding it, and that’s when you’ll understand it much more deeply. It’s like the Buddhist Loksutra – you have to understand the deeper meaning.
I am very interested in other philosophies as well. There are these groups, like New Acropolis, where twenty of us gather and discuss philosophies from different regions of the world.
You said you are a voracious reader. Would you share favorite authors and beloved books with our readers?
I primarily read non-fiction. There are various subjects that I like, history, politics, economics, science, philosophy, spirituality, religious books.
Difficult for me to give a list, because I really read a lot so how I normally answer this question is of the books I read in the last few months, which were the ones I liked? I liked Land of the Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal, Return of a King by William Dalrymple. I just reread Plato’s The Republic. It’s a text that you can read again and again. You get different and interesting interpretations. I also read the poems of Lal Ded, she’s a Kashmiri Sufi poet. I read an English translation of that.
Tell us about your future plans.
About a book deal, I haven’t decided yet I’m still evaluating a few ideas they are all in the mythology/history space but I haven’t decided which of them I’ll pick up.
Some miscellaneous questions from our readers:
For your series why did you choose Lord Shiva and not Lord Rama or Lord Krishna?
I have story ideas on lord Krishna and Manu and Ram. I might write all of it. The first series began with a theory on evil. So we obviously I wrote the destroyer of evil, Lord Shiva
What are you reading right now?
A translation of the Valmiki Ramayan. I’ve read it before, of course, but this is a good translation.
Are you going to do spinoffs from this book? Specifically on Ganesha?
No idea at this point of time. At this point of time this is the end of the Shiva trilogy
Are you trying to humanize the mythologies we’ve grown up with?
There has been a rich tradition in India of humanizing mythologies, so I’m actually not doing anything new. If you see the various, versions of the Ramayan, of the Purans, I’m not doing anything new. It’s been done for centuries in India. In India, Religiosity and Liberalism go hand in hand. They are not in conflict with each other.
Are you a practicing Hindu?
Yes I do puja every morning. I just chant. I don’t follow rituals. I visit a Shiva temple in Mumbai regularly, but I refuse to pour milk on the Shivling. I don’t think he wants us to do that. Buy a bag of milk and give it to a beggar instead. It doesn’t matter where you pray, just pray from your heart.
Would you like to see a Hollywood style movie made of this trilogy?
I’m actually represented by this movie talent agency called CAA (Creative Artist Agencies) one of the largest movie talent agencies in the world. They are the ones who negotiated the Karan Johar deal of the Indian language movie rights and there is a deal for the international rights as well that will be announced in due time.
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