The tumultuous love story of a sannyasi
Subtly juxtaposed on the life Jayadeva, the famous 12th century poet and author of Gita Govinda, Sahitya Akademi award longlisted poet, playwright and novelist Raj Supe’s When Life Cartwheels (Platinum Press; Rs 349; spirituality based fiction/ romance) is a passionate love story is, as the author writes “born of the churning confluence of two polar opposites – a vivacious dancer and a scholarly sannyasi”.
After bidding goodbye to a career in advertising, research and creative consulting, the author turned to literary and spiritual pursuits. In an email interaction, Supe aka Kinkar Vishwashreyananda says “no one loves a former unevolved version of oneself unless one is silly and romantic”. Read on…
When was the first time you felt strongly about this switch and once you decided it, how did you go about it – disclosing it to family, managing work at office?
I remember when I was working in an advertising agency in Mumbai, I picked up Rabindranath Tagore’s Creative Unity one day. It had several essays which blew the idea of who I was. When I read The Poet’s Religion for instance, I knew something was fundamentally wrong with my own idea of true calling. I turned the page and turned into the poet that I already was; I had shed the unnecessary cloud. I started writing in the office. My bosses were kind, they supported my move because I was being productive in advertising as well. But then I started bunking office and overdoing my poetry so to speak. And then, from a long leave, I never went back to work.
Similar thing happened while reading The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. That was the second switch to spirituality. Enormous boredom played an enormous role too. In those days, the only thing that could disperse an all-consuming boredom with every aspect of my life was literature by saints. That opened up a new world for me. Then I met my Guru Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuja, his presence and blessing sorted everything in a definitive manner.
My family thought it was one of my distractions. Or diversion. I could never take the straight path and had a reputation for distraction. When I quit work and dabbled in literature and spirituality, one after the other, they thought that I was fooling around, and this too will pass. It took them a while to realise it wasn’t a passing fancy. I think they were surprised by my earnestness in the new calling. But they blessed me whole-heartedly. My father had only one thing to say –whatever (the hell) you do, make sure you do it (bloody) well!
Who do you love and respect more – Raj Supe, the MBA who had a career or Kinkar Vishwashreyananda, the yogi?
The answer is obvious. No one loves a former unevolved version of oneself unless one is silly and romantic. The Raj Supe who was an MBA is no more. The career of that person is also long buried. My Guru gave me the new name Kinkar Vishwashreyananda. That’s who I live and sustain now.
Is writing the best medium to express oneself?
The Bible says, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. What could be a better thing than to take the pen and grab that Word?
Do sannyasis fall in love?
It is my duty to inform everyone that a sannyasi has a heart; so he is competent enough to fall in love. But his better competency by far lies in rising in love. And the greatest disappointment you can expect from him is that he can and does love the whole world.
What is spirituality and how does one experience it?
I will replace the imported and rather inadequate word ‘spirituality’ with the word adhyatma, the art of the self. The Sanskrit scriptures have a very precise definition of the word spirituality (adhyatma): aatmani adhi iti adhyatma, meaning all that which is performed in accordance with the wishes of the soul (aatma) is spirituality. One can experience it with the help of a guru; by undertaking spiritual practices according to his instructions.
What is life and what is death?
To realise your oneness with the Universe is to live; to be caged in the idea of ‘my self’, and to be sequestered from the rest of the cosmic reality is to be dead.
What is me and what is not me?
The ‘me’ is mind’s lie which crystallises your infinite possibility into a vulgar limitation, ‘not me’ in another face of the same lie. Me and not me! This is the fake mirror of duality. In reality, everything is me, and therefore, there is no such thing as a ‘me’ that is different from anything else.
How do you win at life?
One has to drop the contest in order to win perennially. Life is a mysterious game, only those who realise that both winning and losing constitute winning, truly win. Krishna has given us a formula for winning in the Bhagavad Gita. Samatvam yoga uchyate. Equanimity is the highest perfection.
How do you change the path of life?
There is no changing the path because every path is leading to the same destination. However, by changing the path if you mean how to get out of the rut, or how to move to a better state of evolution, the answer lies in following the words of the great saints and the wisdom of the sages.
Is there a successful formula to lead a happy and healthy life?
Yes, the ancient Indian sage Patanjali gave the formula of happiness to the world: From contentment flows the most excellent happiness.
Why is there so much discontentment, sorrow and jealousy around?
The root cause of all evils is absence of spiritual outlook to life. The moment there is God-consciousness, there is light and wisdom. Discontentment, sorrow and jealousy flee.
What’s today and what’s tomorrow?
They are two boats, placed in a non-linear manner, on the infinite ocean of the ever-present.
Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why?
My gurus, Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath and Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuj. Because they created a soul possibility for me.
Tell us about your family …
I have no family. Wherever I go, whoever I meet, are my folks.
A message for our readers…
Do your own thing because you are unique and incomparable. The ‘you’ in you is the real thing, the rest is fluff. Whatever you do, do it with your whole being because anything done wholeheartedly turns divine. And yes, continue to compete in loving yourself and loving God, let none of these two fall behind the other.