It was during a session with his spiritual guru who was explaining the philosophy of Sattva Rajas Tamas and their presence in every human in differing proportions to him that the idea seemed to take root. The first draft — a story of the battle for truth and dharma, for meritocracy over entitlement and avarice — of the maiden book was completed in a month’s time. We spoke with the debutant author Vivek Wagle.
Born, brought up and educated in Mumbai, Wagle spent the initial couple of years of his professional career in the bustling metropolis. After marriage, his spouse and he relocated to the UAE where they stayed for more than 18 years. They moved to Bengaluru in early 2018. An MBA by qualification, Wagle is a marketing researcher and a consumer insights specialist. At present, he works as the research head at Velocity MR in Bengaluru. Excerpts:
You are a civil engineer by qualification who chose market research as a career and you are into spiritualism. When and how did the idea of penning Sattva Rajas Tamas come to you?
Sattva Rajas Tamas as the three gunas were explained in detail by Balagopalji whom I regard as my spiritual guru during a Gita session. It was at that time that I started pondering over how people respond to situations differently. Based on the balance of Sattva Rajas Tamas within us, we may choose to ignore injustice/ evil possibly because we are not directly impacted by it. We could protest meekly or we can fight strongly against it and prevent it altogether. Then there are those who either instigate, participate or cause such despicable acts. Though we, as humans, generally have the wisdom to distinguish the right from the wrong, how we behave in a particular situation is based on what our Sattva Rajas Tamas dictates. We could be indifferent, fearful, selfish, virtuous, courageous or immoral. There are times when we do something wicked or unfair and justify it as being beneficial for us or our near and dear ones. Perhaps this may explain why there are many people who are inherently good and seek goodness in others – their balance of Sattva Rajas Tamas is exemplary in most situations even difficult ones. Then there are some who generally resort to evil, chicanery and deception – they don’t even feel they are in the wrong and can come up with reasons to justify their actions. Their Sattva Rajas Tamas is lopsided more often than not.
As I dwelled upon this, the idea of a story depicting a fight of the forces of truth against vice, to uphold dharma and to protect people from evil seemed to take root.
I have always been inspired by the strong values and upright morals propagated by India’s historical epics, stories of valorous heroes and our works of mythology. There was an instantaneous connect I felt with stories of courage in the face of hardships, struggles and challenges. ‘A person is never defeated until he admits defeat and gives up,’ is my strong belief. I was also inspired by some of my personal experiences where I had to battle against those whose only aim seemed to be to cheat people.
What kind of research did you have to do for this work?
I was amazed to find that the story flowed through me. It was as if a divine force was inspiring me with ideas, characters and plots. Some of my thoughts were inspired by Balagopalji’s Gita sessions, my knowledge of Indian epics and history, my own experiences and of those close to me. I did some research on the Vedic period in terms of rituals, dressing customs, food habits and their way of living. It was interesting to refresh my awareness of our rich history. There is a lot we can learn from our ancient wisdom.
Were you always interested in fiction and alternate mythology?
Indian epics, history, religion and culture are my favourite subjects. Reading about inspiring kings, heroes and their crusades against the forces of evil has always provided me with courage, passion and the will to give my best in every situation. I also love reading fiction with strong messages that resonate with me, stories of dharma, tenacity and adventure interlinked with emotions and moral values. Alternate mythology is a recent topic that I have started to read. My story and characters are purely fictional and have personalities, shades and values that readers can easily relate to.
In your acknowledgments, you quote Katha Upanishad: Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached. How does one know of his goal? Have you identified yours?
Realisation of a goal is a continuous process. In childhood, our aim is to study hard and get admission in a prestigious course and college. Later, it transforms into a high paying job, a spacious home, a premium car, foreign trips and so on. I feel a goal should be something that inspires you from within and gives you a sense of achievement that is more permanent. One could realise it much later in life but when one does identify it, there is a deep sense of fulfilment combined with a passion and drive to keep striving towards it.
One of my key goals is to be a good father, husband, son, brother and a steadfast friend. Also, to help others who are in need of support and touch their lives. More recently, having taken up writing, I want to inspire readers, communicate powerful messages that make them ponder, provoke them to neither support injustice nor tolerate it and create an environment where people have meaningful conversations about the true essence of life and one’s duties. India’s history is full of heroic deeds, we need numerous saviours and warriors to uphold dharma now more than ever.
Is writing energising or exhausting?
Writing is very much energising and gives a sense of fulfilment to me. It allows me to think, use my creative energies, visualise and delve deep within myself to bring out work which I feel will give me a sense of achievement and a great story for my readers. Writing is inspiring.
The word “creative” to you is…
Creativity is the ability to think of original and different ideas to create something relevant and stirring. It should make people sit up and take notice and express their appreciation. One can be creative when faced with a problem or issue in real life to come up with a solution. A person can be creative in his profession, in his hobbies and even the way he handles his or her relationships and treats others. It is difficult to be completely original as a lot of our thoughts are governed by our experiences and the stories we have read or heard. But one can be creative enough to keep the target audience interested and engrossed.
Do you believe in a writer’s block?
I don’t believe in a writer’s block. It is important to keep writing even when one does not feel inspired enough. One can take a short break of a few days to refresh one’s ideas regarding the story but it should not be more than a week. Keep writing and words will flow.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I read a lot, spend time with my family, workout in the gym, watch movies and sports on television, try out new restaurants, play scrabble and engage in banter with my friends and colleagues. And yes, I have a full time job as well!
Any book that inspired you to take up writing?
It would be difficult to choose one. The Mahabharata, the works of authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Saki, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, O. Henry, Ruskin Bond have inspired me.
What does it take to be good storyteller?
First and foremost, a storyteller must be an avid reader. A keen sense of imagination and observation is imperative. The ability to ponder over the why in every situation helps. Whenever I see someone behaving or responding in a particular way, I ask myself, “Why did he or she do that?” A good storyteller needs to see the beauty of people, their various characteristics and personalities, situations and objects in a sharper and more well-defined way. A strong expressive vocabulary is a powerful weapon for an author.
Share something about yourself – parents, place of birth, early education, status now…
My parents are my inspiration. My father has been a chemical technologist and an entrepreneur and has devoted a lot of his time and effort to fighting for consumer rights. My mother has been a homemaker for most of her life. My elder daughter is pursuing her graduation in Music Production and Composition. My younger one is studying in ninth grade. My spouse is a post graduate in statistics and a content writer. My elder brother resides in Bangalore with his family.