Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seeking Chanakya’s Wisdom

Bestselling author Radhakrishnan Pillai’s book Chanakya in Daily Life, published by Rupa Publications India, is a fascinating way to sail through the tough times. Sapna Sarfare interviews the author regarding the book, being a best-selling author and more.

                Radhakrishnan Pillai

A simple question – how much can a book help in leading better life?
Books have always been sources to lead a better life. Across cultures & generations, we find books have helped people to make themselves better and have good quality of life. For eg., the Gita, Ramayana, Panchatantra, etc have been eternal books that have helped our nation stand the test of time.

How is this book different from the self-help books around?
My book ‘Chanakya in Daily Life’ is not a self-proclaimed theory of success. This is based on the ancient wisdom of Chanakya given in his Arthashastra that was written 2400 years ago. So, in reality there is no invention or nothing new as such. But, there is a discovery of many principles when are not just ancient but also eternal.
In this book, I have taken the liberty to modify the thoughts of Chanakya to our generation. You will find that the original quotes of Chanakya is used, and then given to readers in simple format that they can practice in their daily lives.

Please do tell the readers as to how the book will affect them in their daily life.
The book is divided into 3 parts – Personal life, Family life & Professional life. We all play these roles simultaneously at any given point of time. And the challenge is to balance all of them. One cannot be a successful professional and not give time to one’s family. On the other side, one cannot be a good family man without providing a decent income for this family needs, so the person has to be successful professionally also.
So in this book we have 69 short chapters dealing with day to day challenges. How to wake up in the morning, how to take care of health, how to plan your finances, taking a family vacation etc… One would be surprised that Chanakya offers solutions to many such areas of our daily lives. The best part is that each chapter can be read in 3 minutes. So take up a chapter a day – practice it and find success.

What makes Chanakya an excellent guru and still relevant to someone on higher position and layman?
Chanakya is relevant to the kings (those in higher positions) and also to the commoners (layman). The beauty is that any person at any stage of life can get guidance from his wisdom. Chanakya was a wise person. He thought of the total happiness of everyone. He wanted India to be healthy & wealthy country and be built on spiritual principals. For him, ethics and moral standards was the most important priority. Therefore, times may change yet Chanakya’s thoughts are relevant even today.

Quite a few management gurus have become the byword for writing spiritual/self-help books. How?
Where there is a demand there is a supply. Similarly it shows that since self-help books are doing well, our society needs many authors for writing in that area. However, look at the other side, not all self-help books do well. Those management gurus, who have done good research and also have experience in that field, are the ones who are in demand.
Self-help books also inspire people when they are low and down emotionally. They get a direction and path in their lives. There are many people who were contemplating suicide and then a few lines from a self-help book they read motivated them to live a purposeful life.

What kind of books keep you going?
I like to read all kinds of books. Reading for me is like a daily capsule. Without reading a few chapters of a book, not a single day of my book is complete. It is food for thought. Primarily I read more management, self-help and spiritual books (which is my area of writing too). But I do read novels, text books, academic journals (since I am a professor at University of Mumbai) and also poetry and drama. Nowadays lots of new & upcoming authors send me their books to be endorsed. So I read all those first time written books too.

A little bit of self-analysis – what makes you & your books so popular among the masses?
This is god’s grace. I have been very fortunate that all my books have been bestsellers. And continue to be even after 7 years (Corporate Chanakya – my 1st book, continues to grow in its sales).
Out of over 10,000 books published each year in India, not all become best sellers. There are various factors that make it one. The most important one is a ‘connect’ to the readers. If the reader does not feel connected to the writing, he or she will lose interest after a few pages.
My writing style is simple and reader-friendly. Even though my books are for the intellectual readers, it is read by an 8 year old kid and also an 80 year old wise person. My readers have given me feedback that when they read the book, they feel I am telling their story. This is important.
My book ‘Chanakya in You’ got the Crossword Raymond Popular Book award. I was surprised the way readers have responded. They connected with each character in the book. This is true even for ‘Chanakya in Daily Life’ – you will feel connected that Chanakya is addressing your personal problems. And that is where the book becomes popular and successful.

Lastly, apart from the gyaan in the book, what else can anyone take from your present book?
Fun. My books are not just about Gyaan but enjoying life in totality. Life cannot be boring. It has to have an element of fun and joy. In my books I have always insisted people to have a ‘full’ life rather than just a regretting life. Listen to music, laugh at yourself, go on vacations, take a break, and spend time with your friends and family. Life cannot be dull; it has to have lot of positivity too. From my present book ‘Chanakya in Daily Life’ I say don’t just lead a successful life – lead a happy life…

BOOK TITLE: Chanakya in Daily Life
AUTHOR: Radhakrishnan Pillai
PUBLISHER: Rupa Publications India
PAGES: 285
PRICE: Rs. 295

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