Behind the Book: Santosh Srivastava

Today we have Santosh Srivastava with us at Behind the Book. He is the co-author of a book called "The Gita Way" along with Shweta Chandra.

Santosh Srivastava, 38, an MBA from S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, is a marketing professional, currently heading marketing services in H & R Johnson (India) based out of Mumbai. He found himself fascinated about science of spirituality from early childhood. Along with maintaining consistent focus on professional priorities, he actively writes on various topics ranging from management to spiritualism through his blog Besides writing, he enjoys playing chess and cricket..

Shweta Chandra, 34, a post graduate in organic chemistry, is a self-employed consultant. After working with Birla Shloka Edutech, she left the promising career in corporate world to prioritise family goals. With an inclination to learn human behaviour, she call it human science, she discovered writing on it as her full time hobby. Besides writing she is a passionate cook and a travel buff who loves travelling to places known for its heritage and cuisine.

About the book:

The Gita Way' is an irreligious take on the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita. Without delving into either mythological or God-centric discourse, the book attempts to understand and explain various insights from the Gita through, in the author's words, derived theory and application. 'The Gita Way' attempts to shed light on matters of self-realisation, and identifying and following the path to achieve the purpose of life.

Within the framework of Vedic philosophy represented by Gita, this book explores:
• How to discover the swa-bhava, the inherent natural strength of our real-self?
• Is my profession aligned with my swa-bhava? What is my purpose of life?
• What is the real meaning of moksha, the liberation? How the realization of individual purpose leads us to attain supreme purpose we are born to achieve.
• How yoga of knowledge, karma and devotion is applied to realise self, stay on the path of the goal and attain the real purpose?

Unlike other books on Bhagavad Gita, 'The Gita Way' is not a chapter wise discourse. Instead it presents deduced concepts in first place supported with relevant reference from the whole Gita. For example, in the first chapter of this book, you may get a reference of last chapter of Gita relevant to the topic of discussion.

You can read my review on the book HERE. Sounds interesting, isn't it? Now without much ado, let's go behind the book and know what all goes behind the making of this interesting book.

1. A warm welcome to Reviews & Musings. We have read your book and loved it immensely. Though it is mentioned therein why and how it has been written we would like to ask it to you again for the benefit of our readers.

Thank you, it’s my pleasure interacting with you. People know Bhagavad Gita for its both Vedic philosophy and reference to Hinduism. My connection to Bhagavad Gita started in the context of enhancing the faith when my mother introduced it to me during my childhood. Understanding Gita was a distant possibility then. Yet, I was lucky to be in a family where there was a regular connection to spiritual discussions. So it all started there which later developed into a good habit of knowing more about the science of spirituality. Swiftly, this habit guided me understanding Bhagavad Gita these in little advance. 

2. Do you think that today's generation is more liberal when it comes to religion or have we actually become the "intolerant" ones the media keeps referring to?

While thinking of a religion, we perceive it through promoted faith, rituals and practices. ‘Intolerance’ comes from fundamentalist attitude towards any faith. Yet, the core of all faiths is quite liberal. Unfortunately, over a period of time, the face of religion across the world has changed.

Vedic philosophy is no different, for instance, it never advocates the known face of idol worship and rituals. Instead, it guides us to know the real-self and its connection to the omnipresent supreme. In this sense, the liberal attitude of today’s generation focusing on what they really are and what they really want to accomplish in their life, believing their inner confidence is actually aligned with Vedic philosophy. The only possible gap could be the righteousness of the both the goal and the path. Remember, believing in self brings you closer to your spiritual self than following rituals.

The liberal attitude of younger generation is better than the fundamentalist attitude of followers of any religion. 'Intolerance', unfortunately, is a wrong choice that exists due to lack of right knowledge.

3. What is the message that you want to convey with this book?

Whatever faith we follow, we are here for a purpose which is connected with some universal objective. Discover that unique purpose or goal by knowing inherent nuances of your real-self. And then align your pursuit of knowledge and karma with unconditional devotion to realise that unique goal.
4. What are your future projects? Do we see you experimenting with genres in your subsequent books?

I am working with Shweta Chandra on next project on Panchtantra. The title of the work in progress book is- “Leaders who never stumble- The Panchtantra Way”
The genre is similar. We believe in conceptual blending and the text in Panchtantra are full of thought provoking insights. You would be surprised if I claim that Sanskrit sutras of Panchtantra written in various context of simple stories, comprehensively cover almost everything written on leadership ever. In this work we are researching interesting stories from history and business world as well to substantiate our findings. 

5. Can you take our readers through your journey of getting published?

We had the concepts written in bits and pieces over a significant period of more than a year. Compiling was definitely a task and without knowing the intricacies of publishing it, trust me it was a tiresome exercise. Fortunately, when Shweta, the co-author of the book, joined the effort, we could complete the framework and few initial chapters around August 2015. 

Then trying our luck whether any publisher would be interested in this, we started approaching few. To our surprise, in very few initial efforts Mukund Sanghi of Pirates Publishing called me appraising the work with an intent to take it further. 

That boosted our confidence and our pace of writing the balance part of the book accelerated. We could complete the first self-edited draft by early October last year. Unfortunately, due to other priorities of publisher, Pirates declined it which led me to restart search of the right publisher. Later, along with many rejections, we received positive response from two more publishers out of which we chose General Press, Delhi. Simultaneously, we got the book edited by Writers Side, one of the leading literary agencies in Asia that made the book polished in publishing sense. 

6. Having written a book on religion any feedback you have received on your book which had stayed with you till now?

So far I have mostly received good feedbacks with few critical ones. I also received few personal emails appreciating the unique concept presented in the book. There are emails from readers sharing their stories and feelings. Feedbacks on and are overwhelming. As this is my first published work, I like all the feedback including the critical ones.

7. Amongst the plethora of books available on the Gita in the market, where and how do you think is your book different from all of them?

Most of the books are there in the context of promoting a faith. The Gita Way is an irreligious interpretation of Bhagavad Gita. It is not a chapter wise discourse; instead, it presents a theory and proves it through supporting texts from Gita and inspiring real life stories. In most of the positive feedbacks readers appreciated the flow of concepts, supporting stories and contextual interpretations- that make this book different from other books available in the market.

8. As you know there are two types of people in this world - the believers and the non- believers. Is your book only for the believers? If yes, any message for the non-believers?

The definition of 'non-believer' is little vague, as even if you believe in self, you are a believer. Vedic philosophy is interesting in this context which advocates the concept of knowing real self. The term ‘Non-believer’ wrongly focuses only to those who do not believe in any faith, religion, rituals etc.

This book is for everyone who wants to know the hidden nuances of the real-self, the unique purpose and Bhagavad Gita’s guidance to achieve that. Surprisingly, the core of this ‘guidance’ is independent of any religion.

9. Any message for your readers.

All of us are unique and have unique goals to accomplish. If you believe in this you will not feel any constraint, competition, or threat. Know your inner-self and achieve your goals with unconstrained mind, societal pressure, family aspirations etc.

10. One reason for the readers to buy your book and read it.

In an average human life, we have more regrets than fulfilments. We take decisions every day, every month, every year; the core of all decision usually centred on making life better. This book provides such a framework with fast read - invest three hours of your life, you will not regret it.