From Dior to Dharma – the Unpublished Preface

The unpublished preface to the novel, From Dior to Dharma (Print   Kindle).

 

This book is, in essence, the story of a journey through disillusionment. Not the kind of disillusionment arising from an unfortunate twist of fate or personal miscalculations that leads to a loss of faith in certain persons and things, but a disillusionment that’s a whole lot more existential in nature and which, should we be so unfortunate as to never taste in this lifetime, makes future ones much more certain.

In fact I’m not sure if disillusionment is the right word at all; it is a rejection of certain worldly conditions but without the subtle attendant sense of being overpowered by something bigger or stronger than oneself. On the contrary, it embodies a yearning for that something bigger, stronger and deeper that remains veiled in mediocre living.

This book germinated in me during the financial crisis of 2008 – 2009, but it took many years to process the thoughts and emotions and to extract any life-relevant material from the morass of personal experiences. As a teenager, I remember reading William Wordsworth’s view on poetic creation as one of “emotion recollected in tranquility”. At the time, I strongly disagreed, feeling certain that the purity of emotions relied heavily on their rawness and freshness. Of course, I came to realise that he was right; contemplation is essential so long as one is interested in finding out the truth of the matter. So I firmly told myself at the time of the banking crisis – “No one wants to hear about your confusion. Only write when you have some answers”. The answers started coming no sooner than five years later, in the form of the wisdom and light of my gurus.

Indian gurus like to say that no one has a copyright on knowledge; that true knowledge is universal. Still, I cannot help but give credit for the great truths spoken by Sadhguru JV, Sri Ramana Maharishi and Mooji baba that inspired and grace this book, truths that my often-confused mind was in no condition to ever hope of arriving at by itself. I am grateful also to teachers like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Parmahansa Yogananda, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Eckhart Tolle and all the other spiritual masters whose wisdom has helped me in times of confusion, with or without my knowing. They are all the real ‘gurus who don’t know me’. I believe that there is no truly original thought except one that emerges from the stillness of an illumined mind and often in this book, I lost track of which I thought were my thoughts and which are actually, my gurus’.

Having never written a book before, I was unusually soft on myself during the writing of this book, not really expecting to go beyond the first couple of chapters. Yet somehow, it turned into a book. I kept repeating two instructions to myself during its creation: ‘don’t be indulgent’ and ‘don’t be lazy’. Since I haven’t written before, I’m not sure if they are the right rules for a novelist but anyway, it’s too late now! The other ‘good practice’ I tried to follow was to ‘write what needs to be written and only write what needs to be written’. Again, a self-made-up rule that I hope has served me well – only the reader can say.

And finally, the reader may naturally wonder what part/s of this novel are true to my life. To that I would ask, are memory and fiction so different after all? This book is probably best considered as not very unlike life itself – some real, some made-up and with a sprinkling of magic.

 

See also: Facebook Live, Indic Book Club Chat with Shruti Bakshi about From Dior to Dharma

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