Exploring Mythic Wisdom: Anand Neelakantan’s Asura Way to Success

Anand Neelakantan’s journey as an author has been marked by a deep exploration of Indian mythology, challenging conventional narratives, and offering fresh perspectives on age-old tales. His latest venture, “The Asura Way: The Contrarian Path to Success,” marks a departure from his previous mytho-fictions, delving into non-fiction territory. Motivated by a fascination with the deeper meanings hidden within ancient tales, Neelakantan aims to extract actionable wisdom from the stories of the Asuras, traditionally portrayed as antagonists. Embracing qualities like passion, ambition, and desire often deemed negative, Neelakantan sees the Asura path as a refreshing outlook in today’s age. In this exclusive interview with Storizen Magazine, he discusses the inspiration behind his latest work, the challenges of challenging conventional beliefs, and his trust in his wife Aparna as his first critic. “The Asura Way” is published by Jaico Publishing House.

The Asura Way by Anand Neelakantan

Anand Neelakantan, you have written mytho-fictions for adults and kids, and now The Asura Way: The Contrarian Path to Success, a non-fiction book is surprising. What motivated you to author this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by mythology and the deeper meanings hidden within ancient tales. In my previous books, I aimed to reinterpret myths and present alternate perspectives, questioning the conventional notions of good versus evil. With The Asura Way, I wanted to take a step further – to extract actionable wisdom from these stories and apply them to the challenges we face today. The Asuras symbolize qualities like passion, ambition, and desire – often portrayed negatively, but containing tremendous potential. I felt their contrarian path could offer a refreshing outlook for those seeking fulfillment and success in this age of Kali. By learning from their mindset, we can break free of limiting beliefs and chart our own course through life’s complexities.

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Anand Neelakantan

There are underlying themes and insights woven throughout from start to finish in the book, promising a journey towards healthier, more mindful, and successful living. What inspired the idea for your book The Asura Way?

I’ve always believed that the greatest lessons lie within the stories we tell, and mythology is a treasure trove of wisdom waiting to be rediscovered. The idea for The Asura Way came to me during a particularly challenging period in my own life, when I found myself questioning the traditional paths to fulfillment and success. In the midst of this introspection, I stumbled upon the concept of the Asuras, often portrayed as the antagonists in Hindu mythology.

But as I delved deeper into their stories, I realized that the Asuras represented something more complex and intriguing. They embodied qualities like passion, ambition, and desire – traits that are often vilified in our society, but which I believe contain immense potential for growth and self-actualization.

I began to see the Asura way as a contrarian path, a different way of looking at the world and our place within it. It challenged the conventional notions of good versus evil, dharma versus adharma, and offered a refreshing perspective on the pursuit of success and happiness.

The more I explored this concept, the more I became convinced that the Asura way had something valuable to offer us in the modern world. In an age characterized by rapid change, uncertainty, and intense competition, we need to think differently about success, fulfillment, and the meaning of life itself.

The Asura way is not about blindly following ancient rules or adopting a specific set of beliefs. Instead, it’s about embracing our natural instincts, recognizing the power of our desires, and using them as fuel for personal growth and transformation. It’s about living a life of authenticity, purpose, and unwavering determination, even in the face of adversity.

Through the stories and principles outlined in The Asura Way, I hope to inspire readers to challenge their own assumptions, break free of limiting beliefs, and embark on a journey toward a more fulfilling and successful life. The Asura way is not an easy path, but it is one that promises great rewards for those who are willing to embrace it.

In the book, I explore a wide range of topics, from the nature of desire and ambition to the importance of self-belief and perseverance. I draw on ancient wisdom, modern psychology, and my own personal experiences to provide practical advice and actionable insights that readers can apply to their own lives.

One of the key themes in The Asura Way is the importance of embracing our emotions, including those that are often seen as negative. Anger, jealousy, and greed can be powerful forces for good when channeled in the right way. Rather than suppressing these emotions, we need to learn how to manage them and use them as fuel for our success.

Another important aspect of the Asura way is the concept of self-reliance. Asuras are not afraid to challenge the status quo, question authority, and forge their own path in life. They believe in their own abilities and are willing to take risks to achieve their goals.

Of course, the Asura way is not without its challenges. Asuras often face opposition and criticism from those who are more comfortable with the traditional ways of doing things. But by staying true to their beliefs and values, Asuras can overcome these obstacles and achieve great things.

The Asura Way is a book that I wrote for anyone who is looking for a different path, a way to live a life of purpose, passion, and success. If you are ready to embrace your inner Asura and unleash your full potential, then I invite you to join me on this journey.

The book primarily talks about the ways the misconceptions and prevalent myths shape our views on achieving success. What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with this work? Similarly, how challenging was it to explain these?

In The Asura Way, I challenge many of the misconceptions and prevalent myths that shape our views on achieving success. One of the biggest myths is that success is something that is only achieved by a select few, the lucky ones who are born with special talents or advantages. I believe that success is something that is available to everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances. All it takes is the willingness to work hard, to never give up on your dreams, and to embrace your inner Asura.

Another myth that I challenge in this book is the idea that we need to suppress our emotions in order to be successful. We are often told that anger, jealousy, and greed are negative emotions that we should avoid at all costs. But I believe that these emotions can be powerful forces for good when channeled in the right way. Rather than suppressing these emotions, we need to learn how to manage them and use them as fuel for our success.

Of course, challenging these misconceptions and prevalent myths can be difficult. It requires us to question our own beliefs and assumptions and to be open to new ways of thinking. But I believe that it is worth it. By challenging these myths, we can open ourselves up to new possibilities and achieve greater success in all areas of our lives.

One of the most challenging aspects of writing The Asura Way was explaining these concepts in a way that is clear and accessible to readers. I wanted to make sure that the book was not just an academic treatise, but something that could be read and enjoyed by anyone who is interested in personal growth and development. I hope that I have succeeded in this goal and that The Asura Way will inspire readers to challenge their own assumptions and embark on a journey towards a more fulfilling and successful life.

From an Indian perspective, concerning the influence of certain religious classes on Sanatan Dharma, can revisiting Indian scriptures revive Indian confidence, contrasting with the influence of foreign ideas emphasizing pragmatism and objectivism?

As an Indian author, I’ve often been struck by the way the West perceives India as a spiritual civilization and our people as ‘other worldly’. This is a myth perpetuated by the West, and it’s a myth that needs to be challenged.

India has always had a materialistic approach to life. Our ancient scriptures are full of stories about wealth, power, and ambition. Our people have always been entrepreneurial and innovative. We have a long history of trade and commerce. And we have always been interested in the arts and sciences.

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Anand Neelakantan

Spirituality is just one part of our complex civilization. It’s not the only part, and it’s not the most important part. India is a land of many cultures and traditions. We are a diverse people, with a rich and varied history. We are not simply a spiritual people. We are also a materialistic people. We are people who are interested in the world around us. We are a people who are ambitious and driven. We are a people who are creative and innovative. Over the years, the overemphasis on spirituality has led to the downfall of India in the field of critical thinking and scientific approach.

It’s time for the West to wake up to the real India. It is also time for us to wake up to the real India and not just live the lives that the West wants us to live. We are not just about Bhagwad Gita. We are not a land of snake charmers and yogis. We are a modern, progressive nation with a rich heritage of critical thinking. We are a rich and diverse culture. Rationality has always been the hallmark of even our spiritualism.

It is important to approach our scriptures with a critical mind. We should not blindly accept everything that is written in them but rather use our own intelligence and reason to discern what is true and relevant to our lives. By doing so, we can extract the best from our scriptures and apply it to our modern lives.

I believe that revisiting Indian scriptures, especially the materialistic and rational part of it, can be a powerful way to revive Indian confidence and counter the influence of foreign ideas that are not in line with our traditional values. By studying these scriptures, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, and develop a stronger sense of national pride.

The book challenges conventional thinking and guides readers through an exploration of Asura’s world, offering insights into contentment amidst the chaos of modern life, and delving into the various rivals of the human mind and success. Why is it that the author inside Anand Neelakantan’s mind likes the concept of Asura?

I am always drawn to stories that challenge conventional thinking and offer a fresh perspective on the world. The Asura Way is one such story. It is a story about a group of beings who are often seen as the antagonists in Hindu mythology, but who also embody qualities that I find admirable, such as passion, ambition, and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

I believe that the Asura way has a lot to teach us about how to live a successful and fulfilling life in the modern world. In a world that is increasingly complex and uncertain, we need to be able to think for ourselves, to question authority, and to be willing to take risks. We need to be able to embrace our emotions, both positive and negative, and use them as fuel for our success.

The Asura way is not an easy path, but it is one that is worth taking. It is a path that leads to greater self-awareness, personal growth, and ultimately, to a more fulfilling and successful life.

I am excited to share the Asura way with readers, and I hope that it will inspire them to challenge their own assumptions and to embark on a journey towards a more fulfilling and successful life. I have been trained from my childhood on Indian Puranas and Shastras and the emphasis of my Gurus including my parents have always been to think rationally and from every side. That is how our Knowledge system always was until we lost it to irrational belief without understanding the context of each scripture.

Of all the characters in Indian mythology, Ravana is my favorite. He is a complex and fascinating character, both good and evil, wise and foolish, powerful and vulnerable.

I am drawn to Ravana’s passion and ambition. He was not content to be just another demon king. He wanted to be the greatest king in the world, and he was willing to do whatever it took to achieve his goals.

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Anand Neelakantan

I also admire Ravana’s intelligence and creativity. He was a skilled musician, architect, and scholar. He was also a master of illusion and deception.

Of course, Ravana was also a flawed character. He was arrogant, egotistical, and quick to anger. But even in his flaws, I find something to admire. Ravana was a man who lived life on his own terms. He was not afraid to challenge the gods or to follow his own path.

I believe that Ravana’s story has a lot to teach us about the human condition. We are all capable of great good and great evil. We are all capable of great passion and great ambition. But it is up to us to choose which path we will take.

Ravana chose the path of darkness, but he could have just as easily chosen the path of light. He had the potential to be a great king, a great hero, or even a great god. But he let his ambition and his anger get the better of him.

I believe that we can learn from Ravana’s mistakes. We can learn to control our anger and our ambition. We can learn to choose the path of light, even when it is difficult.

Ravana’s story is a reminder that we all have the potential for both good and evil. It is up to us to choose which path we will take.

If you had the opportunity to spend a day with one of your characters from either The Asura Way: The Contrarian Path to Success or your other books, who would you pick?

The answer is Ravana. Another character I would love to spend time with is Krishna. I would love to know how Krishna could get away with most things that challenge the conventions.

If you were to select a mascot, avatar, or spirit animal as a writer, what would it be?

My favorite animal is the Elephant. My latest children’s book – Mahi – the Elephant Who Flew Over the blue mountains, is inspired by my two great loves. The dream of flying and the dream of being an elephant. Ganesha, obviously, is my mascot.

My mascot would be Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom and remover of obstacles. Ganesha’s unique features each symbolize important qualities for a writer:

  • His large ears represent the importance of listening. As a writer, it’s essential to listen to the world around you, to pay attention to the stories and experiences of others. Only by listening can we truly understand the human condition and write stories that resonate with readers.
  • His long trunk represents curiosity. A writer must always be curious, always exploring new ideas and perspectives. Curiosity is what drives us to learn and grow, and it’s what makes writing so exciting.
  • His sharp eyes represent attention to detail. A writer must be able to observe the world around them with a keen eye, to notice the small details that others might miss. It’s these details that bring our stories to life and make them believable.
  • His big belly and the modak in his hand represent the importance of enjoying life to the hilt. Writing should be a joyful experience, and it’s important to take time to enjoy the process. The modak also represents the sweetness of success, and it’s a reminder that all the hard work is worth it in the end.
  • Finally, his mouse represents being friends with all, despite their status or size. Ganesha reminds us that we should never take ourselves too seriously and the pursuit of knowledge shouldn’t be devoid of fun. The big belly is to laugh a lot. The broken tusk is a reminder that a writer shouldn’t mind sacrificing something so personal if one could write and read a piece of literature like Mahabharata. Ganesha is the first reader and scribe of the epic and what could be a greater honor? So Ganesha remains my mascot.

How did my friends, readers and publishers react when I told them that this time it is a non-fiction book?

Well, let’s just say that the reactions were mixed.

My friends were mostly supportive. They knew that I had always been interested in Indian mythology and history, and they were curious to see what I would do with a non-fiction book on the subject.

My readers were a bit more divided. Some of them were excited to read a non-fiction book from me, while others were disappointed that it wasn’t another novel. My publishers were the most sceptical of all. They were worried that a non-fiction book wouldn’t sell as well as my novels. But I was confident that I had something unique to say, and I was determined to prove them wrong. After all, I am an Asura and an Asura doesn’t back away from what others say is impossible. The world is a Modak to enjoy.

Whom do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work?

My wife Aparna. She is always my first critic and it is not just restricted to my books, but everything I do.

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