The Self is Consciousness – Ranjit Chaudhari

  1. Tell us about your book, ‘ The Shiva Sutras ‘.How did you get the idea for it?

The Shiva Sutras is a text revealed by Lord Shiva to the sage Vasugupta in the 8th Century AD. It explains our true nature and the illusion we are living in. It also explains how we can set the illusion aside and experience the ultimate reality. The Shiva Sutras belongs to a system of yoga and tantra called, Kashmir Shaivism. My first book, titled, “112 Meditations For Self Realization”, is a translation of another text of Kashmir Shaivism – The Vigyan Bhairava Tantra. The Vigyan Bhairava Tantra and The Shiva Sutras are the two most important texts of Kashmir Shaivism. Once I finished working on the Vigyan Bhairava Tantra, I always knew that my next book would be the Shiva Sutras.

2. Why did you choose the topic of ‘ The Shiva sutras ‘?

I felt its message is important and increasingly relevant to us today. It has the power to end our suffering and transform our lives completely.

3. Do you think in this era of smartphones and fast life people will pay attention to the concept of universal consciousness and detachment?

Definitely. Technology has made our lives more comfortable but has not increased our level of happiness. A great number of people in the more affluent countries of the West are in some form of medication for stress, anxiety or depression. To improve the quality of our lives, we need technology for inner wellbeing, which is something yoga and meditation provides.

4. The book has all the concepts neatly articulated for a quick yet effective read. What difficulties did you face in editing the long explanations?

While doing the commentary, I followed the concept of a sutra. The word “Sutra”, literally means thread. It is meant to convey the essence of something. A sutra is typically a phrase or two or three words. It is not a complete sentence but it contains the essence of some truth or message. For my commentary, I tried to follow the same principle – keep it concise, yet convey the essence of the message of the sutra.

5. Can you suggest some methods or techniques to the young adults to understand the core concept of ‘The Shiva Sutras’?

One important message of The Shiva Sutras is that it is our identification with our body that causes our suffering and our bondage. To evolve, we need to give up the “I am the body” idea. The very first sutra in fact tells us who we really are: caitanyamatma – The Self is Consciousness.

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6. What research did you make in order to finalize this book?

I had to research the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. Kashmir Shaivism is non-dualistic. It teaches that only God exists. Everything and everyone is part of one Supreme Being. There is not two, there is only One. I also studied the teachings of other Masters who taught non-dualism. I even researched some of the ancient texts of Advaita Vedanta, which is very similar to Kashmir Shaivism.

7. What other genres do you read or wish to read?

I used to read books on business management because it helped me with my work. I read less of them now.

8. What are your favorite books and why do you like them?

Neale Donald Walsch’sCommunion with God, Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, Ramana Maharshi’s Words of Grace and The Ashtavakra Gita. Their message is beautiful and so transformative. It immediately changes your life for the better.

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9. Name one book that has had a profound effect on your thinking process?

The Ashtavakra Gita. Its words impact you immediately. They stir up something within you and you realize you are being awakened from your slumber.

10. Few words for your readers.

Be a seeker, not a believer. Find the truth for yourself. Don’t blindly follow others. See what works for you.

11. Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

Neale Donald Walsch, Ramana Maharshi, Sadhguru, Eckhart Tolle, Osho, and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. They all taught the philosophy of non-dualism and explained it so well.  I was able to understand the philosophy of non-dualism from these masters. It helped me immensely in understanding Kashmir Shaivism and the sutras I was translating.

12. In your opinion, what is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, which they need to know?

The subject of these books is basically our enlightenment. For most people, enlightenment is a distant, far off thing, which they will look at later but for now, they are more concerned about their day to day problems. What they don’t realize is that these ancient texts have a great deal of practical wisdom and even explain how to handle our day to day problems.

One-liners/One word-based answer questions

Please respond to these questions in one line or one word wherever possible –

  1. Your all-time favorite author/writer? Neale Donald Walsch.
  2. Do you believe in writer’s block? Did you have it anytime or not? I have never experienced it.
  3. Your favorite place to write your book(s)? My Study.
  4. Research and then write or research while writing? Which one do you prefer? Research and then write.
  5. What do you do in your free time? Yoga, meditation, time with the family, golf.
  6. How many hours a day do you write? Up to two hours.
  7. Do you Google yourself? No.
  8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? No.
  9. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Writing/translating spiritual texts is my passion and a form of service to Lord Shiva. I do something else for a living.

(Interviewed by Swapna Peri)

The interview was first published in Storizen Magazine October 2019 Issue