Anyone who has read Ashwin Sanghi knows that the author links together politics, theology, mythology, economics and politics in a page-turner book. His latest, Keepers of the Kalachakra is no different, where he talks about quantum physics and spirituality (and making it amazingly simple to understand) in bringing out another best-seller. Ahead of his Pune visit to promote the book, we catch up with Sanghi. Excerpts from the conversation:
How was the book written — in the non-linear format — the way we read it?
It was initially written in linear fashion and then sliced and presented in a non-linear format. Given that the book was about Kalachakra or the wheel of time, I did not wish to present the story as a straight line progression.
When you are writing about various periods of history, at the same time, how do you ensure that the plotline doesn’t unravel?
The only way to ensure that is by meticulously following a written plot outline in which every development, twist or revelation is pre-planned. For Keepers of the Kalachakra, the plot outline ran to about 10,000 words.
There are so many characters in the book. Whose mindscape interested you the most?
Brahmananda. I was fascinated by the notion that someone could be living several parallel lives in time and the idea that someone would have the ability to concentrate on the consciousness of multiple individuals like a magnifying glass.
You make arguments for Islam, Islamophobia, Moderate Islam, the Vedas, Physics and Spirituality, Tantric Yoga. Did you undergo any change in your thought process while writing Keepers of the Kalachakra? Whose side are you on in your real life?
The aim and effort of the book is to talk about the fact that we are all connected within a wider universe and consciousness while religion seems to divide. The position that I take in respect of the failings of several religions — Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism — are simply to show that philosophy trumps religion because philosophy is about questions that may never be answered while religion is about answers that may never be questioned. As the proverb goes — I have no problem with God, I only have doubts regarding his self-appointed representatives.
You are at ease writing about Physics and geo-political international relations. How do you juggle the two streams and also linking them as seen in the Keepers of the Kalachakra?
Trust me, it wasn’t easy. This has been the most difficult book to write in the ‘Bharat series’. As you know, there are many connections that I draw between the world of quantum physics and Eastern spirituality.
I have never been a science student and I had to teach myself the fundamentals of quantum theory before I could get started. This was followed by many months of reading up on Tibetan Buddhism and Kalachakra meditation. The reading and research continued for a little over 18 months. Almost a third of the material was left out because I believed that it would overwhelm the reader. The geo-political narrative was relatively easy because I tend to read a great deal in that space.
How do you plan to take ahead the ‘Bharat series’?
The topics covered until now in the ‘Bharat series’ include theology, politics, mythology, history, business, science and philosophy. The next book could be on any of these. Or it may be something entirely different. I have three alternative ideas that I’m exploring and haven’t made up my mind as yet, regarding which one I’ll run with.