Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Book Reviews By NITISH S. RELE,

Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to JoyInner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy” (278 pages; $25) by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev; published by Spiegel & Grau (www.spiegelandgrau.com)

From the beginning, Sadhguru is quite candid, pointing out that as a guru, “he has no doctrine to teach, no philosophy to impart, no belief to propagate.” The founder of Isha believes that the only solution for all the ills today is self-transformation, which can be achieved by experiencing the limitless nature of who we are. “Knowing this is yoga. One who embodies this is a yogi. One who guides you in this direction is a guru,” he writes as he takes the reader on his own journey as a boy to a young daredevil while narrating intriguing personal anecdotes and suggesting exercises. The book is divided in two parts – first in which he describes the setting, so to speak, and thereafter laying out the path to take in such chapters as “Body,” “Mind,” “Energy” and “Joy.” Here are some inspiring and insightful gems we have put together from this work, which we highly recommend: “Yoga is essentially a way of re-creating the body so that it serves a higher purpose.” “Somehow, for a human being, life doesn’t seem to end with survival; life begins with survival.” “Inner pleasantness is a surefire insurance for the making of a peaceful society and a joyful world.” “Pain or pleasure, joy or misery, agony or ecstasy, happens only inside you. Human folly is that people are always trying to extract joy from the outside.” “If you have mastery over your life energies, a hundred percent of your life and destiny will be in your hands.” “Once you take charge of your inner life, there is no such thing as stress.” “But in rage, you become one with a group; out of rage, you become one with the universe.” “Resentment, anger, jealousy, pain, hurt, and depression are poisons that you drink but expect someone else to die.” “It is just a lack of attention which has denied people the possibility of discovering what lies within.” “If you consciously get your body into different postures, you can elevate your consciousness.” “Learning to listen is the essence of intelligent living.” “Learn to place your intellect in the sheath of your awareness rather than in the sack of memory and identification.” “Spirituality does not mean moving away from life; it means becoming alive to the core, in the fullest possible way.” “There is a way out. And the way out is in. It is only by turning inward that we can truly create a world of love, light, and laughter.”

The Elephants in My Backyard: A MemoirThe Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir” (282 pages; $26.95) by Rajiv Surendra; published by Regan Arts (www.reganarts.com)

He thought he had it all. But it ended up he didn’t, i.e. the lead role of Pi in film director Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.” How does one cope with a dream pursued for 10 years? That, in short, is what this wonderfully written book is all about. After reading Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi,” Rajiv Surendra (who played the rapping mathlete Kevin Gnapoor in “Mean Girls”) begins believing that only he can play the lead role. After all, like Pi, he is 5 foot 5 inches tall, comes from a South Indian background, lives by a zoo and has a coffee-colored complexion. To fulfill his lifelong dream, Surendra takes off from Toronto to explore Pondicherry where he becomes friends with four Tamil schoolboys; learns swimming like a pro, spins wool, keeps bees. The book is interspersed with letters from Martel about the status of the film. After a fruitful meeting with the casting director who falls in love with him, Surendra is convinced that only he will land the role of Pi. But later when Martel spills the beans (ultimately Pi’s role was played by Suraj Sharma), the author surprisingly shows no ill feelings toward anyone. He even watches “Life of Pi” in a theater and writes, “All alone, he struggles; he waits; he hopes; with little control over the world around him. He survives, and looking back at his journey, shaping it into a story, enables him to go on.” Surendra, a painter, potter, woodworker and calligrapher in New York City today, could very well be writing about himself.

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