Why does one write? The honest truth is—you can’t help it. An idea or a character grips you with such intensity that everything fades in the background. Even so, here are some questions and themes that had occupied me for years and formed the thrust for THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT:
Can a spiritual search be pulsating and interesting?
Vivekachudamani, Shankara’s classic poem from 8 A.D says that man’s cry to understand the reason for his existence is the roar of a lion. It is his birthright to ask “Who am I?” and force the silent universe to give him an answer. The sages of the past went through extreme physical and emotional hardships to answer that question. Unfortunately today, the search for the soul has become new agey and warm and fuzzy with people throwing around words like “enlightenment”, “vibrations”, and “chakras” without understanding or intent.
I wanted to make it exciting for a man to search for his role in the universe, more exciting than spending time watching football and setting up a new sound system in one’s house. As a result, I mirrored the protagonist’s transformative inner journey with a thrilling external adventure that takes him from Wall Street to underground Indian night markets to deserted ashrams and freezing Himalayan caves.
Can an ordinary man develop Yogic super-powers like walking on water and levitating?
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (15 B.C.) and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (4 B.C.) give strikingly rational, scientific arguments for how a Yogi can walk on water, live for 200 years, see the future, control animals with his mind etc. Centuries before quantum physics, they argued that all matter was energy, some more concentrated, some less. If intense Yoga can train you to see the underlying essence of everything as that one energy, then what difference is it if you walk on land or on water? And reading people’s minds? Words are just a gross form of sound. As the Yogi’s mind gets more and more one pointed, he can detect a thought that originates in someone’s heart before it becomes a sound in their throat.
The more I read detailed manuals of ancient Yoga practices, the more convinced I became of man’s infinite physical potential. And yet a large part of me still remained skeptical. The novel became my exploration into the fact vs. fiction of Yogic powers.
Shouldn’t there be a definitive reason why there is suffering in the world?
All religious traditions have tried to answer this question—none quite satisfactorily. Like most people, the question had always been at the back of my mind. Occasionally, it would jump to the front triggered by a bombing in Nigeria or kids begging on Mumbai traffic signals. But it wasn’t until some significant personal loss that answering the question in a rational, scientific way became urgent for me. I read a lot, traveled a little, mediated and analyzed deeply. The novel is my definitive answer to that question. Am I right? Then there wouldn’t be other books, would there? Every written word tries to comprehend the mysterious human condition in one way or the other. THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT is just my best effort to do so.