Tell us about your parents and siblings (if any), your childhood and your place you know as home.
“I was born in a little village called Alachery, in Kannur District of Kerala. My parents had a very poor and humble lifestyle, but as it is common in village life they were rich with sound values. I am the youngest of the (10) children that my parents have. Though my father Anandan Nair, died when I was only 7 years old, one of my elder brothers, Ramachandran, took the reins of guiding the family. My mother Lakshmi Amma, though 85 years old, lives with full vigour and vitality seeing her children and numerous grand children growing.”
“I spent my childhood in Alachery, the village I was born, studied in the village school, which had only a thatched roof and mud-floor and barely any walls. But the educators and the education I received in that environment had tremendous impact. As it is common in villages, study was not the ultimate focus but the work on the farm, as my main family occupation was farming. The life of struggle in my younger days had only instilled a sense of gratitude for what the world has to offer.”
How has being a parent changed you, personally and spiritually?
“Being a parent with all its responsibilities and challenges is a gratifying experience. I realized that parenting is an art, a skill. To ‘be’ a parent is different from ‘becoming’ a parent. Becoming a parent is easy, no one needs to teach us. But to ‘be’ a parent is an art, a skill. Many believe that parenting is about providing for and financing the children.
“Financing children for their growth, even a bank can do. It does not need parents. Parenting is much deeper than just providing and financing. “
“I have also realized that true parenting starts even well before the child is born, not after birth. I mean we need to prepare our spiritual, emotional and intellectual state to welcome the newborn so that the child can grow in a most conducive environment.”
“As far as my parents influence on me, my parents were more religious than philosophical. However, my parents especially my father, had his own outlook on life: he firmly believed that trials and tribulations do not crush men, they build men if you have the right attitude. As a result, he was never afraid of obstacles and impediments and this view of life rubbed onto most of us as his children.”
How do your friends and family integrate your teachings into their daily lives?
“I meet my family, including my mother and siblings, once a year very briefly. My wife has been a great support both in terms of imbibing the philosophy as well as helping me propagating to the world. Most of my friends are those who are interested in Vedanta. My friends in SA are those whom I met during my seminars and discourses. They obviously show deep interest and passion for Vedanta philosophy. The basis of my association with friends is Vedanta. Hence it is at a much deeper level.”
Are you still very much engaged in your own spiritual journey?
“Yes, very much! Life is a journey within to discover the inner self. It is not a journey outside. Every activity we do is a step in that journey.”
What are your commitments?
“My commitment is with those who are seeking the wisdom of Vedanta. To help them unravel the mystery of life. In the process I am engaged in a lot of traveling internationally for seminars and workshops”.
“Of course the ultimate commitment is to discover my own Self”.
During the course of your life, what have been your greatest personal lessons and internal challenges?
“The personal lesson is that in and through my over 20 years of study and research of the spiritual literature of the East and West, one thing is outstanding. I realized the fact that ‘I am the master of my own destiny.’ So are we all. We are the masters of our own self. The life, circumstances and environment is of our own making. We cannot blame God, luck or the stars for what we are. Our life is our creation and we have the power to alter our life the way we like it, provided we have the conviction to stand up and change it. It is one of the most encouraging facts of life.”
“Vedanta educates one on how to face the challenges of the world. One need not run away from the challenges. One needs to change the attitude and perception and face the challenges squarely. Thereafter it is no more a challenge. It is opportunity appearing in the mask of challenge.”
Which realizations and experiences have had the most effect on your growth as an individual?
“It is the same realization as the last question that ‘I am the master of my own destiny’. It made me dependent on nothing else except the power within. I realize the incredible power within to alter my life the way I desire. That gave me encouragement and the direction in life.”
What, in your opinion, is the secret of everlasting happiness?
“It is actually an open secret. By controlling our thoughts and eradicating the desires from the mind, is the ultimate secret of lasting happiness. Thus, by turning inward and discovering one’s own Self, is the abode of ultimate bliss. The conviction that the world cannot provide inner bliss, will cause you to become introverted and pursue the happiness within. You yourself make yourself happy or unhappy.”
“The path to misery is to be dependent upon the external world for inner happiness.”
What about Vedanta drew you to study it, live it and now teach it?
“The practical message of Vedanta drew me to it, I learnt it and benefitted from it and now am inspired to impart the same to others. The word Vedanta is made up of two Sanskrit words, ‘Veda’ and ‘Anta.’ ‘Veda’ means knowledge and ‘Anta’ means end. It is the highest knowledge dealing with one’s own Self. It educates one how to face the challenges of the world without mental pressure and stress stalking it. Every individual needs to learn it, imbibe it and put it into practice.”
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