By Parveen Chopra October 2000 Sanjay Grover spent over nine years searching the meaning of life and another nine years incorporating the answers he found in his novel, Nine Days to Nirvana. The 42-year-old eye doctor who chose a sleepy Solan to live with his family definitely sees more than us. And what he sees can end our self-deceits, break our crutches-of beliefs about God and religion-and bring us face-to-face with truth. Excerpts from an interview with Praveen Chopra Nuggets of unconventional wisdomExcerpts from Nine Days to Nirvana by Sanjay Grover, published by Life PositiveNine days. Not a very long time… …yet a long, long time. For nirvana takes not nine days, or nine minutes, or nine seconds. It happens in a single heartbeat-one honest throb in which the heart quakes with all its love and compassion. It happens at the moment of true seeking. And Upasana’s quest began nine hours ago, or perhaps nine days, or nine years ago, but it could never have been nine lifetimes ago, as some want us to believe… …for this is the only life. *** Upasana gently unbuttons her nightgown and peers in. A twinkling black eye meets her gaze. The furry eye soon closes and she again feels the tickling. Little Lucky whimpers weakly. The pup is hungry. But Upasana’s virgin breasts are dry. With tears in her eyes, she remembers her liberated friend Vivek’s outpouring about ‘showering’-about the mother with dry breasts whose intense desire to feed her hungry child makes her a hundred-breasted Venus able to suckle all. Little Lucky licks her, and she giggles as tears stream. *** Not a single word of ‘religion’ did I know before; not a single word more of ‘religion’ need I know now. ???I now know all the scriptures without having read any. The writing of the mystics has suddenly become easy and transparent. And you, my child, are the cause of this mystical revelation. Words like mystical and spiritual sounded quite absurd previously. Words like Worship, God, Brahma, Shiva, were not only alien to my vocabulary but were also quite painful to my ear and tongue. But now I know. For I have experienced. And I can proclaim, Aham Brahmasmi—I am Brahma. *** ‘God is not met, Uncle. God is experienced.’ ‘And you’ve experienced God!’ he exclaimed. ‘No, not yet. But I know one who has,’ she said. ‘So what you say is mere hearsay.’ ‘And what the religious books say—the Bible, the Quran, the Gita – isn’t that hearsay?’ she retorted. ‘Now this is heresy!’ he exclaimed. ‘The scriptures embody ‘revealed’ truths.’ ‘Uncle, even if God Himself proclaims a truth, it’s hearsay as long as it isn’t directly experienced,’ she said defiantly. ‘Love is only experienced directly. Truth too. All that’s spoken or written about them is hearsay.’ ??’But people do look up to God,’ interrupted Anand. ‘God shouldn’t give one a pain in the neck, but that’s all you’ll get if you keep looking up to him,’ said Upasana. ‘Why shouldn’t we strive to rise to his level instead? God doesn’t want to be worshipped. To keep Him on a pedestal and worship Him would merely add to the poor chap’s loneliness. God wants a friend! He wants to be realized!’ she cried. Sanjay Grover spent over nine years searching the meaning of life and another nine years incorporating the answers he found in his novel, Nine Days to Nirvana. The 42-year-old eye doctor who chose a sleepy Solan to live with his family definitely sees more than us. And what he sees can end our self-deceits, break our crutches-of beliefs about God and religion-and bring us face-to-face with truth. Excerpts from an interview with Praveen Chopra How did it all start?I was in my third year at medical school when suddenly the fear of security (sic) hit me. Life was all set-I would become a doctor, get married, have children…it frightened me. Where was the adventure? What was the ultimate meaning of life? It set me thinking. I read and thought deeply about life-which continued for 8-10 years. I wanted to put my thoughts in order and decided that it would be easier to put them down in the form of a novel; then I would be able to be more objective and honest with other characters acting it all out. In 1993, the plot for the novel became clear to me, and the title Nine Days to Nirvana got finalized. But in October 1993 I experienced nirvana and had to rewrite the whole thing, to put my experience back into the book. Before 1993 I was primarily exploring philosophy and western logic. After that the mysticalangle came in because of the universal love I experienced. What finally triggered the experience? It was something similar to Vivek’s story in the book. One girl came to me asking for the meaning of life and I who had spent years pondering over it had nothing to offer. So all my accumulated knowledge which was useless got dissolved. In truly seeking that answer for her, I found the meaning. The moment of seekingbecame the moment of finding. Of course, what I found couldn’t be expressed. But, the answer came when I was seeking for others.So what is the answer? I just woke up one morning feeling that I’d got it. A great peace and calm came upon me and words flashed in my mind: this is Brahma Gyan. What I wrote for a couple of months afterwards were not my words, they were inspired. My wife also noticed a drastic change in me, sensed the descent of peace in the house. I was in a state of trance that lasted for over two years. I didn’t make any conscious effort to maintain or enhance it. And as I’d written in the book: ‘Not a single word of religion did I know before and not a single word did I need now.’ I got tremendous clarity. I could understand the scriptures, and could separate the wheat from the chaff. There is no author or authority of truth, truth is its own authority. There was no more need to do anything. Becoming ends, being remains. But why writing? Why not teaching like Indian gurus do? No, you cannot transmit the experience, so teaching is ruled out. I cannot create the thirst-it has to be there. Mysticism is a misnomer, do you say truthism, loveism? There is only a mystical state. No, I am not planning to go out to teach or set up an organization, but if people pass by my door, I’ll be there for them. I write to provide assurance to seekers that there is something to be found. Fiction is the best way to reach out to a young audience. Like Ayn Rand did with her unique philosophy through her novels. Why are you specially targeting the youth? I want people in their early twenties to start questioning. I was that age when I started out. Upasana, the heroine in Nine Days to Nirvana, is 23. Forties is the upper limit for finding. Preparation, that is unconditioning of self, takes 10 years (Buddha took 12). Obviously then, people in their 20s have a better probability of attaining truth. Why did you kill Upasana in the end? After enlightenment, it doesn’t matter whether you live or die. It is a state of completion. Living then is a bonus. In any case, you are dead because there’s no you left. What is God? There is no element outside yourself, but we alienate ourselves from isness. When you merge with isness, that is God. God is a cliché, it is a needless word. It is a feeling, not an entity. But we think in duality, so we project one outside us. You don’t care for meditation, so what do you recommend? I have never meditated. Meditation is being in the moment, with all one’s faculties alert. As a surgeon I need that, I have to be fully in my fingertips. When I am thinking, I am in the thought. But what can I recommend? First, a person should realize that routine life is meaningless because only then seekingbecomes intense. And the force will itself guide the path. Nothing false can quench the thirst. I elude to the path in the story of the stream seeking the sea. It does not know the path, but the path gets carved. There are no signposts. Each stream finds its own path and goal. Anybody guiding it can only misguide. But one should flow with the assurance that there is the sea and I’ll find it. How do you know you have found it? When the seeking stops. The cessation of seeking itself gives relief and peace. We are not ready to face the truth. Mind is conditioned to create rationalizations, feel satisfied, stopping you from probing deep. Anything not universal is of no meaning. I liked Jiddu Krishnamurti‘s The Awakening of Intelligence where he talked about how to break the crutches. False crutches are barriers and blocks. Break them and Truth is there. Take the crutch of logic. It is limited by the capacity of the brain. How can you understand the limitless with a limited tool? Western mysticism cannot conceive advaita. The son cannot say I’m the father and the Holy Ghost. Martin Buber could only move from I-It to I-Thou relationship. I talk of the Thou-Thou relationship.Have you come across good spiritual fiction?Jonathan Livngston Seagull had a mystical element. Nikos Kazantzakis‘ Saviours of God was good. But most fiction in the genre, like Herman Hesse‘s Siddhartha, is about the search, not the finding and rejoicing of it. We find books celebrating life-animals, nature-but very few celebrate the grandeur of man. In Nine Days to Nirvana, initially most of the characters seem less than perfect, the lecherous uncle, for example, but in the end all turn out to be God. Even Upasana’s mother’s suicide is a logical suicide, a rejection of life, of all crutches and self-deceit. I say that to seek a meaning to life is an insult to the grandeu
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