Indian-American novelist Karan Bajaj is back with his third book, The Seeker. He speaks to Supriya Sharma about the novel, his own spiritual journey and the relevance of yoga today. Excerpts from the interview:
A Wall Street Banker becomes a yogi. What made you pick such a subject?
For all my novels, I’ve just chosen something which has been deep and current in my life. Yoga, meditation, the meaning of life, was a passionate quest for me so that is one reason why I wrote a novel in that space. To be honest, ever since I started writing, I wanted to write a modern-day version of Buddha’s story.
How much of the book is inspired by your experiences?
I think all novels are emotionally autobiographical so in that sense this is too. I experienced all the emotions and questions the protagonist does. Much of the journey aspect is similar. My wife, Kerry, and I took a year off and stayed in an ashram in India for three months, learning to become yoga teachers. Then we were in the Himalayas learning meditation. We went backpacking from Europe to India. But then as they say fiction is life without its boring parts. I skipped those bits.
Do you believe it is possible to develop superpowers through yoga?
Yes. I have become more and more of a believer. Part of my scepticism is also expressed in the book. But I believe the mind-body [connect] is much more than we know. If you keep pushing mental boundaries, physical ones are easy to break. I have tried to make the superpowers in the book scientific and not just random.
What does yoga mean to you? What do you think of the Yoga Day initiative?
We all enter yoga at our own level of development. Yoga teaches its own path. When I started it three years ago, I was trying to be fit. Soon I became aware of the effect of my lifestyle choices on my mind. So I quit non-vegetarian food, caffeine, alcohol. Gradually I realised how the TV I watched, the music I listened to affected me. I did not plan this. I think the World Yoga Day is a great initiative. People will join at their own level of development and yoga will show the way.