Nityanand Charan Das: 'Spiritual life is a life of connection, not rejection'

Nityanand Charan Das through his new book, Ask the Monk, provides answers to frequently asked questions about Spirituality, God, and more

Manasi Y MastakarUpdated: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 11:39 PM IST
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Nityanand Charan Das, a practising monk at the Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple, ISKCON Mumbai, recently launched his new book — Ask the Monk published by Penguin. The book attempts to answer 70 intriguing questions connected to Life, God, Mind, Religion, Spirituality, and more. Nityanand Charan Das wants to connect with the youth and guide them to strengthen their roots. 

Excerpts from the interview:

What is your new book about?

Over the last seven-eight years, while interacting with people from various age groups, I realised they have similar questions about life, spirituality, God, etc. The book answers questions about destiny, life, God, and controversial bits from scriptures, which people have less clarity about. It also addresses common questions like ‘what is the purpose of life?’, ‘can I be spiritual without being religious?’, among several others. These questions resonate with everyone. That’s the reason I came up with this book - to clarify misconceptions so that people can take the next step in their journey of self-discovery. It is suitable for all age groups starting from nine years.

Was there a specific target audience on your mind when you wrote the book?

Mainly the target audience is the younger generation. This generation is going to be the future of the nation. Hence, they must be deeply grounded in the essence of life. They need to have these answers, so that when they take up different roles in society and guide people might depend on them.

How would you introduce spirituality to the young, tech-savvy generation of today?

The younger generation is trying to understand things with logic through science. So, spirituality has to be presented in a way they can relate to. Not that the essence of spirituality needs to be changed, but we have to speak in their language. The younger generation is not averse to spirituality. I’ve experienced that if concepts are presented logically, they get answers to their questions. Unless the younger generation becomes comfortable with you, it is difficult to enter their hearts. Spirituality is not just limited to giving a lecture or a sermon. It also expands to every aspect of a person’s life.

How do you suggest people strike a balance between material and spiritual growth? As often, the latter is associated with giving up on the former.

It’s a misconception. People feel that if they want to practice spirituality they have to give up something. I always say spiritual life is a life of connection, not rejection. It’s very simple. There are 24 hours in a day and if we do not plan our day, we end up doing nothing. We just go on thinking or wasting time. I always tell people that if they don’t plan their day, then spirituality or anything else will appear like a burden. But if you plan a day, and dedicate time to a particular work, then it becomes easy. The mind is then in sync with what we want to do. I suggest that in a day we devote an hour or so towards spiritual growth.

What is the way to enlightenment? How can one embark on it?

The way to enlightenment is to first associate with people who are aspiring for the same goal, who are on this path, associating with the devotees of the Lord. Follow the path under the guidance of a bonafide representative of God that is called a Guru. A Guru is well-versed with the process of enlightenment. Under his guidance, we have to take baby steps in the beginning and continue associating with people who are on the path. Enlightenment is essentially to be more precise in self-realisation or God realisation, which is the goal of human life. Hence, the association is the key.

During the pandemic, a lot was said about spirituality. Do you think social media amplified its presence since everyone was connected through that during the lockdown?

During the pandemic, people connected with spirituality because they were looking for some solace and had time. Otherwise, also people have a desire, but they don’t have time. But during the pandemic, everyone was stuck at home. When we are in trouble we look for support or shelters. We start reading the Gita, chanting or praying. People found that shelter in spirituality. It got amplified because people had ample time and social media opened the whole world to us. That is a great blessing that has come out of this pandemic that we can connect with so many people… No matter where we are… All thanks to social media.

As a writer, do you have a particular process? Please elaborate on the same.

My process is simply based on inspiration. Therefore, I write one book or by the end I write another one. I do face mental blocks sometimes. But then I try to give myself a deadline and that helps. If I don’t give myself a deadline, I do not plan and it becomes difficult. Every day I dedicate some amount of time. Considering my schedule and commitments, it becomes an impediment because I’m not able to write every day. To avoid that, I set a deadline, which helps.

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