Currently, in the eye of the storm for her statements about the harassment she faced in Bollywood, Tanushree Dutta happens to be an avid book-lover with a preference for spirituality and mysticism…
When I was a kid there were a lot of thriller mysteries that I used to read – Nancy Drew, Famous Five. Then I moved on to Mills & Boon. I started reading back during my high school years and I have always enjoyed reading unusual books. One book that particularly made an impression on my mind was Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. Soon after, when I moved to Pune, somebody gave me The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh, which was the first book I read on religion and theology. It really intrigued me. Soon after that, I came across The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Then I read the entire Paulo Coelho series. I like the way he presents his insights and philosophies via a story or journey format.
I go through phases. There are times when I am an avid reader; I’d probably finish one book in a week or in a couple of days’ time. And then there are phases where months would go by and I would not be reading much. Of late I’ve been reading a lot of online stuff. I just google things, download the PDF or whatever format it’s in, and then read through it. But yeah, the old-school charm of having a paperback is any day better. Right now, what’s consuming me is, I want to know what’s written in Bhagavata Purana/ Srimad Bhagavatam, which is different from Bhagavad Gita. It is one of the lesser discussed texts.
In the zone
I think the best part of reading is the wealth of knowledge it contains. It kind of makes you go into a zone where you can literally block out the whole world and not even hear what’s going on around while reading. There could be drums or people in the background talking, I’d still be in my own world! Reading is also meditative. Usually, in the first few pages of the book, I know if I’m going to follow it through or not.
Reading opens up a world of new directions in life. I have heard testimonies of people who have read one book and it kind of completely changed their thought or put them in a complete different direction in life. I think a lot of my spiritual side is because I came across those books during my formative years. When I was in Pune, the other side of me was developing – the seeker and I feel that happened because of the books I read. It would transport me to a world where magical and mystical things would be possible, where God existed in reality, and the possibility of the entire dimension would open up. Although, at that age, I didn’t have any experiences of it, but the seeds of it were sown there because, alongside my worldly material life, I also pursued my spiritual seeking. Hence, one day I actually had the manifestations of those wondrous things I had read about. It’s just something I’d encourage everyone to take up as a hobby – not just reading, but any kind of hobby like swimming or anything. Any kind of hobby is good because it takes you away from that rut. I think I’ve maintained my sanity in this insane world of Bollywood because I’ve had hobbies and sports. Reading has taken me from A to Z.
My genre remains the same – mystical, spiritual, religious. I read the book called Aghori; an account of the life of the Aghoris. I read without judgements. Even when I’m reading a religious book, I don’t compare it to another religion. I believe we have a wealth of knowledge in this world and if we approach it without being judgemental, then only can we greatly enhance ourselves as human beings.
My top favourite books in the category of religious books are the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Quran and the Buddhist text – the former two, I have read over and over again and I also carry copies with me.
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda was a life changer for me when I read it at 17. There are certain moments and incidents in that book that have stayed with me. That was the beginning of the seeker in me while I was pursuing this very high-end glam field. I was a normal kid but deep inside the yearning to know had developed from that book. Another interesting book that I really liked was The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi. The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons by Dan Brown are on my top list too.