Interview with Gauranga Darshan Das Author of “Dhruva: Relationship & Success Sutras from the Story of a Celebrated Prince”Discover relationship and success wisdom with Gauranga Darshan Das, author of 'Dhruva.' Exclusive interview on Frontlist.
on Dec 07, 2023
Gauranga Darshan Das, a disciple of His Holiness Radhanath Swami, is an educator, TEDx speaker and a spiritual author of over thirty-two books. He holds a master's degree from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He is a resident of ISKCON Govardhan Ecovillage (GEV) and serves as the dean of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha. He is also a member of the ISKCON Board of Examinations and GEV Administrative Council.
He regularly delivers online and residential discourses for children and adults in various forums, including temples, ashrams, schools, colleges, corporate events and platforms like TEDx, DRDO, Rotary club, Hindustan Times, etc. He is a regular speaker on Hare Krsna TV. He has conducted over forty-five online courses (www.vidyapitha.in) and has had lectures over 7500 hours. He travels to various places in India, Australia, United States etc. to teach and inspire spiritual seekers.
Some of his literary contributions include the Subodhini series of study guides, Pravaha series of story books, self-enrichment books like Disapproved but not Disowned, children book series like Bhagavatam Tales and Gita Wisdom Tales, and shloka compilations like the Ratnamala series. He runs a monthly ezine called Bhagavata Pradipika whilst penning thought-inspiring articles for international and Indian Back To Godhead magazines.
Frontlist: "Dhruva" delves into complex themes of relationships, ambition, and the journey to success. What prompted you to choose Dhruva's story as a vehicle to impart these profound life lessons? Can you share any personal experiences or moments in your life that resonate with the wisdom you've shared in your book?
Gauranga Darshan Das: Life stories of great personalities often leave lasting impressions in the hearts of people. The profound life of Dhruva resonates with many because his ascent to great heights began from the ground.
Even as a five-year-old, he experienced deep resentment and frustration in his family relationships. His innocent attempt to sit on his father's lap failed, let alone ascending to his throne. However, these very failures and frustrations fueled his determination for success, ultimately making him one of the most successful individuals the universe has ever seen, fostering harmonious relationships with his family. What fueled this journey from a novice to a pro? – The support of his well-wishing mother and wise guru.
The central theme of Dhruva's story is this transformative journey, emphasizing the importance of unwavering determination coupled with mature guidance and divine blessings—an effective recipe for personal growth and success. I found Dhruva's narrative both relevant and practical, offering insights that can positively impact one's journey toward fulfilling relationships and lasting success.
I could resonate with the life of Dhruva because my journey also began with a humble and ordinary background, facing several health challenges, financial issues in the family, setbacks, and meek social status. Now, I stand where I am because of mature guidance, well-wishers' support, personal zeal, spiritual wisdom, and divine intervention. This echoes the experiences of my close family members and many of my spiritual teachers as well.
The characters in Dhruva's story depict various personality traits and emotions, including love, hatred, frustration, excitement, revenge, and more. Navigating through these emotional ups and downs of life requires finding ways to enduring success and fulfilling relationships, and that's the specialty of Dhruva's story.
A careful analysis of this ancient story revealed brilliant insights into enlivening emotions and relationships between wife and husband; general dealings with younger ones, elders, and colleagues; fostering positivity; unearthing qualities of sensitivity, empathy, love, honest repentance, and especially mother's love and a child's gratitude.
Dhruva's journey isn't just about stargazing and meditation; it's about a prince who traveled on a path to true success. In the same way, you can channel your inner Dhruva to navigate the challenges of the 9-to-5 grind and the complexities of modern relationships.
Frontlist: Your book introduces the concept of "philosophical counseling." How did you develop this approach, and how can readers apply it to their lives? What role does ancient wisdom play in modern philosophical counseling, and how does it help individuals navigate their relationships and challenges?
Gauranga: In India, philosophy is often viewed not merely as an intellectual pursuit but as a way of life. It offers a vision of reality and helps us maintain rational thinking when our minds become excessively emotional.
"Philosophical counseling" is a counseling approach that utilizes philosophical insights to address non-pathological issues such as life decisions, relationship challenges, ethical dilemmas, career choices, and general confusion. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophical Counseling based on the teachings of the Bhagavata Purana. When our rational, behavioral, and emotional reasoning falters, philosophical counseling aids in identifying flaws in our thinking, addressing root causes of discontent at work and disconnection in relationships.
Ancient wisdom texts narrate stories where philosophical counseling resolved profound confusions, bringing clarity to the characters' minds. For instance, Lord Krishna personally provided philosophical counseling to his dear friend Arjuna before the Kurukshetra war. In my book "Dhruva," the hero Dhruva encountered philosophical counseling three times—from his mother Suniti, his guru Narada Muni, and his grandfather Svayambhuva Manu. Dhruva's responses to the counsel offer heartwarming lessons on honesty and flexibility. I've used Prince Dhruva's adventures as the backdrop to introduce the concept of "philosophical counseling," blending ancient wisdom with a modern, quirky twist.
Frontlist: Dhruva's story is full of complex relationships, from those with his family to spiritual mentors. How do these relationships and their dynamics serve as a foundation for the book's insights? Can you share specific examples from the book that highlight how relationships, communication, and emotional resilience are essential components of success and self-discovery?
Gauranga: In 'Dhruva,' the prince's relationships play a pivotal role in illustrating the book's insights. In the narrative, Dhruva's experience of insults from his stepmother triggers anger, frustration, envy, and a vengeful attitude in him. His father's indifference disappoints and disheartens Dhruva, highlighting the significant impact elders' behavior can have on the growth of younger ones. It is crucial for parents and elders to inspire rather than harm the impressionable minds of children. On a positive note, Dhruva's noble mother attempts to foster emotional stability in Dhruva by promoting positivity and evading negativity. The story unfolds several moments that provide insights into proper and improper parenting behaviors.
Dhruva's father, initially neglectful, later experiences honest regret and sincere remorse, leading to emotional transformations and improved relationships over time. The central catalyst for this change is the patience, forgiveness, and devotion exhibited by Suniti, the heroic mother who plays a pivotal role in shaping Dhruva into a hero.
Dhruva's encounters with a spiritual mentor Narada Muni provides valuable lessons on effective communication and emotional resilience. Readers witness the power of seeking counsel and emotional support in times of uncertainty. "Dhruva" also reminds readers of the importance of balancing ambition and family ties, an essential component of success.
The book delves into how Dhruva's challenging or supportive relationships mold Dhruva's character and help him discover his purpose. It emphasizes that success and self-discovery are intrinsically linked to one's ability to navigate these relationships, communicate effectively, and demonstrate emotional resilience. Readers are encouraged to apply these lessons to their own lives, understanding that their interactions with others can be stepping stones to achieving their goals and finding their true selves.
Frontlist: Your book is filled with ancient wisdom. How do you see the role of books like "Dhruva" in preserving and transmitting this wisdom to future generations? What impact do you hope your book will have on readers, and what life changes or revelations do you wish for them to experience?
Gauranga: The story of Dhruva is ancient, yet the wisdom it imparts is timeless, transcending generations. While we may categorize it as ancient wisdom, considering the era in which it unfolded and acknowledging the cultural context, the essence remains universally applicable.
Amidst changing ages, evolving habits, newer aspirations, and diverse working styles, the fundamental human inclination for genuine relationships and the quest for enduring success remains constant. The foundational principles illuminated by stories like Dhruva's are universal and timeless. Even though the events occurred thousands of years ago, spiritual seekers and success pursuers continue to study and reference this narrative from ancient texts like the Bhagavata Purana. However, those who do not have the ability, opportunity, or inspiration to read the voluminous puranas and other ancient texts directly need books like "Dhruva."
"Dhruva" is my humble attempt to retell an ancient story in a contemporary way, highlighting practical wisdom and actionable tips, to make ancient wisdom accessible and applicable for the modern generation. This is the preservation of spiritual culture through the propagation of scriptural wisdom.
I firmly believe that the practical lessons and pearls of wisdom that the story reveals shall surely help the readers see life's situations from a mature perspective and navigate life's challenges with courage and clarity. "Dhruva" attempts to empower the readers with the ability to see and transform their relationships as a source of nourishment and excitement, and not exhaustion and frustration.
Frontlist: Beyond writing, how has your personal journey and spiritual growth influenced your ability to provide guidance and wisdom through your books and teachings?
Gauranga: In my life, I've gleaned valuable lessons in two ways:
1. Learning from Experienced Teachers and Wisdom Texts
2. Observation, Reflection, and the Application of Wisdom
I've acquired knowledge by listening to experienced spiritual teachers and diligently studying wisdom texts. This foundational learning has provided me with a solid base of understanding life's secrets. Another avenue of learning has been through careful observation of events and people around me. I reflect on these experiences through the lens of wisdom gained from both listening and reading.
Fortunately, I've had the opportunity to tap into profound wisdom found in scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana, as well as through interactions with individuals who embody these teachings. The knowledge and realizations gained from teachers, books, and personal contemplation have not only enriched my own life, but have also inspired me to share this wisdom as an expression of my joy and fulfillment.
Moreover, witnessing individuals grappling with confusion or struggling to find their purpose, either due to a lack of access to these resources or disinclination to exploring them, evokes genuine concern within me. It prompts me to question why someone should endure such struggles when a wealth of wisdom is available to resolve and reconcile life's challenges.
I feel a deep concern for those who may lack determination and the ability to navigate life's complexities internally. My motivation to write and speak stems from this heartfelt concern for those around me and a sincere desire to share the wisdom I've acquired. This endeavor to assist others not only brings fulfillment to my heart but also serves as a meaningful contribution to the growth and well-being of those I reach.
Frontlist: Who is the primary audience you had in mind while writing "Dhruva," and what do you believe they will gain from reading your book?
Gauranga: I endeavored to craft "Dhruva" to resonate with a diverse readership by presenting it in an emotionally fulfilling and intellectually stimulating way. Essentially, "Dhruva" caters to readers aspiring for enduring success and harmonious relationships, providing a narrative that goes beyond a mere list of principles or tips.
This work is particularly relevant for students planning their careers, corporates at the peak of their professions, families seeking fulfilling connections, parents striving to raise their kids effectively, leaders overseeing many lives, and educators enlightening young minds. "Dhruva" offers substantial insights for everyone, guiding readers to strike a harmonious balance between success and nurturing meaningful relationships.
The overarching goal is to assist you in discovering your best self amid the challenges of office life, social media dynamics, financial concerns, and prevailing notions about destiny versus individual determination. Consider it a cosmic GPS for your life! Whether you're grappling with work-related stress or aiming to build healthy relationships, Dhruva's cosmic wisdom serves as a guiding force. Trust me, it's far superior to relying on excuses like "I can't make it; I'm stuck in a black hole of paperwork!"
The "pearls of wisdom" at the end of each chapter in Dhruva illuminate perspectives and offer actionable lessons for navigating life's ever-changing situations. I sincerely hope that as you journey through the pages of this work, you discover organic relationships and perennial success, eagerly awaiting your arrival at the last leaf.