About Ojasi Sukhatankar:
Ojasi Sukhatankar, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, has national and international experiences in software industry as well as in the field of classical Kathak dance as accomplished performer, choreographer, teacher, researcher and writer with Master’s degree from University of Surrey, U.K. Drawn to Gita’s life-oriented spirituality, Ojasi has dedicated herself to teaching Bhagavad Gita to a variety of students, professionals, and elders. With her deep love for Sanskrit, she speaks Sanskrit fluently and teaches it to others.
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/-/e/B083DWDJRM
LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.
Ojasi: I worked on this book for 3 years. My journey was overwhelming. All that you will find in this book is written from my heartfelt experiences of Gita. And I gave to all of it many theoretical and practical research-inputs. The book’s blurb conveys this. But moreover, there is a deeper truth. That, this book is born from my love for human life in this world. It’s because, I believe that, by studying and memorizing Gita one gets a spiritual direction, upliftment, and change in one’s own life-perspectives. I never felt exhausted because of this. Rather, every time I worked and reworked, I felt fulfilled. In this way, this writing-journey was a journey of joy and light. Today, I feel I have completed my duty towards Gita, Sri Krishna, Supreme Divine, and my Gurus.
The content of the book is in 3 parts.
1) Inspiration & Goal-setting (Chapters 1 & 2)
In this, I explain why it is important to memorize Bhagavad Gita, at least in part, if not in full. I give my own story with illustrations to show how memorization of Gita provides spiritual help in daily life. One can experience this help in the way of knowledge, strength, peace, joy, harmony, purity, perfection in action and so on.
2) Process of Memorization (Chapters 3, 4 & 5)
This is the ‘Self-Help Practical Exercise’ part of the book. In this, I explain how memorization can be a Happy, Quick & Creative journey. In this, I have painstakingly put in all the details without exception that one would need to know for memorizing –
i) Any 1 or more of 700 Sanskrit verses
ii) Any 1 or more of 18 adhyayas
iii) Entire Gita without any gaps, confusions or mistakes left in the memory.
3) FAQs & Additional Guidelines (Chapters 6, 7, 8 & 9)
People from diverse backgrounds have posed me various questions about Gita, its study and memorization. There are innumerable things that a beginner of Gita wants to know. So in this section, I have taken care of all such queries basic as well as in-depth ones.
To tell in one sentence, it is a unique book that will help readers spiritually as well as practically.
LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a writer and what’s your inspiration behind it?
Ojasi: I have been writing since my childhood. So, in that sense, I never tried to become a writer or a poet because it happened naturally as if it was meant to happen for me. On my 6th birthday, my mother gifted me a beautiful diary. On its first page, she wrote a letter to me in which she told, I can write in my diary whatever I wish to. Her letter also said this diary will become my best friend. As a child, I literally believed in my mother’s words and that’s how I started writing. Truly then, my diary became my best friend. She supported me unfailingly in all my ups and downs of life. She supports me in the same way even now. This friendship between me and my diary was so secret and dear to me, that for many years I never showed my writings to anybody. It was only later, when I wrote poems in Marathi and Sanskrit, that I started showing those poems to a few selected people.
Now I realize how this diary-writing helped me to connect myself with my deeper thoughts and feelings, and bring them into the form of a language. I’d say, it was a good practice that I was made to go through in my life. Today, I write in English and Sanskrit. And, whenever I write, I feel deeply happy and satisfied.
I am a science student. I did engineering and was also a classical dance performer, choreographer, and teacher. On and off, I used to write reviews for dance performances whenever anything in the performance used to touch my heart. Later, I did Masters from UK in the field of scholarly research in Dance, Arts, and Humanities, and started writing academic research papers and columns on Indian Dance and Culture for international journals and newspapers. Afterward, there entered the Bhagavad Gita in my life. I studied and memorized it fully, and it changed me from within. So, writing this particular book was a unique experience. My whole goal was to share each and every small detail that I experienced while memorizing Gita and that would help a Gita-student and a spiritual aspirant.
LiFT: What do think about the literary world and what are your expectations from it?
Ojasi: Having gone through professional fields of both science and arts, in my opinion, literature is a very important subject. It is worth studying the irrespective of one’s career path. Note that, the study of language in itself is different than studying literature in that language. Language in fact is not a subject; it’s a thing to be imbibed in one’s thinking and feeling which then develops for us a particular quality of verbal expression. That outer verbal form that expresses the inner mind and heart is what we call a language. As per various needs and expressions of our inner life, various languages get formed in the world, it seems. They are used differently for different purposes. And when we use them, we also feel different. For example, to give my personal example, I feel ‘professional’ when I speak English; whereas I feel ‘homely’ when I speak Sanskrit. In this way, every language is unique and has uniquely various literary materials of its own. The study of both language and literature needs to go hand-in-hand. It is because both complementarily enrich each other. Moreover, the study of language and literature helps us become humane in our life, and it also gives us the self-confidence to remain so irrespective of any worldly hazards. It shows us what rich and beautiful life, other than the material alone, a human being can live. It improves our IQ and EQ so to say, and it also teaches us to value our own thoughts and feelings that in turn lead our actions. In short, the study of language and literature refines our thought-feeling-action combo, nourishes it, gives it food for further development, and thereby makes our selves happy and rich, psychologically and intellectually.
LiFT: How much do you think the marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?
Ojasi: Marketing is necessary at least in the beginning when a book newly enters the market. However, if it has to succeed, the contents of a book need to have a quality. Moreover, a qualitative book without any marketing does not fully serve the purpose of writing a book in the first place. It’s because, a writer writes with an inherent goal and a purpose that one day his writing will be read by many others, and will also be appreciated. (Of course, I’m not talking about diary-writers here!)
Thus, marketing and quality both need to exist in balance with each other.
LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?
Ojasi: That, the writer-reader-relationship is special. It is an invisible bond that both the writer and readers enjoy. The relationship is also selfless. And hence it is something worth cherishing. These days, we all are getting more and more attracted to audio-visual entertainment. But in my experience, the quality of entertainment that writers and readers enjoy is far more enriching and nourishing.
LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?
Ojasi: In addition to being a writer, I am a teacher, speaker, and trainer. My topics are Sri Aurobindo’s spirituality, Bhagavad Gita, Indian dance and culture, women and youth development and (spoken) Sanskrit. I am a devoted disciple of my Guru Divine Mother and Sri Aurobindo and thus, read and give talks on their teachings).
LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?
Ojasi: I simply take a break. I don’t force myself. By practicing to express our thoughts in writing, we acquire a skill by which we can understand when to stop the mental activity and hang out. In fact, in my book, I have explained 5 types of challenges our mind faces while recalling Gita’s verses from memory. I have also explained how to identify them and have given their respective solutions. Writer’s block is one such mental challenge which is explained in my book.
LiFT: What if your story will be adopted as a movie? Whom would you want to work as a director or actor in it?
Ojasi: Whoever is open to depict the contents of the book both in direction and acting, I can work with them. My goal is to share the knowledge of Gita, Sanskrit, and spirituality, that I have got out of my own experience in my life which is somewhat I believe uncommon and outside the ordinary.
LiFT: What are your future plans?
Ojasi: First, I have 2 more books to publish. One, my own Marathi poems, and another my Sanskrit poems. Then, I want to make people speak Sanskrit at least as fluently as me. I also want to teach to aspirants how to bring spirituality in daily life. I want to give them that experience, and not just a dry knowledge. For this, I will have 4 pillars – Sri Aurobindo’s literature, Bhagavad Gita, Performing Arts, and Sanskrit. Lastly, by doing all this, I will be achieving my goal – that is, to help people around me become peaceful and happy in their lives.
LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers so that they could improve their writing skills?
Ojasi: First write for ‘yourself’. And then think about how your writing will be viewed by others. And then, accordingly, make changes in your writing. It is a very good exercise in which, first, we become ‘ourselves’, then, we become our ‘readers’, and then lastly, we learn to become both at a time and thereby we enjoy this invisible writer-reader-relationship. That gives true happiness of becoming a writer. Also, in order to develop thoughts and refine feelings, one should also read as much as possible what others have written. Reading makes a direct as well as an indirect impact on us. Directly, one comes to know where the world is going, how differently different people can think, and how they express their feelings. Indirectly, one imbibes and develops a power of expression. A most precise verbal expression comes out when one knows most precisely what exactly one is thinking and feeling. Then, writing becomes a meditative venture. The more one writes the more one ends up connecting with one’s own inner self. And the joy which one ultimately gets from such kind of writing remains eternally within. Hence, my suggestion to all, and not just to budding writers, is – no matter what, do read and write.