Author Vivek Shukla is a man of many talents. A graduate of the Madhav Institute of Technology and Science (MITS) Gwalior in BE Electronics, he has to his credit 37+ years of working experience in different corporates including Rajasthan Communications Limited Jaipur, Optel Telecommunications Limited Bhopal, Reliance Infocomm / Communications Limited, and Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited.
As can be gauged from his corporate work experience, his area of expertise is Telecom Operations, however, it is writing that fuels his imagination.
Writing is the passion that keeps his creative juices flowing, and it is in pursuit of this goal that the author has most recently come up with his debut book, The Immortal Secret Mantra – The Recipe.
The book is part 1 in a trilogy that explores a universal curiosity that has befuddled humankind since time immemorial – the question of immortality. Vivek explores immortality as a quest in his latest book and brings to us facts and fiction that are bound to vow the Indian reader.
What comes to many writers naturally is reading, and this is one passion that has only grown with time for the author. His secret desire is to be locked up in a library full of books, unperturbed for days or even weeks. Now, if that happens by accident or deliberation he leaves upon destiny.
Some of his other interests apart from reading and writing include sports. Unknown to many, Vivek is a keen badminton enthusiast and was also a captain of his college badminton team. However, his fondness for sports is not restricted to just Badminton and he is also a keen follower of cricket, squash, tennis, football, etc.
Being a creative person himself, it is only natural that he also has a passion for movies and TV series, and his favourites in these categories include classics like Shyam Benegal’s Manthan, and Govind Nihalani’s Tamas. He is also a great fan of Vivek Agnihotri’s Buddha in a Traffic Jam, James Bond, Charlie Chaplin, and Sherlock Holmes.
Equally fond of arts, he has an active penchant for theatre as well, and this includes acting as well as directing. He counts Neeli Jheeli written by Dr. Dharamveer Bharti amongst his favourite plays.
He counts Munshi Premchand, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agyeya, Stephen Covey, Napolean Hill, and Dale Carnegie, among his favourite authors, and has been a big fan of the comic series Tintin and Asterix. His most prized books include Sherlock Holmes, Gurudev’s Yogic commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and many more.
When asked about his most precious memory related to books, he fondly recalls his days as a young boy in Agra when he used to escape to the rooftop to devour comics unperturbed, this at a time when the temperatures would soar to an unbearable 46 degrees or more.
He also reminisces about the time in his childhood when he got a book for his birthday, and unable to contain his excitement and eagerness he went to the other room and started reading the book while his friends tried to figure out where the birthday boy has vanished.
Unlike many of his counterparts, Vivek doesn’t shy away from the outdoors and is in fact, quite eager for excursions and adventures. One of his favourite adventure memories is from the 1990s when he rode not once but thrice from Bhopal to the Himalayas (including the treacherous Khardung La Pass) at a time when the roads were strictly non-existent and the infrastructure bare minimum.
What else can we say, except that Vivek indeed, is a man of many many talents. We at bookGeeks got a lucky chance at a tete-e-tete with the author. Here’s what he has to say about his latest book, The Immortal Secret Mantra – The Recipe, and his love for writing, reading, and everything bookish.
|Tell us something about yourself. Who is Vivek as a person, and how is he different as an author?
|Vivek is a Telecom engineer by profession and an author by passion. Loves sports, and trekking, and is eternally in romance with the sand dunes of Rajasthan and snowbound peaks of the Himalayas.
There is no difference between Vivek as a person and as an author – always a learner, learning something new every day, from everyone – like right now I am learning a lot from you – how to frame an interview after reading a book! What to focus on so that the concept and the philosophy behind the book can be explained within a few minutes!!
|Tell us about your latest book The Immortal Secret Mantra – The Recipe. When did you first conceive the idea of writing it?
|“MANTRA” is the first part of the trilogy ‘THE IMMORTAL SECRET’. The story is about the basic question which has intrigued mankind since time immemorial – “Is Death inevitable? Can it be avoided??” We all know the obvious answer is NO! Everybody who has taken birth has to die someday!
Still, when someone very close to us dies, we are shattered and it takes a long time to accept that as Death is inevitable, we should not grieve.
When my mother died in 2018, I was also shattered and went to my Guru in search of mental peace. There I casually asked whether there are any immortals and was shocked to get an affirmative answer. Even more shocking was his statement that he had personally met two of them – an actual description of that meeting has been included in part two of the trilogy – “Yantra”.
Our discussions went on for a long time, in which he also mentioned that the secret of Immortality has a lot to do with Shiv and his Mantra – Maha Mrityunjaya!
I have mentioned in the foreword of the book that this is a Triction – more Truth less Fiction! It is not just a wild flight of imagination like many Mythological Fictions available in bookstores; but has roots in the Vedic scriptures!
The locations and the story’s main characters like Bhola and Gurudev are not fictional but very much real – yeah, hard to believe – but true! The character of Gurudev and the wisdom imparted by him in the story about life and death is taken from his teachings – verbatim! Even the chapter where Gurudev stops his heartbeats has happened in my presence.
You can pick up any Sanskrit dictionary and find the uncommon meaning of ‘Mantra’ and the three synonyms of Shiv and the other hidden constituents of the Mantra!
I personally went through all these and realised this Mantra is not a simple prayer but an alchemical formula for anti-ageing and longevity. I then took Gurudev’s permission to bring it out in the form of a story. The result is Mantra – which is more Truth less Fiction – I repeat!
|You have given an entirely new perspective on Shiv’s identity as a peasant along with convincing arguments. How did you get into that?
|When I started working on the book I had two options – either believe Immortals are there (as per the verse given in Padma Puran) or disbelieve. If I don’t believe in Puranic literature, the story ends there.
Since I believe in ancient knowledge, the very question which came to my mind was – who was the first person to discover the secret or process for achieving immortality? Again and again, I came back to the same name – Shiv – He must have discovered the secret and become the first Immortal – the reasons I have given in the book.
Then the question came, what was He before He became God? Again, the answer lies in all the things associated with Him – everything pointing towards He being a farmer. If you observe carefully, everything related to Shiv, – His prayer, the items used in His Pooja – all point towards His journey from being a mortal human being to becoming Immortal.
|Can you elaborate on that?
|I will take one example – what do we use in Rudrabhishek? Five items – Milk, Curd, Ghee, Honey, and Ganga Jal. You start with Milk – it rots in a few hours while Curd survives for a couple of days. From Curd, we get Buttermilk which survives for a week or so. Then we get Butter which survives for two-three weeks or even more.
Further processing gives Ghee which doesn’t rot. It is the Immortal substance of Milk though it is not visible in Milk. Honey and Ganga Jal are other Immortal substances.
So, when we perform Rudrabhishek by offering Milk, Curd, Ghee, Honey, and Ganga Jal to Shivlinga – it is symbolic of Shiv’s journey from Mortality to Immortality – how He fought with Death and defeated it earning the name of Mrityunjaya – one who is victorious over Death.
There are many more reasons given in the book to corroborate this.
|What do you do in your professional sphere? Has it ever conflicted with your writing or has it influenced it?
|I am basically a telecom engineer with more than 37 years of experience in pure Telecom ranging from manufacturing Wireless Sets to Optical Fibre Cables at various companies. Then I moved to Operations and Maintenance of Reliance Communications and Reliance Jio networks.
Operations did not conflict with my writing but being a 24×7 job left very little time for literary pursuits.
On the other hand, it being a purely technical job, helped me write the story in a very structured and logical manner.
You must have noticed that I have done a lot of research into the subject and scientifically corroborated my viewpoint on the secret hidden in Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra.
|What made you attempt such a unique genre blend, weaving Itihaasa into action, adventure, and science?
|I am a lover of Mythology since my childhood. My mother was an eminent Sanskrit scholar and we have many Vedic scriptures in our home. Being an avid reader, I had read most of these Vedas and Puranas even before I entered my teenage. You will find very few Mythological fiction books based on true Vedic knowledge and this fact alone tempted me to write this story.
|A lot of research has gone into the making of The Immortal Secret Mantra – The Recipe. What was the method of your research, and how much time did you put into it?
|Apart from the ancient scriptures particularly on Nath philosophy and Yoga; which I have mentioned in the book also, Google came in handy for describing the 19th-century incidents and results of various anti-ageing research going around the world.
When I went through the conclusions of these research papers, I was astonished to find them directly in sync with the secret given in the ‘Mantra’ – proving beyond doubt that what modern science is struggling to find today was already known, used, and encoded by Indians thousands of years ago.
|What can the readers expect from the next book in the series? And when do you plan to release it?
|The second part of the trilogy – ‘YANTRA’ shall carry forward the story and shall focus on the ancient ‘Yantra’ – which translates into a ‘Tool’. This part shall be based on the Vedic practice of giving utmost importance to the correct pronunciation of Mantras – shall explain why ancient Rishis gave so much emphasis on the correct pronunciation of Vedic hymns.
How the dormant energy of Yantras is woken up and the wonderful design of a lock, with sound as the key, used by Indians thousands of years ago – modern science has very recently started using voice-recognition technology which was already in vogue during the Vedic age.
Also, the story will start moving towards the Tantric part – here ‘Tantra’ literally means ‘the Technique’ – which shall form the third part of ‘The Immortal Secret’.
|Who is your most important critic, and why?
|This is something I never thought about! Give me a minute – I think my most important critic is Vivek Shukla (grinning) – mainly because normally I do not finish writing anything without re-reading it, rubbing it off, and rewriting! I find it very difficult to convince myself that whatever I have written does not need any iterations!
|Do you have a writing regimen? Or are you a spontaneous writer?
|No writing regimen. To me, the ideas normally come at odd times, odd places, and odd occasions. Mostly the ideas come to me when I am very tense or under a lot of pressure from external factors. Maybe ideas start flowing to give me respite from the tension! It may be a kind of defense mechanism of the body.
|Some tips for aspiring writers.
|If you have any, please give me – I consider myself an aspiring writer presently!
Mantra has taught me that writing a good story is just 10% of the process. A good blurb is another 10% and Cover design is 20% for Fiction – maybe less for non-fiction. Another 10% is editing and the remaining 50% is marketing.
|In your opinion, how can India make reading more affordable and accessible?
|Earlier we had the concept of public libraries where books were available for free to any reader but they had their own limitations! With the advent of the internet, I think the golden age for readers has arrived! The number of books being published and made available on the net in a single day is much more than anybody can read during a lifetime.
The only thing you need is a data pack – which Reliance Jio has made available at the cheapest possible rates! (smiles) – So, Jio is playing a vital role in making reading more affordable and accessible!
|Any future projects that you are currently working on?
|“Yantra” is the immediate priority along with the translation of ‘Mantra’ in Hindi which is demanded by many people.
Another book on the richest temple in the world is also on the anvil.
Someday, I would also like to write about my experiences in the corporate world.
Vivek currently lives in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh with his wife Dr. Roli Shukla, daughter Pavni, and son Kushagra. He can be reached on his social media handles.
Instagram – Instagram – vivekshukla3732
Facebook – MantraVivek
Twitter – @mantravivek2022
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/vivek-shukla-84001b49