An Interview With Jayaram V
The following is a rare interview with Jayaram V in which he spoke about his his book Think success.
What made you publish your book Think Success?
The most important consideration was of course generating revenue. Right now the situation is rather tough, ours being a free service. Internet has its own set of unwritten rules. I have been financing this project presonally for the last 14 years. Considering that I am an IT professional and left my job to work for this website for the last 8 years, I can say I have invested over a million dollars in this website with virtually no income. The revenue generated by this website is not sufficient even to cover minimum expenses. You may write a thousand articles for a website or blog. People just browse through them and go away. Most of them hardly remember who you are and what you have written. Internet is a place where you seek instant gratification. At least it is true for now. You come searching for information and once you get it you go elsewhere looking for something else. When you browse the internet you are also subject to certain presumptions, that what you see may be good or not. So if you have a mindset of a closed mind, you will not even look at the information available there. There is actually little scope for establishing emotional or personalrapport with your readers on the internet unless it is a one on one as in case of a chat. Internet users just don't care how the information reaches them. There is even an underlying assumption that information should be free, fresh and accessible all the time. Look at the press and news agencies. Most of them are gradually drying up like many rivers in the world. Some even demand that I should remove all the advertisements from the website, because this is a religious website. They don't know how hard it is for me to keep this website going, especially living in a competitive environment like the US and working full time for a free information service like this one. So to sustain our actions on a continuous basis, we need an organizational set up, so that we can continue to do what we intend to do. We need resources to carry on our Hinduwebsite Project. It is now ten years since I started this website and I think so far we have made pretty good progress in reaching out to a cross section of people. The site now ranks in the top 125000 websites on Alexa. This we have achieved with limited resources and limited funds. While providing information, we have focused on quality and originality and we have succeed in that regard. But there is still a lot needs to be done. We need resources to expand the scope of our work. We also need to improve the performance and usability so that more people can access it simultaneously. I also want to provide a platform to writers and authors to publish their works on Hinduism through us. All this requires funding and we decided to publish my writings into books and see whether we can make some revenue there. Secondly many people keep writing to me appreciating the effort we are making in providing information on various subjects through Hinduwebsite.com. We have also received in the past suggestions from several people that we should publish our articles in print form because many people are not comfortable with reading information digitally. Fortunately the world of printed books is not yet dead. Thirdly I sincerely believe that my writings on self-help subjects may benefit people in improving their lives and taking responsibility for their actions, dreams and goals.
Do you think self-help books are really useful?
I have discussed about this subject at length in my book. I do believe that self-help books have a value and place in our lives. They give you inspiration, help you find solutions and keep your resolve strong. I have personally benefited from self-help books myself. The world is a hostile place. That is the reality. Here when you are trying to be successful, you are in competition with many. Your own friends may not perhaps wholeheartedly encourage you to be successful. You tell others that you are gong to start a business or a new venture and most of them will feel discomfort. People tend to compare themselves with those who are close to them. It does not matter if Bill Gates has over 50 billion dollars. But if you have a million dollars or if you are likely to make a million dollars, most of your friends will experience jealousy, especially those who are in the same position as you. This is ordinary human nature and I am not going to say whether it is good or bad. I would say it is plain natural. So in such an environment what sustains your hope and your faith is inspiration coming from books on self-help. I wouldn't say that every book out there is useful. You have to choose a few books carefully and use them as your regular companions. Keep reading them to keep yourself in a positive state of mind and recharge yourself. It is also important to know that self-help books are not going to resolve all your problems. Life is complex and there are no set solutions to the problems we face in our lives. What works for me may not work for you. What I find useful today may not be useful to me tomorrow. There is also a context in which you find these topics appealing. Tell a person who is in pain that she should think positively and let go of her pain, you know what her reaction will be. It is therefore important that you choose your information carefully. You may read a hundred or a thousand books on self-help but ultimately you will find only a few interesting and useful. Keep them closer to your heart and keep reading them till they become an integral part of your consciousness. One positive aspect about my book Think success is that it is not about one specific subject or topic. There are 44 different articles in the book, which deal with various aspects of self-improvement and achieving success. So I believe that for people who do not have much time going through all the books on self-help, it will serve as a useful reference book on a wide variety of problems we face in our day to day lives.
As you said there are thousands of books on self-help. Then why people should pick your book and read it?
I have already explained that my book Think Success contains information on a wide variety of topics. Further, even though there are 470 pages, loaded with useful information, you don't have to read the entire book. You can read one chapter and then come back again after a few days to read another. Or if you have time, you can browse through the whole book in a few hours. The combined volume contains all the articles and some of them are quite elaborate and complete. They provide very useful suggestions on how to improve the quality of your life, how to improve your efficiency and effectiveness, how to take responsibility for your life, how to overcome your fears and weaknesses and how to attract abundance and happiness into your life. Some of the articles are useful in your daily life and there are some which are useful to build your career, your confidence and your business. Secondly, I have given comprehensive treatment to each topic that I have included in the book. I have explored the various ways in which something can be done or how some aspect of the human personality can be improved. Thirdly most of the suggestions I have made in the book are down to earth and anyone having the will and resolve can implement them. The book is especially useful to those who live in a pluralistic society and have to negotiate their way through life against problems and challenges. The book reflects my own thinking on various subjects. If you are an immigrant, a refugee or a person who belongs to a minority group in any country, you know what it is like rebuilding your life from scratch, dealing with your past that is no more real, coping with the loss of identity and self-esteem and keeping your faith in your skills and your competence, while every minute you are dogged by the feeling that you may not belong there, that you may be out of touch with the society or reality and that you are not understood or not appreciated fairly. You also have to deal with the common prejudices, the prejudices which people show towards strangers and those with whom they do not share the same socio cultural values. It is a reality you have to cope with and manage your life without losing your faith in yourself or in your ability to reach your goals. My book, Think Success, gives hope to all people who want to make a difference in the world through their hard work, sustained focus and their positive mental attitude. These are essentially the same American values which everyone who lives here share.
Which topics in the book you personally like most.
(Pause). I think I like all of them (laughs). After all I have thought about them, done research on them and then presented them here. The topics I have presented in the book deal with different aspect of life and each is useful in a specific context and also in the wider context of your life. For example, if you are limiting yourself because of low self-esteem or because of certain self-limiting thoughts or certain fears, then perhaps the articles on how to control your negative self-talk or how to control your fears may be most useful. But if you are looking for some general information on how to achieve success in life, then there are some articles on success and achievement, in which you may be interested. Personally I like articles such as the Maturity of mind and adult behavior, the Pillars of Prosperity, the Qualities of successful people and the Power of determination. There are a few a more I would like to add, but then I would be adding the entire list (laughs).
Can you speak more about the book?
Think Success, as the name suggests, is a collection of articles on thinking about and achieving success through positive mental attitude. Over all, the articles in the book deal with 1. Resolving a problem or overcoming a hurdle such as loneliness, fear, emotions, low self-esteem, negative self-talk and adversity 2. Improving some skills such as listening skills, memory skills, negotiation skills and reading skills 3. Improving the quality of your life, by becoming aware of yourself and by learning how to stay in the present, how to relax, how to plan your day or protect your mental and physical health. 4. How to achieve success in your career or profession by observing others, taking control of your life, strengthening the foundations of your life, planning for your career and so on.
Is success necessary in life?
Interesting question. I would say, yes. But to answer the question in detail, we need to understand what success means. I use the word 'success' here in the most general sense, which is to be able to accomplish something, which may be a simple goal such as finishing a term paper or a complex one such as winning a contract or an Olympic gold medal. In short success means to reach some goal or complete some set task. If you are living an ordinary life, I think you need to be successful in whatever you want to do. It will make you feel good about yourself, it will give you what you want in life and it will also increase the number of opportunities available to you to improve the quality of your life and your overall experience. In Hinduism we have four chief aims of human life and achieving them makes life complete and sacred. The four aims are performing your religious duty (dharma) as a human being, achieving material wealth (artha), fulfilling your individual desires (kama) and finally, attaining liberation (moksha). As you can see, this is a holistic model, in which success is an essential and important component of life and which has to be pursued in the light of the religious values you cultivate in the interest of the salvation you seek finally. However it is important that at some stage in life, you have to set aside your attachment with worldly success and focus on your spiritual liberation. In spiritual practice you cannot aim for any goals, because having goals in spiritual life is self-defeating. As an ordinary or worldly person you may have spiritual aims. But once you are initiated into spiritual practice, you have to let go of every notion of attachment and preference and lead an unfettered life, surrendering yourself to God and offering all your actions to Him with a sacrificial attitude. So I believe success has a place in your life as it will enhance your experience upon earth and open your eyes to the immense possibilities that are available to you. But you should also aim to accomplish your chosen goals, without losing sight of the overall purpose of your life and without losing your inner balance and your essential nature.
Why have you removed all your articles on self-help from the website?
It was a tough decision I had to make. The articles were written at various times in the past ten years and most of them required thorough editing. I did not want people to draw wrong conclusions about the book by reading them. Therefore in the interest of the book and the purpose for which it is published, I decided to take them out.
Are you planning to publish more books on self-help ?
Right now I don't have plans to release another books on self-help. If I find an interesting topic, I may perhaps write a small book. But I am planning to release more books in the coming months on a wide range of topics. They will contain some old articles which I have published on the website and some entirely new ones. All the old articles, as in case of Think Success, will be thoroughly revised and updated with new ideas and new content. Right now I am very excited about this phase in my life. I have undertaken several tasks at a time and I hope I will complete them before I turn my attention to more important aspects of my life.
What is your advice to people in general?
Be good and do good. Help those who want to do good. Support them. Think long term, not just this life, but the lives that are yet to be lived and the work that is yet to be done. Stretch your imagination to think how your next life would be based upon your current actions and state of mind. You can take nothing with you and nothing comes with you in the end, except the good and the bad that you do and the dominant thoughts, desires and impressions that you carry in your mind. Be a good person, a gentle and compassionate person, who is considerate, spiritual and virtuous, because in the end that is what matters. Your children or your heirs will enjoy your wealth. You can't take it with you to your next life. Sooner or later the world will forget you and behave as if you were never here. But your deeds, your thoughts, your virtues and vices and your emotions will weigh upon you and come with you as the seeds of your next life experiences. Don't for even a minute think that there is no next life or no afterlife. They are neither imaginary nor conceptual nor speculative. They are as real as your existence here upon earth. So take your life seriously as an opportunity to experience and enjoy life and realize who you are.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- The Awakened Life - A Book on Spirituality
- The Bhagavadgita - A Complete Translation
- Essays on The Bhagavadgita - A Book
- Excerpts From The Bhagavadgita Complete Translation
- Brahman - A Book by Jayaram V
- Introduction to Hinduism - A Book
- Think Success: A Book on Self-help
- Being the Best by Jayaram V
- Selected Upanishads
- Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
- Chandogya Upanishad
- Thoughts and Quotations