Hello dear readers, and thank you for dropping in!
Since this is my very first post to you let me take the opportunity to introduce myself. I am Dr. Vineet Aggarwal, a doctor by qualification, manager by profession and writer by passion. I am an avid blogger and the author of three published books on mythological fiction. Whenever people hear about my educational background they ask the same question and today I am going to share the story of how a doctor and an MBA turned into an author!
My journey towards becoming a story-teller, truly began in childhood, listening to stories myself. My paternal grandmother used to regale a young impressionable me with wonderful narratives from our Puranik corpus. My grandfather, who retired as the head-master of a High-school in north India, was a well-known author with books on History and Geography to his credit. Their unique combination of tradition tempered with scientific fact, set me on a journey to discover the common ground between the two.
I grew up as a student of science, exploring Botany and Zoology with the fascination of a novice and later gained my degree in medicine. Today I work in a leading pharmaceutical company where I routinely come across medicines derived from various traditional systems of medicines. Over the years I have understood one fact that we can’t let condemn all ancient knowledge as make believe and it can be extremely worthwhile to retain at least some learning from our past.
My blog – Decode Hindu Mythology – actually harnesses the knowledge I have gained over the years to bring to the readers a clear scientific analysis of what we today refer to as ‘myths’. The blog has gained a dedicated cult following over the years with more than 2 million views today. It was again through the blog that I was offered the chance to get published by one of the most reputed publishers in the world - Penguin. While making the transition from scientific articles to mytho-fiction, I have penned down the stories of my protagonists with the firm belief that they need to be retold in a modern way for today's audience. You would perhaps find enough science and logic in my books to make the fantastic achievements of my characters believable from today's point of view!
My current work takes me to different countries in South-east Asia and the more I travel, the more it seems to bring me back to the ancient stories from our culture. I try to make the most of this opportunity to learn while traveling since it helps me connect the dots and re-imagine things the way they were. It also opens my eyes to the immense influence ancient India had on its neighbors far and wide, the knowledge of which is somehow missing from our consciousness today.
Ancient India not only shared trade relations with countries as far as Egypt and Greece but also culturally influenced the nations of South-East Asia through the spread of Hinduism as well as Buddhism. While taking a walk through Bangkok Airport, it would be hard for anyone to miss the massive sculpture of ‘Samudra Manthan’ or the Churning of the Cosmic Ocean, that recreates an important episode from the Puranic legends. Even today the Thai Kings carry the title of ‘Rama’ and the ancient capital of their land was named ‘Ayutthaya’ in honor of the 'Ayodhya' in India.
Moving to another country, the 11th century Cambodian temple complex of Angkor Wat is not only the biggest religious complex in the world (bigger than even the Vatican) but is also the biggest ode to India outside of our boundaries. It was constructed by a Khmer Hindu King and was dedicated to Lord Vishnu though now the entire country follows Buddhism. Traveling around I discovered that the river on the Kulen Hills northeast of Angkor supports hundreds of carved Shiva Lingams on its bed and is popularly known as the 1000 Linga river. The Royal Palace sports Ramayan paintings just as in Bangkok and the state museums in Phnom Penh as well as Siem Reap have abundant sculptures of Hindu gods along with stone inscriptions of Sanskrit inscribed in an old Tamil script!
Moving further east you can find the ruins of a 7th century Shiva temple in far-off Vietnam though the entire complex has been ravaged by the effects of the infamous Vietnam War. The Seven Japanese Gods of Luck include three of Indian origin and the only goddess in the group - Benzaiten - is actually the Goddess of Learning Saraswati! The island of Bali, arguably the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia, boasts of numerous statues of legends from Indian scriptures like Mahabharat and Ramayan along with a very popular temple to Varun, the Hindu god of water-bodies.
To conclude, I would say that my journey from a doctor to an author is the result of all the different experiences I have gained as a student as well as while working. More than anything, my work is the result of my desire to share whatever I have learnt with others who may also be interested in knowing about similar topics. And if you happen to check my blog or books, I hope you find a glimpse of my own experiences in what you read, and like them as well!
Take care and happy reading!