PO­ETRY AND POISE

Many years of writ­ing come to­gether in Lax­mana Dalmia’s new book One Soul Many Lives, which is due for launch on April 6. MAR­WAR talks to the spir­ited lady about her book, her out­look to­wards life and lots more.

Marwar - - Contents - Text Be­naifer J Mirza

Many years of writ­ing come to­gether in Lax­mana Dalmia’s new book OneSoulMany Lives, which is due for launch this April. MAR­WAR talks to the spir­ited lady about her book, her out­look to­wards life and lots more.

"WITH MY EX­PE­RI­ENCE, I WOULD like to tell peo­ple, ‘Al­ways open your heart, ev­ery time it shuts down… and al­ways play life’s game big­ger and bet­ter.’ Be­cause they can!” says Lax­mana Dalmia, the lady of many tal­ents. Film-maker, theatre ac­tivist, writer, hu­man­i­tar­ian, well­ness men­tor, tarot card reader—she’s all this and lots more, all rolled into one. “If his­tory were to chron­i­cle my path, it would cer­tainly high­light the fact that no mat­ter what my cir­cum­stances were, I did rise above them to achieve suc­cess and bril­liance, and that there is still a ‘sprint’ in my stride as I cross the next hur­dle!” she con­tin­ues. Here’s delv­ing deeper into the life of the mul­ti­fac­eted lady.

Tell us a lit­tle about your­self.

Though born and bred in Delhi, I have a close as­so­ci­a­tion with Ra­jasthan. It is the na­tive state of my par­ents. My fa­ther, Ram Kr­ishna Dalmia, was from Chi­rawa. The iden­tity of this town is be­cause of its re­la­tion with the Bir­las, Dalmias, Goenkas and Kan­odias. My mother, Di­nesh Nan­dini Dalmia, be­longed to an eru­dite fam­ily in Udaipur and was known for her bold stance on women’s ed­u­ca­tion. She broke the pur­dah sys­tem and was the first woman in the state to

do her MA. I stud­ied at Mater Dei Con­vent School in Delhi and later did my Mas­ter’s in Phi­los­o­phy from Lady Shri Ram Col­lege. My mother had set high stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion for us. She had al­ways di­rected our gov­ernesses in de­tail on what she ex­pected.

When­ever she broke out of her self-im­posed so­cial and do­mes­tic ex­ile, she would sit with us and im­part some pearls of wis­dom. “The world is your oys­ter,” she would say, “learn as much as you can from it, and when the time comes, go out and give to all what the uni­verse has given to you.”

I was brought up in an at­mos­phere fraught with fear and su­per­sti­tion—of di­choto­mous and para­dox­i­cal val­ues. Even though I had been taught early on by my mother to rise above far­ci­cal tra­di­tions, in my adult years, I was forced to sub­mit to them by an aus­tere, pa­tri­ar­chal sys­tem. As a child, and even as an adult, I was torn be­tween fam­ily loy­al­ties and the de­sire for free­dom and a yearn­ing for a bet­ter life.

What are your ear­li­est mem­o­ries of books, writ­ing and art in gen­eral?

My ear­li­est mem­ory, as a nine-year-old, is of my ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, who was a pro­fes­sor of English at Nag­pur Univer­sity. When­ever he was in town, he would make me read aloud from all kinds of books, to cor­rect my dic­tion, con­tent and style. He would give me imag­i­na­tive top­ics and a sin­gle emo­tion—for ex­am­ple ‘anger’—and ask me to write and draw a sketch of what I felt when I heard that word. That de­vel­oped my read­ing and writ­ing skills, my cre­ativ­ity and first interest in art and its re­la­tion­ship with the writ­ten word.

I still re­mem­ber, with pride, the day my grand­fa­ther pat­ted me on the head for my piece on ‘the dif­fer­ence be­tween good and evil,’ and said, “One day you will make your mark as a writer of great depth and in­sight.”

When I was 13, my writ­ing skills were indi­rectly honed by my mother—a leg­end in Hindi lit­er­a­ture and an ex­tra­or­di­nary and ex­tremely gifted writer, with more than 35 pub­lished books. Her po­etry and nov­els had the mys­ti­cal qual­ity that made other lit­téra­teurs com­pare her with Wordsworth. She would make me read aloud, edit and re­write what she had writ­ten. That gave me the con­fi­dence I needed and the burn­ing am­bi­tion to one day be­come as fa­mous as her.

What in­spired you to write One Soul Many Lives?

One Soul Many Lives is the re­sult of many years of writ­ing. The po­etry runs through an en­tire gamut of emo­tions, rang­ing from fear, in­se­cu­rity, frus­tra­tion, jeal­ousy, ha­tred and anger, to love, com­pre­hen­sion, com­pas­sion, balance and then fi­nally spir­i­tu­al­ity. In a way, the emo­tions ex­pressed fol­low the pat­tern of my life.

I had writ­ten so much that friends and fam­ily pointed out that there was a book here. They urged me to com­pile and or­gan­ise it all. One Soul Many Lives is that out­come.

My first poem, 'Feet of Clay', was writ­ten for my fa­ther, at the age of 13, as a re­sult of the dis­il­lu­sion­ment I ex­pe­ri­enced with him, when I re­alised that the man I had ide­alised was a mere mor­tal be­neath a mould that I had cre­ated.

You’re in­volved in a num­ber of cre­ative ar­eas. What’s clos­est to your heart?

Ev­ery field I’ve been in and am as­so­ci­ated with con­tin­ues to be close to my heart. In each, the fo­cus has been mainly women and chil­dren; and all these medi­ums that I have cho­sen are strong car­ri­ers of how I want to help. I have been nur­tur­ing a dream and work­ing to­wards the cre­ation of a struc­ture for women and chil­dren, where all kinds of ‘guid­ance’ are avail­able un­der one roof, through dif­fer­ent mind-body-soul dis­ci­plines/sciences needed to help

holis­tic heal­ing, so that they can be­come stress-free and re­alise their full po­ten­tial.

How­ever, to­day, the area clos­est to my heart is where I can help peo­ple achieve their best. With my back­ground as a phi­los­o­phy ma­jor, tarot card reader, Theta healer and Neuro-Lin­guis­tic Pro­gram­ming (NLP) prac­ti­tioner, it gives me a lot of sat­is­fac­tion to fa­cil­i­tate peo­ple to discover their unique life path, an­chor their dis­tinc­tive strengths and un­der­stand and chart their own blue­print for suc­cess.

What mo­ti­vated you to tap the gen­er­ally un­tapped area of well­ness men­tor­ing?

Destiny played a big hand in mo­ti­vat­ing me to walk this road. I was stand­ing at a cross­roads, with­out know­ing which way to go. This cross­roads was more dif­fi­cult than the oth­ers. It was im­por­tant to choose well, be­cause my de­ci­sion was go­ing to im­pact a lot of lives. That is when I stum­bled onto tarot. A Span­ish gypsy ini­ti­ated me into this amaz­ing dis­ci­pline and pre­sented me with my first cards. Cu­rios­ity, my tarot read­ings for my­self and an in­ter­nal churn­ing led me to dig deeper. Steered by my own quest for a spir­i­tual ful­fil­ment, I re­alised that I could help peo­ple bring trans­for­ma­tion at a very deep level, by ini­ti­at­ing a balance be­tween the mind, body and soul.

My med­i­ta­tion showed me the Akashic Records, and as I stud­ied this deeper, I was in­tro­duced to the con­cept of re­lat­ing the past to the present life. I learnt that we are all reser­voirs of vast po­ten­tial for suc­cess and hap­pi­ness, which of­ten re­mains un­tapped and un­ex­plored. If we know how to tap into that reser­voir, we can do and at­tain any­thing our heart de­sires. This con­cept fas­ci­nates me and I teach it to peo­ple even as I learn more and more.

Who is your great­est in­spi­ra­tion?

In the ear­lier years, when my fa­ther was a demigod to me, I was in­spired to be­come a busi­ness mag­nate like him, and the au­thor, Ayn Rand—with her books, Foun­tain­head and At­las Shrugged, which were my bi­ble. Her phi­los­o­phy, ‘To live, man must hold three things as the rul­ing val­ues of his life: Rea­son—Pur­pose—Selfes­teem,’ res­onated with my as­pi­ra­tions.

Greatly in­flu­enced by my mother, I dis­cov­ered later that I was more an emo­tional be­ing, not made for the cut-throat world of busi­ness, and that Rand’s phi­los­o­phy was only a utopian con­cept.

Life was a con­stant strug­gle as I tried to blend rea­son and emo­tion. Unan­swered ques­tions, self­doubt and a search for my life-path led me into the es­o­teric world, where I be­lieve, I have found my true métier. To­day, any story, which de­picts how a per­son can fight against in­cred­i­ble odds to find their place in the world, in­spires me.

What next?

I’m cur­rently work­ing on a mytho­log­i­cal play that is like an eye-opener for the women of to­day. My mem­oirs are al­most ready for pub­li­ca­tion. I’m also work­ing on a se­ries of self-help books for chil­dren, which will give them in­sight and tips on how to deal with neg­a­tive emo­tions.

Fac­ing page: (Top, l- r) Ru­dra Dalmia (en­trepreneur and phi­lan­thropist); Hemi Bawa (artist); Ash­wini Pai Ba­hadur (Di­rec­tor, Art Speaks In­dia); Lax­mana Dalmia; Dr S Y Qu­raishi (For­mer Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner); (Bot­tom) Lax­mana Dalmia with her grand­chil­dren (l-r) Amaara Dalmia, Ar­maana Dalmia and Udit Seth Be­low: Lax­mana Dalmia with artists whose art­works have been fea­tured in her book 'One Soul Many Lives'

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