Kadambari Kaul

Sun Sign

Taurus

Three things people don’t know about you?

1) That I am essentially an intensely private person 2) Happiest when I ‘m by myself though I cannot deny that I do enjoy meeting people with whom I can engage in meaningful conversations.3) I value and prefer simplicity of heart to sophistication in people, it’s a rare quality.

What’s your greatest fear?

Personally , I don’t really have any great fears as such as I do believe that if you are ethical in your dealings with the wider world you really have nothing to fear. But yes, you could say that I am, as are a lot of other people I know, concerned about the erosion of moral values in our society and the increasing pull of consumerism. Think, we need to strike the right balance between material happiness and spirituality.

What is your greatest achievement?

– I would say contentment and getting a good night’s sleep, no matter what. And achievement in the sense that I have found writing books to be very self-fulfilling and a source of inner peace and happiness, as it has given be the opportunity to share my knowledge and thoughts with people.

High point of your life?

I really can’t recall – but yes, when I discovered that I could express myself through the medium of poetry at the age of 18! That’s when I wrote my first poem Childhood, and it’s been a long journey since then that led to several other poems and importantly the publication of my books, Gautma Buddha – A Noble Life, followed by ‘Verses from the Dhammapada’ and lastly the Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad.

Low point of your life

Now that’s too personal but the low point was also my turning point when I turned towards the Buddha’s teachings for solace and guidance and it’s been a beautiful journey ever since.

Which living person do you most admire?

Well, we are all only human after all, with all our strengths and weaknesses, and therefore we exist empirically. I have always admired the Buddha for his perfection of character , his supreme renunciation and purity of heart. He was a true cosmopolitan from a remote past who understood the human condition , as he showed people the way to end the suffering of existence. His philosophy dealt primarily with the ‘universal subject’ of human suffering , its cause and cessation, hence is as relevant today as it was over 2500 years ago. However, today I find the Dalai Lama’s teachings as given in his books very inspiring and healing. I would say I admire him most today – Through his books he has shown people the path to happiness and peace within and without. I admire him truly.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Fiction is fiction and I prefer non-fiction well researched books to fiction. But I cannot deny that there was a time that I was very drawn to fiction as a teenager and young adult. I was quite drawn to Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’hara as a 16 year old, when I read Margaret Mitchell’s book ‘Gone With the Wind’ though it’s a book I can’t go through today. I found Scarlett particularly alluring - self-willed, vain, spoilt but not without the qualities of determination and a steely resolve- Alas , she didn’t know how to cherish what she had. Honestly can’t go through it again . Recently read, a few years ago , Khalid Hosseni’s Kite Runner, Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and Fire of Smoke and found them compelling. Kite runner touched me though Hosseini’s other novels didn’t quite measure up to it. And I quite liked Behram in River of Smoke, his weaknesses and imperfections of character notwithstanding and was saddened by his tragic end. No human being is perfect, no hero despite all his heroic acts is perfect.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

The old man , Fyodor Karamazov in Dostoevsky’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ was quite the villain in the novel, a man who represented all that was morally corrupt – a more negligent, greedy and depraved father one could not find, who was the cause of a lot of suffering in his family. But I was particularly touched by the saintly Alyosha, Fyodor’s son, who like a lotus grew from the depths of slime towards the Sun. I found him very inspiring indeed, he touched my heart.

Who are your favorite authors?

1) Dalai Lama 2) S. Radhakrishnan3)Karen Armstrong4)A.L.Basham5)Shakespeare for his insight into human character, loved Julius Ceaser, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice in particular– But I have to say I love Somerset Maugham too , love his elegant prose in particular his book ‘The Painted Veil’ as also Herman Hesse’s book ‘Gertrude’ that touched me deeply. Newer one’s I would rate Kite Runner high, as also Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke, mentioned before. I have to add, that as with many of my generation and the generation earlier, there was a lot of literature I read of the Romantic period that appealed to me, for the portrayal of human character and society of that period - Used to enjoy Austen, Dickens and Bronte though I’m not sure I’d enjoy them as much today. But what I’d certainly enjoy even today and always, is Poetry of the Romantic Period - Love Wordsworth, Byron , Tennyson, in fact love poetry as an expression of soul. Loved the lines from Wordsworth’s poem – Intimations of Immortality – ‘Our soul that is our life’s star hath else where its setting and cometh from afar, not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come from God who is our home…….’ And Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar , can go on and on. But apart from romantics also love Robert Frost and Emerson’s Brahma which is just so powerful- In fact love all poetry more than prose, Medieval, Romantic and Contemporary. And scriptural poetry of our Upanishads, and Dhammapada is so beautiful and elevating…..

What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

1. Way to Freedom – Dalai Lama 2. Hindu View of Life and Dhammapada – S. Radhakrishnan 3. Jeruselem by Karen Armstrong 4.Meditation and Spiritual Life by Swami Yatiswaranand 5. Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama

Is there a book you love to reread?

Would like to re read all 5 of my above mentioned 5 or rather 6 favourite books and Kahlil Gibran’s the Prophet- I also reread a lot of scriptures the Upanishads, Dhammapada, New Testament, Old Testament and Koran - I do believe Truth is One Pathways Many.

What are your 5 favorite movies of all time?

Dr. Zhivago, Streetcar Named Desire, 36 Chowringhee Lane, My Fair Lady and The Reader. Vivien Leigh of the older generation and Kate Winslet of the new one are my favourites – And I also liked Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, just so good!

One Superpower you wish you had?

No desire to possess any superpower or be powerful. What I want is to be happy and live peacefully, no matter what.

Your epitaph would read? /Last line in your biography would be?

PEACE BE UPON THE WORLD

If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

I wish I could sing

When and where do you write ?

My day starts at 5 in the morning, when I read , contemplate and write in the quiet of the early morning hours. It’s the time when the mind is fresh. Generally do not write in the evenings or late night.

Silence or music?

I prefer silence to music – Silence has its own music.

One phrase that you use most often?

‘ As you sow , so shall you reap’ and ‘Seek and thou shalt find’

Do you have a writing ritual / superstition?

Free of all writing rituals and superstitions. Simply research/study, contemplate and write. That’s all.

What’s your guilty reading pleasure?

No guilt, it’s all part of life and the world we live in and there’s much to learn from various lives – Enjoy Biographies and the little otherwise unknown bits of information that makes the ‘revered’ so human and appealing

Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

Never give up,no matter what! And your writing should always be spontaneous , about a subject close to your heart, and never contrived. Writing should touch the heart and leave a lasting impression on the minds of readers.

A poet and author of books on Indian philosophy, Kadambari Kaul was born into a family of lawyers, scholars, theosophists and educationists. From an early age she was exposed to stimulating conversation and literature, as the windows of her mind opened to a much larger world.

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