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I’m an avid reader of all kind of books of various genres, but I have to admit that I do not enjoy reading self-help books at all, primarily because I just don’t believe in the generalisation of human behaviour and a “one size fits all” approach that most self help books seem to follow.
However, when someone gifted me a copy of Saharasri Subrata Roy’s book “Life Mantras” written from within the Tihar Jail, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Although I may not agree with his various misdemeanours that have led him being in judicial custody, I also know that Subrata Roy was and still is one of the most dynamic businessmen and speakers India has ever produced and has the power to ignite passion amongst millions with the strength and conviction in his words.
I was curious to see if the same dynamism would translate into his written thoughts as well, as in the book it would be merely his beliefs without his personality and charisma that would have to sell and make his words believable.
I was pleasantly surprised. “Life Mantras” is not written as an autobiography, but the thoughts, ideas and learning presented in the book are all derived from Subrata Roy’s exceptional life. The book reveals his life perspective, its challenges and unique ways of tackling them.
THE PERSONAL CONNECT
I have quite a number of friends who’ve been a part of the Sahara parivar, and a few of them have interacted with Mr.Roy on a regular basis. Always hearing reports about how as a leader he was autocratic in thought and action but as person he was kind, concerned and helpful at all times, I was curious to see if the dichotomy would reflect in the book as well, and quite unsurprisingly, I found that it did!
THE GOOD STUFF
In this day and age of super fast development when life is one big mad rush to reach the “top spot”, Saharasri’s words come as a pause, as a realization that it is only we who are responsible for our own peace of mind and happiness, and the concept of satisfaction varies from person to person.
He cleverly uses catch words like peace, happiness, strength, contentment, satisfaction, etc. repeatedly through the book as he knows that these will capture the reader’s attention and make them want to read more and understand the true meaning of his words.
Several catchphrases stayed with me even after I finished reading the book. ‘It all depends on you. It is all in your hands”, “Maintain your right character, right nature and right behaviour for your peaceful and happy existence on a continuous basis”, “A zest for knowledge develops your intelligence level”, etc. are just a few of the sentences that have stayed me and linger on in my mind.
The most surprising thing was for me to realize that this book was actually written while Mr.Roy was in Tihar Jail. To achieve such a level of understanding and conscientiousness and collate his observations, experiences and interactions into a coherent book while living in prison seems like a laudable effort. He says he leads a totally tension free life in jail or outside and furthermore stresses on the fact that this state of mind is not hard to achieve, and that’s certainly visible in the calmness exuded by the words in the book.
Words flow easily in the book, and it’s more like having a conversation with the author, or listening to him talk at one of his countless onstage appearances and speeches. The essence of his motivational personality shines through the words, and that is the books biggest victory which will make it identifiable among all his fans.
THE NOT SO GOOD
Like all self help books, in my opinion this book also gets rather preachy at times and goes into one of those moral science lecture zones that we all hate. The tone is quite repetitive, and so are the words and statements. The question answer session at the end of the book is more like a quiz to ensure you read the whole book and are getting the answers right.
Saharasri Subrata Roy’s “Life Mantras” may not make you develop a whole new ideology and change your life, but they will definitely help you broaden your horizons and question your complacency and give you the courage to break out of it. An inspirational read overall!
Subrata Roy Sahara (born 1948) popularly known as ‘Saharasri’, is one of the most successful, bold, vociferous and talked-about figures of corporate India. When he laid the foundation of Sahara India Pariwar in 1978 with a capital of `2,000 (about $32) and three workers, who would have imagined his company’s meteoric rise to a worth of `1,80,000 crore (about $27 billion) within a span of thirty-seven years! A teacher, guide and a proud guardian to his over 1.2 million fellow workers, he ascribes his success to his philosophy of ‘Collective Materialism’ which means continuous collective growth for collective sharing and caring.