Bollachettira Dhyan Appachu’s passions include his family, his pets, farming, yoga, meditation, nature and writing on issues close to his heart in his blog www.aryadharma.world
Dhyan possesses an ME in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida, with nearly 22 years of rich experience in the Global Engineering Consulting industry. He has topped the Entrepreneurship Essentials NPTEL Course 2019 (top 2%) by IIT Kharagpur. He is a member of American Mensa since 2000.
Dhyan is the founder of Shambhala Samathvam, a start-up focused on niche innovative solutions for Real Estate, Agriculture and Natural Living.
TBE: Tell us about your book, can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Dhyan Bollachettira: Arya means “Noble” in Sanskrit. Dharma is a way of virtuous living. My book is about a way of noble and virtuous living hence the name Arya Dharma. It applies not only to personal living, but also to government, business and education and all avenues of life.
TBE: What brought about the idea for Arya Dharma and why did you want to write it?
Dhyan Bollachettira: God has blessed me with a life where I have been able to travel the world and live among different kinds of people and have gained a lot of life experiences both good and bad. I have lived in the USA for 12 years from 1997 to 2009 and even had a green card. But though I was doing well materially in the USA, spiritually I found it very disappointing and returned to India and gave up my green card.
I wish to enlighten people of a better way based on my life’s insight and experiences into our (Bharatiya) great heritage and the pathetic state we are in today blindly aping what I call the FUKUS (France, UK, USA) systems which are totally unsuitable to anybody on this planet and especially harmful to nature.
TBE: What was your writing process for this book?
Dhyan Bollachettira: I write the main underlying essence first without editing. This hardly takes me about 2-3 hours, but is based on my life’s experience and more than 20 years of research into our great heritage.
Then I flesh it out and edit it. I don’t write at a stretch, I write in blocks and always email to myself or make notes about my work on my mobile. This way I remember the trail of thought.
TBE: How long did it take you to write this book?
Dhyan Bollachettira: The genesis started in 2006 when I started a blog and used to write on it. My book only has about 70% of my work. My blog www.aryadharma.world was my main inspiration to enlighten people that there is a better way.
Then in mid-2019 I decided to put it in a book format, and it took me about 3 months to adapt my blog content to a book format.
TBE: During your journey from the idea of this book to the publication, what was the most difficult thing you faced? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Dhyan Bollachettira: Writing on a blog has no limits you can go on forever. However, writing in a book has size limitations and even though I tried to condense my work, it still came a bit lengthy.
What I find challenging is that most people do not have a growth mindset. They have a fixed mindset and are unable to see beyond what is already there even if it is not working well. They have stopped learning when they finished school and have not been able to continue learning and having an open mind to acquire new knowledge.
I hope my book will enlighten people. We already had this great system before the invasions and colonization. Ram Rajya and Magadha are living proof and still mentioned millenniums after their existence even in the accounts of foreigners. All I ask is we go back to our great heritage, which is far more suitable not only to Bharat, but to all beings in this world.
TBE: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Dhyan Bollachettira: I hope readers will understand what I mean by the key to happiness. The key to happiness is to do everything without expectations, attachment, and ego. This is exceptionally difficult to achieve, but it actually as easy as learning to ride a bike. Once you achieve the right balance, it’s easy to ride the bike in any terrain.
The key is to achieve balance (समत्वम्ं Samathvam or equanimity) and this only comes through ध्यान Dhyana (loosely translated as meditation).
समत्वम् Samathvam and ध्यान Dhyan are interchangeable. One cannot exist without the other. But समत्वम् Samathvam can only come from practice of ध्यान Dhyan.
I have mentioned all the above in detail in my book.
I also hope my book will convince people adopt more sustainable and holistically profitable systems I have mentioned in my book which will not only benefit humanity and reduce inequality and oppression, but also benefit nature and all beings in this world.
TBE: According to you What is important in shaping the society of the world today or in the future?
Dhyan Bollachettira: People should have a growth mindset and more importantly a sense of Dharma and patience and willing to forego short term gratification for longer term benefits, which though it may be difficult in the short term, will ultimately result in enduring happiness and well-being.
TBE: Do you think, for both children and adults, understanding the history associated with one’s culture is important? Why?
Dhyan Bollachettira: A person must have a sense of roots in one’s culture and heritage. It is extremely important to develop this even as a young child. A person with a sense of roots will rarely abandon their heritage especially a heritage as great as Bharat’s, in short term material pursuits.
TBE: Does Indian history, if interpreted without any bias, teach people to be more accepting of other cultures?
Dhyan Bollachettira: Bharatiya history is the most tolerant and accepting of cultures. Even our version of the Abrahamic religions is much more tolerant and accepting than the versions that exist in their original lands.
Ours is the only culture that says:
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनोभवन्तु
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
“May all the Worlds become Happy.”
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which means “The whole world is one family.”
In our culture, there is no intermediary to reach God, in fact the Self (Atman) is identical and a part of Brahman (the Ultimate Reality) and the Grand Pronouncement:
तत् त्वम् असि Tat Tvam Asi – Brahman is the Truth, Brahman is the Self, Brahman is You. – from the Chandogya Upanishad
This would be considered blasphemy punishable by death by some conservative forms of the Abrahamic religions. You could actually be put to death in an Islamic country if you said this ultimate truth.
Ironically, these so called Islamic countries do not practice the true form of Islam which is Sufism which has a famous Sufi saying:
Ya Ilahi Ya Khuda, Tere Andhar Hai Chupa
Oh my God, Oh God, is hidden inside You.
Sufism was originated by Ali who was the nominated heir of Mohammed personally nominated by Mohammed himself.
If you do a close study of the actual essence Sufism, the Islam followed by many Muslims in Bharat, it is exactly similar to the basic underlying concepts of the actual Vedas – the Jnana Kanda portion or Vedanta:
Constant adherence to Dharma
Detachment and renunciation
ध्यान (Dhyan) which Sufis call Muraqaba
Moksha which Sufis call Fana. Both mean the same thing – Union with God and freedom from Vasanas or from the permanent influence of Karma.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, which are your favorite books and authors?
Dhyan Bollachettira: When I was very young, I used to read a lot of Arthur Conan Doyle and Roald Dahl. This enabled me to think analytically, differently and have an open mind. Some of the books I still remember are the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Roald Dahl
As I grew up, I was very influenced by the writings of S Radhakrishnan, our second president who I consider one of the greatest modern philosophers, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Sankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda and I used to listen to a lot of talks by Alan Watts. I still read a lot nowadays and Medium.com has also become a favourite read and also write on Medium.com.
I like the idea of Medium.com. It is citizen driven journalism – anybody can start writing there and there is absolutely no censorship or moderation as far as I have seen. Most of the writers I have come across in Medium.com are analytical and free speaking and unbiased, unlike conventional paid, biased and compliant mainstream media.
Some of the books that changed my life are:
S Radhakrishnan’s interpretation of the Principal Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada and Brahmasutra.
Sankaras Bhaja Govindam, Vivekachudamani, Taitreya Upanishad commentary and Atma Bodha.
Jiddu’s and Alan Watts various short speeches and writings.
Swami Vivekananda’s works.
TBE: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Dhyan Bollachettira: I like to spend time with my two year old son, go for long walks in nature and do meditation twice a day, once in the morning, and again in the evening.
TBE: What was one of the most surprising things you learned during creation of your book?
Dhyan Bollachettira: It is easy to write a book, but difficult to market it and get readers to read it and more importantly to understand my goal for writing this book. I still am figuring out how to do this.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Dhyan Bollachettira: Based entirely on my life’s experience and insight from experts I am following, I am working on a book on how to manage money wisely and also on a book on natural farming which is the only sustainable method of farming.