A man with several interests like public speaking, music and writing, Ravi Valluri is an eminent author who has written beautiful books. The Matter of the Mind, Make the Mind Mt Kailasa, The Infinite Mind, Indian Stories: Images and Thoughts, Namo 303 Words to Victory, Heartbreak at Coffee Shop An Array of Tales, A Tale of Parallels, Magic of the Mind, Art of War to Art of Living, Divine Whispers: 365 Spiritual Quotes of H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, A Quote A Day Inspiration 2022, A Story of Faith and Miracles are his curation. Let us know more about him in this interview.
Q1) What was your first experience of writing like?
Ans: It has been an exciting journey, though I would term it as an “accidental writer”. The journey began with my interest in theatre and music. While at St Xavier’s School Delhi, we were tutored by eminent dramatists and musicians like Barry John and Param Vir and frequent participation in music theatre workshops. This germinated the idea of writing. While in Hindu College, we were trained by the noted trouper Pankaj Kapoor and the momentum was maintained. At that time, I frequently attended music-theatre workshops at the National School of Drama and was trained in writing scripts, acting and singing. Alongside I was learning Hindustani Classical music.
At the goading of my English school teacher, I began to read autobiographies and biographies and epics like The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. These exposed me to the world of words and while preparing for the Civil Services Examination, I was reading several newspapers, magazines and journals which trained my mind to write.
However, all these talents went in vain as I was a victim of alcoholism for a considerable period of time, but rediscovered my mojo through various courses of Art of Living and regained my sobriety and was thrilled to write independently for Life Positive-Magazine, Free Press Journal/Mumbai, occasionally for The Hindu. In meantime I started blogging and showed the articles to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who encouraged me to write and prophesized that my books would be published. All this is accounted for in my latest book A Story of Faith and Miracles, which is available on Amazon and at Kunzum Bookstores, Delhi and Higginbotham’s Chennai.
Q2) Tell us something about your book “The Matter of the Mind “. Also attach the link of the book for the readers.
Ans: The book (a non-fiction, self-help and motivational book) is a collection of articles primarily dealing with the human mind our attitudes and nature, about Art of Living, attitude of students, their struggles and how to grapple with it, on addictions, yoga, pranayama, meditation, the powerful rhythmic breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Rail Yatra across undivided Andhra Pradesh and the World Culture Festival of the Art of Living (held in 2016) at Delhi. The book is no longer in print unfortunately.
Some of my books can be viewed at:
My latest book A Story of Fairh and Miracles can be viewed at:
My first full length novel Art of War to Art of Living can be viewed at:
The anthology Festivals: A Ray of Hope curated by me and Lakshmi Valluri can be viewed at:
Q3) You have received several honours namely Chief of Army Staff Commendation Medal as Director MILRAIL (Army Headquarters, Sena Bhavan) for contribution during Pokhran 2, Kargil War (mobilization of defiance forces), Member (Traffic) Railway Board award for Operation Parakram, Capacity Building Commission, Ministry of Education awarded for IT work on Southern Railway. Tell us about your experience while being awarded.
Ans: For a Civilian to receive the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Medal (COAS) while working as Director MILRAIL in Army Headquarters, Sena Bhavan is an out of the ordinary experience. This is more than just a medal; it is a badge of honor which we can proudly affix on our clothing. It is certainly an Aha! moment in life.
When the Indian Parliament was attacked, there was a massive military troops mobilization of our valorous defence forces who were in an eyeball contact with the adversary in Pakistan. The entire western border which covered the erstwhile Northern Railway consisting of Ferozepur, Bikaner and Jodhpur Divisions were beefed up by men in battle fatigues. We as Railwaymen were involved in the seamless transportation of men and material and were feted with the Member (Traffic), Railway Board award for our contribution. This was an immensely satisfying experience as I was posted as Senior Divisional Operation’s Manager, Bikaner Division and in the thick of action.
On Southern Railway during the trying times of Covid-19, as the Principal Chief Commercial Manager, me and my team of the Commercial Department had successfully relocated a worn out Data Base center (of 1985 vintage) to a better location in 2021. We developed several customer friendly railway apps and procedures to help travelling public and making rules and procedures intelligible to the commercial staff for which the Capacity Building Commission awarded us. We could display our prized trophies at the Digital India summit at Ahmedabad which was appreciated by the top echelons of the government. This was indeed a satisfying experience.
Q4) Nowadays the youth of India is taking interest, towards the path of spirituality. What are your views in this?
Ans: This is nothing new. Religion, moral values and spirituality have always been a part of our culture. Adi Shankara attained enlightenment at such a young age, so did Siddhartha who became Buddha, our Sikh Gurus or say Jesus. More recently Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Shri Aurobindo were all responsible in spreading awareness about yoga and spirituality within the country and overseas.
I would say because of media, especially the electronic media this had gained more viewership. Recently I met an author during my book release, who has taken to Buddhism and mentioned that it provides her “peace of mind”.
All generations young or old, Indians or foreigners would gain by renewing interest in this knowledge which is not so esoteric but actually simple. And this has been made accessible today to all classes of people by spiritual masters like Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Jaggi Vasudev and yoga teachers like Baba Ramdev.
Q5) You have also curated the book Magic of the Mind. How did you decide the plot for this book?
Ans: Me and my wife Lakshmi Valluri (@red_pencil_editor) had curated an anthology called Festivals- A Ray of Hope, which is a bilingual (English and in Hindi) offering. It consists of articles, poems, tales, micro tales and short stories. The genesis was how to celebrate festivals when Covid was its furious peak. Ritu Bhatnagar a colleague in writing had edited the Hindi segment and the response of people was phenomenal.
Magic of the Mind is a collection of articles on the human mind which I had collated again during Covid reflecting the scenario about those times. I had lost my father in 2019 and my mother to the novel Corona virus and had to perform her last rites wearing the PPE suit. So, writing this book was more of a therapeutic exercise.
In fact, during the period of lockdown I could write two collections of short stories – Heartbreak at Coffee Shop An Array of Tales and A Tale of Parallels which were highly fulfilling.
Q6) What advice would you be giving to the younger generations of today? How can they pursue a career in writing? How should they decide their aim in life?
Ans: Post 1991, after economic reforms which have been followed by all governments the opportunities available to youngsters are immense. Earlier the options were either to become a doctor, engineer, join the Civil Services or say Chartered Accountancy.
Today from blogging, content writing, becoming a Yoga teacher, motivational speaker, fields of arts, sports the vista is amazing. It is just that like the fabled archer Arjuna one must be focused on the goal and if the mind wavers look for a Krishna to seek guidance.
Writing is a lonely profession. I have a few tips for budding authors/writers. One is, be patient: writing is a tapasya. Next check for important dates in a year and write say an article or weave a story around it. For instance, let us zero on 3 numbers 1924, 1942, 1492. What happened in those years? Something of significance which can catch the attention of the reader.
Further, write daily 500 to 1000 words without fail, bolster one’s vocabulary by learning say 10 to 15 words everyday (whatever be your language) and also add to your quotes list. It would be wise to work in groups to break the boredom and not feel the solitude. Any writer needs to read a lot, research and travel to gain and develop fresh ideas.
Your last question- a) do not kill a thought an idea or a thought however foolish it may appear on surface for who knows what lies in the womb of future and b) never let the flame of passion and interest extinguish.
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