I got my reading genes from my mother. Whether it was putting me to sleep after dinner, or killing time on a long flight or train journey, she would invariably read me something. By the time I was a teenager, I was already familiar with some of the best works of celebrated authors like Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Christie, Margaret Mitchell, among others. As a result, I began to see her as a role model to follow and emulate, copying everything from her mannerisms to the way she dressed.

During my late teens, I grew fairly interested in spirituality. Suddenly prompted to read non-fiction books, I turned to the autobiographies of some well-known saints and spiritual leaders. I started off with a book I had purchased from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in Ahmedabad. It was a book by Radhanath Swami, titled The Journey Home. As I went ahead with this book, it felt as though it had been written for people like me, who are trying to find their footing in the world of spirituality. Born in a pious Brahmin family, I was always made to believe in God, chant his names and pay my obeisances onto Him regularly. I did all of it as a duty. However, the faith, which is a very personal thing, was still missing.

You see, faith is like a two-way communication. You can even look at it as your favorite brand; it takes time to trust and like a product, after it has made our lives simpler. That was exactly the case with me and spirituality. I had been simply introduced to it, without any understanding of the connection between faith and reasoning. It was ultimately up to me to lay those foundations.

Once I was done with The Journey Home, I perused Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhans Yogananda, The Third Eye, by T. Lobsang Rampa, followed by Lost Wisdom of the Swastika, by Ajay Chaturvedi, and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, by Robin Sharma. These books were like user manuals for me. They answered all the questions I had about faith. I would mull over all my doubts while reading these books, putting every ritual and spiritual principle to the test of reason before assimilating it into my religious conviction.

I guess that is pretty much how reading has changed my life for the better. I would like to round off my story with a line I had heard somewhere and have come to fervently believe in.

We don’t find books. They find us.

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