Vinay Kumar, a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Bangalore, graduated in Electronics and Communications Engineering before doing his Masters in Physics. Albert Einstein has been a lifelong fascination and inspiration for him. Even as a schoolboy the universe fascinated him; gazing at the night sky being his favourite pastime. Today, he considers himself fortunate to have the privilege of pursuing the only job he has ever aspired to – Scientist. Vinay’s burning curiosity to know what lay beyond what the eye could see prompted him to study science – where he imagined all the answers lay. But his search for the Truth soon turned him into an atheist, agnostic and nihilist, as he journeyed through a difficult existential crisis concerning the nature of Reality. In the course of his intense seeking, he discovered that his own quest had been pursued by many others over the millennia. He found evidence of this in his own Hindu culture and the Vedas. Swami Paramananda and Swami Vivekananda became his first gurus on his journey towards the Truth. In Breaking the God Delusion, Vinay shares his experiences as a scientist seeking the Ultimate Reality.
Here is an excerpt from his a recent conversation with him:
Q. I would like you to share something about yourself with our readers.
I am a scientist by passion and profession, writer by interest and seeker by nature. I’m working as a Scientist-Engineer in Indian Space Research Organization. Physics has been my chosen area of interest and I sought my answers to life through it mostly. I am a book lover and read a wide range of books in many genres. Among the non-technical books, I love to read novels ( a whole variety of them!), non-fiction books on physics, and on mystical and metaphysical subjects.
Q. How did you come up with the idea of writing this genre?
My book “Breaking The God Delusion: From Science to God” has been a culmination of my lifelong search for Truth and the revelations I have had. As a student of science, I had always approached this search through the lens of reason and logic. The path slowly led me to disillusionment and a realization that maybe we cannot fathom everything with reason and logic. This led me towards books by spiritual seekers and mystics. I read them with an open mind and slowly there was an appreciation that maybe what these people have been seeking in every age since millennia may have some substance. After years of exploring these two paths, I planned to write a book on God approached through Science. I didn’t specifically intend to write in a specific genre but the topic had to be addressed in the non-fiction genre.
Q. Where did you find the inspiration to write this book?
In my search, I realized a basic distinction between the pursuit of knowledge through external and internal means. Science basically pursues truth by external means and spirituality deals with the inner world. There is this subjective-objective reality and science pursued this objectively till the relatively recent era of quantum mechanics closed the gap. The seeking took me to different spiritual paths, where the emphasis is more on subjective reality. I tried to find some common ground between science and spirituality. Initially this seems very difficult to a mind trained in a certain mode and pattern of thought. The years of mental conflict that I went through to find some commonality and sense is what inspired me to write this book. The intention was to make embracing of spirituality easier to the modern mind seeped in reason and logic.
Q. What exactly does your book convey?
The book, as the title suggests, is a journey of breaking the delusions we may have about the concept of God and the approach is through science. I tried to pick up specific broad areas of science like cosmology, quantum mechanics, a theory of evolution etc. and try to decipher them w.r.t our concept of God. In every chapter, I tried to give a broad overview of the scientific field of study for the general audience and approached the meaning of God through that field. The first half of the book explores science in depth and tries to express the limitations of science in trying to venture into God and the second half opens the other way of seeking the truth through inner means.
Q. What all was going in your head while penning down this book?
It was inspiring! All the years of study and search were finding a creative outlet and it was a very fulfilling journey. Sometimes, the task was daunting as to how to introduce scientific concepts to the reader without going into too many details. I wanted to book to be very concise and to the point, so I avoided giving too much background of the scientific fields. This was to ensure that the reader doesn’t mistake wood for the trees.
Introducing metaphysical concepts logically in a book delving into science is like threading a needle. It is a big challenge to steer the reader away from known patterns of thought that he/she is comfortable with and the bias connected to it. The conclusion of the book tries to achieve this task and open the mind of the reader to embracing other ways of seeking the truth.
Q. How much time you used to commit to this book?
From conception, writing, getting it reviewed and re-editing, the process took almost a year. I used to commit about 1-2 hours almost every day towards this project in the writing phase. I finished up the initial draft in about 5-6 months. It was then sent to my colleague at ISRO and a cousin who is a doctor by profession so that experts in scientific fields can give some valuable feedback. After the re-edit, I then submitted it to the publishers and leadstart publishing’s editorial head, Chandralekha Maitra finalized the book within 2 weeks.
Q. Was there any moment you backed off from the idea of writing a book?
Q. How do you handle the criticism that comes towards your way?
Criticism, good or bad is part of the journey. One has to accept it and move forward. Luckily, I have only heard good things about this book till now. We have to see how the audience reacts to it once Leadstart publishing starts the distribution process.
Q. How was your experience with Leadstart throughout the publishing of the book?
The editorial head, Chandralekha Maitra was a pleasure to work with. The initial shortlisting process itself was done very speedily and the book was finalized for their catalog under Celestial Books imprint. The book went through two rounds of edits and finalized for print. Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect but the overall journey has been pleasant. Things move slowly in the publishing industry and one has to have a lot of patience through the editing, marketing, and distribution process. The book has passed to the distribution phase and I am waiting for the distribution of this book in a big way from leadstart and their distribution partners.
Q. How would you like to advice budding authors?
If you have a message you want to give to the world, then pour it out in a book! The journey of writing a book itself can be a great source of fulfillment and achievement.