A Spiritual Take On Life: An Interview With Dr Vijayalakshmi J

Vijayalakshmi J is a Doctorate in English Literature, an avid reader, a full-time teaching faculty at Marwadi University, and a full-fledged poet and author. A gold medalist, University rank holder in the postgraduate studies who has won laurels for her work in literature from the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Bhai Rupani. She has recently won Udgam Women’s Achievers Awards for the year 2019 in the field of literature.

She has authored, the novel Quest for God (2015), the verse anthology Poems on the Eternal God (2016), her doctoral thesis entitled A Postmodernist Critique of the Select Works of Amitav Ghosh (2017), and her collection of short stories, Black: The Book of Unfinished Tales (2019) and Love Beyond Love (2020).

“Poetry is always dear to me- The imagination, along with the coherent flow of thoughts and different variants of experience, does not stop once it starts,” she quips.

Quillopia had a marvellous opportunity of interacting and gaining her spiritual insights with her. Let's begin-

Would you like to tell us a little about yourself and your journey to being an Academic Scholar and a writer?

I started writing poems at the age of 16. To me, the writing was always a journey which is found deep within. The world of imagination and fantasy always captivated me. I always wanted to become a writer. I used to pen down my deepest thoughts, feelings and experience in a diary for all these years. I wrote to find my latent self hidden in them for there are no borders and boundaries in expressing whatever you wish to write. I still remember what I wrote first ---

Lost in the vagaries of life,
I woke up-
To find my dreams shattered

Never to be repaired in the realm of consciousness. The three states of consciousness- the dreaming, waking and the sleeping states.

The manifestation of Om- is the sound of the universe which humankind has to attune himself. It was on the aspect of shattered dreams, and it’s a connection to life.

I am very grateful to my father, who always taught the value of ‘time’ and my husband, who always believed in me. It takes about two months for me to complete a book of poetry and six months to finish fiction. When I started my first book, The Quest For The Eternal was the central aspect of my life. Poetry is always dear to me- The imagination, along with the coherent flow of thoughts and different variants of experience, does not stop once it starts. I also wanted to speak my heart out on my notions of every aspect in life. I feel that life is so beautiful. Life is a gift and to paint life in its authenticity is a very wonderful feeling. When I wrote about horror- a different dimension of life showed itself. I wanted to experiment with the style of writing. That’s how I started to write. I have published more than 40 research papers in National and International journals. The research papers are based on postmodernism, feminism and Ecocriticism. My favourite research paper is based on the eternal theory- which states that everything, including atoms is transcendental. For the atoms in momentum is the truth of existence. And also, I like a comparative study of the literary theories published in The Atlantic Review. I have analysed every theory ranging from postcolonialism, postmodernism, feminism, eco-criticism, Techno Criticism, new criticism as the same. As all theories have something very common to offer- the “root” and the “cause”.

As a writer, where do you seek your inspiration for writing? Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

I like to read and research on the roots/ the sources of all books like the Vedas and Upanishads. I write poetry based on the day to day experience of life. One has got to feel, and the experience gets better to know the world and explore the innumerable possibilities of life and beyond. Meditation is the key; every day, I meditate more than 30 minutes which gives me the strength to explore the self and the knowledge. In the beginning, the mind used to wander Meditation works wonders in one’s life. The Isha Upanishad for instance

“Om poornamadah poornamedam
Poornamah poornam rakshyata
Poornasya poornamedayah
Poornameya Shishyat”

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om- I bow to the complete one.

I was also captivated by Life of Buddha wherein he speaks about “ Om mani Padme hum” as an answer to all the questions that life throws at us.

What are your ideals and beliefs to achieve a good book?

My ideal is to connect to the reader and connect with them in the universal feelings of joy, happiness, pain and suffering and tell them that we are similar in our universal feelings.

Our readers would love to know about your writing history. Would you like to discuss the nature and genres of your writing?

I would like to discuss my first book, Quest for God by the central character-Meenakshi. The novel is set in the rich cultural background of India. Here, the search for the main character is incomplete. My second one Poems on the Eternal God, is about the search of the self and God. My third book, Postmodernism, is based on my four years of PhD research. I have tried to give a positive aspect to postmodernism in the light of hope and the ray of completeness. My fourth book, Black: A Book of Unfinished Tales, is a collection of 17 horror stories based on death, re-birth. I have attempted to show things as they are. The book aims not to instruct, shape or critique, but rather to magnify the essence of the lives of her characters. These stories are peopled by individuals with desires, aspirations, frustrations, fear, rage, and needs and wants. Thus, this anthology, with its seventeen tales, aims to mirror contemporary society filled with the aforementioned everyman and everywoman. My latest book, Love Beyond Love, is a best-seller on Amazon. It is a collection of 197 poems on the themes of love, life, feminism and the essential question of “Who am I?”

You have recently published your new book, Love Beyond Love. Please tell us something about it?

Love Beyond Love has become a best seller in just a few months. It was released during the lockdown—this my fifth book, besides the novel, short stories and research subject. I wanted to paint the experience of being a woman, the status of relationships and the need to bring out the best in everyone by inspirational poetry. The idea sprouted itself beyond the boundaries of time and space. Expressing the love for freedom and self-will is the crucial aspect of the book. More than just a career, this book Love Beyond Love is the outcome of my passion towards writing the realisation of love for Poetry.

As I always believe---“ In the beginning, there is the end; In the end, there is the beginning, and yet there is no beginning and no end.

Life is a cycle which goes on and on.” I would also like to mention that my cover page- It is metaphorical with mudras and the heart opening up to the eternal. There is a mirror image, too where love becomes “evil”.

What are your plans in the field of writing? How would you like to contribute to the literary arena?

I plan to write a novel based on science fiction and the notion of time and self-help books as well on managing your ‘self’. The notion of time – the past, the present and the future and its attributes with the disappearance of space would be the theme I would like to explore in science fiction. Managing your self is the most difficult challenge these days. I want to explore the various ways in which the self can be channelized and guided for the essence of human life.

How would you suggest the aspiring writers keep moving and stay focused? Are there times when you feel like you are losing motivation to write? What is your approach to deal with situations like that?

Never lose hope. One has to keep oneself motivated through passion. Make writing your passion, and definitely, you would be recognized. When I don’t feel motivated, I practice meditation which helps me to calm myself and engage with the inner self.

How do you feel when you look back at your journey and towards your success being a woman writer in these times?

Life offers a lot of challenges. We take it as a game of profit and loss. Our whole life, we live on playing the game of hope. At last, We live and die with no gain or no loss but only failing to realise the truth. Do we really succeed/do we really fail? There are no parameters whatsoever to judge them.

Our mind is the judge, and our attitudes shape us- I think, and therefore I am, and if you think you don’t exist- I think, and therefore I am not.

It is just like a clock oscillating between the animate and the inanimate. It also means giving up our hopes and the wonders that the providence provides us when we stand up for our goals. Life always gives us two choices---

"To be a winner or a loser
Yet, sometimes,
The winner doesn’t attain peace
And the loser doesn’t lose happiness.”

The mind controls our actions and consequences. As a human being with no restrictions of either being a man or a woman, one can reach the highest potential possible. The unknown arenas of the knowledge and the self are open to everyone.

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By Arolina Bhubaneswari