By Nivedita Singh
Title: Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In; Author: Anjali Kumar; Publisher: Orion Spring; Pages: 232; Price: Rs 399
The human being is a curious creature and is filled with questions which are yet to be answered by nature and science: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What happens when we die? Is there a God? And many more. Similar questions plagued author Anjali Kumar, who was also a lawyer at Google.
When she started asking questions her search engine couldn’t answer, she embarked on a series of misadventures to find God — or at least some form of enlightenment.
“Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In” is the story of Kumar’s quest to find a spiritual path in the modern world. The journey was filled with wonder, wild and sometimes frightening.
“In 2010, when my daughter Zia was born, I decided that I needed to find God. I told myself that she would eventually ask me questions that I couldn’t answer and that completely unravelled me… I made a firm commitment to myself — and to her — that I would make a valiant effort to find us a comfortable spiritual home,” Kumar writes in the Introduction.
Narrated from the open-minded perspective of a spiritual seeker rather than a religious scholar, the book offers an honest account of some of the less-than-mainstream spiritual practices that are followed by millions of people in the world today as she searched for answers to life’s most universal questions.
Kumar, a part of a rapidly growing population in America that is highly spiritual but religiously uncommitted, was convinced that traditional religions were not a fit for her. She was also aware that she couldn’t simply Google these answers.
She set out on a spiritual pilgrimage, looking for answers. During the quest, she headed to the mountains of Peru to learn from the shamans, attended the techie haunt of Burning Man, practised transcendental meditation, communed with angels and visited saints, goddesses, witches and faith healers. She even hired a medium to commune with the dead.
“As I watched the man burn, and the following day as I watched the Temple of Promise burn, I knew this to be true: We are temporary. And spectacular. In life and in death. There is an irony to the juxtaposition of our extreme importance and our complete irrelevance,” she writes in the book.
Her light-hearted story offers a revealing look at the timeless and vexing issue of spirituality in an era when more and more people are walking away from formal religion.
Before starting her journey, when she raised the issue with her friends and family, she realised that she “was late to the party”.
“Apparently, while I had been negotiating contracts at Google, the rest of the world had been on a quest to find enlightenment, spiritual clarity, and salvation,” she writes.
During the quest, she realised that “virtually everyone asked for essentially the same three things… Health. Happiness. Love”.
Her journey taught her so much more: “What I found was completely unexpected. This book tells that story.”