It was a pleasant afternoon. The mild sunshine streaming between the intricately-carved pillars warmed the cool gloom of the Adalaj Stepwell near Ahmedabad, in Gujarat.
A gentle breeze wafted across the sandstone sculptures lining the walls of the five-storeyed well. Steeped in silence, Dandapani was admiring the 15th century Indo-Islamic architecture of this heritage monument when the sudden arrival of a tourist bus startled him out of his reverie. Thirty people across different age groups hopped off the bus, clicked selfies and groupfies at different locations of the step well, and disappeared soon after.
“How much do you think they could have seen or observed in seven minutes?” Dandapani asked this reporter, recalling the whole episode. Dandapani is a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and a former monk of 10 years.
After graduating with a electrical engineering degree, Dandapani decided to renounce everything to become a monk under the guidance of Hindu spiritual leader Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. He then spent the next decade living a disciplined life and trained at his guru’s cloistered monastery in Hawaii.
“I think one of the problems today is that people are very distracted. That is because they have never been taught how to concentrate,” said Dandapani.
When his vows ‘expired’, Dandapani decided to venture back into the world. He moved to New York City, where he currently lives with his wife and daughter. His mission is to help people live a purposeful life and spread joy by empowering them with tools and teachings used by Hindu monks of his tradition for thousands of years. “People have been told to concentrate but no one has been taught how to do it. So, I am teaching people across the globe how to focus,” the former monk told BusinessLine .
He was in the city last week to conduct a workshop Learning to concentrate & channelling energy organised by the Chennai Chapter of EO (Entrepreneurs Organisation). “But learning is not enough, it needs to be practised constantly,” he said, adding that one cannot be good at something unless they practice it regularly.
Referring to the episode at the Adalaj stepwell, Dandapani said he noticed that not a single step in the well was cut in a straight line, so if there is an earthquake it won’t affect the step well; but none of the other visitors observed the place or appreciated the architecture.
Determination is key
The spiritual guru said that mere willingness to concentrate is not enough but how badly one needs it will determine how focussed one can become.
“There are millions who aspire to be a cricket star but only one or two get to become a Sachin Tendulkar or a Mahendra Singh Dhoni. People just want things, but they don’t want it badly in life and that’s why many people don’t get it,” said Dandapani.
The New York-based international speaker says that ‘multi-tasking’ is the basic problem that he finds in common among entrepreneurs across the globe.
“Entrepreneurs are trying to do multiple things at a time but the key is doing only one thing at a time. You don’t have to multitask to be better,” said Dandapani.
“The longer you focus and concentrate, the better you understand your product or services and make them better,” he added.
Dandapani coaches employees of large global corporates like Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Nike, Trivago, Fortress Investment Group, Xero to cultivate focus and to manage the finite energy.
On risk-aversion and the fear of failure prevalent among Indian entrepreneurs, he said, “People are not afraid of failure but they fear what the other person might say..”