The Mystics of the East – Father and Daughter Conversations

Prisha Shukla
Prisha ShuklaBhavin ShuklaKrishnakeli Shukla

The Meaning of Spirituality

A discussion between a father and his daughters about the relevance of spirituality and its meaning in today’s world.

Q – Daughter (Prisha): Dad, are you religious, and when did you get into spirituality?

A: Dad (Bhavin): I am a Brahmin by birth, a proud Hindu, and from the pandit clan, but I don’t think I can call myself religious. From childhood, there was always a calling in me to do something for humanity. I was always inclined to join charity events and involve myself in social work is what I can say.

Q – Daughter (Prisha): What does spirituality mean to you?

A – Dad (Bhavin): Many people spend their life simply pondering the question of spirituality. As per one survey, about a quarter of adults in the USA feel more spiritual than religious – but what does that really mean?

I have spent a lot of time trying to decipher what spirituality means to me.

In Sanatana dharma (Hinduism), we call it ‘Ātmagyān’. Ātma here means “self”, and Gyān means knowledge, i.e. knowing oneself. So it is about finding one’s true nature and living by that nature is Atma Gyan. Living as per one’s true nature or dharma is about being spiritual.

Unfortunately, there is no like-for-like word in western philosophy that is equal to Ātma Gyān. There is a word, self-realisation, but the meaning of “self” is very different in eastern philosophy. Some read this as Ātmā instead of Ātma, which means soul and not self, interpreting it as the knowledge of the soul. This is possibly the reason why “atmagyan” is mapped to “spiritual”, as it has the root word “spirit” in western countries.

Q – Dad (Bhavin): So Prisha, what comes to your mind when you think of spirituality?

A – Daughter (Prisha): After following and reading about what many gurus have said in the past, I found the answer I like the most. Sadhguru says that to be spiritual is not to follow any particular practice. It is a certain way of being. He explains that neither atheists nor theists can be spiritual, as they believe in something. One believes there is God, and the other believes there is not. The moment you believe something, you are blind to everything else. The beauty lies within not knowing anything – nothing is wrong with that! It gives you the freedom to find joy within yourself. The world’s conflicts are not between bad or good, white and black, or one religion versus another. It is always one man’s belief versus another man’s belief.

Dad (Bhavin): Interesting. Think he, too, means it is about knowing oneself.

Q – Daughter (Prisha): So you said that being spiritual is about living as per one’s true dharma, meaning one’s true religion, right?

A – Dad (Bhavin): No, again, the western world did not have the concept of dharma, and because of this, it has mapped dharma to religion.

Dharma is very much about one’s duty. A soldier’s or a warrior’s duty (dharma) is to protect the weak, and it is ok to kill the oppressor. However, the doctor’s duty (dharma) is to save lives, even when the patient is a well-known criminal. They both have different roles or dharma. Every individual has a true nature within itself, and the person should choose the job he enrols into as per his/her basic nature. The balance of one’s life is disturbed if that individual tries to play a role that is not per his/her dharma, i.e. playing out of position.

Whereas religion = faith/belief. Let me tell you that religion is for the people who cannot grasp the logic of “everything is one, and that singularity is infinite”. It is a difficult concept to grasp and imagine. Anything one tries to imagine becomes finite. One will need a lot of research/study to build the logic to see it through. Hence, people limit themselves to religion. Philosophy can help build this logic and perspective. Philosophy is above religion, and you should try and build an understanding of different philosophies, not just Eastern.

This is where the quest started. It was to understand the mystical people, land and various philosophies.

We will go through various saints, philosophies and incredible locations and summarise these for the readers.

1.Sri Sri Ravishankar, via The Pursuit of HappinessBhavin ShuklaSaint30th Oct 2023
2.West Meets East – Baba Neem KaroliPrisha Shukla,
Bhavin Shukla
Saint22nd Jan 2023
3.Banke Bihari Temple, VrindavanKrishnakeli Shukla,
Bhavin Shukla
PlaceNext, Coming Soon
4.Adi ShankaracharyaPrisha Shukla,
Bhavin Shukla
SaintComing Soon
5.Swami VivekanandaPrisha Shukla,
Bhavin Shukla
SaintComing Soon
Blogs and Schedules

About the Authors:

The above write-ups are the author’s personal opinions.

Bhavin Shukla has been working as an IT Consultant in the data space for more than 20 Years. As a Data and Analytics professional, he has worked extensively for years on complex IT Transformation Programmes within Health, Finance and Telco domains. Contact the author at, on LinkedIn, or through Twitter if you have any questions.

Prisha Shukla co-authored these write-ups and is currently studying her 3rd Year of Medicine at Aston University, Birmingham.

Krishnakeli Shukla co-authored these write-ups and is currently studying in GCSE.

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