Man Who Traded Worldly Wealth for Eternal Bliss
He moved to Australia as a teen to live a life of luxury only to return, renounce the world and become a monk at 30
By the time Amit Sharma had turned 26, he owned a multi million dollar software business with offices in five countries, and he was living the life of a multimillionaire after getting a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA from Sydney, Australia. Today, at 37, he wears a monk’s garb and lives a far humbler life.
It’s been six years since he decided to take the spiritual route, renouncing the world to turn monk. This, after living in Sydney, New York, Canada and England. It may seem like a big shift, for Om Swami (37), it feels like coming home to a truth he always knew about himself at the back of his head. ‘I was always the quiet type -I never had a huge social circle. Business was good, life was great but the external world could not fill the void within. I couldn’t connect with that world. I rarely ever socialised; I never drank, smoked or partied. I’ve never even bought a TV my whole life. Meditation and reading were my favourite pastimes, a practice I picked up during childhood,’ he says.
So much so that even while driving his Porsche, he would be chanting and meditating. ‘I’d get transported to another world in a matter of minutes. It would complement my endeavours and keep me calm all the time. On long drives, I would chant the Yajurveda,’ he says when we meet him in the city at the launch of his fourth book, A Million Thoughts.
He believes it was these practices that made him a great boss target-driven without driving his team up the wall. He considers it a matter of pride that under his stewardship, other than his MD, no one ever quit his company. ‘I worked on the premise that things were bound to go wrong in a project and that people including myself would make mistakes. Shouting, screaming and deprecating people never achieves the desired outcome. The people we meet at work form our work family. We can get things done by being polite. It was easy to be firm even while being polite,’ he says. In addition, his employees were always offered double the salary that any other company would give them. Hire the best people, pay them way above the market rate and leave them alone was his mantra. ‘If the market rate was $75,000, I’d offer them $1,50,000. Throughout my career, I never asked any of my team members to fill time sheets or clock into work at a certain time. A mutual bond of trust and understanding was enough,’ he says.
And then he gave it all up to move to the Himalayas, where he lived a life in stark contrast to his fast-paced corporate sojourn. Living in solitude, not speaking to anyone, meditating for up to 22 hours a day (including stretches of 10 hours at a time), having to eat snow at times and being in the midst of wild animals ‘which is a liberating feeling’, he says, helped him discover his truth.’Interestingly, I never missed my life of comforts while in the Himalayas. On the contrary, after coming back into this world, I often miss my amazing life in the Himalayan woods,’ he says.
Today, Swami’s life is different. His 15-hour day is spent meeting people, writing books and addressing their queries. ‘Even though my days are hectic, the cause is worthwhile helping people. Besides, there’s one great luxury I have now that I never had while I was in the corporate world. And that is the luxury of a siesta. I love taking a nap in the afternoon,’ he says.
Swami cautions though that the life of a yogi isn’t for everyone. It’s a hard and arduous path with no discounts and shortcuts, which is what his books reflect. The conditions can be extreme, which is why it has to be an inner calling.’Living in extreme solitude can be depressing in the beginning. To see if you are cut out for solitude, maybe just lock yourself in a room for a day or two without any gadgets, books or social media, and see if you enjoy your company. A period of silence and solitude is must for the sincere seeker,’ he says.
While he had been talking to his mother about a possible renunciation since childhood, he communicated his final decision to his father. ‘My mother is religious, while my father is practical. Only once in my life he asked me about my plans to get married and that was before renunciation. I told him that I wished to walk a spiritual path and not get tied down by marriage. He respected my decision,’ he says. Ever since Swami came back from the Himalayas, even his father refers to him as Swamiji, though he’s only visited him twice at the ashram in the last five years.
Swami says that he has no grand vision and isn’t looking to gather crowds or be famous. While he’s not on any social media platform, he connects with readers through his books and discourses on his Youtube channel. ‘I pay my bills by writing books. I’m simply walking the path of truth without making any promises to anybody,’ says Swami, who has about 22,000 followers on his blog and YouTube.
Article Courtesy: Bangalore Mirror