Arun Bhardwaj, pursuing his research at Jain University is exploring the art of joyful living through ancient wisdom
Questions have the ability of setting our minds to task. They encourage us to seek the unknown. Something similar happened with Arun Bhardwaj, currently a working professional and a research scholar at Jain University. Arun was giving a presentation in the US while pursuing his business degree. He mentioned the role played by the Bhagvad Gita in creating Gandhi’s ideology. When questioned about the validity of this idea and whether it had any grounding in research, Arun found himself at a loss. “For me, the Bhagvad Gita was like a gospel. But, when I was challenged, I realized that I do not know enough about my own culture to explain to people what we do and why do we do it.”
Later, while working in the US, he got an opportunity to interact with several spiritual scholars and realized that there was much to learn and his desire to learn more about the wisdom accumulated in the ancient texts was rekindled. But, several years into the corporate world, when Arun was confronted by the question that many professionals encounter in their life – ‘What next’? His earlier experiences and interest in the ancient cultures and traditions lead to an answer. He wanted to gain further knowledge in this realm. Pursuing a PhD in the area seemed to be the best possible route to it. The next on the to do list for Arun was looking for a university to pursue his studies.
Finding a university posed its own challenges. He had a business degree at the postgraduate level and was expected to pursue his research studies in Management. In Arun’s words, landing at Jain University was a matter of ‘divine intervention’. Arun met the Dean of Humanities, Jain University at a gathering. He discussed his dilemma with Dr. Choodamani who informed him that he stood a good chance of getting selected at the University but the next day was the last day to submit the application. “I am thankful that it happened the way it happened,” he says with a laugh. He was like any other anxious research scholar but several of his apprehensions were put to rest by the able guides and mentors from the Department of Cultural Studies. “It was like being a part of a very supportive family.”
Arun’s research is a quest to explore if Joyful Living is just a subjective concept, or if it is possible to establish a systematic approach based on the Ancient Wisdom principles to pursue Joyful Living as a way of life. His thesis is titled, Socio-Cultural Approach to Joyful Living with Reference to the Management Principles from Ancient Wisdom. “I chose the term ‘ancient wisdom’ because it gave me a wider horizon. I could explore from a number of ancient cultures,” says Arun.
Another major concept in Arun’s research is the purpose of life. “In learning more and more about ancient wisdom, I discovered that the texts pointed out that achieving happiness is the ultimate goal of living.” A monumental question that stared Arun in the face was how to define happiness. It is an abstract concept and though Arun had contained his study to working professionals, it was still quite a challenging aspect of his research. The first phase comprised understanding from professionals what happiness meant for them and then looking for ways in which people can achieve a sustained state of happiness. But, in the end Arun did manage to find what he terms as the ‘basket of happiness’. He came up with seven dimensions with his respondents while defining happiness. Arun wanted to dig out the nuggets of wisdom from ancient concepts and texts that could help in achieving happiness in life. “I wanted to use the knowledge from ancient wisdom which has survived the test of time for thousands of years and see how we can apply it in the present context to achieve happiness.” He used focus groups, surveys and secondary literature to arrive at his findings. One would think that a background in technology and engineering would hardly apply to the field of research that Arun had chosen. But, it was not so. “What I learnt from engineering was that how one can take a complex problem and simplify it. My business degree in marketing and later working as a marketing professional taught me to take a complex message and break it down so that it could resonate with the consumers.” Arun feels that our ancient texts and practices are very complex and need to be communicated to the audience in a language that they understand.
He is in the process of sharing what he has learnt with others through his workshops. The findings from his research are going to form the framework for Joyful Living Workshops, something which he intends to take up more vigorously in the near future. Conducting these workshops while still pursuing his research, made the entire research process all the more interesting. “It helped me shape a number of things and have an alternative perspective to look at things,” he says.
Arun feels that the real test would begin once he receives his doctorate degree. He is keen to see how relevant his research would prove to help people and especially, working professionals achieve that work-life balance and a sustained state of happiness. Meanwhile he has submitted his thesis and is waiting to defend it.