A young New Yorker goes to India to seek enlightenment.
“In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna’s sorrow shows him the path to unite with the universal consciousness.…Your discontent with the world as it is will lead you to your union.” Bajaj’s debut novel updates the classic formula of the yogic quest, from the first glimmer of dissatisfaction with worldly things all the way to universal consciousness in a frozen cave. Here, the disillusioned householder is a young Wall Street analyst named Max, the son of a Greek immigrant mother who managed get him out of the projects and off to Harvard. But when she dies of cancer, the meaninglessness of his existence overwhelms him. Inspired by a lunchtime conversation with an Indian falafel vendor, he goes back to the office, “switches over from Excel to Chrome and [begins] searching the Internet for information about Himalayan yogis.” Within days, he’s on a plane to Delhi. All the steps and missteps of Max’s path, including ashrams, gurus, false leads, long hikes under terrible conditions, and a panoply of extreme spiritual practices and privations are dramatized in exhaustive detail. “Max walked to the edge of the lake and concentrated on the caves on the opposite side. Closing his eyes, he inhaled and exhaled one hundred and eighty times….He retained his breath ten, twelve, fifteen, seventeen minutes….Next he exhaled quickly….Max performed samyama on his navel and visualized every root nerve of his body alive with the same stream of minute energy particles that the water in front of him was. He took a step forward. Energy merged with energy. There was nothing under his feet.”
Do not try this at home.