Thursday, April 21, 2016

Karan Bajaj’s “The Yoga of Max’s Discontent”

Max (short for Maximus) Pzoras works at a Wall Street investment firm, extremely successful at finding ailing companies to invest in, slash costs dramatically, and make the firm a tidy profit. He’s moving up, not bad for a boy from the projects in the Bronx.

But his mother has just died from cancer, he’s haunted by what happened to the girlfriend he left behind and his own past, and he’s come to see his work as something less than what it appears to be. So Max takes off to India to find a wise man to teach him, and perhaps to find himself.

The Yoga of Max’sDiscontent by Karan Bajaj is about what happens to Max in India. From the mountains of the Himalayas to Mumbai, and from the far south of India back to the Himalayas, we follow Max as he becomes a yogi, and tries to reach a state of perfection right there at his fingertips.

This is one fascinating book. While it is about Max and his journey, it is also about yoga in all of its varied forms and stages. And it provides an easy-to-read account of what yoga means and what it required to become one of its practitioners. I thought I would have to be convinced to read and enjoy a book like this, but I was hooked from the first few pages.

The novel captures the sights, sounds, smells, and people of India. We travel with Max on a two-day train ride (second class and general seating; no one can believe a foreigner will ask for general seating). We struggle with Max in the mountains, as he gets lost and nearly dies. We train with Max in the southern lowlands, feeling the parched thirst of the monsoon season that seems as if it will never come. We walk with Max through the marketplaces and bazaars. We even sit with Max in the ramshackle bathroom facilities, dealing with the scorpions and occasional cobra.

Karan Bajaj
As times passes, and the training increases in intensity, we join Max in shedding our Western notions, cultural biases, and what we perceive as our needs. Our understandings of time and self change profoundly.

Bajaj was born and raised in the Indian Himalayas and now lives in Brooklyn. He teaches meditation, and you find training courses and resource links on his web site. He has been a bestselling author in India for his novels, Keep Off the Grass and Johnny Goes Down. The Yoga of Max’s Discontent was first published in India as The Seeker and is the first of his works to be published in the United States.

It is one fascinating story.

Photograph of the Indian Himalayas by Piotr Wojtkowski via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

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