The Story Behind The Name

In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline - from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!

As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name...but history, largely, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on 'Kausalya'...thanks to the most famous line 'Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe' from the Suprabhata :) I went to bed with that line in my head.

The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stood for. And was fascinated. 

Kaivalya is a yogic state of mind – a state of complete detachment, a state of absolute alone-ness. Note that being alone is a world different from being lonely. But those are words that most of us cannot understand. I mean I understand alone-ness to a certain extent. I love and revel in my own company. But what was being described was something far too complex and metaphysical. Kaivalya is, to me, the pinnacle of yogic state. When they say detachment, they mean detached completely from this physical plane – even from one’s own body.

How is that possible? How can one be detached from one’s body? Even those who profess a level of spirituality love the body. We feed it, we clothe it, we decorate it. We love to feel pleasure – in taste, in sight, in touch, in smell, in sound.  When we say ‘I’ – it more often than not includes one’s body, does it not? From time immemorial, we've believed in the dual aspects of the identity – the physical body, and the soul. Modern psychology has observed and documented the existence of a ‘consciousness beyond the five physical senses’ – that is, the concept of ‘consciousness’ does not seem to be dependent solely on physical body. We are still grappling with the definition of consciousness. What generates this phenomenon – this being aware? Sure, we know the mechanisms of the brain, we've mapped out important regions that influence our physical functions – but the main question remains unanswered – if consciousness exists outside the body, then surely there is something else that powers it?

Almost all our spiritual texts talk of this hyper state of awareness – what in psychology we usually term as ‘higher state of consciousness’.  An indescribable state of bliss, weightlessness, a 360 degree vision in a burst of most radiant colours and so on.  But the state of Kaivalya is much beyond that realm. It is independence from breath itself, yet, being in the super state of awareness. The closest comparison I could draw was, perhaps it was being like the sun. Self-luminous, self-sustained. The sun does not depend on the planets and galaxies for its existence. It is just there, an eternal flame. The concept of Kaivalya is perhaps elaborated more in the Kaivalya Upanishads (I’ve not ventured there yet).

What is remarkable is that way back in the 2nd century B.C. Patanjali wrote the yogasutras, dwelling on these complex metaphysical aspects of existence.  I can’t even begin to imagine the exalted progress of those times. (We’ve regressed, big time.) Although modern psychology has made attempts in understanding consciousness, it is difficult to do any kind of empirical study in a scientific, testable format. In his excellent lecture/paper ‘The Varieties of Religious Experiences’ American psychologist and philosopher William James talks of experimenting with nitrous oxide. We know that nitrous oxide is an anaesthetic, induces euphoria (laughing gas hee hee) and is used as a recreational compound. In this ‘self-experiment’ of nitrous oxide intoxication, James recounts -“our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.” And this was sometime in 1902.

Well...to cut a long story short, I was hooked on to the name ‘Kaivalya’. It could be nothing else. We often view evilness as a separate entity.  But in our mythology, be it Ravana or Hiranyakashyapu – they were spiritual powerhouses because of their austere penances. When that positive energy is perverted to create destruction – a very great evil is born. That very irony fascinates me no end.


‘Nuff said. Now go buy your copy! 

© Sumana Khan - 2013

Comments

  1. Hey Sumana... Finished reading your book.
    Fantastic ! Very well written. I enjoyed reading it as well was scared too. Couldn't sleep the night I read it ... (I am a bit scared of gh....)
    A good book is one that makes you want read further without boring you.. and your book does that.
    I just love the fact that you have used kannada so matter-of-factly ... I mean I haven't read any book that bases itself in Karnataka, that too in all unknown places (for anyone from other states in India). I was amused.

    I am so glad that you chose to write a thriller unlike so many other recent modern writers.
    Waiting for your next book !!

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    1. Thank you so, so much Ashvini :) I'm so happy you loved the book (and that I scared you a wee bit :) ) <3

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    2. cannot wait to read Your Book !!!!

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    3. Thank you Satish :) I hope you enjoy it!

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  2. I am itching to get my hands on this. I have three more books to go after which I am buying this.

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    1. :) this is one review I'll eagerly look forward to. Meanwhile, you can also try for the free copy on Goodreads. (see...i'm learning the ropes of marketing).

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  3. "Kaivalya is a yogic state of mind – a state of complete detachment, a state of absolute alone-ness. Note that being alone is a world different from being lonely. But those are words that most of us cannot understand."

    Thank you. I learned something today.

    Lonely, like the Sun in this solar system. The lone source of light for all planets. The lonely energizer.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Pagan. You put it perfectly.

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    1. Do let me know how you find it...

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  5. Hi,

    Finally managed to read this book. :)

    I liked the story line. In certain pages, the hair at the nape of my neck stood up coupled with goose-pimples. Had trouble sleeping for a couple of nights. Thoroughly enjoyed the sprinkling of Kannada. Had seen THAT in very few books. In certain places, I found myself drawing parallels to the story of the movie "Apthamithra" of our Dr. Vishnuvardhan & Dwarakish. Guess I expected the ending to be a more dramatic. On the whole I enjoyed the book. Wish you all the very best for your future books.

    Have a lovely weekend. :)

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    1. Hey Hima...afer a lonnng time :) Thank you so much for buying the book - and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      Yo u have a good one too!

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  6. Dear Author finished reading.8/10.Its gripping.I had to finish it.
    Characters like Kaivalya and Matchu are unforgeable.Any plans
    for a sequel/prequel ? Would love to know the Origins of some one
    with such Paranormal Powers such as Kaivalya.Where did you
    come across the beautiful narration about Lord Shiva ?

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    1. Hi Satish! I'm so happy you are enjoying the book :) I loved crafting Matchu...he is definitely one of my favourite characters too :)

      At this point in time, I don't have any thoughts on a second part for the book...but who knows? Lord Shiva...I'm afraid the entire sequence of the underground Hemavathi etc is imaginary.

      Again, thank you for your encouragement...it means a lot to a first time author :)

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  7. Kaivalya part 2 please !!! A prequel or sequel.Title The Origins of Kaivalya.

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    1. hahaha...I will keep this in mind Satish :) You have already given me the title!

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  8. My daughter's name is Kaivalya which means FREEDOM. It is also one of Lord Shiva's names and yes there are also the Kaivalya Upanishads. The name does come spontaneously to the mind at the time i name her I was not aware of the Upanishads or of Lord Shiva's name I thought I glimpsed it in a religious book but after looking for it in that book over and over I never found it, she was born on an indepence day hence the name freedom :) good luck with your book

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    1. What a wonderful name! I am sure she is a very blessed child :) Thank you for your kind words.

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  9. Hello Sumana! Is this the same person I met while working in Nashville, Tennessee? (You were with Wipro at the time?) You had told me you were going to try your hand at writing, but I never expected you to become so prolific!! I sure hope this is you--I attempted to contact you via Berkshire UK address, but you had since moved, so we lost touch (my last Gmail address was hacked, so I lost my entire address book). Please let me know if this is you!!!! Thanks, Jennifer

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    1. OMG Jennifer!!!! I am speechless. I often thought of you...and I always think of you on Aug 15 (you know why) :) How lovely, lovely, lovely to get in touch with you :) (yes I have a new address) - Sumana

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  10. Only last month I had been to the forests around Kukke and Bisle ghats for trekking. I and my friends stayed in Bisle in our for the whole night because we reached there pretty late in the night and couldn't find any place to stay. I feel relieved to have not read your book before I went there-I would have ended up looking over my shoulder every minute in those forests :). Loved the book.

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    1. :) Thank you so much Chethan. I'm really glad you enjoyed the book...you must go for another trek now :D


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  11. We, a group of friends bought this book recently out of curiosity seeing familiar places being cited in the story. The book is being talked so much in our circle right now that everybody is queued up to read it. What Chethan read is in my hands right now, and I am halfway through. This one is absolutely gripping, the description of the river Himavathi and how Lord Shiva opens his eye, that particular part makes me firmly believe that you are a great author in the making. Best wishes to you, and thank you for making my weekend Sumana :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Raksha! I am very happy all of you are enjoying the book :) And you made my weekend with this lovely comment!

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  12. Dear Author are You contemplating a sequel ?

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    1. Hi Satish! At this point in time - no. But I don't know how things will change...:)

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  13. What is the best way to procure the online copy/digital copy or paperback in New Zealand, couldn't wait to read...

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    1. Dear Nameet, thank you for getting in touch. I just checked - amazon.com has international shipping to New Zealand. So you can order your Kindle copy for download instantly from there.

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