From his student days in India, Alok Gupta made steady progress towards a professional career in science and technology.
Born in Bihar State, Gupta received his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and a PhD from UCSD.
The Encinitas resident was hired by tech giant Qualcomm to work at his Sorrento Valley complex.
Then he wrote a poem.
“My birthday just happens to fall on December 29th,” said Gupta. “It’s also time for the New Year. I use this opportunity for reflections and such.
“A few years ago I decided to surprise my friends and family. I thought I was going to write a poem that would summarize my reflections and some of my life lessons, and I would present it to them for their birthday and New Year’s too.
“It was my first amateur attempt at writing poetry. I don’t think it was very smooth and polished, but it was well received and that was encouraging. So I started to write more often. “
Gupta’s first foray into poetry led to another piece and then another until he had 18 verses, enough material for his first book – “The Dawn of Wisdom”.
The author recently delighted with the 82-page volume published by India-based Notion Press.
The text is interspersed with color photos Gupta captured of scenes around the North County coastal region and views from his home on the ridge of the Olive Grove. He and his wife raised there, a Montessori preschool teacher, two sons and a daughter who have now grown up.
“I’ve been here for almost 26 years,” said Gupta. “It really is a special place. I love it here. I can’t think of a better place for my career and my family. “
Gupta, 55, exudes optimism and awareness, which is reflected in his poems. While they touch a number of subjects, they have a clearly bright outlook.
“At this point, it’s all about beauty and light and positive things in life,” said Gupta. “I just think that I live here and get this far, I feel blessed and happy.
“I have no regrets in my life, no regrets. I have nothing against anyone. I reflect that in my writing. There is actually no dark side. “
The book is dedicated to “fond memories” of Gupta’s parents and teachers and begins with the first piece he wrote – “Reflections and Realizations”.
Written in 20 three-line stanzas, the piece expresses the wonder of the lessons learned from the adventures of life, starting with:
“It was a journey full of amazement
Knowledge, insight, grace, fulfillment
Beauty, Truth, Ray of Enlightenment … “
It ends on a carefree note:
“Man is not free
No matter how much he wishes
Until you learn to cook and wash the dishes. “
Other poems such as “Facing Challenges”, “Art of Living” and “Mind – A Miracle Prone to Becoming a Chaos” examine mental states in dealing with life issues.
“Khushi”, a homage to the family dog, and “I Love about India”, an idyll about the beauty of his homeland, are less abstract. “A message for the people of Kashmir with love” is a praying message that expresses hope for the Kashmir region:
“I have a dream, dear Kashmiris
Cashmere is wealthy, strong, great
One day we will have a Prime Minister of India
From Kashmir, your enchanting country “
“Meditation” is a rhyme reflection on practicing the title topic and what can be achieved through this discipline.
The poem is also a glimpse into what a career communications systems engineer who specialized in modem and error correction coding brought to creative literary expression.
Given its scientific background, writing poetry seems an unlikely route. In fact, Gupta said, he had no interest in such pursuit until he developed an affinity for Hindu literature and philosophy.
While Gupta grew up in a country immersed in the ancient traditions of Hinduism, his fascination for the subject developed more than 8,000 miles from Bihar – through the Temple of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas.
The Indian-born spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda founded his first US temple in 1920 with the aim of spreading his scholarship in the West. In 1938 he opened the Encinitas site.
The temple is characterized by its lotus flower sculptures mounted on white columns and has been an integral part of the community for decades.
Gupta said meeting the community led him to read Hindu literature.
“That was a bit of an eye opener for me,” said Gupta. “That was a kind of starting point that sparked my interest in reading this literature, such as the Vedanta, the Holy Scriptures. … I started reading this, but in order to process what you have learned you want to be able to reflect on what you have read.
“And poetry became a means for me to reflect on some of the ideas that came up. As you can see, most of my poems are pretty philosophical and that’s why. “
He and his family promoted their engagement in Hindu thought and practice through the Chinmaya Mission from San Diego, which provided Gupta with a greater platform for his studies.
“My priorities used to be my career, my family, science and technology,” said Gupta. “When I grew up in India, I had everything to do with math and science, studied and attended very good colleges so that I could get a good job.
“The focus was very different, but at some point things moved on. And it only happened at Encinitas because I was at a point where I was open to all of this. It provided me with all the ingredients and the environment. “
While these newly discovered aspects of Gupta’s life sparked a desire to write, he attributes his propensity for lyrical expression and rhyming to Hindi as well as Urdu, the predominant language of Pakistan and also predominant in India.
Ultimately, this youngest of nine siblings says his poetry is a product of the heart.
“I don’t have any formal training,” he said. “That’s what I like about poetry. It’s a compact way of expressing my thoughts and thoughts. “
With the release of Dawn of Wisdom, Gupta said, he is now pondering his next writing project, which he expects to be more openly autobiographical.
Dawn of Wisdom can be purchased from Amazon at www.amazon.com/dp/1685382800.