Life has an uncanny way of taking us on unexpected paths, often leading to remarkable stories of transformation and growth. This is the story of Nishank Govil, who stands out as a testament to the power of self-discovery and the pursuit of a deeper purpose.
Nishank Govil was born and brought up in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. Not so studious as a child, he went to school just to pass his exams. After he completed his 12th grade, he got admission to an engineering college. Soon after his first year, he realized engineering was not his cup of tea. While he was looking for alternatives, little did he realize that his life would take a 180-degree turn.
“During my second year in college, I got interested in philosophy and psychology. That was the time I got introduced to spirituality. I read a few books about it. That was a starting point for me to get into spirituality and knowing more about it. I wanted to know why people practice it, why people give up everything and lead life like ascetics. They don’t care about their body and other human desires. I wanted to know what it is that attracts them to follow the life of an ascetic. I then went to ISCON, before which I was an agnostic,” Nishank says.
Attending the first ever spiritual session was a life changing moment for Nishank. That session answered his unanswered questions. He then started attending regular sessions at the organization. He embarked on a journey that saw him leaving behind the corridors of engineering classrooms to seek the solace and wisdom of monastic life. Nishank ended up joining as a monk at ISCON at the age of 22.
Speaking of his parents’ reaction to this life-changing decision, Nishank says, “My parents obviously had a negative reaction of me becoming a monk. But somehow that time, I was adamant that this is what I want to do. Though I tried to explain to my parents the importance of spirituality in my life, out of love and attachment, they were not ready to listen to me. Many people in India are skeptical of temples and spiritual organizations. Finally, they got some confidence that whatever I’m doing is good for me and society. They just wanted me to be in touch with them on a regular basis.”
Somehow, Nishank managed to convince his parents and set himself on a spiritual journey. Obviously, there were stark differences between the life Nishank had before he became a monk and the life after that. Here’s how he coped.
“We used to wake up at around 3.30 in the morning, whether it was summer or winter. We used to take bath at that time. At 4.15 we had our first prayer in the temple. All the monks in the temple must attend it. At around 5, we used to do sound meditation continuously for 2 hours. At around 7, we have a light breakfast like fruits and milk because it keeps you active and doesn’t make you lethargic. Then we have prayers in the temple at 7.30, after which we have spiritual classes conducted by senior monks. Later, we have a full breakfast at around 9.30 which includes roti, sabzi, rice, and dal. This meal is very Sattvik. It doesn’t contain onions and garlic; it is medium spicy. Eating spicy food agitates your senses and it may give rise to negative feelings. After having our meal, we used to go out for services. There are different kinds of services like you can go out for preaching, fundraising, and other social programs. We get free from all the work at around 6 in the evening. We come back to the monastery and have evening dinner. We then have another prayer for about half an hour. We then read spiritual books for some time and later by 9.30, we go to bed.”
Sounds like a disciplined life, right? That’s exactly what Nishank did for 6 years straight. Even though he struggled to get accustomed to this routine initially, he eventually adapted.
For six years, he immersed himself in a world of spiritual contemplation, dedicating himself to the practices and teachings of his chosen path. But as the saying goes, ‘The only constant in life is change.’ After his years as a monk, Nishank Govil experienced a shift in perspective, leading him to make a decision equally as courageous as his initial departure from the conventional. With newfound insights and a heart full of experiences, he chose to re-enter the materialistic life, driven by a desire to contribute and engage with the world in a new way.
“My parents were getting old – my father was about to retire. Initially, I joined with the mindset with the curiosity to know about spirituality and go deeper into that. When I got questions answered, I decided to come out of monkhood. My parents were also happy with this decision. Also, it’s very common for people to leave monkhood. Some of my peers have left after 2 years some after 6 years, and some even after 10 years,” he recalls.
Again, making this decision was not easy for Nishank, as coming back to materialistic life meant that he had to earn his own living.
“I had thought through everything. First, being a monk gives the confidence do anything in life. It gives us the willpower to lead an independent life. Whatever I had learnt in those 6 years, it was time to put it into practice. I’ve given public speeches and I used to take lectures in colleges. Even T.A Pai Management Institute invited me to the orientation of their MBA batch. Since I didn’t have a degree, I knew I would face obstacles. But I was ready to adorn this situation. At that time, my father offered to sponsor my education again if I wanted to study. But I wanted to do something on my own,” he says.
“Soon, I came in touch with one of my known acquaintances and he was looking to hire someone for his company. I told him about my past. He was impressed with my communication skills, and he was looking for someone who is fluent in English and can do marketing for his company. So, that was the first job. I couldn’t negotiate my salary, I had to compromise. I had only one thought in my mind- I had to start working. Once I get some experience and build my skills, I can eventually move on to another job and explore opportunities,” he adds.
After working in the company for 3 years, he moved on to work for a startup in Bangalore. Suddenly, he realizes that he was missing out on opportunities because he didn’t have a degree. Then started another chapter in his journey- online education. While he already had established contacts in Manipal University Jaipur, he chose to pursue his online MBA from there.
“First of all, Manipal has got a very good brand name compared to other universities. I’ve also visited the Manipal University Jaipur campus- one of the best campuses in India I have seen. Moreover, I had studied their course structure and the subjects they teach were relevant for my job. We also got to work on mini projects, which helped me to get a deeper understanding of the subjects. Moreover, classes are on weekends, and it was convenient for me. Also, nowadays, online degrees are at par with regular education,” Nishank says.
“My experience with Online Manipal has been great. The curriculum consists of interactive activities and quizzes to ensure we have understood the topic or subject. Because of my busy schedule, if I’m not able to attend live classes, I can watch recorded lectures to get a fair understanding of the topic.”
Speaking about Ekam, the in-person online student engagement organized by Online Manipal, Nishank says, “When I was in Bangalore, Online Manipal conducted the first in-person interaction for online students. These kinds of offline engagements help learners know about professors, interact with them, get career advice and also meet peers. I have built strong connections with some of them, which feels great.”
Nishank Govil’s journey is a reminder that every choice we make in our lives shapes our narrative. His story underscores the beauty of embracing change and braving odds to live life on our terms.
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