Since his student years in India, Alok Gupta has steadily progressed towards a professional career in science and technology.
Originally from the state of Bihar, Gupta received his BA from the Indian Institute of Technology, an MA from the University of Hawaii and a PhD from UCSD.
The Encinitas resident was hired by tech giant Qualcomm to work at its resort in the Sorrento Valley.
Then he wrote a poem.
“My birthday falls on December 29,” Gupta said. “It’s also the time of the new year. I take this opportunity for thoughts and all that.
“So several years ago, I decided to surprise my friends and family. I thought I would write a poem that would summarize my thoughts and some of my life lessons, and I would present it to them on my birthday and also on New Year’s Day.
“It was my first amateur attempt to write poetry. I don’t think it was very smooth and polite, but it was well received and it was encouraging. So I started to write more often.
Gupta’s first foray into poetry led to another piece, then another until he had 18 verses, enough material for his first book – “Dawn of Wisdom”.
The author was recently delighted to see the 82-page volume published by the Indian company Notion Press.
Interspersed with the text are color photographs taken by Gupta of scenes around the northern coastal county as well as views of his home atop the Olivenhain Ridge. There, he and his wife, a Montessori preschool teacher, raised two sons and a daughter, who are now adults.
“I have been here for almost 26 years,” Gupta said. “It really is a special place. I really like it here. I can’t think of a better place that I could have chosen for my career and my family.
Gupta, 55, exudes optimism and a sense of conscience that is reflected in her poems. Although they touch on a range of subjects, they are unequivocally brilliant in outlook.
“At this point it’s all about the beauty, the light and the positive things in life,” Gupta said. “I just think about living here and coming here, I feel blessed and I feel happy.
“There is no remorse in my life, no regret whatsoever. I have nothing against anyone. That’s what I reflect in my writing. In fact, there is no dark side.
Dedicated to the “loving memories” of Gupta’s parents and teachers, the book opens with the first play he wrote: “Reflections and Achievements”.
Written in 20 stanzas of three lines, the play expresses the wonder of the lessons learned through life’s adventure, starting with:
“It was a journey full of wonder
Knowledge, insight, grace, accomplishment
Beauty, truth, ray of illumination … “
It ends on a light note:
“Man is not free
No matter how much he wishes
Until he learned to cook and wash the dishes.
Other poems such as “Facing Challenges”, “Art of Living” and “Mind – A Miracle Prone to Becoming a Mess” explore mental states for dealing with life’s problems.
Less abstract are “Khushi”, a tribute to the family dog, and “I Love about India”, a romance about the beauty of his homeland. “A Message for the People of Kashmir with Love” is a prayer message expressing hope for the Kashmir region:
“I have a dream, dear Kashmiris
Kashmir is rich, strong, grandiose
One day we will have a Prime Minister of India
From Kashmir, your enchanting land ”
“Meditation” is a rhyming reflection on the practice of the subject of the title and on what can be achieved through this discipline.
The poem is also a window into what led a career communications systems engineer specializing in modem coding and error correction to embark on creative literary expression.
Considering his scientific background, writing poetry seems an unlikely path. Indeed, Gupta said, he had no interest in such a 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 with the subject grew over 8,000 miles from Bihar – through the temple of Self-Realization Fellowship at Encinitas.
Indian-born spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda started his first temple in the United States in 1920 with the goal of spreading his learning in the West. He opened the Encinitas site in 1938.
Distinguished by its lotus flower carvings mounted on white columns, the temple has been an ingrained feature of the community for decades.
Gupta said exposure to the stock exchange led him to start reading Hindu literature.
“It was a bit of a revelation for me,” Gupta said. “It was sort of a starting point that interested me in reading this literature, like Vedanta, sacred writing. … I started reading this, but to assimilate the learning you want to be able to reflect on what you read.
“And poetry became a way for me to reflect on some of the ideas that were emerging. As you can see, most of my poetry is quite philosophical and that is the reason.
He and his family deepened their involvement in Hindu thought and practices through the Chinmaya Mission in San Diego, which gave Gupta a greater platform for his studies.
“Before, my priorities were my career, my family, science and technology,” Gupta said. “I grew up in India, I had a background in math and science, I studied and went to very good colleges so that I could find a good job.
“The goal was quite different, but eventually things changed. And that only happened in Encinitas because I was at a point where I was open to it all. He provided me with all the ingredients and the environment.
While these new aspects of Gupta’s life have ignited a desire to write, he attributes his penchant for lyrical expression and rhymes to Hindi as well as Urdu, which is the predominant language of Pakistan and which is also prevalent in India.
Ultimately, this youngest of nine siblings says his poetry is a product of the heart.
“I haven’t had 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 publication of “Dawn of Wisdom,” Gupta said, he is now mulling over his next writing project, which he plans to be more openly autobiographical.
“Dawn of Wisdom” can be purchased through Amazon at www.amazon.com/dp/1685382800.