Home / Books / Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam | Book Review

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam | Book Review

There was a time when ‘coming of age‘ stories indicated that once you embraced being an adult that was an end to it. But, as the world around us become more pervasive and more complex and more stressful, we all seem to face a crisis more often than not – whether at home or work. And most of the times, we ask – what did I do wrong? We seem to try everything that comes our way towards building a life and yet it is so easy to feel bewildered and confused.

And so it is that the book taking a seventy year old academic on a journey to self-discovery caught our eye in the library and we read Professor Chandra follows his bliss by author Rajeev Subramanyam. The author has written short stories and other works before including novel In Beautiful Disguises.

Book Cover:

Let us take a look at the cover page of this book.

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam | Book Cover

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam | Book Cover

The cover page of this book has a calming blue background with a single, perfect cloud in the sky and sunny letters spelling out the title. The lone figure of a man seeking his bliss seems to be making his way through the calm waters as they approach horizon and become one with sea.

The book cover conveys the chilled, Californian attitude where it seems all you need to do to be happy is to follow your heart’s desires and your bliss….


We meet celebrated economist Professor Chandra as he is expecting the announcement of Nobel prize winners. By all indications, it is going to be him this year. But sadly, he is woken up with the news that he did not win. While he is processing this disappointing news, trying to put a brave face on and continue with his life, he is hit by a bicycle and ends up in hospital, where he is told he had a silent heart attack.

Lying here, all alone, missing his estranged family terribly, he starts to miss something fundamental about his life. In an attempt to make changes, he takes a visiting faculty position in USA close to LA. This is where his ex-wife Jean lives with her current husband Steve. Professor Chandra’s youngest daughter Jasmine is also living with them. Jasmine is a teenager struggling with life and goes missing one night. While they find her relatively unharmed, as a result of the events of this night, he ends up in a retreat called Esalem.

Here, he is forced to face his fears, his controlling strings and he confronts the fact that all his life, he worked hard towards achieving academic success. He is an authority in his field, but still chasing a Nobel and feeling like a failure. During this time, he lost time with family. His son Sunil, now lives in Hong Kong, running his own venture firm and trying to be more successful. His older daughter Radha tried really hard to be an opposite of him and has not spoken to him in years now. And his youngest daughter seems to have no purpose in life.

After the retreat, he visits his son, trying to build bridges with him. However, while in Hong Kong he receives the news that Jasmine has been arrested trying to steal money in order to finance her drug consumption. As part of her rehab program, they send Jasmine to a monastery in mountains of Colorado.

Here, the whole family gathers for Christmas. Will they all learn to love themselves and one another again, or will they end up even more estranged?

Views and Reviews:

The book is enjoyable for the readers who may want to explore what it means to live through a long life. If by all appearances, you have a successful career, does it imply you also have happiness? What is the point of it all, if after everything, you end up alone, feeling like a failure and wanting to be close to your family, who all seem to have moved on to their own lives?

The book also ponders at length the joys and trials of parenting. Most parents feel that they spend precious years of their lives providing best possible upbringing for their children. But it seems more and more children are unhappy with their parents as they grow up. They resent being born, having to study, having to find a job and live in a world where everything seems to be getting worse every day. And so there is a perpetual conflict of understanding where both generations seem to be continually at odds, neither seeing the other’s point.

The book also shows how it is not so straightforward for anyone. Your professional life is such a strange combination of luck, chance and hard work that you don’t even notice where you end up after a few years of your work life as everything else takes over – mortgage, school fees, family obligations and so on. Because the protagonist is an economist, the book also references hard facts from the 2008 financial crisis, the loss of livelihoods for millions, the principles of economy and how that is changing in the fast moving world:

In the nineteenth century the economist was a polymath. He was typically a natural scientist, a linguist, a man of God, a philosopher, and a mathematician. I am simply wondering whether economics doesn’t need to restore some humanity to its dismal science.

The primary thread, however, is also of self-discovery, spirituality and realization of inner self as the author takes us to the beautiful retreats and monasteries that make a simpler life so attractive and achievable. It was good to see this adage as part of the monastic life:

Let me respectfully remind you. Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed! Do not squander your life.

And it is good to see at the end, that the journey of Professor Chandra is still continuing as he tries and finds ways to make his life better as he approaches his seventies. Its not perfect by any means, but he has his family and lot more memories to look forward to…


An introspective story about a successful man who feels like he has failed at life and starts a journey of self-discovery as he approaches the meaning of his life and what is the point of it all….

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7.5 stars out of 10.

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