The Path to Shiva was Paved With Dogs

Rakesh Shukla wrote, on Shivaratri in 2017, a first-person account of his encounter with God and dogs

“Why are you looking so far up the mountains? You are the only man here at this time of the day, 20 km on either side,” the voice said. “I don’t know, but I haven’t found it,” I replied. “You’ve been on the road for a month. And you’ve done this many times before,” the voice said, “do you not understand that I am here? You don’t have to look!”

I smiled. On a moonless night alone in a small tent which was in the middle of a vast snowfield at 13,050 feet above sea level. No phones. Only a bicycle colder than the six feet of snow it stood against. But I was home. I felt a warm glow down my throat. It couldn’t be alcohol because I never violated the rule of not drinking on the road. It must be that I’d found what I wasn’t looking for.

10 years passed with many conversations, between him and me as friends. With no real meaning. One day I said, “I want more. I’m not happy.” He said, “What do you want now?” “I don’t know,” I said, “but I want more love.” “OK”, he said, “you can have all of it, you can be my son, if you can be their father,” he pointed to a small dog looking at me from the corner of my house. Kavya looked at me waiting for an answer.

I never again went to meet him at a temple or anywhere. The son of God. Now I was fearless, and it gets to your head. The situation turned, as it always does. I fell from a cliff, hit every rock on the way, and it was a long way down. I lay bloodied and dying and I cried bitterly but under my breath.

“What do you cry about? The pain?” he appeared. “I’d never cry of pain,” it was a rebuke, “I’m your son,” I shouted back. He smiled, “Do you not understand, I do not take care of any particular thing. I can’t take care of you. I make the rules to run the universe, and then I can only watch because touching it would violate the condition of having the rules in the first place.” I gasped, “So you didn’t leave me?” “I’ll never love you less as long as you take care of your children,” he said.

I picked myself up and got to the first dog that needed me. The son of the son of God was a dog. Through my darkest hour, I could never stop nor forget that I do God’s work and that they are my children.

Stronger with RAKESH SHUKLA is a framework for developing unparalleled mental and physical toughness. It is based on Rakesh’s life, and has helped drive two ‘comebacks’.

Rakesh Shukla slept on railway platforms on his way to creating a world-leading technology company — 
TWB_, which is the choice of over 40 Fortune 500 tech customers worldwide including Microsoft, Boeing, Airbus, Intel, and others. However, at 43, he lost everything within a year. Alone and friendless, he spent the next five years repaying over INR 20 crore of debt and taxes, while building back his company and reputation, and creating and funding VOSD — world’s largest dog sanctuary and rescue.

Rakesh Shukla has suffered heart disease since he was seven years old, had had two heart attacks by the time he was 30, suffers from brain diseases, has broken his back and his kidneys are failing. Towards the end of this five-year period, Rakesh weighed 88 kg and very unfit. Today, at 48 years, he can lift well over 100 kg above his head, run a 10-minute mile, do 2,000 push-ups, and 250 pull-ups. He has never been to a gym, been on a diet, had a trainer, or taken any supplements.

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