Mending Souls is an account of how a polymer scientist from BITS, Pilani, as alumnus and faculty, metamorphosed into America’s very own Sikh poster boy. He has inspired millions of people to balance their material and spiritual worlds by following Guru Nanak’s message of Oneness. Meet Ratanjit Singh Sondhe: variously a speaker, author, consultant entrepreneur, radio and television personality. A versatile persona, indeed; one who has justly earned his internationally renowned moniker—Mr Stress Free.
Arriving in America to complete a doctorate, he changed plans midstream to try his hands at enterprise. Thus was born his first “daughter”, a familial tie used fondly, to refer to Poly Carb, his construction chemical firm. Having failed to make a mark in business through traditional management strategies, he took a long hard look at his modus operandi. Letting go of his entire team of experienced staff, he hired open-minded people willing to learn, take responsibility and multitask, simultaneously placing a tremendous effort in developing a value system for his company. The book lists out, and explains briefly, 25 integration habits that Ratanjit Sondhe has successfully introduced—and conformed to—in his personal, business and social life.
The book details his unconventional applications, interpreting teachings of the Sikh Gurus, especially Guru Nanak, to create effective business strategies. Consequently, he turned Poly Carb into the multi-million-dollar entity that it was before being bought over by Dow Chemicals a few years ago. Maintaining high business standards meant he could simultaneously underscore the integrity that binds every Sikh to his faith. He sums it up succinctly for the reader, “As a Sikh I prized hard work, faith, integrity, resilience, and education. So did America.”
Author of Sikhs Unlimited, Khushwant Singh—not to be confused with his much revered, much reviled, much older namesake—spent a good four months profiling Ratanjit Sondhe in order to unravel the person behind the persona. In a recent interface, he revealed that his subject “operated with a very low ego, which made him an excellent communicator. Ego, I realised had nothing to do with self-pride. One could maintain self-respect by being humble”. He goes on to explain, “The reason he stands out from other motivational speakers is because he has a model to prove whereas the rest just have theories.”
While Mending Souls may not be able to instantly do as its title suggests, it will certainly provide the reader with 25 different perspectives to view his or her life from. Perhaps you will be the change yourself. Or, at the very least, espouse one habit at a time, as the author suggests; himself currently on ‘Habit Number Six’: practicing excellence rather than perfection.
Note: This review first appeared in The Tribune.