It is said that jobs might fill your pockets and make you rich but travel is the only thing that fills your soul. 20 years back, after finishing his Masters in Marketing, this man felt that his purpose of life is to help others and not just earn money. He believes that “family doesn’t mean where you are born, the whole world is one big family itself and refers to the term Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts which means- the world is one family.”
Apart from his biological family, his current extended family members include- plants, and animals irrespective of their size and color.
In a candid conversation with Life Beyond Numbers, Gaurav (Kabir) Chawla, a yoga teacher, and a solo activist shares his thoughts about the art of living, the stories that every place tell and how kindness can transform the hate-stricken world beautifully.
A yoga teacher from Sivananda Yoga School in Madurai, Gaurav believes that he was born to stand against inequalities. “When I was 3 or 4 I would stop anyone killing flies or mosquitoes, I could feel their pain and that was the start of my solo activism,” he recalls.
Born into an unconventional Punjabi family in Delhi, Gaurav (40), who calls himself Kabir now, inspired by the famous poet of the same name, says that his family migrated from Pakistan during partition. “We never wore turbans or have Singh after my family name.”
He says, “I left the field of marketing because I didn’t want to chase numbers (read sales targets) and I knew that my passion lies in community services. Luckily New Zealand accepted me as a permanent resident in 2001 and since then I moved to Perth, which is my home for the last 10 years.”
All Species Equal?
Gaurav believes in the idea that- “All Lives Matters” and that people should have compassion for all, irrespective of the color or species. “I wanted to highlight the importance of every living being and their rights to live. We have compassion for human babies, but we fail to care and show love when it comes to calves, baby chicks or even mosquitoes,” he says.
Gaurav is working as a Case Manager for the Government Department of Social Welfare for quite some time now for the welfare of aboriginal and disabled clients- vision impairment, drugs, alcohol, and mental health issues. He says, “My idea is to empower, motivate and teach these people, find the courses they would like to study, jobs they would like to do and solve any problems they have. Helping them to live independent lives is my ultimate goal. By introducing them to different courses, making them eligible for numerous employment opportunities so that they don’t depend on government funds.”
Saving the Fragile Eco-System
Because of his love for traveling, every year in winters, Gaurav visits tropical countries with warm weather and encourages others to live a life that will have minimal impact on the fragile eco-system.
“I just don’t kitesurf or sit on beaches. I go to local schools and offer to teach yoga to kids, tell them the benefits of a vegan diet and what they can do to save the planet. I encourage them to grow plants, coriander, mint leaves, tomatoes in their garden and take it one step further and start community gardens as well. Also one doesn’t have to rely on dairy products to be fit, the goodness of vegetables and fruits are enough to lead a healthy lifestyle,” he says to LBN.
Gaurav believes that killing a living being for food is unacceptable. He says, “I explain to people why meat is bad and how meat industries are leading to the starvation of millions as they occupy more lands but the output is less. Instead of growing vegetables can feed millions more and make them healthier.”
Why travel is to live?
Travel is not about money, it is about the courage to go to new places and explore their cultures.
Why spend so much money buying things you don’t need? Chawla believes that the secret to happiness is a minimalist lifestyle, the less you have, it becomes easier to declutter your life. “I believe humans are designed to travel. My bag pack, which weighs 4 kilos including my lightweight tent and a sleeping bag is all I carry on my voyages.”
While the list of his travels is endless, he says, every country has its own charm. While he found Rwanda in Africa to be one of the cleanest countries in the world because of the plastic ban, he was intrigued by the warmth and kindness of the people in Pakistan. “My Sikh parents were born in Pakistan as well and there are immense warmth and goodness in people’s hearts one can find if they wish to travel to this beautiful country.”
“My first solo trip was to Delhi and Jaipur at the age of 15 and all I count is my passport stamps,” says Gaurav, who has till now travelled to more than 130 countries- East Timor, Papa New Guinea, Madagascar, Belize, Costa Rica, Africa, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Borneo Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Zimbabwe, Philippines, Brazil, , Iceland, Norway, Kenya, Tanzania and many more.
Make A Pledge to Help Every Life
Healthy living starts with compassion, says Gaurav. “Place compassion over patriotism and religion always. You don’t have to do something big to prove yourself, just make a little effort to save animals, eco-system and stand up against racism. Be it a humble ant or a poor person suffering on the streets, all lives matter is what we should believe in.”
Gaurav is now looking for a life partner (woman) who has similar ideologies and likes to travel. He says, “I want a companion who is compassionate and can selflessly work for the welfare of others.”
“While I don’t keep a track of how many people get inspired by me, because I believe attachment to numbers gives rise to the ego. I totally believe in the concept of living “Life Beyond Numbers”, which is my life’s motto,” concludes Gaurav with a smile.