Abraham Lincoln said, “The surest way to reveal one’s character is not through adversity but by giving them power.” Surely, human history is famished for leaders who displayed integrity even after rising to power and glory. Yes, the leaders who did are the one’s that keep history alive.

Rajeev SrivastavaCloser in time, among the rags-to-riches stories of today, I scour for the ones that pass the integrity test—and I pick the story of Mr. Rajeev Srivatsava. It begins in 1996 with Rajeev, an employee of an MNC, who was turned down repeatedly by the management whenever he solicited them for different charities. Disgruntled, as a last resort, and with the sole purpose of raising funds for charity, Rajeev starts his own business APAR InfoTech, though he lacks business skills or experience. Like most stories of the kind, we see incredible success following this venture. By 2003 Rajeev’s business grows to a $78,000,000 empire and is rated the fourth fastest growing company of the United States. But at this point, anticlimactically, he sells off his company to Ness Tech. Why? To confront a mammoth opportunity for charity!

Rajeev Srivatsava is now the CEO and Managing Partner at Basil Partners, a venture capital fund. I got to meet him about a year ago.

Rajeev, I found, was down-to-earth and friendly. Soon we were sharing our hearts, and something distinct about Rajeev began to surface. Even as he talked of his novel corporate game plans, I sensed his old-world faith in his spiritual coach, his guru. I prodded him for an explanation. “The condition of one high up in the success ladder is precarious,” he said. “Temptations beckon, promising security from a down fall; the mind reels in insanity at that altitude of achievement; and integrity grows in burden with growing elevation. Consequently, to cling on to the prized cup of character even at the top, a spiritual coach is mandatory.” When I heard that, I realized how Rajeev had managed to live a character-story that borders on the unbelievable.

All ancient traditions, Eastern and Western alike, have emphasized the role of a spiritual coach in a leader’s life. In Vedic India there were powerful Kings who consulted their spiritual guru before any major decision. Similarly, European history speaks of noblemen who took advice from a reverend. The protocol was that those in power humbly admitted their vulnerability to deceitfulness and gratefully accepted guidance of someone fixed in the truth. The spiritual coach, in turn, steered clear of worldliness, lived a life of voluntary poverty and pored over the scriptures—to nurture and maintain his or her veracity. The whole system may seem too rosy a picture, given the glaring instances in history of corrupt advice given to the rulers by their trusted spiritual coaches. Though these exceptions inherently tend to stand out conspicuously, to invest them with the power to drag down the credibility of time tested ancient traditions is insanity.

But the question remains, “In today’s age, where can we find proficient spiritual coaches who can save the character-game for us?” The answer is simple: Seek and you shall find. One who is sincere, the Bhagavad Gita explains, is helped by the Supreme Lord. Radhanath Swami’s memoir, The Journey Home, is a brilliant read that boosts our faith in God’s help. In it Radhanath Swami shares with us his teenage quest for a guru: how he persevered with patience, and how he was lead to the guru he sought, by a power beyond his own. The adventures that accompany this quest make the book spine-chilling.

Has your search for a spiritual coach begun?


Published by Gopinath Chandra

Gopinath Chandra is a resident of Radhagopinath Ashram that’s run under the guidance of Radhanath Swami in Mumbai. For many years he has been the privileged observer of Radhanath Swami’s leadership principles in action, be it in the sphere of ashram development, community building, social service, or environmentalism. Gopinath Chandra keen observational ability, coupled with his analytical brain groomed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), allows him to be a fast learner. And on this blog he generously shares leadership lessons he has assimilated over the years.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank you very much for the fantastic write-up. Radhanath Swami is a great example for a perfect spiritual coach.

  2. A very inspiring incident that clearly depicts Radhanath Swami's great leadership qualities

  3. Brilliant! Very rare to find such people who still have spiritual values after being on the high ladders of success.

  4. Wonderful article! Yes, in today's world we rarely find people of character and we also rarely find people endorsing or encouraging developing good character. So thank you for sharing your thoughts on this often neglected area.

  5. Rajeev Srivatsava’s story is a really good example of leader who takes up spirituality seriously. As mentioned by Siddeshwar we have to seek for a spiritual guide who can help us without ulterior motives and Lord help them those who help themselves.

    I have read through "The Journey Home" book and it tells about a real seeker.

  6. this is a brilliant article. i especially liked Rajiv's example. also if we are sincere, god will guide us to an exemplary spiritual coach like radhanath swami

  7. Thanks Siddeshwar for sharing your write up… its nice how you explained the need of a spiritual coach in one's life.. For developing integrity and always knowing that what all is provided to us is by grace of lord and should also be used in service of lord and humanity.

  8. Unbelivable living example of person with such deep character and integrity – just sold his entire business – just to give charity in today's world…

    This is vedic training – based on principle of Higher truths – we have people with strong character. Government rules today are like the rules of set of robbers – who want to honestly divide the booty – everyone tries to see how to frame so I make profit and others lose…result is JOKEPAL…

  9. Great!!! Every great leader has some one more powerful to look at and to follow.. Rajeev S really succeeded in following his spiritual teacher who was his inspiration and guide. Both the leader and the follower are perfect examples.Thank you for sharing.

  10. Amazing story of living by the teachings of a spiritual coach in the midst of the most alluring positions of material well-being.

    Radhanath Swami' followers are are glowing examples of the veracity of his teachings.

  11. Very good article.Maintianing one's spiritual qualities while riding up in ledership ladder is very important.Swamiji always put emphasis on this point.Swamiji is our perfect leader and a perfect guide.Thank you very much.

  12. Thank you for sharing this brilliant article! I am sure all leaders can win the character game if they simply follow your advice and accept a spiritual coach!

  13. Rajeevs story seems amazing. He rightly mentions that insanity can grip a person who is successful and Rajeev seems to be well grounded in spiritual practices — guided by his coach and mentor – Radhanath Swami

  14. Brilliant article. Keeping one's integrity even when one is at the pinnacle of success is a very rare quality. Under the guidance of Radhanath Swami, people like Mr. Srivastava develop these qualities. In today's money-making mad bad world we need people like him. Thanks a million for the article.

  15. The spiritual coach can very positively transform the heart and make him a shining role model for the rest.

  16. Very inspiring. The success story of Mr Rajeev reveals the rquirement of a spiritual master to make the life purposeful and to make the person truly to be called as human even in the present life.

  17. Thank you for sharing this article. I have met him personally few months back and he is very very humble and down to earth. It is very difficult to find such people in today's world.

  18. This only tells how important is the presence of a spiritual Guru in the lives of the modern day leaders who are running an enterprise devoid of values and character.

  19. This is a very revealing article, pushing us towards finding a spiritual coach to enable one to develop a better character. Great article.

  20. There are great tools and pointers in this article that needs to be circulated to those in leadership positions as they will find it very beneficial.

  21. I really enjoyed reading this, it was very inspiring, encouraging and motivation. Definite read!

  22. A very inspiring article emphasizing how important it for us to have a Spiritual coach in life. Kudos to Mr.Rajeev for having such generous heart to give such a big charity. Its an example for us to follow.
    We are also very fortunate to have a Spiritual Coach like Radhanath Swami Maharaj !
    Hare Krishna !

  23. What a beautiful stetnmaet and something that is so true and needed for me .You will be home in two days I miss you so .but in these 48 hours, my intention is not to dwell in the negative, but to take joy and find beauty and lessons of gratitude in each minute

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