We know what your typical branded SME towkay is like. But what is a branded SME towkay holistic guru with two Successful Entrepreneur awards and an Outstanding SME 150 Enterprise Award 2013 like?
There is no contradiction between wealth and wisdom for Umesh Nandwani who runs Golden Space, the centre he founded with Sushila Devi (Co-founder) since 2005.
"Things have changed. You can be rich in both worlds."
The spontaneous interview takes place between his traveling engagements to his centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the UK festivals, his students (and future business partners) in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Like an old-school towkay, he's not much into email.
Yes, gone are the days when being spiritual entails material deprivation and being wealthy implies soullessness. "A shift is coming in 2015," he promises.
The man is his own walking advertisement for his 8 step programme to 'Awaken the Divine You', and that is a very enticing proposition, if you remember the gongfu stories of old where a disciple had to spend years fetching water from the bottom of a mountain before the master would share one secret. But now he is offering it to you readily. And he tells you you can have what he has, if you trust and are willing. And he has the claims to his name- a psychic, astral traveler and a divine channeler of the higher order.
He has adopted towkay hokkien, which is always interesting to watch coming from a Singapore-born indian who did not have an easy childhood, reclining and boasting about numbers. You cannot help but admire his magnanimous acceptance of fate, and lack of hate, whether you call it localisation or integration, this was a boy who grew up with the double difficulties of racism and poverty. Bullied in the schoolyard in primary school, beaten up because of the colour of his skin, and he shrugs, something you cannot change, "was normal".
And he almost caved in too, the earnest, eager, almost child-like man, in his 50s, was once depressed, almost committed suicide four times, "twice in the pool, twice in the sea".
What helped him get through these difficult times were the little inexplicable miracles in his life, that he did not understand then, like when the tiny boy suddenly raged in primary six against his bullies, "and whacked them all". Or when a coin materialised out of nowhere as he prayed for a coin to buy a present for his brother.
When grimness visited upon him again in 2000, sending him to hospital, he found a guru from India in the newspaper, who became his guru.
He signed up during the group seminar in a trance and asked for a refund when it wasn't to his liking, only to find himself signing up for the next seminar and the next. The guru helped him to make sense of his latent abilities, his dissatisfaction with life and armed him with a renewed sense of purpose.
Armed with positive intent, he started sharing his newfound knowledge but again and again met with obstacles.
He first had to break with his family business, which was a very difficult thing to do, with their lack of acceptance of his work. Then when he finally got things going, was disenchanted with the Singaporeans who came to his classes. First it was the name which had to be changed because "ShivShakti" was perceived as an Indian centre. Then, he used to ask for donations in lieu of payment only to find people barely giving anything, barely enough to cover the hourly rent. "They can give you $2," still incredulous of the lack of appreciation and disrespectfulness after all these years. And the rent loomed large again in 2012 when it came time to renew his lease at his Craig road headquarter in Singapore. "I almost gave up. Wanted to shut it down. It is very hard to sustain in Singapore"
Things turned around in recent years, "establishing the last 10 years was the most difficult, " as his happy students come back to support him, and partner up globally. "I'm building a team to take over me. They're a good team. I have my spiritual work. And i have the centres around the world."
Umesh is at peace after a bumpy long ride and looks upon the future with great anticipation, expectation and vision. "The new age is about taking your own rights and taking your own responsibility, without blame."
And he has hope for Singapore. "Singapore is highly spiritual. But people must wake up to who they are. This means being authentic and true to your higher self by being less negative, more positive. Finding your true heart and being sincere. " He cites the great shifts in civilisations and predicts the coming shift in 2015 and the shifting of spiritual centre from India to South America. It's all very plausible the way he explains it, shades of Yogananda. This man just may have found the golden mean between spirituality and business.
The Golden Space can be found
7B Craig Road Singapore 089667
Tel: +65 6222 5114
Mon-Sat 11am-7pm/Closed Sun & Public Holidays
By Sonia Ong