What are the reasons that have made Mark Zuckerberg, a 31-year-old, a household name? You will say hard work, razor sharp brain, impressive tech vision, incredible business acumen, right opportunities and probably just a tiny bit of luck. All that is true, but yesterday, as he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Zuckerberg added one more ingredient to the recipe that made him successful — an Indian temple. Yes, an Indian temple, nestled somewhere in the hills of Uttarakhand.
While, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rags to riches story — from selling tea in railway stations to becoming Mr Prime Minister — is something that most of us are fine tuned with by now, on Sunday night it was Zuckerberg who actually gave us some information that not many (but his close aides) would be aware of. That information — for all intents and purposes — is seemingly a historical fact and a life-changing one at that, dating back to the days when Facebook was not the social media ‘phenomenon’ we know today.
Facebook — launched in 2004 — had its fair share of dark days during the initial years, with co-founder Zuckerberg even fielding buyout offers at one point of time when it “wasn’t doing so well”. Zuckerberg is known to have looked up to late Apple CEO Steve Jobs as a close friend, confidant and mentor. And it was Jobs he went to during these hard times.
Jobs on his part advised Zuckerberg to take a spiritual retreat to India and visit a certain temple there. Although Zuckerberg did not disclose more details of this particular temple, he did mention how that journey to India — not long ago — helped him clear his head and turn into a visionary (or a businessman as some may say) with a mission to connect billions of people around the world through Facebook.
“Early on in our history when things weren’t really going well – we had hit a tough patch and a lot of people wanted to buy Facebook – I went and I met with Steve Jobs and he said that to reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company, I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple,” Zuckerberg revealed on stage during the townhall.
Interestingly, the temple in question here had also enlightened Jobs — once a penniless college drop-out who would walk seven miles every Sunday to get weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple — into founding Apple.
India — and a certain temple — did leave a lasting impression on Jobs’ mind. Back in 1997, he has been reported to advise rival Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates to broaden his vision and take a spiritual retreat to India. “I just think he (Gates) and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger,” Jobs once told the New York Times.
The connecting link — the temple — has one thing in common. It went on to turn two relatively unknown faces become visionaries, and then billionaires. As for the temple in question, we don’t know much about its location, though it seems that it could be the one located in Nainital.
There are accounts of Jobs visiting a certain Kainchi Ashram, in Nainital, in the state of Uttarakhand where he is believed to have got his enlightenment to build Apple. It’s said that Jobs wasn’t able to meet Baba Neem Karoli of Kainchi Ashram in person – he had died before Jobs arrival.
Zuckerberg’s account of him flying to India and visiting the same temple to get a hang on to his life and business and spearheading the Facebook that we know (and use) today speaks in volumes of what spirituality can do for certain individuals.
No wonder when Zuckerberg revealed this startling episode from his — and Facebook’s — life, PM Modi couldn’t stop smiling and quipping. “When you (Mark Zuckerberg) came to India, you went to a temple. And look, where you have reached,” he said.