Enlightened conversations about the human experience.

About the show

AwokenWord is a long-form, conversation style podcast hosted by writer, poet, and music composer, Anuj Rastogi. Through nuanced and thoughtful dialogue with an incredible array of guests, Anuj explores the worlds of society, culture, art, music, science, current events and all things that comprise the human experience.

"I want to challenge and evolve ideas, intuitions and convictions. This world, is quite simply, nuts, and often terrifying. Yet, this same world is incredibly beautiful, inspiring and mesmerizing. I want to get to know people who are interesting, who hold varied opinions and have life experiences different than my own.

This podcast is my humble attempt to bring a grain of sand of goodness, conversation and inspiration to the beach of human experience. This podcast is my love letter to the world, and to what it means to be human."

~ Anuj Rastogi

AwokenWord on social media


  • #026: Dr. Yasser Khan - "Humanitarian in Gaza"

    February 5th, 2024  |  Season 3  |  1 hr 48 mins
    conversation, gaza, healing, history, human, humanitarian, humanity, interview, israel, khan yunis, love, palestine, society, war, world

    Anuj sits down with Dr. Yasser Khan - a Canadian ophthalmologist who was among the first in the world to visit Gaza in the midst of the recent Israel-Hamas war, to help injured civilians and see the dire conditions first hand. Yasser shares his humbling experiences and perspectives on being a humanitarian, in one of the most important conversations yet on AwokenWord.

  • #025: Jennifer Boger - "The AI Mirror"

    January 25th, 2024  |  Season 3  |  1 hr 56 mins
    ai, artificial intelligence, capitalism, chat gpt, environmental social governance, esg, future, humanity, open ai, social media, technology

    Kicking off Season 3, Anuj sits with Dr. Jennifer Boger for an entirely different, human conversation on AI, technology and finding our way in an a rapidly accelerating future.

  • #024: "Analog Intelligence"

    December 31st, 2023  |  Season 2  |  37 mins 27 secs
    childhood, conversation, culture, fatherhood, gaza, history, human, humanity, interview, israel, love, no war, palestine, peace, politics, science, society, war, world

    A special episode where Anuj shares his reflections on 2023, ahead of another impromptu conversation with his son about AI ethics, and the struggle between good and bad.

  • #023: Martin Ryan - "Artificial Intelligence. Real Ethics"

    November 23rd, 2023  |  Season 2  |  1 hr 41 mins
    ai, artificial intelligence, capitalism, chat gpt, conversation, culture, humanity, interview, open ai, science, social media

    Anuj sits down with Martin Ryan to discuss the moment in time we find ourselves in on the rapidly evolving landscape of AI. They discuss the recent advancements in AI, and the sheer challenge of trying to regulate and govern a technology that is scaling in complexity beyond the pace we can handle. They explore the questions of shared values, the impact of break-neck paced technological advancement, the interplay with capitalism, and the coming shift of society as we give more and more of our intimate selves to technology.

  • #022: My Son - "No War"

    November 1st, 2023  |  Season 2  |  13 mins 21 secs
    childhood, conversation, culture, fatherhood, gaza, history, human, humanity, interview, israel, love, no war, palestine, peace, politics, science, society, war, world

    A very special & humbling episode. This morning, Anuj cuddled in bed with his 9-year old son, and had the most human, humbling and honest conversation about the situation in that has broken out in Gaza & Israel since October 7, 2023, and what he wants for the world of tomorrow.

  • #021: Mugabi Byenka - "Beyond Skin"

    October 4th, 2023  |  Season 2  |  2 hrs
    africa, art, author, conversation, culture, health, history, human, humanity, interview, love, poetry, politics, race, society, travel, world

    Anuj sat down with poet & author, Mugabi Byenkya. Audio of this conversation was thought lost, however resurrected in the end to share this wide sweeping dialogue.

  • #020: Shree Paradkar - "Casting Light"

    May 10th, 2021  |  Season 2  |  59 mins 24 secs
    canada, conversation, culture, feminism, history, human, humanity, interview, journalism, love, news, politics, race, racism, society, world

    Anuj and Shree Paradkar sit down for an unflinching conversation about race and self refection. Shree is a Toronto Star race and gender columnist, and the 2018-2019 recipient of the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy. Shree's writing takes on charged issues with a critical and unwaivering approach. Shree shares the role of Black feminism in her own journey, and the debt that we all owe to indigenous and black communities. Shree also raises the question of who defines the "norm" in society, and sheds light on how these challenging forces come into her world as a mother.

  • #019: G Yamazawa - "Way of The Shogun"

    June 23rd, 2020  |  Season 2  |  1 hr 12 secs
    art, buddhism, conversation, covid19, culture, hip hop, human, humanity, interview, music, politics, rap, society, world

    Anuj is joined by G Yamazawa, in this conversation deep into the COVID19 pandemic. G Yamazawa is an innovative rapper, spoken word poet and hip hop artist. Originally out of Durham, North Carolina, G is now based in Los Angeles.

    G shares a lot about his life growing up, how hip hop entered his life, and the path that spoken word poetry opened up for him to find his own voice in the world of hip hop. Anuj and G unpack life in the US at the early stages of the COVID19 pandemic, as well as the worlds of artistry, social media, creativity and evolving as an artist. This is a fresh glimpse into the mind of a prolific artist.

  • #018: Jeff Teravainen - "Acting Human"

    March 18th, 2020  |  Season 2  |  1 hr 38 mins
    acting, actor, art, children, conversation, culture, daughter, family, fatherhood, film, hollywood, humanity, love, movies, music, science, society, world

    Today, Anuj sits , Jeff Teravainen for an inspiring, and organic conversation. Jeff is a well-loved actor, Voiceover Artist, and Musician. He's played the role of Lieutenant Anders on SYFY's hit "Dark Matter", as well as roles in SYFY's "12 Monkeys" in Season 2 along with movies such as the 2019 Netflix hit, "Christmas Chronicles". Jeff has also given his likeness and voice to characters in popular animation and video games such as "Far Cry", "Splinter Cell" and "Resident Evil". Most recently, you can find Jeff as the recurring character Gerald on the new HULU / CBC series "Utopia Falls" which debuted in 2020.

  • #017: Sammy Chand - "Genesis Man"

    January 15th, 2020  |  Season 2  |  1 hr 32 mins
    change, children, culture, hip hop, humanity, india, karmacy, music, obama, politics, rap, society, trump, wu tang

    Live from DASH Radio studio in Los Angeles, Anuj Rastogi sits down with Sammy Chand. Sammy is the founder of Rukus Avenue Radio, a rapper, producer, record label exec, entrepreneur and man of the people. In this conversation, Anuj and Sammy explore the impact of Hip Hop, the genesis of Indian Hip Hop and its ties back to Sammy's group KARMACY. The two discuss identity, the evolution of music, fatherhood, the current political climate in the US and what we can do to shape the world for better.

  • #016: Barkha Madan - "Lights, Camera, Introspection!"

    December 11th, 2019  |  Season 2  |  1 hr 35 mins
    barkha madan, bollywood, buddha, buddhism, dalai lama, film, humanity, interview, love, society, spirituality

    Anuj Rastogi is joined by Barkha Madan at the AwokenWord studio. Barkha Madan is a former Indian model, film actress and film producer who has also appeared in television serials and hosted TV shows in India. Barkha had risen to prominence through major film and fashion projects, while undergoing her own inner exploration and journey. In November 2012, Barkha finally made the leap into her self-described "calling" and underwent ordination to become a Buddhist nun and changed her name to Ven. Gyalten Samten. Barkha shares her incredible journey from the runway and silverscreen, and the experience of immersing herself in new characters, before eventually following through on her true spiritual calling. Anuj and Barkha discuss the challenges of a modern life in a modern, materialistic and social media driven world, as well as the joys of travel, meeting people, looking back across her experiences, and the ways in which her path has impacted countless others.

  • #015: Shantanu Pujari - "Hip Hop India"

    November 13th, 2019  |  Season 2  |  1 hr 24 mins
    action, bollywood, fight, film, gully boy, hip hop, history, humanity, india, inspiration, kickboxing, martial arts, mma, muay thai, mumbai, music, politics, spiritual, yoga

    Anuj Rastogi reconnects with Shantanu Pujari, a multi-talented artist and fighter. Shantanu is a professional competitive mixed martial arts fighter, yoga instructor, action director for film, activist, b-boy, beatboxer and hip hop label artist manager. Shantanu is also the host of the "Shakahari Show" on Rukus Avenue Radio. Shantanu shares his incredible personal journey, and a deep respect and knowledge of the history of Hip Hop as well as India. This conversation is an inspiring and exciting journey through the eyes of India's youth which is on course to transform the country and the world in positive ways.