Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he used to take a five-day break every year during Diwali to live in a jungle and reflect on his life and experiences, and urged youngsters to take time off and introspect to “understand your inner self better”.

In the third instalment of his interview with the Facebook page Humans of Bombay, Modi said he knew he wanted to serve others when he returned home after spending two years at the Himalayas. Modi said he moved to Ahmedabad, “his first brush with living in a big city”, and helped his uncle at his canteen.

Modi said he eventually joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a pracharak. “We all took turns to clean the RSS office, prepare tea and food for colleagues and clean utensils,” he said. “To ensure that this new phase of life didn’t take over the sense of peace that I achieved there [Himalayas], I decided to take out some time every year and introspect. It was my way of maintaining a balanced life.”

Modi said he would take time off during Diwali to visit a jungle, a place with no people, radio, newspaper or TV. “I would reflect – and the strength that this alone time gave me still helps me to handle life and its various experiences.” When people asked him who he was going to meet, he answered: “I am going to meet myself.”

He also urged the young to take time off from their busy schedules. “You will start living in the true sense of the word,” he said. “It will also make you more confident and undeterred by what others say about you. All of these things will help you in times to come. So I just want each and every one of you to remember that you are special and that you don’t have to look outside for the’s already within you.”

In the first instalment of the five-part series, Modi had spoken about his childhood, helping around his father’s tea stall and attending his first RSS meeting at the age of eight. In the second part, Modi said he had been a curious child but had “very little clarity”. He left for the Himalayas at the age of 17, spent time at the Ramkrishna Mission, met sadhus and returned after two years with “clarity and a guiding force to lead the way”, he had said.