Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sanathana Sarathi May 2019: Elsie Cowan's article, "Life and joy for all" gives very interesting details of Walter Cowan's resurrection

Last updated on 22nd July 2019

The resurrection of Walter Cowan is a well known incident among Sathya Sai devotees. Here is the article on it from John Hislop's My Baba and I book, put up on SSSCT website: http://www.srisathyasai.org.in/Pages/Devotees_Experiences/Resurrection_WalterCowan.htm.

I had read the above article (in John Hislop's book). But I don't think I had read (or do not recall it) Elsie Cowan's version of the miracle. I found Elsie Cowan's article to be straight-forward. I get the impression that (in the article) she is just "telling it like it is".

Elsie Cowan writes that (in December 1971) her husband Walter Cowan collapsed in their hotel room in Madras (Chennai now) and that an eminent doctor who had been brought in to examine him, declared him (Walter Cowan) dead. An ambulance was called to take Mr. Cowan to a hospital where the hospital doctor also declared him dead, and Mr. Cowan was covered with a sheet with cotton wool put in his ears and nostrils. Note that Elsie Cowan had not accompanied Mr. Cowan to the hospital (she seems to have felt that it was divine will and that Mr. Cowan had reached Bhagavan's feet).

Accompanied by another person, Mrs. Cowan went to have Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's darshan. Bhagavan told Mrs. Cowan, "Walter lives". Mrs. Cowan was spellbound! Bhagavan further said, "Go back to the hospital. I will come at ten o'clock."

When Mrs. Cowan reached the hospital, she found Walter Cowan to be alive! Mrs. Cowan writes in this article, 'Though I couldn't understand it, I wasn't surprised. Because, when Baba said, "Walter lives", I believed it absolutely. His words had produced such a strong faith that I could not think of death at all in connection with Walter. Baba told me later: "It was your faith in Me and My words that held the healing; it was through that faith that I could reach him"'.

Baba came to the hospital at ten o'clock and rubbed Walter's chest and back. Mrs. Cowan writes that then there was more life in Walter.

Now, interestingly, some time after Baba left, the hospital doctor came into the room and told Mrs. Cowan, "He can't live. He is dead. I will go with you and take the body away. I have the necessary permit."

Mrs. Cowan got angry with the doctor and rebuffed him. The doctor eventually went out.

Walter Cowan took a lot of time to recover. Mrs. Cowan writes that he died three times. She then writes, 'Each time, as soon as I cried out, "Baba, Baba, Baba, Walter is going", Baba stood there, in the hospital room, before me, and brought Walter back, by rubbing his chest and back. Walter was discharged from the hospital after twenty-two days. He was able to walk down the stairs'.

Ravi: It is wonderful to read Mrs. Elsie Cowan's account of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba bringing back life to Mr. Walter Cowan, and that being due to the deep faith she had in Bhagavan. Deep faith in Bhagavan provided the environment for the miracle to happen!

The Sanathana Sarathi article states that it is excerpted from "Miracles of Divine Love - Volume 1".
====================================================

Walter Cowan speaks about his account in this video: https://vimeo.com/83246106, 5 min. 25 secs. Elsie Cowan speaks only a little in this video.

[I thank Sanathana Sarathi and the author & publisher of "Miracles of Divine Love - Volume 1" and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) from their article on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Sanathana Sarathi May 2019: Swami Atmashraddhananda on individual emancipation and welfare of the world

Yesterday night I enjoyed reading this article: "INDIVIDUAL EMANCIPATION AND WELFARE OF THE WORLD" by Swami Atmashraddhananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, Kolkata, in the May 2019 print issue of Sanathana Sarathi.

This is the first part of a two part article (2nd part is carried in the June 2019 issue) based on a talk delivered by Swami Atmashraddhananda in Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi) on 10th June 2018.

The article (first part), IMHO, is a superb articulation of Hindu core beliefs and value system, that I was exposed to in my readings on spirituality & Hinduism in my youth in and around Mumbai from late 1970s to early 1990s (prior to coming to know about Sathya Sai). Note that I have read many books published by Ramakrishna Math and/or Ramakrishna Mission, and have visited their Khar centre in Mumbai, a few times.

I strongly recommend that readers interested in these matters should read this article, if they have not read it already.

I thought I should also share the key concepts touched upon by the Swami in this article (first article), and use related extracts from wikipedia sources.

The Swami first talks of "Atmanomokshartham jagathitayacha". Given below are some extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmano_mokshartham_jagat_hitaya_cha (Ravi: I am not sure about the shloka being from the Rig Veda; it could be based on some shloka in the Rig Veda):

Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha (translation: for the salvation of our individual self and for the well-being of all on earth) is a sloka of the Rig Veda.[1] Vivekananda would often use it and it became the motto of the Ramakrishna Mission that he founded in 1897 and the related Ramakrishna Math.[2][1][3]

The motto suggests twofold aim of human life— one is to seek salvation for one’s soul and the other is to address the issue of welfare of the world.[1]

...

The dictum has two messages. One is to seek salvation for one’s soul and the other is to address the issue of welfare of the world.[1] This motto also cements the two divergent and obvious aspects of ‘atman’ (soul) and ‘jagat hitaya’ (service to humanity) which are to be achieved by one’s own efforts.[4] To achieve this, constant human effort is a requisite not only for one’s own salvation but also for providing service to the humanity at large.[5]

This theme was enunciated by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to a query by Swami Vivekananda for personal liberation. Ramakrishna then admonished Vivekananda saying that he expected him to personify the huge Banyan tree, which not only provided shade but also solace to the people. This direction of Ramakrishna resulted in Vivekananda creating the two institutions - the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission - which were open to all class of people irrespective of their caste and creed. The objective of the two institutions was defined as "Atmano Mokshartham Jagat Hitaya Cha - For the emancipation of one's self and the good of the universe", which became the raison d'etre of the Ramakrishna Order.[6] This motto coined by Vivekananda does not have any overtones of proselytizing but it is a philosophy which helps in its adoption by people of all faiths.[7]

[Wiki References]
1. Singh 2005, p. 71. [Singh, Karan (1 January 2005). Hinduism. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84557-425-3.]
2. "IDEOLOGY of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission" [https://web.archive.org/web/20131004213350/http://www.belurmath.org/Ideology.htm]. Ramakrishna Mission. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
3. Sarvabhutananda 2012, p. 30. [Sarvabhutananda, Swami (2012). Ramakrishna Movement. Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. ISBN 81-87332-38-7.]
4. Nanjundiah 2007, p. 6. [Nanjundiah, M. S. (2007). A Spiritual Centre Blossoms: Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore, First 100 Years--1904-2004. Ramakrishna Math. ISBN 978-81-7907-054-3.]
5. Vanamali 1998, p. 1. [Vanamali, Vanamali (1 January 1998). Gurudeva Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Maharaj, reigning Pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Aryan Books International. ISBN 978-81-7305-155-5.]
6. "Philosophy of the Ramakrishna Order". [http://www.rkmpune.org/rk_order/rkm_philo.html] Ramakrishna Math, Pune. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
7. Nanjundiah 2007, p. 11. [Nanjundiah, M. S. (2007). A Spiritual Centre Blossoms: Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore, First 100 Years--1904-2004. Ramakrishna Math. ISBN 978-81-7907-054-3.]

--- end wiki extracts ---

The Swami mentions the Sthula (gross) body, Sukshma (subtle) body and Karana (causal) body belief. Given below are extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Bodies_Doctrine

According to Sarira Traya, the Doctrine of the Three bodies in Hinduism, the human being is composed of three sariras or "bodies" emanating from Brahman by avidya, "ignorance" or "nescience". They are often equated with the five koshas (sheaths), which cover the atman. The Three Bodies Doctrine is an essential doctrine in Indian philosophy and religion, especially Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and Tantra.
...
Karana sarira or the causal body is merely the cause[1] or seed of the subtle body and the gross body. It has no other function than being the seed of the subtle and the gross body.[2] It is nirvikalpa rupam, "undifferentiated form".[2] It originates with avidya, "ignorance" or "nescience" of the real identity of the atman, instead giving birth to the notion of jiva.
...
Sukshma sarira or the subtle body is the body of the mind and the vital energies, which keep the physical body alive. Together with the causal body it is the transmigrating soul or jiva, separating from the gross body upon death.
...
Sthula sarira or the gross body is the material physical mortal body that eats, breathes and moves (acts). It is composed of many diverse components, produced by one’s karmas (actions) in past life out of the elements which have undergone panchikarana i.e. combining of the five primordial subtle elements.

[Wiki References]
1. Sharma 2006, p. 193. [Sharma, Arvind (2006), A Primal Perspective on the philosophy of Religion, Springer, ISBN 9781402050145]
2. Bahder & Bahder 2013. [Bahder, Paul; Bahder, Carol (2013), Be Free From "Me": Vedanta Notes, Vision of Vedanta]

--- end wiki extracts ---

The Swami covers Purusharthas. Given below are extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puru%E1%B9%A3%C4%81rtha

Puruṣārtha (Sanskrit: पुरुषार्थ) literally means an "object of human pursuit".[1] It is a key concept in Hinduism, and refers to the four proper goals or aims of a human life. The four puruṣārthas are Dharma (righteousness, moral values), Artha (prosperity, economic values), Kama (pleasure, love, psychological values) and Moksha (liberation, spiritual values).[2][3]

[Wiki References]
1. puruSArtha [http://spokensanskrit.org/] Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
2. (Flood 1996, p. 17) [Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.], (Olivelle 1993, pp. 216–219) [Olivelle, Patrick (1993). The Āśrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508327-X.]; Cf. also (Apte 1965, p. 626) [Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965). The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 81-208-0567-4. (fourth revised & enlarged edition).]; (Hopkins 1971, p. 78) [Hopkins, Thomas J. (1971). The Hindu Religious Tradition. Cambridge: Dickenson Publishing Company, Inc.]
3. M Hiriyanna (2000), Philosophy of Values, in Indian Philosophy: Theory of value (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8153-3612-9, pages 1–10
--- end wiki extracts ---

Swami Atmashraddhananda also talks about Antahkarana. Given below are extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antahkarana :

In Vedāntic literature, this antahkaraṇa (internal organ) is organised into four parts:[2]

Ahamkāra (ego) – identifies the Atman (self) with the body as 'I'
Buddhi (intellect) – controls decision making
Manas (mind) – controls sankalpa (will or resolution)
Chitta (memory) – deals with remembering and forgetting

[Wiki References]
2. "Antahkarana - Yoga (definition)". [https://en.mimi.hu/yoga/antahkarana.html] En.mimi.hu. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Towards the end of the (first) article based on talk of Swami Atmashraddhananda, there is mention of mystic side, e.g. hearing a divine sound or seeing a divine vision, being very personal and private. Manifestation of this, [Ravi: if genuine], in day-to-day life is that the person "will become more unselfish, his focus on the little self of himself will shift, he will become more and more identified with others because the real Self within us is not multiple, it is singular. The consciousness that is present in all of us, the divinity that is present in all of us, is not multiple; it is only singular. What is the Self in me is also the Self in others. So, naturally when a person grows spiritually, he becomes more and more unselfish, and concerned about others' welfare. This spiritual growth of a person leads him to Moksha, the ultimate goal of human life."

Ravi: I tried to see on youtube whether this talk of Swami Atmashraddhananda was available but I could not find it in my search attempts. Readers who want to get an idea of how this Swami speaks and looks may view this video: What is Self-Knowledge?: Insights from Katha Upanishad by Swami Atmashraddhananda (delivered on 25th April 2019 at IIT Madras), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AN4nlT20Jg, around an hour, published by Vivekananda Study Circle. The Swami can be seen from around 1 min. 20 seconds into the video.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever. I also thank Sanathana Sarathi for the small extract from the article given at the end of the post, and have presumed they will have no objections to it.]

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Part autobio paperback book (6 in. x 9 in.) is now available on amazon.in

The paperback version of my part autobiography book in 6 in. x 9 in. size is now available on amazon.in for Rs.285 + shipping here: https://www.amazon.in/Autobiography-Indian-Software-Spiritual-Aspirant/dp/1645874087.

Notion Press self-publishing platform sells it on amazon.in. It also sells it on its own store at the same price here: https://notionpress.com/read/autobiography-of-an-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-part-1-1325351.

This is mainly the same book content (text and pictures) as available at Pothi.com in A5 size: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ravi-s-iyer-autobiography-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-%E2%80%93-part-1, for Rs.265 + shipping.

Pothi.com's shipping charges seem to be slightly more than Notion Press, and so the final cost of the book is almost the same, whether one buys from Pothi.com or Notion Press/amazon.in.

It was possible for me to use two self-publishing platforms for the same book and same edition (first) but with different sizes (A5 and 6in.x9in.), as I have a non-exclusive agreement with the two self-publishing platforms. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Part autobio paperback (A5 size) first edition allotted ISBN 978-93-5382-255-2 (9789353822552)

The first edition of my paperback (A5 size) book, "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant - Part 1" has been allotted on 16th July 2019, an ISBN as follows:

ISBN with hyphens: 978-93-5382-255-2
ISBN without hyphens: 9789353822552

To see ISBN entry in isbn.gov.in (issuing Indian govt. agency) go to isbn.gov.in and click on "Recently Published Books" link.

In "Recently Published Books" page, there is a search criteria box at the top. Specify ISBN number (with or without hyphens) of this book and click on Submit to get the Search results. The Search results should show this book's ISBN entry details.

Note that Book Title in isbn.gov.in form does not allow - character and so this book's Title in ISBN entry does not have - character. But Description field has the proper title with - character ("Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant - Part 1").

Given below is a pic showing the isbn.gov.in Search results for this ISBN entry.

[To open pic in larger resolution, right-click on pic followed by open link (NOT image) in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]



I have updated the paperback book in Pothi.com sale page: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ravi-s-iyer-autobiography-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-%E2%80%93-part-1, to have ISBN number in the Title-Verso page and also show the ISBN barcode in the back cover page. I have added the Pothi.com logo and price at which the book is sold on Pothi.com, to the back cover page. Given below is a pic of the current back cover page.



For more about the book including download links and paperback sale page(s), please visit: https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/p/autobiography-of-indian-software-techie.html.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Sathya Sai as spiritual teacher in full flow in 1996 Gurupurnima video clip

Sathya Sai as the spritual teacher can be seen in full flow in this video clip: Sathya Sai Baba Discourse - Gurupurnima 30th July 1996 Pt - 7, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAx0nIzqsxs, 9 min. 15 secs. The clip has English sub-titles besides the on-the-spot English translation of Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju.

I came to the Lotus Feet of Sathya Sai in the early to mid 1990s. Like many others, I have personally experienced, live, the power and force of discourses of his like the clip above. What an awesome spiritual teacher Sathya Sai in living form was!

Oh how blessed we are to have experienced Sathya Sai, the spiritual teacher! God taking form as the Avatar Sathya Sai to show mankind the way to live in these times while progressing spiritually towards merger in Godhead!

How well he teaches about various sects (like Vaishnavites & Shaivites) and various religions, being just different paths to the same God! Truly, Sathya Sai was an amazingly inspiring spiritual teacher.

I offer my pranams (obeisance) and love to my beloved and revered Gurudev, Kali Yuga Avatar, Shiva Shakti Swarupa Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on this holy day of Gurupurnima.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Indian self-publishing platform companies like Pothi and Notion Press are doing great service to the nation through their very affordable book publication services

I now have two paperback books (both being associated, at least in part, with spirituality) which have been self-published using Pothi (pothi.com) in A5 size and will very soon have the same two books in 6 in. x 9 in. size, self-published using Notion Press (notionpress.com). I think that Pothi (pothi.com) and Notion Press (notionpress.com) are doing terrific work! Great service to society if you ask me, as these Print-On-Demand self-publishing platforms with a free Do-It-Yourself (DIY) option, provide a platform for writers and knowledge-sharers to very affordably provide a way for interested persons to buy printed copies of their writings/knowledge-sharings. I think that contributes significantly to more ideas and more knowledge being available to those who are interested.

The key point about Print-On-Demand is that the book author/self-publisher does not have to invest in ordering and storing hundreds of copies of his/her book, and also worry about selling those copies. With self-publishing platforms like Pothi and Notion Press, the author's book is put up on the web store of these companies, and users can directly buy the books from that web store. Additionally, sometimes for a fee, the books can also be sold on major Internet stores like amazon.in and flipkart.com.

Of course, some books may not be of interest and may vanish into oblivion over time. But that's how it is. Time is the great test of what ideas, what creative literature and what knowledge survives, perhaps with some modifications, over time.

Europe surged ahead of the rest of the world with inventions like Johannes Gutenberg's printing press in the 1430s, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press#Gutenberg's_press. That made it possible for knowledge, creative literature, information etc. to be shared with literate people far more easily than earlier.

As far as I know, India (or rather various Indian kingdoms then) was mainly into palm leaves, copper plate and other metal plates, or stone inscriptions as a way to preserve and transmit knowledge/information other than verbal knowledge transmission processes, till the Europeans brought the printing press into India as they were trading with India and later as they colonized parts and later whole of India. The Chinese were into printing on cloth prior to the Europeans but I don't think India was into printing on cloth then, or at least not in a significant way.

To just show what an impact Gutenberg's press had on Europe and how it contributed to Europe's transformation as a powerhouse of knowledge and learning and science & technology ..., here's an extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press :

A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. It marked a dramatic improvement on earlier printing methods in which the cloth, paper or other medium was brushed or rubbed repeatedly to achieve the transfer of ink, and accelerated the process. Typically used for texts, the invention and global spread of the printing press was one of the most influential events in the second millennium.[1][2]

Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith by profession, developed, circa 1439, a printing system by adapting existing technologies to printing purposes, as well as making inventions of his own. Printing in East Asia had been prevalent since the Tang dynasty,[3][4] and in Europe, woodblock printing based on existing screw presses was common by the 14th century. Gutenberg's most important innovation was the development of hand-molded metal printing matrices, thus producing a movable type–based printing press system. His newly devised hand mould made possible the precise and rapid creation of metal movable type in large quantities. Movable type had been hitherto unknown in Europe. In Europe, the two inventions, the hand mould and the printing press, together drastically reduced the cost of printing books and other documents, particularly in short print runs.

The printing press spread within several decades to over two hundred cities in a dozen European countries.[5] By 1500, printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million volumes.[5] In the 16th century, with presses spreading further afield, their output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies.[5] The operation of a press became synonymous with the enterprise of printing, and lent its name to a new medium of expression and communication, "the press".[6]

In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication, which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities. The sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalism, and accelerated by the development of European vernacular languages, to the detriment of Latin's status as lingua franca.[7] In the 19th century, the replacement of the hand-operated Gutenberg-style press by steam-powered rotary presses allowed printing on an industrial scale.[8]
...
[Wiki References:]

1. For example, in 1999, the A&E Network ranked Gutenberg no. 1 on their "People of the Millennium" countdown. In 1997, Time–Life magazine picked Gutenberg's invention as the most important of the second millennium Archived 10 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine; the same did four prominent US journalists in their 1998 resume 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking The Men and Women Who Shaped The Millennium Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Johann Gutenberg entry of the Catholic Encyclopedia describes his invention as having made a practically unparalleled cultural impact in the Christian era.

2. McLuhan 1962 [McLuhan, Marshall (1962), The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1st ed.), University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-0-8020-6041-9]; Eisenstein 1980 [Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. (1980), The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29955-8]; Febvre & Martin 1997 [Febvre, Lucien; Martin, Henri-Jean (1997), The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450–1800, London: Verso, ISBN 978-1-85984-108-2]; Man 2002 [Man, John (2002), The Gutenberg Revolution: The Story of a Genius and an Invention that Changed the World, London: Headline Review, ISBN 978-0-7472-4504-9]

3. Tsien Tsuen-Hsuin; Joseph Needham (1985). Paper and Printing. Science and Civilisation in China. 5 part 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 158, 201.

4. Briggs, Asa and Burke, Peter (2002). A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, Polity, Cambridge, pp.15–23, 61–73.

5. Febvre, Lucien; Martin, Henri-Jean (1976): "The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450–1800", London: New Left Books, quoted in: Anderson, Benedict: "Comunidades Imaginadas. Reflexiones sobre el origen y la difusión del nacionalismo", Fondo de cultura económica, Mexico 1993, ISBN 978-968-16-3867-2, pp. 58f.

6. Weber 2006 [Weber, Johannes (2006), "Strassburg, 1605: The Origins of the Newspaper in Europe", German History, 24 (3): 387–412, doi:10.1191/0266355406gh380oa], p. 387:
At the same time, then, as the printing press in the physical, technological sense was invented, 'the press' in the extended sense of the word also entered the historical stage. The phenomenon of publishing was born.

7. Anderson, Benedict: Comunidades Imaginadas. Reflexiones sobre el origen y la difusión del nacionalismo, Fondo de cultura económica, Mexico 1993, ISBN 978-968-16-3867-2, pp. 63–76

8. Gerhardt 1978 [Gerhardt, Claus W. (1978), "Besitzt Gutenbergs Erfindung heute noch einen Wert?", Gutenberg-Jahrbuch: 212–217], p. 217

--- end extract from wikipedia ---

Ravi: While I have not researched this in depth, I am quite sure that Gutenberg's printing press (inventions prior to it helped it to develop to that stage) and his hand mould invention, were absolutely vital inventions in bringing about the transformation of Europe into a powerhouse of knowledge, science & technology and so military power, thereby making Europe the dominant force in world affairs for a few centuries later on, till the end of World War II in the mid twentieth century. Asia which had been the dominant power prior to that got completely overwhelmed by European power!

Now Asia is re-emerging as a world power continent.

Knowledge and easy transmission of knowledge are absolutely vital necessities for a country to become a knowledge-power. I think self-publishing platforms like Pothi (pothi.com) and Notion Press (notionpress.com) are doing a great job in enabling knowledge to be shared easily via very affordable ways of self-publishing books using Print-On-Demand approach. That's a terrific contribution to the nation, IMHO. I am not saying this lightly. I mean it. I was a part of the Information Technology field in India whose work ***in the private sector*** especially from the 80s contributed significantly to making India a rising or re-emerging power in the world. So I am not just talking in the air :-).

All the best to folks at Pothi and Notion Press! Keep up the good work!

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Awesome dance performance about Sathyam Shivam Sundaram by young girl for Sony Super Dancer 3 show

Some days back a Facebook correspondent had passed me a video of a young girl doing an awesome dance with the audio background being a part of Sathyam Shivam Sundaram Hindi film song, and then some sentences about Shiva and Shakti.

Here's a youtube clip of it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD1IFxBbuJg. But it has been put up by an individual and NOT Sony, so it may get blocked for copyright in future. As per this Hindi language report on the dance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJKlLqXUGR8, around 3 mins, the dance was part of Super Dancer Chapter 3 of Sony. The young girl dancing is Jayshree Gogoi and the event was on 9th June 2019. Zeenat Aman was invited as a guest and was seated with the panel of judges. More on Zeenat Aman later in this post.

Here's a clip of the Sathyam Shivam Sundaram Hindi film song audio with English meaning and with the video being different from the Hindi film song. From around 5 min. 20 secs, the video has some philosophical stuff not directly related to the song and can be ignored. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3I4LUExFRo

I request readers who have not seen the original Hindi film song video, to see the above video first before seeing the original Hindi film song video given below. I do not want to cloud such readers' minds with the Bollywood video part right away, which essentially plays to the gallery (as they need to make money). The song audio is awesome with a lot of wonderful meaning.

So now here's the Bollywood video. Note that in reality I doubt there would be any village in India where a scantily clad lady is allowed to clean the temple of Shiva, Rama and Krishna every morning. I mean, that would be a big scandal. ... But this is a movie and so the imagination runs wild.

The singer is the Great Lata Mangeshkar and the lyricist is Pandit Narendra Sharma. The heroine is Zeenat Aman (a Muslim in real life, BTW) and the movie was released in 1978 - Sathyam Shivam Sundaram. It was a big hit song then, I remember.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdU3qP5EYoY . Note that the same Zeenat Aman is seated with the judges (she is in an off-white dress) for Jayshree Gogoi's Sony Super Dancer 3 contest program in 2019, over 40 years after the Hindi movie was released.
---

Link below shows the same song played by an orchestra around 2015 (around 37 years after the movie release). The video part of the movie song has faded in memories of most people, I think. But the audio lives on as the words of the song are uplifting and sacred. This orchestra performance is good I think as the singer sings the song with great singing ability and emotion and is backed by a good music team.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram by Vaishali Made Live Music Show - Hemantkumar Musical Group, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RJPTec2CKo, 6 min. 23 secs, published in Aug 2015 with over 7.5 million views so far. The youtube video description gives the Hindi lyrics in Latin (English) script and in Hindi.

From around 1 min 29 secs in the Sony Super Dancer 3 video of the girl doing the awesome dance, some words are spoken in Hindi. Given below are those Hindi words and the English translation.

Main hi Shankar. [I am Shankar (a name of Lord Shiva)]
Main hi Parvathi. [I am Parvathi (name of Goddess Parvathi, consort of Lord Shiva)]
Main hi Purush. [I am the male.]
Main hi Stri. [I am the female.]
Main hi Shiv. [I am Shiv (Lord Shiva)]
Main hi Shakti. [I am Shakti (Goddess Shakti symbolizing primordial energy).]
Main Vinashak. [I am the destroyer (Lord Shiva is viewed in some scenarios as the destroyer).]
Main Prakriti. [I am creation/nature (creative force that manifests as creation/nature).]
Aur ye mera ruup - Ardhnaari Nateshwar. [And this is my form - Half-woman Nateshwar (Lord of dancers).]
--- end Hindi words & translation ---

Ravi: The message, as I understand it, is about Lord Shiva encompassing within himself/herself: masculine and feminine, primordial **creative** energy and destructive power, and being half-man & half-woman who is the Lord of the dance of creation, sustenance (for a period) & destruction of the world we experience.

In my experience of Prasanthi Nilayam when Sathya Sai was in physical form, Shivarathri was easily the most powerful spiritual-power function of the year. The entire focus of that function was on Sathya Sai's spiritual power as Shiva aspect.

BTW I am a Shaivite, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaivism, by family tradition. So I have been very fascinated and also had many questions about Shiva aspect of Swami (Sathya Sai), and Shiva worship in general. The following posts share information about views of others' and my views based on my readings & my experience of Swami, about Shiva worship. Don't feel obliged to read or browse through them 🙂. Only if you, dear reader, can spare the time, you can have a look at them:

1) Sathya Sai Baba Lingodhbhavam and his views on Shiva Linga worship, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/10/sathya-sai-baba-lingodhbhavam-and-his.html

2) Harvard Prof. Diana Eck on Shiva Linga worship, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/10/harvard-prof-diana-eck-on-shiva-linga.html

3) Initial part of the post covers Shiva Linga worship, so readers may want to read only that part and skip the rest: Comment exchange on Shiva Lingam, European Christianity, Syro-Malabar Indian Christians and USA Evangelical Christians, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2017/07/my-comments-on-shiva-lingam.html
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Friday, July 5, 2019

Part autobio ebook first edition, 2nd revision, allotted ISBN 978-93-5382-135-7 (9789353821357)

The First edition, 2nd revision of my ebook, "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant - Part 1" has been allotted an ISBN (different from ISBN for First edition), as follows:

ISBN with hyphens: 978-93-5382-135-7
ISBN without hyphens: 9789353821357

To see ISBN entry in isbn.gov.in (issuing Indian govt. agency) go to isbn.gov.in and click on "Recently Published Books" link.

In "Recently Published Books" page, there is a search criteria box at the top. Specify ISBN number (with or without hyphens) of this book and click on Submit to get the Search results. The Search results should show this book's ISBN entry details.

Note that Book Title in isbn.gov.in form does not allow - character and so this book Title in ISBN entry does not have - character. But Description field has the proper title with - character ("Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant - Part 1").

Given below is a pic showing the isbn.gov.in Search results for this ISBN entry.

[To open pic in larger resolution, right-click on pic followed by open link (NOT image) in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]



For more about the book including download links and paperback sale pages, please visit: https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/p/autobiography-of-indian-software-techie.html.

Note that isbn.gov.in advised me in an email that ISBN for First edition of ebook cannot be used for First edition, 2nd revision of ebook. Therefore I applied for a new ISBN for the latter which was allotted to me promptly, in a few days time, by isbn.gov.in.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Paperback version of Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1 released on Pothi.com; Updated ebook versions too

Finally, after a lot of twists and turns, the paperback version of my part autobiography titled, "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1" has been released on Pothi.com on 27th June 2019. I thank all readers who contributed their thoughts, suggestions and constructive criticism for the cover page. I also thank all readers who read part or whole of the ebook which had been released earlier, and provided me their valuable feedback (see https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/p/feedback-on-my-book-autobiography-of.html for feedback). All these inputs certainly helped in improving and stabilizing the paperback book and paved the way for this paperback book release.

The sale page on Pothi.com is: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ravi-s-iyer-autobiography-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-%E2%80%93-part-1.

The paperback book is 298 pages of A5 size inner content with Grayscale images. The cover is colour and the binding is Softcover.

Price: Rs. 265 + shipping on the Pothi.com web store (minimum price that is acceptable to Pothi.com).

Given below are some pics of the book delivery I got from Pothi.com on 26th June 2019. The current book has the same cover page but its inner content has some small text changes. I have checked that the preview shows the text changes correctly and am confident that orders for the book now will deliver decent copies with proper content. I have ordered one copy today (of updated and released book having the small text changes). It will take a week to 10 days for me to get the ordered copy.

[To open pic in larger resolution, right-click on pic followed by open link (NOT image) in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]





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I have also updated the ebook versions with slightly improved cover page (different from Pothi.com paperback cover page) and small text changes in inner content. Given below is the current ebook cover page:



For more on ebook versions please visit: Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1: Ebook free download and printed copy links, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/p/autobiography-of-indian-software-techie.html.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Latest cover of part autobio (A5 size) test print; Have ordered book copy with this cover from Pothi.com

Given below are the contents of my recent Facebook post created on 19th June 2019:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2520016038214958&set=a.1616532491896655&type=3&theater

Here's a pic of a test print of the latest front cover part of my part autobio paperback book, on glossy paper using Brother inkjet colour printer in a Puttaparthi shop (A5 image printed on A4 glossy sheet):

[To open pic in larger resolution, right-click on pic followed by open link (NOT image) in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]



One feedback I got on this pic is that there are too many things fighting for attention on this pic. As I thought about it, I think the feedback is correct.

Now I think the bird pic dominates over the three pics of me in the cover page. I wanted to use a bright pic as the earlier cover pic which is OK on ebook, prints in a rather dull way on paperback. I had got feedback on earlier cover as printed in paperback that it appears dull and that I should have something bright instead which will capture attention.

But I think now this pic is too loud.

Hmm. More work to do ... more learning about cover page design.

Update: I think that paperback book cover page is a place for me to express myself to readers (and people who may just give a quick look at it) via a picture, like I express myself to readers through inner content text (and some pics) in the book.

So while this paperback book cover page is taking a lot of time and I am making a lot of mistakes, I am learning about how to express myself better through the paperback cover page. So this is a good journey that I am on even if it is sucking away my time like nobody's business!

Ebook cover page is also a place for expressing myself but that is easier as there is no printing on paper coming into play that changes shades and looks different from how it looks on computer (LCD) monitor.
-----------------

Update on 20th Jun. 2019:

After viewing all the comments here, noting the Likes, discussions I had on the matter with quite a few people yesterday evening in (outside ashram) Puttaparthi and a lot of thinking on it, I decided to go ahead with the cover page as is. I informed Pothi.com about it today around 9.30 AM by mail. A little after 10 AM, Pothi.com sent me the successfully updated (after review) message. Around 11.30 AM I placed an order for the updated book (with the cover page shown in this post). I expect to get the paperback copy in a week to 10 days.

Given below is my analysis of the matter in points.

1. The point conveyed by the constructive criticism about bird being large and competing with other parts of cover page pic is well taken. I mean, it is a valid point. I thank the person who provided that constructive criticism.

2. I have limited skills in using graphics design tools. Recently I have got some exposure to some image manipulation features in GIMP (free software as against Adobe Photoshop which is not free and which I do not use). Other than GIMP I use Microsoft Paint and sometimes a little bit of Paint 3D. I tried to create a smaller bird and reflection pic, and then paste that into the background of blue water. The result shows that it is patchwork. I am sure more experienced people would be able to make the bird smaller in the blue water background without any appearance of patchwork. But I do not have that ability as of now.

3. For paperback book, most people felt the cover page overall to be attractive & good. They did not have much of an issue with the bird being big and its red legs sticking out of pics of me! The typical issue was with the passport authority marks on my first two pics which appears as dots when looked at casually but when carefully viewed get revealed as Passport authority letters. While I could use GIMP to remove those Passport Authority letters from the two pics, I felt that it is appropriate to leave them there in the interests of authenticity.

4. Some felt that the other cover pic (hills and water of greyish colour) on paperback book is dull and strongly preferred the blue water and bird background cover pic.

So for the paperback book I have gone ahead with the big bird and blue water background cover pic, despite it having the issues raised by the constructive criticism. Later on, say after a few months, if there is lot of negative feedback about the paperback cover page, I will explore changing it.

For the ebook however, this constructive criticism feedback has been very helpful in making me decide that I will retain the hills and greyish colour water pic for ebook cover page.

I once again thank the person for her very valuable constructive criticism which forced me to look at the matter more in-depth.

Another thing I would like to mention is that I paid only Rs. 30 for the colour printout shown in this post (done yesterday late morning). The glossy sheet on which it was printed was not very thick but that was fine for my purposes. It was printed using Brother Inkjet printer by Venkateshwara Offset Press located at Chitravathi Road (Down). Its timings are 10.30 AM to 1.30 PM.

I am told that the rate for colour inkjet printout varies with the content printed. I was given the impression that for my cover page print the standard rate in most Puttaparthi shops would be around Rs.50.

If the glossy sheet is thicker then the price may be higher. BTW for an earlier colour printout I got from a Puttaparthi shop on day-before-yesterday late evening when some of the printing shops were closed, I was charged significantly higher but the glossy sheet was thicker. I don't have any hard feelings about it as the person was very co-operative in understanding my needs and I was able to save valuable time by getting the print in the late evening itself. His shop was also large and well organized with lot of room for customers to comfortably discuss their needs with him.

Here's a pic of that earlier colour printout:


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The feedback and my response is provided here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2519451924938036&set=a.1616532491896655. [Only my part of the exchange is available on my previous blog post: https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/06/white-streaks-in-some-pics-problem.html.]


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

White streaks in some pics problem resolved in Pothi.com recent delivery of part autobio book; Cover page has readability issues and so changing it

Last updated on 20th June 2019

On 18th June 2019 morning, I received two copies of my part autobio book (one as replacement for white streaks paperback copy, and another as my last order).

The good news is that the white streaks in printing of some pics problem that was there in previous delivery (see https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/05/got-part-autobio-paperback-with-some.html) has got fixed. None of the pics in the inner content of these two copies have a white streaks problem.

The not-so-good news is that while the new cover page with blue background is more noticeable than the earlier one with grey background (in front cover), there is a readability problem with black foreground text on blue.

Given below are pics of the latest copy (or one of the two latest copies, to be precise) and previous copy (delivered to me in end May) kept side-by-side, with latest copy to the left of the previous copy. The order of pics is front cover, spine and back cover.

[To open pic in larger resolution, right-click on pic followed by open link (NOT image) in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]







White foreground text on blue background is easily readable as one can see from how author name is much more readable than book title in front cover of latest copy.

To solve the issue, I have taken two key steps:
a) Adopted black background colour instead of background pic, along with white foreground text colour, for back cover page and spine as was the case with previous copy.

b) Used background pic only for front cover page and positioned the text and flamingo bird on it in such a way that there is no overlap between them. Changed book title and subtitle text foreground colour to white. I think this solves the readability problem.

I also modified the Not-for-profit box so as to have yellow foreground text directly on image and removed the earlier black box.

The proposed full cover pic (back cover + spine + front cover) is shown below.



It took around three weeks totally, from around end May to 18th June for first the white streaks problem in prints of some pics to be investigated, understood and resolved, and then the new paperback book copy with new cover to be printed and delivered to me. I wanted to save time for checking out the above mentioned cover. So I decided to print the new part which is only the front cover page part using colour printer shop(s) in Puttaparthi.

I have done one successful test on 18th Jun evening of printing a slightly different version of above front cover part of full cover, on glossy paper using an Epson inkjet colour printer in a Puttaparthi shop. The readability problem is not there in this printout. So, in all probability, the next book print with above full cover page will also not have any readability problems.

I need to do one more test tomorrow (19th Jun) with perhaps another Puttaparthi colour printer shop as I have since made the modification of removing the black box background of the Not-for-profit text segment. Note that the above full cover pic is the latest version.

I will share pics of these colour printing output sheets done using Puttaparthi colour printer shops, in the near future.

==============================

Given below are comments on my Facebook post-pic, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2519451924938036&set=pcb.2519452141604681&type=3&theater, associated with this post.

In response to a comment, I wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped-- - Firstly, I thank you for your constructive criticism. As a former software developer, designer, reviewer of software code & design & architecture, and consultant giving consultancy advice on these areas for a livelihood, I have learned the value of constructive advice. In the software development field, constructive criticism helps catch flaws which if not caught early on might result in great damage later on and associated cost in correcting the damage. So constructive criticism is something my former profession has trained me to value highly.

So I thank you very much for your knowledgeable views as you are a graphics designer. Please don't apologize for it in any way. Instead you are always welcome to offer constructive criticism on any of my posts/pics.

I will study your comments in-depth and then provide my response.
----

I wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped-- I will provide my response in multiple comments here:

I like the hills & water cover. It also captures a part of my Puttaparthi walking life as it is of Enumulapalli (also called Yenumulapalli) small lake when it had water from the rains. The ebook version has this cover. See here: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ebook-ravi-s-iyer-autobiography-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-%E2%80%93-part-1.
...
But when the same cover is used for the printed paperback, the printed cover uses darker shades than what the pic shows. I cannot control the printer using darker shades part and have to instead factor that in, in my paper cover choice & design. The printed paperback cover using the hills and water pic, makes the book look somewhat greyish and dull. In comparison the ebook using the same cover pic does **not** appear dull.

I showed this printed book cover to a few people in (outside ashram) Puttaparthi. One suggestion I got was that the cover should be brighter. Another point I noted is that under dull lighting environment, the book cover does not catch the eye. So I felt that the suggestion to make the cover brighter is a good one.

The background pic of what seems to be flamingo birds in a blue water background is an eye catching one. It was taken by my sister's family & relatives in a safari trip they made to Tanzania. Here is the original pic: [pic omitted].
...
So I thought: let me use this bright pic for the cover. It ran into some issues of the colour of the bird coming in the way of text (title/sub-title) readability. To cut a long story short the current version resolves those problems by moving the text and flamingo apart.

Now the pic is bright even in the test print that I did. Here's a pic of a test print of the front cover part on glossy paper using Brother inkjet colour printer in a Puttaparthi shop (A5 image printed on A4 glossy sheet):
...
Hmm. The pic is not being accepted by Facebook here. I don't know what's the issue here. I was able to put up the pic as a separate post here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2520016038214958&set=a.1616532491896655
...
But I get your point of the big bird pic fighting for attention with my pics. And yes, the bird's red foot coming out of two of my pics looks a bit weird. I had not noticed that earlier.

As I think about it, I am getting convinced that what may be the main thrust of your argument which is that the big bird pic is dominating over my pics, is a valid one.

The suggestion from you to consider making the bird smaller seems to make sense.

Looks like I will have to do more work on this!

The background pic is too loud! Hmm.
...
--Name-snipped--

I discussed the matter with quite a few people and also did a lot of thinking on it. I have given below the outcome of it in points.

1. Your point about bird being large and competing with other parts of cover page pic is well taken. I mean, it is a valid point.

2. I have limited skills in using graphics design tools. Recently I have got some exposure to some image manipulation features in GIMP (free software as against Adobe Photoshop which is not free and which I do not use). Other than GIMP I use Microsoft Paint and sometimes a little bit of Paint 3D. I tried to create a smaller bird and reflection pic, and then paste that into the background of blue water. The result shows that it is patchwork. I am sure more experienced people would be able to make the bird smaller in the blue water background without any appearance of patchwork. But I do not have that ability as of now.

3. For paperback book, most people I spoke to, felt the cover page overall to be attractive & good. They did not have much of an issue with the bird being big and its red legs sticking out of pics of me! The typical issue was with the passport authority marks on my first two pics which appears as dots when looked at casually but when carefully viewed get revealed as Passport authority letters. While I could use GIMP to remove those Passport Authority letters from the two pics, I felt that it is appropriate to leave them there in the interests of authenticity.

4. Some felt that the other cover pic (hills and water of greyish colour) on paperback book is dull and strongly preferred the blue water and bird background cover pic.

Given all of the above, I think that for paperback book I will go ahead with the big bird and blue water background cover pic, despite it having the issues you mentioned. Later on, say after a few months, if there is lot of negative feedback about the paperback cover page, I will explore changing it.

For the ebook however, your feedback has been very helpful in making me decide that I will retain the hills and greyish colour water pic for ebook cover page.

Thanks once again for your very valuable feedback which forced me to look at the matter more in-depth.
----

--Name-snipped--. BTW I am self-publishing the same book but in 6 in. x 9 in. size (262 pages) with another self-publishing platform-company in India called Notion Press. It got put on sale today though I have not yet ordered and checked a copy (I will order it shortly).

This cover page uses only blue water background without the bird - this is how I submitted it a few days ago. But I have used the background for spine and back cover page too. It is only after I receive the printed copy that I will know whether there are readability issues for black foreground text on blue.

You can see the front-cover page on the sale page here: https://notionpress.com/read/autobiography-of-an-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-part-1
...
Here's the full cover page in Notion Press book: [pic omitted]
----

In response to a comment, I wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped--

Thanks again for your valuable opinion.

I think these suggestions are with respect to the Notion Press (6 in. x 9 in. paperback) cover page given above (note that one of my earlier comments explains why for the Pothi. com A5 size paperback book, I currently plan to go with the blue water and bird cover).

So wrt Notion Press cover above, here is my response to your helpful input:
a) You wrote "blue will hold the white and its more fresh". It has been a recent learning for me that black type on blue while quite readable on monitor is not so readable in printed book. This Notion Press cover was done prior to that learning. I ordered the Notion Press copy yesterday night just to see how it will be in actual print. The key reviewer at Notion Press had felt that black on blue and orange on blue will be OK (readable) and that's why I used that colour.

In print if it does not look so good, I will discuss it with the key reviewer in Notion Press and suggest white on blue instead of black or orange on blue.

Noted your view that title (heading) colour (reddish-brown) is good. Maybe I will retain that if the printed book cover also shows the title well.

b) Noted your suggestion about author name and place. Will think about it.

c) The black box: This came from a lack of tools and tools-related knowledge. I am skipping the background explanation. But now I have a solution which allows me to avoid that black box.

So in the next iteration for the Notion Press cover page, I will only have yellow text on the image. Why yellow? Well, this is my "Not-for-Profit and Free reuse" stamp-like thing. It is different from other cover page content. So I felt a yellow coloured smaller font message would be appropriate. Note that the Pothi.com cover (blue water with bird) has the yellow text message without the black box.

Thanks again --Name-snipped-- for your valuable views.
----

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Using a size template in GIMP for paperback cover creation

This post is based on a rough note prepared as reference for me for cover creation in 6 in. x 9 in. paperback books I publish using self-publishing platform --name-snip--.

I thought of putting up this post publicly as I think it may be useful to some others. I have --name-snipped-- the name of the concerned self-publishing platform to avoid any sensitivity.

Note that Pothi.com (another self-publishing platform I use) cover creator works well for Pothi.com books. Further Pothi.com wrote me (which I shared publicly here  https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/06/pothicom-is-great-self-publishing.html) that they have no objections to the output file of their Cover Creator tool being used elsewhere (provided all the cover content is mine).

I ran into problems on using --name-snip-- cover creator. So there may be situations where I may need to either create/modify a cover to be submitted to --name-snip-- (perhaps created using Pothi.com cover creator tool) using tools like GIMP and Paint.

I had to modify the iami book (my Who am I? I am I ... book) cover for A5 size used in Pothi.com to 6 in x 9 in size used for --name-snip-- books. That had to be done using tools like Paint and GIMP. This note tries to capture some learnings I had from that effort (and slightly more).

The process is imperfect. The context of this note is a paperback book I am additionally publishing using --name-snip-- in 6 in. x 9 in. size with 112 pages inner content, which was first published using Pothi.com in A5 size with 123 pages inner content.

1) --name-snip-- provides a template guide PDF document (as part of a zip file). Crucially that does not provide spine size. So this cannot be used as-is as an exact template in GIMP or Paint to create/modify a cover.

2) However the PDF document can be imported into GIMP where the sizes stated in the PDF seem to match with how GIMP shows it. The spine left black area border and right black area border seem to be 0.06 inches (perhaps it is 0.125/2 i.e. 0.0625 inches) in size, in comparison to the left and right black area border of back page and front page which are 0.125 inches in size. Note that there is an additional 0.125 inch on the left and right extremes of cover page.

In other words:
a) First from left black border area width is 0.25 inches
b) Second from left black border area width (just before spine inner area) is slightly less than 0.19 inches (perhaps it is 0.125 + 0.0625 i.e. 0.1875 inches)
c) Third from left black border area width (just after spine inner area) seems to be slightly less than 0.19 inches (perhaps it is 0.125 + 0.0625 i.e. 0.1875 inches)
d) Fourth from left black border area width is 0.25 inches

An issue is that the PPI is 100 for the converted from PDF image in GIMP. Change this to 300 (see 'Additional useful stuff' section below for how to do it). Pothi.com insists on minimum of 300 DPI (I think PPI is closely related to DPI) for images in paperback book content, including paperback cover page.

3) A solution to make the --name-snip-- provided template an exact template for a particular book cover, is to modify the template by adjusting/modifying the inner spine width (and width alone) in the template to estimated spine size based on number of pages in the book and thickness of paper used. Now this may not be an exact spine width calculation for the book printed by --name-snip-- but may be good enough for at least the initial version of cover design. --name-snip-- does not seem to have a page providing us the spine width calculation. But I think this web page calculator can be used: https://www.gutenberg.com.mt/spine-width-calculator

These are the calculations for the 6 in. x 9 in. iami book:

Paper Weight: 70 GSM
Paper Volume: Uncoated
Page Extent: 112
Cover: Paperback
Result (Spine width): 6 mm

6 mm is 0.236 inches

I don't know if Uncoated is the right selection for cream paper which is what I have selected for iami book on --name-snip--. But I think Uncoated will give a reasonably close to actual figure and so can be used for at least first version of cover design.

I wonder if --name-snip-- will provide spine width over email for these criteria (112 pages of cream 70 GSM paper).

4) The spine inner width in the --name-snip-- template image (imported from pdf) seems to be 0.42 inches. So the template image's spine width has to be reduced from 0.42 to 0.236 (or 0.24) inches.

5) GIMP process for selecting right part of book template image and moving it to the left to reduce spine size in it:

a) The left spine border area gets over at 7.29 inches or perhaps 7.2875 inches. So the right spine border area should start at 7.2875 + 0.236 = 7.5235
b) Choose Tools -> Selection Tools -> Rectangle Select. This changes mouse pointer to Rectangle select icon.
c) Have a selection area of front cover page and associated border area and little more.
d) Right click in selected area and choose Select->Float
e) Use left mouse cursor to position left edge of selected area at 7.52 (in original template it is at around 7.7 (or slightly more like 7.71). Note that one can expand the zoom to 800% and so achieve precision move to 7.52 using left cursor.
f) To finalize the move, Choose Layer->Anchor Layer.

6) One can add a pic as an overlay onto the template by opening the pic in a separate GIMP window, copying it, and then pasting it onto the template.

To scale the pasted pic (have not figured out how to enforce proportional scaling to prevent distortion): Right-Click and then choose Tools -> Transform Tools -> Scale.

Enter key is supposed to commit the scaling operation. I additionally would choose Rectangle Select and check that the scale icon in cursor goes off.

Layer -> Anchor Layer commits the transformation

Right-Click and then choose Tools -> Transform Tools -> Move ... for moving a selection.

As earlier, Layer -> Anchor Layer commits the transformation.

7) The pasted pic is added as a layer on top of the template layer. To see whether the cover pic is following the template guidelines, one needs to make one of these layers transparent.

Layer -> Stack -> Raise Layer/Lower Layer ... commands allows one to raise/lower layers.

I am not sure if this is the proper procedure but this has worked for me so far. Have pasted pic layer as the top layer. Then right-Click on pasted pic followed by choosing Layer -> Transparency -> Color to Alpha command. This brings up a dialog. On choosing OK in the dialog without making any changes, one will now see the template outline along with the pasted pic.

Right-Click on pic followed by Layer->Transparency->Remove Alpha Channel command removes the transparent behaviour and one gets back to earlier situation of pasted pic layer covering (obscuring) template layer below.

8) Save command saves the .xcf file.

9) To have only the cover image without the outer guidance lines and measurements, first make a copy of .xcf file. Open the copy .xcf file (in GIMP), and select only the cover image. Right click and choose Image -> Crop to Selection command.

10) Export As command creates jpg, pdf and other format output files. To have a pdf/jpg file output of cover pic, ensure that cover pic layer is in the foreground, using Layer -> Stack -> Raise Layer/Lower Layer ... commands. Ensure that transparancy is off and that the foreground layer has only the cover pic without outer measurement and other information. Now use Export As command. Don't change the default options in the Export dialog except for the output file format (jpg or pdf or ...).
=====================

Additional useful stuff

A1) Sometimes in GIMP the DPI/PPI of a pic is shown as 100 when the same pic's DPI is shown as 300 in Paint. And the size of the pic is 3 times larger in GIMP than in Paint. To fix this issue in GIMP, choose Image->Scale Image command. Change the PPI (shown as 72 at times) to 300 for both X & Y resolution. In the dialog itself once you tab out of the PPI field with 300 value, the Width and Height fields value gets reduced appropriately. [In my particular case to 12.737 in. width x 9.25 in. height.] Press Scale in the dialog to make the changes.

A variation is when PPI is 100 but size in inches is correct (e.g. template PDF converted to image in GIMP). Changing PPI (x & y) to 300 reduces the width and height by 3. But if now the width and height are restored to previous values, the PPI does not change automatically. So the dialog will now have the original width & height and new 300 value for PPI (x & y). Press Scale in the dialog to make the changes.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Microsoft Print to PDF on Word 2007 does not support 6 in. x 9 in. size and does not support Grayscale PDF printing; Foxit Reader PDF Printer solves the problems.

Recently I had to provide a book inner contents PDF file of 6 in. x 9 in. size to a self-publisher website.

I used to use Microsoft Print to PDF on Word 2007 to produce my PDF printouts as that does not compress 300 DPI images. An around 22 MB Word document with 300 DPI images produces an around 40 MB PDF file with Microsoft Print to PDF and the PDF document on zooming the images in it shows good quality images.

In contrast Save As PDF for Word 2007, creates an around 5 MB PDF file for the same around 22 MB Word document! But on zooming the images in the PDF and comparing with Print to PDF created PDF file, one can easily see that the Save As PDF generated PDF's image quality is poorer than Microsoft Print to PDF image quality.

The problem for the 6 in. x 9 in. size PDF was that Microsoft Print to PDF did not provide that size as a choice in its Properties->Advanced dialog. It had standard sizes like A4, A5 and Letter but not 6x9 in. So I could not generate the PDF using Microsoft Print to PDF. Therefore I used Save As PDF which saves it as a 6x9 in. PDF file but compresses the images thereby losing out on image print quality.

The solution was to use Foxit Reader PDF Printer instead of Microsoft Print to PDF. The Foxit Reader PDF Printer provides 6x9 selection corresponding to 6 in. x 9 in. size for output PDF file. If the 6x9 in selection is not available in the Windows installation, one can add it through Control Panel -> Settings. I am not getting into details of that addition as I think that info. can be easily obtained from the Internet.

Another issue with Microsoft Print to PDF is that it does not give an option to print a grayscale PDF. So even if I took the precautions to use black text colour and grayscale images in the Microsoft Word 2007 document, the output PDF is viewed as a colour PDF, I think, and which requires conversion to grayscale by self-publisher websites (for inner content that is NOT colour) and which comes into play on submission of PDF.

Foxit Reader PDF Printer provides a setting of printing the PDF as color, gray or black & white. It also has a default Image Resolution of 600 (which I presume means that it will only compress images greater than 600 DPI to 600 DPI in the PDF). The 600 value is safe for my images which are 300 DPI.

I checked the image quality in the output PDF file (which is around 72 MB in size for an around 22 MB Word document) and found it to be good. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pothi.com is a great self-publishing platform that encourages and helps newbie authors & self-publishers and is very fair to them

I had a recent exchange with Pothi.com on me exploring the possibility of self-publishing my part auto bio book with another self-publisher in India, in addition to Pothi.com. I was very happy to see their clear and unambiguous responses that confirmed their not having objections to my self-publishing with others (as the agreements are non-exclusive) and they also confirmed that I can use the output of their cover creator tool for books that are published elsewhere (not on Pothi.com)!

They were OK with me sharing the exchange with them publicly here. I felt that will help some newbie authors & self-publishers and perhaps some oldies too! The exchange is given below in a slightly edited manner:

I (Ravi) wrote to Pothi.com on 12th June 2019 afternoon, as follows (slightly edited):

Hi,

This is with respect to my book, "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1", https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ravi-s-iyer-autobiography-indian-software-techie-and-spiritual-aspirant-%E2%80%93-part-1, which I am self-publishing (now it is private till the book gets finalized at which time I will make it public) with Pothi.com in non-exclusive arrangement. This book is of A5 size and has 297 pages of inner content.

I felt it appropriate to inform you folks (Pothi.com folks) that I am also in the process of printing the same book, "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1", but in 6 in. x 9 in. size and of 262 pages (inner content) with another self-publishing platform (--snip--) in non-exclusive arrangement. I felt it appropriate to inform you of this. Do let me know if you have any issues with this in general.

Another point is that I have used Pothi.com's Cover Page Designer to create the 6 in. x 9 in. cover page (minor alteration to A5 size cover page that I had created earlier using Pothi.com's Cover Page designer). I carefully went through the Cover Page design form as well as Pothi.com FAQs to check that there is no restriction on output of Pothi.com Cover Page design tool being used elsewhere by me. Note that all the images and text in the Cover Page are owned by me. Further note that the Pothi.com logo is NOT present in my cover page (to reduce legal exposure to Pothi.com for my book).

However, on ethical grounds if you folks at Pothi.com feel that I should NOT use Pothi.com's Cover Page design tool's output pdf file for the cover page for the 6 in. x 9 in. size version of the (same) book that I am in the process of self-publishing using --snip--, do let me know. In that case, I think I will recreate the same 6 in. x 9 in. cover page (or almost the same) using --snip-- cover page design tool.

I would like to be respectful to, and be an ethical user/customer of, both Pothi (Pothi.com) and --snip--. Before finalizing the self-publication with --snip--, I will be informing --snip-- of my book, "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1", in A5 size form (297 pages), being in the final stages of self-publication by Pothi.com. So far, I have not had any email interactions with --snip-- on this book and so I will wait for the right time to inform them of it and check that they have no objection.

Do let me know if you have any issues with me using both Pothi.com and --snip-- to self-publish the same book of mine but in different sizes.

Thanks & Regards

Ravi S. Iyer
--Rest of email signature snipped--
----

Pothi.com folks responded in a short time (slightly over half an hour) and I responded back a couple of hours later. The exchange is given below with my responses given inline:

Hi,

Thank you for writing to us.

Publishing through Pothi.com is a non-exclusive arrangement, and you are free to publish your book through other platforms or publishing houses at the same time.

[Ravi: Thanks for the confirmation.]

However, please note that we cannot speak for any other publishing house, and you will need to confirm that any other platform or publishing house is also non-exclusive in this fashion.

[Ravi: Yes, it is my responsibility to ensure that with any other publishing house (like --snip--).]

Our cover creator tool is free for general use, and there are no restrictions on it with regards to where the cover generated from it should be used.

[Ravi: Great! That's a great service to self-publishing authors like me.]

We hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further queries.

[Ravi: It sure helps a great deal! Thanks a ton! You folks are wonderful partners especially for newbie self-publisher authors like me. May God bless you folks OR, for those of you who do not believe in God, best wishes to you folks.]


Regards,
Pothi.com Team
----

The header part of my response is given below (the inline comments have already been mentioned above):

Thank you so much for your prompt and ****clear**** response. No ambiguity! No confusion! That's what I really appreciate of Pothi.com.

--- end of email exchange between me and Pothi.com--

Ravi: BTW the paperback print of my part autobio at Pothi.com had got stuck for some time to understand why some of the images had printed with some white streaks. That analysis is over now. So the next print has been initiated today (12th June). In a week to ten days I should have the new printed copy which has a new (and bright) cover page. I will then check the cover page and images in the inner contents. If they are OK, I will go to the next step of making the paperback book copy publicly available on Pothi.com (as of now it is private and accessible only to me and Pothi.com).

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Referral: Nice message from Stuart Broad on Yuvaraj Singh's retirement; International cricket has brought friendship ...

Readers may want to see my recent post on another blog: Nice message from Stuart Broad on Yuvaraj Singh's retirement; International cricket has brought friendship and respect among cricket lovers from various countries, https://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com/2019/06/nice-message-from-stuart-broad-on.html.

Referral: Nazi Germany's conquest of large parts of continental Europe from Sept. 1939 to end 1941; Later reversals and eventual surrender ...

Readers may want to see my recent post on another blog: Nazi Germany's conquest of large parts of continental Europe from Sept. 1939 to end 1941; Later reversals and eventual surrender in May 1945; Pray that such wars never happen again, https://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com/2019/06/nazi-germanys-conquest-of-large-parts.html.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Cambridge International (schools) adds origin, practices and teachings of Sathya Sai Int. Org., as part of syllabus of Hinduism for 16 to 19 yr olds

Cambridge International (schools NOT University of Cambridge) adds origin, practices and teachings of Sathya Sai International Organization (and ISKCON) as part of AS & A Level syllabus for Hinduism

From https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/about-us/what-we-do/, "Cambridge programmes and qualifications set the global standard for international education. They are created by subject experts, rooted in academic rigour and reflect the latest educational research."

It states that it has a four stage Cambridge Pathway, https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and-qualifications/, for students aged 5 to 19. Its AS & A level syllabus is for 16 to 19 year old students.

It claims that each year a million Cambridge learners utilize this education from Cambridge International. It claims that more than 10,000 schools are part of their learning community and that they operate in 160 countries across North America, Latin America, UK & Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia & Pacific.

I don't think University of Cambridge, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cambridge, is directly/closely linked with Cambridge International, even if they have some tie-ups.

Cambridge International (schools) AS & A Level syllabus for Hinduism for "examination in November 2021, 2022 and 2023" has included origin, practices and teachings of Sathya Sai International Organization (and ISKCON) as part of the syllabus.

The inclusion is for New Religious Movements part of Paper titled "Hinduism in Contemporary Society" and can be seen on Pages 22 & 23 (24 & 25 in PDF) of the document here: https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/521992-2021-2023-syllabus.pdf.

I have given below the relevant extract from that document:

4.2 New Religious Movements

Content

• Two new movements within Hinduism, including origins, practices and key teachings of these new movements:
– International society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
– Sathya Sai International Organisation.

• Practices of ISKCON including:
– bhakti
– living in communities
– sankirtana (chanting of holy names)
– the ‘four regulative principles’
– preaching
– Food for Life project.

• Practices of Sathya Sai International Organisation including:
– living out the recognition of the divine within
– virtues of Sathya (truth), dharma (right conduct), shanti (peace), prema (love), and ahimsa (nonviolence)
– japam (recitation of the name of God)
– dhyaanam (meditation)
– bhajan (congregational singing)
– seva (selfless service).

• Teachings of ISKCON including:
– the achievement of moksha through bhakti yoga
– the belief in Vishnu/Krishna as supreme and personal deity
– parampara (succession of authority)
– the Bhagavad Gita and Shrimad Bhagavatum as sources of scriptural authority
– the spiritual equality of women.

• Teachings of Sathya Sai International Organisation including:
– Sathya Sai Baba as the reincarnation of Shirdhi Sai Baba and as an avatar
– the Oneness of God
– the unity of all religions
– the equality of all regardless of gender, ‘caste’ or religion
– the centrality of love
– the rejection of the term ‘Hindu’
– the importance of self development and spiritual understanding.

• The concept of proselytisation in relation to these new movements.

• Reasons for the popularity of new religious movements.

• The relationship between Hindu traditions and new religious movements; the extent to which these new movements can be considered Hindu.

• The influence of new religious movements on non-Hindu perceptions of Hinduism.

• The significance of new religious movements for contemporary Hinduism.

--- end extract from cambridgeinternational.org ---

Ravi: I am so happy to see this! I need to understand the syllabus in depth (if I get it and get the time to study it) before I can make an in-depth comment on the above. I mean, I wonder what exactly the term 'Hindu' being rejected means. I would also like to know the exact meaning of ahimsa that they use in the syllabus and whether violence in self-defense against aggression is permitted in that meaning/interpretation of 'ahimsa'.

But overall, this has made my day!

I am sure this will give great happiness to Bhagavan as I think that what was really, really dear to him was the teaching of spiritual values as covered under "Teachings of Sathya Sai International Organisation".

And the teaching of SSIO of "Sathya Sai Baba as the reincarnation of Shirdhi Sai Baba and as an avatar" entering into Cambridge International Hinduism syllabus is just wonderful! Jai Sai Ram!

My congratulations to all those in SSIO (Sathya Sai International Organization) who contributed to this milestone happening.

[I thank cambridgeinternational.org and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Some oldie and modern Hindi film songs & few English songs which promote and celebrate sexual attraction between male and female, and which I am happy to promote

Last updated on 9th June 2019

[Associated Facebook post of mine: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2507982792751616]

I put up this post to express my support for sexual relationship between an adult man and an adult woman (heterosexual relationship) and for marriage as an institution between an adult man and an adult woman.  It is heterosexual relationship (man & woman) that has sustained human society over centuries and millennia. So I am fully supportive of heterosexual relationship as I think that is vital for healthy society.

I am not comfortable in promoting same-sex (gay/lesbian) relationship or same-sex (gay/lesbian) marriage. But neither am I willing to be critical of same-sex (gay/lesbian) relationship and/or marriage in countries where they are legal. I am ***NOT*** a homophobe, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/homophobe. I respect the legal rights of gay/lesbian citizens in countries where that is legal.

I prefer to stay silent on gay/lesbian sex relationship and/or marriage in countries where that is deemed illegal. I am ***NOT*** an activist for gay/lesbian sex relationship and/or marriage.

The Indian legal status on this matter as per this wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_India, is as follows (extract(s) from wiki page are given):

Sexual activity between people of the same gender is legal. Although same-sex couples are not legally recognized currently by any form, performing a symbolic same-sex marriage is not prohibited under Indian law either.[5] On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalised homosexuality by declaring Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional.[1] Homosexuality was never illegal or a criminal offence in ancient Indian and traditional codes but was criminalised by the British during their rule in India.

...
[Wiki References]
1. Mahapatra, Dhananjay; Choudhary, Amit Anand (7 September 2018). "SC decriminalises Section 377, calls 2013 ruling 'arbitrary and retrograde'", https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-decriminalises-section-377-calls-2013-ruling-arbitrary-and-retrograde/articleshow/65712063.cms. The Times of India.

5. "In a first, Gurgaon court recognizes lesbian marriage - Times of India", http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/In-a-first-Gurgaon-court-recognizes-lesbian-marriage/articleshow/9401421.cms. The Times of India. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
--- end wiki extracts ---
----------

Tum Agar Saath Dene Ka Vada Karo (Hamraaz), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXICci7VtbU, 4 min. 19 secs. The film was released in 1967.
----

Tum Agar Saath Dena Ka Vada Karo sung by an orchestra in 2016 (almost half a century after the film release) in Mumbai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUNroXE39d4
----

Pyar Deewana Hota Hai - Kati Patang (1970) - has an additional philosophical angle to it about the perils of romantic love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lslZptXok8o
----

Unse Mili Nazar | Jhuk Gaya Aasman (1968), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i160jmz6JI
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A remix version of Unse mili nazar in 2018 (50 years later!), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Sgh8_avILk
----

Yeh Shaam Mastani from Kati Patang (1970), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sZg4EUB3IM
----

Awesome live rendition of the Yeh Shaam Mastani song perhaps in the 2010s by an Abhijeet Bhattacharya and music group, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnLSJKKXZh8
----

Awesome celebration of the power of sexual attraction between male and female by Michael Jackson and Britney Spears singing and dancing (pop) 'The way you make me feel' live in 2001 in Madison Square Garden in New York City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrTC3FHE8No
----

The short version official video of 'The way you make me feel', https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzZ_urpj4As, (song released in 1987).
----

Perhaps since 2000s, Hindi film (Bollywood) songs got close to Western love songs territory. Here's a blockbuster hit song, "Sheila ki Jawani" from the 2010 movie "Tees Maar Khan" with Katrina Kaif dancing her way to fame (the song's lyrics are a mix of Hindi and English; English sub-titles are also provided): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTmF2v59CtI.
----

'Crazy Kiya Re' is another big hit song from the 2000s. It is from 2006 movie Dhoom 2. The dancer is Aishwarya Rai. This song is also a Hindi-English mix song. The video has English sub-titles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Bh68GTUOU
----

Let me end with Madonna's Material Girl released in 1984, which perhaps is her most famous song. Official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p-lDYPR2P8
----
===============================================================

Given below are some comment(s) from related FB post of mine,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2508518146031414 :

In response to a comment, I wrote:
I abhor and condemn violence against those who are gay/lesbian. Violence in this matter is a terrible, terrible thing. Tolerance is the key thing. If some people really dislike gays/lesbians they can avoid them but they should never act violently towards them or approve of such violence towards them.
----

In response to a comment, I wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped-- Thank you for expressing your frank and well articulated views.

If I were playing an individual guy role like I was prior to Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi in April 2011, I think I would largely have a similar view to what you have expressed in the first three paragraphs of what you wrote. Essentially I would have had a liberal, live-and-let-live attitude to gays/lesbians.

I started blogging on spirituality from Sept. 2011 under a pen name and from Aug. 2013 I started my main blog on my own name, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/, on spirituality, religion and on my humble understanding of Sathya Sai teachings, and experiences of devotees including me of Sathya Sai (mainly physical form level).

As I got some level of readership and interactions from few of such readers on my blog and later on Facebook (from sometime in 2015), I slowly started realizing that I have to go beyond my own individual life and get an understanding of larger community life. The views I expressed on my blog were influencing some readers and so I had to blog in a responsible way bearing in mind not only my individual well-being but also a larger community well-being.

I realized that since I got established as a software development professional, I have led a financially reasonably comfortable life as compared to the lives of many other Indians and also many people from other countries in the world. Life can be a real grind for many Indians. Religion for them is a major, major source of guidance to handle the grind in life. They look up to religious leaders for norms to follow in community life. I think this is true in India (where religious believers constitute high 90s percentage of the total populace) for the major religions practiced in India: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism.

As a social media writer, my influence is very, very tiny in comparison to the influence of any religious leader of any medium sized mutt/temple/mosque/church/ashram in India. In other words, I am just a nobody when it comes to the larger religious community picture in India.

I recognize this ***inescapable*** reality of life in India, which I think is similar in countries where there is high percentage of religious believers (say above 80 to 90% of total populace).

So when I write on such sensitive topics I factor in these ***inescapable*** realities of life (major/dominant role played by religious leaders in community life).

Recently, I went through a great learning experience with regard to my views on gay/lesbian sex relationships and gay/lesbian marriage which I had expressed in private to a contact based in a Muslim majority South East Asian country. Now this contact is of Hindu faith but seems to have grown up and now works in this Muslim majority country. I think that the person's mind is influenced by the Muslim conservative view on this sensitive topic of gays & lesbians.

The person seemed to have formed a view that my mind is full of garbage because I expressed my quite tolerant view (though not a promoter view) of gay/lesbian sex relationship and marriage, where that is legal (as I want to avoid wading into the issue in countries where it is deemed illegal).

Perhaps the person is a homophobe. Perhaps the person feels that I have no right to be a writer on spirituality & religion as I ***do not condemn*** gays & lesbians.

It was quite a shock for me to know how strongly the person felt about my views. It was as if I was being excommunicated by that person because I was tolerant of gays & lesbians. Mind you this person is not a Muslim but a Hindu living in a Muslim majority country.

That led me to express my views on gays/lesbians publicly - express my stand publicly. [Prior to these public writings in past week or so, I don't think I have publicly written on this topic in detail or expressed a public stand].

I also requested those who are very offended (different from polite disagreement) by my stand to unfriend/unfollow me, as I felt that the gap then between our views is too much. For such cases, it would be best for them and for me to not interact. The contact chose to cut off interactions with me and I think at least partly it is my stand on gays/lesbians that has led to that decision. I am happy with the outcome as I think that is best for both that contact and me.

Note that there are other Hindu contacts/social media friends from Muslim majority countries who seem to be OK with my public stand on gays/lesbians. So one should not generalize on this matter based on the single contact who chose to cut off interactions with me.

It was also important for me to express the larger community aspect of my view on gays/lesbians which is strongly influenced by my life in rural India. And that is that I do not promote gays/lesbians but I promote heterosexual relationships, and that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman (which is a stand that some gays/lesbians will, I am quite sure, disagree with). And that it is heterosexual marriages that have sustained humanity over centuries & millennia.

Now, --name-snipped--, you may disagree with the part of my view given above. In particular you may disagree with me on the "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman". And that's fine by me. I mean, we can agree to disagree on this.

And I think our disagreement on this may be based on the different community environments that we live in now. You now live in the USA (and perhaps have lived for many years) in an area that I think is largely liberal in its views on this gay/lesbian issue. I live (and have lived over the past 16 years) in a conservative rural town and rural district in India. I can't see my district (Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh) people, irrespective of whether they are Hindu, Muslim or Christian (major communities in this district) accept even openly gay people (who express their love openly on the streets), let alone gay marriage, in at least the next decade or two. Closet gays, on the other hand, I think are tolerated, and I have not read of any violence on any such closet gays.
----

I wrote:
Just so that we know the reality of homophobia not only in conservative countries but also in some parts of the world that are viewed as liberal & tolerant towards homosexuality:

Here's a report of a recent homophobic attack in London: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/07/europe/homophobic-attack-london-intl-scli-gbr/index.html.

The CNN report said there were 2800 reports of homophobic attacks in UK in 2018.

I condemn such violent homophobic attacks in countries where homosexuality is accepted as legal. I choose to stay silent on the topic of homophobia in countries where homosexuality is viewed as illegal as that can be a dangerous topic to get involved in. Note that as per certain schools of Islamic jurisprudence, homosexuals are to be punished by death though that is not implemented nowadays, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_in_Islam.
----

In response to a comment, I wrote:
"If you think you are an influencer, all the more reason to communicate, educate and liberate the minds of your followers from ignorance and lead them to peace." - I think what you may view as liberation and what I view as liberation may differ. I think we need to focus more on tolerance of different viewpoints rather than "education" which many times is a subtle form of imposing one's view considered as superior on another. I prefer not to get into any such imposition of views, whether liberal or conservative. I share my view and leave it that. No "education". But in my views, I try to bear in mind not only my individual well-being but also the community well-being with respect to the community that I live in.
----