Friday, March 31, 2017

Pic of Mohd. Rafi sahab and Manoj Kumar sahab with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

The article,, has the following pic of Mohd. Rafi sahab (legendary Hindi film playback singer, and Manoj Kumar sahab (famous Hindi film star & director, with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, taken sometime in the 1970s perhaps:

The article itself does not say much about the pic but has a comment or two regarding the background to the pic.

The article notes, "The first two popular songs from the film SHIRDI KE SAI BABA(1977) written by Manoj Kumar, “Sai Baba Bolo” and “Sainath Tere Hazaaron Haath” were sung by Mohammed Rafi under composition of Pandurang Dikshit. The film was also written and presented by Manoj Kumar."

In Facebook post,, Mr. Deepak Bharwani states that the above mentioned film 'Shirdi ke Saibaba' was produced by Sarla Charities Trust, Mumbai. Mr. Bharwani writes, "The film was directed by Sri Ashok Bhushan and Music composed and rendered by Sri Pandurang Dikshit.

Of course, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was the Divine Director who inspired Sri Indulal Shah and Sri Manoj Kumar to initiate this film project. The pilgrims to Shirdi and following to Sri Saibaba of Shirdi multiplied manifold and infinitely after this film was released."

Extract from comment by N.MURTY on abovementioned article on May 11, 2009 at 4:54 am, is given below:

Manojkumar introducing rafi saheb to Satya Saibaba,took place at Manojkumars residence in Sep-Oct,1975.This incident was narrated by Ms.Deviyani Chaubal in Oct,75 edition of Star&Style.When Satya Saibaba visited Bombay, Manojkumar arranged a gathering of Saibaba devotees at his place to be addressed by Satya Saibaba.At the appointed time Satya Saibaba came and addressed the gathering including Mohd. Rafi ,Mukesh and Kishorekumar.After the talk,Devi and others thought that Satya Saibaba would vanish into thin air like god himself but instead he had started walking out and suddenly turned back and went straight to Mohd Rafi and blessed him! Earlier Rafi rendered a Bhajan on Satya Saibaba upon his arrival. This was inSep-Oct,75 and Rafi saheb started his fightback through Laila-Majnu in Nov,76.Rafisaheb, the greatest playback singer India produced is well respected and liked by people from all walks of life and religions. He is the most secular voice of India.
--- end comment extract ---

The blog post, Sai Bhakth Mr.Manoj Kumar,, dated May 22nd 2012 provides very interesting information. Small extracts from it are given below:

About his (movie) “Shirdi Ke Sai Baba” Shri.Manoj Kumar said that Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi`Andhra Pradesh, India had sent Shri.Chandulal Shah (Shri Indulal Shah) to him as Sathya Sai Baba had expressed his desire for a movie to be made on the Life & Teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba.With the blessings of the almighty, the movie was made in just 2 months time flat. None of the actors took any money for acting in it and all the money which was earned from this movie was distributed among various charitable organizations by Sarla Charitable Trust.
Shri.Manoj Kumar said that by naming a whole stretch of road in Shirdi in his name was more precious to him than winning an Oscar.He thanked the Shirdi Sai Sansthan & local people of Shirdi for giving this honor & said that for an 73 year old actor like him,this was the luckiest day of his life.
--- end extracts ---

[I thank, Mr. Deepak Bharwani, Mr. N. Murty and, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts/pic from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Paperback book 'Print On Demand' services in India; Pros & Cons wrt Offset printing services

Today I spent a lot of time reading up and browsing about Print On Demand in general and Print On Demand (POD) services in India. I had mail exchanges with the same correspondent mentioned in my previous post today (29th Mar. 2017), Indian Correspondent shares self-publishing experience first with Power Publishers and recently with Amazon Kindle, I have shared those mail exchanges in this post.

First let me say something about Print On Demand (POD). Given below are extracts from the wiki page,, (note that the wiki page, when it talks about many traditional small presses adopting POD, seems to be referring to the situation in USA and Western Europe, but which does not seem to be the case in India, as of now):

Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which book copies (or other documents) do not print until the company receives an order, allowing prints of singular or small quantities. While other industries established the build to order business model, "print on demand" could only develop after the beginning of digital printing, because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.

Many traditional small presses have replaced their traditional printing equipment with POD equipment or contract their printing to POD service providers. Many academic publishers, including university presses, use POD services to maintain large backlists (lists of older publications); some use POD for all of their publications. Larger publishers may use POD in special circumstances, such as reprinting older, out of print titles or for test marketing.
Print on demand with digital technology is a way to print items for a fixed cost per copy, regardless of the size of the order. While the unit price of each physical copy is greater than with offset printing, the average cost is lower for very small print jobs, because setup costs are much greater for offset printing.

POD has other business benefits besides lesser costs (for small jobs):

* Technical set-up is usually quicker than for offset printing.
* Large inventories of a book or print material do not need to be kept in stock, reducing storage, handling costs, and inventory accounting costs.
* There is little or no waste from unsold products.

These advantages reduce the risks associated with publishing books and prints and can result in increased choice for consumers. However, the reduced risks for the publisher can also mean that quality control is less rigorous than usual.
Self-publishing authors

POD (creates) a new category of publishing (or printing) company that offers services, usually for a fee, directly to authors who wish to self-publish. These services generally include printing and shipping each individual book ordered, handling royalties, and getting listings in online bookstores. The initial investment required for POD services is less than for offset printing. Other services may also be available, including formatting, proofreading, and editing, but such companies typically do not spend money for marketing, unlike conventional publishers. Such companies are suitable for authors prepared to design and promote their work themselves, with minimal assistance and at minimal cost. POD publishing gives authors editorial independence, speed to market, ability to revise content, and greater financial return per copy than royalties paid by conventional publishers.
Niche publications

Print on demand is also used to print and reprint "niche" books that may have a high retail price but limited sales opportunities, such as specialist academic works. An academic publisher may be expected to keep these specialist titles in print even though the target market is almost saturated, making further conventional print jobs uneconomic.

The local history of a small community is well adapted to print-on-demand, as these books are invaluable to libraries, museums and archives in that small community but are limited in their marketability outside their home region. Public libraries which normally avoid print-on-demand tomes due to their lesser quality will readily make exceptions if content is appropriate for a local topic which cannot be addressed by more conventional means[citation needed].

Many of the smallest small presses, often known as micro-presses because they have inconsequential profits, have become reliant on POD technology and ebooks. This is either because they serve such a small market that print jobs would be unprofitable or because they are too small to absorb much financial risk.

--- end extracts from wiki page on POD ---

Ravi: I think the Niche publications paras in the extract above matches to a large extent with my need to print appropriate content from my blog(s) as book(s). I expect a very small number of people to be interested in buying and reading my book(s), and so I think I can say that I am trying to serve a niche book buyer & reader market.

Given below is an edited mail exchange that I had with the above mentioned correspondent, a large part of which dealt with POD services in India. Note that the mail responses are not sequential at times e.g. I have responded to some mails from C in response(s) later to my immediate mail response(s).

Correspondent (C) wrote (slightly edited):
Dear Ravi

Here is the link to my book in ---.

Ravi (R) wrote (slightly edited):
Noted. Good to know that it is available at Rs. 199/- (ebook version). [Printed book option is not available for this book on]

Have you thought of printing this book in India using Print-On-Demand printers? Here's one POD service offering listed on the web from Chennai: You have to click on Services on the top menu bar to see the POD services part.

C wrote:
Dear Ravi

I did not know of any print-on-demand services in India. Thanks for telling me.

I should probably talk to Bhavish and see what they have to offer.

So far, I put my efforts towards getting the PDF manuscript and cover into the precise form required by Amazon. This took some effort as it is only after the book is formatted that you can see where layout changes need to be made. When all that is done, you know how many pages the book will have in the new format so (a) you can put the right chapter numbers in the Contents page, and (b) work out the spine thickness as that is required to fix the cover image size.

I say this at some length because I know you will understand that all this takes days, not hours. Each upload of the content and the cover took about 20 mins and the formatting then took another 10 mins or so. You have to get all this right, to your satisfaction, so that the book is presentable and comparable to a properly designed book.

It is quite possible that Bhavish will have a different set of requirements, though it would make sense for them to follow the Amazon instructions. The Amazon process is entirely automatic, with no human interaction at all -- very impressive! Bhavish could be more accommodating if they have people who can make the minor changes that their process may require.

A major advantage of Amazon is that they will handle the ordering, payment, printing and shipping of each copy. They are geared for all this. Not sure how this will be handled by Bhavish.

Thanks again. I'll talk to Bhavish.

R wrote (slightly edited):

Here's a very interesting site for print-on-demand in India, The company main guy seems to be an IIT Kanpur (Comp.Sc.) & CMU (Carnegie-Mellon Univ.) alumnus, Abhaya Agarwal,

A 75 page book at default options here:, is quoted with printing cost for 1 copy as Rs. 129 (and 100+ copies at 103.2). The minimum reasonable MRP seems to be Rs. 160.

Now, even these prices would be too high for my needs. I am looking at something like Rs. 50/- max for an around 75 page no frills, no colour, plain text paperback book. But perhaps you may want to check out with these people about print copies for your new book in India as it may turn out to be cheaper than Amazon's POD + shipping costs to India from abroad.

For my needs (Rs. 50/- max for 75 page paperback book), I think it is becoming clear that Print-On-Demand will be too expensive.

C wrote:
Thanks. I have heard of Pothi but know nothing more than the name. I should check this out as well.

R wrote:
Hope I am not flooding you with info. I think this will be the last POD India mail I will send you today.

Here's a Chandigarh based self-publisher with a barebones plan (free publishing) at zero cost to author and a POD offering - White Falcon Publishing,!

Here's the cost & royalty calculator page: A 75 page 5 inch x 8 inch paperback book has a cost price of Rs. 60/- and a minimum MRP of 85/-.

In its FAQ:, under Printing questions, it quite convincingly answers questions about benefit of POD over offset printing, whether they use POD or offset printing for bulk orders etc.

In the same FAQ under Pricing & Royalty, it states that author is charged only cost price of the book as against list price for the market. It also clarifies that the author need not purchase any copies upfront.

Its terms & conditions page,, seems quite friendly to the author, is rather short and does not have too much legalese. I did not see any exclusive lock-ins on distribution and printing mentioned on it or elsewhere on the main parts of the website. So I think somebody who already has an ebook on Amazon Kindle platform can additionally use White Falcon Publishing for printed book sales of the same book!

Hmm. So if I have understood this properly, I could first get an Amazon Kindle ebook version done of my book (75 pages) at no cost to me (as I will use free services like free cover page services, to get everything done; I am fine with OK quality on this stuff). Then I could use White Falcon Publishing's "free publishing" package/option and provide the same ebook contents with some format changes if needed, for printed copy sales.

And, very importantly for me, I could order even as less as 50 print copies of my 75 page no-frills book at Rs. 60/- per copy (plus shipping) coming to Rs. 3000/- + shipping!!! That sounds like a wonderful, wonderful deal for my (limited) needs! The MRP would be Rs. 85/- and so that's significantly more than the Rs. 50/-, I ideally wanted. But, for a start, this would be fine! I mean, in the very improbable case that the book does have significant demand, I could ADDITIONALLY use some other offset printer to print 1000 copies for around Rs. 30,000/- or so and then sell the book at Rs. 50/- MRP. This option to additionally use another printer would be possible as there does not seem to be any exclusive print & distribution lock-in in White Falcon Publishing's terms & conditions.

The great thing in what I have mentioned above is that my expense for the initial print of 50 copies and shipping would be in the range of a very affordable Rs. 4000/-. And no exclusive lock-ins for print & distribution.

Thanks for bearing with me on this one. I am pretty EXCITED as I see all these possibilities available in India today, as seen from my Internet browsing. Though one does not know whether they will live up to what they have said. Maybe there are hidden traps. Let us see.

C wrote:
I don't want to handle the ordering and shipping of books. I need a POD service that will do all that (for a charge) and transfer the balance to me. In other words, customer pays Rs.100 (for example) for the printed book; the POD service collects the money, deducts their charges for printing, shipping and overhead, and sends me the balance every month.

From 1 July, this will become more complicated with GST charges. Not sure how that will need to be handled.

I need to think about this.

R wrote (slightly edited):
Thanks --name-snipped--. Noted all your responses (including the earlier ones). All the best with your efforts to explore POD printing options for your book in India, which is cheaper for your readers (those that prefer printed book) than Amazon USA's POD option with expensive shipping to India (from USA, I presume). Do let me know if you get some POD facility in India which meets your needs.

The sales tax and other tax issues at bookseller level is something that I need to understand at least at a top-level. I think so long as I use author-ordered print copy books (at cost price) as complimentary/promotional material without charging anybody, then I am not doing any sales and so do not get into any sales tax issues. The physical shop bookseller (as well as any Internet based bookseller) who sells the copies, needs to handle the sales tax part, and perhaps order additional copies if they are interested, from the self-publishing company (say over the Internet).

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

Indian Correspondent shares self-publishing experience first with Power Publishers and recently with Amazon Kindle

Given below is an exchange (slightly edited) I recently had with an Indian correspondent who was OK with public sharing of it:

Correspondent (C) wrote in response to initial part of my recent post: Need information/suggestions about printing 100 copies of 75 page paperback book,, sent to him over email:

Dear Ravi

You pose an interesting question and one I have thought about a great deal over the last few years.

First, you talk about the cost of printing a document in paperback format. What I have learned is that this is just one part of the cost. Unless you have a reliable and easily accessible outlet for the book, you will also have to distribute it (sell it). That is where the main problem lies.

I used Power Publishers in Kolkata to publish my --snip-- book, --snip--. Their charges differ depending on the number of pages of the book and the services you require from them (e.g. cover design). Their website gives more details.

You can decide on the selling price for the book (and this must cover their costs and profits). They will pay 30% royalty to you for books sold from orders placed directly with them and 15% for books sold through other sites.

Power Publishers will also make your book available through various websites like Crossword, Flipkart etc and now also Amazon. So people who want the book can order it from those sites. They will print on demand, which means they will print say 100 copies and then print another lot of 100 copies if there is demand.

What they will not do is market the book. It is entirely up to you to make your book known to potential buyers.

I will be happy to answer any questions.

I (Ravi) (R) responded (edited):


For me and for some other Sathya Sai devotees - we prefer not to market or advertise it much. Sathya Sai also preferred this style, at least in his initial years.

So I just want to have a stock of 100 paperback copies of this document/book. I would offer it to interested people who visit me (or let me know over the Internet). I may put up some copies in outside ashram Puttaparthi bookshops (two of them are rather noted and located on the main road and close to the ashram entrance). That's it. I would be perfectly fine if I don't manage to sell even the first print of 100 copies. I would take it as Lord's will given my low-profile way of life.
[About Power Publishers part:]
Interesting info. which may be useful in other scenarios. In my case, I am really looking ONLY at a printer and NOT a publisher as I want to be the publisher myself and not have anybody else having any control over that.

C wrote (slightly edited):
Reading my message again, I thought I should make it clear that I am not recommending Power Publishers, merely showing how that kind of option may work out. There are other similar publishers.

In fact, for my recent (book), I chose not to go through Power Publishers and spend quite a lot of money upfront; instead, I produced a Kindle version and a print-on-demand version, both through Amazon, at no initial cost to me. The technology used for the print-on-demand version means each copy is expensive ($2.99 for the Kindle version, $7.50 for the print version) but it seems to be acceptable for a few people who insist on printed books.

R wrote (slightly edited):
The "no initial cost to me" part is very, very interesting to me! Amazon self publishing was mentioned by one correspondent to me in this conversation. I had a quick look but felt that it may not be suitable for me. Your input changes it for me. I will closely study its self-publishing offering.
[About "($2.99 for the Kindle version, $7.50 for the print version)":]
Hmm. This suggests, I repeat suggests, that the print-on-demand technology used by Amazon is such that it can produce small number of copies (in tens rather than hundreds or thousands) at some level of expense ($7.50 at the current exchange rate of around Rs. 65 to 1 $, makes it around Rs. 488/-).

BTW tried to look up your new book on Amazon. Amazon India does not seem to list it against your name. But lists your new book.

Now the big question for me is: will Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allow me to self-publish my book at a low price for Indian customers, and at no initial cost to me?

This KDP List price requirements link:, states a Rs. 49/- minimum price for less than 3 MB book (which is where I guess my book will fall into)! Note that the equivalent USA dollar minimum price for less than 3 MB book is $0.99. The royalty is 35% for this low price but that should be fine for my particular needs (it is 70% for Rs. 99/- and $ 2.99).

What will be the printed book price for a Rs. 49/- Kindle book equivalent published using KDP? Perhaps the lowest price in India for such a print-on-demand book (if available for Amazon India KDP) would be Rs. 300/- or so. That makes it problematic for me.

However, KDP seems to have no lock-ins for print & distribution (except that if it finds a competitor selling at a lower price, it seems that it drops the price on KDP to that price/minimum) & no copyright claims certainly by Amazon on the self-published book. So even if the printed book option of Amazon self-published book will be too expensive for me, going through the process of "no initial cost to me" self-publishing a Kindle ebook version of my book would be a good learning process and would open up an important, but non-exclusive, distribution channel for the ebook (and expensive print-on-demand book).

I am EXCITED by this! Thanks a ton --name-snipped-- for sharing your own and somewhat recent experience of self-publishing with Amazon KDP (and the contrast to your previous self-publishing experience with Power Publishers).

C wrote:

'At no cost' does not take into account the cover design. I was fortunate to have a friend design the cover for me. Otherwise, you must expect to pay something for it.

The print-on-demand version allows Amazon to print even one copy if needed. This is unlike the offset printing technology where the major cost is preparing the plates and mounting them on the printer. The cost of paper is relatively small, which is why it makes little difference to the total cost whether you print 100 copies or 1000 copies.

--- has an old HMT offset printer so the capital cost to them is small. They print 100-200 copies in a typical run, depending on the likely demand.

The Amazon print-on-demand cost does not include shipping. I ordered a printed copy of my book and it cost me about Rs.850 when it reached me (the extra cost was for the shipping). So even if your book costs about Rs.300 when printed, there will be a shipping cost to add to this. If you order 100 copies at a time, you may not save much and you will have to give an explanation to Indian Customs (who will be dead keen to charge you duty!).

I gather that someone in Hyderabad has a printer capable of doing print-on-demand. I don't have any details.

Hope this helps.

R wrote:
Very valuable input --name-snipped--. Thanks.
Terry wrote (slightly edited):
I found this rather confusing,  It sounds terribly complicated and costly.  I prefer writing the book, editing the book, and getting it published for my clients.  They pay a fee for my services, but they come away with a product they are proud of with no hassle.  I do everything for them.  In fact, I have helped people who thought they could never write a book do so.

I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited):
Thanks for your view, Terry. I think that people who have the money to use services like that offered by you, should seriously consider using these paid services. It is for those who are not in a position, or for some reason do not want, to spend that kind of money for such services, that Amazon Kindle Direct (self) Publishing is attractive at least for the ebook version. The quality of the book may suffer due to lack of professional advice like that of yours, but that's the compromise that some people have to make.

Terry wrote (slightly edited):
My prices are very moderate.

I (Ravi) responded:
Noted your response. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Need information/suggestions about printing 100 copies of 75 page paperback book

Last updated on 1st April 2017

I am exploring possibility of printing 100 copies of a, say, 50 page document, but as a, say, 75 page paperback book in India.

1) How much will it cost? That's the key question for me.

Some more details and thoughts about it. Note that I have never published any regular (paper) book so far in my life (different from many, many software-technical and other documents that I have authored for private and public use).

2) The document that I am considering will be an updated version of this October 2013 document, Blog – Consolidated Doc. of Own Content (and wiki content),, which is 34 pages long. I will update it with later content and also modify it somewhat. So I expect it to grow to an around 50 page A4/Letter size document. I will also be changing the title to an appropriate one.

3) The convenience of reading and carrying the typical paperback book is something that attracts me. That is why I am considering the typical paperback book type print possibility (as against A4/Letter size document with spiral binding or stapled). So a 50 page A4/Letter size document may become a, say, 75 page paperback book.

4) I don't want to make any profit from the book. However, if the book does capture some interest and if the costs of the book get recovered, it may permit me to consider printing more copies of the book later on. I will remove all wikipedia extracts from the book (except a few short ones permitted under Indian copyright law - Fair use) as if the book is not free, wikipedia copyright rules will not permit sharing of its content.

5) I would like to provide free reuse permission of my content of the book (as against content which is clearly shown as contributed by others (with permission to share publicly)) to anybody who is interested to do so. I would like to promote interested persons to print copies and sell it (my content of the book), even if it is at a reasonable profit for them (with zero money coming to me).

6) I may go in for an (Indian authorities provided) ISBN number if it is not too expensive. I think this is the website where I need to explore the matter further:

7) I don't think I will need to apply for a copyright. As my blog will show/prove that content of the book was authored by me, I don't think I need to have a copyright myself to protect its content from copyright claims on it by others.

I would be glad to know thoughts and views on the above from people who are knowledgeable about this topic.

I got some very useful information from one source with some valuable experience in this matter. This person also was not looking to make money from the book he got printed & sold but wanted to use sales money to cover costs for future reprints.

He said that he used a Hyderabad based publisher to print a 60 page book. Perhaps a year or two ago, he got the first print done. He had to pay around Rs. 22,000 for 1,000 copies of the book which were delivered to him (in two big cartons). The publisher was not involved in distributing or selling this book.

My friend preferred to use the word of mouth method for sales of the book, and so did not get into any big promotion. He charged Rs. 30/- for the book. The sales revenue helped him plough back the money for a couple of reprints over the past year or two.

He told me that the price per book seemed reasonable only for 1,000 copies. If he had asked for 500 copies instead of 1,000, the price would have been somewhere around Rs. 18,000 instead of Rs. 22,000! He said that they use offset printing for such books. That involves preparing "plates" which take a lot of effort. After the "plates" are ready, printing itself is not that expensive. That is why the 1,000 copies order was giving a far better price per copy than the 500 copies order.

He said the prices may have gone up now at the Hyderabad publisher & printer.

I was also informed that a Puttaparthi small print shop offers similar facility to publish & print using some Bangalore offset printer. The quality delivered is good, I was told. But the price is higher. I was told that a 1,000 copies order of a 60 page paperback book by the Puttaparthi small print facility would cost around Rs. 32,000!

In both the above cases (Puttaparthi & Hyderabad shops/facilities), they can/do act as publishers with their names appearing as the publisher, as per the information that was provided to me.

Here is an interesting but nearly 5 year old article, which is about publishing regular books and selling them for profit/living rather than my particular need of simply having a cheap paperback printer printing my no-frills text book without me having any profit-earning motive. But the article does have some useful info. My self-publishing journey,, August 2012.

The author, Rasana Atreya, writes that she turned down a publishing contract from one of India's largest publishing houses because she wanted to have the rights to her ebook, which the publisher was not agreeable to. She was inspired by Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, two authors who seem to be well known to have taken the self-publishing route.

The author wanted complete control over her book - pricing, cover design, marketing etc. The article covers how she went about it for her ebook using private one-time cost services and Amazon, and seems to frankly mention her fears and challenges.

The author warns about companies that call themselves as self-publishers but actually become the "publisher of record", and that there are some horror stories of manuscripts being stolen and fudged sales data with some of these self-publishers.

But perhaps the author has been too critical about "self-publishers". I think that so long as they clearly state their offers to publish and print a customer's books, and then do it as per the offer, they are acting ethically. Of course, manuscripts being stolen would be a terrible thing but then one should not blame all "self-publishers" of doing such stuff unless one is sure. BTW these "self-publishers" are also looked down upon by regular publishers, as vanity publishers who allow people to publish their books for a price paid by the author! I think that is being unfair. So long as it is clear that the author paid for publishing and printing his/her books, I think it is fair and ethical. Otherwise the author is locked into the preferences that big publishers have for books/manuscripts and the printing & distribution lock-ins that big publishers will impose! Why should an author who has the ability to pay to publish his/her book not do so but be at the mercy of big publishing companies' preferences and lock-ins?

I got some info. from browsing the net for Indian self-publishing companies.

1) Power Publisher is quite a well known self-publisher in India. Here is their package/offer chart: The cheapest package is around Rs. 15,000. The issue here for me is that Power Publisher seems to be the guys who will be printing the books when they feel appropriate and sell through their channels. The author gets 2 complimentary copies! This does NOT seem to be what I am looking for. And then it seems to me that control over the book's printing and distribution rights will be, at least to some significant extent, with Power Publishers. That's a BIG PROBLEM for me. Two sentences from its legal terms and conditions page,, are given below:

"I, the author of the book, or my nominated family member will be the copyright holder of the book." - That's good. So Power Publishers does not get the copyright.

"The book cannot be printed and distributed by two different companies in the same language and the same country at the same time." - This is the PROBLEM for me. One has to withdraw the book from Power Publishers before some other person prints & distributes it. In all probability, my book will not have big sales - it will appeal only to a niche audience and will not be having any real promotion, except some word of mouth stuff and social media announcements. But I want the FREEDOM to allow any person to print my book and even sell it for a reasonable profit (with ZERO money coming to me).

2) EDUCREATION publishing came up in Google Search results as an Ad. if I recall correctly. It offers a Rs. 4,999 package to publish "Plain Text Books"! An "AMC" is listed at Rs. 1000/- yearly. So lets make the total figure, Rs. 6,000 for a year. Well, I want to print a plain text book! No frills, no pics, just text. And the price is attractive! But...

The legal agreement,, seems to be more author friendly than the previous publisher mentioned above. But it states on page 2, "Author is furthermore not allowed to reprint or digitally distribute the formatted/ designed book or a part of it, in the form, such it indicates to be as printed or distributed by Educreation or else otherwise to use the cover page prepared by Educreation for any other purpose except what conducts as to genuine promotion of book." The English language here seems mixed up and that's a concern as it is a legal agreement! But the key point is that the legal agreement will interfere with the FREEDOM I want for me and others to be able to print the book, unless I ensure that ZERO input is provided by them on the book and that they acknowledge in writing that that gives me the freedom to allow others to print and distribute the book. This seems to be a problem area.

The legal agreement has a scarier sentence, at least for a low-profile reclusive guy like me, "Author also grants Educreation a complete freedom to use his/ her name, photograph, statements, reference, etc. on any place/ location/ platform on the aspect of book promotion as and what deem fit for the purpose at its sole discretion."

So this does not seem suitable for me.

But I must mention its "Digital Print on Demand" page, It says, "With us the production cost of your 100 pages A5 Variant (5"x8") book will be Rs. 43 only (Taxes extra)". And follows that up by saying that authors can make order(s) of set of 30 copies at production cost! So if one rounds the quoted production cost to Rs. 50 then one can get a set of 30 copies at Rs. 1500/- (plus shipping and taxes)! That is so attractive to read from my needs perspective. But then one wonders what the reality is. It almost seems to be too good to be true. And anyway, the legal agreement thing puts me off.

Terry Reis Kennedy wrote (slightly edited) over email (and was OK with sharing) in response to initial part of this post sent to her over email:
Ravi, this is a very good idea.  OMKAR in Bangalore does very high quality production and very affordable prices.  I suggest you call and talk with Mr. Babu.

When I got my ISBNs they were free.  But they are ridiculously difficult people to communicate with.  I finally realized how UNIMPORTANT  ISBNs are  and gave up using them as has become the fashion these days..

Hope this helps.

They want you to have camera ready discs...but you need to be there when they do the book. They use pagination set up systems that will cut words just to fit the page! I always sat there in the composition rooms and read every single page myself to guarantee perfection of the product for my many clients.

After making books with various Bangalore printers and at the top Hyderabad printers I stuck with Omkar.  They are easy going, flexible, and understand the work they are doing.  Their binding is wonderful too.  Your choice of paper is very  important for the long-life of the books.
---end Terry response---

Ravi: I thanked Terry "a ton for the info." BTW Terry is an accomplished writer with superb English (way better than mine), and is very articulate. She offers services to those who would like to publish successful books. From her website, "My writing has drawn me to every state in the United States of America, including First Nation Territories, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Canada, Mexico, Poland, Fiji, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand Sri Lanka and India where I have a home. I have read from my anthologized essays, fiction, and poetry on radio, on television, and at places as diverse as prisons, public squares, cafes, Harvard University, Boston City Hall, and at Native American Indian Reservations.

I love working with people who want to get their book or film projects out to audiences whether they are still in the idea stage or are finished but need some design, layout, editing, publishing, and marketing assistance.

I am a non-smoking, non-drinking, vegetarian and I support my lifestyle through my own work as a wordsmith and I know that I can turn your dream of publishing a successful book or documentary come true."

Ravi: Going by Terry's suggestion I browsed the website of Omkar Offset Printers, Bangalore,, and found it to be a printing only facility. No publishing stuff. Its samples go from calendars to annual reports to brochures and books. I think this is what suits my needs but I don't know about the cost. I need to look for a low cost and reasonable quality (top quality will be expensive; I am willing to settle for reasonable no-frills quality) offset printer and NOT a "self-publisher".

Perhaps I should call Omkar people up (Contact page provides the info.) and simply ask them how much printing 100 copies of a 75 page (no pics, no colour, no frills, only text) paperback book will cost.

Terry Reis Kennedy wrote:
What a great service you've provided for me.  Thank you.

Yes, call OMKAR; you will be surprised at how inexpensive they are.

Ravi responded (slightly edited):
Oh! I really don't know how many people read my long posts carefully and note its contents. I was very glad to share your views and your services.
But I have noted that Omkar does provide good and reasonably priced OFFSET printing (and perhaps is NOT YET into print on demand). So, if there is any OFFSET printing I would like to do, I plan to contact them.

Ramana's realized state life was not some featureless blank nor escapism; Realized soul has nothing to escape from!

An extract from the book, A SADHU’S REMINISCENCES OF RAMANA MAHARSHI, By SADHU ARUNACHALA (Major A. W. Chadwick), ebook available here:, is given below. It is from Page 15 of the ebook. Note that in the extract, He refers to Ramana Maharishi.

--- start extract ---
Bhagavan’s realization was not some featureless blank. Appearance continued for him but he knew it as appearance and was no longer deceived into thinking it was Reality. And here, I presume, lay his complete indifference to the world. It was all a dream anyhow, so why do anything about it? Just sit somewhere and enjoy the Self. What did teaching others and helping the world signify? There were no others. Besides if he was to live in the world, as appeared to be his Karma, then, before he could do so, he had to co-ordinate this realization with the world in which he did not really believe. And this must take time. This explains his apparent escapism. Though to talk about escapism with reference to a Realized Soul is a contradiction in terms for there is no longer anything from which to escape.
--- end extract ---

[I thank the author - Sadhu Arunachala (Major Chadwick) - & publishers of above mentioned book, A SADHU’S REMINISCENCES OF RAMANA MAHARSHI, and, and have presumed that they (and their heirs) will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extract from their book on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Monday, March 27, 2017

Guru can only guide, the seeker has to seek self-realization; no one could give self-realization to another - Ramana Maharishi

An extract from the book, A SADHU’S REMINISCENCES OF RAMANA MAHARSHI, By SADHU ARUNACHALA (Major A. W. Chadwick), ebook available here:, is given below. It is from Page 13 of the ebook. Note that in the extract, He refers to Ramana Maharishi.

--- start extract ---
He never preached or laid down the law, but always concentrated on turning the seeker back on himself and pointing out to him that it was entirely up to him, the Guru could only indicate and guide, for no one could give Self-realization to another.
--- end extract ---

[I thank the author - Sadhu Arunachala (Major Chadwick) - & publishers of above mentioned book, A SADHU’S REMINISCENCES OF RAMANA MAHARSHI, and, and have presumed that they (and their heirs) will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extract from their book on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ramana Maharishi had no special abhorrence of sex (viewed from lives of Ramana devotees' perspective) - Major Chadwick

An extract from the book, A SADHU’S REMINISCENCES OF RAMANA MAHARSHI, By SADHU ARUNACHALA (Major A. W. Chadwick), ebook available here:, is given below. It is from Page 65 of the ebook. Note that in the extract, He refers to Ramana Maharishi.

--- start paragraph extract ---
As regards Satsanga, since we obviously take on the colour of the company we keep, the ideal is to live with a Realized Sage; but if that is not possible, then we should choose our company in the best way we can, avoiding undesirable company. He never taught morals, and had no special abhorrence of sex. He once said in answer to a troubled disciple in my hearing, “It is better to do it than to be always thinking about it.” This reminds one of the Gita, “Thoughts are acts in fancy.” Always thinking of it is repeatedly doing it. He naturally expected Sadhus to lead a decent life and set an example to others. In any case we should practise moderation in all things, even in those that we consider good, and, strange though it may seem, a moderation in our Sadhana also is recommended. Overdoing of austerities and prolonged and unnaturally forced meditation may eventually lead to madness, unless we do such under proper guidance.
--- end paragraph extract ---

[I thank the author - Sadhu Arunachala (Major Chadwick) - & publishers of above mentioned book, A SADHU’S REMINISCENCES OF RAMANA MAHARSHI, and have presumed that they (and their heirs) will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extract from their book on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Signed petition to PM Modi to stop Madhusudan Naidu SCAM using Sai Baba's name

Last modified on 28-Mar-2017

I signed the following petition around half an hour ago or so (Now it is around 9:00 AM on 26-Mar-2017):
Petitioning Goverment of India Primer Minister Narendra Modi, PM Narendra Modi please Stop Madhusudan Naidu SCAM in Muddenahalli using Sai Baba's name,

I also made the following comment on the petition:

I support a key part of this petition to Hon'ble PM of India, Shri Narendra Modi, captured in these words of it, "After release from the police these individuals spoke the untruth and started their activities that the medium is speaking through Mr. Madhusudhan Naidu. You may be fully aware that Sathya Sai Baba in many of His discourses clearly denied that He would use any medium or subtle form to talk to His devotees on His behalf."

My view is that Madhusudan Naidu is misguiding thousands of Sathya Sai devotees worldwide using the FALSE CLAIM that he is a so called communicator of Sathya Sai who sees and interacts with an invisible-to-others so called subtle body of Sathya Sai. I request PM Modi to investigate this FALSE CLAIM of Madhusudan Naidu and help to stop Madhusudan Naidu from making this FALSE CLAIM.

As of now (around 11 AM, 28-Mar-2017), the petition has got 932 supporters. Supporters are from India and other countries of the world. Note that the petitioner herself, Mafalda Casas Cordero, seems to be from the USA (state of Alabama as AL is shown next to her name in the petition).

Given below are comment exchanges from Facebook post,, associated with this post.

In repsonse to a comment from a UK resident and UK citizen, "How many people need to sign it for the prime minister to turn his head", I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited):

--Name-snipped--, As far as I know, Indian govt. does not have a system like UK where I believe citizens can collectively petition the govt. using an online petition, and the UK govt. is obliged to respond if the petition crosses some threshold of signatures (of UK citizens, I presume) supporting it. But any Indian citizen can write to the PM through a web interface. I tried that in Sept. 2016 with a request to PM to not support Madhusudan Naidu's claim, but it got rejected at the bureaucrat level itself.

Note that this is a petition and not an Indian govt. website petition. Further note that the petition seems to have originated in Alabama state, USA (Sai Mafalda is listed as AL). So the Indian govt. would NOT BE OBLIGED to read and respond to the petition.

However, if the petition is delivered through some contact in the PMO (apparently somebody in the PMO has offered help in this regard), and the petition has, say a thousand signatures from all over the world, I think then the PMO would view it seriously and may look into the matter. Perhaps they will discuss it with the petitioner. And if they are convinced that it is a serious and valid petition they may escalate it to the PM himself. That's how I think it may work. But I could be wrong.

In response to comment, "Legislation system in India is taken from UK isn't it", I (Ravi) responded:

Not really. The constitution of India was drafted in late 40s & early 50s if I recall correctly. Surely British system would have had a lot of influence due to India being under British rule proper since the mid 1850s (British Raj) till 1947. But the constitution seems to have a lot of differences too. Big point is that UK has a monarch as head whereas in India it is a president nominated/elected by members of Parliament for a term.

And then after 1947, India and UK would have different laws being enacted (and repealed) in their respective parliaments. So while there surely are many similarities between UK and Indian systems of government, it is certainly not the same.

--Name-snipped-- wrote:
Indian Constitution came into effect on 26th January,1950. It has adopted many positive features from many Constitutions around the world, especially the British Constitution.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Magnetically attractive and benign power of Sathya Sai displayed so well in pic

Last updated on 20th Nov. 2018

The magnetically attractive and benign power of Shiva-Shakti Swarupa, Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is displayed so well in the pic below. Something would overpower one's being and brain and one would want to rush towards the physical form Sathya Sai! The rush would be just instinctual!

Above pic: Swami in an airplane with Indian air hostesses
Pic courtesy: Facebook post:

To open pic in higher resolution right-click on pic and open pic in separate tab/window.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Recent Interview of Shri Anand Krishna, founder, Anand Ashram, Indonesia on false claim of subtle body by Muddenahalli group

I was sent a Twitter message a few days ago, "@RaviSaiIyer Jai Sai Ram, pls watch n if u like do pls share with all #SathyaSaiDevotees … @YouTube",

I watched the video specified and found it to be very interesting as Shri Anand Krishna, founder of Anand Ashram, Indonesia, a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and a former Sathya Sai organization member, frankly gives his views on the false claim of so called subtle body and medium (so called communicator) of Muddenahalli group to the interviewer, Ms. Maya Safira. Given below is the video link and associated info.

In the Name of Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Subtle Body Phenomenon (with Indonesian Subtitles/CC),, 12 min. 16 secs, published March 2nd 2017

I recommend interested readers to watch the video and, if they feel like, to share it with others. Jai Sairam!

Thanks to Shri Anand Sharma for sharing this video with me. Jai Sairam!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Shirdi Sai says it is his special characteristic to always look to, and provide for, welfare of devotees who worship Him whole-heartedly

Shirdi Sai Satcharita, has the following words of Shirdi Sai Baba  in Chapter VI, page 32 (paper version of book):

"There will never be any dearth or scarcity, regarding food and clothes, in My devotees’ homes. It is my special characteristic, that I always look to, and provide for, the welfare of those devotees, who worship Me whole-heartedly with their minds ever fixed on Me. Lord Krishna has also said the same in the Gita. Therefore, strive not much for food and clothes. If you want anything, beg of the Lord, renounce worldly honours, try to get Lord’s grace and blessings, and be honoured in His Court. Do not be deluded by worldly honour. The form of the Deity should be firmly fixed in the mind. Let all the senses and mind be ever devoted to the worship of the Lord, let there be no attraction for any other thing. Fix the mind in remembering Me always, so that it will not wander elsewhere, towards body, wealth and home. Then it will be calm, peaceful and care-free. This is the sign of the mind being well engaged in good company. If the mind is vagrant, it cannot be called well-merged in Him."

This quote with slight difference(s) can also be seen in the online version of the above book here:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sathya Sai Krishnashtami 1988 discourse on Bharatiyas' worship of Nature, three beliefs of Law of Karma, Avatars and rebirth, and purpose of Avatars

Given below are extracts from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's discourse on Gokulashtami (Krishnashtami i.e. Krishna birthday), 3rd Sept. 1988, in Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi),

In these extracts, Bhagavan tells us about the following:

* Bharatiyas worship nature - stone, Tulasi plant, Banyan tree, cows, horses, elephants, monkeys etc. - viewing nature as manifestation of the Divine.

* Human birth is a result of Karma.

* Three beliefs Bharatiyas have held fast to: Law of Karma; concept of Avatars, and doctrine of rebirth.

* For the Divine the three categories of time - past, present and future - do not exist.

* Purpose of Avatars is to teach mankind about the truth of love. Love and sacrifice make man divine.

---- start extracts of Sathya Sai discourse ----

Nature is the best teacher for man. Every object, every individual, is offering lessons of various kinds to man every moment. This truth was recognised by Bharathiyas from the earliest times. It is the primary characteristic of the sacred Bharathiya culture. From a stone to a diamond, from an ant to an elephant, from a simpleton to a sage, everything and every being in Bharath was regarded as a manifestation of the Divine. Every object was considered worthy of worship. That was why they sanctified a stone image and worshipped it.

Divine love should be extended to all beings

Bharath is the land in which the tender Tulasi plant and the giant banyan tree were worshipped with equal devotion. Cows, horses, elephants and other animals were treated as sacred objects of worship. Even ants were considered worthy of care and protection and rice flour or sugar was offered to them every day. Crows and eagles, dogs and monkeys were deemed worthy of worship. Not realising the deeper truth underlying this attitude to various objects in creation, ignoramuses choose to regard this worship as a silly superstition. This is wholly wrong. Bharath considered that the expression of Divine love should not be confined to human beings but should be extended to all beings. This is the great ideal that Bharath has held out to the world. The profound secret of this knowledge and understanding has not been grasped by any country. Bharath is the land which has upheld this sacred spiritual truth and adhered to this vision of the Divine.

The sacred aspect of Indian culture

The Gita has declared: "Adveshtaa Sarvabhoothaanaam" (Bear no ill-will towards any living being). Hatred towards anyone is hatred for God. The scriptures have also declared: "Sarvajiva namaskaaram Kesavam Pratigachchati" (The salutation that you offer to anyone reaches the Divine). Few outsiders can understand or appreciate this sacred aspect of Indian culture. Even many Indians do not realise the purity and divinity which characterise Bharathiya culture. Bharath has always proclaimed that despite variations in names and forms, there is a unity that underlies the diversity in creation.

Because Nature is a reflection of the Divine, its laws cannot be transgressed by anyone. Man, who has taken birth to realise his own true nature, instead of seeking to understand the truth about the cosmos, is lost in the pursuit of material possessions. He does not realise, that the human body made up of five basic elements, is bound to perish. This temporary, perishable body should be regarded only as a means for realising the eternal Reality. The body should be considered as an iron safe, in which the precious jewels of good qualities and good actions are kept. It is these qualities that should be cherished. If today, the state of the world appears deplorable, it is because man's actions and conduct are not good. Men should return to the ways of righteousness and lead a good and godly life.

Human birth is the result of Karma

God is not a separate entity. Man is the image of God. "Daivam maanusha rupena," (God appears in human form) declare the scriptures. God has no separate form.. It is to show to humanity how human lives can be divinised that Avatars come from time to time. I have often declared that God does not come down as Avatar to relieve individuals of their troubles and sorrow and to confer joy and happiness on them. Difficulties, troubles and worries come in the natural course as a consequence of past actions. The Gita says: "Karmaanubandheeni manushya loke" (Human beings are bound by Karma in the world). As human birth is the result of Karma, there can be no escape from the consequences of Karma. As is your action, so is the reaction to it. When you stand before a mirror and offer salutation before the mirror, the salutation is reflected by the image. If you address harsh words to the mirror, the harshness is reflected by the image in the same manner. It will be evident from this example that the fruits of our actions are determined by the nature of those actions.

Bharathiyas have held fast to three beliefs: The law of Karma, the concept of Avatars, and the doctrine of rebirth. The law of Karma means that there is no escape from the consequences of your actions. The Karma doctrine lays down that one has to experience the results of his actions. The concept of Avatar implies faith in God and in the divinity inherent in man. Man does not merely mean the human form. Man is distinguished from other animals and creatures by his capacity to judge what is permanent and what is transient, and his ability to recognise the past, the present and the future. Man alone has the capacity to comprehend this threefold nature of time. Man can ruminate over the past and speculate about the future. He can experience the present. However, man should not worry about what is past. The present is the product of the past. What has happened is beyond recall. It is futile to worry about the future because it is uncertain. Concern yourself only with the present. By "present" we may be thinking only of this moment. But this is not the present as Divinity sees it. For the Divine, "present" is what is "omnipresent."

"No thought of My future"

This means that both the past and the future are present in what is, because it is the result of the past, the seed of the future. Because man has no firm faith in the Omnipresence of the Divine, he worries himself about the past, the present and the future. For the Divine, these three categories of time do not exist.

The question has arisen in the minds of some devotees: As Swami is aware of what will happen in the future, should He not have anticipated and avoided the slip in the bathroom? I know all about the future. But I think only of the future of others and not of My future. You must note this fact carefully: "Karthavyam yogam uchyathe." (Doing your duty is Yoga). I think only of what I have to do at any particular moment. Some things might happen. They come and go. Happenings in the world are like passing clouds. These incidents give rise to certain experiences. Students should take note of these experiences.

The purpose of Avatar

When the Divine comes down as Avatar--whether it be as Rama or as Krishna, Matsya (fish), Varaha (boar) or Vamana (dwarf)--it is only for one purpose. You recognise only the momentary results of the advent. But you should note that the Divine comes as Avatar only to teach mankind the truth about love. "Oh man, it is because you lack love and are filled with selfishness that the world is plunging in so much conflict and chaos. It is only when you develop love and the spirit of sacrifice that you will realise the divinity that is in the human." The man who has no spirit of thyaga (sacrifice) will be a prey to all ills. A man without love is a living corpse. It is love and sacrifice which make man divine.

Love alone is the fruit of love. Love is its own witness. There is no trace of self-interest in it. Because love exists, for its own sake, it has no fear. It is to teach humanity the way of love that Avatars come in the world. The world displays the diversity that has emanated from the One. The Divine demonstrates the unity that subsumes the diversity. Recognition of this "Unity in Diversity" can be learnt only from the Divine.

The Krishna Avatar has been described in various ways: As a sport of the Divine in human form, as an ideal for the world, as a sacred ruler, as a manifestation of the Atma. The Divine comes as Avatar to proclaim the pure, unsullied and disinterested love of devotees towards God. People may consider that the Avatar's activities include punishment of the wicked, protection of the good, weeding out of unrighteousness and restoration of righteousness. This is how they may look at the Avatar's doings. But that is not the way the Lord sees things. There is nothing bad in God's view. Hence there should be no hatred or ill-will towards any being. It is only when you love all, that you can be said to love God.

---- end extracts of Sathya Sai discourse ----

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

A conversation with USA based correspondent on handling trauma of losing 3 close friends to murder in a short period

Given below are selected portions of my part of a recent conversation with a USA based correspondent about handling trauma of losing close friends to murder in the USA. It has minimal context info. about the correspondent's parts of the conversation including some quotes from her responses.

Note that the conversation has some simultaneously typed messages by the correspondent and me and so some responses of one correspondent would be to previous to immediately previous message of the other correspondent.

Ravi wrote (edited):
.. Also noted recent (info.) about your grief and pain due to loss of loved ones. I pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on you and give you strength to bear your grief and pain.

.. May God bless you and the American people. [I am a well wisher of the American people.] Thanks.

[USA based Correspondent asked me whether I ever visited the USA. She mentioned her visit to India and how she liked Indian people (in general). She also wrote that she faced "3 murders of 3 close friends within a month" which was "just too much".]

I (Ravi) responded:
.. Yes I have been in the USA for around 2 years in second half of 80s and early 90s. Mostly residing in Nashua, NH and doing software consultancy work in Lowell, MA. I also spent a couple of months in Santa Barbara, CA.
About 3 murders of 3 close friends within a month: My mind goes blank at trying to understand what you may be going through. So far, by the grace of God, not one friend of mine has been murdered in India (or elsewhere). Of course, murders do take place in India.

Who killed them? What was their motive? Is it a gun violence problem? These are the questions that jump to my mind. But you must have got sick of talking about it. So don't feel obliged to answer me. I pray to God to give you strength and courage. Take care.

[Omitted links provided by correspondent giving the murder & suspected murder accounts. Correspondent also wrote that she knew the two victims and one presumed victim quite well and that they were friends of hers.]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
Devastating to read these. The first two murders are family and employee related. Terrifying that people get so desperate that they see only these means of tackling their problems. The third article was not so clear.

That you knew all three people well and used to invite them over to your home, and now they have disappeared (died) in this fashion, is such a traumatic thing. I mean, even for me to read it is so tough. You went through the trauma of it!

All the very best wishes in coping with this trauma. Prayer may help if you are into prayer.
About addiction, I read a thought-provoking article about some parts of rural America where some unemployed youth lost hope about their lives and so were more easily attracted to drugs. I think prolonged economic and other trauma makes people more susceptible to taking drugs to try to escape their unhappiness, but perhaps end up in more unhappiness.

Very unfortunately, drug addiction is becoming a problem in some parts of India too, including Punjab which you had written that you have visited in the past.

Sad to know that the youngsters at --'s funeral lacked the sense and respect to stay off from the phones during the funeral.

[Correspondent wrote that she is OK but that she thought she is numb. She wrote, "I didn't think I would ever know a victim of homicide in my lifetime. Now all at once 3. Death is a part of life, but not murder. Not only is it difficult to accept or grieve normally you must constantly deal with the courts. A constant reminder. Anger is a normal process in grieving. Now there is more. I try to accept and deal with things intelligently. Not everyone does. The poor families. This really causes you to question yourself. Do you want to forgive the murderers? Do you want the death penalty? Do you want to sit in on a trial and hear every detail? How they may defend their actions?"]

Ravi wrote (edited):
.. I think I can feel some of the trauma that you and others are going through. The murder trial would be a horrific thing to go through. Lawyers have to do their job. Can't blame them. But it can get real nasty.
Good point about --. You should do what you can to bring out that he was loved by some people.

[Correspondent thanked me for listening.]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited): I am glad I could help you by listening. I guess it is a very busy world nowadays. As I am retired and spend some time on service (to society), I was able to listen to you.

[Correspondent wrote: "My tears are gone. I wish I could put it behind me, but I must still be there for him. I hope in -- murder he jumped to escape and I am worried they might reduce the charges to second degree murder."]

Ravi wrote: Can I bring in some other spiritual angles here? Will it disturb you?

[Correspondent wrote "Not at all. Please do. I am a very open person who loves to learn. I am spiritual and love intelligent ideas and opinions."]

Ravi wrote:
OK. First let me share what I understand of the Christian view of such tragedies.

[Correspondent wrote: "Are you Christian? I think I saw you were."]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
Oh! I am a great lover and admirer of Lord Jesus Christ.
But I am a Hindu.
My Hindu religion does not prevent me from worshiping and loving Jesus Christ.

Here's my blog post, The awesome Christian act of forgiveness by the families of the Charleston, USA shooting victims,

I am not so good at forgiveness yet. I am learning.

[Correspondent wrote: "I like how you think. Same here. It is hard to forgive. Especially with all of this."]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
But for me some of the families in the Charleston church killings, who forgave the killer, even though he did not seek their forgiveness, sets the bar.
I mean I know whom I should look up to for forgiveness. These families of the Charleston church killings (victims).

[Correspondent wrote: "I was born a Christian. While in India I stayed with Sikh people and learned all about it."]

Ravi wrote:
I see.
Now I would like to share one Hindu spiritual view of the matter.

[Correspondent wrote (slightly edited): "I also knew people in the --- shooting. What a year! Forgiveness is what sets us free. It opens our hearts for greater love. My friend was shot 3 times, but lived. He wasn't a close friend. Please share.]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
Oh Lord! You knew some people hurt in even the --- shooting!
What a terrible time it has been for you!
No motive, just hatred.
Horrible stuff.
Back to one Hindu spiritual view of these matters.
You see, a core belief of Hinduism (and Sikhism, I believe) is Karma.
If one does bad actions, then the divine law of karma sees to it that the person, in this lifetime or later lifetimes (lives), faces the bad karmic reaction consequences of his/her actions.

[Correspondent wrote: "I do too. Do you believe in reincarnation? I don't know if I do and in what extent."]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
Yes I do (belive in reincarnation).
In India, many people get away with murder LITERALLY.
The law and order system is not that great to catch culprits in all cases.

[Correspondent wrote: "I have seen karma happen quickly. That is good to see."]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
And then the rich and powerful try to use lawyers to get off the hook.

[Correspondent wrote: "They do? I could believe that."]

Ravi wrote:
But the Hindus believe in Karma. We know that even if some of these guys manage to evade justice in the courts of law of the country, the divine court of karma will deliver karmic justice to them.
Did you get that?

[Correspondent wrote: "Yes. And I believe in that as well. I do."]

Ravi wrote:
My beloved and revered Guru, Sathya Sai Baba, taught about Karma.

[Correspondent wrote (slightly edited): "We also never know what these (how) horrible (they) might feel inside."]

Ravi wrote:
He said almost nobody can escape Karmic effects.
With the very rare exception being those who pray intensely to God who then may forgive/cancel their Karma.
Did you get that?

[Correspondent wrote: "Yes. Very much so. And I agree."]

Ravi wrote (slightly edited):
So in this situation from one Hindu spiritual view perspective, I would say that one can go through the criminal justice system for these sad cases of your friends.

[Correspondent wrote: "I think that is also why I love my India and the people."]

Ravi wrote:
But not be too fixated on getting punishment from the criminal justice system itself for the killers.
In any case, the killers will not escape the punishment of God/Karma.
And to quote, perhaps the Old Testament, Vengeance is mine said the Lord.

[Correspondent wrote: "I also want to be there for the families. I put myself last in order to help them. If they wish to not seek death penalty I will respect that. It isn't about me."]

Ravi wrote:
But I suggest that you don't be too fixated on vengeance.

[Correspondent wrote: "I love what you are saying. It gives me extra strength. Very helpful. It is hard to find many people in America who mean what you are saying and I need to hear this."]

Ravi wrote:
Who knows? The husband of -- may atone for his sins, and become a loving father of his children.
These kind of things can be transformational.

[Correspondent wrote: "I reach out to the families in order to help. There is nothing I can do to bring them back. I take the great qualities and smiles they had with me. I use those things to keep them alive and make a better world for those around me."]

Ravi wrote:
Prayer to God and an atmosphere where the sinner accepts and acknowledges his mistakes, sincerely repents for it, and is given a chance to reform ... would be a good outcome, IMHO.
Noted your support for the families. That's good.
Nice chatting with you --.
Wish you all the best. My prayers to Almighty God to help you and the families who lost their loved ones.

[Correspondent wrote: People tend to leave the family alone. They will grieve forever and it is usually months after the loss when they need it the most. Others forget about them. Indian ppl are so respectful, thankful and forgiving. ... Your views are much more like mine and to me it makes total sense. I don't want to lose myself by not being forgiving or only looking at my own suffering.
I like to always think positive and to allow the light in. It was very nice chatting with you. Thank you very much. It must be late there. ..]

Ravi wrote:
Thanks sister ---. Helping the family over time (months & years) would be a great service to the family which I am sure will please God.

BTW like people from many different parts of the world, there are good Indians and bad Indians and many in-between. India has its rapists, killers, thieves, fraudsters, confidence-tricksters etc. However, India is a deeply, deeply religious country. So even rapists, killers, thieves, fraudsters, confidence-tricksters typically have a degree of respect for humble and poor/middle-class devotees of God. I think that is truly the SAVING GRACE of India. ... In India, some may be sympathetic to the poor and try to help them, and some may just ignore them. But only a very few Indians, IMHO, will hate the poor and want to drive them out of their sight. In fact, I think no God fearing and God loving Indian, no matter what his/her religion - Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain etc. - will hate the poor as they know that their religion teaches them to help the poor when they can, and that hating the poor will not be something that will please God.

Sister ---, as a social media writer on spirituality & religion I try to serve society through my free blog & Facebook writings. Would it be fine with you if I share MY PART of our exchange yesterday with minimal context information, regrading the murders and having to cope with it, WITHOUT any reference to you by name OR to the specific incidents, publicly on my blog & Facebook??? My view is that such sharing of MY PART of the exchange with minimal context info. may be helpful to others in similar situations in the future.

What do you say?

[Note that the initial part of the exchange given in this post happened a few days earlier to main part of the exchange given in this post.]

[Correspondent wrote (slightly edited): "Hi. Please feel free to share. .. If it can help others by all means share."]

Ravi wrote (edited): Oh! Thanks a ton, ---. I think it may be of help to others, if not now at least sometime in the future. .. it will also help me as I could easily refer back to it in future if I get into a similar conversation with somebody else in future.

Sathya Sai Gurupurnima 1979 discourse giving high level explanation of reality; Brahman, Sath-Chith-Aanandha, Maya, Ishwara, jeeva, prakriti etc.

Last minor update: 21st Mar. 2017

Given below are extracts from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's discourse on Guru Poorinma, 9th July 1979, in Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi), They provide very high level explanations of (existential) reality. The concepts explained include Brahman (Absolute divine reality) and Maya (worldly illusory reality) as well as Ishwara, jeeva and prakriti.

Note that the word 'God' given below can be a somewhat confusing translation from Swami's Telugu/Sanskrit to English. When time permits, I plan to locate the audio of the discourse, listen to it and provide clarifications if needed to 'God' translations below. Meanwhile, what is clear from the English translation given below is that Paramaathman/Brahman are the words Bhagavan uses for Absolute formless divine power also referred to as Absolute Reality. Note that Bhagavan also uses the term Sath-Chith-Ananda for Parmaathman/Brahman.

'Ishwara' is the word Bhagavan uses to refer to the manifestation (in Maaya/illusory world) of the Absolute formless divine power. 'Ishwara' seems to be also referred below as personalised God (which is nowadays referred as personal God).

Bhagavan explains that Maaya (illusory power) makes Brahman (Absolute Divine power/Absolute Reality) appear as Ishwara (personalised God), jeeva (individual) and prakriti (nature).

---- start extracts of Sathya Sai discourse ----

THE Macrocosmos and the microcosmos---the Brahmaanda and the pindanda---the Universal and the individual---all arise from the One Truth. They are manifestations and emergents of that Truth, which is not affected by either. That Truth is known as Brahman. When this unmodifiable, transcendent and immanent Brahman, instead of just 'being,' decides on 'becoming,' It is best designated as 'God,' 'Ishwara' (Almighty). The Divine ground of everything is the spiritual Absolute, called Paramaathman (Supreme Absolute Self). It is also the ground, the base, the core, the reality of man.

But in spite of 'becoming,' which is only an illusion imposing multiplicity on the One Being, It remains One. So long as inquiry is postponed, only the multiplicity is cognised. The multiplicity is neither real nor unreal. It is relatively real, temporarily real, pragmatically real, mithya---not sathya---but an amalgam of sathya (truth) and asathya (untruth), apparently real but fundamentally unreal, real for most practical purposes (vyavahaara) but unreal when the basic nature is unravelled. Mithya is the mixture of sathya and asathya, the knowledge of the serpent which is negated when the knowledge of the rope is won.

Maaya makes us believe the world is real

The clouds appear to be stuck to the sky; so, too, maaya (the tendency to conclude that what the senses tell us is true or to project our preferences and prejudices on to the world around us) gives us an untrue picture of Brahman. It makes us believe that the world is real. Its impact warps our reasoning process, our sensory impressions and our views on God, on creation and on man. It spreads before us a diversity which tantalises and deceives.

The basic Truth upon which maaya (divine illusion) projects its kaleidoscope is described by seers as Sath-Chith-Aanandha (Being-Awareness-Bliss Absolute). This does not mean that Brahman has three attributes, namely: It exists beyond time and space; It knows and can be known; It is the source and acme of Bliss. They are not three distinct characteristics; they indicate the One, of which the three can be grasped by experience---not by words, for words can only recoil before that Godhead. We cannot assert that Brahman (Supreme Being) belongs to a class or genes [Ravi: perhaps it should be genus], nor can it be defined by the three basic qualities. It cannot be described as performing any specific activity, for It is ever motionless. Nor can It be explained in terms of relationship with other entities for It is One, without a second.

Maaya is only the Divine Will that inaugurated the manifestation of the cosmos (Ekoham, Bahushyaam---I am one; I will be many). Maaya (apparent deluding reality) inheres in every being and every activity of that being; it has three aspects of achievement through the three modes and moods of that Will---the saathwik, the raajasik and the thaamasik (the calm, contented, equanimous mood; the potent, passionate mood; the inert, slothful, sluggish mood).

Maaya is the Will that causes the variety

When maaya prompts us into the saathwik mood of that Will, we become progressive seekers of jnaana (spiritual wisdom) that reveals the Unity. When we are overwhelmed by the raajasik quality of that Will, we are deluded into the pursuit of worldly victories and ephemeral wealth and renown. The thaamasik nature of that Will seeks the quickest and easiest ways of happy living. These are the reflections in our minds of the basic modes of the Will that Brahman assumes when It is moved by the primal urge to express Itself. The facets of that Will are called Jnaana shakthi, Icchaa shakthi and Kriyaa shakthi.

The three modes affect beings and things in various proportions and permutations, and so we have all the variety and diversity of the objective world. Aathman (whether individualised or universalised), is One only. The jeevaathman (individual soul) and the Paramaathman (Supreme Soul) are one and indivisible.

The philosophers of all lands and all times have sought to discover the truth about God, the objective world and man, as well as their mutual relationship. Maaya is the Will that causes all three. It is a clear flawless mirror. When the saathwik nature is reflected in that mirror, God results [Ravi: This 'God' may mean 'Ishvara']; when the raajasik nature is reflected, the jeeva (individualised Self) results. It is everanxious to grow, to grab, to survive and to be secure. When thaamasik nature is reflected, matter (the objective world) is the result. All three are Paramaathman, but they derive their reality as Its reflections. When undergoing reflections, they attain different forms and combinations of characteristics. The One becomes many; every one of the many is Real only because of the One in it. Maaya too is a component of the One; by the emphasis on that component, the One transformed Itself into the many.

The One comprehends all the images

We now know that maaya is like a mirror. The mirror reflects within itself all that is before it. The convexity or concavity of the mirror, or the covering of dust that might have settled on it, will certainly blur the reflected image, but it cannot distort the objects themselves. Ishwara, prakrithi and jeeva (the Almighty God, objective world and individualised self), all three are images of Paramaathman (Supreme soul) reflected in the mirror of maaya and warped by the gunas (qualities) that tarnish the surface of the mirror. It is the mirror that pictures the One as many. But the One is ever One.

The One is comprehensive of all this. So It has no wants, no desires and no activity to realise anything. Shri Krishna tells Arjuna, "Na me Partha! asthi karthavyam, thrishu lokeshu kinchana" (There is nothing I have to do in any of the three worlds), He has willed the world as His Sport. He has laid down that every deed must have its consequence. He is the dispenser of the consequences, but He is not involved in the deeds.

None can discover the beginning of maaya

Therefore it becomes plain that neither the personalised God, nor the individualised self, nor even the objective world can ever succeed in discovering the beginning of the maaya which brought them into existence and started the chain of 'act-consequence-act.' Nevertheless, one can succeed in knowing when maaya will end! When will it end? When the objective world is ignored, set aside, denied or discovered to be immanent in the Divine, the jeeva (individualized being) is no more. When the jeeva is no more, the Ishwara (Cosmic Being or personalized God) is also superfluous and disappears. And when the Ishwara has faded out, the Brahman (Absolute Reality) alone Is. Where there is no child, how can a mother exist? It is a word with no significance. When a personalised God, a personality separate from the rest, called jeeva, and the mental creation of that jeeva, called prakrithi (the objective world), are non-existent in the developed consciousness of man, maaya, the progenitor of all three, cannot persist.

When space is enclosed in a pot, it appears limited and small. But once released from the upaadhi (container), it again merges in the infinite sky. The sky is not reduced or transformed in shape or quality by being held in the upaadhi. So, too, the One Aathman that is pervading the bodies and lives of billions of beings does not get affected by the upaadhis (living beings) to which it adheres for some time.

Many are affected by the problem of what caused the Cosmos. How did it come into being? They advance various theories and lay down many opposing hypotheses. But there is no need for seekers to beat about the bush so much. Just as a dream results when one is cut off from reality in a state of sleep, the Cosmos is a result of being cut off from reality by maaya in a state of ignorance. The Cosmos is as ephemeral and as vagarious as a dream. It is difficult to discover laws that explain or govern its infinite mysteries. More profitable than inquiring into the mysteries is the inquiry into possible ways of benefitting by them and learning from them. It is mostly a waste of time to probe into the origin of the Cosmos or to determine how it will end. You are a part of creation, so try to understand yourself and keep your goal in view.

The individual has three qualities in him

The jeeva (individual) has the emotional, passionate and active qualities in his composition. The quality that is inferior is the thaamasik and that which is superior is the saathwik. Ishwara is the saathwik reflection of Brahman. Therefore man must strive to rise higher into the saathwik realm. He must be ever vigilant not to slide down into the lower realm---the thaamasik realm of matter and material pursuits. The Guru has to hold this ideal before the pupil and guide him towards it. He must encourage him to become aware of the God within man.

Embodiments of the Divine Aathman! In truth, man is the encased Aathman. He is the repository of the infinite, ever-full, One, Indivisible Aathman. Man, at best, remains man, satisfied with the rajoguna dominant in him. Many are content with their dealings with the objective, thaamasik world. Their ideal is only to amass material wealth and satisfy material needs. Examine yourselves and discover at what level you are by analysing your desires and activities. In this way you can yourselves sublimate your thoughts and urges.

Your revised urges must have a beneficial impact on your activities, for it is through activity that gunas are given up or gained. Activity causes birth and death and fills up the years of one's life. It supports good and evil, joy and grief.

However, man is willfully unaware of the activities that will lighten the burden of his life and also illumine the Aathman. It is the Aathman that illumines all, but man is in the dark about its existence. Just as everything sweet is sweet on account of the sugar it contains, all things and objects are cognized because the Aathman is behind the cognition. It is the Universal Witness. It is the Sun that activates all but never gets activated itself. You, too, must establish yourself in the position of a witness.

---- end extracts of Sathya Sai discourse ----

Readers may want to see my related blog post, Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D. - Edited Transcript of Video,, dated November 2013

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

George Harrison of Beatles reverentially accepting Vibhuti prasad from Sathya Sai in 1976 in Mumbai

Last updated on 26-Mar-2017

Wow! I am told that I saw right that the video,, published in Apr. 2016, shows George Harrison of the Beatles gratefully and reverentially accepting Vibhuti from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (from 0:55 to 0:59 in the video)!!! Wow! Pandit Ravi Shankar is sitting in front of George Harrison and may have brought him to take Darshan of Swami. The video subtitles are in a language I do not understand. But I think it states that this Darshan happened in 1976 in Dharmakshetra, Mumbai.

The audio in it is of George Harrison's great song, My Sweet Lord. Here's a live performance of it, My Sweet Lord - George Harrison - Concert for Bangladesh (done in 1971, it seems),, 4 min. 30 secs.

The Sathya Sai darshan video is not of great quality. I have taken a few screenshots of it given below which also are poor in picture quality.

Above pic: George Harrison watching Swami and perhaps waiting for Swami to approach closer

Above pic: Swami is ready to give Vibhuti to George

Above pic: George is receiving vibhuti from Swami's fingers in his open palm.

Above pic: George reverentially bows to Swami and also perhaps to the Vibhuti prasad in his palm which he has raised

Given below are my comments from my Facebook post,, associated with this post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped--, Very interesting to know that John Lennon and Yoko Ono came to Swami once but did not return (and did not have an interview). Interesting to know that George Harrison came to Prasanthi Nilayam as well. .. Yes, I know about George H contribution to Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON) in UK. ... Noted the Ravi Shankar auto(graph). ... --- Thanks.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped--, --- Very interesting input from you about George being a lovely, lovely soul and you "swear"ing that he was highly evolved!

I got very, very good vibes of him when I saw his My Sweet Lord video. And the ISKCON bhakti singing and music are very, very good vibes as well. No wonder that George got attracted to it.

I can feel the great spiritual music legacy of George from the first song in this video, Concert For George "My Sweet Lord/Wah Wah" Live-2002, So many singers (some of them seem to be well known figures) singing that song with so much feeling, in George's memory, was so moving to me. I feel blessed and privileged to see this outpouring of love for God across religious traditions (Christian-Hallelujah & Hindu-Hare Krishna) by these wonderful singers. And this is after George has given up his body (if I got that right). After the second song a youngster thanks the singers. I think that person may be related to George (perhaps his son?). One can see even the youngster being really into the My Sweet Lord song. He sang it with feeling. It is that feeling that's what matters, IMHO, in the path of devotion (Bhakthi) to the Lord, no matter what religious tradition (or multiple traditions, like in my case) we follow.