Author Interview | Meet @ishwar and discover his spiritual debut book #bookish #spiritual #ownvoices
One of the perks of being in the book industry is I get to meet authors from all walks of life, beliefs and nationalities. I first met Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar when he inquired about some promotion for his book. I’ve never met a kinder man. I asked if he’d like to sit down for an author interview and he agreed. So grab your favorite morning beverage and join us. Ishwar, take it away:
What is your writing process?
I like to meditate before I write. It calms down my mind and gets me in the zone. This helps me get over writer’s block. Since I am a busy parent with a day job, the only spare time I had was on the daily commute on the bus. I cut short the web browsing and started writing instead. When we all started working from home, I continued blocking out the commute time for writing. I wrote a few pages every couple of days and was able to finish the book in a year. I have been able to do most of my achievements, like running a marathon or reading a thousand page book, via this method of allocating half an hour every day to achieve something sizable in a year.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes, I have always enjoyed writing. I majored in English where we had to synthesize and summarize the works of Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare et al. Later on, once I became a Software Engineer, I continued writing Technical documentation, User guides, Sales flyers and Presentations.
If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?
I love writing Software Apps which is something I have been doing since high school. I am lucky that this hobby of mine turned out to be a very employable one. Writing is my creative pursuit for self-expression, not to make money. I have priced the eBook and Paperback with minimal markup. I just want to connect with my readers and be in this collective learning experience with them.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Yes, this is the first book that I have written. I first thought about translating a Spiritual book when I was a teenager but thought that I might be too young to do it. In my early twenties, I wanted to write a book about Software but didn’t have the time since I was focused on moving up in my career and worked every spare minute. In my thirties, I wanted to write another Spiritual book but our little kids took up all the spare time and energy. Now, with the kids becoming semi-independent and me being satisfied with my career trajectory, I decided to finally focus on writing and publishing my first book. However, now looking back I realize that it was not a question of time but of priorities.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Apart from Marketing and Sales of my first book, I am parallelly writing two books these days. I write one on weekdays and the other on the weekend. Once these are completed, I have a roadmap for writing three more books.
Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
I used to regularly get speeding tickets in my 20s and 30s. I mellowed down once my kids became old enough to hold me accountable.
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
No, I don’t smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, eat meat or gamble. I am a workaholic. I enjoy and prefer working on my computer over anything else including movies, tv, sports, parties etc.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
My dream is to go into outer space to celebrate my retirement. Hopefully, space tourism will become affordable by then.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Visiting the Seven Continents.
Thank you, Ishwar, for the very insightful interview. Readers, scroll down to read more about his book...
Title: Sri Sai Sat Charitra for Kids
Author: Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Sri Sai Sat Charitra contains the miracles and teachings of the Hindu Saint Sai Baba of Shirdi. It was originally written from 1922 to 1929 by Raghunath Govind Dabholkar aka Hemadpant after he personally experienced miracles of and received permission from Sai Baba of Shirdi. Nagesh Vasudev Gunaji translated Hemadpant's Marathi edition into English in 1944.
For the first time, this is a brand new 'For Kids' edition of Sri Sai Sat Charitra. Gunaji's edition has been simplified and retold to make it easy for Kids. This includes making the language simpler, explaining the background and concepts mentioned in the original text, splitting the chapters into smaller sections as well as adding questions and answers.
Although aimed towards Kids, all ages will find the book interesting, educational and inspirational. Especially if you are new to Hinduism and its concepts.
23.1 - True nature of the Atma (Soul)
The Atma (Soul) within us, also called as Jiva, is in reality the same as the Brahma (God, the Ultimate Power that created this Universe). Just like a drop of water in our hands is the same as the Ocean, only physically separated. This means that, just like the Brahma, our Atma is also by its original nature very happy and satisfied. It does not need anything more to make it happy. We don’t need to shop, eat, watch, play, laugh or do anything more than just ‘be’ to be truly happy.
But, once the Atma is inside our Shareer (Body) - then it starts following the rules of the Body. Our Body has a mind and has five senses of seeing, touching, hearing, feeling and smelling. The mind either feels happy or sad depending on various factors. The mind then needs to use one or more of the senses to feel happy. For ex. We see a candy, we smell it, we eat and taste it and we feel happy. But this is just the mind feeling happy because of a candy. The soul is always happy.
How can we stop being dependent on the mind and senses to feel happy? How can we identify with and realize our true nature - of the Atma that is always happy? For that, we need to follow a Marga (path) to realize Brahma (God). Hindu religion has many such paths. The easiest one of them is the Bhakti (devotion) Yoga. Which means we should fall in love with our favorite god (like Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Hanuman, Ganesha, Laxmi, Saraswati etc.) or with our favorite SutGuru (like Sai Baba). Then we should think of them, read about them, repeat their Mantra, read their stories and follow their teachings.
Just like an animal that is in the cage, our Atma/Jiva (soul) is stuck inside the Shareer (body) until the SutGuru comes along and opens the gate of the cage from the outside.
Sai Baba showed people the way to behave correctly and to realize God. He tuned the guidance to each person based on their unique situation and level of understanding. He never copied anyone else and he never asked anyone to help him with any personal objectives. Everything that Sai Baba told his devotees to do was for their own good. Sai Baba saw God in everything around us - people, animals, trees, insects and everything else.
Sai Baba never said “I am God”. He always said “Allah Malik Hai!” (God is the owner of everyone).
23.2 - Yoga and Onion
One day, a new devotee came to Shirdi along with Nana Saheb Chandorkar. He used to practice Yoga every day. He had studied all the books about Yoga including the original ‘Yoga Sutra’ by Rishi Patanjali.
This is the book, written in Sanskrit language, thousands of years ago, where Yoga was invented by Patanjali. This book has, in addition to the physical Yoga exercises, a complete system made of Ashta (eight) Anga (parts) that helps us know the true nature of the Atma (soul) and Brahma (God).
This person considered themselves to be an expert in this system. But still he was not able to find true peace and joy. He had heard a lot about Sai Baba and thought that maybe he will guide him.
When he reached the Masjid, he saw Sai Baba was eating a very simple meal of Chapati (Wheat Tortilla or Bread like item) along with Raw Onion. Seeing this, he thought in his mind “How can this man, eating stale bread with raw onion, solve my complex problem of Yoga.”
As soon as this thought crossed his mind, Baba said to Nana “Nana, only the person who can really digest onion should eat it. If someone cannot digest it, then they should not try it.” As soon as Baba said this, the man realized that it was a miracle. How would Baba know what is going on in his mind without him saying it out aloud to anyone? He fell at Baba’s feet and with a pure and open mind, without any pride or ego, asked Baba to help him. Baba blessed the man, gave him Udi and after that day the man had peace of mind.
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Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar experienced his first miracle by Sai Baba’s grace at the age of 10 while growing up in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India. He has experienced several miracles since then as he lived across the world. He is a Hindu and has read and studied the holy books of all major religions including Hinduism (Gita, Vedas, Upanishads, Vedanta), Christianity (Bible), Islam (Quran), Buddhism (Dhammapada), Jainism (Akaranga Sutra), Judaism (Tanakh), Sikhism (Guru Granth Sahib), Taoism (Tao te Ching), Shinto (Kojiki) and Zoroastrianism (Zend Avesta).
Ishwar is currently working as a Software Engineering Manager for Google in California. Before this, he was a Software Engineer at Microsoft, Ericsson, Symantec, Anheuser Busch and other companies in Dubai and India. He also co-founded several startups where he filed patents and built unique and innovative Apps. Ishwar majored in English and History. He has read and self-studied ‘The Art of Computer Programming’ which is among the top twenty scientific monographs of the last century along with The Collected Papers of Einstein.
He does Transcendental Meditation, Pranayama and Yoga. He has run a Full Marathon of 26.2 miles / 42.1 kms, earned a Red belt in Tae Kwon Do and climbed Mt. Rainier 14,400 feet. In his spare time these days, he likes to ride his Bicycle or SuperSport Motorcycle.
Ishwar is happily married to Pallavi and they live with their two daughters Samriddhi and Samraadni in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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