Author Interview | Meet @ishwar and his inclusive latest release #hinduism #worldreligion #diversity
It’s our great pleasure to introduce you to Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar. We first met Ishwar a couple of years ago. He asked us to review his book and we agreed. He’s a nonfiction writer who specializes in world religion and teaching kids about world religion. It’s a calling to him and we commend him on his inclusive message. In an effort to spread the word about his latest release, we asked him to sit down with us for an interview. He agreed. So, please get comfortable and enjoy our interview. Take it away, Ishwar…
What is your writing process? I like to first meditate, then I wear my noise-canceling headphones and put on some Indian Classical Music. All of these things put me in the creative Zone. I can typically write only a few pages at a time. I write once or twice a week when I am not too busy with my full-time job. Sometimes I go weeks without writing anything and then I am back on track. In terms of editing and revisions, I first just write with the flow of my thoughts and then come back later to edit and refine. Typically, by the time I have finished the book, I have read and re-read it end to end several times.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you? There are so many of them. In terms of my latest book about Devi - the Feminine God in Hinduism - I have long admired and am inspired by Adi Shankar Acharya. One of his legendary compositions is Ayigiri Nandini. It is a poetic composition, done over a thousand years ago, about the glories of Devi in the Sanskrit language. Very few people can read or write Sanskrit these days. But due to its importance, there are several modern musical recitations of it. The beauty of this composition is that despite not understanding a single word, the lilting rhymes pierce your heart and by the time you have finished listening to it - you have fully experienced and imagined the beauty, grace, grandeur, power, bravery and beauty of the Devi! Thinking purely in terms of being an Author - imagine having your composition being relevant a thousand years from now, connecting with your audience in that time via a language they don’t fully understand and still brilliantly passing your message onto them.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I am aiming to continue my annual tradition of writing a book every year. So, in 5 years, I am hoping to have a series of Hindu religion books for kids. There are many Hindu sacred texts which are very popular and have been translated and simplified for kids over and over by many different authors. I feel like me being one more author doing the same may not be the best use of my talents. But there are so many which have not been modernized for Kids. These are the ones that I aim to author over the coming years. I feel like they will be lost if someone doesn’t make them accessible and attractive to the new generation.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process? It’s publishing and promoting the book - the time period right after I finish the book. It feels like I fall off the creative cliff that I had been progressively ascending over the previous 12 months. Once the reviews start coming in and luckily they have been positive so far - it feels like the cinematic ‘flight off the cliff into the sea to then swing up and fly in the air’. And once I feel like I have done my work of ‘launching’ the book sufficiently well, I start yearning for the creative process of writing and begin drafting my next book.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) This is my third book. I never imagined I would write one book, let alone three! What started as an attempt to simplify few stories of Sai Baba to share with my kids during the pandemic - became a full-fledged ‘for kids’ edition of Sri Sai Charitra. Simply based on the fact that I was able to complete writing that first book and based on the positive reviews it received, I got hooked on being an Author! All my books are a modern and simpler version of complex religious books. This means that I have to read the original book or several versions of it to then retell it in a modern simplified fashion. Just going through this process is so rewarding because it enriches me as a person. Apart from the benefit to my readers and the cool factor of being an Author, this self-enrichment is what keeps bringing me back to write more.
Have you ever been in trouble with the law? I used to regularly get speeding tickets every year when I was younger.
If you had a superpower, what would it be? Teleportation to any place in the Universe!!!
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Europe to visit the Northern Lights!
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)? Visiting all the 7 continents.
What were you like as a child? In school, I used to find excuses to get away from the class by participating in dramas, debates or anything that would get me on stage. At home, I used to pore over books of any and every kind that I could lay my hands on.
Thank you, Ishwar, for the insightful interview. Readers, scroll down to read about Ishwar’s latest release.
Title: Sri Devi Mahatmyam for Kids - Glories of the Feminine God in Hinduism
Author: Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar
Genre: Non-Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Hinduism
Devi - the Feminine God in Hinduism - is very popular among Hindus in India and around the world. She represents various forms, energies and forces. She is the Mother. She is the Protector. She is the SuperHero. She is the Destroyer. She is Beautiful. She is Scary. She is Money. She is Knowledge. She is Sound. She is Light. She is Everything.
Devi Mahatmyam, also known as Chandi Paath or Durga Sapta Shati, contains the glories and origins of Devi. It has a mystical blend of awe inspiring battles combined with deep religious teachings, philosophy & devotion. It is the only Religious text, among all major world religions, which proclaims, worships and glorifies the Supreme power as a Female.
For the first time, this is a brand new 'For Kids' edition of the Devi Mahatmyam. The original has been simplified and retold to make it easy for Kids. This includes making the language simpler and modern, explaining the background and concepts mentioned in the original text as well as adding questions and answers. There are also, specially created for this book, beautiful illustrations that your kids can color and personalize!
Devi Mahatmyam for Kids is a guidebook to help your children start on an amazing spiritual journey of self discovery with Devi - the Feminine Creator of the Universe.
Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and all the Devas along with Indra then met together. After long discussion and debate, they thought of seeking help from Devi, the Supreme power that created, runs and destroys the Universe. For this, they began to focus and unite their energies. This combined focus of energy increasingly became intense and reached a point where a great beam of ultra high energy light came out of their foreheads and merged at a single point. Red light came out of Brahma’s forehead, White light out of Shiva’s forehead and Blue light out of Vishnu’s forehead. Multi-colored light came out of Indra’s forehead. Many such lights came out of the foreheads of various Devas. All these lights blended together to form a single ultra powerful beam of light. It was so strong and powerful that it blinded everyone around and almost blew them all away. The light then grew bigger and stronger, the size of a giant Mountain and shined so brightly that everyone in the Universe saw their respective skies light up!
This amazing ultra powerful force of energy light, invoked Devi who instantly took a beautiful and powerful Female form and Her radiance filled the Universe! All the Devas saw the Female Devi and became very happy! They saw Her splendor, majesty & aura became hopeful of their future under Her protection. They each started giving her a weapon.
The beautiful yet scary Devi smiled and then the Devi laughed and laughed. The sound of Her laughter was so long, so loud, so high and so terrifying that it caused the entire Universe to rumble and tremble! All the living beings in all the worlds in the Universe were scared upon hearing Her laughter. All the planets and the oceans within them and the mountains on them shook because of Her laughter. The Devas heard her Laughter and became happy with joy. They shouted “Jai Devi…! Victory to Devi…!” and then they all bowed down to Her!
Seeing the blinding light and hearing the deafening laughter of the Devi - the wicked Asuras (Demons) got alarmed and a bit scared. Who is this? they thought. Scared, they picked up their weapons and ran out towards their King Mahish Asura. He gathered them together in an Army just in time to find Devi standing next to them! “Hah! It’s just a woman!” thought Mahish Asura and laughed. He then commanded his Army to kill Her. But they, unlike him, were not so sure of their victory. Devi’s bright shining splendor was blinding and appeared to pervade the entire Universe. Devi’s footsteps were causing the Earth to shake. Devi’s shiny armor and crown were causing the Sky to brighten. Devi twanged the string of her Bow and the tremor sound shook the Universe. Devi faced the Asuras and behold! Her Eighteen hands unfurled like a giant fan behind Her back!
Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar experienced his first miracle at the age of 10 while growing up in India. He has experienced several miracles since then as he lived across the world in India, Dubai and USA.
Ishwar is a Hindu and has read and studied the holy books of all major religions including: Hinduism (Bhagavad 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 (Avesta).
Ishwar is currently working as a Software Engineering Manager for Google in California. Before that, he has worked for 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 books ‘The Art of Computer Programming’ which are among the top 20 scientific monographs of the last century along with The Collected Papers of Einstein.
Ishwar does Transcendental Meditation, Pranayama and Yoga. He has run a Full Marathon (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 SuperSport Motorcycle.
Ishwar is happily married to Pallavi and they live with their two daughters Samriddhi and Samraadni in the San Francisco Bay Area.