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Interview with Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar


Ishwar Joshi Awalgaonkar

Sri Sai Sat Charitra for Kids


He is passionate about Computers and Spirituality and blessed with a lovely and supportive wife and two amazing, smart, bubbly daughters. Ishwar likes to set his sight on goals that seem virtually impossible to achieve and then reach them with determination, persistence, hard work, and luck.



Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?

A. I have learned and achieved most of the things in my life by reading and self-studying books. This includes the expected things like 15 Computer Software Languages and 12 World Religions. But also things like Yoga, Meditation, Doing a Startup, Losing Weight, Running a Marathon, Climbing a Mountain, Writing a Book, etc.

 

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you shortly? Any new project you’re working on?

A. Yes. I have a roadmap of writing 5 more books. Thanks to the extra time due to the pandemic, I am already writing my next 2 books in parallel. One on the weekend and another on weekdays. Hoping to finish these in a year. The remaining 3 will be bigger and might take a few years each.

 

Q.3 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?

A. I want to contribute something new to human knowledge by writing nonfiction books that have not been written before. For example, unlike several adaptations and translations in the past, my book is the first-ever ‘for kids’ adaptation of the Sri Sai Sat Charitra.
 

Q.4 What’s the difference between being religious and being spiritual?

A. Religion is the recipe and Spirituality is the blissful multi-sensory experience when you eat the food made by following that recipe.


Q.5 Tell us about your approach to life in difficult times?

A. I think I have had more difficult times than easy in my life. One of my favorite teachings of the Bhagavad Gita has helped me get through them: ‘The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.’ To put the same in a concise modern form: ‘This too shall pass.’


Q.6 What are some of the challenges you faced when you start writing?

A. The first one was a lack of confidence that I had the ability to write any book at all let alone a challenging book like this. But I figured it doesn’t hurt to try and I could always stop if what I wrote doesn’t feel good to me. The second one was finding time in the busy schedule of the office and parenting. I solved this by writing during my daily commute on the company bus.

Once I got over these two and began the writing journey, the harder challenge was to sustain the writing of this long book with 51 chapters. It used to feel like traveling all alone on a never-ending road with nothing in sight. At the end of the journey, the challenge was to finish in time for my self-imposed deadline of Dussera. I ended up writing until the wee hours of the morning for a lot and a lot of nights towards the end. My wrists were sore for a week or so after I finished.

I have always believed in self-imposed deadlines for all personal projects. It helps me focus and put in that extra effort in a crescendo to get it done. As I was finishing writing the final few chapters, I read that Sai Baba took Maha Samadhi (passing away at will) on Dussera and in hindsight it turned out to be a great feeling to complete the book on that day.

 

Q.7 What kind of impact would you like to make with your book?

A. I want my books to be inspirational, useful, and helpful for readers to improve their lives. At the end of the day, I hope that my books will be how I am remembered, my legacy, for generations to come.

Q.8 What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

A. My father, a very successful doctor, would always speak to me in English since childhood. This was uncommon since our mother tongue was Marathi. Yet sometimes he would tell me Sanskrit idioms when I was a kid. One of them stuck with me and has proven to be very useful in guiding me throughout life. It goes “Kelyaane Deshaatan, Pandit Maitri, Sabhet Sanchaar, Shaastra Granth Vilokan, Manuja Chaaturya Yetase Phaar”. It means “One can become Wise by - Traveling, Company of Smart people, Attending Gatherings and Studying Books”.

 

Q.9 When did you decide to write Sri Sai Sat Charitra for Kids?

A. My wife has been a devotee of Sai Baba since she was young, similar to me. A few years ago, she started following the ‘Paaraayan’ system of reading one chapter of Sri Sai Sat Charitra every Thursday. Soon she coaxed me into joining her. After some time, she asked our two girls to do the same. They started reading but I soon realized that they were not understanding most of what they were reading. I started explaining the stories and teachings to them. Around this time, I was looking to finally embark upon my lifelong dream of writing a book. My original idea was to write something else. But then I realized that instead of a pie in the sky idea, a more practical and immediate need was to make an attempt to write Sri Sai Charitra for Kids.

 

Q.10 What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

A. It was an exhilarating experience. I spent about a year writing and then another month or so editing, proofreading, typesetting, designing, etc. I then self-published it as an eBook on Amazon. All of this was done on a computer screen. But, after some weeks, when I first received the Author’s proof copy of the physical printed book and held it in my hands - it was a very thrilling and fulfilling moment. My wife and kids were also excited and proud. My girls commented that now they can see their Dad’s photo in an “About the Author” section just like their school books.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?

A. It’s not a career for me, simply a passion to be on this creative journey together with my readers. I have priced my book at the minimum markup possible. I have a day job in Software that pays the bills, keeps me super busy and happy. My wife has always been very supportive of me following my passions. Be it when I would be gone every weekend for year climbing hills and mountains or these days when I go motorcycle riding for an hour or so. However, I have found that to achieve any long-term goal, you need to weave it into your daily routine. I do the same with my writing.


Q.12 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this book?

A. That I can actually write something useful and interesting! That all the reading I did throughout life had a dual benefit - not only did it enrich my knowledge as I read, but in hindsight, it was secretly helping build my writing muscle.

Q.13 Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

A. It energizes me and makes me feel good about myself in a unique way.  Creating something is always a great feeling. I used to get that by writing Software. Since a book is physical, the reward feels even more visceral.


Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?

A. I like to meditate just before I write. After I open my eyes, I am already in the zone and over my writer’s block. I then put on my headphones and listen to Om Chants as I pound away on the keyboard.


Q.15 What do you consider being your best accomplishment?

A. I have been very lucky to have accomplished pretty much all of my wildest professional and personal dreams and goals. However, my hope is that my best accomplishment in life will be as a great Son, Husband, and Father.

Q.16 What advice would you share with someone who wants to become an author?

A. Just do it! Start writing something, anything, and keep going. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, the world wants to read your unique take on it. Don’t be daunted by the effort involved. Even if you write one page every few days, you will end up with a hundred-page book after one year. Then, just log on to Amazon.com, upload your manuscript and you can self-publish it within a day.

Q.17 Who edited your book, and how did you select him/her?

A. I edited it myself. I also did all the other things like: typesetting, publishing, choosing, and formatting the inner pictures, reformatting the text to reduce the printing cost, cover page design, website, promotional video, marketing, and sales. Since all of these things are done via software on a computer - which is my passion, I have dabbled in all of these at various times in my career in the past just for fun or for others. Those skills came in handy now for my self-publishing effort.

 

Q.18 I think I know the answer to this question, but I am still going to ask this, which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?

A. Sai Baba of Shirdi, of course! It would be the ultimate dream come true and truly the privilege of many lifetimes to meet Sai Baba and show him the book that I wrote about his miracles and teachings. I totally expect him to then not even open it yet give me some deep inner insight that covers all the teachings!

 

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?

A. My favorite book, among the thousands that I have read, is The Bhagavad Gita. It did and continues to amaze me in so many dimensions. My life was completely transformed for the better after reading it at the age of 25. I have re-read it numerous times and each time I get new insights and knowledge from it. Spiritual growth is a given, but it has also given me practical benefits throughout life. We all face difficulties and disappointments combined with success and happiness throughout life. In the toughest of times, we would pay any amount and do anything to find solace. The Bhagavad Gita has always given me that. If you think about it, that’s invaluable.


Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?

A. I consider myself to be very lucky and blessed. I have been gifted with many abilities and have the relentless drive to achieve. But I have met and worked with so many people who also had both in equal amounts as me. Yet I somehow made it further than them. For this, I count my blessings. I have also had a huge amount of struggle, rejection, and disappointments. But the optimism inside me has always eventually overcome the dejection. This, in essence, is the story of my life - which is also the next book that I am now writing!

 

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Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/www.ishwar.guru

LinkedIn - http://linkedin.com/in/ishwarjoshi/

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/ishwarjoshi/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/ishwar

Website - http://www.ishwar.guru

 

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