The creation of books is something that the movement of Bihar School of Yoga has been doing for its entire 50 year history. In the early days, one of the first directions Swami Satyananda gave to his close devotees was to transcribe and compile his satsangs for print and distribution as booklets, books and magazines. Today producing and maintaining books is still a major activity of the ashram. Six departments are dedicated to this task: Hindi and English transcriptions, Hindi editing, English editing, the Conversations project, Desktop publishing (DTP) and Publications.
The activities of the departments were going along at a business-as-usual pace, until one unsuspecting day in March 2013. Swamiji announced that the Convention prasad would consist of over one hundred books, over one hundred CDs and over one hundred DVDs. It was so unbelievable, "Is he serious? In six months!" Even though the smile did not leave Swamiji's face, it was no joke. He shone with inspiration and will, it was clearly guru's vision and mandate.
The mission had been set. The sevaks, slightly dazzled yet inspired, prepared themselves to achieve the unprecedented goal. The collection of books that had been built up over the last 49 years of BSY was to be nearly doubled in six months.
As the months passed, the list of books to be created increased. Initially, there was a substantial list of the current projects. But then there was more! The Golden Collection series of books from Sri Swamiji's originally printed material, a box set of Water the Roots booklets, book drafts arriving from around the world by swamis and rishis of the tradition, souvenir books, box sets of Yoga magazines, diary, calendar… on and on it went. It felt endless, the books that Swamiji was manifesting appeared right up to the very last minute. Not to mention the current books that needed to be reproduced in colour and reprinted to have enough stock to give away. Deadlines were tight. If you looked at the days available and number of books to produce, it was an impossible task. It was best not to consider the situation, leave it in guru's hands and work!
One month before the Convention, the print houses, knowing the endless stream of books that were coming from the ashram, gave a final date that they would accept Convention books for print. The formatters and editors worked to complete as many books as possible. Seva hours were extended. With laptops or reams of paper the editors left the office to work in their rooms until late. In Main Building, the DTP formatters were glued to their screens surrounded by the silence of the night. The deadline arrived, even with this final push there were still Convention books unfinished.
The ashram had two print houses printing the books. Both were stretched to complete the long list of books they had already agreed to. In these circumstances, Swamiji convinced them to add yet more books to their workload. Even the print houses were stretching themselves for the cause of yoga.
At the ashram the pressure was back on, this time all books were to be finished, whatever it took. With Swamiji's sevaks still reeling from the last few months and the recent deadline, another massive effort was put in – late nights were back on the agenda. Within a few days the books were personally delivered to the print house. Even during the delivery some books were incomplete. They were still being worked on by our sannyasin, in the train, in the accommodation and in the print house itself. In this way, the last of the books on Swamiji's to-do list were ready for print in less than a week, along with a beautiful catalogue presenting the entire collection.
In the publications department of the ashram, the books were coming from the printers thick and fast, literally truckloads. Swamiji's comprehensive planning ensured that the Garud Vishnu building was cleared and shelved months in advance. The vast publications store and Garud Vishnu were filling up with books, CDs and DVDs at an unprecedented rate.
Just four days before Convention the last load of printed books arrived, in six trucks containing 74,000 books. The department worked ceaselessly unloading the trucks from 8 am until 6 pm. In addition to managing the sheer volume of books arriving, it was a job in itself to manage the manoeuvring of trucks around the small entrance of the publications store.
With the priority being to get the books out of the trucks and into the building before nightfall, boxes of books where stacked wherever space could be found. The foyer, where books are usually received, was no longer sufficient. Books were placed in the little space that was left... in the aisles of already shelved books and in front of windows. At this stage, the shifting of books to the Satyam Yoga Prasad pandal for distribution was well underway and with no time or space to shelve the massive final load, the books went directly to the pandal.
In addition to the stock already in the publications store, the number of books received and stored for Convention was in excess of 800,000. This consisted of 143 new and reprinted book titles. Swamiji's vision was realized, as he knew it would be.