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His Is The Biggest Book Divine Has Granted Me To Do, Says Raghu Rai

The coffee-table book captures Sadhguru in all his versatility offering a breathtaking view of the Man, the Mystic and his Mission

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Last evening Padmashri photographer Raghu Rai unveiled his limited collector’s edition photo book, “Sadhguru,” in His presence.

The coffee-table book captures Sadhguru in all his versatility offering a breathtaking view of the Man, the Mystic and his Mission. Travelling from the Isha Yoga centre at the foothills of the Velliangiri mountain range right up to the Himalayan range, Raghu Rai shadowed Sadhguru to capture for posterity some of the most profound, playful, poignant and poetic moments in the life of a man who has captured the imagination of millions around the world. Befitting Sadhguru's larger-than-life persona, the coffee-table book weighs a whopping 10 kg and measures 1.5 ft x 2 ft. It is approximately 2 inches thick. An invited audience attended the launch at the Isha Center in New Delhi.

“This is the biggest book divine has granted me to do,” said Rai saying it was a “privilege to be launching the book on Sadhguru’s (birthday).”

Amongst the fairy-lit candles and the serene environs of the Isha Centre in New Delhi, post the launch Raghu Rai engaged with the mystic Sadhguru in a repartee peppered with childlike innocence. Sadhguru answered Rais questions with candour unique to few thinkers of our times.

Sadhguru, yogi, mystic, best selling author and poet is considered among India’s 50 most influential people.

His knowledge and clarity of subjects as vast as business, environment, spiritual and politics have won him many a heart and a follower. His views open new doors of perception where none existed.

Famed photographer Raghu Rai is a qualified civil engineer but walked his career path as a photographer, visualizer and picture editor in India’s leading newspapers and magazines.
Rai was nominated to Magnum Photos, the world’s most prestigious photographer’s cooperative, and was mentored by its co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson. He has been awarded the Padmashri in India, the “Photographer of the Year” award in the United States and the “Officier des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government. Raghu Rai’s work has been displayed by both national and international agencies, as well as many private collectors and museums.

His photo essays have appeared in many of the world’s leading magazines and newspapers and he has worked as an adjudicator for the World Press Photo Contest and UNESCO’s International Photo Contest. However, he prefers to photograph his homeland and people as he feels it is his responsibility and a challenge to explore the ethos and power of India’s life and culture. He has produced more than 30 books on India comprising of different aspects.

This book “Sadhguru” is one of the biggest photo books to be published.

The magical evening celebrated more than just Janmashtami, Sadhgurus birthday and the launch which even made the threatening clouds hold off. It was a celebration of divinity and movement.
There seemed to be a mutual admiration society on the stage, with the subjects of God, and art and everything in between on front centre.

With questions ranging from “what makes Lord Rama great?” to the politics of religion; from the significance of Adiyogi to the bane of vigilantism, Sadhguru handled every query with ease drawing frequent applause from the audience. In response to a question on the rising trend of intolerance, Sadhguru said, “If there is any society that you can call as truly tolerant, it is this culture,” and then went on to succinctly capture the 1000-year history of subjugated India that faced violent invasions but never retaliated in kind. He quoted the example of the US. “They brought down one single building and see what happened...they burnt down 3 nations,” Sadhguru said referring to America’s long-drawn costly war involving several countries in the Middle East which at one time threatened to irreversibly polarize the world.

In his playfully provocative manner he also explained the real reason we revere Ram; not for his miracles and magic but because of his balance, faith and absence or hatred towards the adversities he faced, Ravan included.

He said that "Humans can only perceive things in the realm that they are aware of, and believe that God must be in some human form and that people need to go beyond that."

Stressing on how Religion is politics Sadhguru said, “Whenever religions are only thinking of numbers increasing and demographics it is obviously politics.”

Also suggesting that one should stay away from childish ideals of the punitive or rewarding nature of heaven and hell.

The imagery created by Rai with Sadhguru as his subject is evocative of divinity in movement without a doubt. Each frame is a work of art. Rai shared that this project was unlike any other.
Sadhguru acknowledged Rai’s mastery over his profession saying he had managed to capture “some divinity” in some of the photos and has brought in an element of movement into still photography that Sadhguru found compelling enough to look at over and over again.  Putting that in perspective, Sadhguru quipped, “I’m not a man who looks at my own photos.” Rai echoed similar sentiments describing the cover photo as “The divine and divinity are together.”

The mantle that Sadhguru granted Rai is that in many of the images “he captured what something no one has ever captured before.”

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