A brief history of this book, page 2
by David Lucas Burge

What should we call the book?

Gary and I pondered on what the title of the book should be. We asked many people what they thought, too.

Finally, we found ourselves one summer at the Canadian Ashram, sitting with Guruji and a small group in his kutir.

"What should be the title of the book?" asked Guruji. "Come, let's think..."

People started brainstorming. A lot of titles were called out, but none really had the right ring to it. Many were downright absurd. When some people started to vote for the title: "The Soapy Stairway to Heaven," I knew we had entered Never-Never Land. (During a playful talk at Satsang the night before, Sri Sri had said that the stairway to heaven is soapy and slippery -- sometimes you fall back, but with devotion and the Guru's grace, you are certain to make it to the top.)

More and more titles kept coming, but together we could not agree on any of them.

Suddenly Guruji perked up and declared, "Well, then we'll just have to call it the Hooga-Booga Book" We laughed ourselves to tears. How would Guruji know such a silly American term as "hooga-booga"? And his thick Indian accent made it even more preposterous.


Fast forward: Gary and I arrived in India in Autumn 1995 with our "almost finished" book in hand. One afternoon we went to Guruji's kutir so we could show him the book, along with two possible covers.

With as straight a face as I could muster, I presented Guruji with both covers and asked him which one he preferred. The first cover was:

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Way of Grace
(the current title and cover that eventually went to press)

The second cover was:

The Hooga-Booga Book of Enlightenment:
Ascending the Soapy Stairway to Heaven

This second cover was Gary's brainchild. It showed Lucy climbing the soapy Stairway to Heaven, with Sri Sri playing his usual tricks. The stairway was from Dr. Seuss.

Guruji studied both covers a few moments.

"I think you go with the Hooga-Booga," he said without flinching.

"Great," I said, "I thought you'd like that one best."

People in the room were dumbfounded. Some supported the idea. The room was all abuzz with commotion for a few moments, then suddenly everything became stone quiet. People started to squirm.

"There is no way," Kevin finally declared. "You can't put a book out like that!"


"Yes, you are right, maybe Lucy is copyrighted," sighed Sri Sri.

"No problem," I said, coming to the rescue, "We'll get copyright permissions."

"Very good," said Sri Sri, with a twinkle in his eye. "Then it's all settled."

Now a few people looked worried. Tension was filling the air.

"No, you absolutely cannot put out a book like that," insisted Kevin. "We would be a total laughingstock."

Kevin is a real life best-selling author, and he knows about these things. So finally we abandoned the Hooga-Booga idea, and went with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Way of Grace, our "second choice."

Next: A Brief History, page 3 >>>