In 1975 Swamiji began writing his autobiography, The Path, and completed it in 1976.
The nuns worked together in the Publications Building to produce and
promote Swamiji’s books. One of the highlights of our service was the production of The Path. Swamiji poured himself into the writing of the book, driving himself intensely over the course of more than two years. He typed the book on a typewriter, and did editing corrections by hand on the manuscript.
Each evening Asha would retype the edited pages to create a clean copy for Swamiji to work from the next day—the pages he gave her were usually covered entirely with handwritten edits. He labored tirelessly to make the writing flow smoothly, and estimated that he made over 50,000 editorial corrections after he thought the book was finished! He said that the challenge was to maintain the original inspiration and guidance throughout the long process of editing and re-editing.
During the time he was writing the book, from 1974 through early spring of 1977, Swamiji often invited the community to his dome once a week for a reading of the latest chapter(s).
As the book was coming into the final editing stages, Swamiji went to Hawaii to finish the project in relative seclusion. While he was there, in the middle of June 1976, a forest fire raged through the community and burned 440 acres and all but two of the homes. Swamiji flew home immediately to meet with the community and help steady everyone spiritually. But after a short stay, he felt confident that Jyotish, Devi, Seva, Asha and others could handle things, and he went back to Hawaii to complete the writing.
Swamiji finished the book in early spring 1977 and handed it off to the Publications staff as he, Seva, Vijay, Lakshmi, and Lakshman (not the present-day Lakshman) headed to India for a period of seclusion.
Nalini and another woman typed the manuscript on unusual machines that produced long strips of paper with holes in them, like Braille. Since the women couldn’t read what they were typing, this process took extraordinary care and patience.
One of the monks arranged for us to use his friend’s production studio in San Francisco, south of Market, on the weekends. This was a miraculous gift from God. Parvati or Vairagi and I would go down to his studio on Friday afternoon. This man, who did not know us, would let us into the building and then leave us with all of his equipment. All we knew about the equipment was how to turn it on. We fed the Braille-like tape into the machine, and it printed out onto pages ready to paste up. We lived in the office all weekend, staying awake through the night, printing and proofreading the pages.
Arati and Shankari were the graphic designers for The Path, cutting up the printed pages and pasting them together to create the book pages. Sometimes the type came out darker or lighter, and that had to be corrected. Near the end of the project, they ended up making some of the corrections by cutting up individual letters and forming them into words! — thus saving us a trip to San Francisco.
Through it all, we were always double proofreading the finished pages— Kalyani, Asha, Vairagi, Parvati, Maitri, and Anandi. One person would read aloud from the manuscript, including all the punctuation marks, and the other would check the camera-ready copy carefully.
The stories and spiritual principles in The Path are now common knowledge to Ananda folks, but at the time we were learning many new things as we proofread, and we read with a thrilling sense of discovery.
Meanwhile, Asha worked with a professional marketer to create a marketing plan to promote this landmark book for Ananda.
The manuscript was sent to the Midwest for printing. When it was finally ready, Purushottama, Nakula, and another person flew to the Midwest and hired a truck to drive the finished book back to Ananda Village. They arrived to an exuberant welcome.”
—Anandi, Asha, Parvati