Created for Sri Ganapathy Sachidananda Ashrama, the project is the brainchild of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji of Avadhoota Datta Peetam. The book is seven feet tall and five feet wide, with one-foot thickness and weighs a whopping 800kgs. It consists of the scripture in 18 languages.
Total 636 eco-friendly technology machine-printing hours, 30,560 sq/ft of poster media and 14 dedicated people were involved in the publication effort.
Speaking exclusively to PrintWeek India, Guruprasad Talwar of Ma Prints shared the journey of the book – from its concept to production, and the unveiling of the world’s largest ‘Hindu Smriti’.
Congratulations on this fantastic achievement. Can you describe the process that you put in place?
As one of the most intriguing and appealing scriptures of the Hindu, it certainly was a process backed by a pure passion to deliver and bring this Bhagavad Gita to life. The vision of creating this print was a herculean task that began with the explanations and approvals from Sri Datta Vijayanada Teertha Swamiji, junior pontiff of Avadhoota Datta Peetam-Mysore, our team leader.
Which were the press and other equipment used to execute the job?
To kickstart the job, we chose to print digitally using the inkjet process. We used a range of print and supporting machines and media - starting with the likes of HP Latex, Oorja Inkjet, Zund, 3M poster paper, vinyl, 3M matte film and so on.
Can you elaborate a little more on the pre-press, press and post-press process?
While numerous hours of planning took place, it was the decision of the final size and specifications that acted as the flag bearer to the print process. The publishing team and the proofreading professionals then put their plans together and laid the pages in a defined template that constituted of 18 languages of the Bhagvad Gita. The final printable version of the file was released with a deadline of 20 days, starting from print to publication.
Was it an in-house job?
It is worth noting that the team at Ma Prints, wanted to ensure that the entire book is created in-house using their years of experience and field expertise. Without any reliance on online research or resources showcasing how to create mammoth size books, the team believed in their own ideas and backed themselves with grit and determination based on their decades of experience in the industry.
To produce a book of this size, you’d have produced a prototype?
The best way forward was to create a prototype, ensuring that we do not have any errors or inaccuracies once we did the final. In order to achieve that, we did a sample print of the actual size on poster paper and at the same time did a 10:1 reduced size prototype, clearing ground for all.
Can your share with the timeline of the job. I mean from conception to delivery. How long did it take? Which process took the longest time?
With less than three weeks to the launch, and with absolutely no previous know-how of creating something as large and complex as this, the team at Ma Prints was aptly led and guided by my father Kailash Talwar, The job was meticulously planned by my friend and colleague Sukesh and the entire Ma team. Quite clearly, we were venturing into something we had never done before but were highly motivated with the vision of creating an almost unreal dream when we consider the timelines.
Which was the most time-consuming process?
The printing and sandwiching phase of the book was the longest of all the processes.
Were the two printers running simultaneously? How did you ensure that it ran without any interruption?
We had to prepare the two machines, having them thoroughly serviced as a preventive maintenance just before starting the process. Since it was digital, we were able to run both the machines together round-the-clock, which helped print 742 pages in two weeks. During this process, we had also created a prototype and finalised the binding option of riveting the book with steel pins. The proof-reading team also worked with us, during the assembly of the pages and its binding. The last leg of the process was one that kept the entire team on its toes, not just because of the excitement but also because each day we would realise newer challenges erupted as we brought it all together.
What were the challenges you faced during the production?
Well, at each stage we must acknowledge the challenges were multi-fold. In fact, we are sure some challenges and their resolution must have gone unnoticed, as the team worked simultaneously on various aspects of the job, with the greatest challenge of turning it around in flat 20 days.
From the print perspective what were the challenges?
The first of many challenges was to synchronise the print and sandwich the front and back pages.
The second was to align the front and back inner pages accurately, chapter wise. Considering the size of each page, it was formidable and laborious as we strived to ensure the pages were in right order.
While we did manage to do that, we then faced the uphill task of placing them in the ascending order, such that, after cutting and before binding we could place them back in the descending series.
Binding a book of this size would be a challenge, any day?
Yes, it was. Considering the volume and size of the book, we had to ensure the binding could hold the pages as well as the weight of the book. And yes, it wasn't easy at all as the conventional style of binding wouldn't work.
The print done, binding done, it would have been celebration time?
Yes, but the challenge was far from over as we knew we had to confront the greatest challenge of moving the book. At over 800kgs, the book had to be packed and shipped from the same position off the ground. And, as the book got loaded to be transported, the enthusiastic team broke in applause and cheer, for having achieved a near-impossible feat of delivering the largest Hindu Smriti in the world.