Baldeo Sahai, a veteran of the media world, talks about his literary journey

At 97 years of age Baldeo Sahai enjoys his cup of tea with two spoons of sugar. Keeping busy since his retirement in 1976, the former Indian Information Service officer has written over 28 books. Prolific in an assortment of genres — health, Indian defence, teachings of the Upanishads and Indian trade among others — he says, “My books are regarded highly in foreign countries but no one even knows about my work here.”

His latest book, “Live Healthy Live Long” is a guide to the secret of a long and happy life, wherein he lists five main enemies of humankind — excesses of anger, greed, envy/ jealousy, attachment and desire. A majority of people are plagued by these “enemies” which affect their peace of mind and impact their bodies negatively. According to him, 70 per cent of the population does not breathe properly — the main cause for diseases and a short life span.

Delving into the world of writing was not a calling but rather an “assignment” for the media professional at the Press Information Bureau first. He was pulled out soon after his superannuation by the Ministry of Transport and requested to author a book taking documenting the history of the ports in the country.

His effort turned out to be a great success. Sahai recalls that he was assigned a book on the Indian Navy next. This venture created a bit of a storm in the naval circles. When he presented his finished work to the Navy, “There was a lot of argument with the ex-Navy Chief, Admiral V.S. Shekhawat regarding the origins of the Indian Navy as I had written that the origins of the force date back to 5th Century B.C.” Finally, the then Chief of the Naval Staff wrote a foreword remarking, “An exclusive contribution to the maritime literature of India.”

Sahai, who has a Ph.D. in history from Netherlands University, has also established the Upanishad society. A first of its kind in the country, and according to him, possibly in the world, he started by establishing a website dedicated to the ancient scriptures. Here he translated many complex teachings and texts of the Upanishads into simple English, which were followed by several pocket books on the subject for easy reading.

“No one is interested in the things I write about. People in India don’t care about the Upanishads and our Sanskriti, but people outside take keen interest,” he says. Talking about his decision to pursue a life of writing, he says, “Knowledge is power, but only if you implement it. Otherwise it is just a piece of memory cluttering your mind.”