Another blurry image puzzle


Following up from a previous post, I got this:

This request looks like an activity that might appeal to you, @svat ji! 😅

— Arvind Iyer (@longhandnotes) October 20, 2019

(Click here to load the fancier Twitter display for the above tweets—makes a request to Twitter—if you want it for some reason.)

I should really not make a habit of going on random chases like this, but it was fun. Documenting steps taken.


Zooming in didn’t give anything readable, so next step is to find more from where the image came from.

I’ve observed that most people seem not to provide attribution for everything they cite / images they include. Here at least “ANI” was included, so I searched Google Images for something like [ANI yogi], then filtered to recent results.

Among results was a video on this page.

It loads fine on phone, and there appear to be parts of the video in which the book title may be more in focus, but obviously a bigger screen would be nice to attempt getting something useful.

Getting the video to load on non-mobile screen was surprisingly hard: it appears that the video is loaded with Flash and my Chrome browser blocks Adobe Flash player (there’s probably an option somewhere to enable it); in Firefox there’s no hint at all that the page has a video, and Safari says “Missing Plugin” and gives a link to install Flash player, but after installing it doesn’t work anyway.

Then I realized that the video was loading fine on phone (and in hindsight, phone browsers probably don’t have Flash player plugin anyway), so opened Developer Tools and asked for the mobile view and reloaded the page. This time it loaded and there was even an easy way to download the video.

After downloading the video and watching it, pausing it at just the right moment was nontrivial (or at least, unclear whether there may be something better), so looked up how to extract frames:

ffmpeg -i yogi.mp4 'frame-%04d.bmp'

This produced some 9.7 GiB of frames out of the 59 MiB video.

After squinting at some likely frames (e.g. frame 1271 of 1657), could make out a few letters. Here’s one such frame:

After searching for a couple options (श्रीशिवधर्ममहाभाष्यम्?) in both Devanagari and likely transliterations, searching for the correct श्रीशिवधर्ममहाशास्त्रम् gave the likely book immediately, thanks to the magic of Google’s OCR and whatever it’s indexing:

The image is from this page, and here’s the image:

Not only the book title but the cover image seems to match what’s on the table, so we can be fairly sure.

What’s this?

The book is titled:

पशुपतिमतानुसार मुक्तिगुप्तेश्वर-श्रीशिवधर्ममहाशास्त्रम्

IAST transliteration:

paśupatimatānusāra muktigupteśvara-śrīśivadharmamahāśāstram

Sloppy/loose ad-hoc transliteration:

pashupati-matanusar muktigupteshwara-Shrishivadharmamahashastram

Per the page, it appears that the book is published by the Mukti-Gupteshwar Mandir in Minto (a suburb of Sydney) in New South Wales, Australia.

The temple’s website seems offline at the moment, but says it has the “13th jyotirlinga” (there are 12 in India), and its page about this book is on the Internet Archive’s Wayback machine:

This Mahashashtra is compiled from a very ancient manuscript written in Bhojpatra. The entire Maha Shashtra contains 7996 Shlokas (hymns). The Holy Book is contains seven sections.

The page goes into quite a bit of details of the book’s contents. I do not know enough to put it in context, but it is conceivable that the person in the picture, Yogi Adityanath, would be interested in looking at the book. He incidentally happens to be the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, which is why there is a news item about him, but primarily he is a member and (current head) of the गोरखनाथ मठ, a nātha yogi / from the nātha sampradāya.

Current versions of some relevant Wikipedia articles:

Hopefully someone who knows more about Shaivism can put things in context better.

More context

Update: Thanks to āṅgīrasaśreṣṭha/@GhorAngirasa on Twitter, some more information/context:

So overall, given the book’s connection to the Pāśupata/Nātha/Gorakhnath tradition, it is not surprising that the book would be found on the table of the head of the Gorakhnath Math.