Wednesday October 24, 2018

Gita Press: Fall of vernacular and its undying spirit!

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By Radhikka Vashisht and Ajeet Bharti

In the last two centuries, Indian language scene has witnessed a paradigm shift. The vernacular languages, since the infamous Vernacular Press Act of 1878, have been on a decline for long now. This continuous fall can be traced to two factors– our youths’ fascination with anything foreign and our parents’ fixation with English medium education.

One of the major catalysts to this phenomenon is the unofficial acknowledgement of English as the official communication language in India. This, along with educational curricula around the nation, proved to be a death nail for several languages.

credit: www.gorakhpuronline.com
credit: www.gorakhpuronline.com

Local languages taking the backseat meant a slow decline in language publication and readership. Coming to Hindi, on which the article is focussed, only a few Hindi publishers continue to survive this onslaught and one among them is Gita Press Gorakhpur.

Gita Press, which was founded in 1923, is the world’s largest publisher of Hindu religious text as well as books that have moral teachings and ancient knowledge. It is located in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. It was established for promoting the Sanatana Dharma or Hindu religion by Brahmalina Shri Jayadayalji Goyandka, who was “a staunch devotee and an exalted soul.”

Guided by the philosophy of holy text ‘Gita’ and convinced that Gita was the panacea for mankind’s plight, he began publishing it and other Hindu scriptures “to spread good intent and good thought amongst all.”

The website boasts of having “made available” several millions (582.5 million to be exact, as stated in publication overview section) of copies of ancient text.

 “Over the years, the institution has made available more than 370 million copies of the Gita, Ramayan, Bhagvat, Durga Saptashati, Puranas, Upanishads, Bhakta-Gathas, and other character-building books in Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bangla, Oriya, Telugu, Kannada, and other Indian regional languages.”

It also publishes a magazine named ‘Kalyan’. “‘Kalyan’ in Hindi and ‘Kalyana-Kalpataru’ in English are monthly magazines brought out by the institution. Information about latest releases and essays are provided in the house-magazine ‘Yug Kalyan’,” says the website.

This publishing house has maintained the quality and traditional style of Hindi text. Elaborating on the traditional style of Hindi text, the typical Hindi that we use today has done away with the concept of Chandrabindu and replaced it everywhere with anuswaar; nowhere, the classical Devanagari style of spelling words is seen. For example: the word चञ्चल is written as चंचल, पञ्चाङ्ग as पंचांग, गङ्गा as गंगा and so on.

Gita Press has kept this spelling intact. They have not compromised on the linguistic aspect even when the digital age has seen a sea change in the way we read and write Hindi.

The main objective of this institution is to spread Hindu principles through affordable and easy-to-read texts (and Hindi translations). Some of them of social relevance are ‘Ram Charit Manas’, ‘Bhagavad Gita’, ‘Vedas’, and ‘Upanishads’. It does so in other Indian languages as well; and that too on subsidized rates.

Recently, Gita Press has been in news for wrong reasons. The employees of Gita Press went on a strike over salaries and wage issues.

credit: www.odishanewsinsight.com
credit: www.odishanewsinsight.com

Lately, the publishing house has faced closure due to disagreement with workers and staff. Books published by Gita Press do not incorporate advertisement. This means a limitation on revenue. The most important aspect of Gita Press books is that they publish thick books at very affordable prices.

Books like ‘Ram Charit Manas’ which runs in over 1000 pages would cost over 1000 if it were to be published by any regular publishing house. However at Gita Press, the same costs a fraction. This means they have to take care of this extra cost.

Despite reports making rounds regarding the publishing house’s financial crunch, officials working for the organization refute the precariousness faced by them. In an attempt to protest against the crisis, the workers went on a strike that sparked off on August 8 this year. The demands put forth by the protesting workers mainly centred to a plausible pay hike. This was their second strike in less than two years.

This publication has a considerable contribution in maintaining and spreading Hindu culture all over the world. A glance at it website, www.gitapress.org, reveals: “The institution strives for the betterment of life and the well-being of all. It aims to promote the art of living as propounded in the Gita for peace and happiness and the ultimate upliftment of mankind.”

Facilitating the availability of these texts of religious and social significance, Gita Press publishes in as many as 15 languages from North, South, East and West of India. Even the word economical is an understatement for the efforts that the press undertakes.

Any culture, society or nation should be able to keep these endeavours alive and that too when the aim is to help society even if it is a business that runs in loss and expenses are covered by other ventures of the group. With a clear message that it does not accept donations, all we can give it is our support in words and deeds.

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10 quotes from Bhagavada Gita to kick start your day

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By Sakchi Srivastava

Bhagavada Gita or the Song of the God, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is a narrative between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna passes on sermons and teachings on life and death to Arjuna. These teachings are universal truths which have proved their relevance through millenniums. They are of extreme relevance to people of all ages, no matter which nationality they belong to. These are eternal truths which help every individual to pass the necessary ordeals of life.

Here are 10 special quotes from the Bhagvada Gita which can enlighten the mind and the soul –

1. “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
People are born in this world as individuals responsible for their own actions. They should make their own decisions no matter how right and wrong they are, without trying to imitate others. People should learn to take ownership of their life rather walking on someone else’s road.

2. “I am Time, the great destroyer of the world.”
As goes the great saying “Time and Tide wait for none”, Bhagvada Gita also propagates the beliefs that time is the most valuable ornament of our existence. Any being belonging to any age group cannot afford to waste it. It teaches us how to be organized and have a productive and meaningful life. Once wasted, it can never be compensated.

3. “O Krishna, the mind is restless”
The mind is a powerful element that cannot be controlled by any force. It is its own master. At one point people believe in something and at the very other moment they support something else. The mind is always in a state of flux.

4. ‘Reshape yourself through the power of your will.’
Life should be conquered by the will. Will is the strongest emotion which drives the entire existence. People’s will to achieve their goals or to become something in life helps them to achieve success.

5. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”
People have the right to work, but never to the fruit of that work. They should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should they long for inaction. Hard work should be the soul dedication and the result will follow. People should always be patience.

6. “There is nothing lost or wasted in life.”
Everyone has the privilege of living only one life. People come into this world without belongings but as individuals. They should not have regrets in this life. They don’t even lose their loved ones, they are all here.

7. “Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”
Every man is an individual with different opinions and perspectives. A man is known by his beliefs. Whatever he believes in becomes his identity.

8. “There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.”
Anyone who doubts his decisions, his likings, his dislikes or is not confident about his choices will fail to be happy no matter how many chances are given to him. He will not find happiness in any state of mind.

9. “One can become whatever one wants to be (if one constantly contemplates on the object of desire with faith).”
All have hankering towards achieving goals in life. Though some are successful but some lose the battle because they are in doubt. People should understand humans have the capability to achieve everything in life only if they believe in themselves.

10. “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Anything that takes birth is destined to die. Everything, that breathes, which includes plants and animals, also have a lifespan.