Journey of GITA PRESS from Pre-to-Post Independence

It was pre-Independent India when two cousins namely Hanuman Prasad Poddar and Jaydayal Goyandka, went for their first printing project, which however turned out to be a disaster. Both the young fellows were disappointed that their first batch of book, despite of careful proofreading, had a large number of spelling mistakes, so the copies had to be destroyed. They then chose another printing press and yet to their utter disappointment, there were still many mistakes, but they would not accept a single error. When Poddar insisted on a reprint, the printing press owner said “half in Jest, print it yourselves”. These unintentional words turned out as a path breaking idea for Poddar and Goyandka.

Jaydayal Goyandka
Hanuman Prasad Poddar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaydayal Goyandka, the elder one, already had some estate in Gorakhpur, hence they decided to establish their own printing press named “Gita Press”, at Gorakhpur. Thus in the year 1923, Gita Press came into existence. It was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Gita press was the first one exclusively devoted to a religion and almost every ordinary house had a publication of Gita press or somehow they know about it.

The press is not just a part of printing press history, but also a history of the whole Hindutva movement where bits of it are a sociological study of Marwaries and how their social position changed. At the early stage of its establishment, Gita press started working as a self-introspection body, looking against the immoral happening amongst the Marwari community like the new generation was not following the right part of Hinduism; they were also into drinking and had relationships with women outside the caste.

Source: Hari Sarvothama Vayo jeevothama

Though Gita Press started in the Year 1923 but became big from 1926 onwards. As of February 2014, 71.9 million copies of Gita have been sold by the Gita press publications. 70 million copies of Ramcharitmanas by Swami Tulsidas ,19 million copies of the Puran’s, Upanishads and ancient scriptures have been sold. More than 65 million copies of stories of Hindus mythic past have been sold.

In 1938 when Gita press released out Ramcharitmanas, the very first print run was of 40,600 copies which by late 1983 turned around 5.698 million copies, an unparallel record in the world of Indian publishing. In the year 1926 they started the journal ‘Kalyan’ on bhakti and vairagya which gained much popularity. Great personalities like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India, C Rajagopalachari, the last governor-general of India, S Radhakrishnan, big progressive Hindi writer Premchand and Harivanshrai Bachchan, who was very close to the Congress were amongst those who wrote for Kalyan journal.

Publications like Gita Press are far better and responsible than Western Ideology publications

Robert Goldman is considered as the most prestigious Sanskrit scholar of the past 50 years in the Western academic s. Goldman’s Sanskrit to English translations are used worldwide as the standard interpretation by English speaking academics. But contrasting to his own set standard the translations of Robert Goldman stand questionable at many points. According to Nityanand Mishra[1], who is a well known Indian author and editor of several Sanskrit, Hindi and English books, many of Goldman’s line translated from Sanskrit to English portrays a different meaning than the actual one written in Sanskrit language. He says “A standard Sanskrit translation (anuvada) requires few basic aspects like, Correct ordering of words, Supplying proper ellipsis, correct use of grammar and correct application of Sanskrit grammar rules, but on the other hand Goldman’s translation seems lacking on this ground”

In the above quote of Ramayana Bal Kand the word ‘eka-priyadarsa-nah’ means “the one pleasant to look at” this meaning can be sighted in both publication of Gita Press Hindi and Gita Press English whereas Robert Goldman in his publication says “a pleasure to behold” making it an incomplete meaning. Not just this, there are many instances that questions the authenticity and faithfulness of his publications. Not just Goldman but there exist many other new writers like Devdutt Pattanaik whose authorship stands questionable as they neither have the sadhana or spiritual authority to write commentary on the scriptures.

In the chaos of intellectual dishonesty and dwarfism, Geeta Press is the one stop solution for sanskrit texts and its interpretation. Aiming to promote the art of living as propounded in the Bhagavat Gita for peace, happiness and ultimate prosperity of mankind, Gita Press strives for the betterment of life and well-being for all. Their vision to spread the shining knowledge of Gita amongst the humanity still stands binary.

How would a left liberal cabal would respond to this successful Dharmic phenomena?? Journalist and writer Akshaya Mukul wrote a book ‘Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India[2]’ where he questions the credibility of ‘Kalyan’ by calling it a journal which focuses lesser on Bhakti, Gyaan and Vairagya but covertly hitting at various political project of Hindutva, even ridiculed the tapasya of Hanuman Prasad and Jaydayal by calling it a Bania Model of Bhakti.

Also, when he didn’t find any allegations over Hanuman Prasad Poddar [3], he simply questioned his character relying on few letters where nothing was explicit enough to reach any conclusion.

He further adds that – ‘In the first issue of Kalyan in 1926 Hanuman Prasad Poddar writes in the editorial that Hindus needed a strong unity of strength, he wanted Hindus to speak in one voice just like Islam does. He writes this because deep inside his mind he has a sense of fear that Hindus were in a big trouble because they didn’t speak in one voice’.

Geeta Press is living memorial of the greats who strove hard to preserve the scriptures and get them printed in plethora so that the ancient knowledge percolates to lowest rungs of society. Economical in price, pure in knowledge. Hindus will always be indebt to the Jayadayal Goyandka and Hanuman Prasad Poddar.

 

[1] https://youtu.be/5c9NiN1i_N8

[2] Book : https://g.co/kgs/fXgpMM

[3] Book: Hanuman Prasad Poddar - An Exalted Divinity