We all have grown up reading epic stories from religious texts like Mahabharata and Ramayana. But, do you know who publishes these golden Hindu texts? Interestingly, there is a publication house in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh which is more than a century that has been producing the Hindu religious books since a long time. Popularly known as Gita Press, the publication house is world’s largest publisher of Hindu religious texts.
While there can be many publishing houses that print religious books, there is a special inclination of people with Gita Press because of its noteworthy heritage. The founding members of Gita Press namely Jaya Dayal Goyandka and Ghanshyam Das Jalan started the institution with the help of ‘Bhaiji’ Hanuman Prasad Poddar. Gita Press was started in 1923 with the aim to promote the principles of ‘Sanatana Dharma’ or ‘Hinduism’. One of the notable magazines of the publishing house is ‘Kalyan’ that was founded by Indian freedom fighter and litterateur Hanuman Prasad Poddar or better known as ‘Bhaiji’. Interesting, isn’t it!!
Well, here is a list of 10 fascinating facts about Gita Press that will probable make you read one of their books right away:
1. Their aim!
With the principle objective to spread the principles of ‘Sanatana Dharma’, the press published the popular Hindu texts like Mahabharata, Gita, Ramayana, Upanishads, Puranas, character-building books, Discourse of eminent Saints. What is even more important is that they market their books on highly subsidized prices so that the books are accessible and affordable for everyone.
2. Kick-start the day!
In the Gita Press, the day of each and every employee starts with a morning prayer. Intriguingly, a person roams around in the office throughout the day to remind the name of ‘God’ to each worker several times in a day.
3. No monetary incentives!
Managed by a Governing Council (Trust Board), Gita Press neither accepts advertisements in its publications nor welcomes donations. The losses are managed by profits of other bodies of the Council, without any selfish motives.
4. Huge circulation
From its inception, the institution has made more than 370 million copies of Hindu religious texts available to the readers. The texts include Ramayan, Gita, Durga Saptashati, Puranas, Upanishads, Bhakta-Gathas and many character-building books.
5. Multi-lingual texts
Originally, the press started with publishing books in Hindi and Sanskrit only. But currently, Gita Press publishes texts in 15 languages including English, Urdu, Nepali and Marathi.
6. Monthly-magazines also!
The publication house brings out magazines named ‘Kalyan’ in Hindi and ‘Kalyana-Kalpataru’ in English every month. These magazines contain information about the various happenings in the society. They have an in-house magazine as well that have the details about the latest releases and essays of the workers in the press.
7. Success of Gita Press celebrated by a book!
An institution of unmatched social and cultural prestige, Geeta Press has been a predominant institution in spreading the ideology of ‘Sanatan Dharma’. There is a book written on the Gita Press named as ‘Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India’ published by Harper Collins. The author Akshya Mukul has given insights on how Gita Press has been so successful in redirecting Hinduism in the country.
8. There were difficult times also!
In the December 2014, Gita Press was on the verge of getting shut down after some major disagreements between the management and the staff-workers. It created a huge turmoil on social media also as the netizens were using the #SaveGitaPress opposing the shut down. However, the issues were later resolved and the Press made an official statement that it will keep on doing its job as usual. Well done!
9. Technology upgradation
After setting the Gita Press in April 1923, the press got its first printing machine and the price of the machine was ‘Rs. 600’ at that point of time. According to reports, the publishing house received an advanced printing machine which was worth a whopping Rs 11 crore from Germany for better quality prints and improved quality of books.
10. Art Gallery
Gita Press has a large collection of paintings of Gods based on the descriptions in the ancient Scriptures. The press got the paintings prepared by the great Indian artists which are on display in the Art Gallery or ‘Lila Chitra Mandir’. In the gallery, rare collection of various volumes of Srimad Bhagwad Gita is also exhibited on special occasions like Gita Jayanti Day.