Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of the Gita Press in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur today, said the publishing house is “not less than any temple”.
“Sometimes saints show the way, sometimes institutions such as the Gita Press,” PM Modi said.
Days after the Congress attacked the Centre for conferring the Gandhi Peace Prize on the Gita Press, which claims to be the largest publishing house of Hindu religious literature, PM Modi said the publisher is “guiding humanity” through its work.
The PM further claimed Mahatma Gandhi had an emotive relationship with the Gita press, and he contributed to its monthly magazine ‘Kalyan’.
“Even now, Kalyan follows his advice of not running advertisements,” he said.
Congress had condemned the decision of the government to award the Gandhi Peace Prize to Gita Press because of the “stormy relations it had with Mahatma Gandhi” as it allegedly ran “campaigns that were against his thought.”
The press has, however, denied such allegations saying Gandhi was a regular contributor to its fortnightly magazine “Kalyan”
PM Modi also unveiled a special edition of the Shiv Puran, considered to be one of the 18 major puranas, at the event. The book has been edited by a scholar in Nepal, and contains over 200 photographs of Lord Shiva, Parvati, and Ganesh from the publisher’s own collection.
“Wherever there is Gita, Lord Krishna himself is present there,” PM Modi said, adding that everything emanates from Vasudeva (Lord Krishna).
The PM said the Gita press unites the country and helps in developing a national consciousness. “It reflects Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (one India, Best India),” PM Modi added.
The PM specifically praised the work of Gita Press in spreading awareness to keep the Ganga river clean, and contributing to nation-building.
The press was established in Gorakhpur by a businessman named Jaydayal Goyandka who wanted to bring out “error-free copies of the Bhagavad Gita”.
According to the RSS and the BJP, Gita Press strengthened the practice of Hindu traditions in the country by reaching low income households.
Since 1923, the press has published 42 crore books, including 16 crore copies of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, which remains its bestseller.
It has also produced copies of the Ramayana, Puranas, and Upanishads, making it the “world’s largest publisher of Hindu religious books”, as per its website
Gita Press is based in Gorakhpur and Varanasi, but has translators in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and West Bengal, among other places.