The Gandhi Peace Prize 2021 will be awarded to Gita Press, Gorakhpur for its outstanding contribution towards social, economic and political change through non-violence and other Gandhian methods. Some political parties and people have vehemently opposed the name of Gita Press being selected for the Gandhi Peace Prize. Shri Prafulla Ketkar, Editor of Organiser Weekly, spoke to Shri Ishwar Prasad Patwari, Trustee, Gita Press Trust Board, on topics like 100 years journey of Gita Press and the Gandhi Peace Prize.
How do you see the 100-year journey of Gita Press?
Our founder was Jaydayal Goyandka, whom we know as Sethji. He had thought about how only human beings can experience the ultimate bliss. How can humans achieve the goal of their life? With this in mind, he established the Gita Press in 1923. Lord Sri Krishna has also taken the name of ‘Nar’ in the Bhagavad Gita. He did not take the name of any religion. Bhagavad Gita is not for Hindus, Muslims or any other religion, but for all human beings. Bhagavad Gita teaches us how to speak, eat, and live. How to make a human being a human being and how to remain a human being— this is what the Gita teaches us.
Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the one who propagates the conversation between us will always be my dear. That’s why Goyandka ji made the spread of Gita the goal of his life. Bhagavad Gita teaches the art of living life. Sethji had made some rules and regulations for Gita Press, such as not accepting financial cooperation from anyone for the work of Gita Press. Sethji used to say that this Govind Bhawan is Bhagwan Govind’s building. There will never be any shortage of money in it. If there is good work, then the work will continue, and if there is bad work, then why do we have to run this institution? Goyandka ji was a great man, and the resolutions of great men lasted for a very long time. This is the reason why Gita Press has completed its glorious 100 years.
At one time, there were media reports that Gita Press was facing a financial crisis. Now we see that Gita Press is continuously developing. What reason do you see behind this?
No matter how many mass media come, reading books has its own pleasure. Despite so many mediums of communication, the number of book publications is increasing. There is an excellent demand for Gita Press books, but we are not able to supply them. From all these things, it seems that no matter how many resources come, the demand for books is not going to decrease in future.
How many titles of Gita Press have been published so far?
The titles are 2000. Seventy thousand books are published daily. The total number of published books till March 2023 is 75 crore and 69 lakhs. In this, Bhagavad Gita is 16 crore and 92 lahks. Ram Charit Manas and Tulsi literature 12 crores and 17 lahks and more important figures are available on our website. Our monthly magazine Kalyan is not included in this.
Is this true that after the advice of Gandhiji, the founders of Gita Press decided that Gita Press would stay away from political topics?
Our founder Sethji had decided on the occasion of the establishment of Gita Press in 1923 that Gita Press would not refute and justify political issues. Gita Press will have to refrain from sharing its views on political topics. He had said that Gita Press would have to work on undisputed subjects only. He inspired us to move forward based on the name of Ram. When the publication of Kalyan started, Mahatma Gandhi said that criticism and advertisement should not be given a place in Kalyan. We have been following this policy of Gandhiji to date, and we will continue to follow it in future also.
Gita Press is accused of opposing women and supporting their exploitation. What do you have to say about this? ,
There is no truth in this matter. This is a verse of ours, which is often misrepresented and misquoted in discussions:
यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः ।
यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफलाः क्रियाः ।।
That is – where women are worshipped, Bhagwan reside there, and where women are not worshipped, they are not respected; all the good deeds done there become fruitless. Women have been given a lot of respect in our culture. The woman is the mother of all of us, can a Hindu insult a woman? If a Hindu does not respect women, then he does not deserve to call himself a Hindu. No such publication ever comes from Gita Press in which there is opposition and exploitation of women, and they are given low status.
Why did Gita Press refuse to accept the amount of one crore to be received with the Gandhi Peace Prize?
The first thing is that there is no dearth of money in Gita Press. We have full faith in the words of our founders that if good work is done, then there will be no shortage of money, and if bad work is done, then why should we run this institution? I have seen for the last 42 years that the work of Gita Press has never stopped due to a lack of funds. It has come to the fore that Gita Press is facing a financial crisis. It was fake news. The government can use this money for works of public interest.