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Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  30 reviews
'A rare treasure trove.' - Arundhati Roy

'[An] important and timely contribution to the study of religious-cultural populism.' - Pankaj Mishra

'A powerful and original work of historical scholarship.' - Ramachandra Guha'

'Mukul rolls out a remarkably detailed map of print Hinduism.' - Shahid Amin

In the early 1920s, Jaydayal Goyandka and Hanuman Prasad Poddar, two Marwari busi
Hardcover, 552 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Harpercollins (first published August 15th 2015)
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Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you have a mental image of Ram, or of Yudhishthir in the Mahabharata, odds are that your definitive idea of what they looked like comes from Gita Press.

Based in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Gita Press is that rare entity - legendary-and-yet-less-known outside its immediate circle of influence.

And yet, it's almost impossible to overstate its influence on India.

Because Gita Press, a non-profit organization established in 1926, was among the first publications to bulk-produce cheap, colourful, good
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had huge hopes from this book. But its not strctured and boring. Was not able to complete also.
Vikas Singh
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-book
Finally a book on the press that has played an important role in shaping India's outlook. Akshay has done pathbreaking work with this book. Unlike the West little effort is ever done in India to document history and that's why Akshaya needs to be commended. I would have liked him to dwell more on the iconography and explain the way Hindu Gods and Goddesses were depicted. Insetad he quickly skips the issue. One drawback with the book is its obsession with establishing the press as "regressive" in ...more
Abhïshék Ghosh
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you were looking to be run through the societal background, political conspiracies, economic incentives and community mores of an entire generation of well-to-do Marwaris running a religious press, this is your book (the plethora of adarsh-balak or ideal-kid memes are also inspired by the press' publications!). The Gita Press still doles out 200,000 copies of Kalyan and 100,000 copies of the English-version Kalyana-Kalpataru, an indicator of its tremendous influence on modern Indian life and ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Missionary funded Leftist propaganda. A systematic attack on institutions revered by hindus by attempting to show them in poor light and dividing hindus on caste lines. nothing new.
Prem Sylvester
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a startling read that showed me, at least, how entrenched the Hindutva project has been in modern India's story, how so many of those we still neutrally acclaim as freedom fighters were proponents of a fascist mission. And guiding it all, the articles, journals and books, that produced the 'literature' of this mission.

This is not exactly an exciting read - it certainly could've used a better editor and structure - but there is a wealth of information here on the many networks of propaga
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. It was a long read with fairly repetitive content. Plus, the title, along with Arundhati Roy's endorsement, were dead giveaways of the book's political narrative. I wish there had been little more left to the imagination. What salvages the book is probably that it's the only book that comprehensively investigates the relationship between the publication industry, specifically Gita Press, and Hinduism in India. Since its founding in 1923, Gita Press ...more
Keerthi Kiran
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an important book in understanding the current hindu rhetoric. I could not place issues such as - cow worship, anti-romeo squads, hindi as a national language, into a historical context. For someone like me who was not initiated into 'hindu issues', I learned about the social and cultural evolution of Hinduism as it exists today. I now see order in seemingly chaotic atmosphere. I can see a pattern in the unplanned, unprovoked upsurge in these issues and incidents.

This book is also comi
Anushka Mitra
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
My acquaintance with the Gita Press had been limited to using their stall at the Howrah Station as a marker. Of course, I have seen these stalls at several other railways stations where I have lamented the lack of any other bookshop. I, like most of my generation, remained oblivious to this publication house with such far reaching consequences, specially in context of the rise of Hindudtva. First of all, the research done by the author is outstanding. A project of epic proportions, it has been e ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mind-blowing and pain-staking research on how Gita Press continues to shape the propagation of sanatan Hindu dharma. The book puts the cow protection movement in context. Rules for women that sit squarely in the realm of lunacy will make your blood boil. It is frightening to think the power Gita Press had and continues to have, especially with the obvious right tilt of our politics.
Sep 02, 2020 added it
An extensively researched book, with an unbiased and engaging narrative. That too, about the only religious publishing house that's said to parallel it's success to that of the Bible Society.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book, while summarising the growth of Gita Press, their history and their views on a wide range of issues, creates a panoramic view of the morals, values and politics of the Brahminical forces (aka, the Hindu right-wing). The book is neatly presented and it is a treasure trove of fascinating nuggets that would help you understand India's present political scenario. As a matter of fact, the books briefs us about the origins of many of the controversies and injustices unfolding in India since ...more
Yash Sharma
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing

A) This book is basically a biography of Gita press founder and the first editor of "kalyan" Hanuman prasad poddar.

B) Kalyan,the first of its kind religious monthly with a single-minded focus on spreading sanatan Dharma.

C) There are very valuable informations available in this book like- the formation of gita press, Hindu mahasabha,Gaurakshini sabha(or gau samiti),vishwa hindu parishad (VHP),RSS and other so called right wing organizations.

D) The language of the book is simple and this will make
Kanika Sisodia
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you want to read a book that launched Hindutva into the national and international scene. Read this book!! The book chronicles how Gita Press, who was immensely popular and successful became the dominant voice of militant Hindu nationalism. Gita Press published two monthly periodicals Kalyan and Kalyan-Kalpataru in Hindi and English respectively. Through tracts and essays it shaped and influenced people into their idea of sanatan dharma. And, influenced and portrayed their ideas about nationa ...more
Imran Kazi
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly researched account of a relatively unknown history. An essential companion to understand the cowbelt culture and the brainwashing of millions people of mostly north and middle India that finally resulted in the current sensitisation of religiopolitical context of our country. Felt a bit under edited though sometimes.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“For a woman there is no God greater than her husband whose feet she should touch and wash every day – the water that washes her husband’s feet is as pure as any holy water.”

While the anti-colonial movement engulfed the entire nation, with all its myriad shades and contradictory traits, there were forces that were more interested in issues that did not have much to do with the freedom call. Unmindful of the grand social and educational changes that swept the subcontinent, these forces were more
I heard Akshaya Mukul speak about this book in a podcast. The way he explained the early 20th century Indian political setup was just too fascinating to let this book go. One point which he made and which I'm now convinced after reading this book is that India would have had a right wing government in a couple pf decades post independence had it not been for the assassination of Gandhi.

The protagonist of the books is the formidable Hanuman Prasad Poddar, the towering editor of Kalyan, the publi
Hemant Kumar
INFORMATIVE. In my knowledge this is the first serious attempt to document and gauge the impact of Gita Press. The author got access (first time ever) to collection of Kalyan's first editor Hanuman Prasad Poddar (monthly Hindi journal of Gita Press), and the book is mainly built on these papers (published first time). The book is mainly informational, though at times the author (tries to) place Gitapress in larger Indian context through analysis. The author has his own prism through which he ana ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very detailed in depth and unbiased work. The book doesn't show Gita press in bad light. After reading I came to know many positive sides and neutral sides of right wing. This book is not a leftist view on right wing forces but a neo-liberal brotherly rebuke of right.
Pramit Mishra
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The research work done by akshay mukul is great. I had read so many books of gita press but never knew the about the press itself. So much work goes into to lay foundation and establish an institution.
Sudipt Roy
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and detailed. Helps one understand the India of 2019. More relevant and contemporary than before, if that is possible. Skipping some minor details would have helped reduce the girth of the book but everything is presented in such a readable manner that one can't really complain
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Important book to understand the Hindu ecosystem. But a tedious read.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gita Press, Gorakhpur is a publishing house that has shaped modern Northern India. Benedict Anderson, a leading theorist of nationalism, has argued that 'print capitalism' shapes modern nationalism. Seen in the light of Anderson's theory, Gita Press Gorakhpur, was without doubt, the print-agent of Hindu nationalism in much of Hindi speaking India. This book is a critical biography of the unique institution.
In the early 20th century, Sanatana Dharma or Orthodox Hinduism was under siege. Heterodox
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Influence of Deen Dayal Goendka and H.P Poddar on India's Hindu philosophy. What India is now, with its strong call of Hindu fanatism, this book traces back the origins of this thought.

How the concept of Sanatan Hindu dharma was embedded into our cultural ethos while the country was in the cusp of independence and colonial liberalization.

What made the publications like Kalyan and its English counterpart Kalyan-Kalpatru so popular with the readers? The society gets (reads) what it wants.

Prateek Singh
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The meticulous research that has gone behind the book alone makes it a great book however the influence that Gita Press had on Indian politics and society makes it a must read for anyone interested in Indian history and politics. Really throws the light on how Deen Dayal Goendka and H.P Poddar, the founder and editor of Gita press has influenced hindu society at large.
Ankur Vohra
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of the rare classics if anyone is interested in Modern Indian Politics & History. Written in easy to read language with quite a few interesting characters and story lines. Will recommend. ...more
Naresh Nekkanti
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Years of painstaking research let down by erratic presentation of the content. Still, kudos to Akshaya Mukul for bringing out this extremely significant book.
Vikas Lather
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good reference point for future studies on Hindu nationalism.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Why can't all the anti-fascism books be cool and fun like I want them to be. This one is... academic types?
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Geeta Press, Gorakhpur. A name which is almost ubiquitous all over India. The publisher of all those mythological and religious texts. But it’s not limited to that. Another segment in which they master is the moral education. It certainly has a big impact on our lives and the society we live in. Akshaya Mukul, through this book has made an effort to give us an insight into the world of Geeta Press. The book primarily tells the story of Jaydayal Goyandka and Hanuman Prasad Poddar, two Marwari bus ...more
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“Bajaj, like Birla, a convert to Gandhian principles, raised social issues that most members of the community found unpalatable: inter-caste marriage, expressing concern over the extravagance of marriage celebrations, arguing against the practice of financial speculation, condemning child marriage and asking Marwari women to give up their traditional dress and jewellery.” 0 likes
“Gita Press/Kalyan was a Marwari enterprise with a difference, where profit took the back seat.” 0 likes
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