Hindu holy book coming to a nightstand near you
January 12th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Hindu holy book coming to a nightstand near you

By Jordan Hultine, CNN

CNN–It’s about to get crowded in your hotel room nightstand.   The newest addition could soon be  a sacred Hindu text called the Bhagavad-Gita.

The Bhagavad-Gita is literally translated as “song of God” and is a discussion between Lord Krishna and his student, Arjuna, on revealing one’s spiritual identity and a relationship with God, says Vaisesika Dasa, founder and president of the Motel Gita project, the group behind the effort.

Motel Gita, with the help of a Hindu nonprofit, has distributed approximately 150,000 copies of the Bhagavad-Gita to 1,100 hotels and motels. Dasa said their goal is to place at least 1 million books to, “provide solace to traveling souls by giving them spiritual knowledge.”

The idea for the project came to Dasa after seeing the positive effect the Bible has had on hotel guests for many years he said. Dasa partnered with Milan Doshi and Dilip Patel, who has been involved in the hotel industry for more than three decades. They started by distributing Bhagavad-Gitas to hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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At first they worried guests and hotel owners wouldn’t accept the books, but Dasa said, “we quickly found that prominent motel owners whole-heartedly welcomed and supported this program and that their guests were appreciating finding the Gita.”

Support grew from there with the help of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKC) around the United States, Canada and Britain. ISKC is a nonprofit network of more than 500 temples, schools and communities whose members donate money for numerous outreach programs, including the Motel Gita. The group also recruited their members to help deliver the Gitas to interested hotels.

There are an estimated 1.79 million Hindus in the United States, according to The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. More than 1 billion around the world, making Hinduism the world's third-largest faith after Christianity and Islam.

The Asian-American Hotel Owners Association reports their 11,000 members, predominantly Indian-American, own more than 20,000 hotels in the United States.  Dasa said that definitely helps their cause. Hindus make up roughly 80 percent of the population in India with an estimated 974 million believers, according to the The Pew Forum.

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Manu Patel is the owner of a Days Inn hotel in Salem, Oregon. He requested the Gitas for his hotel and says the response has been very positive. “We have many customers come to the front desk and ask for a copy to take home,” he told CNN.

Jitu Ishwar owns four hotels in Ukiah, California. He said he often sees guests reading the Gitas they found in their rooms while eating breakfast in the lobby.

Ishwar said God has given him a lot and this is his way of saying thank you.

“Bhagavad-Gita provides depth of knowledge not easily accessible to people in the Western countries. The concept of spiritualism, nature and God described in this holy book should be shared for the benefit of all humanity,” he said.

The Gita’s nightstand companion, the Bible, is usually placed in a hotel by The Gideons International. Their members are identify as evangelicals, and according to their mission statement they are “dedicated to saving the lost through personal witnessing and the distribution of God’s Word in more than 190 countries around the world.”

The Gideons report they have handed out more than 1.7 billion Bibles around the world since 1908.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Hinduism • Uncategorized

soundoff (610 Responses)
  1. Lynda Elaine

    How utterly stupid. The bible needs to be removed along with any other crazy fiction. If you want spiritual solace while traveling, bring your own. If I am staying in a hotel for longer than one night, I have them remove it. I find it offensive.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • overed

      You realize, don't you, that you don't have to read any of them?...don't you?

      January 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  2. Hitesh

    Crazy world...does these books will make any change..hotels should keep "Kam Shashtra" instead.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  3. Doc Vestibule

    Just stick a Kindle loaded up with Holy Books of all types in the bedside table.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  4. Johnny 5

    Who goes to a hotel to read the bible anyway?

    Any good hotel would have a book on fossils.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  5. Teapatriot

    how bout the qoran next? ya see, we should cater to sui-cide bombers when they stay in hotel the prior day.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  6. blah blah blah

    Thank you come again!! hahahaa

    January 15, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  7. zaglossus

    I don't object to the Bhagavad Gita in my night table as much as the smell of curry wafting into my motel room from the living quarters behind the front desk.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  8. t3chsupport

    Hey, that's pretty cool. All of those times I've been stuck in a hotel room with nothing to read but the Bible! I'm agnostic though, and I get bored with the Bible pretty quickly.

    Not that it matters much any more, since our phones are computers now and we can read on those.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  9. Karaya

    How about adding Newton's "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", or Hawking's "The Grand Design"?

    January 15, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Gir

      Newton, yes. Dawkins, no.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • michaelmassey2012

      He said Hawkins, not Dawkins.
      And if you can't read Dawkins without losing your faith, it was a weak faith anyway and you're better off without it.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Stan

      He said "Hawkings" not "Dawkins". Dawkins is a hack writer.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      More truth in one page by Richard Dawkins than in the entire Babble. Hawkings may be a hack but Hawking is brilliant. Both (Hawking and Dawkins) have come to the same conclusion – no god(s) required.

      January 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  10. Rodeo_Joe

    I approve of it. End of debate.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  11. Love & fear God

    God exist. We all have to listen to him when he orders the angle of death to take our soul. Is there any talented and educated person who can avoid death? If not do not tell us lie that there is no God. People try to blame religion for bad behavior but today most people do not know about their own religion. Every religion talk about good behavior but we do the opposite. A person that has faith should not harm other. He should respect other and help. I believe in one God, who created all of us, he loves us and wants us to obey him and do well to others.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Gir

      Funny how religionists think all they have to do is thump their chests and bellow "I BELIEVE [insert inane belief here] IS TRUE" for their arguments to be accepted. Maybe that's how it works in your cult, but in the real world, we rely on EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  12. JMO

    There already is a Zen holy book in the room: a blank pad of paper.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  13. it is Called

    it is all about the children and facts. Which one would ypu pick for ths chidren???

    All media channels have to get the message straight.
    Which one below is true ?
    Creation Adam and Eve/bible ?
    Human Evolution ?

    Clue below. creationism/ID can't be taught in public schools in US.
    A pebble and a cave....
    The Oldest Rock In The World Tells Us A Story ... larger rock, and when scientists checked, it turns out this little grain formed around 4.4 billion years ago. ... After all, this planet, geologists say, is only 4.5 or 4.6 billion years old.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • It is called

      Oops should be the children. Thumb got in the way.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  14. hubert39

    With over 300 religions in the US the night stand drawer could get crowded.
    I live in the south, and most people know only one religion. If you talk about or practice
    another religion you will go to the Boggie Man.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  15. Jeff

    The Bhagavad Gita is a very good piece of literature. There is probably a lot of cultural stuff in them that won't make sense to some Americans. Without the religious context its still some good psychology/self help stuff.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Stan

      Agreed... it was probably the most interesting "Holy Book" I've ever read... and I've read all the major ones.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  16. nra_fan

    This is welcome news. The Gita is, at least, not a scripture that openly discriminates against gays, Jews, and women; nor does it preach killing and mayhem. Americans can certainly do with some moderate religious views.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • blahblahblah

      Poor misled man.

      January 15, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Khna

      "nor does it preach killing and mayhem."
      You forget that when Arjun did not wish to fight war and kill people, this scripture was revealed to instigate Arjun to kill his kin and people at battle field. Only purpose to reveal this scripture is to justify killings.

      So, how poor is your understanding when you write quoted sentence.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Thom Burke

      Well, it may not "preach" killing and mayhem, but it does take place on the eve of a great battle, between the two armies.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Kautlya

      "nor does it preach killing and mayhem."
      In light of above question, lets check facts:

      Where was Bhagawat Geeta revealed?
      Ans: In the battle field of Kurukshetra.

      When was it revealed?
      Ans: When Arjun did not want to kill his kin and kith with other people.

      Why was it revealed?
      Ans: to INSTIGATE Arjun to fight war and kill people.

      Dis it succeeded in its mission?
      Ans: Yes, Arjun had picked up his weapons and thousands were killed as a reulst.

      And still you believe that this scripture does not preach killing and mayhem?

      January 15, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Teapatriot

      person below does not acknowledge that all fights are between good adn evil. wants to see gray universe. Arhuna was exhorted to fight for the good and defeat evil I think, if what I read about the gita is true. Similarly, g-ay marriage is evil and traditional marriage is good. Killing unborns is evil and pro-life is good. Big gub-mint is evil and power to the people is good. etc etc

      January 15, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Stan

      @Teapatriot... except that your "good" can very easily be someone else's "evil". The world is not so black and white as you seem to think it is.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Kautlya

      Who will decide what is good and evil?

      Just imagine that you are for good and you have licence to kill any one you think is for evil.

      After all, it was for property dispute between cousins. Was it not?
      And to resolve that thousands innocent people were killed.

      There is no description that Kauravs were acting like Assad of Syria.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Ben

      @Kautlya: Lord Krishna only preached the duty of a warrior to Arjuna. He did not get hold of a doctor and tell him to wage war. Everyone must fulfill the duties assigned to them, that is what the preaching of Gita is about.

      I'm not going to explain what Kauravas did (you can probably google and get your stories straight), that's a different book, Mahabharata.

      January 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  17. IRodrigues

    When can we see a Quran and Torah too, how about a whole library of books. Instead why not just stick an Tablet with every book on earth

    January 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Thom Burke

      Well, if groups representing those religions want to spend their own money to put those books in hotel rooms, I say let them go for it. No one is excluding anyone here. No tax dollars are being spent. No one is passing a law trying to make conduct that is out of line with their religion illegal. They're not even telling you to read the book. They're just providing you an opportunity, silently, at their expense.
      Sometimes we just need to lighten up.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  18. Sane Person

    As an atheist I'm happy about this. I like to read the bible for entertainment when I'm in a hotel room, now I can read the Gita too.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  19. lol??

    Hopey Changey exists.

    January 15, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Evolve

      Evidently it doesn't, not on Planet Palin....

      January 15, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  20. New Athiest

    I think "The Cat in the Hat" should also be in all hotel rooms, and a random quote from Green Eggs and Ham should be on the napkin for anyone ordering room service between 6:00 a.m. and noon.

    January 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • *

      Why do you refuse to correct your misspelling of 'Atheist'?

      January 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Stan

      Because he is the Athi-est of them all!

      January 15, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Red Fish Blue Fish

      Actually I would prefer Dr. Seuss over these religious books any day.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.