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. Ryan

    Pen and Teller both of whom are atheist said that to truly be atheist you have to read the bible and actually not believe it or any other religious text. both of them read the Bible, Koran and other religious text and to be a true atheist read those and then see i f you are.

    and honestly who cares most people dont really read those hotel books anyways at least I never did.

    January 15, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • New Athiest

      According to the Bible, God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush. He did not show himself to all of his chosen people, or all of humanity – just to Moses. The Bible also says that if you do not accept him worship him correctly, you burn in Hell forever. So, anyone who did not believe Moses, or never heard of him, went to hell forever. I don't believe it.
      Jusus said he was the only way to the father – many times and in many passages. So anyone who was not living at the time, but not in the middle east died without ever having the chance to accept JC and is on their way to eternal damnation. I don't beleive it.
      The bible is full of inaccuracies and contradictions. I do not believe that an all powerful creater of the universe couldn't give us a book that made sense.
      Can I be an atheist now?

      January 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Well, I am an atheist, and I have read all those texts, and Penn and Teller are wrong. You do not have to subject yourself to all the religious scriptures of the world in order to reject them. In every case I hit total disbelief within a few pages, and going all the way through them did not help at all.

      It's really a waste of time, and an absurd concept. And Penn and Teller are not in charge of my belief system or my choices, even though I often agree with them.

      Sorry, but I make my own choices, and Penn and Teller and Pope and Jesus and Dawkin are not my lords. I actually think for myself.

      January 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mike

      I get Penn and Teller's point (though Teller rarely 'says' anything) but don't think it's necessarily valid. To "be an Athiest" you simply have to reject any for of Diety. However, to be able to really counter the arguments made by people who follow a particular religion, it's very helpful to have a knowledge of their scripture. It is not, however, required to "be an Athiest."

      To the point though, I don't have any issue with people placing whatever "Holy Book" they like in a hotel room. I don't need to believe any of them to appreciate the literature.

      January 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • sumday

      New Athiest do not impose your ignorance or misunderstand of what is written on others as if they are lies. Jesus did say he was the only way to the father but it is your simpleton understanding of it that is wrong not what Jesus said. When he said “he” was the way- what does “he” mean huh? When a person says “I” (or he) doesn’t that mean every single thought and action they have ever done or will do? You mistakenly take it to mean a body or person but it’s real meaning is thought and action. Jesus said “I” (every thought and action that Jesus had or did) was the way to the father! If I had my body switch with another person and used the word I wouldn’t that still include every thought and action I had done in my previous body- so I is not merely a body or person but encompasses more than mere flesh and blood? Point is you can’t use the word I without it invoking every single thought and action that a person has had/done or will ever have/do.

      January 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  2. Grim

    Is it really so hard to believe ALL religion was used for control when you didn't have enough "police" to enforce laws. Constantine knew, Mohammud The Pedophile knew. You needed people to fear that acts they commit in this life will be judged upon their death. So simple in it's execution that over time people would have known this, but unfortunately brainwashing children works even better, so now we have all these people that "believe" without any proof. Sheep say baaaaaaaaa.
    And now.....

    January 15, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  3. iceload9

    I have no problems if they put any religious books in the rooms. I would find a restaurant guide more helpful though.

    January 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • cronewinter

      I agree, but the thing that saddens me most is that almost everyone posting is hating on everyone else..the atheists would forbid any spiritual book and all of the religious posters are so self righteous about their brand of belief that they attack each other. Very sad thing when even the word belief or religion is spoken in any way it causes a war, either physical or in words. Very sad and very futile and no, I won't share my belief or lack of it with you..it's nobodies business.

      January 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  4. Rollie Lal

    I think it's great that there are ANY books in a motel room. A Bible, a Bhagavad-Gita, even Shakespeare, why not? Society is less and less literate, and if nothing else, reading any of these ancient books will help to educate and make our population more literate and understanding. Offering knowledge is not the same as forcing people to believe. I'd be happy if some Jewish and Muslim books were offered as well. I'm so glad someone is funding literacy in this country 🙂 Good reading!

    January 15, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      There are innumerable other and better books to practice reading with, without the downside of propagating religious bullsh!t. I hope the hotel operators get a fee for promoting each cult.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  5. PhiliaToo

    As the oldest "religion" in the World, and the genesis of Buddhism, I give Hinduism much more credence than Christianity!

    January 15, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Mike D

      Yeah it only brought us the Caste system and worship of multiple elephant headed gods...

      January 15, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • PhiliaToo

      @Mike D: because worshiping a Man God on a throne up in the sky, and a Ghost is better?

      January 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • James

      Mike D – Christianity also reinforced a caste system and brought us worship of a zombie and a ghost.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Dr Bix

      And like the rich haven't created a judicial caste system with different laws for the rich (politicians and famous) and a set for the poor.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  6. Giusseppe

    Well, here's something Christians and atheists agree on. "Hindu books bad!"

    January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  7. Proud Muslim

    One time at the zoo, I was at the monkey exhibition and decided to throw and banana to the monkey. The dumb animal did not try to catch it or duck and it hit him in the head. and I thought to myself, "you're supposed to be a god".

    January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Islam4Fools

      Muslims are so much smarter. They worship a wall instead and follow the teachings of Mohammed (a child molester).

      How do you Muslims proudly accept the fact that Mohammed married a 9 year old? Seriously how?

      January 15, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Proud Hindu

      You should have tried throwing it at your mother!! I don't see Hindu's taking their religion out of text to justify murdering millions of innocent people, thank our Monkey God for teaching us the value of life!!

      January 15, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Raj

      Yeah it is better to follow a god who teaches to blow oneself up to reach heaven and have some virgins, not to mention kill innocent people. NOT

      January 15, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • USA

      Are you serious? But then you are a M. I'm thankful, the monkey is alive, and not a goat.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • z2cents

      even the monkey knows, when a muslim throws something at it him..it is most likely a bomb...

      January 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Proud Muslim

      Hindues value life? You seem to value gang raping women also. Should I continue?

      January 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • PakisRchuts

      About raping, the only country that is worse for women than India (no 4) is Pakistan (no 3).

      Not trying to insult you. It is an actual fact, just google it. Lol stupid inbred Muslims.

      January 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  8. Love & Fear

    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 11:22 am |
    • Darw1n

      Scientists have determined the "angle of death" to be 74 degrees and higher.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  9. veno78

    Regardless of your beliefs, you don't have to read any of the literature left in these hotels/motels.

    January 15, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      And we don't have to tolerate its presence.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  10. New Athiest

    I'm not at all surprised at the Christians here who are threatened by a differeent religion invading their turf.
    Closed minded people really amuse me. Is there a clinical term for that?

    January 15, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  11. ash

    I am a Hindu and I do not support this. These Patel motel owners should rather wash the bed sheets well. The most horrific few nights of my life were when I lived at a Motel for a week in my 1st job out of college, I doubt spiritual books of any kind would help living in that filth.

    January 15, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Josh

      To me you sound like a racist Indian! My job requires me to travel all over USA & have lived in motels (mostly owned by Patels) & they are clean, efficient & great service. These people are wonderful to talk to. Just because people with your last name does not own motels you are jealous & racist! Oh yeah, I am sure you are going to reply back that you are Patel too!

      January 15, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Song

      Couldn't have said it better. Thank you 🙂

      January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Human!

      Ash – i wish you get to own or atleast work in a Motel all your life...you can dedicate to fixing the 'filth'! You should stop calling yourself a Hindu for starters. Btw, were you forced to stay there if you didnt like it?
      Others showing any hatred towards any Religion – grow up...be a Human first!

      January 15, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Bob

      @ash – No, you are a Muslim, Pakistani. Your Qran belongs in the bathroom and is used as toilet paper.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Roadrunner

      @ Ash I agree with you.I think they should spend money on cleaning the motel. Libraries are available if you need a book.

      January 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  12. Robert

    Very interesting. It is good to see the holy writings of other religions being placed alongside the Bible. Regardless of one's belief, or lack thereof (I'm a Pantheist, for instance), spiritual writings are often full of good advice and can have a calming, peaceful affect. I don't have a problem with it.

    January 15, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  13. kyle johnston

    the bible is the only way to know God and dont think for a minute that its an american holy bood or a white mans God. Jesus Christ the messiah was born in israel he was not white probly dark haired tan skined etc. he was the word of God made flesh. all things were made by him and;all who believe in him have overcome the world and have overcome the devil. christianiy is not an american religious practice it was spread here by powerful men of God who risked and gave there lives to spread the good news to the world. may you all come to know and believe on the son of the living God.

    January 15, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Cute version of christianity you have in your head. Too bad its incorrect.

      "all who believe in him have overcome the world and have overcome the devil"

      Then please explain why there are so many christians in jails. If they all overcome the devil, then why do they all sin?

      "who risked and gave there lives to spread the good news to the world"

      No they risked and killed other peoples lives to spread their "good news."

      January 15, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • sam

      Why is it, when I see posts like this, they often seem frantic?

      January 15, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  14. robert downington

    When I'm staying at a hotel I don't want to be reminded of God

    January 15, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  15. Grim

    If it wasn't bad enough having one super-being overlord shoved down our throats since we were kids, now we have to have another countries super-being overlord shoved down our throats. When will these fairy tales end?

    January 15, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  16. tonyl

    Now, only if these motel owners can keep their motels clean and provide good service. It's really amazing to see, Hindu motel owners are becoming preachers of the traveling public. I guess now the Muslim gas station owners will try to post Quran versus on the video screens while customers are pumping gas.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Footnotegirl

      You mean like christian restaurant owners print bible verses on the food containers (in-n-out, chick-fil-a)? Why is it such a terrible thing when people of other religions do it and unremarkable when christians do?

      January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  17. Lionel

    I want the Kama Sutra placed in each motel / hotel lol.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Hunter2013

      And provide a model to practice what is preached in the book?

      January 15, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  18. clubschadenfreude

    the idea of giving out large numbers of books meaning anything is rather silly. The bushes at my univesity are full of the Gideon nonsense. and we certainly know what else the nice thin pages are used for.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  19. blah blah blah

    I guess its extra TP if you need it haha

    January 15, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  20. M.E.

    My husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find the Buddhist holy book in our nightstand last time we went to Hawaii. Fire and brimstone isn't really our speed, we much prefer a book simply built around being nice. It was fun to flip through, my atheist husband even considered taking it home, but I pointed out that stealing holy books isn't good karma, lol.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Jim

      I'm not sure about this Buddhist holy book, but I know the Gideons would be very happy to have you take one of their Bibles. So I would say, if you really want to keep the book, do so.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • WDS

      The hotels in South Korea all have a bible and _The Teachings of Buddha_ (IIRC).

      January 15, 2013 at 12:01 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.