By Sumedha Grover
Printed on acid-free, eco-friendly paper manufactured in Italy, plastic from Switzerland used to create the spine bone, peacock feather bookmark from Hong Kong and vegetarian ink from India, the collector’s edition of the Bhagavad Gita was launched here on Thursday.
Priced at a whopping Rs 36,950, the book was unveiled by the head of Sadhu Vaswani Mission, spiritual guru Dada J P Vaswani.
Hemant Sheth, director marketing, Srinivas Fine Arts, says, “We want this book to be open to individual interpretation. It is a spiritual and philosophical book and is not restricted to a certain religion. The thought behind creating such a version of the Bhagavad Gita was to make it a pan-religion spiritual entity to help anyone who needs it.” Inspired by beautifully-illustrated versions of other such religious and spiritual texts, the company decided to create an illustrated masterpiece.
The limited edition book contains over 150 illustrations. The paintings have been derived from Vijaynagara artist GLN Simha’s imagination while in a state of holy trance. The art work follows the Mysore style of painting which is usually based on scenes from Hindu mythology and depicts Hindu gods and goddesses. These paintings are known for their muted colour palette and attention to details.
The book contains the entire text of the Gita in Sanskrit and has also been translated into English and Hindi to enable reading across the world. “The idea of creating such an edition of the Bhagavad Gita took form two years ago when Srinivas Fine Arts decided that their brand Vedic Cosmos, which produces miniature editions of the Bhagavad Gita, Hanuman Chalisa and other religious and spiritual texts, should be used to produce something that is neutral in its approach and open to interpretation. The book is an attempt to create an unbiased version of the Gita which isn’t coloured by political motives and to present to the world the philosophical teachings of Lord Krishna,” Sheth said.
A unique aspect of the book is that it has been printed with vegetable ink. The ink usually used for printing contains animal fat but the creators of this book spent six months experimenting and formulating an ink based on vegetable extracts.
A non-religious and neutral version of a book that is regarded as one of the most important religious texts in Hinduism is a mighty attempt to retain ancient Indian culture, including its art and language, but still trying to transform it into a spiritual global phenomenon.