The faculty at IIT-Kanpur has been left surprised by a sudden surge in the online readership of its 10-year-old dormant online website containing ancient Indian texts, including Vedas and Shastras.
In October, last year, the faculty members found that the web page – Gita Supersite – had begun registering around 24,000 hits a day from the daily average of 500.
The site, designed by the institute’s faculty and the government-funded Resource Centre for Indian Language Technology Solutions, boasts ancient Indian texts in Sanskrit that can be translated into 11 other Indian languages, including Assamese and Oriya. The site, professors said, used to register around 500 hits a day till the sudden, unexplained surge, which they are attributing to an anonymous WhatsApp message.
The message, which was accessed by The Indian Express this week, reads that the “IIT-Kanpur has developed a website on our treasures of Vedas, Shastras etc. Finally someone from today’s science and technology field is digging into what has already been done many many years ago…Please share this as much as you can.”
Professor T V Prabhakar of the computer science and engineering department, who spearheaded the designing of the database and translations of texts like The Gita and the Upanishads in the institute a decade ago, told The Indian Express, “This project was aimed at converting ancient Indian knowledge in a contemporary format accessible on the Internet. But, it used to register 500 hits a day on an average. We noticed the sudden surge in online traffic in October and we could not understand why.”
Prabhakar said the site’s traffic soared to 24,000 hits, clocking an increase of 4,700 per cent in readership from not only India but across the world. Now, it registers 12,000 hits a day.
Attributing the surge to the WhatsApp message doing the rounds, the professor said. “This is the power of social media. This is all we can put a finger on behind this surge,” he said.
The institute said there was nothing new in the website, which is a 10-year-old project undertaken by the faculty and a student body. It was a product of a two-decade-old project started by the institute to make Indian languages accessible on the Internet “even before Google and Unicode were in use”.
Director, IIT-Kanpur, Manindra Agarwal said, “This website and the work put into translating ancient texts have been going on in the institute since the 1990s. Nothing new has been added to the database.”
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