SAN JOSE, Calif. — A California-based Hindu effort called the Pancajanya Project, which is “dedicated to increasing awareness of the glories to Lord Krishna and His teachings,” is working to place one million copies of the Bhagavad Gita in hotels and motels across the nation.
Project coordinators state that the idea came after seeing how the Bible was having a positive effect on guests, and thus they wanted to similarly distribute their texts to the public.
“Just as the Gideons place Holy Bibles in motel and hotel rooms throughout the world, the Pancajanya Project would like to introduce Srimad Bhagavad Gita in as many rooms as possible, to provide inspiration and education to travelers and other guests,” the Motel Gita website outlines.
According to reports, over 150,000 copies of the Bhagavad Gita have been distributed thus far to over 1,100 hotels and motels.
The Pancajanya Project runs on donations, and a significant amount of assistance came from the International Society of Krisha Consciousness, which has an estimated 500 locations across the country. Members of the organization also donated their time to help distribute copies to interested hotel owners.
The project website outlines that the group began its efforts in April 2008, and unbeknownst to them, another Hindu organization was engaging in a similar mission.
“[We began] by contacting motel and hotel owners primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area and asking them to place soft-bound copies of the Bhagavad-Gitas in their rooms,” it outlines. “The response from owners and guests has been so overwhelming that we decided to expand the project throughout the United States as quickly as possible.”
“Meanwhile, … Rohini-Nandana Dasa, a devotee at ISKCON’s temple in Boston Massachusetts, had already been placing Bhagavad Gitas in motel rooms in the U.S. Eastern Seaboard,” it continued. “East and West coast devotees have now joined forces under the auspices of ISV to form the Pancajanya Project.”
The Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between the Hindu god Krishna and a warrior named Arjuna, in which the two have a discussion about the “universal order.” There are many books in Hinduism, just as there are several sects within the religion.
Jesse Boyd of Full Proof Gospel Ministries in North Carolina, who has served as a missionary to Hindus worldwide for over a decade, told Christian News Network that Hinduism is largely a collection of stories and traditions that have been handed down in the Eastern world over time. He stated that unlike the Bible, it does not contain an objective moral code.
“The Bhagavad Gita is basically like the Odyssey or the Iliad in ancient Greece,” Boyd explained. “What you’re dealing with is mythology. … It’s not a set theme, or a set story or a set code of ethics.”
“In terms of being a threat to the Bible, no way,” he continued. “Anybody that’s honestly seeking spiritual truth is going to be exposed to the differences between [Christianity and Hinduism] pretty quickly.”
Boyd said that he believes the effort is most likely more of an educational endeavor, or one designed to keep existing Hindus from converting to Christianity, as Hinduism is not an evangelistic religion. He advised that one cannot convert to Hinduism; you have to be born into it.
“I think it is more about keeping Hindus and educating Americans about what Hindus are,” Boyd stated. “The motive is not religious.”
He further pointed out that there is a significant difference between the work of the Gideons and the Pancajanya Project, because the focus of the Christian life is evangelism.
“We put the Bible there to bring people to Christ from all peoples, tribes and nations,” Boyd asserted. “The Church is the opposite of religion. It’s not about waiting for them to come in; it’s about going out and making disciples.”
In summary, he stated that he does not have a problem with the presence of the Bhagavad Gita in hotels.
“Let people see that all religions are not the same,” Boyd said. “Religion doesn’t make sense. It’s a bunch of weird paradoxes. But the Bible does make sense.”