Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India is an original, eminently readable and deeply researched account of one of the most influential publishing enterprises in the history of modern India. The book features an extraordinary cast of characters – buccaneering entrepreneurs and hustling editors, nationalist ideologues and religious fanatics. The Gita Press created an empire that spoke in a militant Hindu nationalist voice and imagined a quantifiable, reward-based piety. Almost every notable leader and prominent voice of the first half of the 20th century, including Mahatma Gandhi was canvassed to speak for the cause. The themes of Cow slaughter, Hindi as the national language and the rejection of Hindustani, the Hindu Code Bill, were some of the themes highlighted by the Press’s flagship publications, Kalyan and Kalyana-Kalpataru.
The ideas articulated by Gita Press and its publications played a critical role in the formation of a Hindu political consciousness, indeed a Hindu public sphere. This history provides new insights into the complicated and contested rise to political pre-eminence of the Hindu Right.