If you are looking for answers and you don’t have time to read the Gita, just check your phone
What happens to the Bhagavad Gita by the time it reaches the 21st century, when people cannot bring themselves to read the newspaper let alone scriptures? It metamorphosises into “Situational Gita”, which is the latest mobile application designed by Sreekanth Sastry, of Antarjaal Innovations.
“Everybody is looking for answers and the Gita is supposed to have them all,” says Sreekanth. “Nobody, however, reads the Gita because they think they won’t understand it. So we wanted to see if there was a way in which we can make it more accessible, so we broke it down into categories that we thought were everyday situations and looked for slokhas that would provide the answers to those questions,” says the youngster who quit his job in the software products industry in March to start Antarjaal (which is awaiting company registration).
“The gita has about 700 slokhas and we have included about a 100 in the app, though we might update the list with more situations. Each slokha, or parts of slokhas give you answers on the situations that you are studying, such as, the behaviour of bosses at work, and you can then dig deeper.”
The slokhas were selected by a Bhagavad Gita expert, Dinesh Anvekar. “He gave me one version of the translation but I did some more editorial work by running it past a few more people. We referred to different books and so the interpretations might be ours but the translation itself does not change between publications.”
Sreekanth is convinced that the Gita has relevance today because it addresses the human condition, which does not really change with time. “The insight it offers is fundamental, it relates to you as an individual whose problems remain the same across the ages. That’s why it the Gita has an eternal impact.”
The application, however, is exclusively designed for today’s world of the ocean of internet-based mobile and tablet applications.
“The Apple app store offers about 73 applications on Gita. If we had taken the same approach as the others, we would just be one of the 73. This is why we repurposed it, and packaged it in a different way so the end user experience is different,” explains Sreekanth. “Mobile applications can either work with new or existing content. If they are based on existing content then you need to make a differentiation in the engagement. That becomes the fulcrum around which you design the app.”
Most of Antarjaal’s existing applications, which mainly include apps that offer proverbs in Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam, have worked on this principle. They specialize in offering content in Indian languages.
“If all the research and trends are to be believed, local language content is supposed to take off in a big way. The internet has a 12 percent penetration in India and mobile internet accounts for 40 per cent so people are going to look for content in their own languages if penetration increases.”
And why is this so? “The mobile phone is a personal device so people try to find something to keep that is close to their hearts in their mobile phones, most personal relationships develop through the SMS. At some level, apps related to their language takes them back to childhood, to the wisdom their elders tried to pass on.” Antarjaal is now working on another app on the lines of the “Situational Gita”.
“This will be from a counsellor or therapist’s perspective wherein if you need a counsellor the app tells you what are the areas around which you can work.”
For details, visit www.antarjaal.com.