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This website takes you closer to Gita

It is never too late to start learning Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Members of the team that built the website https://gitachanting.wixsite.com/gita believe in this as they add their attempt, to numerous prior ones by so many others, in bringing Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s Kurukshetra upadesa closer to a seeker.

What perhaps differentiates this free-online-access, user-friendly effort is the combination of features, in short, RSTU — Repeat audio at a line-level instead of verse-level, Search Text at a letter-level in 10 scripts, Sandhi resolution between audio and text, create playlists Unique to your requirements. In its web version, indexed search-friendly text is available in Devanagari and eight other national scripts — Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Gurmukhi — in addition to two English transliteration schemes.

“This is by no means the first effort to enable online learning of recitation of the Gita,” clarifies Megh Kalyanasundaram, a management professional on a research hiatus (alumnus of ISB, DAV Gopalapuram) and architect of the website. “This is an attempt to complement existing ecosystem of free tools, with RSTU features, for greater ease-of-learning, higher learning effectiveness and deeper, more granular engagement with the text as such,” he adds.

A challenge for kids

“Professional commitments meant living in China for close to nine years where I found that the Gita had a following. I noticed that recitation, especially in group settings and particularly for children, was sometimes a real challenge especially when sandhi-viched in print did not match the recitation. Not being able to repeat audio at a line-level during self-practice was found to further compound the challenge. With our design, one can simply search for any specific line using the intuitive indexing (for example: 01.03.02 for chapter 01, verse 03, line 02), repeat any line using Soundcloud player’s ‘repeat’ feature until one has perfected it or simply recite between lines as lines change automatically in a chapter playlist when not set on ‘repeat’ mode,” explains Megh.

“It is best learnt directly from a qualified Guru; when that is not possible or even for self-practice, some learners may at times approach websites,” adds Megh, who has chanted the Gita for the website and readily admits that his Sanskrit and Vedic Sandhya and Agnihotra chanting skills are limited to what he learnt in school. Professor at the Cell for Indian Science and Technology in Sanskrit, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Bombay, Krishnamurthi Ramasubramanian, a qualified Sanskrit scholar and an expert in the Sastras, helped Megh get the diction right. “He is an inspiration and has provided crucial and valuable guidance,” acknowledges Megh.

Sivagami Natesan entered the picture to translate the verses. Based in Austin, Texas, Sivagami was initiated into the Gita by Swami Tejomayananda, Chinmaya Mission. Ever since, it has become a way of life for Sivagami, who has been a student of the scripture for the past 15 years.

“I have taught children and they grasp it so well. Swami Tejomayananda guided me in the endeavour of spreading the Gita. My translation is in simple English intended for a global audience,” says Sivagami, who divides her time between the U.S. and India.

The website, which the team calls #gita for ease of purpose and intimacy, went live in two phases: first on November 30, 2017 (Gita Jayanti) and then January 22, 2018 (Vasant Panchami). “The former was not planned but we took it as a good omen,” say Sivagami and Megh, who thank the Murugappa Group Cholamandalam Investments and Finance Company Limited for sponsoring this #gita project.

“Anybody can learn the Gita. Allow it to touch you and it will take care of the rest,” sign off the duo. In the deep voice of Megh Kalyanasundaram, listening to the Gita verses is a soothing Soundcloud experience.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 9:08:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/website-with-a-difference-to-learn-bhagavad-gita/article22892544.ece

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