IIT Kanpur's decade-old website on ancient Indian texts sees sudden surge in traffic due to viral WhatsApp message

The faculty at IIT Kanpur were left surprised after a decade-old dormant website containing ancient Indian texts created by them started registering a sudden, massive uptick in its online readership.

The website, Gita Supersite, contains ancient Indian texts, including the Vedas and Shastras. It registered a record 24,000 visitors per day against the usual 500-600 visitors per day, ANI reported.

The reason behind the sudden uptick seems to be a WhatsApp message that is making the rounds, professors at the institute told the news agency ANI.

This fact was also reported by The Indian Express. The daily accessed the WhatsApp message being circulated, that said: "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."

The report quoted TV Prabhakar, a professor of computer science and engineering departments, who spearheaded the designing of the database and translations of the texts on the site, as saying, "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."

There were some, however, who criticised the website as they claimed it was an attempt to promote Hindu religion through these services. Both Prabhakar and IIT-Kanpur director Mahendra Aggarwal rejected these claims, according to a report in The Times of India.

"There will be criticism for the sake of it for every good thing. Secular credentials can't be questioned on such a noble and pious initiative," Prabhakar was quoted by the report.

Agarwal told The Indian Express that there was nothing new on the website, which is a 10-year-old project undertaken by the faculty and a student body. It was aimed to make Indian languages accessible on the Internet "even before Google and Unicode were in use", he said.

"It’s a simple website. The idea is putting our traditional knowledge on a website under a new format. For instance, Bhagavad Gita is in Sanskrit and usually written in Devanagari script. It is an old website but gained popularity through WhatsApp," Prabhakar told ANI.

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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 14:36:13 IST

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