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Within the MARG network, we are continually looking to learn from Hindus who live as disciples of Jesus. One such person is Dhanjibhai Fakirbhai, a Gujarati Hindu who converted to Christianity in the mid-20th century. Fakirbhai was a very educated man. He was a physicist and also extremely well-read in Hindu literature, particularly the Bhagavad Gita. Fakirbhai’s years spent studying the Bible made him uniquely able to plumb the depths of the heart of God toward Hindus, and the heart of Hindus toward God. Dhanjibhai Fakirbhai must be on any short list of notable ‘dead authors’ from whom modern people often read to learn ancient wisdom about God.
In the 1950s, Dhanjibhai took on the task of writing a gospel, so to speak, that could introduce Gujarati Hindus to the Good News of Jesus. Many good and earnest Christians, both Indian and foreign, had attempted to create Christian literature for Gujarati people, but very few had been able or willing to do so. Fortunately, Dhanjibhai was not only willing, but profoundly able to conceive and produce a theologically faithful Gospel that speaks to Hindus in a vocabulary and style that reflects the Bhagavad Gita. He entitled it the Hriday Gita, or Song of the Heart.
Song of the Heart is 23 chapters that are divided into topics that reveal the full scope of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over life, death, and the future. The chapters are called yogas which means truth or way or knowledge. Combining the well-known Hindu traditions of poetry, lyric, myth and philosophy, the Hriday Gita is designed to ‘sing’ the gospel of Jesus into the hearts of Hindus. It is a masterpiece that is Christ-centered in its ethos and comfortably Hindu in its pathos.
Recently, several of us in the MARG network took on the task of translating the Hriday Gita into English. While it was written in Gujarati, it reflects a very widely held interpretation of Hinduism called Vaishnavism which is centered on myths written about Vishnu and his various incarnations. Hundreds of millions of non-Gujarati speaking Hindus all over India are Vaishnavites, many of whom speak English.
We also liked the way that Dhanjibhai structured his gospel similarly to the Bhagavad Gita, the most widely read Hindu scripture. For example, the Hriday Gita it is written in dialogue form between Jesus and his disciples in a similar way that the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. This gives an effortless authenticity to the Hriday Gita that only a Hindu disciple of Jesus could create. The quality of his work motivated us to ensure the English translation and publication of the Hriday Gita maintained this authenticity and familiarity for Hindus to see the relevance of Christ to Hindu society.
The English translation also makes the Hriday Gita accessible to millions of English-speaking Christians in India as well as the English-speaking Hindu diaspora around the world. Christians can learn lot about Jesus in the Hindu context from the Hriday Gita. There are numerous Sanskritic words that have been retained within the English translation and defined in a glossary.
The Hriday Gita is useful and practical. It can be used by alongsiders for study, discussion, and worship centered on Christ. For example, it can be adapted to a scripture reading during a worshipful Yeshu Satsang. It can also be given to Hindus who want to explore the person and work of Jesus Christ as he is presented in the Bible. Examining the Hriday Gita will inspire Hindus and Christians alike to pursue a life of deeper devotion and wider service to Jesus.
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