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Catholics protest Indianised Bible

The “Indianised” New Community Bible has raised the hackles of some Catholics, with calls for its boycott and halt of sales and further printing, reports Satyen Mohapatra.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2008 23:20 IST
Satyen Mohapatra

The “Indianised” New Community Bible has raised the hackles of some Catholics, with calls for its boycott and halt of sales and further printing.

The Bible has drawings of a sari-clad Mary with Joseph in a dhoti and turban; symbols of mandir, masjid, and gurdwara along with the church, and quotes from the Upanishads. The commentary on Psalm 5 (Prayer at Daybreak — A Psalm of David) reads like this: “In Hinduism, the dawn is personified as a deity by the name Ushas. The traditional morning prayer of a Hindu consists of reciting the famous Gayatri mantra (Rig Veda 3.62.10) at day break, facing the rising sun: Om bhur bhuvgah svah, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasy dhiman, dhiyo yo nah pracodayat (may we meditate on the most excellent lustre of the sun god that he may illumine our intellect).”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has decided to examine the objections raised by protesting Catholics. Its deputy secretary general Father Thomas D’Aquino Seqeira said on Wednesday: “We will take up the matter at the CBCI standing committee meeting next month.”

But spokesperson Babu Joseph said, “Individual bishops can give permission for publication and necessary clearance has been taken as required from two bishops.”

The protesters, in a memorandum, have called for a Catholic boycott of the Indianised Bible, and a halt to sales of the first edition and further printing. If they aren’t satisfied with the CBCI’s response, they intend to move the Vatican.

Among those critical of the new Bible is Michael Prabhu of the Metamorphose Catholic Ministries, Chennai. He says: “Would one want to consume food contaminated by excrement? Will not one apply the same criterion to spiritual nourishment?” He says the commentaries don’t make a single reference to the great missionaries and saints of India, St Thomas and St Francis Xavier among others while talking about Gandhi, Kabir, Adi Shankara,Vinoba Bhave, etc.