A Hindu woman living in India has produced a 900-page poetic epic on the life and message of Jesus following the style of Hindu classics such as Mahabharat and Ramayan - writes Anto Akkara.
"This is the fruit of my great devotion to Jesus Christ," author Latha Rajasekhar told Ecumenical News International from Mysore, about 120 kilometres from Bangalore, where the book was released recently in the presence of two bishops and several literary figures, as well as a mainly Hindu audience of 500 people.
Entitled "Jesu Maha Darsana" ("Great philosophy of Jesus") the book is written in Kannada, the language spoken in the state of Karnataka.
Rajasekhar is a devout Hindu, but she decided to pen an epic on the life of Jesus after she had an apparition of him "waiting at my door", while she was composing an earlier poetic work on the life of Gautama Buddha, who is recognised by Buddhists as their founder.
"I discussed it with my husband and we visited the Holy Land for this in 2004," said the 53-year-old Rajasekhar who describes herself as a "housewife" and who began writing as a hobby 25 years ago.
"Jesus' message of love, forgiveness and compassion makes him one of the greatest religious leaders," noted Rajasekhar, who had written 22 books, including some novels, prior to venturing into her work on the life of Jesus.
"This is a wonderful work on the life of Christ," said Bishop Vasant Kumar, who heads the Church of South India's Karnataka central diocese, with its headquarters in Bangalore.
"It was really pleasing for me to preside at the [book release] function," said Kumar who was joined by Roman Catholic Thomas Vazhapilly of Mysore. Rajasekhar and her husband have travelled to the Holy Land with the CSI bishop and his diocesan staff.
Bishop Kumar during his address hailed the courage and conviction of the Hindu author to complete a work praising Jesus at a time when Karnataka state has been reporting a number of attacks against Christians.
Karnataka has recorded more than 90 incidents of serious attacks on Christians since January 2006, a higher number than any of the other troubled states in central and eastern India.
Rajasekhar said she read the Bible, especially the Gospels, repeatedly to study the message and sequence of events in Jesus' life as, "I did not want to distort history."
She said the love and devotion for Jesus in her devout Hindu family, which runs a hospital in Mysore headed by her doctor-husband and son, has grown markedly since she embarked on the venture, so much so they keep a statue of Jesus along with Hindu deities in their prayer room.
Though some Hindus initially questioned her wisdom in writing about Jesus instead of on Hindu gods, Rajasekhar said that several eminent Hindu writers have praised her work, which is now being translated into English by her husband's brother, who proudly wears a cross.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]