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Updated: April 30, 2012 11:14 IST

Gita's Urdu translator pained by 'religious madness'

J. S. Ifthekhar
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Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
The Hindu
Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

He is anguished by the recent bout of communal violence in the city. The man who translated the Bhagwad Gita in Urdu is pained that one's religion seems like madness to others.

For retired IAS officer Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed, religion is a behaviour and not mere belief. He feels the present day differences in the name of religion is the result of not understanding the teachings and beliefs of other faiths.

This well-known Hyderabadi translated the sacred text of Hinduism in 1945 during the reign of the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. And it remains popular even to this day because of the scholarly work and lucidity of expression.

Dr. Ahmed wrote ‘Naghma-e-Uluhiat' soon after joining the Nizam's service as assistant director of the Ecclesiastical Department. This, of course, invited the wrath of his uncle, Ghazi Yar Jung, a High Court judge, and a conservative Muslim. He wanted his nephew to use his talent to write about Islam.

The Ecclesiastical Department was responsible for the issue of grants and maintenance of places of worship of all religions and not just mosques. “The department was more secular and treated all religions equally,” says Dr. Ahmed who served as its last director.

He has a passion for comparative study of religions. Though he did not know Sanskrit, he overcame the problem with the help of lexicon and works of Edwin Arnold and Annie Besant. His perfect translation of the 701 slokas in 18 chapters have come in with high appreciation. Several editions of his book have come out over the years and in 1975, former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, released one of them.

Today there are more translations of Bhagwad Gita in Urdu than in any other language. And surprisingly half of them have been written by Muslims alone. “The teachings of Gita are nearer to Sufism. It is essential that one understands the religion of others,” says Dr. Ahmed.

Even at the age of 90, he keeps himself busy writing books and doing his bit to improve the educational standards in government schools.

Keywords: Bhagwad Gita

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If indias remained together and had Urdu as a national language i think
we would be a diffrent counrty today but afsos Gandhi and Jinnah dont
agreed on some main concerns of minorities and Nehru, patel were real
responsibles for all mess of 1947.

from:  Ali Tanoli
Posted on: May 1, 2012 at 22:59 IST

Bhaghavad Gita is a book of wise councel from Lord Krishna to his dearest friend Arjuna.In the midst of a war between cousins,Arjuna was depressed in seeing so many killings and suffering as a result.When it comes to question of death of one's own relatives Smashana Vairagya sets in naturally.It is difficult to differentiate between duty and dharma.Tthis kind of emotional distress can happen to anybody irrespective of religion or race.Sri Krishna is referred to Jagad Guru.Who can advise the mortals better than one is considered to be immotal.So Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed should be commended for translating the Hindu sacred book to Urdu.The religious fanatics has plenty of things to complain.Bhasghavad Gita is for the entire humanity as any other religious sacred book.

from:  Nagaraja Rao Toronto
Posted on: May 1, 2012 at 07:50 IST

I really admire Dr.Ahmed. Such countrymen are required more for my
country. I hope many will follow such noble persons.

from:  Narayanan
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 20:08 IST

Such people are assets for us. They should be brought under focus. The Hindu has done a commendable job by introducing this unsung personalty to us.

from:  Ganesh Choudhary
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 13:19 IST
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