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Gita's essence to flow in Vatican on Good Friday

March 28, 2009 15:37 IST

Mahatma Gandhi's concept of ahimsa (non violence) and Bhagvad Gita's essence of nishkam karma (self-less action) would resonate at the Vatican during Good Friday prayers next month as an Indian Archbishop, bestowed with a rare honour by the Pope to prepare the prayers, would incorporate the two messages.

Seventy two-year-old Archbishop of Guwahati of Salesian Order Thomas Menamparampil has been asked by Pope Benedict XVI to prepare the meditation prayers for Way of the Cross, which the Papal Head himself will lead on Good Friday on April 10 at the Roman Colosseum.

He is the first Indian and second Asian to prepare the meditation prayers for the 'Way of the Cross', where '14 stages' of Jesus Christ are meditated upon.

Thomas, a native of Kerala, would give an Indian touch by blending the concepts of Mahatma's ahimsa and nishkama karma in the prayers for Way of the Cross, which reflects on Christ's journey to Mount Calvary before his crucifixion.

"Without using the words ahimsa and nishkama karma, I have woven these concepts into the prayers in a language that will be understood by all globally," Thomas, who is also the Chairman of Catholics Bishops Conference, told PTI over phone.

"In my prayers I have tried to be perfectly Christian and also perfectly Indian and Asian," said the Archbishop, who has written on sufferings of Dalits and been engaged in conflict resolutions in restoring peace among warring ethnic groups of North-East for over 12 years.

 "I have drawn on the Indian concept of building the inner spiritual strength, of being committed to a cause and performing an action without expecting its fruits and blended it with Christ's teaching of forgiveness, benevolence, respect for all and pursuit of the good, despite all sufferings," Archbishop Thomas said.

"It is a universal message that will echo from Himalayas to the Alps, right to the Andes," he said.

The Archbishop said he might not physically take part in the prayers in Rome, which is attended by thousands of pilgrims from across the globe and an event that is globally televised in a big way.

The 14 stages or stations as they are known are a re-enactment and recount of Christ's agony, pain and suffering during his journey to Mount Calvary before his crucifixion.

This is the second time in a row the Pope has turned to Asia for the Way of the Cross. Last year, Salesian Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong prepared the traditional prayers.

Thomas, also Chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishop Conference Commission for Evangelisation and author of five books and over 150 articles, said "the prayers are usually written by Bible scholars and experts within Vatican circle. It is very rare for someone outside to write these prayers."

He said he had no idea as to why he was chosen but presumes that it could be out of the Pope's desire to include the sentiments and perspectives of other cultures and also viewpoints of those who have been "persecuted" in their countries.

Jacinta D Souza in Bangalore
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