Monday, November 23, 2009

Kristapurana - Pastoral Theology and Dialogue

NASHIK, NOVEMBER 23, 2009: Kristapurana, the Biblical Epic of 11,000 verses which was composed by Thomas Stephens, S.J. (1549-1619) is becoming known gradually. The Marathi translation and its release in Nashik and in other places has given it publicity. It would be interesting to see how Kristapurana was born. It was born in the Pastoral context of Goa. The new Hindu converts who were forbidden to read their earlier Hindu texts asked for some Christian text in Marathi language for their pass-time. Thomas Stephens took up the challenge and along with his Pastoral work (he was Pastor-in-charge in various Parishes in Goa) made time to study Sanskrit, Marathi, Konkani and read the various Puranas and finally to compose the Great Biblical Epic. And so the Kristapurana was born in a Pastoral context, i.e., the people asking for a text to read and the Priest involved pastorally with the people and for the people, making time along with his many Pastoral involvements to compose it.

This text is like the Bhagavad-Gita which is Smruti and not Shruti (infallible Word) or like Jnaneshvari which is a Marathi commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita. It is not the Bible itself but a type of a commentary on the Bible or the narration of the life of Christ. Fr. Francis D’Britto, Marathi writer and poet, suggested during the release of the Marathi translation of the Kristapurana at Nashik, that Kristapurana should be translated into French, German and other languages. In fact, the English translation of the same is almost ready (85%) and one more volume should be out within a few months. Like Bhagavad-Gita or Jnaneshvari it should reach to all the corners of the world. But in all this, the Pastoral context should be kept in mind. One involved in doing this should himself be involved in Pastoral work and should be in touch with the flock. Setting-aside oneself totally, not being pastorally involved, not being in touch with the people may not be the proper context for any translation of the Kristapurana.