Back of the Book
Two Holy Scriptures, two religious directions, but do they have one common fundamental theme? The Bhagavad Gita is probably the most famous and much-loved book of the great Hindu epics. The Qur'an (Koran) is 'the book of the believers' of Islam. Separated by land and time, these two religions still have much in common.
What are the fundamental ideas of the Gita and the Qur'an?
How does each of the great teachings seek to unlock a moral code for the living?
"We need a religions outlook which shall weld us into a single brotherhood, nation, family
.a creed that every avatar, prophet, saint, sadhu, fakir has preached
This book has an unusual goal, one that offers to mediate between apparently opposing viewpoints. It makes a strongly defined attempt to unite the two ideas. It tries to clarify the amazing degree of common ground, and the factors that bring the two concepts together, to embrace each other for the benefit of mankind.
The Bhagavad Gita is the most well known book from the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The Qur'an (Koran) is the book of Islam, the word of God, the book, which guides the followers of Islam.
The first part of the book outlines the similarities between the two faiths. It concentrates on the common themes. Throughout the text we are enlightened by verses from the various holy writings.
Many great saints, sages, teachers and writers have sought to interpret the themes encompassing the two faiths; Kabir and the Sufi poet, Maulana Rumi, are two of the more famous. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, looked for a path between the two great religions of the Hindu and the Muslim. He defined a new order, yet this too adhered to the central themes of the two faiths.
A quote from Kabir concerns the disunity of humanity and its adherence to useless dogma. "The entire world is labouring under a great harmful delusion. One swears by the Veda the other by the Qur'an. One speaks of hell, another of heaven. There really is no difference between the two paths."
In the second half of the book the author considers in more depth the basic tenets of the two religious texts. In particular he has chosen verses from the Qur'an that attempt to give the reader a clearer grasp of why Islam is misunderstood. Of course throughout its history there have been those who have sought to reinterpret the Qur'an for their own agendas. This translation helped us to choose for ourselves how the words should be interpreted.
The Gita and the Qur'an is an interesting example of a book, which examines the interrelationship of differing faiths. Written by Pandit Sunderlal and translated by Syed Asadullah, it offers us a side-by-side comparison of Hinduism and Islam. In all religion basic themes of humanity are to the fore, themes, which should unite the world's people and not divide them.
When in 1955 an association of scholars was formed in Hyderabad under the name of the “Institute of Iudo-Middle East Cultural Studies” with the object of “advancing and strengthening cultural understanding between India and the countries of the Middle East by promoting a wider knowledge and appreciation of their arts and literatures,” the initial programme chalked out by the Institute necessarily visualized, among other items, a process of acquainting, as a preliminary requisite, the people of one region with the bases on which rested the cultural edifice of the people of the other region. In the pursuit of this initial task, it was realized that, in as much as the two cultures were rooted in religion, at least a bird’s eye view of their respective bases should be presented by way of interpreting one to the other, and of supplying the necessary background to the appreciation of the cultural problems which may face the two regions from time to time. In the series of works undertaken under this particular item, the rendering into English of Pandit Sunderlal’s Gita Aur Qur’an forms the opening number, to be followed shortly by other publications now in the press, including “An Outline of the Cultural History of India” each chapter of which has been contributed by a scholar competent to deal with the subject falling under it.
In this small work, “The Gita and the Qur'an," the author has epitomized the essential teachings of the Gita on the one hand, and of the Qur’an on the other, and attempted to show how closely they resemble each other in their basic teachings. People of understanding everywhere will see therein a noble attempt made by a high - minded godly man to forge happy relations between one cultural unit and another, and point the way to an universal outlook on life among mankind. Should scholars of the type of Pandit Sunderlal belonging to different religious denominations undertake to disclose to the world at large from out of their own cultural heritage what is great in each and of universal import, and aim at amity between one culture and another, we may yet hope to develop mankind into one people and one world.
I am thankful to Pandit Sunderlal for the readiness with which he was pleased to allow the Institute to render his beautiful work into English, and Mr. Syed Asadullah, an associate member of the Institute, for having given us an easily intelligible rendering of it into English. My thanks are also due to Dr. Aryendra Sarma, Professor of Sanskrit, Osmania University, for having transliterated the Sanskrit terms employed in the work, and to Mr. N. C. S. Venkatachari of the Ajanta Publications, Secunderabad, for having read proofs while the work was in the press.
In conclusion, I deem it my duty to place on record the Institute’s sense of thankfulness to Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, Education Minister of India, Dr. Syed Mahmud, Minister in the Ministry of External Affair, Government of India, Dr. B. Rama Krishna Rao, at present Governor of Kerala, for the scholarly interest which they have evinced in the work of the Institute, and to the Government of India in the Ministry of Education for having afforded generous financial aid to the Institute to begin in time initial programme as originally planned.
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