False claim: Saudi Arabian Govt releases Arabic version of the Bhagavad Gita

“सऊदी अरब सरकार ने अरबी में “भगवद्गीता” रिलीज की। यहाँ तो “भारत माता की जय” बोलने से इस्लाम खतरे में आ जाता हैं।” (Saudi Arabian govt released ‘Bhagvad Gita’ in Arabic. Here, even saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ puts Islam in danger- translation).

The above message is being circulated widely on social media, claiming that the Government of Saudi Arabia has released an Arabic translation of the Bhagavad Gita. It has been shared on both Twitter and Facebook. Accompanying the message is a picture of a book cover showing Krishna and Arjuna on a chariot, along with what appears to be Arabic text.

The above tweet has been retweeted close to 1000 times since June 24 when it was posted. Another tweet has been ‘liked’ over 600 times.

On Facebook, a page named Hindutva Meri Shaan posted this message on June 24. It has been shared over 1600 times since then. It has also been posted by several individual users on their timelines.

सऊदी अरब सरकार ने अरबी में “भगवद्गीता” रिलीज की, यहाँ तो “भारत माता की जय” बोलने से इस्लाम खतरे में आ जाता हैं..

Posted by हिन्दुत्व मेरी शान on Sunday, June 23, 2019

WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

The claim that an Arabic translation of the Bhagavad Gita has been released by the Saudi Arabian government, is utterly false. A simple Google search with the keywords ‘Saudi Arabia Bhagavad Gita Arabic translation’ throws up not a single news report. An event of this kind would be covered extensively by mainstream media organisations. This itself suggests that the claim is a figment of imagination.

Further, Alt News reverse searched the accompanying image of the book, and found a website dedicated to a ISKCON devotee. Ravanari Prabhu was a ISKCON devotee who was born in Palestine and joined the Krishna cult in Germany in 1973.

According to several sources online, Prabhu had translated the Bhagavad Gita into Arabic. We also found a Facebook post of 2015, reiterating the same.

Ravanari Prabhu also has a website, www.ravanari.com wherein the Arabic translation of the Bhagavad Gita is available.

That is not all. Translation of the Bhagavad Gita into Arabic was also undertaken by Osmania University, Hyderabad which has been publishing it for several years now. According to a 2017 report by Times of India, “It was Dairatul Ma’arifil Osmania (Centre for Research and Editing of Manuscripts) that had translated and published the Holy Gita in Arabic in 1918.” The university had celebrated 100 years of the Arabic translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

HISTORY OF BHAGAVAD GITA IN ARABIC

The translation of the Bhagavad Gita into Arabic is not simply a modern day project. It was undertaken as early as the 11th century CE by Al Biruni, a scholar and traveler who was born in 973 C.E in Khwarizm, a region spread over modern day Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Al Biruni accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni to India at the turn of the 11th century CE and wrote extensively on his travels in the sub-continent. Al Biruni wrote in Arabic.

Carl W. Ernst in his book ‘Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga’ writes, “Al Biruni translated a number of Sanskrit works into Arabic (including selections from Patanjali’s Yogasturas and the Bhagavad Gita) in connection with his encyclopedic treatise on India”. Arvind Sharma’s ‘Studies in Alberuni’s India’ has an entire chapter titled, ‘Al Biruni and the Bhagavad Gita’, which talks at length about Al Biruni’s citation of the Holy book.

In conclusion, the claim that the Government of Saudi Arabia has commissioned an Arabic version of the Bhagavad Gita, is false. Moreover, translation of the Gita in Arabic has been available for several years, and is not recent.

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