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Dutch Bhagvad Gita a sellout
By Ranvir Nayar in Paris

The Bhagvad Gita, the treatise that encompasses the essential philosophy of Hinduism, has now reached out to the Dutch-speaking people of the Netherlands and Belgium.

Dutch scholars Gerda Staes and Winand Callewaert have translated the holy book into Modern Dutch, or Flemish as the language is called in Belgium.

Their work was released at a function in the Indian embassy in Belgium where nearly 40 Belgian academicians and leading personalities of Brussels were in attendance.

In the first edition, 2,500 copies of the book -- which runs into 158 pages and is priced at 17.20 euros ($15) -- have been printed.

The publisher, Davidsfonds/Leuven, says going by the fantastic response that the book has evoked in the Belgian and Dutch media and among readers, a second edition may soon follow.

Davidsfonds/Leuven has been in the publishing business for 125 years and focuses largely on cultural and scientific works. It is one of the most important publishing companies in the Flanders region of Belgium.

Translator Staes lived in India and Thailand for 14 years and learned Sanskrit -- the language of ancient Indian texts -- at various institutions in the two countries. She even worked for five months at Bombay University, where she organised a seminar on Sanskrit in May this year.

Callewaert, a professor at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, earned his bachelor's degree in Hindi, Sanskrit and history from Ranchi University (Jharkhand) in 1968. He also studied at the Sanskrit University in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and Pune University in Maharashtra. He holds the chair of Sanskrit and Hinduism at the Catholic University.

Callewaert, who has visited India at least 50 times, has already published 32 books in Hindi, English and Dutch. He was among those Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee honoured during the Sixth World Hindi Conference held in London in September 1999.



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