Vatican has a Vishnu Temple – Collections of Vatican Museums reportedly include a portable temple of Hindu deity Vishnu.
This colorful 18th century Vishnu temple reportedly folds and unfolds revealing many stories of Vishnu and is made of wood, mirror, paper, pigments and glass paste. Collections of Vatican Museums also include bronze statues of Hindu divinities dating from 8th to 14th century.
Vatican Library carries extensive collection of ancient Hindu scriptures and various other Hinduism related texts; including books on Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad-Gita, Panchatantra, Krishna, Brahma, yoga, Shakti, Hindu theology, Hindu pantheon, etc. This Hindu collection is in various languages and some of the editions are as old as 1819.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commending Holy See and His Holiness Pope Francis, said that it was a remarkable gesture and a step in the right direction to understand each other. Zed invited Pope Francis for a deeper study of ancient Hindu scriptures, which were very rich in philosophical thought, and offered to provide help if asked.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also lauded Vatican for including well-known verse from Brhadaranyaka-Upanishad (“Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.”), line from Tagore’s Gitanjali (“Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.”), and reference to Mahatma Gandhi in “Way of the Cross at the Colesseum” Meditations and Prayers on Good Friday 2009 led by Pope and put together by Vatican Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
Rajan Zed further said that in 200-page “Verbum Domini” (The Word of the Lord) apostolic exhortation released on November 11, 2010, Pope Benedict wrote about “the sense of the sacred, sacrifice and fasting…” in Hinduism.
Zed argues that in our shared pursuit for the truth, we can learn from one another and thus can arrive nearer to the truth. Dialogue may help us vanquish the stereotypes, prejudices, caricatures, etc., passed on to us from previous generations. As dialogue brings us reciprocal enrichment, we shall be spiritually richer than before the contact.
Over six million people reportedly visit Vatican Museums annually, which originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513). It includes works of Raphael, Michelangelo, Giotto, Leonardo, Caravaggio, van Gogh, Matisse and Moore. Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana), library of the Holy See, whose traces go back to fourth century, has manuscripts, printed books, prints, photographs, drawings and engravings, coins and medals. It is said to hold over 180,000 manuscripts and over 1.6 million books, which includes Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, the oldest known nearly complete manuscript of the Bible.
Pope Francis is the ex-officio head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign city-state within the city of Rome (Italy). Pope also heads the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest of the Christian denominations with about 1.2 billion members. Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about a billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.