The text file scanned at sacred-texts. Additional proofing and formatting of the text file at sacred-texts. The object of a translator should ever be to hold the mirror upto his author. In regard to translations from the Sanskrit, nothing is easier than to dish up Hindu ideas, so as to make them agreeable to English taste. But the endeavour of the present translator has been to give in the following pages as literal a rendering as possible of the great work of Vyasa.
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The text file scanned at sacred-texts. Additional proofing and formatting of the text file at sacred-texts. The object of a translator should ever be to hold the mirror upto his author. In regard to translations from the Sanskrit, nothing is easier than to dish up Hindu ideas, so as to make them agreeable to English taste.
But the endeavour of the present translator has been to give in the following pages as literal a rendering as possible of the great work of Vyasa. To the purely English reader there is much in the following pages that will strike as ridiculous. Those unacquainted with any language but their own are generally very exclusive in matters of taste. Having no knowledge of models other than what they meet with in their own tongue, the standard they have formed of purity and taste in composition must necessarily be a narrow one.
The translator, however, would ill-discharge his duty, if for the sake of avoiding ridicule, he sacrificed fidelity to the original. He must represent his author as he is, not as he should be to please the narrow taste of those entirely unacquainted with him. For instance, the ideas of worshipping the feet of a god of great men, though it frequently occurs in Indian literature, will undoubtedly move the laughter of Englishmen unacquainted with Sanskrit, especially if they happen to belong to that class of readers who revel their attention on the accidental and remain blind to the essential.
But a certain measure of fidelity to the original even at the risk of making oneself ridiculous, is better than the studied dishonesty which characterises so many translations of oriental poets.
More than twelve years ago when Babu Pratapa Chandra Roy, with Babu Durga Charan Banerjee, went to my retreat at Seebpore, for engaging me to translate the Mahabharata into English, I was amazed with the grandeur of the scheme. My first question to him was,—whence was the money to come, supposing my competence for the task. Pratapa then unfolded to me the details of his plan, the hopes he could legitimately cherish of assistance from different quarters.
He was full of enthusiasm. He showed me Dr. I had known Babu Durga Charan for many years and I had the highest opinion of his scholarship and practical good sense.
The two were for completing all arrangements with me the very day. To this I did not agree. I consulted some of my literary friends, foremost among whom was the late lamented Dr. Sambhu C. The latter, I found, had been waited upon by Pratapa. Mookherjee spoke to me of Pratapa as a man of indomitable energy and perseverance.
The result of my conference with Dr. Mookherjee was that I wrote to Pratapa asking him to see me again. In this second interview estimates were drawn up, and everything was arranged as far as my portion of the work was concerned.
My friend left with me a specimen of translation which he had received from Professor Max Muller. This I began to study, carefully comparing it sentence by sentence with the original. About its literal character there could be no doubt, but it had no flow and, therefore, could not be perused with pleasure by the general reader. The translation had been executed thirty years ago by a young German friend of the great Pundit.
I had to touch up every sentence. This I did without at all impairing faithfulness to the original. These were submitted to the judgment of a number of eminent writers, European and native. All of them, I was glad to see, approved of the specimen, and then the task of translating the Mahabharata into English seriously began. Before, however, the first fasciculus could be issued, the question as to whether the authorship of the translation should be publicly owned, arose.
Babu Pratapa Chandra Roy was against anonymity. I was for it. The reasons I adduced were chiefly founded upon the impossibility of one person translating the whole of the gigantic work.
Notwithstanding my resolve to discharge to the fullest extent the duty that I took up, I might not live to carry it out. It would take many years before the end could be reached. Other circumstances than death might arise in consequence of which my connection with the work might cease.
It could not be desirable to issue successive fasciculus with the names of a succession of translators appearing on the title pages. These and other considerations convinced my friend that, after all, my view was correct. It was, accordingly, resolved to withhold the name of the translator. No careful reader would then confound the publisher with the author. Although this plan was adopted, yet before a fourth of the task had been accomplished, an influential Indian journal came down upon poor Pratapa Chandra Roy and accused him openly of being a party to a great literary imposture, viz.
The charge came upon my friend as a surprise, especially as he had never made a secret of the authorship in his correspondence with Oriental scholars in every part of the world. He promptly wrote to the journal in question, explaining the reasons there were for anonymity, and pointing to the two prefaces with which the first fasciculus had been given to the world. The editor readily admitted his mistake and made a satisfactory apology.
Now that the translation has been completed, there can no longer be any reason for withholding the name of the translator. The entire translation is practically the work of one hand. About four forms of the Sabha Parva were done by Professor Krishna Kamal Bhattacharya, and about half a fasciculus during my illness, was done by another hand.
I should however state that before passing to the printer the copy received from these gentlemen I carefully compared every sentence with the original, making such alterations as were needed for securing a uniformity of style with the rest of the work. I should here observe that in rendering the Mahabharata into English I have derived very little aid from the three Bengali versions that are supposed to have been executed with care. Every one of these is full of inaccuracies and blunders of every description.
The Santi in particular which is by far the most difficult of the eighteen Parvas, has been made a mess of by the Pundits that attacked it.
Hundreds of ridiculous blunders can be pointed out in both the Rajadharma and the Mokshadharma sections. Some of these I have pointed out in footnotes. I cannot lay claim to infallibility. There are verses in the Mahabharata that are exceedingly difficult to construe. I have derived much aid from the great commentator Nilakantha.
But when it is remembered that the interpretations given by Nilakantha came down to him from preceptors of olden days, one should think twice before rejecting Nilakantha as a guide.
About the readings I have adopted, I should say that as regards the first half of the work, I have generally adhered to the Bengal texts; as regards the latter half, to the printed Bombay edition. Sometimes individual sections, as occurring in the Bengal editions, differ widely, in respect of the order of the verses, from the corresponding ones in the Bombay edition.
In such cases I have adhered to the Bengal texts, convinced that the sequence of ideas has been better preserved in the Bengal editions than the Bombay one. All these scholars were my referees on all points of difficulty.
I never referred to him a difficulty that he could not clear up. Unfortunately, he was not always at hand to consult. Pundit Shyama Charan Kaviratna, during my residence at Seebpore, assisted me in going over the Mokshadharma sections of the Santi Parva. Unostentatious in the extreme, Kaviratna is truly the type of a learned Brahman of ancient India. Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee also has from time to time, rendered me valuable assistance in clearing my difficulties.
Gigantic as the work is, it would have been exceedingly difficult for me to go on with it if I had not been encouraged by Sir Stuart Bayley, Sir Auckland Colvin, Sir Alfred Croft, and among Oriental scholars, by the late lamented Dr. Reinhold Rost, and Mons. Barth of Paris. All these eminent men know from the beginning that the translation was proceeding from my pen. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm, with which my poor friend, Pratapa Chandra Roy, always endeavoured to fill me.
I am sure my energies would have flagged and patience exhausted but for the encouraging words which I always received from these patrons and friends of the enterprise. Lastly, I should name my literary chief and friend, Dr. The kind interest he took in my labours, the repeated exhortations he addressed to me inculcating patience, the care with which he read every fasciculus as it came out, marking all those passages which threw light upon topics of antiquarian interest, and the words of praise he uttered when any expression particularly happy met his eyes, served to stimulate me more than anything else in going on with a task that sometimes seemed to me endless.
Having bowed down to Narayana and Nara, the most exalted male being, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.
Those ascetics, wishing to hear his wonderful narrations, presently began to address him who had thus arrived at that recluse abode of the inhabitants of the forest of Naimisha. Having been entertained with due respect by those holy men, he saluted those Munis sages with joined palms, even all of them, and inquired about the progress of their asceticism.
Then all the ascetics being again seated, the son of Lomaharshana humbly occupied the seat that was assigned to him. Tell me, who ask thee, in detail. Accomplished in speech, Sauti, thus questioned, gave in the midst of that big assemblage of contemplative Munis a full and proper answer in words consonant with their mode of life. Thence, anxious to see you, I am come into your presence.
Ye reverend sages, all of whom are to me as Brahma; ye greatly blessed who shine in this place of sacrifice with the splendour of the solar fire: ye who have concluded the silent meditations and have fed the holy fire; and yet who are sitting—without care, what, O ye Dwijas twice-born , shall I repeat, shall I recount the sacred stories collected in the Puranas containing precepts of religious duty and of worldly profit, or the acts of illustrious saints and sovereigns of mankind?
Composed in elegant language, it includeth the subjects of other books. It is elucidated by other Shastras, and comprehendeth the sense of the four Vedas. We are desirous of hearing that history also called Bharata, the holy composition of the wonderful Vyasa, which dispelleth the fear of evil, just as it was cheerfully recited by the Rishi Vaisampayana, under the direction of Dwaipayana himself, at the snake-sacrifice of Raja Janamejaya?
Some bards have already published this history, some are now teaching it, and others, in like manner, will hereafter promulgate it upon the earth. It is a great source of knowledge, established throughout the three regions of the world. It is possessed by the twice-born both in detailed and compendious forms.
It is the delight of the learned for being embellished with elegant expressions, conversations human and divine, and a variety of poetical measures. In this world, when it was destitute of brightness and light, and enveloped all around in total darkness, there came into being, as the primal cause of creation, a mighty egg, the one inexhaustible seed of all created beings.
It is called Mahadivya, and was formed at the beginning of the Yuga, in which we are told, was the true light Brahma, the eternal one, the wonderful and inconceivable being present alike in all places; the invisible and subtile cause, whose nature partaketh of entity and non-entity. Then appeared the twenty-one Prajapatis, viz.
Then appeared the man of inconceivable nature whom all the Rishis know and so the Viswe-devas, the Adityas, the Vasus, and the twin Aswins; the Yakshas, the Sadhyas, the Pisachas, the Guhyakas, and the Pitris.
Kisari Mohan Ganguli
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Kisari Mohan Ganguli also K. Ganguli was an Indian translator known for being the first to provide a complete translation of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata in English. His translation was published as The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose between and , by Pratap Chandra Roy — , a Calcutta bookseller who owned a printing press and raised funds for the project. The "Translator's Preface" in Book 1: Adi Parva , Ganguli mentions the sequence of events that led to the publication. Thus he started tweaking the text line by line, though "without at all impairing faithfulness to the original". Soon a dozen sheets of his first 'copy' were typed and sent to noted writers, both European and Indian, and only receiving a favorable response from them that the project was initiated.