Bhishma Charitra

by Kartik Pandya | 2011 | 48,028 words | ISBN-10: 8171101966

The English translation of the Bhishma Charitra, an important Mahakavya (epic poem) consisting of 20 cantos. This book details the life and legends of Devavrata Bhishma: a major character in the Mahabhara and relative to both the Pandavas and Kauravas. The Bhisma Charitra (Bhismacaritam) was written by Dr. Hari Narayan Dikshit, an important author...

Introduction (the importance of Translation, Anuvāda)

What is Translation?

Pāṇini has given the meaning of Anuvāda in the following sūtra as:

“anuvāde caraṇānām |” (Aṣṭādhyāyī;, II.4.3)

Anuvāda means repetition by way of explanation, illustration or corroboration, that is to say when a speaker demonstrates for some special purpose, a proposition which had already been demonstrated before, that is called Anuvāda.[1] Sir Monier Williams in his Sanskrit-English Dictionary has said, Anuvāda is saying after or again, repeating by way of explanation, explanatory repetition, or reiteration with corroboration or illustration, explanatory reference to anything already said.[2] The English term ‘Translation’ for Anuvāda is derived from the Latin word translat-us-a-um meaning to transfer. As defined in The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary - Vol. II, translation is the expression or rendering of something in another medium, form, or mode of expression[3] or in other words of Prof. Mahendranath Dube (The Oxford English Dictionary - Vol. XI- T.U.), translation is the action or process of turning from one language into another, also, the product of this, a version in a different language.[4] Nida in his book The Theory and the Practice of Translation has defined translation as translating consists in producing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent to the message of the source language, first in meaning and secondly in style.[5] Catford has defined it as the replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual material in another language.[6] Forester has defined it as the transference of the content of a text from one language into another, bearing in mind that we cannot always dissociate the content from the form.[7] Ivir Vladimir has defined it as a way of establishing contacts between cultures.[8] In the words of Goethe (Goethe, in Venuti 2004, 66), a translation that attempts to identify with the original ultimately comes close to an interlinear version and greatly facilitates our understanding of the original. We are led, yes, compelled as it were, back to the source text; the circle, within which the approximation of the foreign and the familiar, the known and the unknown constantly move, is finally complete.[9] Thus, translation is a custom-house through which passes, if the custom officers are not alert, more smuggled of goods of foreign idioms, than through any other linguistic frontier.[10]

Importance of Translation:

Translation is basically a linguistic process covering a wide, challenging and complex area. Nirmaljeet Oberoi also observes in his paper ‘Translation as an Integrated Activity: Theory and Practice’ that translation is a complex phenomenon.[11] In today’s modern world, where communication is playing a vital role in information dissemination, the need for translation is felt much more crucial. In this regard, P. G. Deshpande observes that translation is a means and process of communication between persons and peoples speaking different languages. And as the world is growing smaller and smaller every day, because of the rapid means of transport and communication the need for translation is increasing.[12] Prof. Chander Shekhar in his article ‘Hindi Translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Trans-migration of Cultural Philosophy’ also observes that civilisations created languages and ideas travelled through them to various cultures. Translation has been the most convenient mode of transaction of ideas between various cultures and its ethos through the ages.[13] R. K. Panda also observes in his paper Translated Literature in Sanskrit that the art of translation has played a significant role in the spread and preservation of knowledge throughout the ages.[14] Further, he advocates that translation has become an indispensable tool and a means of wider communication in the first shrinking world of today.[15] The editorial board of the book, Translation and Interpreting has also declared that the relevance of translation as a multifaceted and a multidimensional activity and its international importance as a socio-cultural bridge between countries has grown over the years.[16] Translation also enriches the literary personality of the creative writer.[17]

Since last three decades, translation has brought about a technological and cultural revolution in India. In fact, translation has brought the countries of the world closer by promoting a continuous flow of knowledge from different walks of life and promoting a feeling of mutual understanding and appreciation. This has enhanced the importance, significance and relevance of translation. For the detailed discussion of the importance of translation, I am, here, taking Krishna Kumar Goswami’s view. He rightly observes in his article, ‘The Significance and Relevance of Translation’ that the significance and relevance of translation in our daily life is multidimensional and extensive. Today, we know about all the developments in communication and technology and keep abreast of the latest discoveries in the various fields of knowledge, and also have access through translation to the literature of several languages and to the different events happening in the world. India has had close links with ancient civilisations such as Greek,

Egyptian and Chinese. This interactive relationship would have been impossible without the knowledge of the various languages spoken by the different communities and nations. This is how human beings realised the importance of translation years ago. But the relevance and importance of translation has increased greatly in today’s fast changing world. There is a great need of translation in the fields of education, science and technology, mass communication, trade and business, literature, religion, tourism, etc. Translation is a major tool for the transmission and preservation of knowledge. It is only because of translation that we have come to know about Newton’s Law of Gravitation, Darwin’s origin of the species, Freud’s psychoanalysis and the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, which have influenced the thoughts of people all over the world. Most books on science and technology have been written in English or German or Russian and have been translated in other languages. Nowadays, books on Computer Science and Information Technology are available in Hindi and other Indian languages, which have created interest among Indian people in the subject.

Translation played an important role in the spread of religion. When followers of a particular religion desired to propagate their religion, they must have felt the need for translation. We can understand well how translation played a vital role in setting up Buddhism as a major religion. Ashoka (272-232 BC) was the first king in Indian history who made efforts for the propagation of Buddhism and Indian culture beyond the frontiers of his kingdom. Buddhist monks translated Buddhist religious texts in various languages, which helped them in spreading Buddhism. The same example can be mentioned in the case of Christianity as well as Islam. Therefore, it is well known how through the ages, translation has played an important role in spreading various religions across cultures.

Translation plays a major role in knowing and understanding world literature. The works of great thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, etc. cannot be read and understood in English and other languages without their translations as these were originally written in ancient Greek. The same is the case with Sanskrit literature. A lot of work of Indian mythology, philosophy, science and art is written in Sanskrit. The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata epics as well as the classic plays written by Kālidāsa are all in Sanskrit. For preserving and understanding Indian literature, culture and history, the related and relevant texts will have to be translated into modern Indian and foreign languages. Hence, translation is the only way through which knowledge can be made available and passed down from one generation to the other. The aesthetic sensibility of world literature can be enjoyed only through translations. The great Indian writer, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote his classic work Geetanjali in Bengali for which he won the Nobel Prize. His work received recognition in the world mainly through its English translation. The poetic genius of Tagore came to be known to a much wider readership. Similarly, the great novels and short stories of Premchand, which were written in Hindi and Urdu, have been translated into English, Chinese, Russian and other foreign as well as Indian languages. They have created awareness among the people of other linguistic communities.[18]

Importance of Translation in India:

India is a multilingual and pluricultural nation. It has various cultures and different linguistic communities but at the pan-Indian level there are common elements including at the emotional level, where the heritage of India as one integrated unit is deeply felt. This sense of Indian integration and unity can only be infused by encouraging the tradition of translating diverse literatures into different Indian languages. As a matter of fact, translation plays an important role in bringing out the universal elements in world literature and, therefore its relevance cannot be ignored. Previously, translation was limited to the religious and literary spheres but in the modern age, its domains have become wider. It has become very relevant in research works being done in the fields of medicine, commerce and business, science, technology and others in different languages. The achievements in the domain of mass communication have come to us with the help of translation.[19]

Importance of Translation in Sanskrit:

Translation brings in-depth knowledge of the text. One has to understand each and every letter of the text before translating it. Just reading cannot bring the complete understanding of the text. That is why translation is unavoidable means for a complete and better understanding of the text. Sanskrit being difficult and not being understood by the students of our time, the translation helps them in understanding the important works of Sanskrit literature. In this regard R. K. Panda observes that one of the fascinating fields of modern Sanskrit literature is the translations. Study of translated literary works forms an interesting, emerging and challenging area of research in Sanskrit. In past, Sanskrit literary works were translated into several foreign and Indian languages. Today without translations, the study of Sanskrit originals seems impossible. That activity is still going on.[20]

The Sanskrit writers of twentieth century have prepared significant and commendable works in this direction. They have not only enriched the Modern Sanskrit literature but have given a new life to this dying language. They have also created scope for research in this new field.[21]

Footnotes and references:


Gupta, Nita, Anuvāda Śataka, Vol. 1, pp. 36-37


Williams, M. M., A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 38


The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary - Vol. II, p.3371


Dube, Mahendranath, Anuvāda-Kāryadakṣatā;, p. 15


Nida, E. A., The Theory and Practice of Translation, p. 21


Catford, J. C., A Linguistic Theory of Translation: An Essay in Applied Linguistics, p. 20


Forester, L., Introduction, in Aspects of Translation, p. 2


Ivir, Vladimir, Procedures and Strategies for the Development in Translation Across Cultures (Ed.), p.36


The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences, p.871


Anuvad Ka Vyakaran, p. 13


Singh, Avadhesh, K., Translation: Its Theory and Practice, p. 69


The Art of Translation, p. 39


Anuvad, p. 179


Panda R. K., Essays on Modern Sanskrit Poetry, p. 183


Ibid, p. 183


Gargesh, Ravinder and Goswami, Krishna Kumar, Translation and Interpreting, preface p. XI


Panda R. K., Essays on Modern Sanskrit Poetry, p. 193


Gargesh, Ravinder and Goswami, Krishna Kumar, Translation and Interpreting, pp. 36-37


Ibid, p. 37


Panda R. K., Essays on Modern Sanskrit Poetry, p. 191


Ibid, p. 192

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