Jarasandhavadha Mahakavyam

by Pankaj L. Jani | 2010 | 82,365 words

The English translation of the Jarasandhavadha Mahakavyam: a Sanskrit epic poem written by Goswami Hariraiji. The story revolves around the story of Krishna’s vanquishing of the Magadha King, Jarasandha. The soul message of this epic Jarasandhavadha is “where there is righteousness there is victory”. The sources for this story include the Mahabhar...

Part 2 - Translation of a Sanskrit Text

In a multilingual country like India, translation has always occupied an honoured place in our literary culture. Translations from Sanskrit into other languages have a long history. On account of its storehouse of intellectual literature, Sanskrit has been a donor language for translations into Asian, Indian and European languages, including English. The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Purans, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the works of Kalidas, Bhas, Bharavi, and many more have been translated in English.

It is believed that Sanskrit is the oldest and the richest language, the one language of the world, the mother of all other languages of the world. Grammar of Panini stands supreme among the grammar of the world. It stands as one of the most splendid achievements of human invention and industry.

Besides, Sanskrit is the symbol of Indian culture and civilization. Sanskrit is the fountain—source of almost all the Indian languages. It is a brazen truth to say that Sanskrit is the blessed mother from whose womb have sprung almost all the Indian languages. Basically Sanskrit is a very simple language. It is used in daily prayers, household ceremonies and on occasions of offerings and rituals. The study of the Sanskrit language and literature inspires seriousness, creates the habit of hard work, instills truth in tongue and inculcate discipline. Not only this, it trains memory, clarifies pronunciation and enriches vocabulary.

I happened to meet a great Sanskrit scholar and poet Goswami Hariraiji Maharaj at Jamnagar. I was so much impressed by his knowledge, scholarship and contribution in the field of Sanskrit literature and language that I decided to translate his great epic in Sanskrit the Jarasandhavadha Mahakavyam, a work of national repute.

Different scholars and translators have viewed translation from different angles. Some translators insist on word for word translation, others advocate free translation. Some translators insist on the form and style of the source language to be retained in the target language, while some others advocate only transmitting the sense across the language.

While translating the Jarasandhavadha Mahakavyam I have tried to preserve the spirit of the original text. When I thought of doing this translation, I felt it would be easy to translate. But when I started it, I realised that it was not an easy job. Number of problems came up. The main problem was the translation of cultural words and cultural references. The cultural background of an Indian language is totally different from that of English language.

Certain typical words of the source language also create a problem in translation. Other main problem that I came across was translating the similes and other figures of speeches. It was very difficult for me to understand the form and style and conventions of Sanskrit Mahakavya at the same time. In the third, fourteenth and sixteenth canto it was very difficult to derive the hidden meaning of the 'shringar ras'.

In order to overcome all the difficulties, for me the best source was the scholarly guidance of my guide who happens to be a great lover and scholar of Sanskrit language and literature. For me the work became slightly easier as Shri Goswami Hariraiji inspired me and helped in explaining the hidden meanings and other conventions. Very frankly and freely I discussed the chapters pertaining to the shringar ras. He explained me the complete meaning of the third chapter and that was a booster dose for me. Afterwards I could do the translation work at my own.

Lord Krishna gives darshan to all the Gopikas which they never thought of, that made them motionless since they never thought that they would be granted Love by their Lord! They lost their consciousness and went into 'Yog nidra' -the sleep induced by the spiritual union with the Lord. This is considered the Final stage of Yog which is the consummation of the Spiritual Love! Not the physical love. Though Lord Krishna was far away from them they could win Him to themselves with the strength of their astute Yog which is the communion of the individual self (soul) with the Universal Self (soul), which is otherwise known as jeevatma merging with Paramatma. The physical meaning, i.e. outward meaning should not be considered here, since It is metaphysical meaning that is important in the context of Bhakti yog -the union of individual soul with the Universal Soul through Bhakti.

(JM -35,36)

I am quite contented and happy at this juncture in doing this translation work and I am sure that other students will also attempt the translation work from Sanskrit to English. This attempt will certainly give a direction to other students.

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