Last updateThu, 10 Aug 2017 9am

Quality of Translation Done by Sheldon Pollock Team - By Naveen Chandra

Quality of Translation Done by Sheldon Pollock Team - By Naveen Chandra

Saudi Arabians, Christian Evangelicals, Communists, JUNSU members are but a small sample of people who think Sanskrit is dead, it is repressive, it provoked Nazism, Ramayana and Mahabharata are devoid of morals and kavyas glorify kings, Brahmins glorified kings, and many other low opinions of our heritage- are our Classics really world heritage ?


The leader of this group is Sheldon Pollock. Putting Pollock in-charge of these translations is like putting coyote in-charge of a hen house. Pollock thinks Sanskrit is dead (he wrote a book on it) and now he will take the last breath out of it with the help of Murthy clan.


I had the opportunity to look at the translation of Manu Charitra written by Andhra Kavita Pitaamaha Allasani Peddana in the sixteenth century which occupies a special place in the hearts of Telugu people as one of the pancha mahaa kaavyaas of Telugu literature.


In this short space I list three grave errors in that English rendering:

1.       Brahma translated as Lord God (really? which Lord God, of the Bible or of the Koran) - the whole sanskriti is discredited calling Brahma with this Abrahamic appellation, and besides Brahma is a recognizable word all over the world. It is about time translators realize there are many Sanskrit words that are not translatable. For example nobody translates Zeus into English.

2.       “Konda chiluva” translated as boa constrictor – again there are no boa constrictors in India- it should read a Python.

3.       “”ghora vipinapradesh” as “the god forsaken place (no such thing in India)”, instead of simple translation of “deep and dark forest”.

It is disheartening to see one of the translators, a Telugu man, doing such inaccurate translations. There is already a good translation of “Manu Charitra” done by Prof. Sistla Srinivas of Andhra University  which is available for Rs. 900 equivalent to US$1.50 compared to the HUP priced at US$ 32.95 and a far superior translation. The Murthy clan said there are no competent translators in India, a rather disingenuous statement at the best and laziness to look around in India before you go outside at the worst. One of the features of the petition against Pollock was to give chance to local scholars who know the language and are living the culture of the books- two factors that make a translation authentic. Pollock does not live the sanskriti needed to supervise translations.


I have proved elsewhere that Pollock is no scholar. I gave the definition of scholar - a person who supports his statements with evidence is and one doesn’t  is not. I followed a basic scientific principle in giving this definition. For example his two statements

a) Sanskrit literature glorifies Kings and

b) Brahmins dominated Sanskrit


are totally invalid bordering on lies. I gave myriad examples where both statements don’t stand the test of verification.


Author: Naveen Chandra


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