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Sanskrit Translation of the Brihat Jataka

 
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Michael Douglas Neely



Joined: 10 Jul 2015
Posts: 14
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:16 pm    Post subject: Sanskrit Translation of the Brihat Jataka Reply with quote

While working on a major Sanskrit translation project, I decided to start translating the Brihat Jataka when I have some spare time. The progress of my work is at the following link: http://brihatjatakasanskrit.blogspot.com/

From the start, I realized that the online and print Sanskrit scripts of the Brihat Jataka were not optimal and did not agree. The translations were in a sorrier condition with many embellishments from what the text actually says.
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pankajdubey



Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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Location: Delhi

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:33 am    Post subject: Re: Sanskrit Translation of the Brihat Jataka Reply with quote

Michael Douglas Neely wrote:
While working on a major Sanskrit translation project, I decided to start translating the Brihat Jataka when I have some spare time. The progress of my work is at the following link: http://brihatjatakasanskrit.blogspot.com/

From the start, I realized that the online and print Sanskrit scripts of the Brihat Jataka were not optimal and did not agree. The translations were in a sorrier condition with many embellishments from what the text actually says.


For sanskrit newbie,one of the best translations of Bhagavad Gita , in my mind, was by Winthrop Sargent. He found the right balance of floweriness and sanskrit teaching.
If you could do something like that to Brihat Jataka, it would be brilliant.



http://i68.tinypic.com/vgu92q.png
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Martin Gansten
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Location: Malmö, Sweden

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s great to see students of Sanskrit feeling inclined to take up the translation of astrological works. May I gently suggest, though, that you need to pay a little more attention to both sense and syntax in order to do justice to the texts? The existing translations of the Bṛhajjātaka may occasionally be imprecise or embellished, but they are not as wide of the mark as your own attempts would suggest. For example, someone wanting to cross an ocean would be more in need of a float than of a flood! Smile (Both possible meanings of Sanskrit plava – all three words being ultimately derived from the same Indo-European root.)

Looking at the first verse, its meaning, phrase by phrase, is as follows (the very first construction – mūrtitve parikalpitaḥ – is, admittedly, a little unusual):

Quote:
Arranging the shapes of the moon (mūrtitve parikalpitaḥ śaśabhṛto), the path of those who have no rebirth (vartmāpunarjanmanām), called the Self by knowers of the Self (ātmety ātmavidāṃ), the offering [or: understanding] of sacrificers (kratuś ca yajatāṃ), the lord of the immortal lights [or: of immortals and lights] (bhartāmarajyotiṣām) and master of the destruction, creation and sustenance of the worlds (lokānāṃ pralayodbhavasthitivibhuś ca) – he who is [thus described] in countless ways in the Veda (anekadhā yaḥ śrutau), may he grant us speech (vācaṃ naḥ sa dadātu), the one of countless rays (anekakiraṇas), the lamp of the three worlds (trailokyadīpo), the sun (raviḥ).

The second verse isn’t just a list of epithets, so it doesn’t admit of such linear translation, as Sanskrit word order is different from that of English:

Quote:
For those whose efforts at crossing the great ocean of astrological teachings have been frustrated (horātantramahārṇavaprataraṇe bhagnodyamānām) even (api) after manifold texts [authored] by those of acute mind (paṭudhiyāṃ … bahuśaḥ śāstreṣu), full of [proofs from] scripture and reason (śabdanyāyasamanviteṣu), have been studied [lit. ‘seen’] (dṛṣṭeṣu) by numerous persons of acute understanding (bhūyobhiḥ paṭubuddhibhiḥ) for the understanding of astrological results (horāphalajñaptaye), I commence [constructing] (ahaṃ … prārabhe) a raft of instruction (śāstraplavaṃ), small (svalpaṃ) [but] rich in meaning (arthabahulaṃ), comprising various procedures [or: metres] (vṛttavicitram).

I hope you can see how these still quite close translations actually hang together.
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Michael Douglas Neely



Joined: 10 Jul 2015
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Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey: yes, I have that edition of the Bhagavad Gita and it is really good. I also really like the Laurie L. Patton version, but it has nothing of detail like the Sargent version.

Martin: I can see we are going to have to agree to disagree on my Sanskrit abilities and the past translations. That is pretty common in the Sanskrit world. No big deal. Thanks for posting a detailed reply.
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Douglas Neely wrote:
I can see we are going to have to agree to disagree on my Sanskrit abilities and the past translations. That is pretty common in the Sanskrit world. No big deal. Thanks for posting a detailed reply.

I'm not sure how best to respond to this... On the one hand, I don't want a quarrel, and I certainly don't want to argue from authority (so I won't mention for how many decades I've studied Sanskrit, or taught it at university). And of course you are right that scholars may differ on some points of translation and interpretation. On the other hand, I do feel a certain responsibility towards people who are interested in Indian astrological texts and have to rely on correct translations. So my suggestion would be that you seek a second opinion (or as many opinions as you like) from other professional scholars of Sanskrit, if you are disinclined to accept mine.
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Michael Douglas Neely



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Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Martin.

Like I said, no problem. I appreciate your input. I actually did change the word "flood" to "boat" in my translation after reading your feedback. My blog is just my first pass at it. It would definitely need to be gone over several times before I was satisfied with it.

I find errors all the time with Sanskrit translations published by Sanskrit professors with many decades of experience. Most people will take a professors word over mind because of the reputability factor. I don't get worked up about it. That is the way the world works. I just posted my entry to see if anyone else has translated the Bihat Jataka and get some feedback. Secondly, there is a severe lack of outreach from Sanskrit professors, institutions, and businesses with promoting a healthy Sanskrit community, while the same professors bemoan the lack of interest in Sanskrit. At this point, just getting people to talk about Sanskrit text translation is a minor miracle in itself when it does come up.
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pankajdubey



Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Michael
Looks like you can read the Devanagari script, so you could try the sanskrit commentary of Pandit Sitaram Jha:

https://ia801805.us.archive.org/34/items/jyotisha/brihat%20jataka%20%28varahamihira%29.pdf

Elsewhere, this is not a bad translation of the first verse:

Quote:
“भूयोभिः पटुबुद्धिभिः पटुधियां होराफलज्ञप्तये
शब्दन्यायसमन्वितेषु बहुशः शास्त्रेषु दृष्टेष्वपि ।
होरातन्त्रमहार्णवप्रतरणे भग्नोद्यमानमहं
स्वल्पं वृत्तविचित्रमर्थबहुलं शास्त्रप्लवं प्रारभे ॥”
For the sake of those who are frustrated in the attempt to cross the ocean of the science of Hora, after having come across many of works of authors well known intellect endowed with knowledge of grammar and logic I am writing this book which is concise, but possessing several meanings and variegated metres.


https://mihiraastro.com/abhi/apurva.aspx
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Michael Douglas Neely



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Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pankajdubey,

Yes, I can read Devanagari script. Thanks for the link! I really appreciate it.

Michael
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