English translations to kindle interest in Sanskrit classics

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) The works of Bhasa, one of the earliest playwrights in Sanskrit, are remarkable in their nearness to modern idiom despite their antiquity, according to former diplomat A N D Haksar.

Mr Haksar's English translations of Bhasa's "The Shattered Thigh and Other Plays" and Dandin's "Tales of the Ten Princes" were released here on Monday evening.

Mr Haksar, a long time student of Sanskrit literature and well-known translator of Sanskrit classics, described the works as "elegant and delightful". The pieces were chosen by him to attract modern-day readers to the lives and values of that time.

Focusing the purpose of translating the classics into English, he said it would help to revive the lost glory of Sanskrit literature in the country.

"The Shattered Thigh..." is a selection from the earliest plays by one of the major dramatists in classical Sanskrit, Bhasa, who lived nearly 2000 years ago. Six of his plays, forming the present collection, are based on the Mahabharata.

The reasons behind adopting the plays are the skilful melding of dialogue, dramatic action, unconventional theme and the short and fast-paced nature. These qualities made them remarkable in their nearness to the modern idiom despite their antiquity, the author explained.

Among the six plays in the book, most of them focus on the losing side, the Kauravas, where the hero is actually the epic story's villain. "The Shattered Thigh", titled "Urubhangam" in the original, depicts Duryodhana, lying with his thigh shattered by Bhima's mace, awaiting death and ruminating about his course of action that has brought doom to the clan.

The other book, "Tales of the..." is translation of "Dashakumara Charitam", a romance-adventure novel from ancient India by Dandin, a pioneering theorist of literary style in Sanskrit literature.

Its colourful tales are notable for their ironic humour, amoral outlook and uninhibited descriptions of contemporary life and manners.

Well-known theatre personalities Bhaskar Ghose and Sinia Dugal read out extracts from both the books.


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