Saturday, February 18, 2006

Et tu ... ?

This is with regard to K M Ganguly's translation of MhB,which I read often and had been considering myself quite authentic.. until, this happened.While going thro'

I was shocked to see "In honor of Krishna........ female slaves ... in thousands....were given away to Brahmanas"

I wrote to Dr K and as always he replied with lightning speed.. Check it up.


The text is from Mahaprasthanika parva:

It reads:

dadau ratnAni vAsA.nsi grAmAnashvAnrathAnapi .
striyashcha dvijamukhyebhyo gavA.n shatasahasrashaH .. 12..\
Ganguly's translation: In honour of Krishna, he also gave away many jewels and gems, and robes and clothes, and villages, and horses and cars, and female slaves by hundreds and thousands unto foremost of Brahmanas.

dadau = gave
ratna_ni = jewels
va_sa_nsi = clothes
gra_ma_n = villages
as'va_n = horses
ratha_napi = chariots also
striyas'ca = females also
dvijamukhyebhyo = foremost of brahmins
gava_n = cows
s'atasahasras'ah = thousands

The 'thousands' refers to cows, gava_n.

stri_s pl. = women, females, wives.

The correct reading will be:

gave to foremost of brahmins: wives, thousands of cows, etc. etc.

There is no sanction to translate stri_ as a female slave.

A clear error in translation.



With my limited knowledge of sanskrit, I too don't see any sort of reference to "slaves" , nor the Krishna reference... so also the thousands clearly go with cows, and not with the stri_s and the Brahmana part . The stri_s (plural) goes with dwijamukhyebhyo (plural again). And in my talk with Dr K later, he also mentioned how dwija (instead of Brahmana) gives a clue of "marriageble" men. So quite clearly, it was pointing to giving women in marriage.

(Well, may be the concept of social or community marriages , but hey, thats just an imagination from me)

Dr K also mentioned how normally KMG's translation is fine, but he too was surprised to see this .. Both of us agreed on one point . If what is considered as an authentic translation, can have such errors, I wonder, how much of an uphill task it would be to get the truth...

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