HINDUISM AND SANATAN DHARMA

Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.

Vairagya-satakam-the-hundred-verses-on-renunciation-By Poet Bhartrihari

TRANSLATING: BHARTRIHARI-Part-1

translating bhartrihari 1Points Illustrated

1. Introduction to Sanskrit.

2. Using the Monier-Williams dictionary.

3. Getting at the meaning.

Bhartrihari

Little is known of Bhartrihari the man, {1} but he left some of the most pleasing lyrics in the Sanskrit canon. Each of the three shatakas or collections has one hundred cameo pieces. The Srngara gives us pictures of love and love-making. The Vairagya describes a gradual withdrawal from worldly matters, and the Niti deals with ethical conduct. {2} Our example comes from the Vairagya, chosen because its compact nature presents certain problems.

Original

The original

And transliterated from Devanagari:

Ayur varSazataM nRNAM rAtrau tadardhaM gataM
tasyArdhasya parasya cArdham aparam bAlatvavRddhatvayoh
zeSaM vyAdhiviyogaduHkhasahitaM sevAdibhir nIyate
jIve vAritaraNgabudbudasame saukhyaM kutah prANinAm

And the prose translation by A.B. Keith runs: {1}

To man is allotted a span of a hundred years;
half of that passes in sleep, one half is spent in childhood and old age;
the rest is spent in service with illness, separation and pain as companions.
How can mortals find joy in life that is like the bubbles on the waves of the sea?

There are no Internet versions I am aware of, but here is the translation by the Indian novelist and literary critic Dharanidhar Sahu: {3}

Man is born in the world
with a lifespan of a hundred years,
more or less, and he spends
half the time sleeping.
The half of the remaining years
is spent in infancy and dotage.
The remaining twenty five
are spent in suffering from various
diseases, in lamenting and grieving
over a series of bereavements
caused by the death of offspring
and other relatives, in working
hard day and night at the household
of the rich to scrape a living.
Living, as he must, a life so
full of turbulence
and wave-like unsteadiness,
when does man find time
to experience true happiness?

simple rearrangement:

Ayur varSazataM nRNAM rAtrau tadardhaM gataM
life year of age one hundred of man in stillness of night of that half gone
living one hundred years of man this half (is) gone in stillness of night

tasyArdhasya parasya cArdham aparm bAlatvavRddhatvayoh
of it of half of the last and half again of boyhood – old age
of that half a half again is boyhood and old age

zeSaM vyAdhiviyogaduHkhasahitaM sevAdibhir nIyate
remainder sickness separation sorrow accompanied attended with servants is led
remainder is led with sickness separation sorrow accompanied attending as servants

jive vAritaraNgabudbudasame saukhyaM kutah prANinAm
in alive in[water across-goer bubble like] happiness where of breathing
where is happiness in being alive like a crossing water bubble of breathing?

The rearrangement is barely English, but the meaning and some of the poetry are immediately conveyed. The Keith version is very close, but the translation is a little dated, and we are rather baffled by bubbles on the waves of the sea. Dharanidhar Sahu’s is an attractive and useful volume, but by adding humdrum expressions not in the original he has lost Bhartrihari’s condensed poignancy.

Second Draft

Readers who have found their way this far may wonder if the effort has been worthwhile. We could for example have taken the AB Keith translation, found that vAri means water and not sea, and employed the good literary word blown to pick up the connotations of breath, passing and water. A straightforward translation in an iambic pentameters would have been:

Half man’s hundred years is spent in sleep;
And youth and age withdraw a further half.
The rest sickness, sorrow, served as friends:
And joy, a bubble on the water blown

And if we’d felt, despite its absence from the original, that rhyme was needed to add shape to the stanza, we could have written:

Years seen as dotage, sleep, a childhood toy:
By halves, successively, man’s hundred bring
Him disappointment, sickness, suffering
And that brief bubble on the water, joy.

Or:

Man serves by halves his hundred years of ends
in sleeping, dotage, a child’s passing toy:
and that blown bubble on the water, joy,
is joined with loss and illness as his friends.

None of these is contemptible, but we have lost some of the words and poignancy.

Third Draft

We’d probably do better to brood on the literal translation:

living one hundred years of man this half is gone in stillness of night
of that half a half again is boyhood and old age
remainder is led with sickness separation sorrow accompanied attending as servants
where is happiness in being alive like a crossing water bubble of breathing?

and not bother overmuch about fitting it into standard English form for the present — indeed it’s to extend those forms that we undertake translations, or is one reason for so doing. A free verse form:

1. Living one hundred years, man is half gone into the stillness of the night,
and of the half remaining, half is boyhood and old age: the rest
is lived with trouble, sickness, separation as attending servants
where is happiness in that crossing bubble on the water’s breath?

An iambic pentameter form again, but one which doesn’t miss out too many words:

2. A hundred years are man’s: half spent in sleep,
And half again are boyhood and old age.
The rest is served by illness, loss and pain,
Where joy’s a water bubble, passing breath.

And some hexameter quatrains:

3. Of man’s one hundred years, half is stillness of
the night, and half again but boyhood and old age:
when served by sickness, sorrow, separation, where
is pleasure’s crossing bubble in the water’s breath?

4. One hundred years, and half is stillness of the night,
and half again then boyhood and old age: when served
by ill-health, sorrow, separation, where’s the pleasure
in life’s but passing bubble on the water blown?

5. Half man’s hundred years is stillness of the night,
and half again but boyhood and old age. The rest
is served with ill-health, sorrow, separation: where
is pleasure’s crossing bubble in the water’s breath?

6. One hundred years: one half is stillness of the night,
and half again is gone in boyhood or old age.
In what is left, accompanied by illness, loss and pain,
pleasure is a water bubble, passing breath.

7. One hundred years: one half is stillness of the night,
and half on waking spent in boyhood or old age.
What’s left is borne with illness, separation, pain
and pleasure as a water bubble, passing breath.

8. Half his hundred years is stillness of the night,
and half again but spent in boyhood or old age.
What’s left is borne with illness, separation, pain
and pleasure as a water bubble: passing breath.

TRANSLATING: BHARTRIHARI 2

translating bhartrihari 2Points Illustrated

1. Difficulties in conveying the quantitative nature of Sanskrit verse.2. Investigate Hank Heifetz‘s belief that Sanskrit verse is better rendered by some free verse form, and not by restrictive iambic verse or its derivatives.

3. Breaking the long line into a 4 3 form.

Original

We start with Verse 100 of the Níti Shataka, for which M.R. Kale {1} gives the following prose translation:

A bowl to that Karman by whom Brahmá was confined in the interior of the pot-like primordial egg (there to evolve his creation) like a potter; by whom Vishnu was hurled into the very troublesome intricacy of ten incarnations; by whom Shiva has been compelled to alms, skull in hand, and in obedience to whom the sun ever roams the sky.

With this unpromising material we shall try to:

  1. devise a syllabic verse to accommodate the quantitative Sanskrit metre,

  2. convey/translate the rhythmic and melodic properties of the original, and

  3. make something approximating to poetry.

We start with the Devanagari transliteration:

brahmA yena kulAlavanniyamito brahmANDabhANDodare
viSNuryena dazAvatAragahane kSipto mahAsaMkaTe
rudro yena kapAlapANipuTake bhikSATanaM kAritaH
sUryo bhrAmyati nityameva gagane tasmai namaH karmaNe

brah mA ye na ku lA la van ni ya mi to | brah mAN Da bhAN Do da re

viS Nur ye na da zA va tA ra ga ha ne | kSip to ma hA saM ka Te

rud ro ye na ka pA la pA Ni pu Ta ke | bhik SA Ta naM kA ri taH

sUr yo bhrAm ya ti nit ya me va ga ga ne | tas mai na maH kar ma Ne

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2015 by in bhartrihari and tagged .

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