Acceptance Speech on the occasion of Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize and Bhasha Samman Special Fooction (19.8.02)
While gratefully and gracefully accepting Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize for year 2001 on the book’ Samay 0 Bahi Samay’, I shall like to share with you that why I chose to translate Paash’s poetry in Hindi and how I completed this task. As you know ‘Samay O’ Bhai Samay’ is Hindi translation of Paash’s selected poetry. By the narration of this experience, my perception about the significance of translation and the problems of translation activity shall also come to the fore.
By way of background, I shall like to share with you that my earliest translation activity started in early seventies. It was sometimes in 1967 end or 1968 that I started translating Manmath Nath Gupt’s Hindi book’ Bharat Ke Krantikari ‘ in my mother tongue Pwljabi. This book was published by Hind Pocket Books in popular paperback edition and it contained sketches of eighteen revolutionary martyrs of freedom movement, which included martyrs Bhagat Singh and Chandarshekhar Azad and like. I used to read lot of
creative literature as well as books on freedom movement,
particularly on revolutionaries of the country in Hindi and Panjabi languages. I was teaching Hindi in a High School at that time and had good Command over both Hindi and Panjabi languages. This
first translation activity I performed , had an emotional impulse of
paying tribute to the great revolutionary martyrs of the country in my own way. By translating these sketches in Punjabi, I wished that people of my state and surroundings should know about these martyrs. Technically, these translations were like first exercise in translation, but all these translated articles were published in very reputed Panjabi journals like’ Aarsee’, ‘Preetlari’ and in the periodical of ‘ Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Committee’ – ‘ Desh Bhagat ‘Yaadan’ (Memories of Patriots) . Unfortunately, today neither I have got the copy of that book in Hindi, nor the complete file of those translated articles in Punjabi’, of course, a few of those are still with me.
So the first thing in my own activity in translation and which is part of my perception of translation or any writing is the purpose fullness. I do translation or any other writing with a certain purpose,
to elaborate it further- monetary gain has never been my purpose of
translation or other writings, though I will not deny that I have occasionally gained some money from my translations. To get fame has also not been very strong impulse for my translation activity or other writing. The most strong impulse behind my translations or other writings has been to present to readers of a particular language, a literature of my choice and if that literature is liked and appreciated by the readers of that particular language, that becomes my greatest satisfaction in performing this task.
Though I have done lot of critical writing in Hindi, Punjabi and English about Indian and world literature, yet I know that few books of mine, which have got recognition and popularity also, are related to translation and editing. My co-edited book based on documents of Shahed Bhagat Singh has been tremendously popular in Hindi for the last 16 or 17 years. Same way my translation of Paash’s poetry in Hindi is equally popular in Hindi speaking states of the country,
which is spread in many books now.
But I was to share with you that why and how I came to translate Paash , the end result of which has brought me here in your esteemed company. On 23rd March 1988, I was in Rohtak, in connection with a seminar in memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. On 24th March morning, when I was to get back to Patiala, I saw the morning newspaper, which had the front page news of Paash’s killing at the hands of Khalistani terrorists at his native village Talwandi Salem. Ironically, Paash was a fond follower and admirer of Bhagat Singh and it was on his martyrdom day, that, he also laid down his life at the young age of 38 years. Like Bhagat Singh, he also died for the ideas and cause dear to his heart. Paash personally also was close to me. The news was shocking and saddening both. But It gave me a resolve to tell the terrorists that they may kill the persons, but they can not kill the ideas. Ideas can become even stronger if they are tried to be suppressed by killing people, as happened in the case of
British colonialism’s phony judicial killing of Bhagat Singh in 1931. Within a month of Paash’ s killing, I translated some of his very important poems in Hindi and alongwith an article, sent it to’ PEHL’, the very respected literary journal from Jabalpur, edited by Sh Gian
Ranjan. Within few months’ PERL’ came ouRanjan with a special edition on Paash’s poetry and Paash became very popular among Hindi readership. Then I took up to translate the total poetry of Paash in HIndi and on 23.3.89, at first death anniversary of Paash , the first collection of Paash’s poetry in Hind was published and released by Rajkamal Publishers at Delhi and it became instant hit with readers.
There were large number of unpublished poems by Paash. Paash memorial International Trust also took many years to publish complete poetry of Paash, which comes close to two hundred poems in all. Hindi translation of all these poems has now been completed and will be published and released soon.
It is no easy job to translate Paash’s poetry in any other language, even when languages are so close to each other as Hindi and Punjabi . The rural and colloquial colour of Paash’s poetry is very charming, but it is difficult to render in another language. I had made a long list of such words in Paash’s poetry, which I was finding it difficult to render in Hindi. On one hand, I consulted Paash’s father about these words, which had strong cultural background, some related to local folk tales, some related to peasantry and agricultural activity with completely local rural colour. At another level, I discussed my translation of Paash’s poetry with my Hindi poet friends to know the exact local words for same peasantry related
agricultural activity or for some parallel folk tale in Hindi region. That is how; I was able to render the spirit ofPaash’s poetry in Hindi language. Then there was aspect of diction. Paash has written few songs and ghazals as well. The exact metrical rendering of those songs and Ghazals was impossible, so I translated these in meter as
well as in free verse, rendering more in terms of meaning then in terms of meter. Largely Paash’s poetry is in free else, yet one has to
. create the inner rhythm of poem in another language. The range of
Paash’s poetry is quite wide and it has strong ideological connotations as well. So to translate Paash’s poetry, one has not only to be good at both languages; one has to understand and comprehend his ideas and concerns as well. Fortunately we were close to each other at ideological level, so I had the same passion as the poet had to render the ideas very forcefully. Paash’s poetry leaves a powerful impact upon its readers and it was a challenge for any translator, whether his or her translation can create the same impact or not, as the original poem creates. Here I tl1it1k I can claim a great deal of
satisfaction that my translation of Paash has gone so well with Hindi readership, that, many readers think Paash is a original Hindi poet.
And I do not want to be modest in saying that though I had also got another award this very year of a larger amount ( Rupee Fifty Thousand) from Central Hindi Directorate on another. book of mine, yet I feel much happy and satisfied in receiving Sahtiya Akademi Translation Prize, because it is a recognition of not only my translation exercise, but more than that, it is recognition of Paash’s poetry at national level. For me the translation of Paash’s poetry has
been a lob our of love and Sahitya Akademi Award for this labour of love is like love begetting love and luckiest is the man or woman on this earth, whose love begets love. So with all humility. I accept Sahitya Akademi’s love for Paash’s poetry.
Thanks once again.