Kanakadasa, Chandrakanta, and The Gift of the Heart: A Short Review
Three Short Reviews:
Select Songs of Kanakadasa. Tr. Shashidhar G. Vaidya. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2018, pp. 160. ISBN 978-81-7977-635-3.
Kanakadasa, a 16th century poet of the Bhakti Cult, is a Kannada saint-poet known for his ‘keertans’. Unfortunately he is little known to most Indians who do not know Kannada. His poetic stature as a saint-poet, notes Dr A V Navada, is no less than that of Guru Nanak, Tulsidas, Meerabai, Kabir, Narasi Mehta, Lalleshwari and many others recognised world-wide.
The Kannada poet is sung in various ‘raga’ and ‘tala’ for his surrender to God, pursuance of Truth, revelation of reality behind appearances, sociospiritual vision, condemnation of superstitions in a caste-ridden society, and all that disturbs the common man today. He still motivates us for awareness of human realities and following moral values in a degenerating society.
Dr Shashidhar Vaidya’s bilingual and bicultural competence as translator of the Kannada poet’s 102 selected ‘keertans’, divided into 11 sections, gives a feel of the original flavour, meaning, music and lyricism. He is helpful to readers in negotiating Kanakadasa’s vision with his short summary, glossary and explanation that follows each song.
The book is a significant contribution to Literatures in Translation and Indian Writing in English.
Chandrakanta by Devaki Nandan Khatri. Tr. Ram Bhagwan Singh and C.L. Khatri. New Delhi: Prabhat Paperbacks, 2018, ISBN 978-93-5266-738-3.
I first read the Hindi novel as a boy. My father had its copy, which is now lost. But with hazy impressions of its first reading, and reading the work Singh and Khatri have produced in English, I can imagine how challenging their task must have been to create the flavour of the original fantasy and romance in today’s English.
The challenge lies in their interlingual abilities in trying to provide with clarity and precision expressions for the almost untranslatable Hindi idioms and phrases, signs and symbols, imagery and locale, and culturally loaded metaphors and verbal ethos. One can guess how difficult the choice of vocabulary and phrasal idioms must have been to be faithful to the 19th century Hindi discourse style.
A sympathetic reader alone can sense the flow and energy of the original composition despite certain pragmatic communicative issues in the translators’ use of a mix of word-for-word and sense-for sense approach.
Their book is a major contribution to the growing corpus of Indian Literatures in Translation. Kudos to Professors Ram Bhagwan Singh and C.L. Khatri.
Anastasia Dumitru. Inimii/The Gift of the Heart. Romanian/English. Constanta: Editura Celebris, 2018, ISBN 978-606-8849-56-0
The initial impression of Anastasia Dumitru’s INIMII/THE GIFT OF THE HEART I had proved more than correct when I read the entire book once again.
It is indeed a search for truth, for new life, for experiencing the heaven within, via divine effulgences in some very fine micro lyrics. The poet-professor’s 3-liners are meditative, contemplative, and spiritually uplifting, lyrically making the moments of silence evocative. As a truth-seeker, she turns her soul-realization into symbols of love, hope and faith that refresh the spirit, purify the heart and illumine the mind.
It won’t be exaggerating if I say that The Gift of the Heart is an epic romance in brief lyrical fragments, rather flickers, with rare fervour, vigour and faith vis-a-vis the whirlpool of longing, the hunger of spirit, the tossing in agony, and the turn of imagination to grasp eternity in a moment of awareness: “give me only a moment–/I give you all my heart/in eternity.” Such a surrender, both physical and mental, to experience liberation through prayer, contemplation, compassion and love, a genuine salvation, or even nirvana, here on earth, in this life, is possible by discovering the heaven within, by human becoming divine: “in prayer–/the clay having the wings,/becoming the spirit.”
I enjoyed participating in Anastasia’s inner adventure and search for spiritual emancipation.