Pratap Chandra Roy.

The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (Volume 9) online

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misery. Indeed, Babu Kisari Mohan worked with redoubled
zeal after my husband's death. That the work has been com-
pleted so soon after the departure of my husband, is due, in no
■ small measure, to the faithfulness with which Babu Ganguli
kept the promise which he had made to his dying friend.

Among the Agents employed by my husband for collecting
subscriptions and contributions in aid of the work, mention
should be made of Babus Manoranjan Bose, Surya Coomar
Shome, and Siddheswar Mitter. All of them worked with
zeal. Siddheswar Mitter, in particular, was loved by my hus-
band as a son. As long as he was connected with the Karya-
laya, Mitter also revered my husband as a father. His services
as an Agent were simply invaluable.

I come next to Babu Kali Dass Sen, the head of the print-
ing establishment of the Bharata Karyalaya. My husband

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used to respect and love Babu Sen. As a typesetter, he hasr
few equals whether as regards rapidity or accuracy of work.
As regards, again, capacity for organisation, he is a valuable
hand. He can overlook without friction a large establishment.
He has supervised all the editions of the Mahabharata, the
Ramayana, the Harivanga, and the Bhagavata, in original
and translation, that have come out of the Bharata Press.
His acquaintance with Sanskrit is respectable. His know-
ledge of English also is much greater than what is met with
in printers belonging to more pretentious establishments.

Last, though not least, my thanks are particularly due to
Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee. He succeeded Babu Durga
Charan Banerjee as Manager of the Bharata Karyalaya. En-
dued with great intelligence, within a very short period he
became fully competent for his manifold duties. His sound
knowledge of both Sanskrit and English enabled him to ma-
terially assist Babu Kisari Mohan Ganguli in the exposition of
many difficult passages in course of his work as also by cor-
recting the press. Babu Durga Charan's work, suspended by
his death, of supervising the editing of the original Mahabha-
rata, was also taken up by him. This duty of his he discharg-
ed with great ability and zeal. In consequence, again, of the
able supervision he exercised over all the details of every de-
partment of the Karyalaya, considerable economy could be
enforced without at all impairing efficiency. For the last two
years of his life my husband was unable to actively superin^
tend the Karyalaya. With difficulty he could leave the sick
chamber. He was absolutely unable to stir out of the house.
During the whole of this period, Babu Aghore Nath not only
supervised the Institution almost single-handed, but looked
after the medical treatment of my husband with the tenderness
and affection of a brother. My husband had no near relatives
in the world to stand by his bedside. The care and attention,
however, which Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee showed for him
prevented his feeling the absence of relatives. When he died,
we had not in the house money sufficient to defray his funeral
expenses. Babu Banerjee's forethought prevented inconveni-
ence of every kind. With the solemn injunction of my hus-

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bind 3till ringing in my ears about completing the Mahabha-
rata any how, without any money to my credit in the bank
or in the family chest, pierced with the intolerable grief of
recent widowhood, it was impossible for me to exert myself
in any direction. The kindness and care of Babu Banerjee,
coupled with tke words of encouragement that he spoke, filled
me with hope. He was to me a father, or a brother. The com-
pletion of the Mahabharata is due very largely to the redoubl-
ed zeal with which he set himself to work after my husband's
death. In his last days my husband often said that it was
not possible for him to repay his obligations to Babu Aghore
Nath Banerjee. If such was the nature of Babu Banerjee^s
services at the time my husband lived, the reader will readily
understand what the value of his services have been to me at
a time when I became overwhelmed with grief and when the
entire burthen of the Bharata Karyalaya fell upon my should-
ers. Unable to repay his lasting obligations to Babu Aghore
Nath Banerjee and Babu Kisari Mohan Ganguli, all that my
husband did was to address, the day before his death, a letter
to one of his foremost of patrons, imploring him earnestly to
do what he legitimately can for them. As regards myself,
all that I can do for them is to invoke the choicest blessings of
Vasudeva on them and theirs in course of my daily prayers.
May God listen to those feeble prayers of mine !

With these words I make my humble bow to the public in
general and the friends and patrons in particular of the
Datavya Bharata Karyalaya.

The Bharata KSrySlayaA

1. Raja Guru Dass' St., I SUNDARI BlLA ROY.

Calcutta, July 15th, 96. J


More than twelve years ago when Babu Pratapa Chandra
Roy, with Baba Durga Charan Banerjee, went to my retreat at
Seebpore, for engaging me to translate the Mahabharata into
English, I was amazed with the grandeur of the scheme. My
first question to him was, — whence was the money to come,
supposing my competence for the task. Pratapa then unfolded
to me the details of his plan, the hopes he could legitimately
cherish of assistance from different quarters. He was full of
enthusiasm. He showed me Dr. Rost's letter, which, he said,
had suggested to him the undertaking. I had known Babu
Durga Charan for many years and I had the highest opinion of
his scholarship and practical good sense. "When he warmly
took Pratapa's side for convincing me of the practicability of
the scheme, I listened to him patiently. The two were for
completing all arrangements with me the very day. To this
I did not agree. I took a week's time to consider. I consulted
some of my literary friends, foremost among whom was the late
lamented Dr. Sambhu C. Mookerjee. The latter, I found, had
been waited upon by Pratapa. Dr. Mookerjee spoke to me of
Pratapa as a man of indomitable energy and perseverance.
The result of my conference with Dr. Mookerjee was that I
wrote to Pratapa, asking him to see me again. In this second
interview estimates were drawn up, and everything was ar-
ranged as far as my portion of the work was concerned. My
friend leffe with me a specimen of translation which he had
received from Professor Max Muller. This I began to study,
carefully comparing it sentence by sentence with the original.
About its literal character there could be no doubt, but it had
no flow and, therefore, could not be perused with pleasure by
the general reader. The translation had been executed thirty
years ago by a young German friend of the great Pundit.
I had to touch up every sentence. This I did without at all
impairing faithfulness to the original. My first "copy" was set
up in type and a dozen sheets were struck off. These were
submitted to the judgment of a number of eminent writers
European and native. All of them, I was glad to see.

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approved of the specimen, and then the task of translating
the Mahabharata into English s-eriously began.

Before, however, the first fasciculus could be issued, the
question as to whether the authorship of the translation
should be publicly owned, arose. Babu Pratapa Chandra Roy
was against anonymity. I was for it. The reasons I adduced
were chiefly founded upon the impossibility of one person
translating the whole of the gigantic work. Notwithstanding
my resolve to discharge to the fullest exent the duty that I
took up, I might not live to carry it out. It would take many
years before the end could be reached. Other circumstances
than death might arise in consequence of which my connection
with the work might cease. It could not be desirable to issue
successive fascicules with the names of a succession of transla-
tors appearing on the title-pages. These and other considera-
tions convinced ray friend that, after all, my view was correct.
It was, accordingly, resolved to withhold the name of the trans-
lator. As a compromise, however, between the two views, it
was resolved to issue the first fasciculus with two prefaces, one
over the signature of the publisher and the other headed
"Translator's Preface." This, it was supposed, would effectually
guard against misconceptions of every kind. No careful reader
would then confound the publisher with the author.

Although this plan was adopted, yet before a fourth of the
task had been accomplished, an influential Indian journal
came down upon poor Pratapa Chandra Roy and accused him

openly of being a party to a great literary imposture, viz., of
posing before the world as the translator of Vyasa's work when,
in fact, he was only the publisher. The charge came upon my
friend as a surprise, especially as he had never made a secret
of the authorship in his correspondence with Oriental scholars
in every part of the world. He promptly wrote to the journal
in question, explaining the reasons there were for anonymity,
and pointing to the two prefaces with which the first fasci-
culus had been given to the world. The editor readily admitted
his mistake and made a satisfactory apology.

Now that the translation has been completed, there can no

longer be any reason for withholding the name of the trans-

( 3 )

lator. The entire translation is practically the work of one
hand. In portions of the Idi and the Sabha Parvas, I was
assisted by Babu Charu Chandra Mookerjee. About four forms
of the Sabha Parva were done by Professor Krishna Kama!
Bhattacharya, and about half a fasciculus, during my illness,
was done by another hand. I should, however, state that before
passing to the printer the 'copy' received from these gentlemen
I carefully compared every sentence with the original, making
such alterations as were needed for securing a uniformity of
style with the rest of the work.

I should here observe that in rendering the Mahabharata
into English I have derived very little aid from the three
Bengali versions that are supposed to have been executed with
care. Every one of these is full of inaccuracies and blunders
of every description. The Canti, in particular, which is by
far the most difficult of the eighteen Parvas, has been made a
mess of by the Pundits that attacked it. Hundreds of ridicu-
lous blunders can be pointed out in both the Rajadharma and
the Mokshadharma sections. Some of these I have pointed
out in foot-notes.

I cannot lay claim to infallibility. There are verses in the
Mahabharata that are exceedingly difficult to construe. I have
derived much aid from the great commentator Nilakantha.
I know that Nilakantha's authority is not incapable of being
challenged. But when it is remembered that the interpreta-
tions given by Nilakantha came down to him from preceptors
of olden days, one should think twice before rejecting Nila-
kantha as a guide.

About the readings I have adopted, I should say that
as regards the first half of the work, I have generally adhered
to the Bengal texts ; as regards the latter half, to the printed
Bombay edition. Sometimes individual sections, as occuring
in the Bengal editions, differ widely, in respect of the order of
the verses, from the corresponding ones in the Bombay edition.
In such cases I have adhered to the Bengal texts, convinced
that the sequence of ideas has been better preserved in the
Bengal editions than the Bombay one.

I should express my particular obligations to Pundit Ram

{ 4 )

Nath Tarkaratna, the author of "Vasudeva-Vijayam" and other
poems, Pundit Shyama Charan Kaviratna, the learned editor
of Kdvyaprakdsha with the commentary of Professor Mahesh
Chandra Nayaratna, and Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee, the
manager of the Bharata Karyalaya. All these scholars were
my referees on all points of difficulty. Pundit Ram Nath's solid
scholarship is known to them that have come in contact with
him. I never referred to him a difficulty that he could not
clear up. Unfortunately, he was not always at hand to consult.
Pundit Shyama Charan Kaviratna, during my residence at
Seebpore, assisted me in going over the Mokshadharma sections
of the Canti Parva. Unostentatious in the extreme, Kaviratna
is truly the type of a learned Brahman of ancient India.
Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee also has, from time to time,
rendered me valuable assistance in clearing my difficulties.

Gigantic as the work is, it would have been exceedingly
difficult for me to go on with it if I had not been encouraged
by Sir Steuart Bay ley, Sir Auckland Colvin, Sir Alfred Croft,
and, among Oriental scholars, by the late lamented Dr. Rein-
hold Rost, and Muns. A. Barth of Paris. All these eminent
men knew from the beginning that the translation was proceed-
ing from my pen. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm with which
my poor friend, Pratapa Chandra Roy, always endeavoured
to fill me, I am sure my energies would have flagged and pati-
ence exhausted but for the encouraging words which I always
received from these patrons and friends of the enterprise.

Lastly, I should name my literary chief and friend. Dr.
Sambhu C. Mookerjee. The kind interest he took in my
labours, the repeated exhortations he addrestsed to me incul-
cating patience, the care with which he read every fasciculus
as it came out, marking all those passages which threw light
upon topics of antiquarian interest, and the words of praise
he utterod when any expression particularly happy met his
eye, served to stimulate me more than anything else in going
on with a task that sometimes seemed to me endless,
Calcutta, 1


July 15th, 1896. J


Online LibraryPratap Chandra RoyThe Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (Volume 9) → online text (page 42 of 42)