In this literary essay, Tushar G explores the role of translated literature in India and its changing face.
With 22 recognized languages, hundreds of mother-tongues, and thousands of dialects, almost every individual in India is bilingual if not multilingual. Indian has a rich history in translation since the earliest translations of Ramayana and Mahabharata, which were written in ancient Indian languages. Most of the writers and poets from the old times were multilingual with literature written in more than one language. Vidyapati, Kabir, Meerabai, GuruNanak, Namadev, and Gulzar to name a few.
In India, most of us grow up learning and perfecting more than one language. In elementary school, we tend to stick to the local language of the city, town or state we live in. Gradually moving on to study a bit of Hindi, Sanskrit and other languages as a part of the curriculum to finally master English language for professional reasons.
With every reader, at least a bi-lingual, the literature takes variant shapes and forms into different ideas when crossed over into another language. The growth in art and craft of translation itself has seen growth since the nineteenth and twentieth century. If it wasn’t for the interaction with English, no one beyond the border would have heard about Rabindranath Tagore. For his translation of Gitanjali, made the marks of Indian literature into the western literary footprints.