The Ekalavya Relation: Modernist Locals’ Anti-Modernist Response(S)

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Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

 Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

January 26, 2007

2007. Das Anirban ed. baNlay binirman, Obinirman.(pp. 306-23) Kolkata: Ababhas. Reprinted from: Jijnasa. 2004. XXIV:2(pp.150-64) 2002. “The Ekalavya Relation : Translation and Colonialism.” A UGC-Sponsored Seminar on “Translation and Colonialism”. Maharani Kasiswari College, Kolkata. (INVITED)

In the great Indian epic Mahabharata, the legendary hero with so-called “tribal” origin, Eklavya, after being refused by the royal preceptor Dronacharya, the military-trainer, made himself well equipped in the art of archery through dedicated practice in front of a clay-model of Dronacharya. However, he had to pay gurudaksina (‘paying the preceptor’, from whose absence he learnt the techne of archary) to Dronacharya by cutting his right thumb that acts as a liver to shoot the arrow. In this way, Dronacharya succeeded to retain the royal dominance of his royal disciples and to erase subaltern mastery. Sudhindranath Dutta (30.10.1901-25.06.1960), a Bengali poet cum theoretician, in his introduction to the Bengali translation of English, German and French verses (the collection is named as ‘’Protiddhoni’’ meaning “echo”), compared the relationship between “original” Source Language Text and its “translated” Target Language Text to the relationship between Dronacharya and Eklavya. This Eklavya-relation, as stipulated here, is almost like Shakespeare’s Aerial-Prospero relation, where Prospero is speaking through the voice of Aerial. Eklavya, as it was told in the Mahabharata, cannot do without the icon of Dronacharya. It is a ‘simple’ case of donor-receptor relationship? Following Dasgupta’s (1993) discourse reception theory, one may hypothetically paraphrase such situation as: Dronacharya is the donor and the Eklavya is the receptor and obviously there was no reciprocal exchange in between these two. Now the question is: in the context of translation may we erase the ‘original’ icon of Dronacharya? When translating, is anyone licensed to kill the author without being colonized by the original author(-ity)? Does the act of translation leads to subversive as well as disruptive performance? Taking cue from this Dronacharya-Eklavya relation, from now on, the Source Language Text will be called Dronacharya-Text (henceforth DT) and Target Language Text as Eklavya-Text (henceforth ET. This metaphor of a subalternity in the context of translation inaugurates problems that are to be dealt here in reference to two other contemporaries of Sudhindranath Dutta, viz. Buddhadeb Basu (30.11.1908-18.03.1974) and Abu Sayeed Ayyub (?-?-1906-21.12.82). Firstly, if we follow this metaphor thoroughly, we have to confirm, epistemologically speaking, that this dominator-dominated relationship always sustains in case of any translation: subaltern ET always(?) suffers and dominant DT unknowingly enjoys the sacrifice of ET. However, we cannot take this simplified story as truism. It inaugurates another question: When a White Man (sexism intended) is translating colony’s text, does the same hierarchy of relations between DT and ET persist? Are we being allowed to write a context-free formulae or matheme like this DT=(f) ET ? Secondly, any person can establish a context-free functional equation with another person without inhibiting him-/herself about respective cultures. However, in this seemingly simple equation, colonial politics appears without invitation with a few question marks of its own. Thus one might have to talk about context-sensitive hierarchical relationship shunning off such simple equation. Thirdly, when an accomplished scholar-poet, after years of concentrated dedication to one single goal, ruefully accepted in the introduction of his/her work that s/he failed to capture the essence of the originals, that he was only able to play the role of Eklavya, does that not deceives the readers of their righteous ideological satisfaction? Does the Eklavya-Text smuggle its own voice into the Dronacharya-Text, smothering the intentions of the creator in the process? Are the readers of the ET being deceived the ET? If the ET-writer is a smuggler, who adulterate the original DT and even does not touch the DT, s/he is then deceiving the native readers. Is it not so? Then how do THEY attest the voice(s) of third world local intellectuals? How do non-/collaborator locals pose their own imagination or masterpiece? The crucial question of freedom is constrained here by the boundary of termination (e.g., a roof’s boundary) if not they are endorsed by the masters of the (academic) universe. Thus, the introductory essays of Dutta’s Pratidhvani /protidhoni/ “Echo” inaugurate many such problematic zones of translation studies. Among them I, broadly speaking, am going to mention here only two central problems, the other problems mentioned by Dutta are subsidiary to these two problems related to translation enterprise: Epistemological problem , Political or colonial problem.


Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: Dronacharya Text (Source Language Text), Eklavya-Text (Target Language Text), Anekanta reading of texts, Deconstruction, Translation Studies, Mimicry of Overdetermination, sUbotage, Colotage, Colonialism

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About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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One Response to The Ekalavya Relation: Modernist Locals’ Anti-Modernist Response(S)

  1. Pingback: The Ekalavya Relation: Modernist Locals’ Anti-Modernist Response(S) | debaprasad

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