Drona compelled Ekalavya to cut off his right thumb. Translation-project in the colonial context has got Ekalavya’s fate. Thus, from now on, we shall call source language text as Dronacarya text and target language text as Ekalavya text. Violence and threats are all pervading realities in the world of competition. Sudhindranath Dutta’s text was analyzed by the (s)taker.
In the 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.
To subscribe above propositions, let us posit an ad hoc hypothesis: Rabindranath Tagore translated Eliot’s ‘(The) Journey of the Magi’ without reading ‘Journey of the Magi.’ This peculiar as well as surprising hypothesis is subscribed by the chronology of events occurred within the pretext of confronting derivative modernity by Tagore. The Bengali young ‘modern’ thinkers, writers poets, viz. Dhurjatiprasad Mukhopadhyay (better known as D.P. Mukherji), Sudhindranath Dutta, Buddhadev Basu, Bishnu De et al., were debating with Tagore on the norms of newly introduced concept of ‘modernity’ and particularly on Eliot’s contribution on the modern ‘international’(?) literature. This polemic is elaborated by the investigator with the citation of four different Ekalavya texts of the same poem, ‘Journey of the Magi’ to reveal the emission of surplus meanings by deploying anekanta (theory of many perspectives) method.
NEOLOGISMS: Dronacarya Text (Source Language Text), Ekalavya-Text (Target Language Text), sUbotage, Colotage (Colonial sUbotage).
For detailed discussion, kindly follow hyperlinks (blue-colored titles)
- “Impossibility Of Translation: A Case Study” . Seminar on translation organized by Sidho-Kanho-Birsa University and National Literacy Mission, Central Institute of Indian Languages. Download (.pptx)
- “The Ekalavya Relation”Seminar on translation organized by Sidho-Kanho-Birsa University and National Literacy Mission, Central Institute of Indian Languages. Download (.pptx)
- “তর্জমার তর্জনী বা একলব্যের বুড়ো আঙ্গুল [The Ekalavya Relation: Modernist Locals’ Anti-Modernist Response(s)]” 2007. Das Anirban ed. baNlay binirman, Obinirman.(pp. 306-23) Kolkata: Ababhas. Reprinted in Ashtray VI. January, 2015. (pp.5-24) Reprinted from: Jijnasa. 2004. XXIV:2 (pp.150-64) 2002. Download (.pdf)
- তর্জমার তর্জনী বা একলব্যের বুড়ো আঙ্গুল (The Governance of Translation and Ekalavya’s Thumb). Rabindranath’s Translation of Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” and the plurality of translations. Kolkata: Janapadaprayas. ISBN-81-902893-1-4 Download (.pdf)
- “Other ব্যাপারি: মহাশ্বেতা ভায়া গায়ত্রী [Others’ Business or Business of Others : Mahasweta Via Gayatri]”. Sil, B. ed. KuRal uTThaw. [A collection of Bangla Articles on Mahasweta Devi] ChuchRa, W.B: Janapadprayas. (pp. 18-27) Reprinted from: 2003. Janapadprayas. (pp. 18-27) Download (.pdf)
- (with A. De) “Togetherness of English: The Intimate Enemy”. Indian Journal of linguistics. XX:1 (pp.41-55) Download (.pdf)