Volumes, running up to 1,000 pages each, to be released by month-end

The mammoth task of bringing out Vachana literature of 12th century Karnataka in 10 languages has been completed by Basava Samiti with financial assistance from the government of Karnataka.

This is the first phase of the project which involves compiling 2,500 Vachanas in English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit, Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali, besides Kannada. The volumes in different languages will run into about 1,000 pages, complete with notes and annotations.

“The volumes will be released by the month-end,” said Arvind Jatti, president of Basava Samiti, which has been in the forefront in propagating the philosophy, life and teachings of Sharanas, including the 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara.

Vachana literature is a form of writing in Kannada that evolved in the 12th century as a part of the Veerashaiva movement. Sharanas of this movement have chronicled their experiences and the path towards divinity in this unique form of literature.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Arvind Jatti said that the project was envisaged to translate Vachanas into all the scheduled languages of the country, besides four foreign languages — French, Spanish, Chinese and German. The State government had provided a special grant of Rs. 1 crore for the project, he added.

After the release of the translated version of Vachanas in 10 languages, work on bringing them out in the rest of the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution would commence in the second phase. In the third phase, Vachanas will be translated in Spanish, French, Chinese and German languages. “Experts who can translate them into four foreign languages have been identified”, he said.

M.M. Kalburgi, the former Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University Hampi, who is also the director of the translation project, said that it was a mammoth task to select 2,500 Vachanas of the Sharanas from the 12th to 18th century. After painstaking research, the editorial board picked representative Vachanas from the time of Basaveshwara to that of Thontada Siddalingaswamy.

As many nine editors have worked on translations with the assistance of language experts for nearly three years. Editorial board had prepared a detailed guideline for taking up the translation. “All steps were taken to retain essence of original in the translations”, he explained.

Translating Vachanas was quite a challenge. Besides translating the literal sense, it was important to ensure that the philosophy that the Vachanas propagate is brought out in the translated version. Kannada was the source language, and English and Hindi were used as communicating language at the time of translating Vachanas.

“In the capacity of the Director of the project, I assisted whenever editors sought my support”, he said.

Each volume is priced at Rs. 200, Mr. Kalburgi said.