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Reading a rare work

Rev. John Garrett’s The BHAGAVAT-GEETA of 1846 in Kannada is a rare multi-lingual version

“The Bhagavat-Geeta Or, Dialogues of Krishna and Arjoon, in Eighteen Lectures : Sanscrit, Canarese, and English, in Parallel Columns” is a rare multilingual version of the Bhagavat-Geeta. Edited by Rev. John Garrett, this unique book is printed by B.Rungah at Wesleyan Mission Press, Bangalore in 1846. This work is dedicated to General M. Cubbon, Commissioner for the Government of the Territories of H.H. the Rajah of Mysore. It is a five language version which has English translation [1784] of Sir Charles Wilkins with his preface and notes etc. John Garrett, the editor has translated this Bhagavat-Geeta into Kannada from Sanskrit, and from the English translation of Charles Wilkins.

Introduction written to the English translation of Charles Wilkins [1784], by Hon. Warren Hastings, esq, Governor General of India at that time, has been incorporated into this book. A.G.A.Schlegel’s Latin Transalation (in English Script) of the Geeta in 1823, is also included in this book. The text of Geeta in Devanagari script edited by A.G.A.Schlegel is given in this section. This Devanagari text of Bhagavat-Geeta is being used worldwide as an authentic text of Bhagavat-Geeta even by Indian traditional scholars for research studies. Improved Kannada renderings of some shlokas from 11-13 chapters of Geeta by Rev.G. Weigle is given separately. Some general outlines of the great epic poem Mahabharata of which Geeta is an episode, is added from Wilson’s preface to Johnson’s “ Selections from the Mahabharata”. A brief sketch of the philosophy of the Bhagavat-Geeta is given here and it has been taken from an article namely, “ Sanscrit Poetry” written by Rev. H.Milman. Various readings of Geeta, edited by Rev. H. Gundert and F.Muller, collected from Malayalam manuscripts and commentaries, as well as several readings from Calcutta edition of the Mahabharata, edited by G.H.Weigle are really useful for the readers. An additional note by one Sree-Dhar Swamee is added in the Notes of Sir C. Wilkins. An English translation by Rev.G.H.Weigle in 1847, of “Essay on the episode of Mahabharat, known by the name of Bhagavat-Geeta” into Germanby William De Humboldt, is an attraction of this book. This essay is a printed version of the lectures delivered by Humboldt, in the Berlin Academy of Science, on the June 30, 1825 and June 15, 1826. At the end of the book “An Essay on the BHAGAVAT-GEETA” (Dec16, 1847) by the Rev. R.D. Griffith , a renowned literary critic is included.

Reading a rare work

This multilingual book edited by J. Garrett has utilised seven languages which are Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Sanskrit (in Devanagari & Kannada scripts), English, Latin (in English script) and German (in English ccript) languages. Four different fonts of of the above languages formulated collectively by Garrett, B. Rungah of Kannada Nativity and Watts are used in this version. Hence, this work is a rarest of rare books in Kannada. It is a book collector’s pleasure to own this book.

J. Garrett, the editor, has used three parallel columns for three languages, ie Sanscrit, Canarese, and English. In the first column, the editor gives Shlokas of Bhagavat-Geeta in Kannada script for the benefit of Kannada readers. The second column contains Garrett’s Translation of Geeta in Kannada Prose while the third column has the English translation of Geeta by Charles Wilkins. J.Garrett was a prominent foreign Christian missionary of old Mysore state in the 19th century whose contribution to Kannada literature is immense. He was a great scholar in Kannada, Tamil, Sanskrit, German, Persian, Latin languages. He established a printing press in Mysore around 1834, central high school in 1858 in 1858 in Bengaluru which became Central College in 1878. From 1840 to 1870, he held several designated posts in the Department of Public Instruction of Old Mysore State. He has about 20 literary titles in Kannada, English and German languages which include Dictionaries, Translations, Old Kannada Poetry, Mathematics, History and Poetical Anthology.

Reading a rare work

Euclid’s Geometry in Kannada, Kannada Translation of the Bible, and A Polyglot Vocabulary –English, German, Canarese, Tulu, Malayalam, in the Vernacular and Roman Letters are the other significant contributions of Garrett to Kannada Literature. In 1848, he wrote in two volumes about Kannada Literature in German Language. In 1868, he edited Kesiraja’s Shabdamanidarpanam”. Garrett has translated all the 701 Shlokas of 18 Chapters of Bhagavat-Geeta in simple Kannada prose and is very close to spoken Kannada of those times.

There are more than 300 translations of and commentaries on Bhagavat-Geeta by various Kannada authors like D.V.G (1966) Pu.Thi.Na (1951), Shanta Budagi (1911), Alura Venkata Rao and Keruru Vasudevacharya (1919), Tuppul Venkatacharya (1898), Kanale Puttappa (1889), Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1784 to 1868), Narasimha (1885) and others. John Garrett’s Kannada translation of Bhagavat-Geeta (1846), a rare and unique multilingual version is definitely a historically important work.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 4:08:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/reading-a-rare-work/article29723943.ece

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