Dr. Sampadananda Mishra is planning to set up the new library.
By Sreekanth A. Nair
Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, director of the Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture at the Sri Aurobindo Society in Puducherry, is planning to set up a new library to translate Sanskrit scriptures to English.
The library called ‘Vande Mataram’ library will be an open-source, volunteer-driven project.
Mishra had earlier signed a petition demanding the removal of Sanskrit scholar Sheldon Pollock from his post as general editor of the Murty Classical Library of India established through a $5.2 million gift from Rohan Murty, the son of Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murthy and social worker and author Sudha Murty.
Mishra is working with businessman and amateur historian Rajiv Malhotra who drives the campaign against Pollock and has written a book called ‘The Battle for Sanskrit,’ in which he has criticized Pollock’s conclusions on Sanskrit writing.
He has also written another book called ‘Being Different’ and Mishra had closely worked with him for this book.
Mishra is working on Sanskrit projects at the Sri Aurobindo Society and also on a project on the potential healing power of certain Sanskrit chhandas (metres of verse).
The concept of the new library is said to be a challenge to Murty Library.
In an interview with Scroll.in, Mishra said that the library is still in the conceptual stage and nothing more has been decided. There will be three trustees. One among them will be Mishra and the two other members are to be decided. They are planning to produce 500 volumes of religious and non-religious Sanskrit work.
“The whole vision is to create – you know with this [technology entrepreneur] Narayana Murthy’s contribution to Columbia University and all – the whole idea is to create a virtual library with authentic people and authentic translators, which will be a technologically empowered project. Everything will be transparent and authentic. Unquestionable,” Mishra told Scroll.
“The idea was floated only two or three days ago. With what is going on – the petition and all these things – I floated this idea. Let that battle go on one side, but at the same time, we should create a virtual library and prove our competence. If people are saying Indians are not competent enough to do that [translate Sanskrit], let’s prove it by creating good works, not fighting just like this,” he added.
He said that the publications of Murty library are good, but sometimes they lack the spirit of the poem. He also said that Western and European scholars always tried to twist Sanskrit words at crucial places.
“For them, it will be like Chhatrapati is “Lord of Umbrella”. Or Ramakrishna Paramhansa will be the “Great Swan”. A common reader will be convinced that he is great, but the word “supreme” will not seed. “Great Swan” is fine. But where is the whole spirit behind the word Paramhansa? It is not the word but the spirit that has to be translated,” he said.
The library will be concentrating on Sanskrit texts, even scientific texts and unpublished manuscripts. It will also consider secular texts. They are also planning to translate Sanskrit works into other languages like Hindi.