The valedictory function of the 70th year celebrations held at Sanskrit College, Chennai, saw the release of two books — a transcomposition in Tamil of Vedanta Desika’s Paduka Sahasram by lawyer R. Kesava Iyengar and an English translation of Paduka Sahasram by lawyer D. Ramaswamy Iyengar. Paduka Sahasram is testimony to Desika’s poetic genius. Especially brilliant is the chitra paddhati section, where Desika, using syllables and words, conjures up visual images.

Releasing the books, M.K. Narayanan, former Governor of West Bengal, referred to the observation of William Jones, who knew 40 languages, that Sanskrit was more exquisitely refined than either Greek or Latin. Narayanan quoted Nehru, who said, “If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her greatest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly that it is the Sanskrit language and literature and all that it contains.”

Receiving the books, K. Parasaran, former Attorney General of India said that his father Kesava Iyengar’s transcomposition was first released in Tiruppullani in 1949. He said that Kesava Iyengar was a rare scholar, who knew Latin too. He recalled that Kesava Iyengar, D. Ramaswamy Iyengar and lawyer R. Gopalaswamy Iyengar (uncle of Justice M. Srinivasan) were close friends, who shared a common interest in Sanskrit and Visishtadvaita.

Parasaran said that the Lord’s padukas were an extension of the Lord’s mercy, and played the unifying role of bringing together God and devotee. Parasaran said that Sanskrit was the only language, where words, through both sound and meaning, conveyed emotions accurately. He complimented KSRI on continuing to serve the cause of Sanskrit, in a State where there was hostility towards the language.

D. Ramaswamy Iyengar has translated almost all of Desika’s works to English, with explanatory notes. His English translation of Paduka Sahasram was first serialised in Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’s journal — Saptagiri — and also in Srimad Andavan Ashramam’s journal — Paduka . It was apt that the book was released on Maasi Sravanam, which happened to be his tirunakshatram.

Dr. Kameswari, Director of KSRI, said that Kesava Iyengar’s Tamil transcomposition was amazing, because it had reproduced the chitra paddhati section too. She said Ramaswamy Iyengar’s work went beyond mere translation, and provided profuse notes that were revelatory. This helped to comprehend the more difficult portions of the transcomposition.

The two volumes together cost 800 rupees and can be bought from KSRI. Contact: (044) 24985320

Transcomposition means versified translation. In other words, the writer not only translates, but doubles up as a poet himself