Prof. Donka alexandrova

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Indian Literature Translated in Bulgarian


The interest of Bulgaria in India dates back from time immemorial, he very name of this far away country, unknown but tempting for mankind, provoked the imagination of our ancestors, who were uaable to understand and explain it, called it "Dark India". However, during the period of the Bulgarian Renaissance, the first scientific notions about the Indian people and culture were born. The historian of philo­sophical thought, Prof. Michail Batehvarov in his report at the 57th session of the All Indian Organisation "Indian National Congress", reveals the Renaissance concepts of the Bulgarians about Indian Philo­sophy and culture, The prominent naturalist philosopher—Dr. Peter Beron specially explored the relation between Sanskrit and Slavic langu­ages and more precisely Indo European basis of the old Bulgarian langu­age. Many Indian and Slavic scientists like Prof. Lokesh Chandra, academician Vladimir Geogiev, Dr. Vimlesh K. Varma and others still are interested in the problem. The Bulgarian social figure and philoso­pher Ivan Seleminski concluded, that a number of religious rituals and principles of Christianity have their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, that directly or indirectly Indian philosophy and culture influenced Chris-tainity. During XIX century, many eminent Bulgarian Renaissance leaders raised voice in support of Indian people and their indepen­dence from British colonial domination. Among them Georgi Stoikov Ravovsky, Liuben Karavelov and others. Portentous are the words of the first Bulgarian Indologist as called by Dr. Gunada Prasad Mukharjee, Georgei Rakovsky, who on the occasion of the First war of Indian Inde­pendence in 1857 said : 'India must be free', India must belong to the people of India and not to England, sooner or later this must be so",
Right after the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish yoke in 1878, Bulgarian interest in India grew. In about half a century, the period from 1878 to 1944 were published more than 50 Indian works with literary, philosophical, yoga and other problematics. More important among them are "The short stories of the Benares and Kazal Kings" (1889), translated from French By G. Radev, Seletcted pages of ''Indian Poems Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Code of Manu" (1921), by G. Atanasov : 'Autobiography' of the great son of India Mahatma Gandhi', During this period from the liberation from Turkish domination to the establishment of an Independent People's Republic of Bulgaria in 1941, the most popular Indians in Bulgaria were Rabindra Nath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

Two events of the life of the great Bengali singer of the Indian soul-Rabindranath Tagore—interweaved closely with the soul of the begining of XX century, his being awarded with Nobel Prize in 1910 and his visit to Sofia in 1926. The poem 'Gitanjali', for which he was rewarded was translated into a number of languages all over the world. In Bulga­rian, the poem was translated four times in about 20 years (1923, 1927— two editions and twice in 1942). It was translated from Russian by Sava Chukalov, the author of the first Russian Bulgarian dictionaries, the popularizer of Russian and through the translation for it, and the top­most achievements of the world's culture.

During the same period of time, 20 works of Rabindranath Tagore were translated, Dr. Hr. Maximov translated the poem "Gardener' from Italian (1918), the famous historian of art Nikolai Rainow translated the novel "Home-World" in the collection "Mosaic of well-known contempo­rary novels" (1922). Again in the same collection, three years later, the writer Konstantin Konstantinov translated the novel "On four voices" through French in 1927. The novel "Grape-gathering" was translated by Ivan N. Altimirski through English in 1927. The eminent Bulgarian poet Atanas Dalcher translated a collection of selected short stories "Light and Shadows" in 1960. In the same years was published 'Letters to Russian', translated by Eleua Nikolova through Russian. In 1923 Tsvetan Dragovo-rov translated through German the drama "Chitra". From the above men­tioned titles we see that the creativity of Rabindranath Tagore found ready hearts in Bulgaria in all its genres poetry, prose and drama. Special social resource has the novel "Forest" translated twice through German by Vera Plachkova (1927) and through English by Sider Flerin (1961). In 1957 Sider Florin translated through English the novels "The Wreck" and "My Childhood", but in 1985 the publishing house "Narodna kul-tura" (editorial council ahead of Prof. Alexandar Shourbanov) published


three volumes of selected writings by Rabindranath Tagore, translation through Russian and English, done by Vladimir Tanev, Sider Florin and, Fleva Kirianova. The interpreters of Tagore's works were one of the most popular Bulgarian writers and scientists : Nikolai Rainov, Liudini Sfoianov Nikolai Liliev, Aseu Zlatarov, Konstantin Konstantinov, Atanas Dalekev, Vicko Ivanev and many others.

On occasion of the visit of Tagore to Bulgaria in November 1926, there were reports and notices in the press by some the most famous Bulgarian writers and scientists like Georgy Karaslavov Tsvetan Min-kov and others. At that time were published the books by Vasil Stavrev "Life and Creativity of Rabindranath Tagore (1927) and by Vicko Ivanov "The Wisdom of Tagore" (1926).

In the decades that followed the intensive contact of the Bulgarian readers with Tagore did not stop. Until now about 70 editions of his works have been published, hundreds of stories, verses, essays, article and thoughts. There is probably no serious literary series, which is without an Indian classic.

The name of Mahatma Gandhi became very popular in Bulgria in the 1920-s. His autobiography was one of the books, most widely read in Bulgaria in the thirties. John Goumher's ''iDside Asia" acquired an enormous popularity at the time mainly to the chapters about representa­tives of India's social and political life.

The Bulgarian translations of Indian literary works cannot, by themselves give an idea of the popularity of India and Indian culture in Bulgaria in the 1920-s and 1930-s. The Bulgarian intelligentsia then was polyglothic by necessity. Private Libraries contained impressive collec­tions of books in various languages on the ethnography of Indian lands and the history of Indian culture and art. The interest in India was growing.

This great interest aroused in India persisted even at a time when the influence of German impressionism in literature, theatre art and painting was very strong, when the influence of the young Soviet Literateur was intensifying and the new names in French literature were becoming popular. Precisely at the time Nikolai Rainov, a well known Bulgarian writer, was working on ancient Indian art as part of his General History of Art in 12 volumes.

The famous Bulgarian artist Boris Georgiev was getting ready for his long journey—along the Indus river valley where he was to paint port­raits of the leaders of the Indian National Congress Party. Emamiel Popdimitrov a melancholic poet, wrote a brilliant essay on Sankhya. In 1925 Niklai Rainov translated from Max Muller's translation of "Kathopanishads" into Bulgarian and it played a role in the forma-

tion of a whole generation of intellectuals. In the 1930-S. Djerov put out a thin volume of ancient Indian verse, which even today is astoun­ding as an aesthetic achievement.

In L92L the Bulgarain historian of philosophy Prof. Ivan Georgov published "History of philosophy" in which he examines the basics of old Indian philosophical systems : Mimansa, Vayshesiiika, Nyaya, Sankhya Yoga, Vedanta and Buddhism. But under the influence of some of the well known bourgeois indelogists (P. Deussen, M. Muller etc.) he omitted tenJeniioujly the materialist philosophical thought (Lokayata-Charvaka) that comes up long before the mentioned systems and has been of impor­tance even for the people. But inspite of the insignificant size of the fully independent positive elaborations of the author, they supply the Bulgarian reader for the first time with the possibility together some information about the ancient Indian religious and philosophical thought.

Several years after Liberation of Bulgaria from monarchy to—-fascist rule in 1944, when the war's passions had died and the country steadily started on the way of socialism interest in the wonderful India arose again.

The new social conditions also stirred up new artistic needs of the Bulgarian reader. The builders of the Young Bulgarian Republic dreamed of creating a society of social justice and prosperity. The works of Mulk Raj Arsand with their wrathful pathos against the caste and social division of people, against the passivity and lack of organisation of the Indian proletariat meets in the face of the Bulgarian reader a passioned adherent. In less then twenty years five books—novels and short stories by Mulk Raj Anand were published : "Coolie"—translation through English by L. Sechanov (1951) ; "The Big Heart", by Sider Florin (1957), "Two leaves and a Bud", Liliana TJkova Zlatinova (1957), old Woman and the Cow," by Khristo Kansv (1957) and the collection of short stories "Chanu", by Ana Kovacheva (1968).

Anand attracted the Bulgarian readers with the images of the city's poverty Ananta, the man whose heart collects the pains of his brothers, who strives after the rights of the pure craftsmen ; Janea—his wife, who after his death stood on the rows of the fighters for Freedom ("The Big Heart"). Munu ("Cooli"); who has found for himself the sad truth about social differentiation of the people in the rich and poor, which is no less cruel than the caste system,

Prem Chand—the singer of Indian village life—is well known in Bul­garia. Dr. Geeta Vij presented a research study in the comparison of Premchand and Elin Pelin—the best interpreter of the present's heart, of his love of the land and Freedom We are acquainted with two Prem Chand's novels : 'Nirmala', translated through Russian by Valeu (1959)


and Godan", translated from Hindi by Kolcko Kovachev (1985) as well as the collection of short stories "Snake stone", translated through Russian by Maria Drakova (1961). Kolcho Kovachev's translation, which has been done from the original possess the natural poise because of its accuracy and preserved freshness of the Eastern wisdom.

The creative unification of two Indologists—an interpreter and an editor—Borislav Kostov, bears a new direction of the Indian trans­lated literature—without language—mediator. The essential linguistic diffi­culties, which arise in the translation from Hindi to Bulgarian are overcome because of good knowledge of the historic, literary and aesthetic aspects of the Indian culture and particularly the works of Premchand.

In recent years the picture of Indian life has become more familiar with the Bulgarian readers, thanks to the collection of stories of authors such as Sharat Chandra Chatterji, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Raja Rao, Khushwant Singh, Palagumi Padmaraju, Santha Rama Rau, pub­lished in the collection 'Indian short stories', 1984, prepared for publi­cation by K. Natwar Singh—Minister of state of the Ministry of Foreign affairs, a great friend of Bulgaria.

Separate books were published by Krishan Chander, known in our country from the late 1950-s with his story "The Children from Dadar Pul" (1982), Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai with his novel "Chemmeen" (1987) and Razipram Krishnaswami Narayau with the '"The Painter of Sings", 'The Vendor of Sweets' and 'The Man-Eater from Malgudi', published under the title of 'Portraits from Malgudi' (1987).

The short stories of Satyajit Ray (a well known film-maker are in­tended to familiarize the Bulgarians with some of the most typical pro­blems of Indian society. They have been translated by Ralitza Kendimenova and will be published soon by Narodna Kultura publishing House,

The Bulgarian publishers have many times turned to the immortal flowers of the Indian poetry : to the scores of Rabindranath Tagore's collections ; the poems of J.Krishnamurti, translated in 1927, and the collection 'Love and wisdom'—Indian lyrics", translated from German in 1939 and published again in 1943.

Recently Indian poet and connoisseur of Bulgarian poetry Sati Kumar prepared the collection, titled "Contemporary Indian poets", translated from Hindi and Punjabi (1970), and his verses were translated also by Dimitar Stefanov in the book "Vertical journey" (1975).

Mrs. Amrita Pritam's creativity has irrefutable priority with its popularity and the admirers among the modern readers. Her poems have been translated and published in literary magazines many times and the collection 'Drops of light' was published in 1982. This selection of


poems, interpreted by Georgi Khistov from English. The translator

has become aware of the breathless rythm of such warm poetic
world. He has suceeded in presenting to the reader the richness of
images, emotions, estimations and feelings, the maternal cares of the great
poetess about the fate of mankind, her love of life in all its aspects and
dimensions. Her new book in Bulgarian with short novels—Agony"
(1981) consists of two short novels "Right Place" and "Agony", trans­
lated by Suetlana Stefanova from English were grounded in all the works
of Mrs. Amrita Pritam, the Translator comprehends and transforms her
poetic—philosophical world outlook, original thinking and unexpected
aspects of human relationships. In Bulgarian, Amrita Primta's fiction
sounds as poetry in prose, as well as surely it is in the native Punjabi
language. t

The sphere of translated literature extends-the socio-political themes come up as the the third main lines after the poetic—aesthetic and philo­sophical. In 1955 the publishing house "Otetekestven Front" ('Father­land Front') brought out the book by the great Jawaharlal Nehru "The Discovery of India', which was published again in 1983 by the Bulga­rian Communist Party—'Partizadat', under the title "The awakening of Indias". The translation was made for Russian by Kiril Toshev, Niko­lai Tolchev, Dora Meteva and Atanas Dalchev.

The book of Jawaharlal Nehru 'The Awakening of India' became for the Bulgarian reader an encyclopaedia of Indian culture, of its social development and struggle for the National Independence, a wise adviser about Eastern philosophy, religion and science, devoted to the history and analytical estimate of the Indian reality, the book at the same time is a friendly stretched hand to the fighters against colonial domination, to the people from socialist countries—in Bulgaria also. Nehru's name is pronunciated in our motherland with the same respect as names of V.I. Lenin and Georgi Dirnitrov.

The socio-political direction of translated Indian literature during the period 1944-1988 continues with the book of L. Natarjan "American Shadow over India", translated by Todor Curanov (1957).

A book of famous speeches and articles by Romesh Chandra, presi­dent of World Peace Council "For Peace in the world" was translated by Tsvetan Petkov and came out in 1980 ; In 1985 were published "Speeches, messages and interviews" of the great daughter of India Indira Gandhi, translated by Tsvetan Petkov, compiled by Ivan Nutaf-chiev and Borislav Kostov.

After her visits, which so much inspired the Bulgrian people, her speeches and addresses were published in the year 1985. This book brings to light the basic concepts of Indira Gandhi as a politician and ideologue


of the prosperity of India—for a revolution in economy and agri­culture ; for the anti-colonial fight and international cooperation, for disarmament and uses of atomic energy for peaceful purpose and the development of its positive traditions today.

The book of M.K. Rustomji —"Are we able to manage" also falls in the sphere of politics. The Book is translated by Ilia A. Ivanov in 1982. The successful use of the form of free dialogue with the reader, permits the author to deal with comparative ease some of the more complicated pro­blems of social management and social pychology such as : Building up of the authority of the leader : closeness and distance between the leader and the followers. Deep but at the same time readable, filled with original illustrations, the book of Rustomji, found a high place in the preference of the Bulgarian reading public, next only to the publications of Parkinson and Peter.

The Bulgarian reader has always been attracted by the Indian national epics. Mahabharat and Ramayana, translated from Sanskrit and Hindi by Sati Kumar, and in verse by eminent Bulgarian poet Merko Ganchev, are published by the Publishing House "Narodna Kulturo in two editions of 80,000 copies (1972-1981), which is quite a big number for our small country. Translation of Panchatantra from Sanskrit was welcomed by an exceptionally great edthusiasm. This book also went through two editions big number (1979-1981). The translator, the famous Bulgarian poet with knowledge of Eastern cultures Yordan Milev in his introduction to the book writes that the Bulgarian version, which with certain abridgment, is based upon the Jain version of the priest puran-dara (1199). One would agree with Dr. Vimlesh K. Verma, who says the following about the translation "It is a matter of great satifaction that the competent translator is able to maintain the beauty of the text not only translating in prosaic style, but at the same time successfully trans-latng the original shlokas in Bulgarian verses and being closer not only in the content but at the same time maintaing the original rythm of the great classic".

The Bulgarian translation of Panchatantra became a big event in the history of our publication activity, a new stage in the translation of books connected with Indian themes.

Extracts from the various Indian epics have continued to be publi­shed in different forms for children. The famous Bulgarian poetess Ledf> Mileva, had translated about thirty years ago from Russian "For the Golden Dolls and 36 more Indian tales" (Publising House Narodha Mladezh, 1958). Later, Nadia Trendafilova translated from French "Indian Tales", published by the same Publishing House in an edition of 80,000 copies, which went through a reprint a few years later. Rashrm


Srimal, published in 1983 "Tales from Panchatantra" in 1983. The stories of Panchatantra have been translated from the Hindi Rashmi Griwal.

In order to finish the list of thematic Indian literature in Bulgaria, we have to mention the particular popularity of books dedicated to the study of 'Yoga', as one of the most effective medium to strengthen the physical and physiological health of man. Due to this, the publishing House "Medicina-i-fizkultura" for twenty years (1965-1984) has published seven books on "Yoga"—two translations and five books by Bulgarian authors, in which they interpret the basics of Yoga.

The increased interest towards Indian culture resulted in starting a course in Hindi and partly Sanskrit at the Sofia University "Climent of Ohrid" (1965). During the year 1985-1986 the management of the Uni­versity established a new section of Indology at the Centre of Eastern languages and cultures. The students study Hindi, Sanskrit, Indian Literature, History and Geography and Governmental structure of India. This new educational system prepares the future specialists on India.

Culture, who will translate Indian literature and will explore the historic and contemporary requisitions for our unity, will contribute towards closer relations between the people of the two countries.

Dr. Vimlesh Verma, Lecturer in Hindi in the University of Sofia has contributed much for the spread of Indian literature and culture in Bul­garia. He wrote a Text book of Hindi for the Bulgarian students (1976 , Phonetics of Hindi (1978) and Bulgarian Hindi dictionery (1978) Amongst other authors Dr. R.K. Kaushik published a Bulgarian—Hindi Phrase book (1985) and Dr. Mahendra published colloquial Hindi text book (1988) in two parts for students of I and II years.

Mrs. Penka llieva Baltova has published in 1985, Sofia, University publication scientific research about "National and Cultural features of the language situation in India".

Mr. Dimiter Popov Ex. visiting lecturer of Bulgarian studies in India prepared Hindi-Bulgarian Dictionary. Mrs Yordanka Peichinova had translated from Sanskrit "The Bhagavad-Gita". Publishing House "Narodna Koultoura" purposes to publish parts of Vedas, Upanishads and other works in the three-volumes, called "Indian philosophy" and others.

Prof. Kantcoc Kanev of the Institute of Philosophy of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia has a great contribution towards popularization

Anuvad, 55, 1988, P. 77 (Translation of 'Panchatantra' in Bulgarian —Reviewed by Dr. Vimlesh Kanti Verma.


of Indian philosophical doctrine in Bulgaria : He published "The first Indian philosophic doctrine of being (Sat-Vada") 1976; "Jawahar Lai Nehru (Philosophy, humanism), 1983 ; "Yoga Basic terms" (1984) and other books and articles. The task of this ardent admirer and connoisseur of Indian philosophy and culture receives well earned recognition in the Second International congress of the Bulgarian Studies held in Sofia in 1986. At the Congress Mr. J P. Atrey said : "Mr. Kantcho Kanev's inter est and deep understanding of Yoga and other Indian themes have made him very well known in the world as a great indologist".1

Indian literature, art and culture have entered the every-day life of the Bulgaria not only through the translations, but also by the nume­rous books, dedicated to India by foreign and Bulgarian authors. Nadia Michadlova—the wife of the eminent writer Emil Manov, after their visit to India, wrote the book essay "Blue Lotus for India" (i983). Although it has been thought like "travel notes" this book creates real imagination about contemporary India, its beauty and social problems.

The Bulgarian publicist Todor Kiuranov during his five years stay in India as a correspondent of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency has written a number of books with indologiced objective. He examines problems of contemporary life in India Among his books are : Asian Journey" (1970). "The undeclared War" (1972) and 'Whither India" (1974), The last one attracts us with its global view of the complex socio-political kaleidoscope in the development of India.

The translation (from Russian) of the book of E. Parnov. "The Gods of the Lotus" (1983) was a special event for the Bulgarian readers. The Publishing House of the Bulgarian communist party "Partizdat" published the political travel notes by G. Naidenov-"India-Japan-Moscow (1970). Bulgarian writer Ana Kamenova and Prof. Petko Staiuov published their "Asian Journeys" (1970) and the famous poet Atanas Stoyanov—"Letters from India" (1974).

It is not easy to accomodate in one article the diversities of authors and topics of Indian literature which has constant communications with the Bulgarian reader. The most important conclusion is that the works of the Indian authors are vividly present in our daily life and show us the way towards wisdom and encourages us to realize our dreams for a perfect world of well-being and justice.

And this is obvious because the historical destiny of the Bulgarian and Indians is the same and as Mrs. Indira Gandhi said during her visit in Sofia : "Distance, which separates our two countries, is large but psych-clogically India and Bulgaria are very close".

1. Reports - International relationships, Second international congress of the Bulgarian studies, Sofia.

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