Experiments with Translation

Translating life's journey in poetry, prose and pictures

nītiśataka 1.99: vane raṇe śatrujalāgnimadhye (whether you are)

वने रणे शत्रु्जलाग्निमध्ये महार्णवे पर्वतमस्तके वा ।
सुप्तं प्रमत्तं विषमस्थितं वा रक्षन्ति पुण्यानि पुराकृतानि ।।९९।।
नीतिशतके

whether you are
trapped in a deep jungle,
caught in war,
surrounded by scores of enemies,
or a raging fire;
in the deep ocean,
or a mountain crest,
asleep, intoxicated, or in trouble–
good deeds done in the past
will surely save your back. ||99||
nītiśataka

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nītiśataka 1.98: majjatvambhasi yātu (a man can sink in water)

मज्जत्वम्भसि यातु मेरुशिखरं शत्रूञ्जयत्वाहवे
वाणिज्यं कृषिसेवनं च सकला विद्या: कला: शिक्षतु ।
आकाशं विपुलं प्रयातु खगवत्कृत्वा प्रयत्नं परं
नाभाव्यं भवतीह कर्मवशतो भाव्यस्य नाश: कुत: ।।९८।।
नीतिशतके

a man can sink in water,
or reach the summit of the gods;
he can learn commerce, agriculture,
and all the cultured arts.
with hard work, he can even
traverse the vast skies like a bird.
but, he should certainly know–
nothing happens that is not destined,
nor can what is destined be avoided.||98||
nītiśataka

śatakatrayam 1.97: naivākṛtiḥ phalati (good looks don’t yield fruit)

नैवाकृति: फलति नैव कुलं न शीलं
विद्यापि नैव न च यत्नकृतापि सेवा ।
भाग्यानि पुर्वतपसा खलु संचितानि
काले फलन्ति पुरुष्य यथैव वृक्षा: ।।९७।।
नीतिशतके

good looks don’t yield fruit,
nor does pedigree
or strength of character,
education is equally useless,
as is sincere service to others.
like trees, men attain fruit
only through good fortune acquired
by means of previous hardship
and when the time is ripe. ||97||
nītiśataka

nītiśataka 1.96: sthālyāṃ vaiḍūryamayyāṃ pacati (a man doomed to dwell on earth)

स्थाल्यां वैडूर्यमय्यां पचति तिलखलं चान्दनैरिन्धनौघै:
सौवर्णैर्लाङ्गलाग्रैर्विलिखति वसुधामर्कतूलस्य हेतो: ।
छित्त्वा कर्पूरषण्डान्वृतिमिह कुरुते कोद्रवाणां समन्ता-
त्प्राप्येमां कर्मभूमिं न भजति मनुजो यस्तपो मन्दभाग्य: ।।९६।।
नीतिशतके

a man doomed to dwell on earth
who lives unrighteously
is like a person who:
cooks sesame seeds
in a vessel made from lapis lazuli
over a fire of sandalwood;
who tills the earth with
ploughs tipped with gold
to grow an invasive weed;
and who chops a camphor grove
to plant an inferior grain
fit only for the poor. ||96||

harśacarita 2nd chapter: of elephants and horses in a royal encampment

निर्वर्तितस्नानाशनव्यतिकरो विश्रान्तश्च मेखलकेन सह याममात्रावशेषे दिवसे भुक्तवति भूभुजि प्रख्यातानां क्षितिभुजां बहूञ्शिबिरसंनिवेशान्वीक्षमाण: शनै: शनै: पट्टबन्धार्थमुपस्थापितैश्च डिण्डिमाधिरोहणायाहृतैश्चाभिनवबद्धैश्च विक्षेपोपार्जितैश्च कौशलिकागतैश्च नागवीथीपालप्रषितैश्च प्रथमदर्शनकुतूहलोपनीतैश्च दूतसम्प्रेषणप्रेषितैश्च पल्लीपरिवृढढौकितैश्च स्वेच्छायुद्धक्रीडाकौतुकाकारितैश्च दीयमानैश्चाच्छिद्यमानैश्च मुच्यमानैश्च यामस्थापितैश्च सर्वद्वीपविजिगीषा गिरिभिरिव सागरसेतुबन्धार्थमेकीकृतैर्ध्वजपटपटुपटहशङ्खचामराङ्गरागरमणीयै: पुष्याभिषेकदिवसैरिव कल्पितैर्वरिणेन्द्रै: श्यामायमानम्, अनवरतचलितखुरपुटप्रहतमृदङ्गैर्नर्तयद्भिरिव राजलक्ष्मीमुपहसद्भिरिव सृविकपुटप्रसृतफेनाट्टहासेन जवजडजङ्घां हरिणजातिमाकारायद्भिरिव सङ्घट्टहेतोर्हर्षहेषितेनोच्चै:श्रवसमुत्पतद्भिरिव दिवसकररथतुरगरुषा पक्षायमाणमण्डनचामरमालैर्गगनतलं तुरङ्गैस्तरङ्गायमाणम् … राजद्वारमगमत् ।

from my first foray into the world of sanskrit art-prose, a slice of bāna’s harṣacarita that I’m reading with a wonderful colleague at the university of michigan:

it was late in the evening and the king had already eaten. having bathed and eaten and rested a while, bāna leisurely set out with mekhalaka towards the royal palace gates. upon reaching the gate, his eyes lingered over the array of encampments of well-known kings.

the royal gate was darkened by rows of elephants–some bearing honorific turbans, others carrying drums. some were newly captured, others were acquired forcefully or received as presents. still others were sent by elephant guards. some others were brought as curiosities on a first visit, or sent upon encountering royal messengers. some were brought by village elders, yet others were demanded to stage battles for the king’s amusement. some were given, others snatched. some were free to wander, others were tied to posts. they looked like mountains forming a bridge, desiring to subdue all the islands in the ocean. they were adorned with flags, garments, kettle drums, conches, fly whisks and perfumed powders, making it seem as if it were the day of royal coronation.

as horses jumped up towards the sky, the royal gate seemed to rise with waves. the garlands and fly whisks that ornamented the horses gave the semblance of wings as they leaped, as if angry at the horses that pull the sun’s chariot. with their joyful neighs, it seemed as if they were challenging indra’s 7-headed horse to a combat. foaming profusely at the corners of their mouths, it appeared as if they were mocking the entire race of deers for being too lazy. it seemed as if they made royal splendor herself dance to the drum beats of their ceaselessly prancing hooves.

* please note that I broke up the passage into multiple sentences to facilitate easier reading, but what you have above in sanskrit is not even a complete sentence which went on for more than 35 lines 🙂 I am convinced that we can create eloquent renderings of the harsacarita in English, but that is the task for a more seasoned translator than myself.