thompson at jlc.net thompson at jlc.net
Tue Apr 1 12:06:10 UTC 1997

>>Also with due respect, I would like to point out that, as the biographical
>>notes reproduced by Dominique show (which don't mention that he put together
>>recordings for UNESCO), Danielou was mainly an expert on Indian music.
> I seem to remember that Danielou also produced a translation of the Kama
>Sutra, so he did not only work with music.
>Lars Martin Fosse

Well, now that you mention it, Lars Martin, I recall that a few years ago
this semi-employed Sanskritist was invited by a small Vermont publisher of
"esoteric" books to review Danielou's translation of the KAma SUtra into
English, along with the Sanskrit commentary of Yazodhara and extracts from
the Hindi commentary of Devadatta ZAstrI.

I was asked to read Danielou's manuscript [in English, which was apparently
prepared with the help of Kenneth Hurry] and to help the book's editor to
present a consistent and informal [i.e., accessible] transliteration system
of the extensive Sanskrit and Hindi terminology that was used in D's
translation [with several glossaries].  I was also asked to correct any
mistakes that I might by chance observe.

Now, I am a Vedicist with no special knowledge of the India of VAtsyAyana's
time, but the publisher was apparently under intense deadline pressure, and
was eager to print the thing on time.  As a result, I was rather abruptly
offered a few dollars to look at it, and so, unresisting, I spent a couple
of weeks trying to make D's Sanskrit references consistent and correct [not
knowing Hindi, I did not touch D's translation from it].  Also, I did not
have access to the Sanskrit text itself.  So I have certain misgivings
about my involvement in this publication, which in an editor's note cites
my "assistance with the Sanskrit terminology."

Given these reservations, here are my impressions of D's translation of the
KAma SUtra: he moves skillfully and easily [perhaps TOO easily] between
Hindi and Sanskrit.  I found that he sometimes did not bother to
distinguish between Sanskrit and Hindi terms for certain aphrodisiacs and
for technical terms referring to assorted sexual practices.  This caused me
great consternation as I searched for correct Sanskrit forms for highly
technical terms of Hindu erotic technology. But it did not make me doubt
his knowledge of the issues treated in the text.

Does this translation show that D was an impeccable philologist?  Perhaps,
perhaps not.  But it has convinced me that he was very intimate with
traditional Hindu culture [in this case, erotics].  I know that, in spite
of whatever errors I might not have been able to catch, D's translation is,
for me, both informative and illuminating. I found the work that I did on
his MS profitable for myself [though not monetarily].

Was he a good Indologist?  Yes [because there is room under that label for
others besides philologists].

In defense of Dominique, perhaps it was the gossipy tone of Jacob's query
that set him off....

In any case, what about these "Kannada words in a Greek play"?  Anyone?

George Thompson

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