[INDOLOGY] New book announcement - The Viṣṇu Purāṇa: Ancient Annals of the God with Lotus Eyes
David and Nancy Reigle
dnreigle at gmail.com
Mon Jun 28 18:16:53 UTC 2021
Translating a text of this size is a major accomplishment, for which
congratulations are indeed due. This is an important text because it so
well summarizes ideas and themes that have been so influential in India.
Since it will take time for any reviews to appear, a few preliminary
comments may be given now.
This is the first English translation of the critical edition of the *Viṣṇu
Purāṇa*, which was published at Baroda, 1997-1999. Unlike the critical
editions of the *Mahābhārata* and the *Rāmāyaṇ*a, we learn that the
critical edition of the *Viṣṇu Purāṇa* does not differ much from previous
editions, or from the seven manuscripts used by H. H. Wilson in his
pioneering 1840 translation. McComas Taylor writes in his Introduction, p.
33: "In general, it appears that the manuscripts he consulted differed only
in minor details from the reconstituted Baroda text." Nonetheless, the
critical edition certainly has improved readings, and the fact that this
new translation is made from the critical edition is not insignificant.
This is only the second independently made English translation of the *Viṣṇu
Purāṇa*, because the English translation made by Manmatha Nath Dutt,
published 1894-1896, was avowedly "Based on Professor H. H. Wilson's
translation," as stated on the original title page (not in the 1972
Chowkhamba reprint). McComas Taylor confirms (p. 33) that M. N. Dutt's
translation is "simply a recasting of Wilson’s translation." A new English
translation is supposed to eventually be included in the series of purāṇa
translations published by Motilal Banarsidass in the series, Ancient Indian
Tradition and Mythology, but we do not know when or by whom.
Regarding translation terms, McComas Taylor writes (p. 36): "Where I have
translated selected Sanskrit terms, some specialists will not be pleased.
For example, some will disapprove of my translation of *brahman* as the
Absolute, or of the very common phrase *namas te* as ‘I bow to you’." I
have always wondered about the common translations of *namas* in *namas te*
as "homage" or "obeisance," as to whether these give the right sense. The
root *nam* does mean "to bow." Maybe another common translation,
"salutation," is closer to this than "homage" or "obeisance." But perhaps
Indians mostly do understand this as "I bow to you." I do not know, and
would like feedback on this. If so, then "I bow to you" would be the
Some supplemental bibliographic information:
H. H. Wilson's pioneering 1840 translation was published in one volume, not
five as stated on p. 33. The five-volume edition is that edited by the
careful scholar Fitzedward Hall, who added many new notes. It was published
1864-1877 in six physical volumes, the sixth of which (volume 5, part 2) is
an index. My scans of these volumes are posted here:
The earlier printed Sanskrit edition of the *Viṣṇu Purāṇa* referred to on
p. 32 was not really edited by Rajendranatha Sharma. This 1985 publication
is actually a photographic reprint of the 1910 Veṅkaṭeśvara Press edition.
A very useful feature of this translation is that it gives the verse
numbers and lays out the verses individually, rather than omits the verse
numbers and runs them on as if in prose, like the Wilson and Dutt
On Tue, Jun 22, 2021 at 5:29 PM McComas Taylor via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> Dear friends,
> I am delighted to announce that my translation of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa has
> been published today. Even better news is that is open access and can be
> downloaded free from the publisher's website:
> This is the first complete English translation since HH Wilson's volumes
> of 1840. The great bulk of my translation is in blank verse. This is my
> attempt to honour the musicality and sonics of the śloka meter in which
> most of the VP was composed.
> As a readily accessible source for many important and memorable narratives
> of the Hindu tradition, I'm sure it will be useful for colleagues teaching
> courses on Hinduism or Religions more broadly.
> Thanks to all those kind folk, too numerous to name, who have offered
> support and encouragement over the past six years.
> I sincerely hope that you enjoy the Ancient Annals.
> Yours sincerely,
> *McComas Taylor*
> Associate Professor
> Reader in Sanskrit
> College of Asia and the Pacific
> The Australian National University
> WSC Website <http://www.wsc2021.com.au>| McC Website
> Zoom: https://tinyurl.com/p01tig8k
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
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