When I was studying Sanskrit dramas during my college days in Pune, we were not reading the Prakrit, but we read only the Sanskrit chāya of Prakrit passages. However, I remember our professor telling us that the Sanskrit chāyā does not fully convey the beauty and the content of the original Prakrit. The one example that comes to my mind is from Kālidāsa's Śākuntalam. In the scene where Duṣyanta sees the child Bharata playing with a lion cub, a dāsī says to the child: सउन्दलावण्णं पेक्ख, and the child asks कहिं मे मादा. To dissuade the child from the lion cub, the dāsī is showing him a toy bird and asking him to look at शकुन्त-लावण्यम्, while the child hears शकुन्तला-वर्णम्. Both of these Sanskrit readings have the same Prakrit reading, but while the Prakrit has the pun, the Sanskrit versions do not have that pun.
As I am myself daily writing Sanskrit verses about Krishna and translating them into English [prose] and Marathi verse, I struggle with the issues of translation of my own poetry. My prose English translation struggles to convey the basic content, but it fails to communicate the beauty of Sanskrit and the allusions that the Sanskrit verses contain to the rest of the Sanskrit literature. On the other hand, I feel that my Marathi verse tends more and more to copy the style of Tukarama's Abhangas and does not have the classicism of the Sanskrit verse.
Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies
[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]