Suradasa, the blind saint-poet, lived in the sixteenth century during the establishment of the Mogul empire in India by Babur and its consolidation by Akbar. A Vaishnava of the Pushtimarga, he was spiritually inspired by Vallabha-charya and composed his outstanding work, the Surasagara 'Ocean of Poetry', closely following the Bhagavata which narrates the deeds of Krishna, whose staunch devote he was. His numerous padas composed I Brajbhasha are a treasure-house of the very best Hindi poetry on level with that of Tulasidasa, the author of the Ramayanabut unfortunately his poems remain comparatively much less known to the Western world. This English translation of some of the verse of his Surasagara endeavours to provide the reader with a representative selection from the various selection of this work English verse along with the transliterated version of the text, and in English prose for the narrative portions. The selection highlights Krishna as the Lord and as the amorous lover of Radha and the milkmaids of Braj.
Krishna P. Bahadur was born in Allahabad on 21 February 1924 and received his early education in St Joseph's and St Mary's Allahabad and La Martiniere, Lucknow. He did his M. A. in English from the Allahabad University.
He Served in the Indian Administrative Service on various senior posts including District Magistrate (for 10 years), Commissioner and Secreatory Harijan & Social Welfare and 20 Points Programme, Inspector General Prisons and Chairman Administrative Tribunals and Vigilance Commission.
Bahadur has written over fifty books on various subjects - Philosophy and Religion, History, Sociology, Biography, Fiction, Humour, Translations and Juveniles. His prominent works are the Wisdom of India series 7 vols., History of Indian Civilization 6 vols., History of the Freedom Movement in Indian 5 Vols., Castes, Tribes & Cultures of India 7 Vols., A Source Book of Hindu Philosophy, The Definitive Gita, the Raj and After, Aspects of the ramacharitamanasa, Folk Tales of Uttar Pradesh and six translations in the UNESCO collection [Rasikpriya, Selections from Ramachan-drika, Rural Songs of India, The Parrot & the Starling, Love Poems of ghanananda and the Satasai of Bihari (pub. Penguin Classics, London and New Delhi)]. He has also taken part in the International Seminar on the Gita and contributed to World Authors St James Publications, London.
Bahadur is recipient of the following honorary awards: Vidya Visharada, Vidya Ratnakara, Rotary award for outstanding public service. He is a biographer of Who's Who in the World, Contemporary Authors, International Book of Honor (all pub. USA); Dictionary of Interna-tional Biography, Who's Who in the Commonwealth Men of Achievement, International Who's Who of Contemporary Achievement (all pub. England); Contemporary Personalities (Academia Italia, Italy).
closely follows the Bhagavata.
Suradasa has often been compared with Tulasidasa, the mahdkaui (great poet), the author of the Ramacharitamdnasa 'The Lake of the Deeds of Rama' (manasara = 'a large lake'). This is not fair either to Sura or to Tulasi, for they sang about two different avatars of Vishnu who were poles apart. What closeness could there be between the sedate Rarna and the amorous heartbreaker, Krishna? Nonetheless as the two poets, Sura and Tula i and their respective creation , are considered to be on the same level, it is surprising that Tula I is far more popular and familiarly known than Sura. Tulasi's Ramayana has acquired a sanctity among Hindus [there are variations in almost all the regional languages of India-Krittivasa (Bangala) , Kambana (Tamil), Valmiki (Sanskrit), Ranganatha (Telugu) and so forth]. The Manasa of Tulasi is sung in practically every Hindu home and on special occasions recited in its entirety at one sitting. So much so is its esteem that on the occasion of the celebration of Krishna's birth, the Janmashtami, the hymn which is recited in quite a few Hindu homes at midnight when he is believed to have come on earth as Devaki's son, is not from the Bhagavata but from Tulasi' Manasa. The Riimiiya1J-a, unlike the Sarasagara, has crossed the ocean to countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Turkistan, Italy, France, the U.K and other lands. It has been translated into Latin, French, Italian and other European languages.
Krishnaism, too, has in some measure evoked interest in the West, as in the Hare-Krishna devotees and particularly in Krishna' message in the Bhagavadgita but Suradasa who sang about Krishna with such great devotion in his Surasagara, remains comparatively unknown. There are a number of books in Hindi about his poetry and poetic art and various recensions of Surasagara, but there is very little about his life or works in English, and though some verses of his have recently been translated into English by Jaikishandas Sadani, there is still need for a representative translation of the verses on various diverse topics in the padas of this 'Sun of Hindi poetry' (surya = the un). The present English translation of some of Sura's poems in the Surasagara has been produced in order to illustrate these various trends of the poet's work. arrative portions have been rendered into English prose, without the transliterated version of the Hindi text. For verses which were considered to be suitable for a verse to verse translation, the rendering is in English verse and the transliterated text with the usual diacritical marks has been given along with the English version. The Hindi text has also been given along with the English transliteration in passages which are in verse. The English transliterated version will be able to give Western readers unfamiliar with Hindi some idea about the original text.
A word about the problems involved in translation. Hindi has little linguistic similarity to English. Where in English one would say 'by the house', in Hindi it would be 'house by'. Taking a concrete example, verse 680 of chapter 10 Surasagara: nanda gae
kharikahim hari linhe/ dekhi taharn radhikii tharhi boli lie tihim cinhe/ Literally translated this would read, word for word, as follows:' Nanda went to the grazing ground, Krishna taking. Seeing there Radha stand called her recognized'. Thus instead of 'taking Krishna along with him', in Hindi it would read 'Krishna taking', and instead of 'recognizing Radha he called (asked) her to come and join them', 'called her recognizing'. Very often Hindi verse has a strong trochaic beat which jars on Western ears rendering it unsuitable according to the modern concepts of English verse which does not favour any strongly stressed metre, even the common iambic, considering it to be unpoetic affectation. There are many such difficulties faced by a translator. Hindi verse is conventional in style, having a Miltonic ring and using metre and rhyme and shackled by rigid rules of versification, much as the old style of the English romantic poets. Modern English verse does not have that conventional style and is more or less like free verse unfettered by metre and rhyme, 'deliberately idiosyncratic and heavily colloquial'. One has therefore to convert in translation both language and style from the old to the new and that too near enough to the present day one; and at the same time remain faithful to the original, for any departure from the purport of the Hindi text would not really be translation. It is for this reason that the transliterated version has been given. It might help the English reader to savour some of the niceties of the original Hindi verse which the translation would inevitably fail to capture and convey.
The edition of Surasagara from which the verses have been selected for translation is the one by Dr Haradeva Bahari and Dr Rajendra Kumara, Allahabad: Lokabharati Prakashan, 1991, 2 vols. (comprising ten sections). Wherever possible the verse numbers of this edition have also been given along with the serial number.
The author wishes to express his gratefulness to the publishers for bringing out this book in these difficult times and for the excellent format.
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