The Mahabharata of Vyasa ~ Book XII The Complete Santi Parva Part 2 (Moksha-Dharma)
About the Translator
Pradip Bhattacharya retired from the Indian Administrative Service as Additional Chief Secretary (Development and Planning) to the Government of West Bengal. He graduated with Honours in English from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta, where he was later Lecturer in English for two years. He took his M.A. in English as a student of Presidency College from the University of Calcutta, being placed first in the first class with gold and silver medals. From the University of Manchester he received the Post-graduate Diploma in Public Service Training with Distinction. He trained the All India, Central and State Civil Services for several years, and served in the Government of India and the West Bengal Government. His Ph.D. is on narrative art in the Mahabharata. He is the only Indian chosen as International HRD Fellow by the University of Manchester and the Institute of Training and Development, U.K. He was the sole representative from the developing world to address the annual conference of the Institute of Transactional Analysis, U.K., in London. He established the Directorate of Homeopathy and launched two World Bank projects in West Bengal, advised on computerising official work, drafted the Right to Information Rules for West Bengal, several state Acts, and the Expert Committee Report on Administrative Reforms, and modernised manuals of procedure. He has chaired sessions and read papers in national and international conferences on the Mahabharata organised by the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Sahitya Akademi, and University of Mumbai. He is on the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, for over 15 years, and on the editorial board of its Journal of Human Values and of MANUSHI. He has authored and edited over 30 books, monographs, comics and papers on public administration, transactional analysis, ancient Indian history, comparative mythology and homeopathy. He is translating into English the rare Jaimini Bharata from the Grantha script for the National Mission for Manuscripts and the first Bengali Mahabharata composed by Kabi Sanjay as a West Bengal Government project. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Book
After Professor P. Lal passed away in November 2010, we approached Dr Bhattacharya and asked him if he would complete Professor Lal’s Mahabharata transcreation project. In his lifetime, Professor Lal had transcreated 16 volumes and the first part of The Śānti Parva from Sanskrit to English. With Dr Bhattacharya’s translation of the Moksha-Dharma Parva, our English translation of The Śānti Parva is now complete.
This is the first English translation of the Moksha-Dharma Parva in free verse. Distinctive ślokas have been reproduced by Dr Bhattacharya in Sanskrit.
Kevin McGrath in the Journal of Vaishnava Studies [Volume 26, No. 1/Fall 2017] writes:
“Pradip Bhattacharya is the foremost Sanskrit scholar in India today in the field of Mahābhārata Studies … [He] captures well the extremely complex dramatic quality of so much of Bhīṣma’s vast monologue in which the old warrior imitates the hundreds of different voices who inhabit and who express the narrative; this great event of mimēsis is fully conveyed by the translation wherein Bhīṣma the poet enacts innumerable characters and voices.
The prophets Nārada and Bhṛgu play significant roles in this section of the Great Bhārata as does Kṛṣṇa himself at times. There are also many episodes that are given in the style of faunal allegory where animal speech and behaviour are important components of communication. The great Naranārāyaṇīya, which comes at the end of the book is beautifully translated and finely captures the tone and flavour of that long anthem which lies at the heart of early Hinduism.
At times the author frequently leaves within his translation certain words in the Sanskrit which brings to the text a much larger authenticity and authority and where the intrinsic vitality of the original language effects—both sonorously and linguistically—a quality that might evade perfect translation. This is a crucial aspect of the book’s effectiveness as a medium not simply of specific communication but also of cultural significance …
This wonderful, thoroughly well-composed, and masterful book is faultlessly printed and handsomely bound and will become a uniquely useful reference text for those non-Sanskritists who work in both Mahābhārata Studies and in the field of Divinity; it is surely to become a matchless title on the shelves of any library of theology. This mighty work will long remain as one of Pradip Bhattacharya’s most renowned and paramount contributions to current Indology, both in Asia and in the West.”
Satya Chaitanya in Religions of South Asia [11.2-3, 2017] says:
“While Bhattacharya’s translation is basically in verse, he has translated the prose in the original into prose, which makes this the only verse-and-prose sloka-by-sloka translation of the Parvan. The translation is a monumental piece of work as well as a superb literary achievement. One of the unique aspects of the translation is the retention of Sanskrit words that are in the Oxford English Dictionary … A new reader finds this rather unsettling, but once you are used to it, you discover it has a charm of its own, giving the entire work a surreal quality. And of course, it avoids, as the translator points out, the need for annotations, colophons and dovetailing explanations …
Bhattacharya’s mastery of the English language is astounding. With amazing fluidity, the mighty torrent of the translation flows on for 1077 pages, carrying us with it.”
Indrajit Bandopadhyaya in Indologica Taurinensia remarks:
“The parvan stands out as unique in its advocacy of Liberal Varṇa System (portraying non-Brāhmiṇ characters like Sulabhā, prostitute Piṅgalā and Śūdras as qualified for higher merit and social status through wisdom), and carries the important and interesting message that understanding Gender Relation or Evolutionary Nature of Gender is essential for Prajñā leading to Mokṣa. Yudhiṣṭhira learns all these theoretically from grandfather Bhīṣma, who is then on his Bed of Arrows. This is not without significance. Bhīṣma’s physical life-in-death or death-in-life is apt parallel and metaphor for Yudhiṣṭhira’s mental state. Yudhiṣṭhira and his brothers and Draupadī qualify to gain knowledge on Mokṣa-Dharma only after their growing realization through dialogues, debates, experiences and feelings that victory in war has been futile, and Kurukṣetra War is as much external as internal. Yet, at the end of Śānti-Parvan, theoretical knowledge does not suffice, and the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī emerge Dynamic in their quest for more quests – that sets the stage for further of Bhīṣma’s advice in Anuśāsana Parvan. The message that emerges from Mokṣadharmaparvan is that, one has to actually attain Mokṣa; mere theorizing is only furthering Bandhana …
Bhattacharya has done an invaluable job to English readership by providing four episodes found in Haridās Siddhāntavāgiś (Nibandhana-Bhogavatī, Nārada, Garuḍa and Kapilā Āsurī narratives) and many verses not found in the Gorakhpur edition. Of these, the Kapilā Āsurī Saṃvāda at Section 321-A (p-815) is only found in Siddhāntavāgiś edition (vol. 37, pp. 3345-3359). Just as in archaeology, every piece of human-treated rock delved from earth is beyond value, I would say that every unique variation or every narrative in Mahābhārata recensions is of similar value particularly in marking a curious interaction point between Classical and Folk Mahābhārata – that no serious Mahābhārata scholar can ignore.
Bhattacharya deserves kudos for bringing into light the stupendous work and name of Siddhāntavāgiś, an almost forgotten name even to most Bengalis, and an unknown scholar to most Mahābhārata scholars or readers, almost eclipsed by the other popular Bengali translator Kālī Prasanna Siṃha.”
Reviews of the book have also come out in Boloji.com; a shorter version of this review was brought out in The Statesman. An article on the larger Mahabharata project can be read in The Times of India. A review published in December 2019 can be read here.