The Lumber Room

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Posts Tagged ‘funny

Unwilling translators

with one comment

Besides the Mahabharata’s translation into Old Javanese (and other Southeast Asian languages) in the 10th/11th century, the first translation into a non-Indian language was into Persian, commissioned by Akbar in 1591.

The translator, Badāyūnī or Badāōnī, relates how it came to be:

The following considerations disposed the emperor to the work. When he had heard the Shāhnāmah, and the story of Āmīr Ḥamzah, in seventeen volumes transcribed in fifteen years, and had spent much gold illuminating it, he also heard the story of Abu Muslim, and the Jāmi’-ul-hikāyat repeated, and it suddenly came into his mind that most of these books were nothing but poetry and fiction; but that, since they were first related in a lucky hour, and when their star was in the act of passing over the sky, they obtained great fame. But now he ordered those Hindu books, which holy and staid sages had written, and which were all clear and convincing proofs and the pivot on which all their religion, and faith, and holiness turned, to be translated from the Indian into the Persian language, and thought to himself, “Why should I not have them done in my name? For they are by no means trite, but quite fresh, and they will produce all kinds of fruits of felicity both temporal and spiritual, and will be the cause of circumstance and pomp, and will ensure an abundance of children and wealth as is written in the preface of these books.”

So apparently, Akbar thought they (Hindu books) were more than mere poetry and fiction, and yet fresh, and he even believed (essentially) the phalashruti told in the books.

But the translator Badāōnī himself, an orthodox Mullā, doesn’t seem to have agreed with his emperor, or liked the job:

The Emperor sent for me and desired me to translate The Mahābhārata, in conjunction with Nāqib Khān. [...] The consequence was that in three or four months I translated two out of eighteen sections, at the puerile absurdities of which the eighteen thousand creations may well be amazed.

<!–(The sections are parvas. The “18000 creations” is a Muslim belief, and unconnected with the recurrence of the number 18 in the Mahābhārata.)–>
Besides finding sections full of “puerile absurdities”, he also found sections objectionable and disturbing to his Muslim sentiments. It led him to complain:

But such is my fate, to be employed on such works. Nevertheless, I console myself with the reflection that what is predestined must come to pass.

Akbar seems to have been merely amused by this reaction:

We thought that [Badāōnī] was an unworldly individual of Ṣūfī tendencies, but he seems to be such a bigoted lawyer that no sword can sever the jugular vein of his bigotry.

The rest of the translation had to be completed by others.

Written by S

Fri, 2010-06-11 at 23:53:55 +05:30

Posted in funny, literature

Tagged with ,

Snip

with 13 comments

Some random cute or frivolous verses, dumped here so I can close those tabs. (Though inevitably I ended up opening more tabs…)


एकवस्तु द्विधा कर्तुम् 
          बहवः सन्ति धन्विनः ।
धन्वी स मार एवैको 
          द्वयोः ऐक्यः करोति यः ॥

eka-vastu dvidhā kartum
     bahavaḥ santi dhanvinaḥ —
dhanvī sa māra evaiko
     dvayoḥ aikyaḥ karoti yaḥ

Cute and clever! Here, māra is kāma, often depicted with an arrow (as Cupid is). Saw here, see here.
[Edit: Fixed एकवस्तुम् (eka-vastum) → एकवस्तु. ]

If you’re too lazy to click, here’s a rough translation that loses the one-two-many-one-two-one play on words:

To split a single thing in two
     There’s many an archer under the sun—
But Love’s the only bowman who
     Can start with two and make them one.

There’s no “under the sun” in the original; I just couldn’t think of a better rhyme. :P


कमले कमला शेते      हरः शेते हिमालये ।
क्षीराब्धौ च हरिः शेते   मन्ये मत्कुणशङ्कया ॥

kamale kamalā śete, haraḥ śete himālaye,
kṣīrābdhau ca hariḥ śete — manye matkuṇa-śaṅkayā !

kamalā = Lakṣmī (I think, though one source gave it as Brahmā), śete = sleeps, manye = I guess, śaṅkayā = out of suspicion/fear, of matkuṇa = bedbugs :D
Originally saw here,[dead link] so see here or here.
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Written by S

Fri, 2010-04-16 at 21:15:10 +05:30

Mastermind

with 6 comments

Surely the most brilliant sketch ever, if not the funniest:

It’s from the BBC show The Two Ronnies, by Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. It’s probably their most famous sketch after Four Candles.
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Written by S

Sun, 2010-02-07 at 18:51:26 +05:30

Posted in entertainment, Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

To Be or Not to Be

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(Not about the excellent film or the excellent animated short.)

Bit off more than my mind could chew,
Shower or suicide, what do I do?
— Julie Brown, “Will I Make it Through the Eighties?”

If you are of the opinion that the contemplation of suicide is sufficient evidence of a poetic nature, do not forget that actions speak louder than words.
— Fran Lebowitz, “Metropolitan Life”

Razors pain you, Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you, And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful, Nooses give,
Gas smells awful. You might as well live.
–Dorothy Parker (several tentative suicide attempts, died of a heart attack at 73)

No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.
– Cesare Pavese (who committed suicide, WTF?)

And of course no mention of suicide is complete without Maddox’s How to kill yourself like a man.

Written by S

Wed, 2009-08-26 at 14:10:15 +05:30

Posted in quotes

Tagged with , ,

The procrastinator’s nature

with 7 comments

I just started using LeechBlock yesterday, and already I know why “How can I block Google’s cached versions of sites as well?” is in the FAQ.


LeechBlock is wonderful. (Install)

There are no results on Google for “LeechBlock saved my life”, but there are testimonials like “Leech block has changed my life”, “Leechblock just saved my life”, and “This application is saving my thesis, and improving my social life”.

If LeechBlock isn’t working for you, you can try more extreme solutions like (on Mac) Freedom and SelfControl. (Found via this post.) But for me, right now, with my current level of work and self-awareness and other devices being employed, LeechBlock seems to be just about sufficient. (Although I do wish Safari were an even worse browser than it is.)

Semi-unrelatedly, also worth reading is Aaron Swartz’s experiment involving one month offline: Before/After.

Written by S

Fri, 2009-08-07 at 23:51:05 +05:30

Have you been high today?

with 5 comments

If not, you need to see this (besides needing a bun to bite Benny Lava): [Make sure you read the subtitles before, not after the corresponding sounds.]

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Written by S

Sat, 2008-08-09 at 16:29:57 +05:30

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Why doesn’t Cathy eat breakfast?

with 2 comments

Unsolved mysteries of our time (or the 1970s):

Why doesn’t Cathy eat breakfast?

If anyone can tell me what the National Dairy Council wanted us to think, I’d be much obliged. (They have managed to include a dairy product in every kind of food shown!)

In the meantime, I can only suggest: Maybe because it’s not such a great idea after all?

Written by S

Sun, 2008-07-20 at 19:48:02 +05:30

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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