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Germany: In early May, Rabindranath’s birth anniversary will be celebrated with just routine fanfare. The big anniversaries are over: 150th birth anniversary (2011); the centenary of the English Gitanjali (2012); and the centenary of Tagore’s Nobel Prize (2013). Seminars have been conducted all over the world, many funded by the Indian government, at least two dozen anthologies collecting the speeches and essays of Tagore experts have been published, Tagore’s works have reprinted to an extent which amazes everyone. His works also have seen a good number of new translations from Bengali. My own book, Rabindranath Tagore: One Hundred Years of Global Reception, co-edited with Imre Bangha, attempted an overview of the poet’s standing in the world today.
Now that the Tagore Season has been completed with a good measure of success, it may be the time to take stock. What have I achieved as a translator of Rabindranath’s poetry from Bengali to German which I see as my main contribution?
German translation of Rabindranath began almost as early as English translation. While the English Gitanjali appeared in 1912 in London, the German Gitanjali followed in 1914. Yet, these two translation ventures had a totally different cultural significance. In Great Britain, Rabindranath was a poet from the colonies using the language of the colonizers who succeeded in expressing himself on the level of literature. In Germany, the German translation carried no such ideological and political baggage. In the German perception, Rabindranath was not the poet of a colonized nation speaking to the colonizers; rather, he was a voice from the mystic east speaking to the mysticism — and mysteries-seeking West.
He was seen in the context of German Indology which began in the early 19th century simultaneously with and inspired by German Romanticism. German Romanticism had discovered India as a land of philosophy and wisdom. Hence, the German public of the early 20th century saw in Rabindranath an exponent of the philosophy and wisdom of India, not primarily a poet. More importantly, the sympathetic German public saw in Rabindranath a fellow-Romantic and considered his Romanticism as the entry point through which to understand and appreciate him.
Thus, translating Rabindranath from Bengali to English and translating him to German are two very different exercises. In Anglo-Saxon countries, Rabindranath Tagore is a poet of renown because he did write in English and did receive the Nobel Prize for a book written in English. He is part of the colonial and post-colonial discourse, and his literary work can be viewed in the context of Commonwealth literature.
Such contexts do not exist in Germany. Moreover, in present-day Germany, the romantic mould has become somewhat suspect after an excess of misguided emotions during Hitler’s Third Reich. Tagore, the mystic poet, is still alive in the memory of elderly people who were told to read him by their parents. These parents had witnessed the enthusiasm surrounding the Indian poet in Germany in the 1920s. This lack of a contemporary cultural context makes it an arduous task to create a new — truer, more genuine — image of the Indian poet through translations from the Bengali original. The one valid claim for his rediscovery is that he is a figure of world literature. So far, the translations done from the English to German did not substantiate such a claim. Hence, in German such a claim had to be established and proven anew through philologically correct and literary satisfying translations from the Bengali original. This has been my task during the last twenty years in which six volumes of my poetry translations from Bengali to German have appeared in Germany.
I have done all my translations, without exception, while living at Santiniketan which I call my Indian home since 1980. It was clear to me that I could do them only in Bengal, not outside, certainly not in Germany. Here at Santiniketan, I have the atmosphere and the social environment with its emotions and habits, its nature and its sounds which provide the backdrop of many of the poems and songs that I have translated. This helped me to first understand and then re-create the deeper intuitions and the emotionality of these poems. Further, Santiniketan provides me with the expert help I need in order to know every shade of meaning and get the interpretation of the poems and songs just right.
On the one hand, I am here enjoying good Tagorean fellowship. But on the other hand, I am alone and lonely as a translator into German. No one in Santiniketan can understand and appreciate my translations. West Bengal, therefore, has neither expert praise nor expert criticism for me. The academic community here hardly knows that for the last twenty-five years I have been translating one poem after another, filling six volumes. The community neither joins in my ecstasy that my work gives me, nor comforts me when I am faced with what I call the ‘tragedy of translation’.
Let me, very briefly, give you some details of my translation predicament. In contrast to German, the Bengal language can dispense with the definite and indefinite articles as well as with certain pronouns which instead can be expressed through endings. Auxiliary verbs, too, are incorporated in the verb endings. This makes Bengali curt, compressed, often wonderfully sententious encapsulating one dictum within a few syllables. Try to translate Gele hata in just two words! In English as well as in German it needs a full sentence with an auxiliary clause. German does not have the same gift of brevity. Translating a Bengali line of verse often needs two lines in German. Hence, if you want to fashion a Tagore poem into a German poem, certain judicious compromises regarding the wealth and exactitude of meaning must be admitted.
The claim to create a new poem demands from the translator to deconstruct all the components of the Bengali poem into a “mass” of meaning, rhythm and moods and then rebuild the German poem from that same material. Each line and each sentence needs to undergo the same slow transformation in the mind of the translator. If this progresses happily and that means, if my mind becomes fully attuned to the mind of the creator, Rabindranath, then there is nothing more fulfilling, more intoxicating, than translating poetry. This is what I referred to as the ecstasy which a translator enjoys.
The tragedy is that a translation is never finished. A poem may be complete and perfect, but never the translation of a poem. The translation has to be truthful to itself, as a German poem, and truthful to the original, a Bengali poem. This is walking a tightrope from which I may fall off on the right or the left any moment, sometimes without noticing it.
A special challenge is the translation of rhymed verse-endings. In Bengali, rhyme comes easy as only few endings exist, while rhyming in German language is more demanding as the endings are more in number and more varied. Rhyming had once been the norm in German poetry; modern poetry uses it, too, but less frequently. However, when translating Rabindranath, I cannot abandon rhyme altogether. For example, translating a poem like Sisu without rhyme would mean missing the point — the fun, the banter, the childlikeness — of the poem altogether. Even many Gitanjali poems will be only half as enjoyable and effective without rhyme, as with rhyme. This means that rhyme has to be made a part of the translation effort. This is a tremendous challenge. Rhyme must come naturally and easily, without twists in the sentence structure. But that is not too easy either, otherwise a verse might degenerate into a mere pun on words, a Kalauer. The need for rhyme drastically reduces the freedom of choice of words and increases the need for compromises regarding the wealth and exactitude of meaning. I see the work of a translator of poems as a special call. You must be something of a poet yourself to be excellent. At least, you should rise to become a poet in the process of translation, assembling the elements of the Bengali poem into a new resplendent and self-confident structure. Often I felt an extraordinary union with the poem and with its creator, Rabindranath. In these moments I was aware that translating Rabindranath’s poems means communicating with the poet’s imagination and spiritual persona in a more intense, more intimate way than merely reading his poems. In such moments I feel an almost aching happiness that I am not a mere reader but a translator of Rabindranath’s poetry.
My translations are done. I now devote my time to my own writing which is clearly suffused by the philosophy and poetic vision of Santiniketan’s Gurudev. In a certain manner, my writing is a continuation of my translation work. It is a contemporary interpretation of Rabindranath’s universe of ideas and emotions for modern German society.
The writer is a German scholar based in Santiniketan. His last book is Anubhave anudhyane Rabindranath; Karigar 2016.
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
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As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.
Xander Schauffele held off the late challenges from the chasing pack, none more so than Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia — who got without a single stroke of the American — to win a gold medal in the men's individual golf tournament at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It was a huge victory for the 27-year-old at this point of his career. Despite often being amongst the favorites in the latest golf odds, the San Diego-native is yet to win one of golf's four majors — The Open, The Masters, The USPGA and The US Open — and he will certainly be hoping that he can use this triumph in Tokyo to push on next season.
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With nine top-10 finishes in 18 appearances at the majors, six of which have been inside the top five (including finishing second at the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters), Schauffele is making a bit of name for himself as a nearly man in the sport's biggest tournaments, and that it is a duck he will certainly be hoping to break sooner rather than later.
Whilst not a major, winning an Olympic gold medal in golf is not to be sniffed at, and it is the kind of victory that the 27-year-old might just have needed to give him that boost to kick on and finally get his hands on one of the major trophies — even though he will need to wait until next year as the recent Open at Royal St. George's in Kent marked the end of this year's major schedule.
Some golfer's may have played down winning the men's tournament at the Olympics, but for Schauffele, whose grandparents live in Tokyo, taking the gold medal back to the United States with him was at the very top of his priority list.
Olympic GameGetty Pictures
"I really wanted to win for my dad. I am sure he is crying somewhere right now. I kind of wanted this one more than any other," Schauffele said after his one-stroke victory.
"You are trying to represent your country to the best of your ability and then you add family stuff on top of that. I'm probably going to have a nice call with my grandparents tonight.
"Everyone is back home watching. I was feeling the love from San Diego and Las Vegas this whole time. I'm a little speechless right now, quite honestly."
Form and momentum are key in the game of golf, and whilst this is a victory that has come somewhat late in the season, when there are no majors left to vie for, if Schauffele can just carry on playing at the top of his game for the remaining month or so, perhaps even landing a second TOUR Championship in the last tournament of 2021, which he will now likely be tipped to win on the best golf predictions sites, then there is no reason why he can't bring his current form with him into next season.
The Masters is up first, taking place in mid-April, and the prestigious Augusta National hasn't been too bad to the American over the last couple of years, as he finished second in 2019 before scuppering the same position late on to finish tied for third this year. If he can keep up the form that resulted in him winning gold at the Olympics, then he may just find himself being fitting into that sought-after Green Jacket.
It's fair to say that it's only a matter of time before Schauffele lands his maiden major triumph, and there's no doubt that scooping a gold medal at the Olympics will have only helped his cause!
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Today, e-learning is one of the best alternatives for studying despite quarantine restrictions. Still, it has its own flaws, which are noticeable during the long-term experience. From one point, students learn to be independent and prepare their homework without extra help. Usually, everyone can buy essays for sale online and prepare for classes efficiently. And from the other point, online learning demands the highest responsibility. Let's find out why the face-to-face educational process is still more productive.
1. Too many distractions.
Needless to say that staying at home and learning are the biggest incompatibilities. When you get ready for your class, you often forget about how clean your house is or whether you have enough food for the day. In e-learning, the reality is that students should take care not only of the studying process but housekeeping as well.
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2. Not enough help from teachers.
The teacher's work during e-learning is to present the material and make it easy to understand. Still, this might be challenging for both sides. When the teacher sees that most students can get along with it, it is easier to pay attention to one or two from class who hasn't progressed much. Otherwise, while the subject is difficult for most of the class, it is almost impossible to dedicate attention to each while explaining the material better.
3. Less communication.
That feeling that you are far away from your friends can't leave you. Even if you don't have enough time to build strong friendships, studying in class helps students gain better results. Healthy competition plays a significant role in education, and everyone who stands for e-learning only should consider this aspect.
4. Access to online materials only.
When students write their texts or work on other assignments, they need to have more than Wikipedia. Studying in campus libraries is much more fun than sitting in one place to look for necessary information. Beside the traditional references, you can get feedback on your drafts.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles.Getty pictures
5. Lack of individual approach.
E-learning is all about individual learning. Indeed, you can connect to your teacher or classmates online, but still, the schedule makes strict boundaries that you can't text or call them in late at night. When students are in class, a teacher can spread their attention to the whole audience and see how every student perceives material simultaneously.
6. Staying mostly at home.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles. On the one hand, you don't need to spend hours driving on public transport or being stuck in traffic. And also, you don't have that vital time to prepare your mind for studying. On the road, we listen to audiobooks or read traditional ones, observe life, and think about further studies. This is the way our brain gets ready for classes, so it is less stressful for students to learn when they arrive at class.
7. Higher electricity bill.
Yeah, paying more for internet and electricity consumption is one more disadvantage of e-learning. When you study in class, you can use a public school Wi-Fi connection and charge your laptop in there as well. And while staying at home, you need to think about how much time you spend studying not to increase your electricity bill. Even if you pay for an Internet connection even when you don't study at home, electricity use significantly increases while you start e-learning.
Due to current epidemic measurement restrictions, many schools consider e-learning as one of the best variants to make education available for everyone. Still, e-learning can be a challenging affair for most students and teachers. To cope with it, they need to achieve new skills and apply them to the new reality.
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