Rendering Categories of Classical Indian Thought into English

Workshop: 14–16 December 2011

International Workshop on the Rendering of the Categories of Classical Indian Thought in the English Language: Perspectives and Problems at the India International Centre, Together with ICPR, ICCR, Ministry of Culture and IIC

Conveners: Dr. Mohini Mullick and Madhuri Santanam Sondhi

The problem of translation-specially that involving technical vocabulary has now received wide recognition the world over. Translation Studies are a well established discipline and the literature continues to grow. Scientific texts appear to have successfully solved the problem by standardizing technical terms that are then absorbed by all languages of instruction and communication. But this vocabulary has been developed largely in the West and in western languages and has been absorbed almost in-toto into non-eastern languages.

The problem becomes acute when we are dealing with vocabularies of  long standing belonging to ancient cultures, hence well established in their own spheres of discourse. Despite this, not nearly enough attention has been paid in this country to the dangers and pitfalls of rendering ancient and not so ancient Indian texts, largely written in Sanskrit but also in Pali, Prakrit and the Dravidian languages—into the English language, a language that has come to acquire the status of near monopoly as the medium of instruction and communication of research.

This workshop aims at bringing into collective focus what we believe each individual scholar grappling with Indian categorial thought has some time or other encountered; the problem of conveying ideas, concepts and indeed entire categories that are embedded in their own unique world view, a view, we might add, that is very much still with us.

Brief Report:

Seventeen scholars participated in the Workshop.  Twelve scholars came from outside Delhi:   five came from abroad; seven were from various institutions in different parts of the country. The Workshop was interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on scholars from the fields of Philosophy (including philosophers with reputed knowledge of classical Sanskrit texts), Political scientists, Historians, scholars from the field of Linguistics and with a more general interest in the subject of the Workshop.

The Workshop was held for three whole days, starting each day at 9.45 a.m. and going on with breaks for coffee and lunch, till 6.p.m.
In all there were twelve major presentations and three General Discussion Sessions making fifteen in all.  (A copy of the Programme is attached). Almost all presentations were followed by the comments of a Respondent which greatly facilitated discussion.

In all, it was a very successful Workshop in which attendance was 100% for all sessions except for the illness of two participants on the last day. It was decided that the work begun here would continue with more workshops of this nature. The subject of Law was identified as the topic of the next workshop.

The proceedings were recorded.