18 Jul 2016: Two interesting arrivals from Rasala

Rasala, the Bengaluru based publisher, has just released two books in its Sanskrit Kavya Bilingual Translation Series.  

The first, Translating The Divine Woman: Syamala Dandaka, in sensuous praise of the Goddess, is one of those poems you have to read aloud. The Rasaa edition, with a translation by the much-published UK poet Usha Kishore and the multi-talented neurosurgeon-cum-Sanskritist Dr M Sambasivan, aims to be a double treat to the ears. 

The second title, The Ending of Arrogance: Darpa Dalana, takes no prisoners as its author Ksemendra, a controversial and provocative satirist from 11th century Kashmir, exposes and demolishes all types of human failings. The Rasala edition includes the original Sanskrit text alongside a fluent part-prose, part-verse translation by the well-known career diplomat turned translator, A N D Haksar.

The publisher’s website says about itself:

Rasala is a small publisher with a grand aim: to bring to light some of India’s most beautiful forgotten poems through English translations.  Indian literature, both ancient and modern, is rich by any standards and improbably vast.  Rasala’s focus is necessarily narrower.  We publish poetry composed in Sanskrit, the backbone of almost all Indian languages and much of Indian culture.

Rasala, pronounced just like masala, means ‘full of rasa’. Rasa is one of those Sanskrit words with a lengthy dictionary entry but in the world of poetry it refers to what a poem makes you feel. Rasala is one of the many names for the mango tree, the hero of many an Indian poem. The mango tree is so called because it is full of juice or nectar – another meaning of rasa – and thus irresistible to the birds and bees that flock to it in poetry, as in life.  Rasala’s logo is based on the mango symbol which has over many centuries become a well-loved motif of many cultures, India’s included.  This pattern is principally known in India as the ambi, and, via a Scottish town, paisley in the West.

More details about Rasala books, including the above two, can be found on the Rasala website: www.rasalabooks.com

Report by: U Atreya Sarma, Bengaluru, on the basis of inputs from Rasala on July 15, 2016

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