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"Saar Sansaar" is a Vorstellung of Dr. Amrit Mehta for those lovers of world literature, who want to read their literature in Hindi - in an undiluted form, where the original text does not come to them through the filter of English. This is a modest effort to restore Hindi it's rightful glorious place in the world, whereby Hindi readers do not have to depend on some English and American translator to decide for them, what kind of literature from various foreign languages they should read.
In this issue of July-September 2017 I am going to draw the readers' special attention to 2 letters from my readers, but before that I have to share a heartening news with my readers and Hindi-lovers all over the world. As I had already mentioned in a previous issue, one of our readers, Mr. Rajendra Dhakal was giubg to publishe a collection of 10 foreign language texts from "Saar Sansaar" - selected by himself - from Hindi into Nepalese. The book is titled "Dash videshi Kathaharu", and it is finally our. Nepalese, apart from being the main language of Nepal, is also an important language in India and Bhutan. Literature-loving Dhakal lives in Siliguri, and had to labour as much in finding a publisher for the book as he had toiled in translating the texts. My wish about Hindi becoming the filter language for the translation of foreign literature in India has been fulfilled to a small extent. Before this some of the texts translated by me into Hindi have been translated into Urdu, Punjabi, Telugu and Oriya, still it is for the first time that such texts have appeared in a book-form. This book contains 2 folk-tales, one each from Russia and Czech Republic, 2 Irani texts by Abdul Karim and Sadek Hidayat, 2 Swiss stories by Peter Bichsel and Franz Hohler, 3 Austrian tales by Robert Menasse, Elfriede Mayröcker and Alexander Peer and 1 Egyptian story by Najeeb Sheyar.
This issue contains excerpts from German Professor Volker Neuhaus' Biography of Guenter Grass, Swiss writer Franz Hohler's novel "Die Steinflut" and Austrian Andeas Weber's novel "Veitels Traum" Apaart from this there is a long story by Austrian Magda Woizuk, and a poem each by Nobel Prize Winner Czech Writer Yaroslav Seifert and Slovak writer Maria Batorova.
Making the 2 letters the subject of my Editorial could be due to my urge to give release to my pent up sentiments of last many year. The immediate trigger for this is a recent letter written by one Mr. Anil Jayvijay, the editor of a webzine named "kavita Kosh", which is published from Moscow; it has spurred me to publicly come out in the open about certain things, which have been bothering me for years together. Mr. Jaivijay writes:
You have been regularly sending me Saar Sansaar, and everytime I try to read some texts, but the Hindi in the texts is so bad that I have not been able to read a single complete text till date.
In fact, though you get the texts translated from a source language, you do not get these edited. Someone knowing good Hindi should also edit these translations properly. It is essential to give these translated texts the sanskar, the beauty of Hindi. Translation does not only mean a literal translation. Mr. Mehta, please do not get offended, but I want to tell you that all your labour is proving to be useless. As long as your translations do not read like Hindi, the Hindi readers are not going to like them. I salute your enthusiasm. Think about this! Kindly excuse me for being a big mouth!
Before commenting on this remark I would first like to make a mention of some uncharitable remarks made by another person in the context of my knowledge of Hindi. This person is Anant Vijay, the editor of a 'famous' webzine called "Chauthi Duniya". Since he thinks he is also a critic, and also a journalist, he can also act audaciously with one and all. In 2008 he had written a flattering review of my Hindi translation of "Die Klavierspielerin" ("Piano Teacher"), the well-known novel by the Noble-Prize-Winner writer Elfriede Jelinek. The book was published by Vani Prakashan. But to my surprise, after sometime I was informed by one of my readers that Anant had made nasty remarks about me and rubbished my book in the same webzine. The information happened to be true. On internet we had a fierce debate on this. It was obvious that if someone writes a bad review after having written a good review of the same book, then there must be some hidden motive for it. In fact, I should have ignored the harangue of a 'semi-literate' person , who changes the gender of the writer, mentioning her as "Frederic" instead of "Elfriede", who does not know the meaning of "transliteration" and writes, in order to show off his knowledge of English, "Because of transliteration Amrit Mehta has used some outright obscene words, which was unnecessary", ignoring the sacred tenet that one cannot change the register of the original language in the target language, who boasts that he had read the original German work in English, who like a know-all hurls gems like "often writers take to translation, when they have no or little work or they have no work (sic). As soon as they get some work, they become disinterested in translation work," or "There are hardly any translations from other languages into Hindi ,and Hindi reader has been deprived from reading the most exclusive work", who has not read either the translated nor the original work, the evidence for which is this remark, "Amrit Mehta has written that the main heroine cuts her veins in the bathtub, whereas in the original novel Jelnik (sic) has written that she cuts her clitoris in the bathtub", and who rubbishes his own review 'after being advised by someone else,' and whose own knowledge of Hindi is 'perfectly' inadequate'. This dialogue on his website went on for quite some time. Since he was not able to reply to any of my qestions he threatened that he would publish more such reviews of my other books.
The reason for not ignoring his and Anil's attacks lies in the fact that I am subjected to such type of defamation from time to time, rarely in writing, but more often latently, and through this type of documentary evidence I get a chance to expose the evil designs of my detractors against me and my magazine. The history of the conspiracies is 21 years old. The first issue of "Saar Sansaar" was launched on 6th February 1996 in India International Centre, New Delhi, where one of my editors, Pramod Talgeri, was present, who was, without me knowing it, not a well-wisher of the magazine, because he was running a private racket named "Centre for Literary Translation", in the name of which he was acquiring funds from different organizations for his fake projects. He had unauthorizedly invited some of his writer friends to the launch ceremony. This person was a chameleon-like JNU- Professor of German named Pramod Talgeri. It was a whole army of well-known authors, out of which I could recognize only Vishnu Khare, Krishna Baldev Vaid and Vishnu Nagar. In spite of protests from many others Talgeri made Nagar read a handwritten review of the magazine, through which he profusely disparaged the translations. This group had the intention to finish the magazine through a forced debate, which they demanded then and there, but the Chief Guest Dr. Pierre Combernous, the charge d'affaires of the Swiss Embassy in India made it clear to them that there was no question of a review in a launch ceremony, and that too from a person, who does not know any foreign language. The gang had to clear the hall shamefacedly. In the April-1996-issue I had also written extensively about this evil plot. Since that year the sequence of conspiracies has been regularly repeating itself. In February 96 itself I had sent a registered letter to Nagar with the request to send me a copy of his handwritten review, so that I could reply to it. I assured him that I would also print his reply in the magazine, and there can be a healthy public debate on the issue, until one party is proved wrong. Today, after more than 21 years, I have yet to receive a reply. I left Delhi the same year to work at the Centre for Translation Studies at the English & Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, but unfortunately Talgeri also followed me there in 1997 as my Vice-chancellor. I was the Head of my Department, and he destroyed my Department, did not let me start any courses there, suspended me, brought me to the brink of penury, inflicted the worst of mental cruelties on me, and the fact is that the "whole universe sided with him.", because he had the authority conferred on him by the Government. But fortunately (unfortunately for the country) he was/is so corrupt, so greedy that for earning illegal wealth he destroyed the whole University, I made an MP raise questions about his corruption in the Parliament. I remained suspended for 15 months and during this period I was collecting evidence against him, got him punished. But what punishment he got? Central Vigilance Commission ordered the Ministry of Human Resource Development to convey the displeasure of the government to him, and also not to appoint him in the Indian University System for all the years to come. This happened after my 11 years' struggle. But Talgeri has opened a fake University, and appointed himself as its Vice-Chancellor. In this millennium he has not only looted the University in Hyderabad, but also many other Universities, Sahitya Akademi (the Academy of Letters), even some foreign embassies. All those readers, who have read my editorials about Satchidanandan, should be able to understand the anger behind the brutalities suffered by me. This gang consists of hundreds of such people, they are still united, some of them are occupying high chairs in the government, and are contentedly doing things they should not do, which means they are still hounding people, who know their job, are doing it independently, not expecting any help from any quarter.
Since 2005, when the Right to Inormation Act was implemented, I have also become an RTI-Activist. An angry activist, I ask questions about corruption practiced from lowest to highest levels. Sometimes the truth is revealed, mostly it is not revealed. In everyday life I am facing attacks from many quarters - due to my doggedness. A whole cupboard is full of files with this sort of correspondence; still I am able to devote some time to literature. But the campaign to stop me from working is not coming to an end. I am an RTI activist by compulsion, not by choice. I need time to do my real work, which these people are snatching away from me. But if I do not expose the wrong-doings of these people, they are going to make life difficult for me. In the last 21 years I have exposed many a villain, but never mixed up my problems with literature in "Saar Sansaar". But how can I veil one such part of my life, which is affecting my literary work every moment of the day!
Let me come back to Anil Jaivijay! I had written a long article on the shenanigans of Anant Vijay in a webzine titled "Srijan Gatha", the reaction to which was very gratifying. This article was available for quite some time in the internet, but now it is not there. But last year I read a reaction by Anil Jaivijay in this context. It was almost the same language, which he has used in his leter to me, but there was one extra comment: Amrit Mehta does not know Hindi, (because) he is a Punjabi. This comment is not only racist, but also insulting to our national language. Vishnu Khare also used to abuse Punjabis; Anil Jayvijay is also speaking the same language, which means that he has offered his shoulder for others to press the trigger. Who knows for what gain!
But how can I say it with absolute conviction that Anil has become a part of the big conspiracy hatched by others against me. I have a solid proof of that. In 1911, on the occasion of the 15th jubilee of my magazine he had sent me a congratulatory letter, which I had published too:
I had seen "Saar Sansaar" about 5 years ago, and was filled with unparalleled joy. I have been translating foreign literature for the last 35 years, and believe that the Hindi readers know too little about foreign language literature, because one hardly translates foreign literature in India. Those, who know English, read it in English and those who do not know English remain ignorant about it. If all those Indians who know English, take it upon themselves to translate foreign literature in their mother tongues, they can enrich an unimaginable number of readers. You have taken it upon yourself, and not only toiled tirelessly on translations for 15 years, but also published them. I congratulate you and "Saar Sansaar" for this great work from the bottom of my heart. Even though the get-up of the magazine is very ordinary, still it is doing a great job. I wish that all the important issues of the magazine are reissued, so that readers like me could read those texts, which they have not been able to read. If all the issues of "Saar Sansaar" are available with you, I would like to buy them and keep them in my library. I also promise that whatever cooperation for "Saar Sansaar" you need from me, I would be glad to provide. Please let me know if I can do anything for you! It is my wish that "Saar Sansaar" is published regularly, and the light which it is spreading in India, should live forever. My best wishes to you!
One doesn't need to state the obvious. It is again a case of spit-licking, like in case of Anant Vijay.
While respected names from the world of Hindi literature have extolled my work, general readers have also showered abundant love on this magazine, its content and its linguistic style. They have offered constructive suggestions, which, whenever I found them feasible, were accepted. I, myself, correct the manuscripts, refine them. I myself am my only employee. The list of those distinguished figures from the field of literature, who have been admirers of "Saar Sansaar, is long, and they have been profuse in support of my mission. Some of them are:
Giriraj Kishore (the most notable part is your translation-prowess, full of flavour of the original. With this magazine you are enriching Hindi), Rajendra Yadav, Swadesh Deepak, Hassan Jamal, Venu Gopal (who wrote many essays on me and my work), Vidya Sagar Nautiyal, Prem YKumar, Indu Jain (Convey my thanks to all your translators and Editors), Madhur Shastri (the most remarkable part is that the translations are so deft that they give us the feel of Prakrit language. Poetry is also well translated), Sri Rang, Mamta Kalia, Pramod Tiwari (You have embellished Hindi at the level of language and intelligibility. I would say that you are originally a Hindi-speaker, that's why you have enriched yourself so much with language and its sensibility that you can write original literature. In both the language! I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you are also into original writing), Hridyesh (If I can write something unconventional in future, the credit for it will go to your magazine), Vikas Narain Rai, Prayag Shukla, Anamika, Asgar Wazahat, Suryabala, Indira Devi Dhanrajgir (the magic of passionate translation is becoming heady. It is the gift of a talented and exceptional translator), Ramesh Chandra Shah (It seems after reading the translations that behind them there is a passion to highlight the power of expression inherent in Hindi...you need to be lauded for this), Lal Bahadur Verma, Ravindra Kalia, Kamal Kishore Goenka, Jay Prakash Manas, Abid Surti, Abhinav Shukla Manisha Kulshreshtha (I have read the books, which you have translated from German, and I liked them very much...I wanted to congratulate you for excellent translations), Amrit Lal Madan (It is really amazing that apart from English you are proficient in some other European languages. Your erudition and competence is unquestionable), Atul Kanak (Jozef Banas' essay on Goethe is very touching ,Kudos to translator), Ved Prakash Amitabh (young translators are promising), Jaswant Singh Virdi, Shailendra Sagar, Nirmala Bhuradia, Raji Seth (Translations are always ingenious... are admirable), Chandra Sen Virat , Vijay Prakash Beri (the foreign stories in the issue of July 2012have presented the beauty and monstrosities of life profoundly, and the credit for this goes to the successful translations), Rajendra Nagdev (simplicity and expression in style is amazing), Kamal Singh, and Balkavi Vairagi, a former Member of Parliament, who - inside or outside the Parliament - has constantly fought for the cause of Hindi. His 2 letters, which I have recently received, can be read in the "Letters" column.
I have quoted only those letters of prominent writers, which convey something about the language of the magazine.
It becomes evident from the last prejudiced statement of Mr. Anil Jayvijay that there is something wrong with his intentions, and not with the language of the magazine. There is one long letter about my work from well-known writer and critic Prem Prakash, whom I have met only once in my life, but have been sharing my experiences with him in long phone conversations. I thought it to be appropriate to make it a part of my Ediorial:
Thanks to the January-March issue of Saar Sansaar I have at last been inspired to write these lines to you, In order to shake off the feeling of remorse for not having written all these years to you, today I have mustered up courage and started writing. Now, when I am writing, the memories of my 19-20 years' relations with you and "Saar Sansaar" come flooding back. I am remembering so many things. At that time you were living in Hyderabad, had only published only a few issues of "Saar Sansar". Since those bygone days I have been regularly receiving and reading "Saar Sansaar". Since then I have been having regular phone-conversations with you. In the midst of familial and financial problems, about which you had been opening your heart to me, I had developed a special respect for you. Living in Hyderabad and maintaining contact with writers from other countries and their literature, and rushing from Delhi to Hyderabad and back, flying to far-off lands to gain expertise in various languages, carrying on uninterruptedly, with a daunting and challenging task like translation on your hands - and then continuing with your efforts to gather able and qualified people with an impressive record in the area of literary translations...that too not for a month or an year, but for more than two decades - it is not an easy task, that everyone can fulfil. It is not easy to carry on with such a work against all odds without hard work, courage, rigour and enthusiasm. It is unimaginable - a lone ranger - apart from arranging money, selecting texts, doing editorial work, facing hassles of publishing; you have to go through the rituals of writing addresses and pasting stamps on envelopes, and despatching them, you have to go through all procedures - single- handedly. All the journeys you undertake, correspondence, finding and persuading translators, inspiring them to work, none of these tasks seems to be doable without the help of others. Even then if you have been able to do this - not only this, but doing this fearlessly with your head held high - then certainly you deserve kudos and respect of everybody. For the well-being, health and future of your magazine you left Hyderabad, made Delhi your home - thinking that maybe you wouldn't live there for a very long time, but your foreign travels would become easy and economical, and in fact you were able to do what you had wished - in very little time; the reach of the magazine, its quality and variety, its esteem and popularity in villages, cities, small towns, in new areas , gained momentum. Hats off to you that single-handedly you could achieve all this. You also know that many magazines published by many institutions, money-bags ,with a lot of noise, glitz and glamour, ended with a whimper. "Saar Sansaar" , carrying an appeal and beauty in its name, has always remained attractive, hypnotic with its good quality of paper and printing, beautiful cover photos, careful proof -reading, readability, eye-catching type-setting and high standard of translations. Its communicability has been improving issue after issue. "Saar Sansaar" is a beautiful name, the title has a suitable metaphor - for those, who consider this world meaningless, there is a message that the world, the life, has a meaning. Then these phonetically rhyming two words - meaning "the quintessence of the universe."
Since one particular day I have often been thinking of you. A conversation with Austrian writer Andreas Weber was scheduled. Day, time and venue had already been fixed. We three met in Connaught Place, in front of Regal Cinema. In a restaurant on top of Regal we had chatted for some time. From there we went to Austrian Embassy, we three. Then the long, interesting, memorable discussions till late in the night, and the hospitality of the hosts. Young, gentle and handsome Andreas Weber sitting in front of me, you sitting by his side and I was facing Weber. Your efficient and fluent translation of long answers to my questions kept me spell-bound. Your talent and competence filled me with an extra feeling of respect. That aspect of your personality had such an intimidating effect on me that to this day I am reeling under that impression. And in an extremely busy schedule of that day your manner of coordination, collaboration, sweet gentle demeanour, paying complete attention to our sensibilities - I remember this often- to this day.
This issue informs us that "Saar Sansar" has entered its 21st year of life - an important turn in life, an age, which is full of charm, energy, courage, imagination, dreams and resolutions. Congratulations! It is an age, when one leaves behind the unsure path of all worries and doubts of teen-age. It would certainly be considered a valuable and admirable contribution of any editor to inspire and nurture a couple, or a handful of inspired persons, taking the route of writing and translating, but the number is 92, just falling short of a century. I remember that in the last few years you have organized workshops at several places for finding, teaching and enhancing the skills of potential translators. In our phone conversations I have sensed the feeling of satisfaction and joy you have derived from these activities.
A few months back I came across a remarkable and adorable fact, which demonstrated your deadly, insightful, candid and incisive persona in a long detailed editorial. I was moved after reading about painful experiences of someone, and your hard-hitting comments. It shook me to such an extent that I did not know as to what to do and what I can do after reading all this. The feeling of indignation subsided with time, and I had almost forgotten everything, but in this issue there was again your matching brilliance in a fresh, changed style, which would shock and stun every reader. By quoting from a mail received from Germany and sharing the same with your readers what you have brought to their notice is undoubtedly a tiny leak of the lava boiling inside you. For many days I remained disturbed after reading this. I asked myself in many ways, whether anything can be done in such situations, whether it is essential to do something in such matters. After reading facts about Lothar Lurtze I felt deeply hurt. I found consolation in the thought that such decay and pollution is limited not only to one area of life, it is gradually spreading like a cancer... Anyway, I applaud you for this fire in your belly. Darkness is thick and all encompassing; but a ray of light, a spark of fire is mightier than complete darkness.
Only one adverse comment I would like to make. You have used harsh words like "nalayaq" in describing certain people. A milder word like "ayogya", which is a synonym in Hindi, would have had the same effect in a gentle way.
"Carry on, valiant, patient Soldier, carry on!"
This long editorial is for the eyes of my worthy detractors. They could be planning a fresh offensive against me.
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