عنوان مقاله [English]
The Indian nation, because of having many thousand years of ancient history, has influenced the dawn of the world civilization, especially of the Arabic literature, and has remarkably influenced scholars of the Arab world. This is obviously observed in the Arabic prose and poetry of different periods. However, the question that arises is what factors made the Indian culture influence the Arab writers. Perhaps, one of these factors is the efforts Abu Reyhan Biruni undertook to write a book in Arabic. Therefore, his priceless services as “the pioneer of Indian studies”, father of “Indian studies” and the writer of the great work, Critical Study of What India Says, Whether Accepted by Reason or Refused are worthy of research because of reflecting and introducing the rich Indian culture to the whole world as well as to the Arab world. Eventually, the research findings show that Biruni’s work which includes different subjects in different fields such as Indian culture and civilization is notable and peerless. This article consequently studies the wonderful masterpiece of Wadi Al-Bostani, the famous Lebanese writer’s translations of the great Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana into Arabic. These works are the utmost important and precious heritage among the translated works of literature in the Arab world.
This study applies descriptive method and relies on historical sources and documents. Mentioning glory and greatness of Indian culture and civilization in Arabic works and describing them requires reference to historical books. It has been tried to shed light on some aspects of so many efforts and services conducted by Arab and non-Arab writers by the use of these historical documents and texts. This study tries to answer these questions: what has been the reason for Arabs’ attention to Indian works since the Age of Ignorance so far? Which period of Arabic literature has been mostly influenced by it? Have these influences affected Arabic language and literature?
The Arab world, too, like other nations of the world, has had relationships with India for different reasons, and therefore, has been influenced by India’s historical and cultural diversity. Arabic poetic and prose texts are full of Indian terms and literature. The greatest Indian epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have been translated into Arabic by the Lebanese scholar. Considering the affluence of these works and the results they had on Arabic language and literature in different periods, we decided to introduce some parts of them. First, Abu Reyhan Biruni is introduced with the greatest work ever written about India.
Critical Study of What India Says, Whether Accepted by Reason or Refused is one of the most famous books about Indian sciences, philosophy and civilization. This book was written in 421 HG, after Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi’s death. It includes subjects such as religiosity of Hindus, philosophy and rules of Indian ceremonies, Hindu society, knowledge and ethics of Indian casts, religious books, Indian arts, astrology, mathematics, linguistics, Sanskrit language, Indian myths, ephemeris calendars and their rules, and influence of Brahmans on Indian society and their sacred beliefs. This book is the fruit of Biruni’s 13 years of research in India.
It could be claimed, then, that Abu Reyhan Biruni is considered as the pioneer of Indian studies and research, not only in the Arab world, but also outside India. He played a very important role in spread of Indian culture and sciences. However, Indians did not pay much attention to him and did not appreciate this genius as he ought to have been. (Abdurahman Al-Adrashiri, 2003: 22)
Mahabharata is an epic narrative in verse which belongs to the 5th or 6th century BC. It is in Sanskrit and along with Ramayana, it is one of the two epic narratives of Indian history. It is the great epic work of Hindus in Sanskrit written in 18 books by hundreds of anonymous poets in different times and collected by Vyasa, the Indian sage and scholar. Its Arabic translation is the longest versed work in the world with more than one hundred thousand couplets translated by Wadi Al-Bostani, the contemporary Lebanese writer.
After finishing the translation, Wadi gifted one copy of it to the Indian leader, Jawaharlal Nehru. After seeing Wadi Al-Bostani’s translation, Jawaharlal Nehru said this sentence: “this translated epic into Arabic is the best gift given to Indian nation by the Arabs”. (Fatima Elyas, 2004: 23)
Translations done by Wadi Al-Bostani are doubtlessly the best heritage of translation the Arab world has ever seen. The following reasons are given as proof to this claim:
First, Wadi has translated this epic according to Arabic rules and methods. It means that rhythm and rhyming words are according to Arabic literary prosody.
Second, its content is entirely Indian mythology which is deeply and truly rooted in history.
An amazing point about this translation is that Wadi has been able to maintain the closeness between Arab reader’s taste and the world of mythology in this work. The reader greatly enjoys Bostani’s Arabicized myth. (Khalil Sheikh, 2007: 21)
Other works of Wadi include Arabicizing Al-Yazah and translating Rubayyat of Khayam.
Ramayana, too, which is more literary than Mahabharata, has been translated into Arabic by Wadi Al-Bostani. This great Indian epic narrates the invasion of Amir Ramato cross middle and southern India, over river Ghanej down to Tamul and Talash in order to conquer Lanka Island or the present Sri Lanka. It tries to picture the relational links between India and the East. The epic of Ramayana has been mentioned in Aghani. Wadi has translated Ramayana in twelve parts.He has stated that he was greatly surprised by Indian literature (Fatima Elyas, 2004: 37)
India is an expansive and very populated country. It is one of the most mysterious lands on earth. Because of its various races, cultures, religions, and wonderful landscapes, it has attracted and surprised the whole world and specifically the Arab world. Study of Arabic prose and poetry, in different periods, shows that the Arab writers have been greatly motivated and encouraged by Indian literature and culture. However, what is to be noticed here is Abu Reyhan Biruni’s book, Critical Study of What India Says, Whether Accepted by Reason or Refused. This book, which has been written in Arabic, has played an important role in conveying and reflecting the Indian culture in Arabic language. On the other hand, the efforts of the great Lebanese writer, Wadi Al-Bostani in conveying Indian works and culture into the Arab world, and translation of two great Indian epic works into Arabic made us shed light on different aspects of these efforts and services provided by these writers. This study, by relying on descriptive-historical method, tries to deal with these procedures: Introduction of India, reflection of Indian culture and civilization in the poems of Arab poets in different periods, introduction of works such as Critical Study of What India Says, Whether Accepted by Reason or Refused, translation of Mahabharata and Ramayana which have been written about India.
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