The first Sanskrit translation of the seminal work of Spanish literature was unveiled by Luis García Montero during his recent visit to India.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes is widely considered the first modern novel. The first Sanskrit translation of the seminal work of Spanish literature was unveiled by Luis García Montero, director general of the Instituto Cervantes, during his recent visit to India. “Cervantes’ book is a work of fiction and it goes against the medieval age with its superstitions, fantasies, etc. In fact, Cervantes turned to fiction because he wanted to give freedom to human beings so they can be set free,” Montero explained. . Minni Sawhney, professor of Hispanic studies at the University of Delhi, served as her translator.
Don Quixote is much more than just a book and Cervantes is perhaps the most important figure in the history of Spanish literature. The book is about idealism versus materialism, life and death. “Cervantes invents a character called Don Quixote and leaves him completely free. Using this freedom, he becomes a Knight of the Middle Ages. Cervantes basically wanted to show that if a person has personal dignity, then even their mistakes are respected. The whole book becomes a defense of freedom, liberty and respect for human beings. The figure of Don Quixote is universal. And we are used to the fact that scholars over the ages have interpreted this literary work according to the era in which they lived,” Montero further explained.
This book contains a modern Sanskrit translation of eight chapters of the first part of “Don Quixote”. The translation was done by two Kashmiri pundits, Jagaddhar Zadoo and Nityanand Shastri. Shastri’s grandson, Surindar Nath Pandita, and Dr. Karan Singh were also present at the book launch event. Interestingly, the Sanskrit translation of “Don Quixote” is not the first translation of Cervantes’ novel into an Indian language. There is already a complete Hindi translation by Vibha Maurya who directly translated from Spanish to Hindi. There is also a translation of “Don Quixote” in Bengali. As for the Sanskrit translation, Zadoo and Shastri relied on the English version of the text which dates back to an American collector in 1937.
Montero, who is also a noted poet and author, is one of the founding members of the Poetry of Experience movement. He is professor of Spanish literature at the University of Granada. His most famous works include ‘Someone Speaks Your Name’, ‘Don’t Tell Me Your Life’ and ‘Completely Friday’, among others. As part of the visit, Montero also made a major announcement as part of the Indian expansion of the Instituto Cervantes. “In 2023, we will open an extension in Bangalore. Its technological, educational, economic and demographic potential makes it the ideal city. Our center in Bangalore will have 8 classrooms and an exhibition space,” Montero revealed.
In recent years, Spanish has also become one of the most studied foreign languages among Indian students. This is the result of several factors at play. “Spanish has become one of the preferred languages for Indian students. For various reasons: the greater economic and cultural openness of India, the greater importance of Latin America, the growing importance of Spanish in India, the positive image of Spain as a European country , democratic and developed, and as an attractive tourist destination, and music, films and television series in Spanish,” explained Montero.
The Instituto Cervantes was founded in 1991 by the Spanish government to promote the teaching of the Spanish language and raise awareness of Hispanic culture around the world. In India, the institute was established in 2009. “Since the inauguration of the Instituto Cervantes in New Delhi in 2009, there has been a growing demand for Spanish courses. The growing presence of Spanish in Indian private schools is clear, and now also in secondary schools, and according to some studies, it is beginning to supplant French and German,” Montero rejoiced.
During the visit, Montero also met with the Hispanic Indian community and expressed his gratitude to them for creating an important school of thought and influence to spread the heritage of Spanish language, culture and literature. As part of the cultural exchange program organized by the Sahitya Akademi, Montero also recited some of his poems. “Cultural exchange is very important and the Hispanic community here in India has played a wonderful role in the growth of Spanish culture. It is equally important that, as part of this cultural exchange, we also explore the possibilities of promoting Indian literature in Spain,” summarized Montero.