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Thursday, December 09, 2021

Words of Change

It is a subject that has been dealt before by several writers,but that did not deter writer-diplomat Navtej Sarna from attempting another translation of the Zafarnama

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE |
March 14, 2011 10:21:00 pm

It is a subject that has been dealt before by several writers,but that did not deter writer-diplomat Navtej Sarna from attempting another translation of the Zafarnama,the 18th century letter written by the 10th Guru,Guru Gobind Singh,to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb,“sometime in 1705,exposing the Mughal emperor’s lack of morality in war”. Written in Persian verse,it is part of the Dasam Granth composed by Guru Gobind Singh. “The subject has been dealt with before,like most things in life,but with the English translation,I wanted to reach out to a wider public. Also,I thought I could add some value in terms of translation,” said Sarna,India’s Ambassador to Israel. The book,Zafarnama,released on March 4,at the 10-day literary festival,Spring Fever. It is priced at Rs 350.

Sarna,who has earlier authored four books,said,“There are many variations in the script,text and translation. I had to get the right text of the original,from among the different versions. For this,I relied on the Gurumukhi text of Bhai Veer Singh,a Sikh intellectual fountainhead,and also on Christopher Shackle’s translation of the Zafarnama. When lost,I fell back on my father Mohinder Singh Sarna’s translation of the Zafarnama. I had to double-check the interpretation”. He added,“The second difficulty was the Indian-Persian,which had diverged majorly by the late Mughal period from classical Persian,both in literary terms as well as in pronunciation,thus adding another layer of variations.”

The diplomat penned the book over a span of two years,juggling work and writing. “I worked over the weekends,” smiled Sarna,as we met at the India International Centre.

Will we see any diplomatic literature coming out soon? “It is not fair to my profession to be writing about it while I am still in service,” laughed Sarna. Up next,the 53-year-old writer is working on a collection of short stories.

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