With its vast reservoir of knowledge, Indian culture, especially the Vedic aspect, has lured the people of our country as well as Westerners. German linguist Max Muller through his book, ‘India-What It Can Teach Us?’, an anthology of lectures written in the 18th century had eulogised the glory of our civilisation. The Malayalam translation of the book by K K C Nair has hit the market. What makes the translated work special is that, it is for the first time that the work of Muller is being introduced to Malayalam readers.
K K C Nair, former editor of the National Book Trust of India, who has to his credit a handful of translations including ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, ‘A History of Indian and Indonesian Art’ by Ananth Coomaraswami and ‘An Advanced History of India’ says, “The anthological piece of Muller has caught my attention for the way a foreign author has shown reverence to our country’s culture and Sanskrit language. Sanskrit language has always been appreciated in Germany, which was one reason for it.”
The book contains seven lectures given by Max Muller to the ICS students of Cambridge University. “Surprisingly Muller who had an intense love for our country had never set his foot in India. But he had a deep rooted knowledge and interest in Indian language and culture and had translated works like Kalidas’s ‘Meghadutha’ and ‘History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature’. It was his interest in our country that prompted me to do the translation, says K K C Nair.”
In his book, he has described India as an epitome of virtuosity. Giving more details about the author’s Indian connect, K K C Nair says, “Muller is one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies. Since Sanskrit was thought to be the oldest of the Indo-European languages, Muller had devoted several years towards learning the classical language. Swami Vivekananda had once paid a visit to Muller in Oxford. Impressed by Muller’s spirituality and physical brightness, Vivekananda described him as ‘Vedantins of Vedantins’”
Prof M K Sanu released the Malayalam version a few days back in Kochi. The introduction is by the late Prof Sukumar Azhikode. Critic Dr M Leelavathy, writers C Radhakrishnan, Chemmanam Chacko and Prof Thomas Mathew also attended the function. Writer C Radhakrishnan handed over the released book to K K C Nair's grandson Harinandan. After receiving the book, he assured that he would study the book when he grows up.