Exercises: The Desiderative



Translate from Sanskrit to English.


Here, we will read the first ten verses of the raghuvaṃśa, a poem by Kalidasa. Together, verses 1.5 to 1.9 make one sentence.

वागर्थाविव संपृक्तौ वागर्थप्रतिपत्तये ।
जगतः पितरौ वन्दे पार्वतीपरमेश्वरौ ॥ १.१ ॥

क्व सूर्यप्रभवो वंशः क्व चाल्पविषया मतिः ।
तितीर्षुर्दुस्तरं मोहादुडुपेनास्मि सागरम् ॥ १.२ ॥

मन्दः कवियशः प्रार्थी गमिष्याम्युपहास्यताम् ।
प्रांशुलभ्ये फले लोभादुद्बाहुरिव वामनः ॥ १.३ ॥

अथ वा कृतवाग्द्वारे वंशे ऽस्मिन् पूर्वसूरिभिः ।
मणौ वज्रसमुत्कीर्णे सूत्रस्येवास्ति मे गतिः ॥ १.४ ॥

सो ऽहमाजनमशुद्धानामाफलोदयकर्मणाम् ।
आसमुद्रक्षितीशानामानाकरथवर्त्मनाम् ॥ १.५ ॥

यथाविधिहुताग्नीनां यथाकामार्चितार्थिनाम् ।
यथापराधदण्डानां यथाकालप्रभोधिनाम् ॥ १.६ ॥

त्यागाय संभृतार्थानां सत्याय मितभाषिणाम् ।
यशसे विजिगीषुणां प्रजायै गृहमेन्धिनाम् ॥ १.७ ॥

शैशवे ऽभ्यस्तविद्यानां यौवने विषयैषिणाम् ।
वार्द्धके मुनिवृत्तीनां योगेनान्ते तनुत्यजाम् ॥ १.८ ॥

रघूणामन्वयं वक्ष्ये तनुवाग्विभवो ऽपि सन् ।
तद्गुणैः कर्णमागत्य चापलाय प्रचोदितः ॥ १.९ ॥

तं सन्तः श्रोतुमर्हन्ति सदसद्व्यक्तिहेतवः ।
हेम्नः संलक्ष्यते ह्यग्नौ विशुद्धिः श्यामिकापि वा ॥ १.१० ॥




For the sake of perceiving words and meanings I hail the parents of the world,
the supreme lord and Parvati, (ever) connected like word and meaning.

What is the race born from the sun to the small domain of (my) intellect?
(Truly,) I wish to deludedly [lit. "because of delusion"] cross the uncrossable ocean with a raft.

A fool longing for the fame of poets, I'll go to ridicule,
like a dwarf with hands greedily [lit. "because of greed"] uplifted for fruits obtainable (only) by the tall.

Or perhaps I have a path in this race (after all), a door made of speech by the sages before (me),
as would a string in a jewel pierced with a diamond pin.

Those who are pure from birth, whose labors (are done) until fruition,
who were lords of the land up to the ocean (itself), who had chariot paths (right) up to heaven,

who sacrificed to the fire according to injunction, whose supplicants were satisfied in every desire,
who punished according to the crime, who were alert [or, "awake"] at the right times,

who collected wealth (just) to give it away [lit. "for giving away"], who were of measured speech for the sake of truth,
who wished to conquer only for glory, who married only for progeny,

who learned the scriptures [lit. "knowledge"] by heart in their childhood, who followed worldly pleasure in their youth,
who became ascetics in their old age, who abandoned their bodies at their final end —

After this verse, the actual narration starts. A more poetic translation of these ten verses, created by the late Sanskrit scholar Arthur Ryder, is below:

God Shiva and his mountain bride, Like word and meaning unified,
The world's great parents, I beseech To join fit meaning to my speech.

How great is Raghu's solar line! How feebly small are powers of mine!
As if upon the ocean's swell I launched a puny cockle-shell.

The fool who seeks a poet's fame Must look for ridicule and blame,
Like tiptoe dwarf who fain would try To pluck the fruit for giants high.

Yet I may enter through the door That mightier poets pierced of yore;
A thread may pierce a jewel, but Must follow where the diamond cut.

Of kings who lived as saints from birth, Who ruled to ocean-shore on earth,
Who toiled until success was given, Whose chariots stormed the gates of heaven,

Whose pious offerings were blest, Who gave his wish to every guest,
Whose punishments were as the crimes, Who woke to guard the world betimes,

Who sought, that they might lavish, pelf, Whose measured speech was truth itself,
Who fought victorious wars for fame, Who loved in wives the mother's name,

Who studied all good arts as boys, Who loved, in manhood, manhood's joys,
Whose age was free from worldly care, Who breathed their lives away in prayer,

Of these I sing, of Raghu's line, Though weak mine art, and wisdom mine.
Forgive these idle stammerings And think: For virtue's sake he sings.

The good who hear me will be glad To pluck the good from out the bad;
When ore is proved by fire, the loss Is not of purest gold, but dross.

The Dynasty of Raghu, trans. Arthur Ryder