“Translators are traitors to the original” – goes an Italian saying (Traduttori traditori). I am reminded of this saying when I undertake the translation of a few pieces by and on Veerabrahmam. True, the original – particularly when it is poetry – suffers in translation. Its melody, metrical charm and some of the subtle beauties of the original can hardly be brought out even in the best of translations. It happened in the case of Vemana’s poems when they were translated into prose and poetry by the English men of letters like C.P. Brown and C.E. Gover respectively. Brown was wise enough to get them translated into mere prose. He was quite aware of the fact that it would be difficult to render the idiomatic grace, cadence and rhythm in a translation.
I am afraid of translating at least a few pieces of Veerabrahmam, for, almost all the mystic songs of his, are rich in idiomatic grace, cadence and rhythm. I have not ventured to translate them into metrical form. To introduce the great man to the wider world through some of his invaluable teachings and preachings. I have made a sincere and humble attempt, to render them into English. My readers may appreciate at least the faithfulness with which I did it. However the translation, I hope will not betray me as a traitor to the original. As a measure of precaution I preferred to translate into prose which might, at times, resemble free verse, if arranged into separate lines following the thought content.
Since the musings of Veerabrahmam are mostly in the mystic form of expression, I am seldom constrained to employ a sort of poetic language in the rendering, so as to give it a touch of the original gaiety of the poetic expression. In general, due care has been taken to see that the rendering is rather explanatory instead of being a literal translation which, I am afraid, may lead to confusion and misunderstanding. To be on the safe side I have given a Transliteration of the Telugu original also.
- Dr. V. V. L. NARASIMHA RAO