Wednesday, 29 October 2008


Dr. Uma and Dr. Rama

It was one of the occasions where almost everyone is a Sanskrit scholar, or at least a lover of Sanskrit.

The occasion was the book release of a translation of Adi Sankara’s ‘Sivananda Lahari’ by Dr. Rama Venkataraman* and Dr. Uma Krishnaswamy. The book, a bilingual translation, has been published by Vidya Vrikshah.

It is a neatly arranged distribution of labour – Rama has translated the verses into Thamizh and Uma has translated them into English. Each page has one sloka, with its transliteration, the translations in Thamizh and English, and additional notes at the bottom. The book has two explanatory chapters, written by S. Somaskandan, retired Registrar of Benares Hindu University. A learned Sanskrit scholar, he is Rama’s father.

This is Rama’s third publication in three years - the first one was the translation of stories from Devi Bhagavatham into Thamizh and the second, ‘Anthyakshri Manjari’, a compilation of Sanskrit slokas for use in Anthyakshari competitions. Rama is a Ph. D. in Sanskrit.

Uma is a consultant breast surgeon attached to Apollo Hospital. An FRCS from UK, she also holds an M. A. in Sanskrit. Managing a profession that leaves very little spare time, she still found time to translate this work of Adi Sankara. She has also translated the Soundarya Lahiri into English for the Vidya Vrikshah website.

Both women are volunteers at Vidya Vrikshah, a voluntary organization devoted to archiving electronically ancient texts and manuscripts pertaining to Indian religion and philosophy. A special software developed by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan of IIT, Chennai, has been provided free to the organisation for this purpose. Dr. Rama used this software, which allows the English keyboard to be used for typing in various Indian languages, to type the Thamizh translation of all the verses. Vidya Vrikshah is run by Uma’s father, N. Krishnaswamy, (IPS), retired Inspector General.

The book was released by Dr. C. L. Ramakrishnan, (IPS), Retd. Director of Vigilance and Anti-corruption, who has a profound knowledge of Sanskrit literature, and received by Dr. Kalyanakrishnan.

Published in the Mylapore Times dated October 25 – 31.

*Dr. Rama is my sister-in-law.


Webradio said...

Very nice photo Raji...

fitnessfreak said...

oh wow!!......I met Dr Uma once....she is such a lovely person

Indrani said...

I hope to lay my hands on this book.

Kat said...

These are the people who make things tick and keep the spirit alive. Congratulations to them and thank you for sharing.

Swarna said...

Humbling to read about the doctors awesome works, Raji.
Thanks for sharing here.

namaki said...

Hello Raji ... Let me offer you the Arte y Pico award for your blog ... because I like your stories about Indian culture and traditions etc go check on my blog it's on November 2nd post.

Anonymous said...

There is no word called 'Lahiri' in Sanskrit, perhaps in Bengali. But 'Lahari' in Sanskrit means 'waves'.

The great Sankara produced the exquisite 'Soundarya Lahari' and the translation in question is of another of his less known work but equally divine 'Sivananda Lahari'.

Besides the founder of Advaita Vedanta, Sri Sankara was an outstanding Sanskrit scholar. While appreciating the work carried out by these persons, Sri Sankara's work should be read in Sankrit to enjoy his superior intellect and erudition.

His 'Bhajagovindam' verses simply illustrate the brilliant way he could quantify and capture the harder precepts of philosophy in simple Sanskrit verses.


The two ladies have indeed done a good job.

Mysorean, you are right of course, the correct spelling is Lahari.(That is how it appeared in the paper.) It was an error on my part, and I shall correct it now. Thanks for pointing it out.

Namaki, thank you very much.