‘The Raj and Translating the Manavadharma Shastra’

Abstract : This paper discusses the role played by the 18th century British translation of the Manavadharma Shastra, ancient text of law of the Hindus, and its far-reaching consequences on the Indian psyche. How did an ancient text come to represent contemporary India in European eyes? And more importantly, what was the impact of William Jones’s translation on India itself? Did this single act of translation ‘silence’ India’s multiple tongues, reduce her numerous cultures and religions to a single canonic language and a single canonic culture, transforming the nation’s collective conscience though “suppression of memory and negation of selfhood”? In short, is Indian history a colonial construct? To address these questions, the paper first looks at the context which led to the translation of the Manavadharma Shastra and the problems inherent to the project from its very inception. Then it examines how this translation affected India, locking it in a time-warp, which distorted its relation with its own historicity.
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Contributor : Madhu Benoit <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 4:15:05 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 2:12:03 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02009863, version 1



Madhu Benoit. ‘The Raj and Translating the Manavadharma Shastra’. Violets in a Crucible’ - Translating the Orient, In press. ⟨hal-02009863⟩



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