kiskiKAHANI (the Ramayana Project)

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The Griffith Ramayana

Posted on by Imran

Anil Menon discusses the late 19th century translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana by Ralph T H Griffith. Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith was born on May 25, 1826, in Corsley, Wiltshire, to Reverend Robert C. Griffith and Mary E. Adderley. It was a remarkable age. Only three days earlier, the HMS Beagle had set sail from Plymouth on its first voyage. Waterloo was already a decade old memory. Queen Victoria was 7 years old. Charles Dickens was 14. Lord Byron was dead, Charles Babbage was designing the Difference Engine, and speculative fiction had drawn its first breath in the Gothic womb of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In distant India, a word that still denoted an area and not a place, one principality after another was falling to British might and British genius. It was the best of times to be an Englishman. As John Aylmer, Bishop of London, had presciently anticipated in An Harborowe, a year after the English navy crushed the Spanish Armada in 1588: ‘God is English.’ But conquest had brought with it the conqueror’s burden: administration. No empire has ever had enough qualified citizens to run two countries at the same time. Sooner or later, an empire has to start finding, training and hiring natives. Lord Macaulay’s Minute of 1834 spelled out what the goal should be: ‘…a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.’ Or less politely, … Continue reading

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