Monday, 6 March 2017

Suresh G. Amonkar's Konkani translation of Thomas Stephens' Khristapurana

Just came across this piece of news: a new translation of Thomas Stephens' Khristapurana, this time into Konkani. The news item does not carry any reference to Nelson Falcao's rendering into modern Marathi and then into English. As of today, no other news seems to be available on the net about Amonkar's book.

Christian epic in Marathi by English Jesuit translated to Konkani

Kristha Purana was read in Churches up to 1684, until the linguistic policy of the Church and state changed.

posted 2 March 2017

With his translation in Devanagri Konkani, 81-year-old educationist Suresh G Amonkar has breathed new life into an almost forgotten 17th century Christian epic on the coming of Jesus Christ.

Written in Marathi with a profusion of Konkani words in the Roman script by an English Jesuit Fr Thomas Stephens, Kristha Purana was published in Rachol in 1616.

Amonkar who has already translated four Buddhist, three Hindu, two Christian and one Sikh scripture into Devanagri Konkani, devoted seven hours a day over five years while battling cancer relapses to complete the colossal task of translating the 10,962 verses written in ovi metre or quatrains, a poetric metre used in narrative poems in Marathi.

There were Spanish Jesuits, Portuguese and Italian missionaries but only Fr Stephens undertook the mammoth task of studying the local language and writing in it, perhaps because of his gumption and scholarship. He went on to master not only Konkani and Marathi but Kannada and Sanskrit too.

"Fr Stephens realized the importance of the local language in spreading the new faith. He felt the Kristha Purana would enlighten new Christians and have their faith deepened and strengthened," Amonkar says.

Calling the Jesuit's magnum opus the best example of inculturation, he feels Stephen was the first to follow the principles of inculturation to make the Christian faith acceptable to new converts.
The former chairman of Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Amonkar studied Marathi for only four years in school but he continued to pursue it.

His study of the Bible in college too helped him translate the text. He opted to attend scripture classes along with his protestant classmates much to the surprise of his principal at St Wilson's College, who permitted him only after he produced written consent from his father who was a liberal.

Today he has a number of Bibles in his collection.

Kristha Purana was read in Churches up to 1684, until the linguistic policy of the Church and state changed. Instead of being celebrated, Fr Stephen's work was sidelined and withdrawn. One of the reasons for this, Amonkar believes was because he was ostracized by the Portuguese. "If it were a Portuguese or Spanish who had written it, they would have been put on a pedestal with a feast celebrated in their name every year," he says.

Kristha Purana is even more relevant today than it was 400 years ago since it was first published, Amonkar believes. "It is important today because services are held in Konkani in churches."

The book has been scheduled for release on March 22 with Amonkar, a 'cancer survivor par excellence' eagerly looking forward to its release.

Source: Times of India