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Summary of Question:Questions On English Translated Text
Date Posted:Wednesday, 5/23/2001 10:55 PM MDT

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahaguru Ji Ki Fateh.

The questions I asked before correlate with this question.
Since we can agree that God will be expressed in many different ways; I would like to ask about the translated english texts of Gurbani. I was given a Nitnem at a young age, but I never read it because of the author of the book whom had translated it into English. My question was that since we know the Gurbani can be interpreted different ways, Is it not a risk to take someonelse's interpretation of it? Personally I have veered away from reading translations my entire life, now I am learning Gurmukhi so that I may read the True Guru Granth Sahib by myself and understand and interpret it personally. But, all of my younger cousins read the translated texts that is why I have asked this question. thank you for your time and considerate responses.

Yogi Singh Raina


Sat Siri Akal, Yogi Singhji:

Understand that some translations are just that: translations. There is a difference between an honest attempt at literal translation and more poetic, interpretive translations. My experience with most of the Nit Nayms published by Indian sources is that they are attempts at translation, not poetic interpretation. But you have put your finger on the nose of what translators of scripture around the world face: how to say accurately in one language what was said in the original? [I am familiar with this problem in the context of ancient Chinese texts, which are very hard to interpret in today's modern English.]

I do not consider it a risk for you or your cousins. Speaking personally, it has helped me immensely to become familiar with the daily banis in the English first, since that is my native language. Sikhi is my adopted faith, and I had to start somewhere, and it was a long time before I learned the Gurmukhi (to read) and it is a lifelong undertaking to understand the language originally.

Best by far is a thorough understanding of Gurmukhi/Punjabi, but there are passages in Siri Guru Granth that are hard for anyone but trained scholars to figure out. You will find, if you compare translations, many things to be said very similarly. And even when you find differences, it does not mean that one version is wrong! I believe the essential truths of Sikhi still come through in translation. But you have to decide what works for you and proceed accordingly.

PS: Every time you submit a question it comes twice. ???

God bless you,

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