Friday, September 02, 2005

Thai translation of a 2000 years old Sanskrit epic, Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita (Acts of the Buddha)

Yesterday, I attended a bioinformatics workshop at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Science, my alma mater, and during a lunch break I visited my old favorite CU Bookstore, main branch, at Sala Prakiew inside the campus.
(It 's next to the swimming pool which you could see from a Google map 's satellite image of Chula in Bangkok as a tiny bright blue rectangle.)
I stumbled upon several Thai books which I quickly bought. The one worth mentioning today is the Thai translation of a 2000 year old Sanskrit epic, Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita (Acts of the Buddha) or พุทธจริต in Thai.
by Dr. Samniang Lermsai, of Silpakorn University. He translated the entire 28 sections of this great Sanskrit epic poetry, from both Sanskrit and English.
(Sections 15-28 which were long lost over a millenium had to be back translated from Chinese into English and Hindi: the book was earlier translated from Sanskrit into Chinese and Tibetan around 7th Buddhist century.)
Surely, I have no sufficient knowledge to critically read his translation.
I just read a few dozen pages and so far I love it. The Thai language content is elegant. The price is not expensive, only 250 Baht for a decent size book (18.7 x 26 cm, and 2 cm thick).
It 's amazing that most Thai Buddhist people probably never heard of this title. We mostly know more of Greek epics, perhaps from Hollywood's movies like Troy and Alexander.
This kind of book is hard to sell, except to a few bookworms like me. And if it is sold out in a few years it it probably out, period. So I can't help but spend some of my hard earned cash buying such books like it.
(On this point, I have recently told myself, I have got to start saving more seriously for my retirement rather than keep buying books, otherwise when I 'm retired from work and decide go to monastery my kid would not become a mulimillionaire. :-) )
I realize I am an eccentric person, perhaps not characteristically nerdy, althought my nerd scale was 95 (or 98, I am not sure) out of 100 ! And you know, eccentric people don't read books that laypeople do. ;-)

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