Click on the volume titles for translators’ personal accounts of their books and their relationships with the texts they have chosen to translate.

The Emperor of the Sorcerers (volume one) Budhasvāmin
The Emperor of the Sorcerers (volume two) Budhasvāmin
Sir James Mallinson

Epic in scope and scale, it has everything that a great story should: adventure, romance, suspense, intrigue, tragedy and comedy...

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Handsome Nanda Aśvaghoṣa
Linda Covill
Nanda has it all—youth, money, good looks and a kittenish wife who fulfils his sexual and emotional needs. He also has the Buddha, a dispassionate man of immense insight and self-containment, for an older brother. When Nanda is made a reluctant recruit to the Buddha’s order of monks, he is forced to confront his all-too-human enslavement to his erotic and romantic desires. More

Heavenly Exploits (Buddhist Biographies from the Dívyavadána).
Joel Tatelman
Indeed, why should we in the twenty-first century take an interest in ‘karma’ stories about super-powered monks, autocratic kings, jealous queens, manipulative politicians, crafty merchants, ancient family conflicts, or worse, ghosts, godlings and heavens and hells? More

Into the Fray: An Introduction to the Maha·bhárata
Vaughan Pilikian

The Maha·bhárata is the longest poem in human history. Its origins stretch back deep into the past. Over three thousand years ago in ancient India there arose new stories of gods and men who had come to heaven and earth after the old divinities of the Veda.

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“The Lady of the Jewel Necklace” and “The Lady Who Shows Her Love” Harṣa
Wendy Doniger
Over the years I had come particularly to enjoy the tales of Udáyana and Vásava·datta, which delight in the plot elements of dream, sexual deception, mistaken identities, self-imitation, and masquerades, that always captivate and inspire me. More

Life of the Buddha Aśvaghoṣa
Patrick Olivelle
I have been especially interested in how experts within one tradition represented itself to others and represented the others to its own adherents.… What is most interesting and impressive about Aśvaghoṣa is that he manages to do this twin task with a light touch and the elegant beauty of the language. More

Love Lyrics Amaru, Bhartṛhari & Bilhaṇa
Greg Bailey & Richard Gombrich
Apart from the punch these poems have always delivered to me, I have never ceased to be astonished by the poet’s massive knowledge of ancient Indian culture and his mastery in the use of the linguistic sign... More

Maha·bhárata II: The Great Hall.
Paul Wilmot
The game of dice is the climax of “The Great Hall” and its most famous episode; after the match, nothing can ever be the same again... More

Maha·bhárata III: The Forest (volume four of four).
William J. Johnson

...an image stayed with me: a black figure in a red robe, suddenly appearing in a forest clearing to a woman cradling her husband’s head in her lap....

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Maha·bhárata IV: Viráta.
Kathleen Garbutt
The Virāṭaparvan starts with the tales of how the Pándavas suffer and survive in disguise, but ends with their discovery, when their power, heroism and majesty are finally revealed in battle. Their trials are many and varied but in every scene there is a balance between dramatic tension and playfulness. More

Maha·bhárata V: Preparations for War (volume one of two).
Maha·bhárata V: Preparations for War (volume two of two).
Kathleen Garbutt
Dramatic as this book is, what has really impressed me and stayed in my mind are the fascinating psychological figures this book offers. The characters of Karna and Amba are so unusual and complex that they have inspired modern psycho-analytical discussion; Amba for the links to the Oedipus complex, and Karna for his complex issues with his parents. More

Maha·bhárata VI: Bhishma (volume one of two) Including the “Bhagavad Gita” in Context.
Maha·bhárata VI: Bhishma (volume two of two).
Alex Cherniak
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Maha·bhárata VII: Drona (volume one of four).
Maha·bhárata VII: Drona (volumes three to four of four).
Vaughan Pilikian
... I found within these scenes a nuanced and vivid depiction of human behaviour in a register of savage poetry and tragic lyricism similar to that found in Homer and Sophocles. More

Maha·bhárata VIII: Karna (volume one of two).
Maha·bhárata VIII: Karna (volume two of two).
Adam Bowles
Karna is not on the side of the victors in the war. Indeed he is, at least nominally, one of the epic’s villains. Yet, Karna is both a deeply flawed hero and a likeable villain whose flaws are easy to forgive, the tragic trajectory of his life inviting an easy empathy. More

Maha·bhárata IX: Shalya (volume one of two).
Maha·bhárata IX: Shalya (volume two of two).
Justin Meiland
As the fourth of the Maha·bhárata’s five battle books, the Shalya Parvan devotes a great deal of material to war. It is here in the relentless suffering of the battlefield that the confusion and instability of the world becomes most realized, its fickle violence described as ‘a game of dice in which life is the stake’ and its horror expressed through accumulated images of baroque-like intensity and gore. More

Much Ado About Religion Bhaṭṭa Jayanta
Csaba Dezső
Bhatta Jayánta’s play stands out as unique among the works of Sanskrit literature. It is a curious mixture of fiction and history, of scathing satire and intriguing philosophical argumentation: a work of a true genius and a rewarding read for everyone interested in the culture of classical India. More

The Ocean of the Rivers of Story (volume one of seven) Somadeva
The Ocean of the Rivers of Story (volume two of seven) Somadeva
The Ocean of the Rivers of Story (volume three to seven of seven) Somadeva
Sir James Mallinson
In the Kathāsaritsāgara one quickly forgets why one is being told most of the tales. The trick is to lose sight of the wood and concentrate on the trees: let yourself be carried away by each individual story as listeners in India would have done. More

Ramáyana Synopsis
John P. Clay
Rama, the crown prince of the City of Ayódhya is a model son and warrior. He is sent by his father the king to rescue a sage from persecution by demons, but must first kill a fearsome ogress. More

Rama Beyond Price Murāri
Judit Törzsök
How can a Shaiva choose to translate a Vaishnava play about Rama? And especially one so untheatrical? More