Dr Will Johnson and Dr Simon Brodbeck, Cardiff University


This project will yield the first complete translation of the critically reconstituted text of the Sanskrit Harivamsha. The Harivamsha, or ‘Lineage of Krishna’, is traditionally classified as an appendix to the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, although in terms of length (118 chapters) it might be considered an epic in its own right. One of the Harivamsha’s major points of interest for historians of religion is that it contains the earliest extended account of the life of Krishna, including many of the subsequently well-known stories about his childhood and youth. The primary purpose of the Cardiff project is to make this material available to students of religion and world literature in a one volume, literary translation.

Apart from raising acute questions about the strategies best employed in rendering an epic text of this kind into English, the process of translation will also provide the opportunity for close scrutiny of the text-critical method that was used to reconstitute the Sanskrit text on the basis of the existing manuscript evidence. This, in turn, will allow for a re-evaluation of the relationship between the Harivamsha and the Mahabharata, thereby opening a new approach to studies of the ancient Indian epics.

Although the project’s primary output will be the translation, it has already resulted in the publication of an annotated bibliography, and will also directly yield a long article reflecting on all aspects of the translation process.


Dr Will Johnson

Dr Simon Brodbeck

Annotated Harivamsha Bibliography

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