Home » Books » Sanskrit Non-Translatable...

Sanskrit Non-Translatables

Follow Rajiv Malhotra's official page on facebook.

Sanskrit Non-TranslatablesSanskrit Non-Translatables is a path-breaking and audacious attempt at Sanskritizing the English language and enriching it with powerful Sanskrit words. It continues the original and innovative idea of non-translatability of Sanskrit, first introduced in the book, Being Different. For English readers, this should be the starting point of the movement to resist the digestion of Sanskrit into English, by introducing loanwords into their English vocabulary without translation. The book presents a thorough mechanism of the process of digestion and examines the loss of adhikara for Sanskrit language because of translating its core ideas into English. The movement launched by this book will resist this and stop the programs that seek to turn Sanskrit into a dead language by translating all its treasures to render it redundant. It discusses 54 non-translatables across various genres that are being commonly mis-translated. It empowers English speakers with the knowledge and arguments to introduce these Sanskrit words into their daily speech with confidence. Every lover of India’s sanskriti will benefit from the book and become a cultural ambassador propagating it through routine communications.




Sanskrit non-Translatables takes fifty-four indisputably foundational concepts, arranges them in a fourfold typology that moves from terra firma to terra cognita to the cosmos, and contests the irrationality, the untenability and the ‘design’ of their widely employed English equivalents. With its well-thought out prefatory essays, this is a book that every English-educated Indian must read to further ‘decolonise’ his mind and stand up to the hegemony of Western thought.

– Kapil Kapoor, Chairman, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla

Rajiv Malhotra carries his battle for Sanskrit a step further in this book. Short of having Sanskrit itself as the language of pan-Indian intellectual discourse, we must insist that as long as English continues to play this role, Sanskrit words should be used in English on account of their unique semantic valence so that a whole culture and an entire worldview is not lost in translation.

– Arvind Sharma, McGill University

Sanskrit Non-Translatables by Rajiv Malhotra and Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji is an important book that makes a powerful case for what it calls the Sanskritization of the English language by introducing key Sanskrit loanwords into English vocabulary and keeping them untranslated. This is a bold and innovative approach that deserves to be pursued in parallel with teaching Sanskrit itself. It is nothing short of spreading Vedic sanskriti into the English-speaking world by penetrating their minds with powerful Sanskrit terms.

– Subhash Kak, author of Matter and Mind, The Gods Within, and other books

This is an indispensable book addressing the difficult situation today – that Sanskrit terms pregnant with meaning cannot be translated into any foreign language; yet we have to make them understandable to people of other cultures who want to learn Sanskrit from the point of view of jigisha rather than jijnasa.

– Dr. Korada Subrahmanyam, author of Theory of Language: Oriental & Occidental, and other books

This book makes a convincing case that English is deficient in its ability to express the profound meanings of the shastras for which Sanskrit words are necessary. I congratulate the authors for their innovative thinking and bold initiative.

– Swami Govindadev Giri, Trustee and Treasurer, Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra

At a time when Hinduism studies are under the full and tight control of Western Indologists (via their university courses and libraries, and journals and conferences), this book comes as a timely reminder of the extensive damage being wrought by this coterie, none wherein is a practising Hindus, after all. Ransacking the vast and hoary Hindu legacy, vital concepts of Yoga, Vedanta, and kindred fields are taken over by them, and exploited without compunction for crass commercial ends, labelling them first with fancy nomenclature, coupled with a denial/dethronement/desecration of their very sources. Caricature translations that divest the Sanskrit words (dharma and saṁskāra, for instance) of their sanctity and nuances are rampant. By calling out the Western games of systematic sabotage and subversion and insidious inculturation leading to cultural genocide and digestion (e.g., “Christian Yoga”), Rajiv Malhotra (in collaboration with Sri Satyanarayana Dasa) has laid bare the damages wrought by such dilution, decontextualisation, and distortion through vapid English translations thatdo violence to the subtleties, rich content and technical nature of over 50 key Sanskrit vocables. The work Sanskrit Nontranslatables exposes how facile and popular equations – such as Om = Amen, Svarga = heaven, saṁskāra = ritual, Hanumān = monkey god, dāsa = slave, śāstra = scripture, and dhyāna = meditation – are by no means full and faithful renderings. There was a desideratum to alert alike the lay and the scholarly Hindu, and this book effectively accomplishes the task it has set out for. More writings of this genre are indeed the need of the hour. All Indian libraries – public as well as private – must possess a copy of this book.

– K S Kannan, Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj Chair Professor, IIT-Madras