In the present booklet of poems, translations, and paintings, as a painter and minor poet, I set out to inquire and explore the form, extent, and constraints involved in a ‘lingual-to-visual’ rendering process. The included sixteen paintings are the result of this quest into the prospects of visual translation, trying to find out if such visual enactments of poetic texts could be seen as its example.
I chose to work from the poetic texts of Mirza Ghalib,…
…The main form of Ghalib’s poetry is the Ghazal, … usually contains five to seven couplets called Shers…
My lingual-to-visual translation process has its foundations in the Eastern psyche… …system of mutual correspondence between the word and the image …a natural choice of an autobiographical and figurative depiction, typical to the nature of my artistic pursuits so far.
From his rich poetry, I selected four of Ghalib’s Ghazals…
…muses behind the initiation of an art…
…the translations from Urdu to English has helped me in rendering the poems into paintings. The medium of Egg-Tempera, …
After repeated applications of ultra-thin colour glazes for more than 300 times, gradually the final painted surface emerges… original Urdu text as calligraphy followed by its Roman Urdu transliteration and then the English translation. Next comes the painting. In tune with it, I arrived at a title for each painting. These four titles later formed a poem, corresponding to the essence of the Ghazal…
I want to dedicate this book to my parents, my gurus, my husband Rajvinder Singh and our daughter Nuria Singh. I am indebted to Johanna Domokos for believing strongly in my translation process and transferences therein. By convincing Sabira Ståhlberg to become the other editor, she has ensured the right path to bring them forth to the connoisseurs of fine arts.
I thank my translator Tatjana Krzemien deeply for arriving very consciously at her wonderful German translation these difficult poetic texts demanded, and Lea Salmon whom she consulted. I must also thank the calligraphist, Faizan Khan, for scripting the original Urdu text of the poems in a very short time. He also corrected the nuances of my Urdu Roman transliterations included here for the readers otherwise well versed in spoken Urdu.
Berlin/New Delhi in March 2018
Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Jap Ji Sahib: Manifestations of the Magnificent
The holy text of Jap Ji Sahib was introduced to me by my wonderful mother when I was just a primary school child. She made it sure that, whenever I happened to pray, I was able to recite at least the first few verses of it.
During all this, the image of Guru Nanak Dev Ji was my reference of the revered GOD. However, in later years, after a devastating tragedy where I lost my mother in an accident, I declined all thoughts around that idea.
The last fifteen years or so, after my marriage and more so after the birth of our daughter, I continuously sensed compelling nearness to THE ALMIGHTY CREATOR. I was humbled down by the experience of abounding GRACE. In whatever way, reciting the Jap Ji Sahib was the only practice I knew of, to reconnect my presence with my GOD.
When my GOD became THE ALMIGHTY:
I saw my doctoral research about the possibility of visual translation of the poetic texts of Mirza Ghalib become more and more sympathetic to artists and art critics when my book titled, “To Reach You, I Dream” was published. It prompted me to enquire whether I can employe a similar process to understand and eventually paint specific ideas depicted in the Jap Ji Sahib too?
As a part of this wider visual translational project, allow me to state that I am humbly graced by THE ALMIGHTY to bring forth yet another translation of Jap Ji Sahib in English. As anyone else would do, I have tried to bring the spirit of Jap Ji Sahib to you as I understand it. From the transliteration of Punjabi into the Roman script, followed by its translation into English, I have further included a one-liner for each verse as a gist. Lastly, I have elaborated each step as it progressed and also linked it with similar ideas originating in the previous stages. Hence, I have used different colours to distinguish various planes in the translation.
The content of this book also offers a brief reference to the words and phrases connected with the practice of Sikhi.
However, my project is not a theological discourse or such kind of comparative study. I humbly seek forgiveness for errors. Believing we have all a destined unique journey of human life, each reader is invited herein to elaborate this holy text as they understand it.
Prof Dr. Jyotika Sehgal
2018 – 2019, New Delhi & Berlin.