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Lost in translation and lack of knowledge of history: Historians on Jai Singh II termed ‘servant’ at Uzbekistan museum

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New Delhi, Sep 17 (PTI) Historians have argued that the “derogatory” description of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II at an observatory museum in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand is a possible mix of “lost in translation” and “lack of knowledge of history”.

They demanded that the word ‘servant’, used to describe the man who founded Jaipur city, is rectified.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi legislator K Kavitha on Friday had taken up the issue of the description of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II on a board outside the Ulugh Beg Observatory (Samarkand Observatory Museum) with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

She wrote to Jaishankar, requesting him to raise the issue with the Uzbekistan government.

The board referred to the 18th-century Rajput ruler as a “servant of the palace” of “Boburiy Sultan Mukhammadshoh”, commonly known as Mirza Nasir-ud-Din Muḥammad Shah, the 13th Mughal emperor who ruled from 1719 to 1748.

The board reads: “Ancestors of Mirzo Bobur who reigned in XVII-XVIII centuries in India . . . created observatories in Jaypur, Banoras, and Delhi by the servant of the palace, astronomers Savai Jai Singh during the first half of the XVIII century, here they imitated astronomic instruments and equipment in the Samarkand observatory.”    Jaipur-based historian Rima Hooja said, “It is bad English and that is where the translation flaw also comes in. . . Now, people in the 18th, 19th, or even 20th century, used to write ‘I beg to remain yours faithfully’  or ‘I remain your servant’ while writing to the king or queen.” “Maybe it has come from there. But then that doesn’t make them their servant,” the author of ‘A History of Rajasthan’ told PTI.

“This could be a case of lost in translation. But the description is wrong, derogatory, incorrect and offensive to India. He is nobody’s servant and whoever in India is in a position to make a change should write and make sure that the correct information is put out,” she demanded.

Historian Chaman Lal termed the usage of the word ‘servant’ for the Jaipur king a result of the “lack of knowledge of history” of those behind writing the descriptive board. He said Kavitha has raised the issue in a “sensible” way.  Kavitha, who is also the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, has also written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar requesting him to take up the matter with the Uzbekistan government.

Born in 1688, Jai Singh II was a shrewd statesman, mathematician, army commander, astronomer, scientist and planner. He is celebrated and commemorated today for both the planned city of Jaipur that he founded and the five observatories he set up across India.  “Over time, these observatories became popularly known as ‘Jantar Mantar’ a phrase derived from the words ‘yantra’ (instrument or device; i.e. the observation- stations), and ‘mantra’ (formulae). The structures are giant specialised instruments in themselves,” reads the book “A History of Rajasthan’, written by Hooja in 2006.

According to Hooja, besides the incorrect usage of the word ‘servant’, the description written on the board outside the Samarkand Observatory Museum is wrong on several other counts ranging from wrong spellings of Jaipur as ‘Jaypur’ and that of Banaras as ‘Banaros’ to mentioning of only three of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II.

“Jaipur and Banaras are spelt incorrectly. Whether you call it Varanasi or Banaras, India has a standardised spelling. It only mentions three observatories built by him and not the other two —  at Ujjain and Mathura  — which he got built in his capacity as the Maharaja of Amber of ‘Dhoondar’ state, with its then capital at Amber.

“The first line, if the timeline is 17th-18th century, should be descendants of Babur and not ancestors.  Further, they did not imitate astronomic instruments at Samarkand, they went beyond it,” she explained.  Jai Singh II, who ascended the throne when he was only 11 years old, died in 1743. PTI MG MG NSD NSD

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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