Professor Todd Lewis of College of the Holy Cross (Worchester, Massachusetts) and Subarna Man Tuladar of Nepal Bhasa Institute received the first Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation for his translation from Newari into English of Sugata Saurabha: An Epic Poem from Nepal on the Life of the Buddha by the Nepali poet Chittadhar Hridaya (Oxford University Press, 2010). Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Professor Peter Skilling presented the award in Bodhgaya, India. The Sugata Saurabha tells the life of the Buddha in nineteen cantos of Newari verse. Chittadhar Hridaya (1906-1982), a prominent literary figure, composed much of the work while serving a five-year prison sentence for publishing a poem in his native language, and completed it after his release from prison. It was originally published in Kolkata in 1949.
In addition to the clear and elegant translation of the poem itself, the book offers background information about the literary, cultural, and religious context of the text.
The translated poem is not simply a window into another culture; it is an aesthetic experience that moves the reader to an enhanced understanding of the life of the Buddha. The spirit of the translation lives up to the request of the poet, who shortly before his death in 1982 expressed his desire that the poem should “read well in English, so that the reader can understand the beauty [of] the original.”