Bodhasāra is poetry, not a philosophical treatise.   The multiple layers in the text are essential to achieving Narahari’s purpose.  He frequently warns that jīvanmukti is not achieved and cannot be explained through reasoned discourse. jīvanmukti can only be experienced and the role of a guru is to bring the pupil to a position where that experience is possible.   The key is sahr̥daya, being of one heart with the author and with the multivalent structures of Bodhasāra, so essential to its purpose. In many ways Bodhasāra is rather like music where multiple parts interact in harmony, syncopation, counterpoint and discord to produce an existential statement.  The outcome is a higher order meaning which eludes simplistic statement. 


The initial translation was undertaken in 2000 by Jennifer Cover and encouraged by Peter Oldmeadow, then Head of Sanskrit and Indological Studies at the University of Sydney. Being a first translation into English it was a confusing and often frustrating exercise, as the work contains so many intentional contradictions. Swami Dayananda Saraswati provided useful guidance during this early stage, revealing the real nature of the work. Kanchan Mande from Pune University, later provided much cultural insight and confidence, from a lifetime studying and absorbing Indian culture. With some familiarity with the text it became possible to ‘hear’ Narahari’s voice in the words, and the translation became less mechanical. Thus with some understanding of its content and intent, the entire work was translated a second time, this time with Grahame Cover working on the English expression.


While the translated text remains linguistically faithful to the original, the more we worked with the text the more it was possible to hear Narahari’s voice rising out of the words.  It is in this voice that the real meaning lies.  What we have attempted is to restate this voice in English.  Only the reader can judge if this has been successfully done.  To the reader we can offer one recommendation. It would be a mistake to read Bodhasāra as a sequence of instructive homilies.  In fact the quotation of a single verse, no matter how pithy, as being representative of Narahari’s understanding would almost certainly be a mistake. When reading Bodhasāra it is always worthwhile to have a good sense of direction.  Look back to see from where the text has come, look forward to see where it is leading.  You may find Narahari delivers you to a place different to where you anticipated.

Readers who enjoy the translation and who have even a little command of Sanskrit are encouraged to delve into the original. Such an effort will be well rewarded. For this reason the original text has been included.


Jennifer Cover & Grahame Cover

Scotland Island (Sydney), Australia

August 2010

Copyright © 2010 Jennifer Cover and Grahame Cover