Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (JISASR). Vol. 4, Issue 1, (2017)

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Representing Sikhism: Essays in Memory of the Irish Scholar Max Arthur Macauliffe. Guest editors:Christopher Shackle and Brian Bocking


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    M. A. Macauliffe and the angst of the translator
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork, 2017) Singh, Nikky-Guninder Kaur
    Had I known earlier the difficulties I should have to encounter, I should certainly never have undertaken a translation of this description', wrote Macauliffe (1898, 365). Even though he had carefully studied the text, familiarized himself with its source language(s), and was fluent in the target language, translating the Guru Granth into English proved to be an arduous task for the Irishman. His angst is indeed intriguing. Heidegger said, 'Tell me what you think of translation, and I will tell you who you are', so the concern voiced by our translator offers clues into his personal sensibilities and intellectual legacy. Using Amrtya Sen's 'exoticist', 'magisterial', and 'curatorial' typology (2005), we discover here a western approach antithetical to orientalism. My paper explores the synergy between Macauliffe's existential response and his non-orientalist translation of the Japji, the opening hymn of the Guru Granth.
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    Book review: Paul Gifford, Christianity, development and modernity in Africa
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork, 2017) Claffey, Patrick
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    Dining alone in Rawalpindi? Max Arthur Macauliffe: Sikh scholar, reformer, and evangelist
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork, 2017) Foley, Tadhg
    Max Arthur Macauliffe, originally Michael McAuliffe (1838-1913), Indian Civil Servant, judge, and Sikh scholar, was born in Glenmore, Monagea, Co. Limerick, Ireland. He graduated from Queen's College Galway in 1860 and began his colonial career in India in 1864. He became Assistant Commissioner and Judicial Assistant in the Punjab, then Deputy Commissioner, and finally a Divisional Judge. Born a Catholic, when he lived in Amritsar Macauliffe became deeply interested in the Sikh religion. He learned the languages of the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth, and did the classic translation of major parts of it into English. In 1909 the Clarendon Press published his celebrated work, The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors, in six volumes. He saw his translation as pioneering in that he collaborated closely with indigenous Sikh scholars and he committed to writing what had previously been orally communicated. Macauliffe was an erastian in his belief that the Sikh religion should be subject to the state which, in turn, had a duty to support it. In his unceasing quest for official sponsorship, he emphasised the advantages of Sikhism to the state but he was bitterly disappointed in his failure. He began his masterpiece in missionary mode: 'I bring from the East what is practically an unknown religion', and he had a central role in propagating the Tat Khalsa interpretation of Sikhism in the west. He had serious difficulties in his professional career and major scandals in his personal life. However, Macauliffe died a wealthy man.
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    After Macauliffe: the wondrous liberty of Puran Singh
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork, 2017) Shackle, Christopher
    Belonging to the generation after Macauliffe, one of the first Sikhs who sought to spread the message of the Gurus in English was Professor Puran Singh (1881-1931). In his unusual life, he combined the practice of his profession with a passionate search for the expression of all-embracing spiritual realities. This drew him to the poetic interpretation of the message of the Sikh Gurus, in part inspired by his strong identification with the poetry of Walt Whitman, and resulting in a very different approach from Macauliffe's to translating the Sikh scriptures. The paper includes some discussion of the broad context of the complex interweaving of literary and religious trends across different parts of the British empire in the early twentieth century, paying particular attention to parallels between India and Ireland.
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    Placing Max Arthur Macauliffe in context/s: Sikh historiographical traditions and colonial forms of knowledge
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork, 2017) Murphy, Anne
    This article pursues two interconnected inquiries into the work of M.A. Macauliffe. Firstly, the paper examines Macauliffe's work in light of general discussion in the historiography of colonial and modern South Asia regarding the relative influence of colonial forms of knowledge in the formation of South Asian subjectivities and texts in the period. This allows for understanding of the differentials in power imbedded within the 'dialogues' that produced texts like Macauliffe's. The paper explores the specifics of this question by, secondly, demonstrating the ways in which Macauliffe's work - presumably through his interaction with his interlocutors among the Sikhs and/or reading of Sikh texts - reflects existing Sikh historiographical commitments. In this, we attempt to assess the work in relation to a range of existing works in Punjabi and determine the genealogy of its creation, in Sikh historiographical terms. Assessment of these two seemingly contradictory contexts allows us to assess what was new - and what was not - in Macauliffe's representation of the Sikh past, and how we can assess the purportedly dialogical nature of the text within a broader field of power and knowledge.