Murthy, wife gift Harvard $5.2 mn to publish Indian classics

N R Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies, and his family have donated $5.2 million to Harvard University and Harvard University Press to establish a new publication series called The Murty Classical Library of India.

The endowed dual-language series will feature contemporary English versions of works originally composed in classical languages such as Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu, as well as literature from Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Punjabi and other Indian languages.

"I am happy that Harvard University Press is anchoring this publishing project," said Murthy. His wife, Sudha, said, "We are happy to participate in this exciting project of taking the rich literary heritage of India to far corners of the world."

Harvard University Press (HUP) already publishes The Loeb Classical Library, which presents translations of Greek and Latin works. In 2001, HUP brought out the I Tatti Renaissance Library which translates important Latin texts of the Italian Renaissance into English. And in 2005, the first books of the Clay Sanskrit Library were published, a series brought out by the New York University Press and the JJC Foundation.

All the series follow the same format — each volume presents an English translation with the original text (in the Murty series, the Indic script), on the facing page. But the Murty Classical Library series is unique on two counts: one, an Indian family has established such a series for the first time and, two, unlike the Loeb and the I Tatti series, these books will not only translate the work into English but also be supplemented by scholarly introductions, commentary by experts and textual notes.

At the helm of this project is the renowned Sanskrit scholar Sheldon Pollock, a recipient of the Padma Shri this year. Pollock, currently the William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies at Columbia University, is also General Editor of the Clay Sanskrit Library.

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