A prolific Rajasthani writer, Aidan Singh Bhati has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award twice. Once in 2006, for a work of translation (Gandhiji ri Aatamkatha), and later in 2012, for a book written in the Rajasthani language, Aankh Hinye Ra Haryal Sapana. He speaks to Guardian 20 at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017.
Q. Many Rajasthani writers are working towards including the Rajasthani language in the Indian Constitution. What do you think about the issue?
A. Many established linguists across the country have considered Rajasthani a complete language. But after Independence, when there was an issue of making Hindi a national language, Rajasthani was slotted in the Hindi language zone. At present, we see that people who take the support of violence have got quite a few unrecognised languages into the Constitution. Rajasthan has been a quiet state. There was no agitation here on this subject. Now, many youths are in talks with politicians about the matter. Let’s see what happens.
Q. Who according to you are the most prominent Rajasthani poets writing today?
A. An anthology on Rajasthani poetry, titled Mandaan, includes poems by 55 artists. The book is edited by the eminent writer Neeraj Daiya. It takes into account poems by 55 poets and according to me, all poets are equally prominent. This book is important because the poems are based on our society.
Q. What can be done to further popularise this language among people?
A. According to tradition, the literature in this language was earlier devised for the ear. People were not literate and therefore were dependent on listening rather than reading or watching the visual medium. But slowly, with development, the advent of televisions at homes stopped this tradition. So writers now need readers. This can be done if they record their poems and distribute them through various mediums.
Q. Do you think translators can help the cause of the Rajasthani language?
A. I have translated a French play into Rajasthani, titled Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco. I think through that people got to know about a culture different from ours. I have also translated many works from other Indian languages. Similarly, if the works from the Rajasthani language is translated into other tongues, there will be an amalgamation of cultures and societies. It will promote harmony. So I think translation is very important.