KOCHI: Van Rheed’s ‘Hortus Malabaricus’ may be well-known to every one. But the predominant role played by three Konkani traditional physicians in compiling this book is still unknown to many. Balakrishna Mallya, a Konkani poet and short-story writer from Mattancherry, is emphatic about establishing their roles in writing this prodigious work through his book ‘Hortus Malabaricus um Konkanikalude pankum’.
“They were three - Ranga Bhatt, Vinayaka Pandit and Appu Bhatt. Their predominant role was cited in the testimonial in the original work. But when it got translated, this fact was conveniently squashed. My work is a humble effort in this regard,” he says. Mallya says that he came across this piece of information accidentally. “I chanced upon it when one of my friends, Dinesh R Shenoy provided me with two documents- the Konkani testimonial and its translation. Since I am a Konkani writer by profession, I did a meticulous study on it. To my surprise, I found out that there exists a wide difference between the original Konkani testimonial and its English translation. That’s how this book happened,” says Mallya.
The book was based on the information drawn from the testimonials and Hortus Malabaricua- Malabarile Sasya Sampathu by Philip which was published in 2007 by the Centre for Heritage Studies, Hill Palace, Kochi.
He wonders how a writer could make a major miss by ignoring such obvious facts. “They have written in their testimonials in Nagara script that they have sent people across the principalities to collect various medicinal herbs and their details which have been categorized according to different seasons. They also stated in the document that they personally assisted Dutch governor to compile the information in the book. Though there was ample proof, in the English translation their role was downgraded as mere assistants,” he says.
Mallya also wonders why a serious research has not been done on these lines, earlier. “There was enough proof in the original version that Van Rheede along with Fr Mathhew approached these Konkani Brahmins to compile the work. There were four people who played a pivotal role in its compilation. Itti Achuthan, the only regional name which was associated with this work was the last one to be approached by the Dutch governor. Hence their role cannot be undermined,” he says.
Mallya has drawn flak from various quarters for his work saying that he is promoting a particular community. “I could have done the same if they belonged to any other communities,” he says. The writer says that the English translation of his work would be released next month.