In Search of the Kristapurana: A Journey Through Goa

in Module
Published on: 02 September 2019

Annie Rachel Royson

Annie Rachel Royson completed her PhD in Comparative Literature and Translation Studies from IIT, Gandhinagar. She is currently working on the concept of 'cultural translation' through a study of Christian texts composed in colonial India. Her research articles have been published in journals such as Church History and Religious Culture, Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies, and South Asia Multidiscipinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ). Currently, Annie teaches literature and language at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar.

Kristapurana (1616), a poetic retelling of the Christian Bible in Marathi, is a missionary composition from seventeenth-century Goa by the Jesuit Thomas Stephens (15491619). Written in verse in the Puranic style, this text has a total of 10,962 stanzas (ovi), and is one of the earliest printed works in South Asia

The region of Goa, where this text was first printed, is home to several handwritten manuscripts of the work. These manuscripts, which are housed in libraries and seminaries in Goa, lie in varied states of preservation and disrepair, and are key objects in the study of the literary-cultural history of Goa. The text itself is a significant moment in the linguistic and literary development of the Marathi and Konkani languages. It also provides a glimpse into the way sacred-text translations were approached by early missionaries. Kristapurana is a symbol of a unique Christianity that was being shaped in seventeenth-century Goa, one of the many 'Christianities' of South Asia. This module aims to bring this text from a South Asian 'microcosm' such as Goa into focus, in order to highlight the rich literary-cultural practices that existed in Goa and emerged during the Portuguese regime. This archival journey takes us along the trails of Kristapurana, and traces how it survived in the form of manuscripts, and its afterlife in the form of translations and performances.