Charles Wilkins, a young Englishman, was born in 1749. He is famous in history because he was the first translator of Bhagawat Gita into English.
He arrived in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1770 to take up the job of a ‘Typographer’ in the East India Company’s office.
Wilkins was a hard-working person and had a gift for learning languages easily. He quickly picked up Bengali and Persian and, presently, on the advice of Hastings, learned Sanskrit in Calcutta and afterwards in Banaras.
In 1785, he published a book that was titled, ‘Bhagvat-geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon’. The book is commonly known as Wilkin’s Gita.
The work of Wilkins was praised everywhere. Very soon, there came the French and German versions of Gita.
This is because of the great efforts of Charles Wilkins that the western world got the opportunity to witness and experience the essence of Hindu Philosophy. Bhagawat Gita is one of the most important books on Hindu religion. The Hindus have great regard for this book.
Wilkin’s Gita (to which a preface was written by Hastings) stirred the attention of Western Orientalists. It was followed by the publication of a Latin translation by a young French scholar of the Persian version of the Gita (and the principal Upanishads) that had been prepared about a century and a half previously by the Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh with the collaboration of several Brahmin scholars. The Wilkins-Gita was also translated in several European languages including French, German, Italian, and Russian.
The earliest impact of the Wilkin’s-Gita (and therefore of the essence of Hindu philosophy) was seen on the English poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The most significant poems are ‘The Aeolian Harp’, ‘Osorio’ and ‘The Triumph of Loyalty’.
Wilkins returned to England in 1786. He got married to Elizabeth Keeble and continued his career with passion and joy.
External Suggested Readings : Charles Wilkins in Wikipedia