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  The band Embryo in India, from "Vagabunden Karawane: A musical trip through Iran, Afghanistan and India in 1979"Filmstill from "Vagabunden Karawane" © Werner Penzel Filmproduktion itd.

Cultural Encounters between South Asia and Germany
The Sound of Faraway Lands

South Asia maintains a long tradition of yearning for German cultural figures and intellectuals. Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha, published in 1922, is an expression of this fascination. The book also shaped the South Asian enthusiasm of the 1960s and 1970s, when thousands of young people set out on the so-called hippie trail. Even today, yoga and Ayurveda are an integral part of everyday culture. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Siddhartha, the Goethe-Instituts in South Asia are exploring the ways South Asia and Germany are received by one another and how each is projected in the other region in literature, music, film and everyday culture.

About the Project

"Siddhartha" – A Tale from India?

Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha, published in 1922, is part of the tradition of enthusiastic romanticism about India in Germany. The novel also had a formative influence on a later phase of India euphoria, which saw thousands of young people from Europe and the U.S. embark on journeys to India and Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1970s. How did Siddhartha shape the image of India in Germany? On the occasion of 100 years of Siddhartha, contributions on the mutual reception of South Asia and Germany are brought together here - in literature, music, film and everyday culture.

Siddhartha in Translation

The popularity of Siddhartha is prevalent from a large number of translations in the various South-Asian languages.

  • Siddhartha: Sanskrit Translation © Hermann Hesse Society of India
    "Siddhartha" in Sanskrit
    Publisher: Hermann Hesse Society of India
    Translation: L Sulochana Devi (2008)
  • Siddhartha: Malyalam Translation © Kairali Books Kannur
    "Siddhartha" in Malyalam
    Publisher: Kairali Books Kannur
    Translation: R. Raman Nair (1990)
  • Siddhartha: Marathi Translation © Hermann Hesse Society of India
    "Siddhartha" in Marathi
    Publisher: Hermann Hesse Society of India
    Translation: Avinash Tripathi (2007)
  • Siddhartha: Urdu Translation © Fiction House
    "Siddhartha" in Urdu
    Publisher: Fiction House
    Translation: Asif Farkhi
  • Siddhartha: Punjabi Translation © Shilalekh
    "Siddhartha" in Punjabi
    Publisher: Shilalekh
    Translation: Dr. Hari Singh
  • Siddhartha: Telugu Translation © Pallavi Publications
    "Siddhartha" in Telugu
    Publisher: Pallavi Publications
    Translation: Bellamkonda Raghava Rao
  • Siddhartha: Hindi Translation © Hermann Hesse Society of India
    "Siddhartha" in Hindi
    Publisher: Hermann Hesse Society of India
    Translation: Prabakaran Hebbar Illath (2012)
  • Siddhartha: English Translation © New Directions Publishing Corporation
    "Siddhartha" in Englisch
    Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
    Translation: Hilda Rosner (1951)

Onleihe: German-language Literature and Films on India

Musical Bridge Builders

Musical Bridge Builders

Music has been a continuous agent of interaction between local and international interests, an expression of liquid modernity. Southasia and Germany resonate as cosmopolitan spaces for intercultural transnational exchanges, with live music events and festivals mushrooming since the 1960s. A burgeoning interest can be recapitulated with JISR, a German band that toured South Asia in the late 1960s, with Afghanistan and India as important cultural stops. What once were just palatable teasers are now a regular delight, with music becoming increasingly fluid since the very dawn of the 21st century.

JISR - on tour in South Asia

Jisr is Arabic for “bridge”. The popular international ensemble performs in a wide variety of instrumentations with top-class virtuoso musicians. Rooted in several musical genres, this unconventional musical project builds bridges between Arabian, Afro, jazz, rock and classical music and takes the path of maximum musical variation and improvisation.

In 2016, Ramdan came from Morocco to Munich to study German where he founded the group with two refugee Syrians. Marja Buchard is also a Jisr band member. The multi-instrumentalist is the leader of Embryo, a world music group founded by her father Christian Burchard in 1969, which she took over in 2016 and has continued to lead since his death in 2018.

In March 2022, Jisr will tour South Asia at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut - with stops in Colombo, Karachi, Dhaka, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

JISR © Ali Malak

Statements of the band

Marja Burchard

Vibraphon, Keys, Trombone
Marja Burchard

"I had the privilege of listening to music from India live from an early age."

Roman Bunka

Oud, Guitar
Roman Bunka

"South Asian Modal Music has influenced musicians in all genres . I hope to get new impulses through this trip."


The band Embryo was founded in 1969 by multi-instrumentalists Christian Burchard and Edgar Hofmann in Munich. The two are considered to be the pioneers of the so-called Krautrock in the 1960s. The band travelled overland from Germany to India and Afghanistan in 1979. Since then, the band has been intensively involved with Indian, Afghan and also African music. To this day, the band combines jazz with rhythms and instruments from India, Africa and the Arab world.

Marja Burchard, the co-founder of the band Jisr, took over the leadership of Embryo from her father Christian Burchard in 2016.