Srila Prabhupada's Transcendental Books – 2


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 47, Spring 2015

In the previous article we highlighted how two phantom "quotes" for which no record exists had been presented by an ISKCON GBC-elected guru to justify his "puffed-up" program to produce books that are supposedly spiritually on a par with Srila Prabhupada's books. Similarly, another ISKCON guru, HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD"), is also relying on a manufactured authorisation to justify his writing a book called "A Comprehensive Guide To Bhagavad-Gita, With Literal Translation". His official website claims that such a book is necessary because:

"Prabhupada personally instructed H.D. Goswami, his disciple, to present these teachings "in your own words" to learned Western audiences."

However HD's book contains a complete re-translation of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita. And the facts are that:

1) Srila Prabhupada had already stated that his "translations" were approved by "Western higher circles":

"Now the Western higher circles, they have admitted that the greatest contribution of the Hare Krsna Movement are these authorized translations of the Vedic literatures. This has been said by one professor."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 21/11/75, emphases added)

Thus, since Srila Prabhupada was more than satisfied with his translation of the Bhagavad-gita for "learned Western audiences", there is no record of him asking HD or anyone else to produce a new translation for such an audience.

2) We know that Srila Prabhupada definitely did not authorise HD to produce a new translation of the Bhagavad-gita, because he ordered him to stop learning Sanskrit:

"That is a very good program that you have begun, namely, travelling from center to center and preaching especially from the scholarly point of view of being able to understand this Krishna philosophy very scientifically and positively. You have studied the Sanskrit language for some years, that is sufficient of study, there is no more need. Now you read our books, not that lifelong you have to study Sanskrit. Simply read our Sanskrit wherever it appears in our books and teach these slokas to the devotees, do not waste time by studying Sanskrit independently of our books."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to HD, 6/8/72, emphases added)

This instruction makes it clear that HD was to be satisfied with his basic knowledge of Sanskrit at the time which allowed him to teach the slokas in Srila Prabhupada's books to the devotees in the temples. He was definitely not to learn any more Sanskrit in order to be able to re-translate the whole Gita to present to "learned Western audiences".

3) Hence, the "in your own words" instruction referenced on HD's website, actually states something completely different:

"And you must all study very scrutinizingly all of the books so that when the need arises you can repeat in your own words their purport."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to HD, 6/1/72)

a. At the time HD was the Temple President of Houston (Texas, USA), and this instruction is given generally for every single temple member: "you must all study".

b. The instruction only stated that they should "repeat" the "purport" of "all of the books" in their own words.

Thus, everyone was asked to simply repeat the purports of all the books rather than one person being personally instructed to give a new translation of the verses and his own commentary on one specific book.

Therefore, the claim made on HD's website that his book is authorised due to a personal instruction from Srila Prabhupada is not correct.

The reason that such "quotes", as put forward by BVKS and HD, do not exist, is because Srila Prabhu-pada's transcendental books do not require his disciples to improve their efficacy with commentaries and new translations. Rather, such claims are required only to justify the "acarya-author" ambitions of his disciples. And Srila Prabhupada warns against such unauthorised ambitions:

"One should not ambitiously think, "I shall become a great author. I shall be celebrated as a writer." These are material desires."
(Cc., Adi-lila, 9.5)

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