Sticking with Srila Prabhupada's Books


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 53, Autumn 2016

In BTP 51, we documented how Srila Prabhupada's translation of, and commentary on, the Srimad-Bhagavatam had been unauthorisedly completed in illusion (please see "The Unauthorised Cantos"). However, here we will see that Srila Prabhupada's Srimad-Bhagavatam itself is now being undermined.

Already perfect

When Srila Prabhupada had published only the first canto of his Srimad-Bhagavatam, he had written:

"My translation of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (published in three volume first canto) is recognized by the Government of India both central and the states. Here in America also the same publication is approved by the State Library of Congress in Washington, New York Public Library, the Philadelphia University and many other institutions."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 30/4/66)

So, even before he had founded ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada's translation of the first canto had already been recognized by the Indian government and several academic institutions. While completing his translation of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada received a number of scholarly reviews praising his work, such as the following:

"It has been my great pleasure recently to have read the Srimad-Bhagavatam in the superb edition authorized by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada [...] I am sure this monumental work will go far to bring the sublime message of the Bhagavatam to numerous Westerners who would otherwise miss this opportunity."
(Professor of Sanskrit, Columbia University)

"For those who have no access to the Sanskrit language, these books convey, in a superb manner, the message of the Bhagavatam."
(Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University)

Thus, it is an established fact that Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam was not considered in any way lacking in either being accessible to Westerners or meaningful to scholars, nor did Srila Prabhupada himself state that his Bhagavatam was lacking in this regard. Consequently, there is no need to make the Srimad-Bhagavatam more accessible or meaningful, nor did Srila Prabhupada order that this needed to be done.

Trying to surpass

However, HH Krishna Ksetra Swami ("KRKS") – a GBC-elected ‘as-good-as-God' ISKCON guru – does not agree. He has recently published a book called The Bhagavata Purana: Selected Readings. The book is described on KRKS's website as an "annotated translation and detailed analysis [...] Key selections from the Bhagavata Purana are faithfully translated, while all remaining sections of the Purana are concisely summarized". What may have escaped KRKS's attention is that we already have a faithful translation and detailed analysis of the Bhagavata Purana – it's called the Srimad-Bhagavatam by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. But, KRKS does not believe that Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam is good enough for either the lay or academic readership, for his website states that his own edition:

"makes a central Hindu masterpiece more accessible to English-speaking audiences and more meaningful to scholars of Hindu literature, philosophy, and religion."

However, as already noted in the last section, these self-serving claims made by KRKS about the Bhagavatam needing to be made more "accessible and meaningful" are not supported by Srila Prabhupada. Thus, it is KRKS who has decided that Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam is not accessible or meaningful enough, and that his translations and commentary are required to achieve this.

Continuing assault

KRKS's book continues the assault on Srila Prabhupada's literary legacy by ISKCON's leadership, who attempt to replace both Srila Prabhupada (as ISKCON's diksa guru) and his literary contributions. For example, we earlier highlighted another ‘as-good-as-God' ISKCON guru, HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD"), claiming that he has needed to produce his own translation of, and commentary on, the Bhagavad-gita, even though Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is already exists (see "Srila Prabhupada's Transcendental Position", BTP 40 and "Trying to Become More Than One's Guru", BTP 42).

Similarly, KRKS insists on using his own translations rather than Srila Prabhupada's perfect and realized translations of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Here are some examples of KRKS's translations compared with Srila Prabhupada's translations, taken from KRKS's The Bhagavata Purana: Selected Readings:

KRKS: "I shall bow down to you, the primordial supreme person "
Srila Prabhupada: "O Krsna, I offer my obeisances unto You because You are the original personality"
(SB, 1.8.18)

KRKS: "Why did Daksa, so affectionate toward his daughters, display contempt for that best among the virtuous, Shiva [...]?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Why was Daksa, who was so affectionate towards his daughter, envious of Lord Siva, who is the best among the gentle?"
(SB, 4.2.1)

KRKS: "In the Mandara valley"
Srila Prabhupada: "In the valley of Mandara Hill"
(SB, 7.3.2)

As can be seen, these translations do not in any way make the text more accessible or meaningful. Srila Prabhupada's translations are already wonderfully clear, accessible and meaningful. Rather, these changes are completely needless, adding nothing, and thus made only for the sake of allowing KRKS to give his own translations. Hence, these unnecessary translations serve no purpose other than to enable KRKS to promote himself at the expense of Srila Prabhupada and his books.



Therefore, there is no deficiency in Srila Prabhupada's translations and commentaries. Hence, there is no need for anyone to write competing alternative books, or books that claim to "improve" on Srila Prabhupada's books. Nor are such activities authorised by Srila Prabhupada. Such unauthorised activities are therefore a direct attempt to try to surpass Srila Prabhupada – which can only be the result of a desire to compete with Srila Prabhupada due to envy of him and his stunning literary achievements. Because there is no legitimate reason for these activities when Srila Prabhupada's books are already perfect and complete.

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