The Source of Srila Prabhupada’s Purports


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 63, Vol 3, 2019

The previous article referred to the fact that the purport to Madhya-lila 7.130 in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (CC) has been changed. The original purport, printed in 1975 during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence, stated:

"thinking, "I am a first-class devotee." Such thinking should be avoided. It is best not to accept any disciples."

This was changed to:

"thinking "I am a first-class devotee, so it is best not to accept any disciples." Such thinking should be avoided."

Though this change was made officially in 2013, in private correspondence this year, Dravida Dasa ("DD"), the person at the BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) who made this change, explained his arguments for it.

The claim

DD explained the change as follows:

"Here is the explanation. Bhaktivikasa Swami sent me this note in April of 2007:
Relevant section from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's Anubhasya: [...] NB: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta doesn't state not to accept disciples, but the opposite: to give up the mentality by which one prefers not to accept disciples."
(DD, Email, 6/3/19)

DD stated that, therefore, the changed purport is "what SBST and Prabhupada intended" (DD, Email, 7/3/19). "SBST" here refers to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, and the "Anubhasya" is the Bengali commentary on the CC by SBST. Hence, it is claimed that Srila Prabhupada's purport is supposed to state what is stated in the Anubhasya, and thus the change was made to match this.

The facts

1) The 1975 CC, translated and commented on by Srila Prabhupada, contains 11,555 verses, of which approximately 2,000 have purports. In these purports, Srila Prabhupada refers to the Anubhasya when using material from it. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada specifically references it 24 times in total.

2) Such referencing is done regardless of whether the usage involves quoting long passages, or simply using a short passage, an idea, or a concept. So, for example, in Adi-lila 7.68, Srila Prabhupada gives only a description lasting one sentence. In Adi-lila 12.58, Srila Prabhupada states a short fact lasting half a sentence. In Madhya-lila 12.61, Srila Prabhupada gives a concept about the material body. In every case, no quotes are given, but the Anubhasya is still referenced.

3) In addition, other times Srila Prabhupada will also mention that he is referencing SBST, without giving the source of where he is referencing SBST from, e.g.:

"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gives the following commentary on this verse. In the Western countries..."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 15.163, purport)

Hence, even if in these cases Srila Prabhupada was referencing the Anubhasya, full credit to SBST is still given.

The result

Consequently, if it indeed is a fact that when writing even one sentence, Srila Prabhupada used SBST's Anubhasya commentary, we would know because Srila Prabhupada would have said so. But we find there is no mention of either the Anubhasya or SBST in the whole purport to Madhya-lila 7.130. DD specifically claimed that:

"Prabhupada relied on SBST's Anubhasya as well as SBT's [Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura — Ed.] Amrta-pravaha-bhasya for some of his purports in the CC. Sometimes he would directly quote longer passages form [sic] one of these commentaries and attribute the passage to one or the other acarya, and sometimes he would borrow ideas, phrases, or shorter passages and not attribute. This case seems to be the latter." (DD, Email, 7/3/19)

DD indicates his own uncertainty by saying "seems", and indeed his claim is directly refuted by point 2) from the previous section.

Anubhasya not used

Confirming the fact that Srila Prabhupada did not use the Anubhasya, DD gives the translation of the very quote from the Anubhasya on which the book change is based the "relevant section" quoted by Bhakti Vikasa Swami to DD, mentioned at the outset:

"The full translation of the quote is "I am a first-class Vaisnava, but if I accept disciples I will become proud, and that pride will destroy my bhajana."" (DD, Email 13/3/19)

And then he admits that:

"Prabhupada didn't give anything approximating the translation of the second part of the quote-within-quote". (DD, Email, 13/3/19)

The "second part of the quote-within-quote", which DD refers to and admits Srila Prabhupada did not translate, is SBST stating: "but if I accept disciples I will become proud, and that pride will destroy my bhajana". Thus, DD himself accepts that Srila Prabhupada definitely did not in any case use the key "relevant section" of the Anubhasya on which the book change is based. Which completely explains why Srila Prabhupada did not attribute SBST — because, as the BBT admits, Srila Prabhupada did not translate his Anubhasya in the purport! Therefore:

1) The claim that Srila Prabhupada used the Anubhasya to write his purport for Madhya-lila 7.130 is not supported by Srila Prabhupada's policy of always giving credit.

2) The BBT itself admits that Srila Prabhupada did not in any case even use the actual quote from the Anubhasya which was used to make the book change.

Thus, the basis for the book change has been cut off at its very root.

Admits speculation

DD also claims that a different part of the purport to Madhya-lila 7.130 is not the same as given in the Anubhasya, but is still a "rough but recognizable" (DD, Email, 13/3/19) translation. And therefore:

"The roughness of the translation may be why Prabhupada didn't directly attribute it to
SBST." (DD, Email, 13/3/19)

DD's use of "may be" is proof of his uncertainty and speculation. And "may be" this actually means that Srila Prabhupada did not translate it at all, since Srila Prabhupada actually knows how to translate correctly, rather than just "roughly"! Or "may be" this means that only this different part of the purport was translated. That's the problem with speculation. One speculation is as valid as any other, since none are based on evidence!

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