Lost in translation: A deeper look

syamarani_gurudevaThe statement that Syamarani didi has manufactured statements of Srila Gurudeva is worth taking a deeper look at. The Syamarani side claims that Krishna Balarama Temple/Ashrama (KBT) is stating that Syamarani didi has had an hidden agenda and deliberately deceived and concealed transcendental truths in editing Gurudeva’s books.

So, let’s see what KBM is actually stating that can be constructed this way:

When you read our Srila Gurudeva’s (Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja’s) books or transcriptions of his lectures, you assume you are reading his words. Well, it is not like that at all if Srimati Syamarani didi is editing them.

…. Again and again you are changing Gurudeva’s words and mood.

…. Where did you get that Gurudeva said that A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja was “one with the mood of Her maidservants”? For this reason you are planting wrong ideas in everyone’s minds. We can never believe that anyone can misrepresent Gurudeva’s conceptions to such an extent.Do you understand now how you are misguiding everyone in Gaura-vani pracarine?

…. Why don’t you read nicely Gurudeva’s words and try to understand his mood? You are always misinterpreting Gurudeva’s words and superimposing your own mood on him.

…. We cannot imagine why you insist on changing the clear words of Gurudeva and replacing them with your own ideas. In the same way, when Gurudeva speaks of madhurya-rasa, you are writing ‘manjari‘. Never think Gurudeva’s words are material and always respect his words. What are you doing? Do you think you know more than Gurudeva?

…. Don’t you want bhakti to come in your heart? Gurudeva is saying your heart and you are writing their hearts. Again you are distorting his words. Do you have the disease of changing Srila Gurudeva’s words?

…. Why are you changing Gurudeva’s words unnecessarily? Here you are not changing the meaning, but you are changing his words. Always try to keep Gurudeva’s words.

…. By saying the opposite of what Gurudeva said you are depriving everyone of this sweet mood! You are not the proper person to edit Gurudeva’s books. You are cutting and destroying his very beautiful and sweet mood. When he spoke these words, all were laughing, but what you wrote is stale, there’s no mood there, and we are sad to see you changing his words.

This may be the clearest statement of their opinion of Srimati Syamarani didi’s translations:

If you can make six of the above changes within just four minutes of a lecture of Gurudeva’s, then we dread to think howmay thousands of other changes you must have made elsewhere.

This is very important. Now please stop transcribing and editing Gurudeva’s new books and lectures. We see that all Gurudeva’s books and lectures that you have worked on need to be revised.

First off, this is in regards to one lecture which Gurudeva spoke about the rasa of Srila Prabhupada. So, in one sense this is a continuation of the existing controversy where Syamarani didi found Gurudeva’s statements that supported SP having manjari bhava. But, KBM’s findings goes even further into Syamarani didi’s translations and find other statements they consider faulty. They also have a later statement where they go into statements they claim Syamarani has said which is hard to verify unless one is closely connected to Syamarani didi.

The last statement is pretty clear: So, does the statement imply that Syamarani didi ” has had an hidden agenda and deliberately deceived and concealed transcendental truths in editing Gurudeva’s books.”.

1. Do KBM claim she has a hidden agenda?
No, I find no such statement. But – they do claim that she imposes her own understanding on Gurudeva’s words which can be interpreted so if you give it a bit of good will.

2. Did she deliberately deceived?
Again, I find no such statement from KBM. For me it seems like they complain that she has misunderstood Gurudeva’s words and translate according to her vision. That can hardly be constructed to deliberatly deceiving devotees/the sanga/Gurudevas books.

3. Do KBM state that she concealed transcendental truths in editing Gurudeva’s books.
Yes. Though they do so by finding specific statements of Gurudeva, how Syamarani didi has translated it and what they mean is the correct interpretation.

 My conclusion

These are serious allegations that needs to be taken seriously. Though, these is simply too deep truths for someone like me to know which side is right or not. I could take the time to go through the lecture they used and see if they got it right, though even if I did, how would I understand the true meaning?

Furthermore, how deep did Gurudeva look into his books when he was alive? Would he have catched these kinds of misunderstandings?

I have deep respect for Syamarani didi. I have deep respect for the Krishna Balarama Temple.

I have complete faith that Gurudeva will give me the guidance and wisdom I need to move forward spiritually.

So I will continue reading Gurudeva’s books. If there really is some errors, I think I can live with this. I have faith that any errors there may be will not be detrimental to my spiritual progress and other pure devotees will guide us (and hopefully me) through any hurdles there may be.

When it comes to the spiritual manjari mood of Gurudeva (and therefore vision), I know I found the perfect Guru for me. If all of his books mirror this mood and understanding – well, those are the moods I want in my heart. If there may have been some faults because Syamarani has the same mood… Well, it will still mirror Gurudevas mood even if some details about Srila Prabhupadas bhava may or may not be correct.

If there is fault with other translations besides this, well, again; I have faith that Gurudeva and Krishna will give me the guidance and wisdom I need, when I need it.

So this changes nothing for me personally. I recognize that this is a serious issue and I will continue follow the discussions.

So, this is to be continued for sure 🙂

Update 02. july 2015:
Discussions still going on and Syamananda prabhu referenced some more comments made.

Krishna’s confidential cowherd boy friends
Srila Gurudeva on sakhas, sakhis and mahabhava (June 27, 1994)


KBMs response to Prem Prayojana prabhu
Swami Tripurari Maharaja response to Prem Prayojana Prabhu (after second question)


5 thoughts on “Lost in translation: A deeper look

    • I’ve updated the post, but not sure I got KBM’s response to Prem Prayojan. All in all, there’s so much back and forth on intricate details I’m not sure I’m getting anything 😉

      Though, you can mail me a link to KBMs response: helene@klungvik.com, and I will update the post with it.

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