History in the making: The rasa of Srila Prabhupada

Syamananda Prabhu made me aware of how all of this controversy started which is a nice reminder. It made me think of the history of what happened after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja. Read the link, really! There’s so much that happened back and forth with details that this controversy seems small and simple in comparison (though there have been other incidents, but personal ones and not philosophically).

More and more I believe there is a larger agenda to this, that Krishna wanted this to happen. I have no idea why, but it seems like history and time will be the ones to decide the outcome. We are witnessing history in the making !

Oh, how I wish I could be a part of it, be in Vrindavin where the discussions goes back and forth, tempers flare and just be close to the events as they unfold. Because this is truly history in the making.

It’s not so long ago that “they”( whoever they may be), decided to close down backtobhakti.com until “harmony was restored”. What they failed to realize that harmony will not be achieved by censorship, but by working on the issues at hand. Now that the translations of Syamarani didi is being questioned; will this be what brings the sanga together?

This is what the ipbsys wanted after Gurudeva’s disappearance; that we still stay tight. But I’m wondering how possible is this? Look again at what happened after the disappearance of  Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur where the sanga got fractured and every sannyasi pretty much built his own matha.

We have been preached to that the mentality of organization can be dangerous, that we need to attach ourselves to a guru and everything that Guru says is the pure truth coming from Krishna himself. Only a pure devotee can take us to Krishna.

Devotees are by nature very individualistic (at least that is my impression) and this is encouraged by how we are to attach ourselves to a Guru (and not organization). So is this controversy a fracture or will it bring us closer together in the end? Is it a cleanup? Does it make the parties involved more intent on their personal service?

Despite my sometimes sarcastic views, I truly find so much pleasure in this debate. It goes way beyond my qualification and understanding, and I love it !

– Your sideline commentator –

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)


Lost in translation: The rasa of Srila Prabhupada

The latest response by Krishna Balarama Mandira (KBM) to the whole “rasa of Srila Prabhupada” controversy is to scrutinize the translations (and action/words) of Srimati Syamarani didi. The latest response is connected to the translations of Syamarani didi of Gurudeva’s words where they argue that Syamarani didi has misunderstood Gurudeva’s words and they point to sound files and minutes into the lecture where this has happened.

Dear devotees,

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.

Syamarini didi and team answered by giving a general overview of how the translation process works, but did not enter into the specific points given by KBM.

Another response is outrage that anybody might critize their beloved didi who has done an enormous amount of service during the years and their egos just explode into characteristics like name calling.

rasa_sudeviI can’t help but laugh. I find this hilarious. Why? maya expertThis is why.

But okey, let’s get serious again.

Is Srimati Syamarani didi defamed? Well, a bit. The statement from KBM above is defamation. But – they give constructive criticism where they point to specific statements and how they may be interpreted differently. The problem is that many have the tendency to just read the defamation and then their minds go blank, the ego explodes and they are unable to hear anything else. That one sentence there is enough for people to completely loose the ability to clear-headed thinking and really consider the opinions stated. That’s why it’s so very important to stay clear of name-calling and characteristics of the differing side, because people’s mind have a tendency to cling to what they perceive as wrong doings and then that’s all they will hear. It’s an effective diversion worthy of Maya.

Furthermore, the Syamarani side considers KBMs response to be an attack on all the translations Syamarani have done. They are putting words/intentions into KBMs statement by saying that Syamarani has a hidden agenda and deliberatly deceived by concealing the truth of Gurudeva. This is an exaggeration of KBMs statement and are putting intentions where they might not be. So suddenly this whole debate isn’t only about what rasa Srila Prabhupada is in, but for the Syamarani side about defending the authenticity of Gurudevas books. Pheww, enough to get most people sweaty and Maya is laughing all the way to the bank.

How should we consider evidence? I know there’s a vedic viewpoints on evidence and I can’t seem to find it. So instead I go for the usual way; who provides the most “scientific” answer? KBM goes into specific statements, provide sound files and minutes where the statement were uttered and provide an alternative understanding.

Syamarani didi and editors doesn’t really respond to the specific statements, but instead go into a general way of how translations work. This is important information to be sure, but doesn’t really deal with the problem itself.

So, for now KBM is giving a very good argument and may be in time Syamarani didi and team will respond.

This is a very good way of dealing with conflicts. A conflict isn’t won by one side declaring it so. It takes time to gather arguments and statements and will continue over time. Usually, both parties will not agree on the statements of the other side. One just agrees to disagree, but hopefully one might be a little bit wiser in the long run. This is a mature way of dealing with controversial issues.

Though, the way statements are running and things are taken out of context and exaggerated – well, a learning curve is still needed.



Part 2: The Confusion of what rasa is Srila Prabhupada in?

The discussion of transcendental subjects is not merely brain exercise. By logic and argument you cannot prove anything; whatever you establish will later be destroyed by a bigger argument. To understand transcendental things requires balanced heart and mind. Sometimes we use only our mind but not heart, and sometimes only our heart but no mind, but to discuss properly we should be neutral, like a judge considering all evidence. Then a proper conclusion can come.

Note from Krishna-Balarama mandira

The last blog post about what rasa Srila Prabhupada is in has the most comments of any post so far, and it has been such an interesting and enlightening discussion that I can only follow and try to understand.

It seems to me that those who argue that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya-rasa has the best evidence, but the problem is then why Narayana Maharaja has insisted over many years, without changing the message even once, that Srila Prabhupada is a gopi. It would imply that he has been lying.

And a lie is a betrayal. That’s too hefty for a diksa disciple to overcome.

Here is a note from Krishna-Balarama mandir about why Narayana Maharaja said Srila Prabhupada is a gopi.

Here is a very nice refutation of the note from Krishna-Balarama mandir:

Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja pointed out that that there are two points of view on the Guru: the absolute and the relative. Disciples must have an absolute, rather than a relative view, of their Guru Maharaja. They will not second-guess their Guru Maharaja, but will accept his instructions as they are, without improving or interpreting them, unless their Guru Maharaja has a given a specific instruction to do so.


I don’t do well with following blindly, not even my Gurudeva, since I have found that one has to both use the intelligence one has in dealing with spiritual and material life, and one receives intelligence as one progresses in spiritual life. One can simply state that I’m too novice to follow my Gurudeva absolutely, but I’m not so sure about that as well.

The problem I’m having with this all-or-nothing approach to believing my Gurudevas words, is that I don’t think my spiritual life is ruined because I have some doubts. There is ample room for making mistakes in material life, and I would believe there is even more room for it in spiritual life. I don’t even see how this in any way affects my Guru nistha, because I can deal with being wrong. I can deal with living with a contradiction. If I’m proven wrong, I will have no trouble accepting it because I haven’t invested any pride, righteousness or whatever weed that comes of it. What I will invest in is remorse and apologies for whatever I have done wrong if I’m proven wrong.

“Mercy is higher than justice. We are not doing bhajan to get justice. We are doing bhajan to get mercy. Justice is dependent upon the truth. Justice can not even manifest until the truth is known and accepted. But mercy is so much higher. Mercy is independent from what ever the truth might be. And for this mercy to flow there needs to be harmony. It is that greatest harmony that we seek for there we shall find the greatest mercy.”

Narayana Maharaja

I’m having a problem with the argument from Krishna-Balarama mandir that it was a preaching tactic to say SP was a gopi. It is a good argument in that it’s understandable from the objective point as Gurudeva received a lot of criticism and resistance from isckon. But I still don’t buy it, because then Gurudeva would have said something at least once to somebody. I don’t think it was a preaching tactic.

So the argument falls short in that regard. So for me it’s still a mystery to be solved. I can live with that. I can live with a contradiction.

I have learned that I will read Srila Prabhupadas books with an outlook to his mood. I have tried to regard everything neutrally and judge by the evidence. I’m still baffled, and I have learned to appreciate all the moods that reveals itself in this discussion and my spiritual life.

I said in a comment that when this contradiction is explained, I will revel in the explanation.

Well, I’m reveling in a contradiction, and I find it’s a blessedly precious place to be.


Update 25. march 2015: Srimati Syamarani didi has published a paper on the Jaladutta prayers. The paper refers also to a part two with Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja’s response to Krsna-Balarama Mandira’s claim that he supports their idea. His response was spoken on March 23rd, at Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha in Pahar Ganj, Delhi. I’m looking forward to part two.