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)


Part 3: The unresolved end of what rasa Srila Prabhupada is in

10957596_956715527695049_1708153342469911194_oAfter Gurudeva’s disappearance many in his sangha sought the association of Srila Bhakti Vijnana Barathi Maharaja. He came out with a small statement that’s available on soundcloud (with transcription) in regards to this issue. It has been taken as proof by the party who believe Srila Gurudevas statements about SP being a manjari that Gurudeva is correct and the statements of Krishna-Balarama mandir is wrong.

It seems that he is regarded as a pure devotee, and therefore I believe that if he had spoken of this issue, I would have accepted it. What I got from the message was… something else.

First off, it’s Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja’s prerogative to not go into this debate any more than what he wants. I certainly respect that.

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja: Dhrsta means ‘talking [about that] which is beyond my capacity.’

Madhava-priya dasa: Not in adhikara (qualification).

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja: Adhikara.

Madhava-priya dasa: Speaking something which is beyond one’s adhikara. So Maharaja said, “I never ever do that. That is my principle.”

The biggest gem he disclosed was that we shouldn’t speak beyond one’s adhikara. This discussion is certainly above 99,9 % of us, so it’s fitting. So may be that’s the reason why he didn’t talk about SP’s rasa at all. No disclosure at all. No explanation, only that he wish to neglect the whole issue.

The reason why his statements are viewed upon as a confirmation is because of his rather harsh refutation of Krishna-Balarama mandirs statements.

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja: Yes. Svami Maharaja is our guru-varga. I never dared [to make] any statement about them [meaning all guru-varga.] That is my principle.

Madhava-priya dasa: Maharaja is saying, “According to my principle, I never ever speak anything about any of my guru-varga regarding these svarupa things at all. What to speak of Svami Maharaja, I have never spoken about my Guru Maharaja or any other guru-varga at all regarding this.”

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja: Yes. So, if anybody speaks like that [that I have said something about his svarupa], it is his own mental concoction.


Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja [speaks in Bengali]: Yes, I said, regarding the view of these kinds of people, I am not willing to waste my time.

Madhava-priya dasa: He is saying that “According to my understanding, whatever they are speaking in my name, I don’t want to waste even a single moment to give the answer as to why they are using my name. That’s their own thing. I don’t want to discuss it.”

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja: [speaks in Bengali] I can say one more thing. I don’t consider them worthy of being my opponents, so I will just neglect them.
Madhava-priya dasa (translating): “They are not even such people whom I can even consider an opponent, or feel even bound to give an answer to whatever they speak. Why? Because giving them that position even will be making them too much superior; why would I do that?”


So Maharaja is saying that “The words which are going on, and that I am hearing about these things, I don’t even consider they are fit to be my opponent, and that I have to answer them.”

Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja: Neglect.

Madhava-priya dasa: Maharaja is saying, “Just neglect whatever they say, or what I have to do with that.” This is what Maharaja wanted to speak.


I must say I was surprised to hear these words. They are rather harsh towards Krishna-Balarama mandira. It seems like he’s not happy about being dragged into this debate and therefore he has such harsh statements. Though he makes it very clear that he has never uttered anything about SPs svarupa.

So no resolution on this debate. Only that he wishes to neglect the issue.


(I must state that I may be a bit partial in this debate, because my last stay in Vrindavin in 2005 was in Krishna-Balarama mandira.)


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.

What rasa is Srila Prabhupada in?

1836609_878944348784821_4211563703001340949_oA new controversy has blown up in regards to what rasa Srila Prabhupada has. The battle lines are drawn between those thinking he is in madhurya-rasa or sakhya rasa. Most people (myself included) have presumed that he was in madhurya-rasa, since Srila Gurudeva (Narayana Maharaja) has made no doubts about what stayi bhava he’s in.

Those that believe he’s in sakhya-rasa states several sources for claiming he’s in sakhya-rasa. The first is the Jaladutta Prayers where he uses the word “Brother” about Sri Krishna. A gopi in madhurya-rasa would never use that title about Sri Krishna.

kṛṣṇa taba puya habe bhāi e-puya koribe jabe rādhārāṇī khusī habe dhruva ati boli tomā tāi

I emphatically say to you, O My brother Krishna, you will obtain your good fortune only when Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī becomes pleased with you.

The first verse in the Jaladutta prayer

The second argument 2015-03-18_1759 is statements from Srila Sridhar Maharaja that confirms that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa.

The main arguments that opposes that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya-rasa is the books that Srila Prabhupada has written and that Srila Gurudeva have many times stated that Srila Prabhupada is in madhurya-rasa. Mukunda dasa has a lot of arguments as well and it simply becomes to much if I’m to give a refereee of the whole debate.

One of the Swami’s (I have forgotten his name, and he left Srila Gurudevas sangha many years ago) that was there during Srila Prabhupadas disappearance told me a story of when he was in the room with Gurudeva. Gurudeva leaned over to him and indicated the posture of Srila Prabhupada (the way he was lying on the bed) and whispered: “rasa lila”, thereby implying that Srila Prabhupada was immersed in the rasa lila pastime. Now this doesn’t necessarily  mean Srila Prabhupada is in madhurya-mood since it can be an external observation.

I’m not so concerned about what rasa Srila Prabhupada is in, since he’s a pure devotee either way. I’m more interested in the implications of Srila Prabhupada being in sakhya-rasa:

The most important inner reason for Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s advent in this world was to experience the moods of Srimati Radhika, the moods the manjaris of Srimati Radhika experiences and it’s been preached as the highest mood. How can Srila Prabhupada write a commentary on Sri Caitanya Caritamrita if he’s not a rupanuga? Since it’s the highest mood, how can he understand that mood?



If he’s in sakhya-rasa then he can’t award madhurya rasa to his disciples, can he?

I can only fathom that Srila Prabhupada may have different manifestations (which requires different moods), just like Narada. But, at the same time I respect Srimati Krishna-priya didi and Madhusudana Maharaja and believe them as well.

So I’m confused.

What I do know is that this whole controversy is very enlightening as it makes me learn more siddhanta and question presumptions I have. I’m beginning to love these controversies that keep rearing their heads up. I hope we get more of those 😀

Same old, same old

Ah, things doesn’t change much, does it? People change so very, very slowly.

So it’s back on track. On the same day, two different communiqués are published. One is on Bhaktabhandav and is about Sri Premananda Prabhu’s relation to Srila Gurudeva and the sorry state of Gurudeva’s samadhi. On backtobhakti there’s an article about how we all should just get a long, but not any reference on what this is about or how to actually resolve issues.

I’m so sick of this. It’s like a rerun of how isckon crashed after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, just much less ugly – which shows some progress after all to get on the bright side of things. Here’s the problem in a nut shell:

Our whole religion and organization is built upon the Guru system. You have one all powerful guy that pretty much runs the show. When that person disappears, everything breaks down. Why?

Since there is no organizational structure, no leaders and no recognition of leadership, it comes down to small chiefs who runs and bullies whatever they want. We follow those we believe are the most “spiritual”, which is a pretty subjective thing depending on the vision of each individual. So we have a lot of individuals running around, trying to gather up as much followers and power (money) and do some backstabbing if necessary. Small kings on small kingdoms.

To try to create some unification ipbsys have created an advisory board, but of course: Small chiefs don’t care much about advisory boards if it goes against their wishes. I have no idea if the advisory board itself works.

It takes maturity to deal with so much problems. It takes mature people guiding and working with people the whole time to be able to work itself through things.

Now, I can talk about how to deal with conflicts because there seem to be little knowledge on how to deal with it. First you confront a problem, have it clearly defined by the people having the problem and then you work through it. More articles of the type “you should not criticize” and the reference to the Harmony booklet is of no use. But of course, small kings don’t want to deal with problems unless it brings an advantage to them.

But most importantly, it only takes one individual to create a whole lot of good. Our whole parampara consists of one person who was enlightened and achieved so, so much. Our society is built around people and organizations, but our parampara is build on one person. There’s this mismatch there.

The veda’s clearly define that we need to approach an uttama-bhagavata. But it seems like what to do after an uttama.bhagavats disappearance is broken when there still is a sanga is in place, a resemblance of an organization. Or more to the point; it shows how broken we people are. Sure, the problems were there while Gurudeva was here, he just kept it in check. Sure, it’s not the first time Gaudiya Matha splits apart, it happened after the disappearance of Srila Kesava Maharaja as well. And Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, so there is certainly precedence.

I just don’t see a divine plan in it. It just seem broken to me.

And all the while, there is no proper samadhi for Gurudeva when all it takes is *one* person taking charge.

When the kid eats meat

The-Laws-of-Nature-PicMy kid eats meat and I have no bad conscience about it. How can I allow this considering I have been a vegetarian for twenty years?

I told this to my two devotee friends in Bergen this spring and they were appalled. It was unacceptable in their belief and they considered it my obligation to make sure the kid is vegetarian. Whatever the parent decides, the kid have to do.

Well, you know what the problem with this is? They don’t have kids. They have no idea what it means to have a kid in the situation I live in.

You see, I was staunch on the kid being vegetarian even before the kid was born. This was a big problem between my ex and me, with numerous discussions that went nowhere. My ex was eating meat and wanted the kid to experience the same food culture as him, while I considered it to be violence and murder and certainly not food culture.

While the kid was a baby it was no problem because mother’s milk is vegetarian. The problem arised when the kid became more aware of what he was eating – and that happened much more quickly than I thought.

He was only a couple of months over one year when I realized this wasn’t working. The kid knew he wasn’t allowed to eat the same thing as his father and he was hurt. He wanted to eat what his father was eating and he made it clear. He didn’t care much for what I was eating, and didn’t want it.

Now, when my kid is nearing three, it’s still the same case. He prefer meat over my meals, unfortunately.

The thing is, a kid has a personality and a will of his own. From the moment a kid is born, that kid has a personality and a will. You can try your best to be a role model, but that kid makes his own decisions.

If I had been living in an all vegetarian environment, this would never have been a problem. But since his family and everybody around is eating meat – there isn’t anything I can do. I can only be a role model and provide guidance if wanted when he becomes older and start questioning things.

I only have two principles. I will never buy meat and I will never prepare it. Those are the only principles I’m able to stand for because they involve me. Any action on behalf of other people is beyond me. I can control myself, but not other people. Not even my kid.

Let’s say I force vegetarianism on my son. I’m pretty sure I know what will happen. As he grows older, he will oppose my strict rule and become a verocious meat eater. Do I know this for sure? No, and eating prasada will probably help on this.

Still, I have no bad conscience for letting this happen, though it’s wrong. So this is a case of circumstances versus philosophy where circumstances is winning.

The problem is, I’m pretty sure my Gurudeva would never say that this is okey, which makes my decision wrong. Though I can’t really see I can do something different in this case.