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Mastery By Devotion Vs. Dry Academic Scholarship

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Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was given the opportunity to reveal to the world the unrivalled perfection of Srila Prabhupada's masterful translation from Sanskrit into English of Bhagavad Gita. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was given the service by Srila Prabhupada of translating all of His books into the Orissan language. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was a great scholar who could write and speak in five languages: Orissan, Hindi, Bengali, English, and Sanskrit. He got his degree in English from the University with a minor in Sanskrit. He translated Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita with the greatest love and devotion and attention for detail.


Because of His vast command of languages He was able to notice little details that others may have overlooked. One thing that was a cause of great transcendental concern for Him was the fact that when Srila Prabhupada translated a word from Sanskrit to English it would not be the same if Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja translated the Sanskrit word directly to Oriya. In other words the English word that Srila Prabhupada used to explain the Sanskrit word had an entirely different meaning than the Oriya word that would normally be used as a translation of this same Sanskrit word. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was concerned that in translating the literal English into Oriya that many Pandits and Scholars would complain that this was not an accurate translation.


Since Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja did not want to change one single word of His beloved Spiritual Master's books but at the same time wanted to be able to defend the scholarship of His Guru Maharaja beyond the shadow of a doubt. He devised a plan for writing down all of the so-called contradictions in a list until he completed the entire work. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja then went to a little village to see the now retired Sanskrit professor who had taught Him Sanskrit in college. This man was considered one of the foremost authorities on the Sanskrit Language in India having one of the largest personal libraries on the subject, including one of the best collections of Sanskrit to English Dictionaries. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja knew that this Sanskrit scholar’s grasp of Sanskrit to English translation would provide him with the evidence he needed to prove the authority of Srila Prabhupada's work.


After about ten days, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja returned to the little mud hut that we lived in with the Sanskrit professor in tow. The Sanskrit professor introduced himself (I apologize but unfortunately I cannot remember his name) and began glorifying His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada's masterful translation work. The Professor told me that he started studying Sanskrit when he was five years old; now in his late 70's he had been studying the language for over 70 years. He told me how on the first review of his dictionaries he could not find the translations that Srila Prabhupada had made from Sanskrit to English, but he said that Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja kept encouraging him to keep looking, assuring him that he would find the translation if he looked long and hard enough. The professor said he would have given up if it were not for Srila Gour Govinda Maharajas insistence that if His Guru Maharaja translated the words like that it had been accurate and that if he looked hard enough he would find the translations. Then the professor told me that he found each and every translation that Srila Prabhupada had made from Sanskrit into English. The professor told me that these translations that your Guru has made are the most obscure and brilliant explanations of these words from Sanskrit to English that he had ever seen.


The professor admitted that with all of his education and training he could not have thought of these obscure and brilliant meanings that so perfectly expressed the inner truths of the mysteries of the Bhagavad Gita verses in a way that the usual words used in English would not have done. The professor then said having seen this translation work of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada he was convinced that Srila Prabhupada was the greatest Sanskrit scholar in the history of civilization and must have been directly enlightened by the Supreme Lord Krishna to accomplish this work.

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I am not Sanskrit scholar but I love reading Prabhupada's books. Last night I was reading the 10th Canto Part Four and it looked to me like Prabhupada didn't write that part, I guess his devotees finished it for him or something. I did still enjoy the commentary and it seemed to me like they did a good job or at least the effect of the stories was still powerful.

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