Spiritual Master

Literal Translations of Scripture

romapada swami on srila prabhupada
Written by Romapada Swami

Question: I always enjoy reading Prabhupada’s book and discussing the philosophy. I met this person who believes that most of the times the literal translation of Scripture is twisted by the translator’s own views. He mentioned Bhagavad Gita as it is, Chapter 8, Text 9. On the translation it shows “who is always a person”. He said this part is not there literally, I could not find it either. What is your view on this issue?

Answer by Romapada Swami: This is a question of how this person sees Srila Prabhupada — as a self-realized soul directly in contact with Krishna or a mundane translator like so many others.

“Tesam satata yuktanam…” and “Sarvasyam caham…” apply here. Krishna spoke directly to Srila Prabhupada from within the heart. Srila Prabhupada had perfectly realized the message of Gita. He was living the message of Gita in every moment of his life. These factors allowed Srila Prabhupada to infuse his translations with direct realizations of the meaning of the verses.

In seeking reviews, the Library Party interviewed a big Sanskrit scholar in the USA. The scholar said “Regarding the BBT books, I like the print quality, the art work, that Bhaktivedanta Swami comments on each verse. The only problem is that he puts too much stress on bhakti’. Srila Prabhupada was taking his massage when this letter was being read to him. SP slapped his hand on the floor and said “That is my success. I have written these books in such a way that no one can squeeze any other meaning out of them.”

If this person wants a rudimentary Sanskrit translation, stripped of the realizations of a pure devotee, then so be it — let him go do so. But if he wants to know what Krishna is really saying, if he wants to read a Gita infused with the siddhanta of the paramapara leading directly back to Krishna Himself, then he needs to read the “Bhagavad Gita as it is”.

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