BBT Special Projects
BY: Friends of the BBT
Jul 17, USA (SUN)
Dear Prabhus, In this edition of Friends of the BBT newsletter I want to share with you the latest global BBT special projects, publications, and translation work. I hope you will be as enlivened as we are reading about these exciting, and innovative Krsna conscious preaching projects. As always, please feel free to offer your comments or suggestions.
Nestled in a remote village in Govardhana, India, are a few young men in their early twenties and thirties who are being trained to read, write, and speak the ancient Sanskrit language. Gopiparanadhana dasa, the founder of Srimad Bhagavata Vidyapithama Sanskrit School, shared with me his inspiration and vision for this long-term BBT project.
“After working for the BBT for over thirty years, and spending at least twenty-five of these years trying to train devotees to work in the Sanskrit department, I came to the conclusion that we needed a more organi- zed and disciplined program. Translating and editing for the BBT is work for seriously committed devotees with sober intelligence.
This is a brahmanical service, and requires not just language skills but sattvika character and behavior. We needed a thorough training course that would help devotees function brahmanically, with an attitude of selfless service to humanity.”
Gopiparanadhana dasa came to India almost nine years ago with his wife and one-year old son. His plan was to visit Vrindavana for one week; but Krsna had other plans for this dedicated devotee and servant of the BBT. After two years of living in a somewhat “luxurious apartment”in the MVT complex in Vrindavana, he moved his family to Govardhana, where they currently reside in a simple cottage made of bricks held together with mud. His wife takes care of five cows and cooks their simple meals each day, using the cow dung she collects for fuel.
Following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, the BBT recently published the well-received Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, an original writing of Sanatana Goswami, with translation and commentary by Gopiparanadhana dasa.
In appreciation of this work, Professor Joseph O’Connell, from the University of Toronto, writes; “The appearance of the Brhad-Bhagavatamrta thus marks a new phase of textual theological scholarship by members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”
Gopiparanadhana Prabhu said about translating the remaining works of the Six Goswamis. “I wouldn’t want to fix a deadline for finishing the translation of all our Goswamis’ works. It’s more important that this work be done right, so it can’t be done in too much of a hurry. Maybe after fifteen years we will have made substantial progress.
This depends on good students joining our school and becoming thoroughly trained. The Sanskrit school is about two things: training translators and translating the books. A proper translation can be done by a good translator who is in good consciousness and is expert in his work.
According to philosophers who specialize in the theory of translation, there is no such thing as a completely neutral translation; a translator is always filtering the original work through his own mind, and in the act of translating from one language and culture to another, there is always some distortion, some violence done to the text, that cannot be avoided.
No translation can be perfect, but how close to perfect a translation might be depends on how good the translator is. We want to give our students the best possible training.
We especially want to give them strong language skills and help them think and behave more brahmanically. In cooperation with the BBT trustees, we also want to get our students and staff directly involved in BBT production work. They should learn and practice not only translating skills but editing, proofreading, and some layout and design.”
The school is now in the process of purchasing land at Govardhana, and plans for the building design are underway. Initially, the BBT hopes to facilitate about twelve students, four teachers, and four support staff. When asked how he thought this Sanskrit school would serve the greater ISKCON- Gopiparanadhana dasa replied, “We will gladly welcome any gurukula graduates who want professional training from us.
We recognize that most parents in ISKCON today are concerned about the security of their children’s futures. We intend to support our matriculated students without charge for tuition and accommodation. As far as possible, we want to furnish them with opportunities for a lifetime of service in our ashrams whether with the BBT or ISKCON at large.
Traditional brahmanical education, especially as intensely as we intend to make it, is not for everyone. But it should fit the bill ideally for those who have what it takes.” Gopiparanadhana Prabhu has already translated Srila Sanatana Goswami’s Krsna-lila-stava, his verse summary of Krsna’s Vrindavan pastimes told in the Srimad-Bhagavatam’s Tenth Canto, and Srila Rupa Goswami’s Laghu-Bhagavatamrta, which discusses the various expansions of Godhead and proves that Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead.These books are currently being edited by Kesava Bharati Maharaja, Jaya-dvaita Maharaja, and Devamrta Maharaja.
For the next six years Gopiparana-dhana Prabhu will be busy working on a difficult project- translating and commenting on Srila Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandharbas. These works are full of heavy philosophy, and many controversial questions, which Jiva Goswami answers once and for all.
When asked why this Sanskrit school is considered important to the Vaishnava tradition, Gopiparanadhana Prabhu states, “ISKCON is not the only Vaishnava sampradaya. We are relative newcomers to the old traditions, which have long established systems for sastric education. ISKCON leadership needs competent sastric consultants, the BBT needs translators and editors, and our gurukulas need qualified teachers. We need quality, not quantity, Sanskrit scholars.”
The BBT, originally established by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, still has the highest publishing standards as well as decades of experience. With the successful training of this new generation of Sanskrit scholars, the legacy which was given to us by Srila Prabhupada will continue into the future.
Upcoming Special Projects
The BBT Special Projects division is now working on developing a preaching strategy to discover how to make bhakti-yoga and its many facets more accessible and attractive to the general public. Currently in the research and development stage, an enthusiastic team is working on marketing and editorial strategies to launch a campaign that will bring about a greater awareness of bhakti-yoga in the world. We will keep you posted with updates on new BBT special projects in our next newsletter. Hare Krsna.
On behalf of Friends of the BBT,
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