“Enter Blazing” – Jayadvaita Swami Commits a Grammatical Error (Bg. 11.28)

universal-formThe Universal Form

Bhakta Torben Nielsen recently made me aware of this change to Bg. 11.28:

Original and authorized 1972-edition:

“As the rivers flow into the sea, so all these great warriors enter Your blazing mouths and perish.”

BBT International’s edited 1983 edition:

“As the many waves of the rivers flow into the ocean, so do all these great warriors enter blazing into Your mouths.”

So-called original manuscript:

There is no verse for 11.28 as the page is missing. But verse 30 mentions the words “blazing mouths”.

This is a very interesting change, because it is of a grammatical nature:

  • In Srila Prabhupada’s original 1972 edition the adjective “blazing” describes the plural noun “mouths”.
  • In BBT International’s 1983 edition the adjective “blazing” describes the plural noun “warriors”.

So which translation is grammatically correct – Srila Prabhupada’s or Jayadvaita Swami’s?

The context

Here we have the verses from Bg. 11.28-30 (original edition):

“As the rivers flow into the sea, so all these great warriors enter Your blazing mouths and perish.” (Bg. 11.28)

“I see all people rushing with full speed into Your mouths as moths dash into a blazing fire.” (Bg. 11.29)

“O Visnu, I see You devouring all people in Your flaming mouths and covering the universe with Your immeasurable rays. Scorching the worlds, You are manifest.” (Bg. 11.30)

We see that Srila Prabhupada describes the mouths of the universal form as “blazing” (Bg. 11.28) and “flaming” (Bg. 11.30), and compares them to a “blazing fire” (Bg. 11.29). There is no “original manuscript” available for Bg. 11.28-29, but the “original manuscript” for Bg. 11.30 also says “blazing mouths”, as mentioned above.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 11.49.21

Plate 31

The painting above this article is Plate 31 from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Just like all other paintings in the book it was approved by Srila Prabhupada. On the painting we clearly see that the warriors are entering into the blazing mouths of The Universal Form – just like we are told that they are in the Bg. 11.28, 1972 edition.

Srila Prabhupada’s desire

Based on the above, there is no doubt at all that Srila Prabhupada wanted to use the adjective “blazing” to describe the mouths of the universal form. He never meant to say that the great warriors were “blazing”.

What does the previous acaryas say about Bg. 11.28? (as translated on bhagavad-gita.org)

Sridhara Swami’s commentary:

“As unlimited currents of water helplessly flow in innumerable rivers and are propelled from multiple channels into the ocean, the mighty warriors of the Kaurava and Pandava armies are seen to be helplessly propelled into the flaming, gnashing mouths of the visvarupa or divine universal form of Lord Krishna.” ()

Kesava Kasmiri’s commentary:

“How helplessly do the mighty warriors of the Kaurava and Pandava armies enter into the flaming mouths of Lord Krishna’s visvarupa or divine universal form? As helplessly as unlimited currents of water from innumerable rivers are propelled into entering the ocean.”

In his translations of Visvanath Cakravarti Thakura and Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s Bhagavad-gita commentaries Bhanu Swami also translates Bg. 11.28 as follows:

“As many swift currents of rivers flow towards the sea, so these heroes of the world enter Your flaming mouths.”

The sanskrit

Gaura Krishna Dasa, a student of sanskrit, sent me the following analysis of the sanskrit grammar:

Regarding the change in the translation of Bhagavad gita 11.28.

The word “abhivijvalanti” is in the 1972 edition taken as what in grammar is called a verbal adjective or a participle. A participle is basically a derivative from a verb but belonging in the group of adjectives. This particular participle is a participle in present tense, active voice for parasmaipada verbs. It is in neuter gender, plural number and in the accusative case which clearly indicates that it relates to “vaktraani” which is also in neuter gender, plural number and accusative case.

Sridhara Swami, Visvanath Cakravati Thakur and Baladeva Vidyabhusana have the same grammatical conclusion of this word as a participle and therefore in relation to “vaktraani” attributively, “blazing mouths”.

The “anti” ending in “abhivijvalanti” could preliminarily appear as a finite verb 3rd person in the plural number and present tense related to “nara-loka-viira” (the kings of human society), but this conclusion is in the least very strange. It would, if accepted, be a distortion of historical facts and it must be concluded faulty because this sentense already has a finite verb namely “visanti” meaning entering. So if we for the sake of example maintain “abhivijvalanti” as a finite verb, as it is done in the 1983 edition it would translate “as the many waves of the rivers flow into the ocean, so all these great warriors enter and blaze your mouth”, since “abhivijvalanti” can also not be taken as an adverb describing “visanti” attributively.

Conclusion:

“abhivijvalanti” must be taken as a participle – as done by the previous acaryas and the original 1972 edition – and not a verb as done in the 1983 edition.

Conclusion

The evidence against Jayadvaita Swami’s change is overwhelming:

1. Srila Prabhupada is very clear in his original Gita and his manuscripts – the mouths are blazing. Not the warriors.

2. Srila Prabhupada follows the previous acaryas who says that the mouths are blazing (flaming, gnashing).

3 The painting depicting this event (Plate 31 in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is) shows that it is the mouths of The Universal Form that are blazing.

4. According to sanskrit grammer it is the “mouths” that are “blazing”. Not the “warriors”.

Even if both translations could be correct (which they cannot), there would still be no justification – based on the above analysis – to change Srila Prabhupada’s translation of the verse.

It would not be possible to do this without overriding his own editorial decisions and thus violating the arsa-prayoga principle.

Please see additional evidence here.

3 thoughts on ““Enter Blazing” – Jayadvaita Swami Commits a Grammatical Error (Bg. 11.28)

  1. Change means rascal, once again.

  2. By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy I was blessed with the mentoring of the great Vaishnava Sanskrit Bhakti Shastra Acharya, Dr. Acharya Prabhakar Mishra. Dr. Mishra was a greatly renowned Sanskrit Master, and Srila Prabhupada’s beloved First Disciple. Srila Prabhupada lived with Dr. Mishra, whom he named as Acharya, for more than 5 years in Jhansi. During that time Dr. Mishra helped Srila Prabhupada with his Sanskrit-English translation studies and Srila Prabhupada was Acharyaji’s Spiritual Master. I initially met Dr. Mishra in Kathmandu in1982, when we were both on the Executive Committee of the World Hindu Organization, under the Patronage of HRM (the late lamented) King Birendra of Nepal. Having the opportunity to question Acharyaji regarding all of my concerns about various important issues, including the topic of Srila Prabhupada’s Books, and the fact that many of his translations were not ‘literal’, Dr. Mishra thoroughly satisfied me that Srila Prahupada’s translations were strictly based on the Tradition of Guru, Shastra and Sadhu. Thus sometimes there was important content contained in a word or verse that was not obvious, and which had to be brought-out in the verse’s translation. This Srila Prabhupada was able to do due to his vast and deep understanding of the Vedic-Vaishnava Tradition, and Dr. Mishra defended Srila Prabhupada against all of his critics.

    The “Blazing Mouths” Example

    The importance of Krishna-Vishnu’s BLAZING MOUTHS in this verse is not obvious unless one understands that the entire Agni Hotra Vedic Fire Sacrifice System is based on the concept that AGNI IS THE TONGUE OF VISHNU THAT ACCEPTS (CONSUMES) SACRIFICE. Compare Latin IGNIS, English IGNITE, the Greek’s Name of Asclepios Iasas as AGNITAS and the Name of Jupiter or Zeus Volcanos as IGNATIOUS (of FIRE). Throughout the ancient World the Purusha-based sacrifices of the Vedic-based civilizations were typically either ‘Libations’ (Soma-related) or Agni-Hotra related Fire Sacrifices.

    Thus even the Murtis or Icons of HARI as Lion-Headed TIME, Kalah in His Gita Revelation, sometimes graphically depicted His Tongue as being the Flame of His Sacrificial Altar. So as Vishnu Kalah, or Shiva-Kalah-Bairava, the Buddhist Kala-Bairab, or the Persian Supreme Lord ZERVAN, and all related ‘wrathful’ Lion-Headed Forms of the Supreme Lord HARI as TIME / KALAH, His Blazing Mouth is associated with His continuous and final consumption of the Cosmos. Agni is His TONGUE! In all of the Vedic Revelation related Fire Sacrifices, AGNI / FIRE was considered His Tongue. Thus His BLAZING MOUTHS were a persistent feature of His Iconography, Oral and Scriptural description throughout the ancient World. Icons in which His lolling Tongue grotesquely stretches-forth from His Mouth are again a visual representation of His ‘Tongues of Flame’ receiving the all the sacrifices of the World / Cosmos.

    In this same way, if one knows the Revelatory Tradition of the Primal Bhakti Tradition, one can actually understand how IMPORTANT IT IS THAT SRILA PRABHUPADA TRANSLATED SRI KRISHNA’s BHAGAVAD-GITA THE WAY THAT HE DID. Srila Prabhupada’s authorized Translation is SO RICH WITH LAYERS AND LAYERS OF PROFOUND MEANING, which no other translator has ever managed to convey into English, that it is truly an INCOMPARABLE contribution to the historical knowledge-base, spiritual recovery and reunification of all humanity.

    I have always tried to explain to others that what I have discovered about our ancient unity as one people of HARI, would NOT have been possible without Srila Prabhupada’s English Translations and elaborate Purports to Sri Krishna’s Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS. When I read the BBT-I edited edition, I was stunned to realize that many of my realizations and comparative religious would not have been possible if I had been depending on the ‘superior’ BBT-I edition of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It IS. Thus, although anyone can translate the Gita, without Srila Prabhupada’s great in-depth knowledge of the entire Vedic-Vaishnava Guru-Shastra-Sadhu Tradition, they cannot possibly understand the depth of content, the deepest and broadest meaning of the verses.

    Thus for a person of LESS realization to edit Srila Prabhupada’s Books is to inevitably remove actual content-of-meaning from them and as a result to thus un-avoidingly ‘dumb them down’. Additionally, it is simply unethical to change and then re-publish an author’s works after they are no longer available to approve such changes. J Swami’s edited Gita should be published as his version of Srila Prabhupada’s Gita, not AS Srila Prabhupada’s personally approved GITA Translation.

  3. PLEASE USE THIS DRAFT OF MY ABOVE COMMENT

    (The above Draft is missing part of a sentence.)

    Bhakti Ananda Goswami’s Comment About Sri Krishna-Kalah’s “Blazing Mouths” in Krishna’s Universal Form Theophany in His Bhagavad-gita As It Is

    By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy I was blessed with the mentoring of the great Vaishnava Sanskrit Bhakti Shastra Acharya, Dr. Acharya Prabhakar Mishra. Dr. Mishra was a greatly renowned Sanskrit Master, and Srila Prabhupada’s beloved First Disciple. Srila Prabhupada lived with Dr. Mishra, whom he named as Acharya, for more than 5 years in Jhansi. During that time Dr. Mishra helped Srila Prabhupada with his Sanskrit-English translation studies and Srila Prabhupada was Acharyaji’s Spiritual Master.

    I initially met Dr. Mishra in Kathmandu in1982, when we were both on the Executive Committee of the World Hindu Organization, under the Patronage of HRM (the late lamented) King Birendra of Nepal. Having the opportunity to question Acharyaji regarding all of my concerns about various important issues, including the topic of Srila Prabhupada’s Books, and the fact that many of his translations were not ‘literal’, Dr. Mishra thoroughly satisfied me that Srila Prahupada’s translations were strictly based on the Tradition of Guru, Shastra and Sadhu. Thus sometimes there was important content contained in a word or verse that was not obvious, and which had to be brought-out in the verse’s translation. This Srila Prabhupada was able to do, due to his vast and deep understanding of the Vedic-Vaishnava Tradition, and Dr. Mishra defended Srila Prabhupada against all of his critics.

    The “Blazing Mouths” Example

    The importance of Krishna-Vishnu’s BLAZING MOUTHS in this verse is not obvious unless one understands that the entire Agni Hotra Vedic Fire Sacrifice System is based on the concept that AGNI IS THE TONGUE OF VISHNU THAT ACCEPTS (CONSUMES) SACRIFICE. Compare Latin IGNIS, English IGNITE, the Greek’s Name of Asclepios Iasas as AGNITAS and the Name of Jupiter (or Zeus Volcanos) as IGNATIOUS (of FIRE). Throughout the ancient World the Purusha-based sacrifices of the Vedic-based civilizations were typically either ‘Libations’ (Soma-related) or Agni-Hotra related Fire Sacrifices.

    Thus even the Murtis or Icons of HARI as Lion-Headed TIME, Kalah in His Gita Revelation, sometimes graphically depicted His Tongue as being the Flame of His Sacrificial Altar. So as Vishnu Kalah, or Shiva-Kalah-Bairava, the Buddhist Kala-Bairab, or the Persian Supreme Lord ZERVAN, and all related ‘wrathful’ Lion-Headed Forms of the Supreme Lord HARI as TIME / KALAH, His Blazing Mouth is associated with His continuous and final consumption of the Cosmos. Agni is His TONGUE! In all of the Vedic Revelation related Fire Sacrifices, AGNI / FIRE was considered His Tongue. Thus His BLAZING MOUTHS were a persistent feature of His Iconography, Oral and Scriptural description throughout the ancient World. Icons in which His lolling Tongue grotesquely stretches-forth from His Mouth are again a visual representation of His ‘Tongues of Flame’ receiving the all the sacrifices of the World / Cosmos.

    In this same way, if one knows the Revelatory Tradition of the Primal Bhakti Tradition, one can actually understand how IMPORTANT IT IS THAT SRILA PRABHUPADA TRANSLATED SRI KRISHNA’s BHAGAVAD-GITA THE WAY THAT HE DID. Srila Prabhupada’s authorized Translation is SO RICH WITH LAYERS AND LAYERS OF PROFOUND MEANING, which no other translator has ever managed to convey into English, that it is truly an INCOMPARABLE contribution to the historical knowledge-base, spiritual recovery and reunification of all humanity.

    I have always tried to explain to others that what I have discovered about our ancient unity as one people of HARI, would NOT have been possible without Srila Prabhupada’s English Translations and elaborate Purports to Sri Krishna’s Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS. When I read the BBT-I edited edition, I was stunned to realize that many of my realizations and discoveries in comparative religious studies would not have been possible if I had been depending on the ‘superior’ BBT-I edition of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It IS. Thus, although anyone can translate the Gita, without Srila Prabhupada’s great in-depth knowledge of the entire Vedic-Vaishnava Guru-Shastra-Sadhu Tradition, they cannot possibly understand the depth of content, the deepest and broadest meaning of the verses.

    Thus for a person of LESS realization to edit Srila Prabhupada’s Books is to inevitably remove actual content-of-meaning from them and as a result to thus un-avoidingly ‘dumb them down’. Additionally, it is simply unethical to change and then re-publish an author’s works after they are no longer available to approve such changes. J Swami’s edited Gita should be published as his version of Srila Prabhupada’s Gita, not AS Srila Prabhupada’s personally approved GITA Translation.

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