Tattva Sandarbha Plagiarized?

Recently a devotee approached us and claimed that Babaji’s edition of Tattva Sandarbha and that of HG Gopiparanadhana prabhu are almost identical, which he proved with a screenshot of one anuccheda. The question came up, “Could it be that Babaji copied from him? Gopiparanadhana’s book was published in 2013 while Babajis was published in 2015. This is highly unethical. How could a Vaiṣṇava like Babaji do such a thing?”

 

Tattva Sandarbha two editions side by side

Tattva Sandarbha: left side by Gopiparandhana (2013), right side by Babaji SND (2015)

Upon inquiry, Babaji comments on the background and history of the book as follows:

Well, there are two things to be considered here. First, no one is perfect in this world. Everyone has some defects and I am no exception. I certainly don’t claim to be perfect yet I am surprised that someone would compare my Tattva Sandarbhawith Gopiparanadhana’s edition and come to this conclusion. I never expected this. Now that this issue has been exposed, I must say something in my defense.

The second point I want to make is that every author, no matter how great, copies from previous authors. The only exception is Śrīla Vyāsadeva. There is a saying in Sanskrit, vyāso ‘cchiṣṭa jagat sarvam, “Everyone in this world draws from the knowledge given by Vyāsa.” This certainly applies to every author, at least in the field of philosophy.

One may object—how is it possible that Western authors derive their knowledge from Vyāsa? My reply is that the Vedas are the oldest scriptures of the world, which is an acclaimed fact; Vedic knowledge traveled to different corners of the world. There is plenty of proof that there was a relationship between Greece and India a few thousand years ago. Greek philosophers had contact with Indian knowledge systems, and most Western philosophers base their thoughts on Greek philosophers.

Now let’s examine why it appears that I plagiarized Gopiparanadhana’s edition. I started teaching the Sandarbhas at the request of devotees while I was a Sanskrit teacher in the Bhaktivedanta Swami International Gurukula in Vrindavan in 1991. While I was teaching a group of devotees requested that I translate and comment on Tattva Sandarbha. On their request, I agreed and began the work of translating and commenting.  I used to write by hand because I had no computer; Kurma Rupa prabhu would type it out on his computer and then edit it. After a few months, Kundali prabhu, who had worked as an editor for the BTG magazine, started attending my classes. He was very impressed and told me that he would like to help with editing. In this way, a small team formed. Kundali prabhu then suggested that we approach Harikesh Swami, who was in charge of the Swedish BBT, with a request that he publish the complete set of SatSandarbhas. It would be a great contribution to BBT publications. We wrote a proposal for Harikesh Swami and along with the proposal, sent him a sample of our work. He was not only pleased but thrilled and immediately agreed—so much so that he started supporting our team financially. Indeed, he was so enthusiastic that he made a visit to Vrindavan to meet me personally.

Original Jiva Team

Original Sandarbha Team

After our meeting, he offered to buy a piece of land for our team where we would do the publication work and hold classes. We coined the project as “Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies.” Indeed, the land was purchased and even the construction work began.

 

In the meantime, Harikesh Swami inducted Gopiparanadhana and Dravida into our team. Gopiparanadhana was the Sanskrit editor and Dravida was the chief English editor. Everything was going well, and everyone was happy. When the book was ready for publication, perhaps in 1992, we were invited to Mayapur and had a meeting with the BBT team and editors. While there, Gopiparanadhana raised an issue with my translation of the word anādi (lit., “beginningless”) in relation to the bondage of jīva. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī clearly states that the bondage of the jīva is beginningless. But Gopiparanadhana was not happy with that. He wanted to change the translation to “since time immemorial,” which is the commonly used BBT translation for anādi in reference to the jīva’s bondage and which matches well with the theory of the jīvas’ fall-down from Vaikuṇṭha. However, this is not the proper translation of this term and is not what Śrī Jīva had intended. So I did not agree with Gopiparanadhana. Then Jayadvaita Swami was called in, who was the chief editor for the BBT and a big gun in the ISKCON publication world. He heard both of us but did not say much. At that time, I did not understand the gravity of this issue, but they understood.

 

A meeting of the complete BBT trustees, along with Gopiparanadhana, Dravida, and myself, was called to discuss the issue. The BBT members heard both sides and suggested that I change my translation because this is how it was always translated in the BBT, but I did not agree. A discussion arose whether the proper translation of “beginningless” should be put in commentary and “since time immemorial” be left in the text itself or vice versa. I did not want any word in the text other than the proper translation of “beginningless.”

I said, “I cannot misrepresent Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. However, if this is what the BBT wants, then I don’t want my name on the book. Let it be printed in the name of Gopiparanadhana. I will assist him in translating the rest of the Sandarbhas, but I do not want my name to be associated with something that does not represent the true intention of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī.

However, Gopiparanadhana refused, saying that he was not qualified to translate the Sandarbhas. Then I suggested that a footnote be added to the book, which will explain that the word anādi has been alternatively translated by the BBT as “since time immemorial.” I said it was not uncommon for ācāryas to have some differences of opinion. There were long discussions on this point and except for Harikesh Swami, no one agreed with me. However, since Harikesh Swami was the towering figure among the BBT members, he practically forced everyone to agree with him. Title page: "In Vaikuntha not even the Leaves Fall"Thus, the meeting concluded that the book would go to print and carry a footnote. However, Jayavaita, Gopiparanadhana, Dravida, Hridayananda dasa Gosvami, Drutakarma, etc. were not happy with this decision and conspired to sabotage the printing. They were successful. The whole Sandarbha project was dropped, and a controversy arose in ISKCON over the jīva issue. This is a long history which resulted in my writing the book, In Vaikuntha Not Even the Leaves Fall.” The book was banned, and I had to leave ISKCON.

In 1995 I published my own edition of Tattva Sandarbha. After I left ISKCON, I had no contact with anyone in ISKCON since I had been banned from the institution. But once Gopiparanadhana’s wife came to see me, and asked questions about Tattva Sandarbha. Only then did I come to know that Gopiparanadhana had plans to translate the Sandarbhas and was working on a Tattva Sandarbha translation himself, which he subsequently published in 2013. My own revised edition was printed in 2015. Now you can judge for yourself who has copied from whom. I don’t blame anyone. Thank you for bringing up this topic. It brought alive many old memories.

 

Editor’s note:

Below we provide a screenshot of Babaji’s 1995 edition of Tattva Sandarbha of the same anuccheda as the screenshot above which compares Gopiparanadhana’s 2013 edition and Babaji’s 2015 edition.

TS screenshot

 

In his foreword to Tattva Sandarbha, Gopiparanadhana does not mention Babaji’s name, even though he lists many others who helped to bring out this edition. Babaji acknowledges both Gopiparanadhana and Dravida as editors in his 1995 edition.

From an ISKCON leaflet 1994. Babaji with the original Sandarbha Team

From an ISKCON leaflet 1994. Babaji with his team on the roof of the Bhaktivedanta Swami International Gurukula building. 

 

 

 

 

 

Notify me of new articles

Comments ( 5 )
  1. SB

    But the main thing is to learn something from Tattva Sandharba whose original author is Jiva Goswami. And those who follow him.

  2. Tanmaya Krsna Das Post author

    I am sure there is an explanation for why Gopiparanadhana ji plagiarized Sri Babaji’s Tattva sandarbha and chose not to credit him. Maybe the person who raised the question can now do the research on this.

  3. Vraja Kishor

    ah these stories and photos! amazing how even black-and-blues are somehow pleasant in relation to bhakti (in an odd, painfully cringing “ouch” sort of way). that photo of the original team is so epic. Kundali Ji looks like he was in one of the punkrock bands from my own scene, Cro-Mags. He looks TOUGH. I dont recognize the two people in the middle/back. Who are they?

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      The two in the background left to Kurma Rupa prabhu are Upandranatha and Jalandhara.

  4. Govinda Hari Post author

    In 1990 I had a personal conversation with HG Gopiparanadhana prabhuji in Vrindavan Gurukul and he told me that he had no qualification to translate the Sandarbhas.
    So how could it be that Babaji copied from him?

  • Satyanarayana Dasa

    Satyanarayana Dasa
  • Daily Bhakti Byte

    Faith (shraddha) and surrender (sharanagati) are the two poison pills for modern culture.

    — Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa
  • Videos with Bababji

  • Payment

    If you want to donate to Jiva Institute, please contact info@jiva.org.
  • Subscribe

  • Article Archive

  • Chronological Archive

© 2017 JIVA.ORG. All rights reserved.