In his new translation of the Bhagavata Purana, renowned Indian economist, author and scholar Dr. Bibek Debroy references Srila Prabhupada’s commentaries on the Srimad-Bhagavatam and thanks an ISKCON devotee for gifting Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam to him.
Debroy is the Chairman of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Economic Advisory Council, and is one of India’s most famous Indologists. He previously translated the Bhagavad-gita, Ramayana, and Harivamsa Purana to wide acclaim, and is one of only three people to ever translate the entire Mahabharat into English.
His three-volume English translation of the Bhagavata Purana was released on January 21st, published by Penguin India, one of India’s largest and most respected publishing houses.
The books are aimed at the general public, specifically a younger and more modern Indian population who are looking for spirituality and culture in a relatable fashion. They contain no Sanskrit verses or purports – only translations of the Bhagavatam verses.
At the beginning of the series, Dr. Debroy points out that he is not interpreting the Srimad-Bhagavatam, just translating it. In the process, he says, he has referred to several commentaries including those of Sridhara Svami, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and the Bhagavata Purana Research Project at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies – which is the work of ISKCON devotees Krishna Ksetra Swami and Radhika Ramana Das.
In Debroy’s Bhagavata Purana, points are sometimes clarified with footnotes referring to Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam.
In his preface, Dr. Debroy also recounts how he wanted to translate the Puranas but was not sure which one to start with. When a friend of his, ISKCON India’s Director of Communications Yudhistir Govinda Das, gifted him a full set of Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam, he took this as an indication from destiny that he should begin with the Bhagavata Purana.
“On my request and invitation Dr. Debroy and his wife then visited Mayapur for the Gaura Purnima festival and appeared to be really impressed and moved by ISKCON and its devotees, who built such a wonderful community with a Gurukula, Goshala, temple, vegetarian cuisine, and more,” says Yudhistir Govinda.
As a result of these interactions, Dr. Debroy dedicated his translation of the Bhagavata Purana, “For Yudhistir Govinda Das.”
“He further remarks that this dedication, as I would well know, is merely a token,” says Yudhistir. “Because dedication is meant for Him who is beyond either of us (indicating that the dedication is actually meant for God).”
While Dr. Debroy says that his Bhagavata Purana is not intended for scholars, nor for those following any Vedic parampara such as Gaudiya Vaishnavas or Sri Sampradaya (as they have their own commentaries), it is sure to be widely read by the general public.
Yudhistir Govinda comments that Dr. Debroy has put a lot of time and effort into breaking down the complex Vedic branches of Vedas, Upanisads, Puranas and Itihasa so that the common reader is able to understand the context.
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The series is available now on Amazon:
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