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Krishna-Caitanya, the Hidden Treasure of India, His Life and His Teachings, 2014.

This book is a translation of W. Eidlitz' main work, Krishna-Caitanya, Sein Leben und Seine Lehre, Stockholm University, 1968.

In order to get a preview one can download a part of the book.

About the English edition:
This English edition is a REVISED edition which includes later corrections by the author and some additional explanations and translations from the original sources, provided by his guru, Svami Sadananda Dasa. When we came across passages we thought needed clarification we made annotations in square brackets or added a translators’ note.



GENESIS OF THE BOOK

(© Katrin Stamm 2014)

1946: The idea

Sadananda was released from the internment camp in Dehra Dun after the Second World War a little earlier than Vamandas, because of the intervention of Bon Maharaja due to Sadananda’s very bad health. Shortly after Sadananda’s release the idea to create a book on Caitanya together with Vamandas was born. Sadananda wrote to Vamandas who was still interned on May 3rd, 1946:

“I trust the time will come when we shall be able to complete A VERY BEAUTIFUL BOOK ON THE LORD OF LOVE together and to have a darshan of the Lila-bhumi of the Lord. But you can be sure, that all is more beautiful in books and ideas than in reality.”

In fact it was Sadananda’s untiring advice and assistance over the following 20 years that made this book possible as Vamandas himself points out in the end of the foreword to his book.


Gathering facts and studying the sources

As Vamandas explains in the foreword of the Caitanyabook the basis for this work was already laid during the internment, when he studied the shastram-s under the guidance of Sadananda. As Sadananda foresaw in his letter 1946 they met again in India 1950-51 when Sadananda showed him around the lila-bhumi and they visited the lila-sthala-s in Navadvipa, Puri, Benares and Vrindavan.


Writing the book

The actual writing of the book seems to have started in the beginning of the Sixties. In April 1962 Sadananda writes: “Now I have dictated to Vamandas all he needs for his book on Caitanya. He now has the necessary material to finish the book until Christmas.” This was a little too optimistic, though, as it turned out to take 6 more years. In 1963 Sadananda writes to a friend in Sweden that Vamandas and his wife Hella are visiting him each afternoon (in his flat in Basel where he lived since 1961, after he had returned to Europe after 30 years in India) for one or two hours daily in order to write down the details of Caitanya’s life and thereby finally finish the book for the University of Stockholm who obviously had already agreed to publish it. The deadline then was Christmas 1963, but again it took longer.

The general idea was that Sadananda provided the raw translations and Vamandas, who knew much less Sanskrit and Bengali, was supposed to render these translations into beautiful German. Already in November 1963 Sadananda realised, though, that Vamandas had difficulties in accomplishing this task and decided from then on to give only complete translations to him that needed no polishing, but could be included into the book directly.

In the following the manuscript was sent back and forth between Sweden (where Vamandas lived) and Switzerland (where Sadananda stayed). In 1965 the whole manuscript was eventually rewritten. A special difficulty was to find the right equivalents for technical terms like e.g. bhakti, prema or bhava. And Sadananda insisted in his letters that it was essential that the text was written in such a way that it was seva and had the blessings of Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada.

When the final page proof arrived in December 1967 Sadananda only managed to correct the the first part, because he was very ill then, suffering from chronical amoebic dysentery that had reduced his weight to 57 kg. He was not happy with the language and style of the second part, but was to weak to help to rewrite it.


Finding a publisher

Ernst ARBMAN (1891-1959) of the University of Stockholm, who was a professor of History of Religion (1937-1958) and who focussed in his research on the essence of ecstasy and religious trance from the psychological point of view, helped to publish the book in Sweden via the University of Stockholm.

Finding an additional publisher in Germany or Switzerland proved impossible. Kohlhammer, a German scientific publisher and Rascher in Zürich were not interested. The reason, probably, was that the book did not fit into any category: it was neither impersonal-scientific enough to fit into the categoy “indology” or “comparative religion”, nor mystical enough to be a mere document of personal faith. The Swedish anthropologist Åke HULTKRANTZ (University of Stockholm, Institute of Comparative Religion) was interested in the book in general and Vamandas even sent the manuscript to him (1963), but somehow a proper cooperation didn’t work out. Eventually the book was printed by the publishers Almqvist & Wiksell (Stockholm/Uppsala) in September 1967 and published in 1968 as part of the “Stockholm studies in comparative religion”, a scientific series of the Universities of Stockholm and Uppsala.


Good reviews

There are no original reviews available any more. All we have are letters where Sadananda writes that he is happy for the good reviews Vamandas had received and one typed A4 page where Vamandas collected all reviews and reactions to all of his books. Only the review of Prof. BENZ is given in full length there. To ELIADE and GONDA he only refers indirectly.

The well-known theologian and ecclesiastical historian Prof. Dr. Ernst BENZ (1907-1978) from the university of Marburg reviewed the work in a letter to Walther Eidlitz as follows:

“I can only congratulate you sincerely that you have managed to compose the results of your rich studies in India and you insights into the sources – that are hardly or not at all available in Europe – into such a well fashioned overview. Moreover I consider it a very significant achievement that for the first time, as far as my modest knowledge of the matter is concerned, a realistic account of the historical personality of Caitanya is presented. Especially in the Indian history of ideas most often the great personalities are completely covered by myths. No less rewarding is your successful translation of the teachings of Caitanya into a form that is accessible to our German language and concepts of philosophy of religion.”

According to his notes on this A4 page, Prof. Jan GONDA (1905-1991), the celebrated Orientalist and Indologist who taught at the University of Utrecht, considered it a “very valuable work” and Prof. Mircea ELIADE (1907-1986) the famous historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher and professor at the University of Chicago, spontaneously offered his help to publish an American edition.

Kurt LEIDECKER of the University of Mary Washington in Virgina, United States, cabled Vamandas in June 1975 that he would publish an English translation in September/October that year. (Leidecker was born in Germany in 1902, emigrated to the United States to attend Oberlin College at the age of eighteen and continued with graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where he studied philosophy and Sanskrit, writing his Ph.D. dissertation on the Bhagavadgita, in which he related the Gita’s philosophical concepts to ideas of the 19th century German philosopher Hegel). While checking out whether any publisher worldwide still held any copyrights on Vamandas’ books, I also checked whether Leidecker had ever started or finished the announced English translation. Obviously he did not. This is the response from the University of Mary Washington I received:

“I have looked through the records we have listing Kurt Leidecker’s writings, and do not find any translation of Krsna-Caitanya: Sein Leben und Seine Lehre. We do have the inscribed copy of the book that was given to Prof. Leidecker by Walther Eidlitz, along with 3 pages of handwritten Errata (which may be in Eidlitz’s handwriting).” (David Ambuel)

JAN GONDA definitely appreciated Vamandas books, because in his work “A History of Indian Literature: Epics and Sanskrit religious literature. Medieval religious literature in Sanskrit“ (1977) he quotes Vamandas’ books 11 times. Also other important indologists as KLLOSTERMAIER and HARDY refer to Vamandas’ books, the book on Caitanya in particular, in their papers from 1974 (The Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhubindu of Viśvanātha Cakravartin K. Klostermaier – Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1974 – JSTOR; Mādhavendra Purī: a link between Bengal Vaisnavism and South Indian bhakti', F. Hardy - Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1974 - Cambridge Univ Press.)


Final recognition of his work

In 1975 Vamandas received an honorary doctor of the University of Lund for his several works on Indian Religion and Philosophy.


Where to find the book today

Nowadays the book is still stored in some important German university libraries: in Berlin, Bremen, Erfurt, Göttingen, Halle, Hamburg and in Kiel. In Sweden 13 libraries keep this book, among which are the university libraries of Umeå, Uppsala, Stockholm, Göteborg and Lund. Umeå and Lund also host our recent Swedish edition “Kṛṣṇa-Caitanya: Indiens dolda skatt: hans liv och hans lära/ Walther Eidlitz“ transl. by Kid Samuelsson and Bengt Lundborg (2013). The University of Stockholm offers access to the electronic version of the German edition, too.


The translators, the translations and new editions

The first translation was done into Swedish by Kid Samuelsson and Bengt Lundborg (2004). The translation into English was started in 2010 and was done in an even bigger team. After the English translation had been finished, the Swedish translation was completely revised in 2013 in order to include the improvements of the English translation.

The English raw translation was done by Mario Windisch (Mandali Bhadra dasa) who is German by birth, but later acquired Canadian citizenship and spent many years in Canada. He is the (almost) native speaker in the team. Already in 1972 he was made Head of the translating department in German language for all ISKCON literatures and chief editor of BTG (the “Back to Godhead” magazine of ISKCON) by Bhaktivedanta Svami because of his literary skills, competence in Vaishnava theology and knowledge of both the German and English language. However, he left ISKCON soon after that for personal reasons. In those times the temple presidents were very strict regarding what was allowed to be read and what not. E.g. the temple president in Hamburg, Germany, where Mandali Bhadra das stayed in the early Seventies, forbade to read the book on Caitanya by Vamandas which Mandali had been reading secretly with another Godbrother (Vasudeva dasa). So they both left ISKCON, became shiksha disciples of Sadananda and continued to read Vamandas books. My first contact with bhakti, Caitanya and the Mahamantra was by reading this book together with Vasudeva dasa with whom I lived in a relationship for some years in the early 90ties. In this way this book has been central to the spirtual lives of everybody in the seva-team.

Kid Samuelsson and Bengt Lundborg, who had already translated the work into Swedish, contributed the vast experience they had gained by doing this, regarding both technical and formal aspects and the content. I, Katrin Stamm, as an Indologist added my knowledge of Sanskrit to the team and checked all the quotations from the sources. I also gave counsel when it came to the intricacies of English.

The translation was also a great opportunity to improve the book. I (Katrin Stamm) had been given the book that had been owned by Walther Eidlitz by Kid Samuelsson which contained later handwritten personal corrections and notes by Vamandas himself. Moreover we included three handwritten pages of Errata by Vamandas and 2 pages of corrections by Sadananda from 1972. While writing the translation we found many more mistakes: not only spelling mistakes but also missing lines in verses, wrong verse numbers etc. Altogether round about 200 errors. As we all are trained in ‘Sadananda’s school’ and especially by his corrections to Vamandas’ book “Die indische Gottesliebe“ (1955) (The Indian Love of God), that span over 300 pages and weigh more than the whole original book, we felt the necessity to add footnotes when old mistakes from the “Gottesliebe“-book reappeared. We then added, whenever possible, Sadananda’s own words as corrections.