Welcome to Svami Sadananda Dasa’s website
The relation of Svami Sadananda Dasa and Walther Eidlitz (Vamandas)
During the Second World War the Austrian author and poet Walther Eidlitz became the disciple of Svami Sadananda Dasa while they both were interned in Indian internment camps. This encounter is documented in Walther Eidlitz‘ autobiographical book “Unknown India”. For five years he received personal spiritual instructions and studied the bhakti texts and Sanskrit under the guidance of his guru in most hostile circumstances: “Every time I came to Sadananda during those days, a most frightful noise met my ears as I entered the door. Bartering was going on from the bed of his neighbour, and, furthermore, card-players sat around the only table in the barrack, slamming down the dirty cards. Often enough they got into dispute with one another. Sadananda did not seem to be the least disturbed by all this. He called out cheerfully: ‘So nice of you to come and call on me, Vamandas. Come and sit on my bed.’ A bright dome of peace seemed to hover invisibly over the miserable camp bed. When he began his narration, my ears became deaf to all the noise.” (from: Unknown India)
Yet the relation between Vamandas and Sadananda was not only just harmonious. Vamandas reports in his notebook: “He is able to taunt and mock, to swear at you and hurt and wound you, so that you could believe he was the very devil, hunting you; but in reality all this is nothing but ‘aggressive grace’. The hammer that hits against your forehead (your egotism) over and over again, until sparks fly, is an immensely strong love of God [bhakti] …”
In his book “Unknown India” he further explains: “Gradually I learned to realize that every word uttered by Sadananda was an expression of bhakti, knowing love of God, and that all his actions, whether friendly or scornful – he could be exceedingly harsh and stern – were based on an effort to waken the atma in the people he contacted, to make the atma realize its true nature, to be a servant of Krishna.”
In his personal notes, however, Vamandas also shows the other, loving side of Svami: “Like an angel he is guiding and carrying me. When I thought of him yesterday … (inner unrest) … he immediately turned up, standing quietly by my window: ‘Vamandas, are you still awake?’” In one of his diaries he sums up: “For one year I was living together with him in a tiny room in the camp and yet I didn’t recognize him for what he was; i.e., sometimes I guessed it and instantly he hid himself again, as this belongs to the play. And it is grace, grace, grace when he shows his true nature.”
Over the course of the internment period it became clear that both were destined to work together in order to realize the wish of Sadananda’s guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, to translate and explain the bhakti shastram-s and make them known to the West. Vamandas reports the words of his guru in “Unknown India” as follows: “The path, Vamandas, on which you have set out is a long one. But do not tire! How often my guru lamented the fact that he had never met anyone who was prepared to devote all his strength to translating and expounding the Bhagavatam. I have begun, and have spent many years doing this. But my strength is not equal to the task. Will you help me?” And Vamandas notes down the task he was assigned by Sadananda when, after his release, he was about to leave for Sweden: “Take the spiritual treasure you have found here in India into the West.”
But it turned out that Vamandas was not yet ready for this task. Already in 1952 Sadananda complains: “My dear Vamandasji, […] I believe it would be the best if I burned all my notes for the third time. It is all in vain. You, too, are ‘betraying’ the secret and are pouring the Holy Communion wine into the glasses of the taverns – alas!” The disappointment, however, was only so strong, because Sadananda’s hopes had been so high. He writes: “You must not take my severe criticism of your mistakes badly – it is only because I love you so incredibly, Vamandas, for your absorption in the Bhakti cult, that I shall make so bold as to do that, to be so hard with you – you, who have sacrificed so much for me. But rest assured, your sacrifices don’t cling to me, like sunbeams pass through wide open windows, they go on to Him and Her.”
In another letter he calls him his “true child” for whose sake he kept translating on his sickbed summoning up his last reserves of energy. It turned out that the root of all of Vamandas’ difficulties was his clinging to his poet identity. Svami explained to him: “I don’t know where you stand today. Your misfortune was that you could neither take up what Jnana and Advaita vada of Shankara really teach, at Shri’s place, nor could you bring yourself to a genuine and free ‘yes’ with shraddha in what the Bhagavatam and Caitanyadeva teach. You kept on trying to read your own thoughts into the Bhagavatam and revolted whenever Caitanya taught something that seemed to be in opposition to what you had read in the Bhagavatam in a distorted translation. I have no idea to what degree this has changed in the long meantime. I often feel that if neither you two [Vamandas and his wife Hella] can come to India nor I to Sweden then neither your readers, listeners nor you yourself will ever reach the goal of bhakti.”
Sadananda almost broke with Vamandas after he had read Vamandas’ book “Die indische Gottesliebe” (The Indian Love of God). 1956 Sadananda writes: “I write these notes to your book today on April 19th, 1956, Ramachandra’s appearance day. I don’t know how you will react to my letters and if, from my notes, you will experience and understand that in your book you have written the opposite of what I have explained and given to you since 1942 – because the authoritative Revelation of God’s Word says so. And I don’t know if Krishna and Mahaprabhu will give you the power to start all over again and if They will give you the courage, after thorough reflection and regret, to write a book about the love of God so that it will be an act of service instead of aparadha; to be of help for seekers, instead of everywhere and in every way be misleading – and if in a new book you will have the courage to write the opposite of what you have written in almost every line in the present book.”
Sadananda explained to him that the reason for this disaster had probably been that Vamandas, from the very beginning, had turned to the public while he was still wrestling with himself. It was not so easy to overcome the Maya in ones own heart. At the expense of quality he had rushed into “preaching” and publishing. He continues: “The curse on the whole previous work is this: Without having worked through and assimilated things clearly and distinctly in their entirety, books have been made up out of all sorts of material – hastily; you have some foundation stones, half a wall and a few roofing tiles – but it doesn’t matter whether the academic bigwigs and the men of letters here and there are praising and supporting us or not – it is all about those who are still alive, that they will receive clear knowledge through listening; and about doing samkirtan, i.e., transmitting in a truly genuine and perfect way what we have heard, and sharing it with friends; and from us it must grow and must find fertile ground and more friends who will help […].”
To a common friend Sadananda explains: “Walther rather thinks in concepts of ‘publicity’ and ‘influence’ his books and lectures could have – this is a true burden indeed, but a poet of his sort seems to be bound to always think of the effect he has or could have.” For this reason Sadananda felt forced to lower his expectations and to reconsider his cooperation with Vamandas in Europe. After his initial visit to Vamandas and his wife Hella in Sweden 1962 he summed up his experiences as follows: “It was heart-breaking and the deepest disappointment of my whole life that Vamandas hadn’t bothered to work seriously with the Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu, the Caitanya Caritamritam and the Caitanya Bhagavatam and hadn’t worked through the original sources together with the translation aids I had provided for him. I felt like someone who had come to teach Shakespeare and who was forced to teach the A.B.C instead. […] I’m facing the ruins of my dream city and try to get over my deep grief and be able to see what possibilities still remain for Prabhupada’s seva.” – “After the calamity with the ‘Gottesliebe’ this was the most severe blow in my life, that you had neglected to work things through. You are not lacking – as you say – ‘knowledge about the lila’, but you are lacking the inner principles and basic structures, you are lacking the terminology and the whole system of concepts – and this is what Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu and Ujjvala-Nilamani teach. If grace and love and even prema were so cheap as you made the people believe there, the whole Bhagavatam hadn’t been necessary.”
Accordingly he concluded that he wouldn’t provide Vamandas with raw translations any more but only with completed translations. He goes on to explain to their common friend: “I intended to entirely remain in the background and let Vamandas write the books – i.e. to let Vamandas shape my roughly translated texts beautifully. But my observations during the last months in Forshults Gård have shown me that this is not working. […] In the future I am going to make all translations in such a way, that nothing remains to be changed. This will take longer, but since Vamandas is not able to do it, I better do it myself right away.” In 1962 he writes to Vamandas: “Your works differ from mine. We can help each other. I want to publish texts, very close to the original, texts which force the reader to cooperate and work very hard.”
Their common goal consisted in, as Sadananda put it, to firstly collect those “who have the nobility to be allowed to walk the most magnificent path in this dark age (due to serving God in previous lives) […] – and, secondly, to write down in word and text for the future, that there are such magnificent, great Divine things, so different from what man expects and presumes so that people like Sadananda might at least be able to receive the deepest truth in correct words.” And already in 1955 he warned Vamandas in a letter that “you cannot render the people in the West a worse disservice than making things palatable to their mentality. The Truth is as ‘revolting to the Indian general religiosity and mentality’ [as to the Western mentality]. You are my true child, Vamandas. […] Please, Vamandas, start the spiritual revolution!”
And despite all criticism and disappointment he writes to Vamandas on his birthday in 1975: “Dear Vamandas, my heartfelt congratulations to your birthday. May Shri Krishna’s grace be upon you and give you strength to continue to serve Him for many more years and to spread His message among the people […] Tell everybody – whatever they do for you, they do for me as well –.”
Sadananda became visible in the world (avirbhava) in Germany in 1908. In the early 1930s he became a disciple of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who before some of his native disciples once said: "You, Sadananda, and I, we have always been together."
In 1933 Sadananda first met Svami Hridaya Bon Maharaja, when the latter gave a lecture at the Lessing Hochschule in Berlin.
In 1934 Sadananda went to London, where Indian monks of the Gaudiya-Vaishnava-Mission had established a centre, and where he soon, in the name of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, became initiated in the mantras by Svami Bon and God's name by Svami Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja.
In 1935 he travelled with Svami Bon to India, where his guru gave him his spiritual name "Sadananda Dasa".
After his guru's tirobhava (to be invisible in the world) in 1937, Sadananda worked independently of organizations, devoting himself to the seva of the Shastrams (serving God's Word-form).
In 1954 he received sannyasa from a disciple of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, by name Barasvami (Svami Satyabastabya Brajabasi), who used to explain the Bhagavatam on the bank of the river Ganges in Benares.
In 1961 he returned to Europe, where he stayed till his tirobhava in 1977, and where he among other things worked on German translations from Sanskrit and Bengali. By this, in the background, he assisted his disciple Vamandas with his publications, lectures and courses. Sadananda himself only gave instructions to a small circle of Swedish, German and Swiss friends in the fundamental theological principles of bhaktiyoga.
An interview about Svami in an internet magazine called Gaudiya Touchstone is available via the following link:
Gaudiya Touchstone Magazine
The Austrian Walther Eidlitz (Vamandas, 1892-1976) was a successful writer even as a youth. Some time before the outbreak of the Second World War, he felt an irresistible yearning for going to India to study its ancient religion, and went there in 1938, shortly before the 2nd World War broke out. As his family was Jewish, Vamandas' wife and son were forced to flee from the Nazis, who had occupied Austria in 1938, and, eventually, find refuge in Sweden. Meanwhile Vamandas, as a foreigner in India, was interned in an Indian camp, where he met his guru, Svami Sadananda Dasa, who in that place began his uninterrupted teaching of Vamandas.
After his release from the internment camp Bhakti Hridaya Bon Maharaja wished to initiate him into the Gaudiya-vaishnava tradition and he received his spiritual name Vimala Krishna Vidyabinode Das. (From his first guru, Shri, in the Himalayas, he had already got his name "Vamandas", and his friend called him so even after his initiation into Gaudiya vaishnavism.) A few days after his initiation in Bombay Vamandas returned to Europe and Sweden and worked there continuously to spread the knowledge of the shastrams, the revelation of God's Word-form, through lectures, courses and books. All this time, Sadananda assisted him with untiring devotion by providing him with material and correcting his misconceptions.
Some books (especially the German "Die Indische Gottesliebe", Korrektur, in Swedish "Krishnas Leende") unfortunately contain many errors, because Sadananda didn't have the possibility to check his translations at that time. The later books, however, and above all his work, "Krishna Caitanya, Sein Leben und Seine Lehre" (Stockholm University 1968), give a brilliant survey of the essence of shastric revelation.
In spite of the mistakes Vamandas had made in the beginning, Svami wrote in one of his last letters to him: "Tell your friends, that everything they do for you, they do for me as well."
We cannot be grateful enough to Vamandas. In addition to all the books he wrote, he also brought Svami to us, here in the West.
By his lifetime achievement Vamandas broke new ground, presenting in a european language a knowledge, which at that time was practically unknown in the West. The purpose of these pages is to present gradually material from Vamandas works.
Walther Eidlitz' works in English:
"Unknown India" (Rider & Company, New York 1952)
In his letters Svami Sadananda Dasa has often emphazised that a systematic study of the bhakti-Shastram-s is necessary: “Now, it is like this that every beginner has to think himself into the exact terminology and has to make a fresh start. […] One has to do step after step. […]”. His experiences in India and Europe had taught him to be very cautious when talking to people about things or letting them read texts when they were in fact not qualified to do so: “Otherwise it will all end in split-personality, mysticism and edificatory vagueness.” Only he who thought and behaved himself in a clear and matter-of-fact way could proceed on the bhakti path. Bhakti didn’t start with being guided, but with one's own initiative, one's own desire to serve, but not in a way oneself would like to, but in the way bhakti prescribed it:
“To subordinate oneself to the authority of the revelation means to erase what oneself believes and replace it with what the revelation declares.” “Clear and sharp is the light of the revelation. The man who really listens to it, is not left with any uncertainties or mystical hints, one could interpret according to ones maya-intuitions.” “Bhakti does not simply mean to ‘love’ God, but to serve Him, i.e., till the stage of rati to think, do and realise exactly that which one dislikes, which is 100% against ones self-conceit and complacent self-centeredness.”
This quite rough study guide cannot replace the personal instructions of a guru who alone can assess at what time which kind of text for which disciple is truly appropriate. It is a mere substitute within the context of a website that offers texts for spiritual nourishment to the public. It shall provide an opportunity to the mature reader to chose, self-responsibly, a text for reading that he considers fitting to his stage of development. We have stuck to the traditional division of the instructions into sambandha (clarifying of concepts and interrelations), abhideya/sadhana (instructions about the method) and prayojana/sadhya (instructions about the goal).
In the same manner Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Sanatana Gosvami (CC II.20.124-126):
“The Vedas and the Shastram-s speak of the object (sambandha), the method (abhideya) and the goal (prayojana). Krishna is the object for which one has to search.”
[Sambandha: The principle through which something is kept together in the proper way. Krishna is the sambandha between Bhagavan and world, atma and world, Bhagavan and atma. The performance of the duties enjoined by bhaktiyoga presupposes clear and distinct knowledge of these relations (sambandha-jnanam).]
“Bhakti is the method for attaining Him. Prema is the goal. For prema is the highest good and (the highest) goal; it is the greatest wealth. Through prema one attains the good fortune to be allowed to serve Krishna directly in the rasa of His divine charming beauty.”
[It is prema, Krishna’s Own potency, which accomplishes this direct service and it is also prema, Krishna’s Own potency of joy, that makes known Krishna’s innermost nature.]
This quotation doesn’t imply that bhakti were a means to an end, i.e., to finally experience the joy of prema or love. Path and goal are identitical in Bhaktiyoga. This distinguishes it from all other paths. In a letter Svami explains as follows:
“If you thought that as a result of or a reward for service the experience of bliss would follow, you forget that the BHAKTA, and even more the GOPI, are fully identical with their service, and as you know, the GOPI fully consists of service. PREMA or the Love of God is nothing but service – and it is not anything in addition to it. It is service that is based on the servant’s specific personal relation to God, a relation that corresponds with the respective shape, form, dress, behaviour and character.”
2. SAMBANDHA JNANAM
Sambandha jnanam is the clear insight into the interrelation between a) God and world, b) God and atma, c) atma and atma, d) world and world and e) atma and world. The texts we have sorted into this section therefore mainly deal with definitions of the nature of the atma, maya, Bhagavan and their interrelations. In addition we will give a glossary of the most important Sanskrit terms, collected from Svami’s texts, which is continually expanded but only exists in German so far.
A common misunderstanding concerning bhaktiyoga lies in considering it an anti-intellectualist path, a “path of the heart” or of “love and devotion”, understood as a sort of feeling that renders all thinking unnecessary. In his explanations to Bhaktirasamrita Sindhu 1.1.1 Svami explains why this understanding is deficient:
“Sambandha jnanam is not a systematic interpretation of the content of the revelation and of one's faith, but it is revelation in itself, i.e. an expression of samvit-shakti (sam-vit = to understand/know clearly and correctly) within svarupa-shakti [God’s Own Power]. It is samvit-shakti in its first form, as shraddha [faith in the serving of God], that enables the listener to acquire sambandha jnanam and it is samvit-shakti that speaks to him through Shastram and guru in the from of sambandha jnanam. Anushilanam [serving] is a svarupa-shakti-vritti [a function of svarupa-shakti] and necessarily includes a clear and distinct understanding of the nature of Bhagavan, of bhakti and of the bhakta. For this reason all the acarya-s, starting with Mahaprabhu to the present day, have warned against putting aside sambandha jnanam as something intellectual and considering bhakti as an expression of the intuitive-emotional faculty. Bhakti, from the very start to the highest stage (in the form of prema, etc.) is neither intellectual nor intuitive-emotional, but the working of Bhagavan’s svarupa-shakti that ‘for His sake’ includes aprakrita-[supermundane-]knowledge and aprakrita-seva and, as part of seva, experiences.”
The definitions of the concepts provide the ABC, the prerequisite for the understanding of the bhakti-texts, and prevent one from reading one's own concepts of soul, God and world into the shastram-s. Nonetheless they are just hints. They often use comparisons and speak in similes that only offer an approximation to what is denoted by them as Svami explains in regard to the concept of the individual, incorporated self, the jiva:
“In fact there is no place for similes here. No matter how one puts it – fiery spark, particle of the sunbeam, the lustre of a gem – all these comparisons don’t satisfy in EVERY respect. If, however, one lets go of all the MUNDANE coloring that sticks to these images, soon it will be revealed to the heart what is meant by ‘jiva’.”
The texts of this section deal with the method or discipline of bhakti, particularly the nature and the praise of God’s Names, as they provide the most important upaya or instrument (and objective). The focus of this section is defining of what bhakti, or serving, means. Svami often pointed to the fact that the translation of “bhakti” with “love” is insufficent:
“We have translated bhakti with love. It must be kept in mind that bhakti primarily means SERVICE. This is not any interpretation given by any particular Indian school of thought but the definition of the Kashika-vritti of Panini’s Sanskrit Grammar (Sutra 4.3.95-98). It is said there: bhajyate sevyate iti bhaktih. To love somebody one must know that person. To serve God one must know what He considers His service.”
The texts regarding the goal or prema-rasa-seva are lila-texts, prayers or songs, praising the goal. They should be read when one is firmly rooted in sambandha-jnanam and abhideya as well. The service of God on the stage of prema presupposes the following characteristics:
“1. Completeness of knowledge of God.
2. Feeling of God being the dearest object of Love.
3. Surrender of everything to God.
4. Complete renunciation of desire for personal happiness.
5. Sense of maintaining life only for God’s sake and His pleasure.
[…] One who has genuine indifference towards sense enjoyment, whose heart has completely lost the craving for lust, whose senses are anxious to flow inwards and taste the nectar of Divine rasa [prema-rasa-seva], which belongs to the spirit [cit] – he is that fortunate soul who is qualified to tread the path of the gopis and to cultivate their sentiment [bhava].”
Not every text can be clearly sorted into one of these three categories as they haven’t been written with the intention to match these. Moreover, they are – strictly speaking – not real ‘stages’, as the path and the goal are idential in bhaktiyoga. In practice, for example, the sequence appears even reversed: First one meets a bhakta who gives a hint of the goal that incites one to ask further and deeper questions and, eventually actually embarking on the journey – to finally meet the archetype of the shadow image the bhakta had pointed towards in the beginning. In order to really reach the archetype, the Highest Purusha, and not a Maya-Krishna, it is however, necessary to start with sambandha jnanam to subsequently transform it into vijnanam (realisation), in order to become ready to receive the spontaneous self-revelation of the object of service and perform the transition from indirect to direct prema-rasa-seva:
“To a person, who does not know the sweet fruit on the tree, a shadow on the slanted, rough wall can become a hint to search after the real fruit. And to the person who WANTS TO SERVE the real Word, the shadow-word can approximately point to where the true Word is to be looked for, namely where svarupa-shakti speaks through the mouth of a true bhakta, a true servant of God.”
The acts of listening, understanding and serving are all not done by man in bhaktiyoga. They are expressions of God’s Own Shakti, svarupa-shakti. Lacking the connection to this svarupa-shakti one reads, sees and hears only the shadow-word:
“It is the svarupa-shakti itself, which is the listening one in the atma of the man who is ready to hear, sitting in front of the guru, just as it is the svarupa-shakti that speaks in the guru’s atma. It is true that if anybody witnessed this conversation by accident he could hear the words coming from the mouth of the guru being perceived by the ear of the disciple, and he could also notice how the disciple repeats or even writes down these words. However, as long as the svarupa-shakti does not work in the atma of the listener and he just writes down the words he hears with his physical ear, these words will have nothing to do with the Words that are full expressions of svarupa-shakti. In relation to the Word of svarupa-shakti, which is identical with the thing itself, it is like the shadow of a sweet fruit on the living, thriving tree, a shadow which furthermore is distorted as it falls on a slanting, uneven wall.
Just as a hearty bite into the shadow-fruit on the rough wall causes the person who wants to taste the fruit nothing but trouble as he bites directly into the rock, occupation with the mere shadow of the Word of svarupa-shakti without an empowered teacher only leads astray.”
Apart from the letters, the texts and translations by Svami are characterised by his remaining close to the original text, which is supplemented with extensive clarifications of the concepts, and with the commentaries of the acarya-s and cross-references to other parts of the Shastram-s. Therefore it is impossible to read these texts quickly. However, this prevents one to “bite into the rock”. From the point of view of Bhakti, the work invested into the proper understanding of the texts is essential for SERVING these texts. Svami explains as follows:
“The often cryptic language and usage of one and the same expression for completely juxtaposed things is meant to force the listener and disciple to not only listen intently with ‘uninterrupted and unrelenting’ attention, but to FOLLOW THE TRAIN OF THOUGHT, too. By this means the shastram becomes an object of understanding, loving SERVICE instead of enjoyment by heart and mind.”
Svami regarded it as his task to “publish texts, very close to the original, that force the reader to work really hard.” To Vamandas, Svami offered a valuable critique and a blessing as well, which we also try to keep in mind when studying the Shastram-s:
“You are lacking the patience of listening, of taking things in silently, the interest in assimilating it internally, the willingness to serve through UNDERSTANDING. You don’t sense that one line, understood correctly, enlightening your mind, can be the key to eternity.”
Vamandas’ books can be sorted as follows:
1. SAMBANDHA JNANAM
“Der Glaube und die Heiligen Schriften der Inder” (“The Belief and the Sacred Texts of the Hindus”; not translated into English; offers an introduction into Hinduism)
“The Meaning of Life in Indian Thought” (1st & 2nd chap.: Psychology)
“Krishna Caitanya. The Hidden Treasure of India” (1st part, 1st and 2nd chap.: Theological basics)
“The Meaning of Life” (3rd cap.: The Paths of Yoga)
“Krishna Caitanya. The Hidden Treasure of India” (1st part, 3rd chap.: The Unfolding of Bhakti)
“Krishna Caitanya. The Hidden Treasure of India” (2nd part: Biography of Caitanya)
“Unknown India” is an autobiographical work and offers a lively account of Vamandas’ meeting with Svami in the internment camp in India during the Second World War.
The book “Die indische Gottesliebe” (“The Indian Love of God”; not translated into English) is – due to around 300 pages of corrections by his guru which Vamandas couldn’t include into a second revised edition as it was not printed – unfit to be used in the study of the science of bhaktiyoga.
We estimate that a mere 10% of the complete literary estate of Sadananda – of which the translations of the Shastrams alone contain over 4000 pages – have been typed so far, and of these only about 30% have been translated into English or Swedish.
The texts presented here can be sorted into the following groups: Letters to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Svami Bon, Vamandas or friends in Europe (or from them), including Svami’s corrections of Vamandas‘ book “Die indische Gottesliebe” (1933-1977); diaries of Svami and Vamandas from the time during the internment in India (1939-1945) and diaries from Svami during his travels with Bhaktisiddhanta (1934-1936); articles for the magazine of the Gaudiya mission in Bengal “The Harmonist” (1935-1936) by Svami; and finally handwritten or typewritten translations of the Shastram-s (ca. 1935-1976). The letters often contain songs, prayers and passages from the Shastram-s which we present in separate documents. Letters have been abbreviated and made anonymous, and their subject is indicated by the title.
The following letter gives an idea under what circumstances e.g., Murari Gupta’s “Kadaca” was translated (129 p., not yet online). The letter was written by Gauranga Ghoshe, a poor Vaishnava, whose family had sort of adopted Svami in Calcutta. He writes to Vamandas:
“You know with great, great difficulties all of us here tried our best to snatch him from the hands of Yama. You cannot imagine how his condition was since September: severe pain, his head getting cold all of a sudden during day or night. Doctors, injections, protein, medicines from Canada, careful diet at tremendous cost somehow made him get to read.
All on a sudden he decided to start on Murari’s notes. He went to a house of a man not far away from here only to sit there all the nights till dawn and write and think and write, and finishing Murari’s notes he was quite finished himself, as in that house there was nobody to look after him, to give him diets and medicines at hourly intervals as advised.
When your manuscript came, he worked like mad night and day and did not listen to anybody. The day after it was dispatched he collapsed and with great difficulties he was brought back to my house. We nurse him by turns, but you know we can give only our time and strength and love for him. To keep him alive means more than Rs 100 a month – only for medicines and doctors, without his food, diet etc. He tried to save to take a typewriter by instalments so that one copy of his notes be with him and you can read better what he writes, but he had to give it up and pay the doctor’s bill from it.” (1953)
In the same year the Raya Ramananda passage of the Caitanya Caritamritam (45 p.) was translated. Svami to Vamandas:
“There you two sit in a distant country and long for hearing about lila and seva. That’s why I’ve pulled myself up and since yesterday, sitting in front of a noisy hotel radio, I am working through and writing down the Rai Ramananda together with surveys and explanation for you. It might not be possible to hold up the decay of the body much longer.”
The Caitanya Bhagavatam (487 p., not online yet) was translated under similar conditions (1955):
“Something really TERRIBLE has happened! I had planned to report some few important things from Caitanya Deva’s lila (for the strengthening of you all) and had already gathered some notes during the 3 weeks when I received no letters from you. But then I opened the Caitanya Bhagavatam by Brindaban Das that was written between 1545-50 and that I had been studying thoroughly some 19 years ago. That set me into such a terrible ecstasy that I took Barbara’s beautiful air mail paper and have been translating 18 hours a day for 20 days now – in fact EVERYTHING that is necessary – apart from a few geographic details and the ususal pranama verses at the end and the beginning of each chapter. In minuscule ant-writing (with explanations) I have already translated 65 pages (4 800 shlokas out of 12 300).
It is an EXTREMELY EXCITING work, one forgets eating and drinking and sleeping. I don’t know whether the body will make it till the end, but I do hope to be able to send the manuscript to you by air mail, recorded delivery, by the end of the month. ANYTHING YOU’VE READ ABOUT CAITANYA DEVA, SOURCES AND BOOKS ‘ABOUT’, IS REDUCED TO A DIM GLOW in front of the the shining moon of this work. BELIEVE ME, WITHOUT THIS TEXT YOU CAN HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT WHAT LILA IS, ESPECIALLY NOT WITH HIS OWN [BHAKTAS]. IT IS NO EXAGGERATION.”
The seva of God’s Own Word Form was always in the centre of Svami’s life. To Vamandas he explained what it means to translate in a serving attitude:
“Without knowing yourself completely lonely and alone on a seabound island with nothing but the CC. and the Bhagavatam, struggling seriously for the meaning of every single word in order to find the path and not go astray, one can NEVER understand what Krishna and Caitanya want. Only these very important commentaries [by the acarya-s to these works] can prevent that one translates ones own vasana-s and samskara-s into the text and distorts it […].
You are lacking the patience of listening attentively, of taking in silently, the interest in assimilating it within, the readiness to serve with UNDERSTANDING. You don’t realise that ONE line, well-understood, really enlightening your mind, can be the key to eternity. […] The revelations of the Vedas etc. are not an OBJECT of intellectual exploitation, an object of KNOWLEDGE and WANTING TO KNOW, but of SERVING and LISTENING.
The Revelation’s light of realisation is clear and sharp. Whoever listens to it with firm resolve will not remain in uncertainty about anything; he will not be left with any kind of mystical hints he could interpret according to the mode in which he experiences them in his ‘maya-intuition’.”
The scientific apparatus of Svami fitted according to his own words into “five big steel suitcasas and six smaller ones“:
“I feel so cold in this warm country. How much do I long for my Vamandas. You I could ask to hand me over one of the heavy volumes of the Bhagavatam which I can hardly lift out of the suitcases any more and I could speak to you about the many wonderful secret beauties that are hidden behind these tenacious knotty Sanskrit constructions. […] I have instructed Gauranga [Ghoshe] to tell you, in case Sadananda leaves this world. There are five big and six smaller steel suitcases with numbers, ready to be sent to you.” (1955)
After Svami’s tirobhava in 1977 his whole library was eventually donated to the library of the University of Basel by Phyllis Imhof in 1987. He had rented a room in her house in Basel which she had kept as it was for another 10 years. In 2010 Benedikt Vögeli, the official responsible for this collection, informed us that Svami’s library contained ca. 250 volumes or eight shelf metres, half of them in Indian languages. Handwritten texts however, were never given to the UB Basel. In the year 2001, a scientific assistant dealt with the collection. Subsequently the head of the UB decided, after consulting experts at the University of Basel, to hand over the section in Indian languages (ca. 140 titles) to the department of Indology at the University of Zürich. The rest was catalogued by the UB Basel and included into their stock insofar as they were not already part of it. The duplicates were given to the Indogermanistic library of the University of Basel (under Prof. Dr. Rudolf Wachter).
Of the more or less 140 titles of the ”collection Schulze” now 27 titles in English and German language are to be found in the catalogue of the IDS Library Association Basel Bern. The titles in Indian languages, however, obviously didn’t go to the Department of Indology of the University of Zürich, but back to Mrs. Imhof. She bequethed them in 1989 to Mr. Georg Wagner, who had been studying under Svami in Basel in the early Seventies and who also knew Sanskrit. As that part of the estate, that belonged to Svami, contains round about 140 titles and mostly in Indian languages, they are most probably exactly those books that were originally meant to go to Zürich.
After Georg Wagner’s demise in 2013 his son and heir, Pasqual Wagner, contacted us via Prof. Dr. Frank Neubert of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Bern. He generously donated these books to the Sadananda-archive where they will be stored and further worked with. The estate not only comprises books that also contain handwritten comments and translations by Svami but other manuscripts of Svami as well, that had been inherited by his father after the demise of Phyllis Imoff in 1989.
We hereby express our gratitude to all who were involved in saving these texts which are very valuable for our work/seva, especially Pasqual Wagner, Prof. Dr. Frank Neubert and Ursula Bründler Stadler, who had kindly stored the books/texts for about two years.
This page contains a selection of photos, audio recordings and a video clip from a family outing where Svami Sadananda Dasa can be seen. We have added an audio recording where you can hear him explaining the Brihadbhagavatamritam. The transcript of this can also be downloaded.
The audio files of Svami that have been uploaded so far are also to be found as text files under Text Downloads/Books. More audio files are going to follow. There are also audio recordings of Vamandas' lectures in Swedish and personal instructions he gave in German that are going to be uploaded soon.
Svami Sadananda in Basel 1962
Svami Sadananda Dasa in India
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati
Shri Shri Radha Krishna, Krishna Caitanya
Sadananda in Europe
Shrila Prabhupadas Vani
Shri Guru Pranama
Vamandas and his wife Hella
Sadananda and Vamandas in Mayapur
Vamandas, a sunny day
Der Guru 02
Der Guru 01