Newsletter: Rest from Writing

Monsoon in Mayapur, an inspiring time to rest from writing. Yes! To rest from writing! That may not be what you were expecting me to say, but as Srila Prabhupada commented, “It (writing) is not mechanical.” Just as one requires inspiration to write, one also requires a respite from writing. With Sri Damodara-janani at the stage of production with Sundara-rupa, my only work will be to review the proofread manuscript. In the meantime I am chanting, reading, and reviewing a list of possible titles to decide which book is next. It is hard work—for me and for everyone involved.

Let me give an example: Braja Sevaki inspired me to include, as an Appendix, a rewrite on the translation to the Damodarastaka that is in ISKCON’s songbooks that I asked her to start working on 18 months ago. I studied Sanatana Goswami’s commentary to the verses and spent the best part of a week on them. Eight verses. Then I sent it to Braja to edit, she sent the edited version back, I reviewed and made changes, sent it back to Braja, she sent it back, and so the back and forth continued to 24 exchanges, for I don’t know how long. And that was before Ananda Caitanya gave us his proofread comments. I told Braja we had to get it just right, and that she should blame the work on Papa. Papa is a nickname for Ernest Hemingway. In completing his book A Farewell to Arms he rewrote the last few pages 47 times. When asked why, he said “I had to get it right.” So that’s what we tried to do. It would have been better had Braja and I had another 23 exchanges. But 24 is not bad.

Here is verse 8. “O brilliantly effulgent rope surrounding Damodara’s belly, O resting place of the universe, the Lord’s belly! Unto You both I offer my respectful obeisances! O dearmost beloved of the gopis, unto Your dearmost beloved Sri Radhika, I offer my humble obeisances! Unto You, unto Your limitless pastimes, and unto Your transcendental nature, O Lord Damodara, I offer obeisances again and again and again!”