Letter from Swami Muktananda to Franklin Jones
August 15, 1969
This letter giving Franklin the
name Dhyanananda appears in the first edition of The Knee of
Listening. This translation was presented to Franklin by
Muktananda's secretary, Amma (Swami Prajananda).
You have sought and found peace in meditation. You have evinced keen interest in meditation. Since meditation has become the aim of your life, you are being hereby named as DHYANANANDA. You will hereafter be known as DHYANANANDA in the field of Yoga.
You are a promising student of Shree Gurudev Ashram. Chiti Shakti, the Kundalini, which brings about Siddha Yoga, is activated in you. You have also studied Vedanta. The Inner Self which is the secret of Vedanta, the basis of religion, the realization of which is the ultimate object of human life, is awakened in you.
Only he who has himself seen can show unto others. On the same principle you can now initiate others into meditation.
The scriptures declare that so long as you have unflinching faith in the Guru, so long as you remain immersed in the thought of God, so long as you have equal reverence for everyone, Kundalini, the divine power, will continue to help you fully in achieving your rightful share in material and spiritual wealth.
The Kundalini Yoga can be imparted to anyone since the Kundalini power exists in everyone and everything exists in Kundalini.
May you be blessed with the ultimate experience of oneness with God through the performance of your duty and through his worship in the form of meditation.
The Translation of Swami Muktananda's Letter
Swami Muktananda's Naming letter, because it is a unique acknowledgement by a great Spiritual Realizer of Bhagavan Adi Da's Spiritual Realization and qualification to Teach, has been the subject of a great deal of careful "consideration" on His part over the years, especially with regard to its full and exact meaning. Thus the detailed story of how the letter was given and the various translations that have been made is an important one.
Although the letter was only a page in length, it was not until nearly two weeks after Swami Muktananda wrote the letter that the document and its translation were finally presented to Bhagavan Adi Da. It appeared that the principal reason for the delay was that the individuals entrusted with its translation would have preferred that the letter not be given to Him at all, or, if it were, that its obvious significance as Swami Muktananda's acknowledgement of a Western devotee's Spiritual attainments be minimized. Thus, the process of translation had been colored by the emotions of those making the translation. In addition, despite the resort to a professor of English, the language of the translation was far from fluent. Thus, what Bhagavan Adi Da received in 1969 was altogether a rather awkward and uncommunicative translation of the Swami's words.
Because of the poor quality of the translation and the circumstances surrounding its making, Bhagavan Adi Da's own devotees sought in later years to clarify Swami Muktananda's actual intention and meaning in the letter by obtaining a precise and full translation from an independent source. Thus, in the late 1970s, several scholarly translations were commissioned. Although the new translations were in some respects better than the original translation of 1969, they betrayed the limitations of the merely academic and scholarly approach. The translators clearly did not understand Swami Muktananda's Spiritual purpose and point of view, and, therefore, their translations did not adequately represent Swami Muktananda's intended meaning in the letter.
Finally, in 1984, an Indologist and scholar of various Hindu Adepts, with a sensitivity to Spiritual terminologies, meanings, and issues, brought to light elements of the letter that had never been translated. The language of the 1984 translation was more sophisticated than earlier versions. Its flowing ease seemed more fitting to Swami Muktananda than the halting style of the original translation, for although Swami Muktananda was not a highly educated man, his language carried a forcefulness and power that had not appeared in earlier translations.
Most revealing, however, was the 1984 translator's discovery of specifc language, in the original text of the letter, indicating Swami Muktananda's evaluation of Bhagavan Adi Da's Spiritual development. According to this new version, Swami Muktananda forthrightly proclaims his disciple's Realization by stating that Dhyanananda was Yogically Self-Realized, having "fulfilled the sadhana of dhyana", having become "realized in dhyana", and having "realized the mystical tradition of Vedanta". This new translation appeared to rescue the lost essence of the letter from the original translators' apparent efforts to obscure the Swami's gift of acknowledgement to Bhagavan Adi Da.
Having presumed that a final translation had at last been achieved, Bhagavan Adi Da proceeded in 1986 to write the first version of "The Order of My Free Names", which was published later that year. There the matter would surely have come to rest, had not Bhagavan Adi Da Himself, soon after that publication, raised new questions about several words in the 1984 translation. At His request, the original letter and the 1984 translation were submitted to further scrutiny by new translators.
Bhagavan Adi Da had noted that Swami Muktananda's handwriting becomes both more informal and more difficult to read in the second half of the letter. The new translators discovered that several words in this section of the letter had indeed been misread, and thus mistranslated, by all previous translators. This led them to conclude that the 1984 translator had overstated Swami Muktananda's language regarding the fullness and extent of Bhagavan Adi Da's Yogic Realization.
This criticism of the 1984 translation is more naturally in accord with Swami Muktananda's own position regarding the nature of Yogic Realization and his likely understanding of his young devotee's experience at that time. Swami Muktananda regarded the stable visualization of the "blue pearl" to be the primary evidence of supreme Realization.1
However, at the time Swami Muktananda's letter was written (soon after Adi Da's arrival for His second visit to the Swami), Adi Da had not yet experienced the myriad Spiritual phenomena (including visualization of the "blue pearl") that came to characterize this visit. Thus, at the time Swami Muktananda wrote the letter, the only report of meditative experience that he had received from Bhagavan Adi Da was the letter Adi Da had written in 1968 (after His retum to the United States) describing His experience of fifth stage conditional Nirvikalpa Samadhi toward the end of His first visit to Swami Muktananda. Given Swami Muktananda's valuing of savikalpa samadhi above fifth stage conditional Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Swami Muktananda would not have interpreted Bhagavan Adi Da's Realization of the latter (or His experience of the internal revelation of the meditative process on the morning of the letter writing) as the supreme Yogic Realization.
Therefore, in 1989, with Swami Muktananda's letter scheduled for republication as part of a revised form of "The Order of My Free Names", a definitive translation was again sought. After all this time, the problems of translation had not finally been fully solved.
Although Swami Muktananda's letter was written primarily in Hindi, it was interspersed with Sanskrit Spiritual terms. Further, there are a number of places in the letter where he does not follow traditional grammatical rules. Therefore, a definitive translation would require someone who was familiar with Swami Muktananda's own style of writing (particularly his handwriting), yet who was free of the prejudice that had compromised the original version.
An individual with these unique qualifications was located by Adi Da's devotees. A former translator for Swami Muktananda who had lived with the Swami for many years, he not only read Swami Muktananda's handwriting with ease, but was also familiar with his use of words and methods of expression. Thus, in mid-1989, both a definitive transliteration and a word-for-word English translation of Swami Muktananda's letter were finally obtained. Also because of his unique familiarity with Swami Muktananda, the new translator was able to solve in short order the mysterious salutation to "N" in the letter's opening line. Upon seeing the letter and hearing the question, he instantly said, "Wellthis is how Swami Muktananda, not knowing how to spell 'Franklin', would have written it."
With a reliable rendition of the precise words used by Swami Muktananda in his letter of acknowledgement in hand, the final task of revealing its full intended meaning remained. Thus, Adi Da Himself worked on the translation of the letter to reveal the implications and logic inherent within the document itself. Although not fluent in either Hindi or Sanskrit, Adi Da took on this task of "translation", in order that this key incident in His Spiritual SadhanaSwami Muktananda's acknowledgement of His Realization and Right to Teachcould be rightly understood by all. Bhagavan Adi Da based His work primarily on the original translation by Swami Muktananda's devotees, and the 1989 translation by Swami Muktananda's former translator. In the process, Adi Da Gave Instruction in the principles for translating Spiritual literature and explained how He applied these principles to the particular instance of translating Swami Muktananda's letter.
Bhagavan Adi Da pointed out that everything in Swami Muktananda's letter has significant meaning and that none of his words are redundant. And He went on to show that only through sensitivity to the relationships between words and concepts could the overly literal, mechanical, and reductive quality of the previous translations (including the two from which Adi Da was working) be overcome. He therefore set about restoring (or unsuppressing) the force of logic and interconnection evident in Swami Muktananda's own writing in order to produce the translation given in this book. He describes the process here:
BHAGAVAN ADI DA: The relationship between words and sentences must be taken fully into account, and must be allowed to build up into a structure of meaning. Therefore, the text calls for an elaborate translation. Not to translate it this way is to suppress the voice of the text itself.
Thus, I have elaborated the meaning through multiple words and other literary means to get at what Baba Muktananda's intention was and to make the letter speak clearly. One of the proofs of a proper translation is that it speaks clearly. My translation corresponds to Baba Muktananda's intention, and is not clouded over by the interpretations of people who want to suppress or diminish what Baba Muktananda said, or otherwise use exaggerations of language that make Baba Muktananda say something that he would not say. So unless there is some real evidence for an alternative translation of any of the parts of this letter, I am satisfied that it clearly represents Baba Muktananda's meaning and intention. [Spoken Communications, July 1 and 4, 1989]
Adi Da thus re-created, in English, both the flow of meaning connecting the individual words of the letter and the obvious purpose of each of the letter's sections. Wherever necessary, He also conveys the full range of meaning (both denotative and connotative) of individual Hindi or Sanskrit words or phrases by giving a primary translation followed (in parentheses) by one or more alternative translations of the same word or phrase. Thus, the English text necessarily became significantly longer than the original.
For example, in the last paragraph of his letter, Swami Muktananda speaks of Kundalini and meditation. The original translation reads: "The Kundalini Yoga can be imparted to anyone since the Kundalini power exists in everyone and everything exists in Kundalini." This translation can readily give rise to misconceptions. From reading it, it is possible to suppose that Swami Muktananda was indicating that because the Kundalini Shakti is a universal phenomenon and therefore exists in everyone, virtually anyone can practice Kundalini Yoga. A proper amplification would add that the Kundalini Shakti exists in everyone only latently. While the word "latently" conveys a shade of meaning that is not explicitly stated in Swami Muktananda's letter, it is implicit in the text, and it is clearly in accord with Swami Muktananda's own experience and instruction that the authentic and fruitful practice of Kundalini Yoga requires Spiritual initiation from a Teacher in whom the Kundalini Force has been activated. Thus, Bhagavan Adi Da inserted the word "latently" to clarify the original meaning of the text.
Adi Da's translation of Swami
Muktananda's letter given in "The
Order of My Free Names" is
an example of how it is only such an amplified translation
that can be perfectly faithful to the original, by fully
illuminating all the meanings and interconnections implicit
in the original document.
Swami Muktananda's letter of acknowledgement
In August, 1969, Swami Muktananda formally and publically acknowleged Adi Da's Spiritual Accomplishment in a open letter (pictured above left) written in his own hand in the presense of Sri Adi Da and between fifty and one-hundred others.
The Marathi language was Swami Muktananda's native tongue, and the letter, written in Hindi interspersed with Sanskrit, presented many problems for interpreters and translators. This page presents the four most important versions, in their relative historical order, with commentaries.
The first initial rough translation was prepared by a group of Swami Muktananda's aides, and due to the difficulty, took over two weeks before it was given to Sri Adi Da. As later translations would show, it contains added and missing elements, and does not, for whatever reasons, convey the full content and intent of Swami Muktananda's message. 1
In the late 1970s several scholarly translations were commisioned and although in some respects they were better than the 1969 translation, they were limited by their academic approach. In 1984, an Indologist and scholar of various Adepts, with sensitivities to spiritual terms, meanings and issues, brought forth another translation; [ A. J. Alston translation ] which was published in the essay "The Order of Free Names" in The Illusion of Relatedness (1986); with Sri Love-Ananda's translation and commentary.
In 1989, a definitive word for word transliteration was obtained from a former translator for Swami Muktananda who had lived with the Swami for many years and not only read his handwriting with ease, but was also familiar with his use of words and manners of expression.
note to the reader
1. For a more in-depth history and commentary see Appendix A: The Translation of Swami Muktananda's Letter from The Order of My Free Names (1995) ]