Film of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (01/28/06)
Daṇḍavats G_____ Mahārāja,
All glories to Śrī Śrī Guru and Gaurāṅga.
I just noticed on the GBC conference, there is a debate going on about the snip in your Bhaktisiddhānta DVD (which I just saw, by the way, and thought it was wonderful, later I will hope to discuss it with you, but after I finish all this). Apparently the snip appeared on zippyvideos.com, and some devotees have seen it, and sent it around. Did you post it there?
No, we did not post it. We just came to know about it yesterday. We were a little bummed out because we wanted it to be a surprise for all the devotees at the Māyāpura Vaiṣṇava Film Festival that N_____ Prabhu is putting on during Gaura Pūrṇimā.
So, as of today we are announcing the official release of the film and we have instructed J___ Prabhu to start selling it in the USA. We have also sent a public notice to VNN, Chakra, and the Sampradaya Sun websites announcing the DVD release.
We don’t know how that clip got on to the internet (maybe though P_____ Mahārāja), but when the devotees see the full size image on their big TV screens or when they see it on the 15 foot screen at the Māyāpura festival, they are going to be shocked. Yes, it is real and you can see the life in Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s eyes as he speaks. You can see every movement of his face and the muscles in his arms and the shadows behind him. I personally have watched the clip at least 100 times. Its fantastic!
Anyway, the debate is to whether it is a real snip, or just a computer generated version of that famous picture which we all have seen. Some say because the position of Bhaktisiddhānta is so rigid, and only the hand moves, that
they feel it is a computer-generated creation. B_____ got info from someone who knows G___ Mahārāja, that he, or someone in your group, got in touch with the daughter of the photographer. He is what he said:
“…G____ Dāsa who is writing a book on Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Evidently, in Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s time, there was a photographer who took many photos of him and also ran a photography shop. G_____ Dāsa found out the daughter of that photographer. In her house there were
various previously unknown photos of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and in an almirah there were two films in cans. They were reduced to practically goo. One was unsalvageable but via an expert in Singapore, a section of one of the films was salvaged. What was posted on the internet is a section of that salvaged film. There is supposed to be more of it as well.”
Is this the real version? I would like to let them know so that they stop speculating. Is there more film, and will it come out at some time.
The fact is that we searched for years to find either film or a soundtrack of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. We searched all the temples of Gauḍīya Maṭha and even the records of the All India Radio station in Calcutta because we had heard that Gauḍīya Maṭha sometimes broadcast shows in the 1920s and ‘30s. But we found nothing. Then one day Kṛṣṇa gave us the bright idea to visit the insignificant devotees of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura like the small families and those who were only children during his time. These people were very difficult to find and there were not that many still living. But we found what we were looking for in the home of the late Śrīman Kasinath Choudury (see credits at the end of the DVD). From the granddaughter of Mr. Choudury we received several unique photos of Bhaktisiddhānta and the film footage used in our DVD documentary. There was other footage also, but most of it had deteriorated beyond recovery. With the help of a professional lab in Singapore we were able (at great cost) to salvage what you see in the DVD.
We also wanted to search the archives of the King of Mysore because Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had spent one month in Mysore in 1933. We hoped that we would find more film and photos there, but we did not get the King’s cooperation for an extensive look at the palace archives. But we did recover the signature of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura at the Mahārāja’s Sanskrit College and that we used in the introduction to the DVD.
We still have some leads in Calcutta that we have not yet followed up on and those leads we hope will yield some more nectar. Iskcon has always thought that Gauḍīya Maṭha people have nothing to offer but they are wrong.
You can tell the Iskcon leaders that I will give them my connections in Calcutta if they give me Ambarish Prabhu’s credit card number!
Keep me posted.
Swami BG Narasingha