A large part of this task–this is where Pradyumna came in–was the Sanskrit editing. Pradyumna began by learning, on his own, to transliterate Devanagari into roman characters. Srila Prabhupada was pleased, and Pradyumna, going further, became expert in the Sanskrit language. He tells of his role:
Sanskrit editing means that I would put the correct diacritic marks on the Sanskrit words, and I would spell them correctly according to the international system. I would also adjust Prabhupada’s grammar in the word-for-word translations. Also, if something were missing, I would send a lot of queries, “What about this, what about that, is this okay?” I had a lot of letters from Prabhupada, “Yes, you can do this. You can do this. Yes, that’s okay.”
(Siddhanta Dasa, p. 10)13
Pradyumna was speaking modestly. He did considerably more. He’s the one who set the Sanskrit transliteration standards for Srila Prabhupada’s books, who systematised the division of Sanskrit compound words into their constituent parts, who set rules of style (italics? caps?), and who made scriptural verse references a consistent feature.14
Beyond this, he answered countless queries from the English editors, and straightened the editors out when they misunderstood intended meanings. I remember that on one occasion, when a passage for the last chapter of the “Krishna Book” was unclear, Pradyumna and I sent a query to Srila Prabhupada, who simply sent back a one-word answer: yaduvaraparisat. In other words, “This is the word I’m translating. You figure it out and set things right.”
In 1972 Pradyumna joined Srila Prabhupada’s personal entourage and traveled with him to serve as Sanskrit editor for the rest of Srila Prabhupada’s days. While traveling with him, Pradyumna often did considerable work in editing his translations.
To give an extreme example of how much Pradyumna might revise, we may consider Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.22.2. Here is the transcription of Srila Prabhupada’s original dictation:
After Pradyumna’s revision:
Sri SG answered, My dear king, it is exactly like the wheel of the potter which is moving and along with it the small ants which are located on the big wheel, they are also moving along with the wheel, but their motion is seen to be different because they are noticed at one time to be in one place and later in another on the wheel. Similarly, with movement of the wheel of time which is observed by the constellations and signs. They are moving to the right around Dhruva loka and Sumeru mountain and moving with them are the ant-like planets like the sun and other small planets. But because these planets are seen in different constellations and signs at different times, the motion of these planets is different from the motion of the zodiac or wheel of time.
And this is how the verse finally appeared in print:
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami clearly answered: When a potter’s wheel is moving and small ants located on that big wheel are moving with it, one can see that their motion is different from that of the wheel because they appear sometimes on one part of the wheel and sometimes on another. Similarly, the signs and constellations, with Sumeru and Dhruvaloka on their right, move with the wheel of time, and the antlike sun and other planets move with them. The sun and planets, however, are seen in different signs and constellations at different times. This indicates that their motion is different from that of the zodiac and the wheel of time itself.
In a lecture in 1973, Srila Prabhupada, on the occasion of his Vyasa-puja,15 expressed his gratitude for Pradyumna’s service. A volume of Srila Prabhupada’s edition of Sri Caitanya-caritamrita had just been published, and Srila Prabhupada humbly gave Pradyumna this credit for the book:
Our Panditji, Pradyumna, he has presented. Actually, he has worked for it. Although I have translated, . . . I am very much indebted to him that he very carefully edits and makes the thing very perfect. . . . Because mostly there is Sanskrit portion, my beloved disciple Pradyumna–I call him Pandit Mahasaya because he is actually doing the pandit’s work–so he edits and he works very hard.
For Srila Prabhupada’s final literary work–Srimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, Chapter Thirteen–the last portion was in fact an extraordinary collaboration between Srila Prabhupada and Pradyumna. While Srila Prabhupada lay prone on his bed, close to death, Pradyumna, having studied the Sanskrit verses and the Sanskrit commentaries Srila Prabhupada preferred, would read them to him in Sanskrit, in small portions. Some portions Pradyumna would translate and read out, some Srila Prabhupada himself would translate, and Srila Prabhupada would comment. The translations and commentary, recorded on tape, were then blended and edited together to become the text for the book.