About two years ago I found myself at yet another academic conference, perhaps one of the annual American Academy of Religion meetings (after a while, they all seem to merge). There I sat, with David Haberman and Vasudha Narayanan—two scholars and friends for whom I have the utmost respect and affection—planning future issues of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Both scholars quickly seized upon an exciting idea for a possible volume: A "short translations" issue.
Departing from a long-heldiVS tradition, this would not be an issue with a solitary theme. Rather, scholars would here have opportunity to publish translations that may not be long enough to warrant a separate volume. As we spoke about the possible contributors and texts that might work their way into such an issue, I made certain that both my co-planners knew that they, too, would be called upon to contribute. They agreed, and that initial Conversation has now blossomed into the volume you hold in your hands.
We begin with Brian Hatcher, who translates a short poem using "toenail-to-topknot" imagery—a common device among devotional poets in India—to depict the form of God (Vishnu, or the Majestic form of Krishna) so familiar to Vaishnavas. After this, we present David flaberman's paper on chalisa ("forty verses") as a genre, popularized by the Hanuinan-ehat isa and other, similar verses in glorification of well-known deities. Haberman chooses the forty verses about Mount Govardhana known to Vaishnavas of Vraja as exemplary of the chalisa technique, and offers it to us here for the first time in English. This leads to a brief look at the Uddhava Cita by Edwin Bryant. I say "a brief look" because the Uddhava Gila actually takes up most of the Eleventh. Book of the BM' gavata Purana, which is comprised of many chapters and literally hundreds of verses. Bryant here translates only one of these chapters, but it is a noteworthy one: It includes the final instructions of Lord Krishna before leaving the mortal world.