Although he was due to depart in mid-afternoon, Prabhupada decided to answer a long letter from Sumati Morarji, the owner of Scindia Shipping and patron of Srila Prabhupada's first voyage to the West. She expressed considerable dissatisfaction with a recently published article in Back to Godhead, Vol. 10.8, which summarized a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave about the qualifications of a guru. In it he referred to the exchange where Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu criticized Sri Vallabhacarya for claiming that a commentary he had written on Srimad-Bhagavatam was actually better than that of the ancient commentator Srila Sridhara Svami. Since Sumati Morarji is a devotee in the Vallabhacarya sampradaya, she expressed shock and pain to read the article. She felt Srila Prabhupada's comments were provocative and highly objectionable. "I had a firm belief in your mission of spreading the message of Shri Krishna all over the world, but reading the above extract of your lecture I was very much disappointed since therein you attempted to portray an incorrect image of Shri Vallabhacharya, based on hear says. Time has been changing and when we present the image of our ancient Acharyas, to the public today, great responsibility rests in us in preserving their greatness and not in tarnishing them.... " "Every Acharya is great in his own way and no Acharya is greater than another. Each had come to this world to perform one's duties and every Acharya has done so in the best possible way." She was disturbed enough that she said she could give wide and adverse publicity against ISKCON, but she did not feel that that would serve anyone's interest. She ended with a request that things could be amicably resolved."I sincerely trust that your goodself will take my observations in the proper perspective and spirit and publish your clarifications with a view to remove any misunderstanding which may have been created in the minds of the readers of Back to Godhead."
Concerned that Sumati Morarji not carry any misunderstandings of his statements Srila Prabhupada sent her a lengthy reply. He began by saying he was sorry to hear that she was agitated by the BTG article. He explained that his editors did not know the principle of satyam bruyat priyam bruyat, that in the material world only palatable truths should be spoken, and unpalatable truths should be carefully avoided. Nevertheless, he confirmed the fact of the incident as related in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. He explained that just as she was irritated by criticism of Vallabhacarya, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was also agitated by Vallabhacarya's criticism of Sridhara Svami, who was accepted as the original commentator of the Srimad-Bhagavatam long before Lord Caitanya's day. "Perhaps you know that there is an edition of the Srimad-Bhagavatam by Krsna Sankar Sastri 'abhinavah sukah' Vedantacarya, Sahitya-tirtha, sribhagavata-sudhanidhi, from Ahmedabad. In his book he has given almost all the important commentaries on the Bhagavatam as follows: 1. Sridhar Svami 2. Sri Vamsidhara 3. Sri Gangasahaya 4. Srimad Viraraghavacarya 5. Srimad Vijayadhvaja Tirtha 6. Srimad Jiva Gosvami 7. Srimad Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura 8. Srimad Sukadeva 9. Gosvami Sri-giridharalal (Vallabhacarya Sampradaya) 10. Sri Bhagavat-prasadacarya, etc ... Among all commentaries, Sridhar Svami's is given the first position. This parampara has existed for a very long time." Srila Prabhupada gave evidence that although this system was accepted in Lord Caitanya's time, Sri Vallabhacarya violated it by not accepting Sridhara Swami's commentary as preeminent. "I am enclosing herewith some photocopies of the important verses from the original book Caitanya Caritamrta that specifically deal with the subject matter. These verses are from Antya lila, Chapter 7, entitled 'Lord Caitanya meets Vallabha Bhatta'. I would like to draw your attention to verse 113 on page 55 where Vallabha Bhatta says: 'In my commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam,' he said, 'I have refuted the explanations of Sridhar Svami. I cannot accept his explanations.'" "Moreover, verse 114 states: 'Whatever Sridhar Svami reads he explains according the circumstances. Therefore he is inconsistent in his explanations and cannot be accepted as an authority.'" "Vallabha Bhatta's declaration certainly agitated Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Consequently, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu remarked sarcastically that He considered that anyone who did not accept the svami (or Sridhar Svami) as an authority was a prostitute. Prabhu hasi kahe; but he smiled and said this jokingly, because they were friends." "Although this point is very controversial, it is not based on hearsay, as you have stated, but it is authoritatively documented by the Caitanya Caritamrta. As you have written in a friendly spirit, I do not wish to discuss this point further. If you will kindly take a little trouble to read this chapter 'Lord Caitanya meets Vallabha Bhatta' you will understand the whole situation. Actually Vallabha Bhatta should not have criticized Sridhar Svami, because even now Sridhar Svami is very respected. Even authorities like Sri Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura mention in their commentaries, svami caranat, as we have learned it from the lotus feet of Sridhar Svami. So when Vallabha Bhatta criticized Sridhar Svami, Caitanya Mahaprabhu criticized Vallabha Bhatta strongly. This is a fact, but this does not mean that Vallabha Bhatta and Caitanya Mahaprabhu were inimical. Vallabha Bhatta honored Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as a superior. Sometimes Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would chastise Vallabha Bhatta and sometimes He would favor him, because this was their relationship. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would never refuse the occasional invitations of Vallabha Bhatta. " "Everything will become clear if you kindly read this chapter with attention. For example, we see that two lawyers in the courtroom may fight vigorously about a law point, but upon returning to the law library, they talk and embrace like friends. So you should always remember that we have no ill feelings towards Vallabha Bhattacarya. We have full respect for him, so there is no harm if these facts are discussed in the society of devotees. Devotees always humbly offer respect to everyone, but when there is a discussion on a point of sastra, they do not observe the usual etiquette, satyam bruyat priyam bruyat. They speak only the satyam, although it may not necessarily be priyam." "I hope you will understand the whole situation. If you still have any doubts, I shall be glad to hear from you and shall try to satisfy you to the best of my ability. I am presently not in very good health, nonetheless I hope this meets you well." Prabhupada was not happy that the editors of BTG had printed a controversial topic and said they should be more careful. He said they should be more discreet in what they publish and not disturb people who are friends of ISKCON. He explained that many of our life members in Bombay are followers also of Vallabhacarya."