My response to an article by Niscala Devi Dasi posted on oneiskcon.com:
As Govinda Dasi Mataji says posthumous editing must be done according to a specific protocol. It needs to be stated on the book that is was posthumously edited, by whom, what was edited, and the date.
The problem with the new gita is that it not only lacks these informations, but it also has Prabhupada’s signature as if it was his original version, even though he never asked for this new edition nor approved it.
Editing something in Prabhupada’s books can only be done if the following is verified:
1. The change must not violate the principle of arsa-prayoga.
2. The change must be done
- on the basis of a direct order, or
- the change must be shown to be permitted, and/or
- approved after it is done.
3. The change must not be needless (Prabhupada did not want needless changes)
4. We must be 100% sure (there must absolutely no doubt) that Prabhupada wanted this specific change (a principle of caution must be observed).
We know the proper protocol for posthumous editing never has been followed by BTT International. In addition to this: can anyone present just one change in Prabhupada’s books made posthumously that does not violate at least of the above points?
If just one change in the 1983 edition violates just one of the above points, then that change is offensive and a sign of disloyalty to Prabhupada. I have not seen one single change in the 1983 edition that was true to all the above points. I therefore consider the 1983 edition as being offensive and disloyal to Prabhupada.
Niscala Devi Dasi makes a few wrong observation. One of them is that the 1983 unauthorized edition IS THE FIRST DRAFT. That is wrong. There is a HUGE difference between the first drafts which can be seen here (http://bookchanges.com/bhagavad-gita-as-it-is-manuscript/) and the 1983 edition. Thousands of large and small differences.
Niscala Devi Dasi writes: “…sure enough, the editor was just changing it back to the original draft, written by Srila Prabhupada.”
This is also not correct. There are certainly places were BBT International have not changed back to the first drafts. For example, the word eternal have been taking out of verse 2.18, even though Prabhupada referred back to this word in his lectures in this specific verse. There are several such examples. Also, Prabhupada never asked the editors to go back to the drafts and use these to edit his gita again. When he approved the 1972 edition of the gita he called it “The Complete Edition” and “The original manuscript” which shows that all previously made draft were now discarded as material to be used in the book – at least without his instruction, permission or later approvel (none of which were ever given except 2-3 example like cattle raising to cow protection).
So to change the 1972 “Complete Edition” back to the so called “original manuscripts” which are actually only drafts is to override thousands of editorial decisions and approvals made by Prabhupada. Remember that it was also Prabhupada’s editorial decision to use Hayagriva as editor. So to override Hayagriva’s decisions (many of which were made in close consultation with Prabhupada and the rest approved by Prabhupada before publishing) is also to override Prabhupada’s editorial decisions.
Read more about fallacy of going back to the first drafts here.
Niscala Devi Dasi: “…the revised edition should be available as an option.”
I guess we do not really know that. Shouldn’t Prabhupada be the final decision-maker on this? Did Prabhupada want his first drafts published like this (yes, no, maybe?)? Did he want another book explaining all the faults in his 1972 edition? (yes, no, maybe?) Or did he prefer us to stick to the arsa-prayoga principle and simply overlook the transcendental faults due to our love for Prabhupada as our eternal well-wisher and master? (yes, no, maybe?) It’s all guesswork – and we ought not make editorial decisions based on guesswork. Why not just read the 1972 edition which Prabhupada approved, loved and lectured from for 5,5 years and make progress in spiritual life without getting entangled in finding faults with the Sampradaya Acarya.
There is more to say, but these were my main points!
Attempting to serve the vaisnavas,
Ajit Krishna Dasa