This is a key conversation in relation to the editing and publishing of Prabhupada’s books. Many points from it have been debated, and many future posts on this blog will no doubt refer and discuss points from it. So here we bring the complete conversation as a reference.
Prabhupada: Where are others?
Tamala Krsna: Shall I get other people? Satadhanya Maharaja? (long pause)
Prabhupada: That… Find this verse, munayah sadhu prsto ‘ham… [SB 1.2.5].
Tamala Krsna: There’s no index. It’s not a new Bhagavatam. There’s no index in this Bhagavatam. Munayah sadhu…? “The Effects of Kali-yuga” chapter? Is that the verse, about the effects of Kali-yuga? No. (background talking, looking for verse)
munayah sadhu prsto ‘ham
yat krtah krsna-samprasno
“munayah — of the sages; sadhu — this is relevant; prstah — questioned; aham…”
Prabhupada: No? What is that? Sadhu? What is that? Munayah?
Tamala Krsna: Says, “sadhu — this is relevant.”
Tamala Krsna: That’s what it’s translated as, “this is relevant.” May be a mistake.
Devotee (1): It’s a mistake.
Tamala Krsna: “Munayah — of the sages; sadhu — this is relevant…”
Prabhupada: The nonsense, they are… They are correcting my trans… Rascal. Who has done this? Munayah is addressing all these munis.
Tamala Krsna: It’s addressing the munis?
Tamala Krsna: Sadhus, great sages.
Prabhupada: Yes. Sadhu means they are very pure. What can be done if it goes there and these rascals becomes Sanskrit scholar and do everything nonsense? One Sanskrit scholar strayed, that rascal… He take… What is his…? Saci-suta? Saci-sandana?
Tamala Krsna: Jaya-sacinandana?
Prabhupada: And they are maintaining them. Different meaning.
Tamala Krsna: “Bhavadbhih — by all of you; loka — the world; mangalam — welfare; yat — because; krtah — made; krsna — the Personality of Godhead; samprasnah — relevant question; yena — by which; atma — self; suprasidati — completely pleased.” Translation: “O sages…”
Prabhupada: Now here is “O sages,” and the word meaning is “of the munis.” Just see. Such a rascal Sanskrit scholar. Here it is addressed, sambodhana, and they touch(?) it — “munayah — of the munis.” It is very risky to give to them for editorial direction. Little learning is dangerous. However proper Sanskrit scholar, little learning, dangerous. Immediately they become very big scholars, high salaried, and write all nonsense. Who they are? (pause) Then?
Tamala Krsna: “O sages, I have been…”
Prabhupada: No, they cannot be reliable. They can do more harm. Just see here the fun(?).
Tamala Krsna: Yeah. We’re finding out in the Fifth Canto that there’re words that are so off, the meaning is completely changed, completely changed. I mean, in the three chapters that we read, Bhakti-prema Maharaja made at least half a dozen corrections of serious corrections. They had changed the meaning.
Svarupa Damodara: Some of the mistakes in the numbers, the figures.
Tamala Krsna: Oh, yeah, they’re all…
Prabhupada: So how they can be reliable, so-called, this way…? (background whispering) Hm?
Yasoda-nandana: In the Gurukula we were teaching Isopanisad class to the children. So we took… [break] …Prabhupada and the words which the recent edition of the Press is wrong. Many changes were brought. They were trying to make better English, but sometimes, to make better English, I think they were making philosophical mistakes also. There is no so much need of making so much better English. Your English is sufficient. It is very clear, very simple. We have caught over 125 changes. They’re changing so many things. We are wondering if this is necessary. I will show you today. I have kept the book.
Prabhupada: I know that these rascals are doing. What can be done? How they can be relied on?
Svarupa Damodara: It’s not the responsibility of the BBT trustee, to see these things don’t change without Prabhupada’s sanction?
Prabhupada: And Ramesvara is indulging this. The great rascal is that Jagannatha? He’s there in Los Angeles.
Tamala Krsna: Jagannatha dasa?
Indian devotee (2): Jagannatha-suta.
Tamala Krsna: No…
Prabhupada: And the one rascal is gone.
Tamala Krsna: Nitai.
Prabhupada: It is starting. What can I do? These cannot… These rascals cannot be educated. Dangerous. Little learning, dangerous. So how to correct? The leader of these dangerous-Radha-vallabha.
Tamala Krsna: Radha-vallabha?
Prabhupada: Hm. He’s a dangerous, who maintains these rascal with this work. He’ll always have questions and alteration. That is his business. That is American business. They take that always. What can I do? Ultimate, it goes for editorial. They make changes, such changes.
Tamala Krsna: Your original work that you’re doing now, that is edited by Jayadvaita. That’s the first editing.
Prabhupada: He is good.
Tamala Krsna: He is good. But then, after they print the books, they’re going over. So when they reprint…
Prabhupada: So how to check this? How to stop this?
Tamala Krsna: They should not make any changes without consulting Jayadvaita.
Prabhupada: But they are doing without any authority.
Svarupa Damodara: I think we should make whole survey, all books already printed, before printing the next batch and check any mistakes so that it should be all corrected. Otherwise, if the scholars find out that there are so many mistakes in the books, then the quality and the appreciation will be reduced.
Svarupa Damodara: Yes. We find so far that they are appreciating so much within the scholarly circle, and we want to maintain that actually.
Prabhupada: Very serious feature. It is not possible for me to check, and they are doing all nonsense, freedom. (pause)
Yasoda-nandana: Jaya Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: What to do?
Tamala Krsna: I think Svarupa Damodara’s point, that all the books should now be checked before they’re reprinted again… And they have to be checked not by some so-called learned Sanskrit man but by a learned devotee. Just like you always favored Jayadvaita because his Krsna consciousness…
Prabhupada: Jayadvaita, Satsvarupa…
Yasoda-nandana: Bhakti-prema, Satsvarupa is there.
Tamala Krsna: So Bhakti-prema… That’s a good solution.
Tamala Krsna: You know, the real point is that the Sanskrit is often not translated properly in the translation, what Nitai and others have done.
Prabhupada: He’s a rascal. That’s… He’s finding out guru and job for filling the belly. That is the latest news.
Tamala Krsna: What is he doing?
Prabhupada: To find out some job to fill up the belly. Otherwise he’ll starve if he doesn’t get any job. And he’s finding out guru. Job-guru. Now do the needful. Otherwise everything will be spoiled. These rascal editorial… That Easy Journey, original, this (indistinct) Hayagriva has changed so many things.
Tamala Krsna: He actually took out the whole part about their going to the moon being childish. He deleted the whole section.
Yasoda-nandana: Also in the Bhagavatam, where Prabhupada was talking about Lord Buddha… You mentioned that if the followers of Lord Buddha do not close the slaughterhouse, there is no meaning to such a caricature. That word was very nice. But in new book that word is not there any more. They have pulled the word. The meaning of the word is not… So many times.
Prabhupada: It is very serious situation. Ramesvara is in direct…
Svarupa Damodara: I think they’re working too independently without consulting properly.
Yasoda-nandana: Sometimes they appeal that “We can make better English,” so they change like that, just like in the case of Isopanisad. There are over a hundred changes. So where is the need? Your words are sufficient. The potency is there. When they change, it is something else.
Svarupa Damodara: That’s actually a very dangerous mentality.
Yasoda-nandana: What is it going to be in five years? It’s going to be a different book.
Prabhupada: So you… What you are going… It is very serious situation. You write one letter that “Why you have made so many changes?” And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that “This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim.” The next printing should be again to the original way.
Tamala Krsna: They should have a board of Satsvarupa and Jayadvaita.
Tamala Krsna: Those two men are both in Los Angeles now.
Prabhupada: So write them immediately that “The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party.”
Tamala Krsna: Sometimes there’s a fear that some word will be unpopular, and on account of desire to gain popularity or acceptance, they lessen the strength of the word. They change the word. They choose a word which is more so-called acceptable.
Svarupa Damodara: Same thing is with the Back to Godhead. Just publish some photo, try to change so many things in order to make it popularized. They have been doing that even with the philosophy. (pause)
Satadhanya: I remember when Ramesvara was here, he had mentioned that in one article you had denounced the Christians strongly, so he said he left one part out because he was afraid there would be a bad reaction from the Christians in America.
Prabhupada: That is possible. That is possible. He should be careful. Then?
Tamala Krsna: I think in addition to Satsvarupa and Jayadvaita checking the English, that Bhakti-prema Maharaja has to check all the Sanskrit of all of the books… He’s translating now, so as he’s translating, he can check. He’s going, starting from the First Canto.
Svarupa Damodara: I think this is very appropriate, because checking English doesn’t have any meaning without checking the Sanskrit, the original.
Tamala Krsna: There was one verse in the Fifth Canto. From the way that they translated it, there was no way that anyone could possibly have understood what the verse meant. I mean, it was made unintelligible by the translation. So we were reading. Finally Bhakti-prema says, “Wait a minute. This translation is wrong. They have edited an extra statement here that is not there, and it makes it completely not understandable.” Then suddenly, when he corrected the Sanskrit, it was easy to understand. It was very clear.
Prabhupada: So what to do?
Tamala Krsna: So I think we just have to be slow but sure. We have to go over all of the books and make sure that they’re perfect before they’re printed again. Not be in such a rush, print, print, and print all nonsense.
Svarupa Damodara: One time I had a strong talk with Ramesvara Maharaja about our article for printing in the Back to Godhead. I didn’t want them to be printed in Back to Godhead because they made so many changes…
Prabhupada: Oh, he has dared to change yours also?
Svarupa Damodara: Oh, yes. They change so many things in our article. And it was on the telephone. I was speaking to him in Atlanta from Los Angeles. And I told him that “This article should not be printed because they have made so many changes.” And I didn’t like that. Then they answered that “It has already been offset, and BBT policy is always to be rushing. It’s always BBT policy.” Then I told him that “If you sacrifice quality on the strength of rushing, then it is your business, but that’s not my way, so please don’t print it.” But in any case, they have printed anyway that article. And we all had a bad reaction.
Prabhupada: So you bring this to Satsvarupa. They cannot change anything.
Tamala Krsna: (indistinct)
Svarupa Damodara: So we stopped writing article for Back to Godhead since then because…
Tamala Krsna: Now, I think, with Satsvarupa there, you won’t have that problem of changing like that. He wrote a letter saying that one of his first things is that he will not change what is given there unless… He will not make changes.
Svarupa Damodara: No, if they consult us, even with changing, that’s all right. But they just edit here and there and cut it out, certain things. They’re changing the whole meaning. And that makes sometimes nonsense instead of making sense.
Prabhupada: So on the whole, these dangerous things are going on. How to check it?
Tamala Krsna: There has to be strong philosophical leaders who can check this, like Satsvarupa and Jayadvaita.
Tamala Krsna: They have to also be included in the decisions of the BBT. It can’t simply be that managers make decisions.
Prabhupada: Yes. Without their sanction, there will be… Let them… These all rascals…
Svarupa Damodara: One time in that article they made a change. Saying that, the whole Vaisnava philosophy became Mayavadi in that scientific article. So I told them that “You are better than…, a better (indistinct).” It all become Mayavadi, so it became all mad. That is why I strongly told them that “This shouldn’t be the way. If you want to change, you have to consult with those who are writers.”
Prabhupada: So they are doing very freely and dangerously. And this rascal is always after change, Radha-vallabha. He’s a great rascal. (pause) Read.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Conversation, “Rascal Editors,” and Morning Talk — June 22, 1977, Vrndavana