Removing “eternal” from Bhagavad-gita As It Is (2.30)

This article was sent to the BBT International the 20th Oct. 2013. We asked them to comment on the points raised. So far we have not received any reply.

By Ajit Krishna Dasa

Bg 2.30 – original and authorized 1972-edition:

“O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature.”

Bg 2.30 – unauthorized 1983 BBT International edition:

“O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being.”

Why has the word “eternal” been removed? What does Prabhupada say? Here are something from his lectures:

“O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature.”

Prabhupada: Dehi nityam avadhyo ‘yam dehe sarvasya bharata. Dehe, dehe means body, within the body. This topic began, dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara. Deha, dehi. Dehi means one who possesses the body. Just like guni. Asthate in prata. The grammatical. Guna, in, deha, in, in prata. Dehin sabda. So the nominative case of dehin sabda is dehi. Dehi nityam, eternal. In so many ways, Krsna has explained. Nityam, eternal. Indestructible, immutable. It does not take birth, it does not die, it is always, constantly the same. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. In this way, again he says nityam, eternal. (730831BG.LON)

Another lecture:

Devotee: 30: “O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature [Bg. 2.30].”

Prabhupada: Now, after putting forward all definitions and arguments from different angles of vision, of different philosophers, thesis, now Krsna concludes, “My dear Arjuna, take it for certain that the soul within is eternal.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gita 2.27-38 — Los Angeles, December 11, 1968

Even in Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhupada writes that BG 2.30 confirm the eternality of the soul:

“The living entity is unborn and eternal, and as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (2.30),…”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.7.49

Then why take “eternal” out the of the Bhagavad-gita, As It Is?

BBTI attempts to give this justification:

“The words “is eternal” (First Edition) do not appear in Srila Prabhupada’s original manuscript. The word nityam here means “eternally” — or, as Srila Prabhupada gives it, “always.” It modifies avadhyah. Thus, “always unfit for being slain.” Putting that negatively, as the original editor chose to do, the “always” becomes “never” — “he can never be slain.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => GRV: 2.31: “Editing varnasrama-dharma out of the books?

There a quite some problems with this proposed justification:

  • We do not know what Hayagriva Prabhu and Prabhupada agreed upon while carefully working together on the Bhagavad-gita. Prabhupada might have wanted the word “eternal” to be there. We do not know and therefore we can’t change anything. Why? Because we can’t change in Prabhupada’s books based on “maybe”, “perhaps”, “I think” etc.) This “principle of caution” ought to implemented in ALL editing work.
  • Prabhupada himself used the word “nityam” in lectures and said that meant that the soul is eternal. In one of the above lectures Prabhupada even says that “Krsna concludes, “My dear Arjuna, take it for certain that the soul within is eternal.” So Krishna says in BG 2.30 that the soul is eternal. But BBT International thinks otherwise and overrides Prabhupada’s own words and corrects his sanskrit. Prabhupada was very concerned with better knowing disciples that had become “learned” in sanskrit:

“…a little learning is dangerous, especially for the Westerners. I am practically seeing that as soon as they begin to learn a little Sanskrit immediately they feel that they have become more than their guru and then the policy is kill guru and be killed himself.” (from a letter to Dixit das on 18 Sep 1976)

  • The result of these changes and their proposed justification will make it seem – for new devotees and scholars – that Prabhupada’s sanskrit was not good enough. Imagine that a new bhakta or bhaktin heard or read one of the above lectures by Prabhupada were he says that nityam in BG 2.30 means the soul is eternal. And then the new bhakta or bhaktin later reads that this is actually not correct sanskrit, and now the BBT International has corrected it by removing it from the translation. What kind of impression will this new bhakta or bhaktin get of Prabhupada and his knowledge of sanskrit? Will it increase their respect for him? Of course not! What will it say about the way we honor the acaryas in our sampradaya? Is this arsa-prayoga – to respect the authoritative sages?

4 thoughts on “Removing “eternal” from Bhagavad-gita As It Is (2.30)

  1. Please provide the BBT and GBC addresses. We will all write same question. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

  2. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    How nicely GBC is pretending to be the sincere follower of Prabhupada’s orders for so many years and anyone question them for anything wrong, they simply ignore them or call them blasfamer. How iskcon authorities are fooling new devotees who join such a nice institution built by a pure devotee. This is hypocrisy.

  3. Pingback: No Reply from ISKCON / BBT on Changes to Prabhupada’s Books | ISKCON & BBT Prabhupada Book Changes

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