Who’s counting? 541 verses changed

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By Krishna Kripa Devi Dasi (ACBSP) (Originally posted on adi-vani.org.)

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Original and authorized 1972 edition versus the unauthorized, changed 1983 edition

See the table below for the number changed in each chapter.

How many Bhagavad-gita As It Is verses were changed in the 1983 revised edition?  Over three-fourths of them, 77% or 541 verses were changed out of 700 total.

Srila Prabhupada’s 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is, published by Macmillan Company, was compared with the BBT revision, first published in 1983.  Only the verses were examined.

In 21 verses (3%), only the spelling, punctuation or capitalization was changed, and the words were left intact.  In 520 verses (74%), words were removed, rearranged, or inserted.  In Chapter 17,  93% of the verses were changed.  See the table below for the number changed in each chapter.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Verses Changed in the BBT 1983 Revised Edition

Chapters 1 – 18:  541 verses out of 700 = 77% changed

Number of Verses Changed Per Chapter

Ch 1:   35 out of 46 = 76% changed;

Ch 2:   49 out of 72 = 68% changed;

Ch 3:   33 out of 43 = 77% changed;

Ch 4:   23 out of 42 = 55% changed;

Ch 5:   19 out of 29 = 66% changed;

Ch 6:   43 out of 47 = 91% changed;

Ch 7:   22 out of 30 = 73% changed;

Ch 8:   21 out of 28 = 75% changed;

Ch 9:   24 out of 34 = 71% changed;

Ch 10:  36 out of 42 = 86% changed;

Ch 11:  50 out of 55 = 91% changed;

Ch 12:  16 out of 20 = 80% changed;

Ch 13:  24 out of 35 = 69% changed;

Ch 14:  24 out of 27 = 89% changed;

Ch 15:  15 out of 20 = 75% changed;

Ch 16:  20 out of 24 = 83% changed;

Ch 17:  26 out of 28 = 93% changed;

Ch 18:  61 out of 78 = 78% changed

Jayadvaita Swami admits: There is no one original manuscript

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Excerpts regarding the so called “original manuscript” from an article by Govinda Dasi

govinda-dasiGovinda Dasi

“It is unreasonable to consider that Srila Prabhupada would intend to give up the results of two years of editing the book with Hayagriva and go backwards to the original manuscripts.”

“Jayadvaita Maharaja says that he changed the Bhagavad-gita to be more in keeping with the original manuscript.’ I question which manuscript, since nearly two years of editing by Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva had already taken place before Jayadvaita even joined the movement. There certainly were many working drafts and manuscripts in various stages of editing, since Srila Prabhupada spent many hours, weeks and months going over every detail of every single verse of the Gita with Hayagriva. Jayadvaita Maharaja confirmed this in the second Hawaii istagosthi meeting: there is no one original manuscript.’

A writer usually prepares several working drafts before the final draft is polished and sent to press. For example, I made several drafts of this letter, correcting spelling, grammar and style. The first drafts are in my trash bin. I am signing this, the final draft, for publication. If someone took an earlier draft out of my trash bin and published it, I would be greatly annoyed. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada’s signature is on the final draft of the complete Bhagavad-gita As It Is (completed in 1968 but not published until 1972), not on any so-called original manuscripts’ Jayadvaita Maharaja may possess. To assume that Srila Prabhupada was not watching over and scrutinizing this whole process is absurd. His books were most important to him. He knew both internally and externally what was going into his books, and he signed and sealed the work when it was completed to his satisfaction and ready to go to press.”

“Certainly, the few typos that slipped through needed Srila Prabhupada’s correction, but the scope of alterations in Jayadvaita Maharaja’s edited version is far broader. Jayadvaita Maharaja’s version of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita doesn’t just correct typos; it also succeeds in changing Srila Prabhupada’s mood, style and often, his meaning. Indeed, after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, the original Bhagavad-gita was rewritten to suit the taste of the editors, on the plea that it is closer to – in Jayadvaita Maharaja’s opinion – the original manuscript.’ But Jayadvaita Maharaja stated in the second book changes meeting in Hawaii that there were many original manuscripts’ of varying quality and content. There is no one original manuscript.’

In this case, any changes are really unreasonable, when you consider that Srila Prabhupada had the original manuscripts in hand, but chose to sign off on the edited version. Why didn’t he just choose to print one of those manuscripts? Why did he, instead, spend hundreds of hours with Hayagriva, editing his manuscript to flow beautifully in the English language? Moreover, why would Srila Prabhupada sign it and gift it to the world, if he intended that future editors would dig up some so-called original manuscripts’ and try to change it back to the original.’ It is unreasonable to consider that Srila Prabhupada would intend to give up the results of two years of editing the book with Hayagriva and go backwards to the original manuscripts.’”

“When Jayadvaita Maharaja presents his rationale for editing Srila Prabhupada ‘s Bhagavad-gita As It Is to the public, he quotes a few passages from Bhagavad-gita As It Is that are obviously confusing, and claims, “these need to be changed.” For example, he cites “planet of the trees” [Bg. 1972 edition 10.24 P] and “cattle raising” [Bg. 1972 edition 18.44 T]. He uses these isolated examples to justify his wholesale rewriting of the entire Gita. Perhaps no one would object if Jayadvaita Maharaja had noted those few changes authorized by Srila Prabhupada in footnotes or an addendum, instead of making sweeping, unauthorized editorial changes to virtually the entire book. If he feels there are confusing aspects, or as he himself is fond of putting it, “goofs” in Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, then these portions can be selected and clarified in a published addendum or series of footnotes without changing the meaning of any other part of the book.”

“Jayadvaita Maharaja has rewritten the whole book according to some manuscripts that he believes to be the original – and which Srila Prabhupada did not choose to print. Rather, in both 1968 and 1972 Srila Prabhupada chose to print the edited version, not a manuscript.

The overriding fact is that Srila Prabhupada never told Jayadvaita Maharaja or anyone else to edit his books after he left. I repeat, Srila Prabhupada never gave Jayadvaita Maharaja or anybody authority to edit or change his books after his departure. Instead, he said, “Print the books the original way.” By late 1976, he was acutely aware of the American disease’ of compulsively changing things, so he chose the safest route to protect his books: “NO CHANGES.””

In The Early Days (Govinda Dasi)

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Govinda Dasi

A number of devotees attended the recent (January 2003) series of meetings in Hawaii on the book changes. Jayadvaita Maharaja attended the first two meetings, and Nischintya Prabhu attended the third one (Jayadvaita Maharaja was out of town). I attended all three meetings and believe that much was accomplished. Many valuable points were gleaned from these sessions – both inspiring as well as grueling. These meetings are being transcribed, and are available on adi-vani.org for those who are interested.

We held the meetings in Srila Prabhupada’s room at New Navadvipa Dham, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Memorial Tirtha (the Honolulu ISKCON temple), where Srila Prabhupada lived, worked and translated his books. His presence is very strong at our Hawaii temple. We all prayed for Srila Prabhupada’s divine presence at these meetings, and humbly requested that he inspire us to reach understandings based on his transcendental viewpoints, rather than our own limited ones. In my heart, I feel that Srila Prabhupada has urged me to speak out on this issue. I usually do not get involved in controversial matters unless the issue is of great importance. And the issue of Srila Prabhupada’s books, in my opinion, is of paramount importance. I have had many realizations and wish to share them here.

It is unreasonable to consider that Srila Prabhupada would intend to give up the results of two years of editing the book with Hayagriva and go backwards to the original manuscripts.

First, it seems that Jayadvaita Maharaja takes this matter too personally.

Continue reading

Govinda Dasi replies: the REAL ISSUE regarding the book changes

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What follows is Govinda Dasi’s reply to the exchange between Brahmananda Prabhu and myself.

govinda-dasi

Dear Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. You have many good points; however, in order to come to agreement, the essential issue should be addressed here.

There will always be those who favor the posthumously edited edition, and there will always be those who favor the earlier edition that was read by Srila Prabhupada in classes, and in his lectures all over the world. Therefore, many people will present this perspective or that perspective, saying such things as “Rayarama was the best editor,” or “Hayagriva was the best editor, or “Jayadvaita Swami was the best editor,” and so on and on.

But this is NOT THE REAL ISSUE AT ALL.

THE REAL ISSUE IS the correct manner of posthumous editing–if it is to be done at all. Many people feel there should be NO posthumous editing. And many people believe there SHOULD BE posthumous editing to “correct various typos and grammatical problems.”

AGAIN, THIS ALSO IS NOT THE REAL ISSUE.

THE REAL ISSUE IS THAT IF INDEED THERE IS TO BE POSTHUMOUS EDITING, IT MUST BE DONE CORRECTLY, ACCORDING TO THE ACCEPTED PROTOCOL THAT IS ALREADY ESTABLISHED IN THE WORLD OF PUBLISHING.

Otherwise, Srila Prabhupada’s books are not considered to be authentic renditions of his writings, and are no longer acceptable to scholars. There are certain requirements for posthumous editing. These must be met.

And the BBT HAS NOT met those requirements in their posthumous editions.

The posthumously edition (editions) have not been correctly labeled according to the rules of publication. It is essential that any and all posthumous editions be dated and numbered, and that the editor (editors) names be prominently displayed on the cover and/or title page. There are other elements of proper protocol as well, and these can be easily accessed.

If everyone can come to understand this most essential point, there will be no conflict. Both editions can exist simultaneously, along with any and all future editions that may be done.

But they must be properly tagged with the editor’s name, date of the edition, and number of the edition, in order to gain any respect or credibility in the academic world. This is the accepted procedure which also clearly defines what material was printed during an author’s lifetime, and whatever was printed after his demise.

We cannot change these protocol according to our whims, or our preferences for this edition or that edition. To do so simply invalidates Srila Prabhupada’s books, and means they can be changed whimsically in the future. This puts his writings at risk for becoming like the edited Biblical texts–no one really knows which edition is which, or what the original one even says.

This matter can be settled once and for all, by having all posthumous editions follow the accepted protocol. Once this is done, there will no longer be any contentious issues. The edition that was printed during Srila Prabhupada’s lifetime will clearly be the original edition, and those editions that have been printed since his demise will be properly numbered and dated, and their various editors names will appear on the cover and/or title page.

Once this is done, people can choose the edition they prefer, and there will be no grounds for criticism. There will be no accusations of shabby, unprofessional presentations (as have been made by scholars) and no deceptiveness in the matter of book reviews written for the earlier edition. This correction will establish Srila Prabhupada’s books once again in the collegiate community, as they will honor the system used by scholars everywhere.

This is what needs to be corrected, once and for all.

Thank you for your time and efforts in this all important matter.

Your servant and sister,

Govinda dasi

Not back to “the original manuscript” (BG 13.3)

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This article was sent to the BBT International the 15th Oct. 2013. We asked them to comment on the points raised. So far we have not received any reply.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is (13.3)

The original manuscript:

bg-original-manuscript-13.3

The authorized and approved 1972 edition:

bg-original-1972-13.3

The translation from the 1972 edition was approved by Prabhupada, and we see how it follows the draft (the so called original manuscript) very nicely. But then something strange happens in the BBT International’s 1983 edition:

The BBT International’s 1983 edition:

bg-1983-edition-13.3

We can see that the BBT International have changed the word “owner” to “knower” in the second line. Why? Searching the BBT International’s website and the internet we have found no information on why this change was made.

Questions to the BBT International:

Before you changed Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is verse 13.3…

  • Did you know that Prabhupada approved the galley proofs / the blueprint of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and according to Brahmananda Das (at that time swami) Prabhupada read the complete galley proofs before approving them to be sent to MacMillan to be used for printing what became the original and authorized 1972 edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is?
  • Did you know that Prabhupada lectured many times on BG 13.3, and that he did not object to the word “owner” in the translation? Did you know he actually reconfirmed the word “owner” by using it in these lectures?

Pusta Krsna:

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama

Translation: “O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.”

Prabhupada: That is greatness. This is the distinction. God is great. I know about my body, you know about your body, but God knows about your body and my body and his body and every… That is greatness. (Evening Darsana — July 6, 1976, Washington, D.C.)

Hari-sauri:

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama
[Bg. 13.3]

Prabhupada: Ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam yat taj jnanam matam mama. English?

Hari-sauri: “O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.”

Prabhupada: First of all knowledge means ksetra-ksetrajna. The body is the field of activity. You are acting, I am also acting, everyone is acting — according to the body. But the actor is called ksetrajna. Just like a cultivator is tilling the land, his own, and the tiller is cultivator. Similarly, this body is an analogy of this field, and we are tilling. So Krsna says that “I am also one of the tillers.” Just like the tenant and the landlord. In an apartment house, the tenant is occupier of a certain house, certain apartment, but the landlord is the owner of the whole house. So God says “I am also ksetrajna — but for all the buildings.” Everything that is there, all planets, all, everywhere. That is His all-pervasiveness. I am the proprietor of this body, owner of this body, but God is proprietor of all the bodies. In this way that is explained.” (Room Conversation with George Gullen, President of Wayne State University — June 15, 1976, Detroit)

“So people are taking this, that “I am this body.” That is ignorance. If they know, if one knows that “I am not this body; I am proprietor of this body, I’ll have to work with this body for my future,” then that is knowledge. Etad yo vetti ksetra-jna, knower, one who knows. That is the beginning of knowledge. Then Krsna says,

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetra-jnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama
[Bg. 13.3]

Krsna is giving His opinion, the Supreme Authority, that “If you want to know, if you want to be in knowledge, this is knowledge.” What is that? “That this body, you are not this body; you are the owner of the body. And you should know also that the there is another person. As you are a person, you are owner of this body, there is another person.” Who is that? “That is I am.” Krsna says. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi: “I am also owner of this body.” Actually Krsna is the owner of the body. Just like in a, in an apartment, there is the occupier and the landlord…Similarly, Krsna is the real owner of this body because Krsna has given me this body just to occupy it and work. So far. Not that I am the actual proprietor of this body.” (As the body is our field for cultivating Krsna conscious ness, so the land is our field for cultivating food…Vedic civilization means every man should produce his own food. More precise reference to be added soon)

Devotee: “O scion of Bharata, you should also understand that I am also the knower in all bodies and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is my opinion.”

Prabhupada: So Arjuna inquired from Krsna six things: ksetra, ksetrajna, prakrti, purusa, jnanam, jneyam. What is knowledge and what is the object of knowledge. (Bhagavad-gita 13.3 — Paris, August 11, 1973)

Nitai: Translation: “O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.”

Prabhupada:

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetra-jnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama
[Bg. 13.3]

Jnanam, knowledge. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna is explaining about knowledge. People are being educated all over the world for advancement of knowledge. Knowledge is meant for the human being, not for the cats and dogs. Therefore, for human being, there are so many universities, schools, colleges, institutions, laws. There are so many things (indistinct) to advance knowledge is to understand “Who am I?” If I do not know who am I, then what is the meaning of my advancement of knowledge? Generally, despite so many universities all over the world, people are going on in the concept of this body, “I am this body.” “I am Indian,” “I am American,” “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim.” So everyone is identifying himself with this material body. Then where is the advancement of knowledge? Here Krsna says, ksetra-ksetra-jnayor jnanam yad jnanam, taj jnanam matam mama. The ksetra, this body, and the owner of the body… I am not this body, I am the owner of this body. This is jnanam. (Bhagavad-gita 13.3 — Hyderabad, April 19, 1974)

  • Did you know that Prabhupada used the words “knower”, “owner”, “occupier” and “proprietor” many times for both the soul and Krishna? And many times when referring specifically to BG 13.3? And did you know that Prabhupada often translated ksetra-jna as both the “knower of the body”, “owner of the body”, “possessor of the body” and “proprietor of the body”?

“But there is another living being. He is supreme living being, Krsna. He says that “I know everything of everyone’s body.” Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. This is the verse. Ksetra-jna means the knower of the body. You are individual knower of your body; I am knower individually of my body.” (Lecture at Boys’ School — Sydney, May 12, 1971)

“In Bhagavad-gita it is said, ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. Everything is there. The ksetra-jna means the possessor of this ksetra, body, the owner or occupier.” (Bhagavad-gita 7.3 — London, March 11, 1975)

The ksetra jna, the owner of the body, is also called the khaga, the living entity. Within the body there are two such ksetra jnas — the individual soul and the Supersoul. The individual soul is the owner of his individual body, but the Supersoul is present within the bodies of all living entities.” (SB 10.2.27)

“In another place, Krsna says this dehi or ksetra-jna, the owner of the body is there, and there is another ksetra-jna, another owner. That is Krsna. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. As the individual soul is there within the body, similarly, the Supersoul, Krsna, is also there.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.30 — London, August 31, 1973)

“In another place also Krsna says ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. The question of the ksetra-jna, the owner of the body and the body. In this Chapter, in the Thirteenth Chapter, it is discussed. So in that chapter Krsna says that “I am also one of the owner of the body,…”” (Bhagavad-gita 9.3 — Toronto, June 20, 1976)

“In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, ksetrah ksetra-jnah. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. Ksetra-jna means the proprietor of the ksetra, this body. Body is called ksetra. So I am proprietor.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.4 — Bombay, November 4, 1974)

(For more references please search the Vedabase/folio for these key words in relation to BG. 13.3. There are too many examples to include them all here).

The BBT International can’t justify this change from “owner” to “knower” in BG 13.3 by referring to the so called original manuscript, Prabhupada’s desires, to faulty sanskrit translation, to meaning, to spelling or to grammar.

Then how will they justify it?

A little learning is dangerous

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According to Satsvarupa Goswami in his Prabhupada Lilamrita Srila Prabhupada said arsha-prayoga establishing a no change policy:

But one day while sitting in the garden with Tamala Krsna, Svarupa Damodara, and others, Srila Prabhupada became very disturbed when he detected a mistake in one of his already printed books. Tamala Krsna was reading aloud a verse from the First Canto which began, “Munayah sadhu prsto ‘ham.” Srila Prabhupada had him read the synonyms.

Tamala Krsna read: “munayah-O sages; sadhu-this is relevant; prstah-questioned… ”

“Sadhu?” asked Srila Prabhupada. Thus he uncovered a thoughtless mistake made by the Sanskrit editors. Sadhu means “devotee,” not “this is relevant.” Srila Prabhupada became very angry and denounced the “rascal Sanskrit scholars.” “A little learning,” he said “is dangerous. Immediately they think they have become big scholar, thinking, “I shall arrange!’ And then they write all nonsense.” He continued speaking about the mistake for half an hour. He was disturbed. He ordered Tamala Krsna to write at once to the BBT and stop these speculations by his disciples-changing his books in the name of editing The devotees were startled to see Prabhupada so angry; he was supposed to be peacefully relishing a Srimad-Bhagavatam reading here in his garden. Such a change was very serious, he said, because it changed the meaning. “Even if the authorized acaryas would make a mistake,” he said, “it would not be changed. This is arsa-prayoga. In this way the acaryas are honored.” (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, chapter 52 “I Have Done My Part”)

Arsha Prayoga – Part IV

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By Locanananda Dasa (pasted from his blog)

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For those who saw the Hare Krishna movement spread from city to city and from country to country, it was clear that the original version of Srila Prabhupada’s books was full of spiritual potency and did not require to be changed in any way for his words to act upon the hearts of the conditioned souls.

The question as to whether the writings of the Acharya may or may not be revised by his disciples after his disappearance is answered by the rule of arsha-prayoga.

This principle states that one should not see mistakes in what the spiritual master has written or think that his writings may be changed to make them more effective or politically correct. To preserve his teachings in their originally published form is the way by which the Acharya is honored, and to do otherwise is to dishonor him. That is the rule of arsha-prayoga, a principle that devoted followers of a bona fide spiritual master must adhere to without deviation.

The rationale for changing Srila Prabhupada’s books was based on a series of false arguments, many of which were defeated by Srila Prabhupada himself as this article will show. To justify their actions, the BBT editors created the illusion that Srila Prabhupada’s books were defective and in need of extensive editing even though they knew His Divine Grace had never authorized anyone to revise his books after his disappearance. Subsequent to his departure, they conveniently overlooked the principle of arsha-prayoga and proceeded to do exactly what Vaishnava tradition strictly prohibits.

It was by the distribution of transcendental literature that Srila Prabhupada hoped to introduce Krishna consciousness to people everywhere. For those who saw the movement spread from city to city and from country to country, it was clear that the original version of Srila Prabhupada’s books was full of spiritual potency and did not require to be changed in any way for his words to act upon the hearts of the conditioned souls. Srila Prabhupada himself never doubted that his books would bring about a revolution in consciousness and induce people throughout the world to take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His transcendental vision was revealed in the following letters, all of which refer to the original version of his books.

“I am glad to learn that you are having nice success in placing my books in the libraries and in schools and colleges…. I am sure that this will revolutionize the thinking of the thoughtful men of your country as well as the students and professors, and the ultimate end will be to save the world from the clutches of material illusory activities which is now causing havoc everywhere.” (Letter to Karandhara dated 9-13-70)

“If we introduce these books in all of the bookstores, schools, colleges, libraries and everyone’s home, our religion will be the only religion in the world very soon.” (Letter to Krishna Bamini dated 1-4-72)

“We have got a great mission to fulfill, and these books and magazines are the torchbearers of Truth which can save the world.” (Letter to Ksirodakasayi dated 1-3-72)
Srila Prabhupada’s books, then, should be thought of as a permanent legacy to be embraced and shared by devotees everywhere. Their purpose is to establish religious principles and enlighten human society. They were Srila Prabhupada’s gift to the world and proof of his empowerment by Krishna. There was no reason, therefore, for His Divine Grace to recommend that his books be further revised. He was of the opinion that another round of editing would not be necessary for his literatures to deliver the world from the darkest regions of ignorance.

Our guideline in Krishna consciousness is that the only duty of the disciple is to faithfully execute the order of the bona fide spiritual master. If a disagreement arises over how to best serve the guru, the issue can generally be resolved by following the course of action chalked out by the spiritual master himself through direct instructions to his followers. In a room conversation that took place in Paris in 1976, Srila Prabhupada elaborated on this point, and his explanation soundly defeats virtually all of the arguments presented in favor of changing his books.

Excerpt from a room conversation taking place in Paris, France on August 5, 1976

HARI-SAURI: Sometimes there’s some discrepancy, two parties, that may both want to serve but they have different ways, different ideas how to execute the same order, so there may be some disagreement.

PRABHUPADA: Service means you must take order from the master. Otherwise, it is mental concoction. Actually the servant requests, “How can I serve you?” So when the master orders, “You serve me like this,” then you do that, that is service. And if you manufacture your service, that is not service. That is your sense gratification. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. You have to see how he is pleased. Now if he wants a glass of water and if you bring a nice glass of milk, you can say, “Milk is better than water. You take it.” That is not service. He wants water, you give him water. Don’t manufacture better thing.

After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, and without his consent, the BBT editors took it upon themselves to re-edit his books, making thousands of unnecessary changes in an attempt to improve their wording and style. But, as Srila Prabhupada stated above, without his order, their service was a concoction. They were offering him milk when he had asked for water. He wanted them to follow the rule of arsha-prayoga, but they decided to manufacture a better thing. So, according to the spiritual master, their editing was not service at all, but sense gratification.

In preparing his books for publication, Srila Prabhupada did not want a great deal of time spent on editing work. Neither was Srila Prabhupada very concerned with style. His Divine Grace once said:

“We are not meant for presenting any literary masterpieces.”

In the following letter, he carefully instructed his book production staff concerning his priorities:

“We have to do things now very dexterously, simply we have to see that in our book there is no spelling or grammatical mistake. We do not mind for any good style, our style is Hare Krishna, but still, we should not present a shabby thing. Although Krishna literatures are so nice that, even if they are presented in broken and irregular ways, such literatures are welcomed, read and respected by bona fide devotees.” (Letter to Satsvarupa dated 1-9-70)

Unless the BBT trustees felt that Srila Prabhupada’s books had been shabbily presented, they had no right to tamper with them. Of course, it is not our philosophy to print errors, but spiritual subject matter is transcendental to all mundane considerations and remains potent despite mistakes in grammar, spelling, etc. Once the presentation of his books had met Srila Prabhupada’s standard of approval, he adamantly warned the BBT staff that further changes could not be made. He said they should not even think there were mistakes in his published works.

When it was brought to Srila Prabhupada’s attention in 1977 that significant changes had been made in his books without his approval, he instructed the directors of the BBT that the next printing of his books should be again to the original way. The BBT editors knew how averse Srila Prabhupada was to making revisions in his books, especially once they had been published. How, then, despite his specific instructions, could they justify acting against his wishes and dare to change everything shortly after his physical departure?

If Srila Prabhupada ever spoke of making improvements, he was referring to the quality of the printing only and was not suggesting that changes be made in the text of his books. When Srila Prabhupada first examined the 1972 MacMillan Gita, for example, he said it did not meet our Vaishnava standard. He was disappointed with the quality of the paper, the binding, the color work and so on. These are the things he wanted improved. As far as the text was concerned, he said that nothing should be added or subtracted.