Definitely Not Back to “the original manuscript”

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By Krishna Dasa (Originally posted on the Sampradaya Sun)

Recently Ajit Krsna dasa posted an interesting article showing how the BBT replaced the word “owner” with “knower” in the translation to Bhagavad-gita 13.3. He pointed out that this change was not closer to the manuscript. Further examination reveals that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Four times in the purport to this verse the word “owner” has been replaced with “knower”. On all four occasions the manuscript reads “owner”. So the old edition and the manuscript are in agreement, and the new edition is different.

The same change has been made in the translation to Bhagavad-gita 13.35.

1972 edition:

“One who knowingly sees this difference between the body and the owner of the body and can understand the process of liberation from this bondage, also attains to the supreme goal.”

New edition:

“Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the body and theknower of the body, and can also understand the process of liberation from bondage in material nature, attain to the supreme goal.”

Once again the manuscript reads “owner” and not “knower”, so it supports the old edition. Furthermore, in the word-for-word translations to Bg 13.35, Srila Prabhupada translates “ksetrajnayoh” as “of the proprietor of the body”. “Proprietor” is synonymous with “owner”, which is further reason not to change “owner” to “knower”. It was clearly Srila Prabhupada’s choice of words.

Surely when the 1972 edition and the manuscript are in agreement there is NO reason to make changes. Perhaps the BBT prefers to translate “ksetra-jna” as “knower of the body” instead of “owner of the body” because the Sanskrit word “jna” means “knower”. But we don’t want the BBT’s extra input, we want transparency. Generally the BBT justify changes by saying they are closer to the “original manuscript”. In this case however that is not the case.

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