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By Madhudvisa Dasa in 2010 (originally posted on bookchanges.com)
ISKCON now distributes a Bhagavad-gita that contains more than 5,000 unauthorized changes. Srila Prabhupada gave all his classes from his original Bhagavad-gita As It Is and read from this book personally on a daily basis and listened to his disciples read from it, and commented on the philosophical points as they read. With the exception of a couple of obvious typographical errors, Prabhupada never at any point of time ordered that his Bhagavad-gita be changed. He most certainly did not authorize the production of a revised and enlarged edition of his book.
Jayadvaita Swami agrees that Srila Prabhupada did not ask him or anyone else to “revise and enlarge” his Bhagavad-gita As It Is. So how did it happen? Where did the authority come from for ISKCON’s current “Revised and Enlarged” edition? It seems just after Srila Prabhupada left our material vision, Jayadvaita thought it was a good idea to revise and enlarge Prabhupada’s Gita, so he did it.
“Comparing each verse in the book with the text of the manuscript, I made only those changes that to me seemed worthwhile. I tried to be conservative and not make needless changes.”
(Jayadvaita’s letter to senior devotees, October 25, 1982)
And what is his “authority” for this you may ask? As he said in the letter to senior devotees, “the text of the manuscript.” “I have made it closer to the original manuscript.”
And what is this so-called “original manuscript”? You can see it here.
This is not a manuscript at all. It is the first draft of the book. No author intends that the first draft of his book be published. He appoints an editor and together they work on the book to produce the manuscript which will ultimately be submitted to the publishers. In this case, Prabhupada wrote the first draft and then worked with Hayagriva and other editors to prepare the manuscript for hisBhagavad-gita As It Is, which was ultimately presented to Macmillan & Co. for printing.
Imagine you write the first draft of a book and appoint an editor. You work with your editor on a daily basis for months until together you produce a manuscript you are happy with and your book is published. Your book becomes a worldwide best seller and you are very happy with it. It is a spiritual book and by reading it many of the readers have life-changing experiences. They also become very attached to your book. Your book is praised by scholars worldwide with rave reviews. Then many years later, after you have left your body, somebody finds the first draft of your book and decides to “correct” your published book based on your first draft. Of course you were never intending to publish this first draft. That is why you spent so much time and energy working with your editor on that first draft to transform it into a manuscript you actually wanted to present to the publishers. How angry would you be with this fool who wants to undo your work and your editors’ work by going back to the first draft?
Jayadvaita Swami, by going back to the first draft, is eliminating so many corrections and so much work that Srila Prabhupada personally did on his book with Hayagriva and his other editors. This is a great disservice to Srila Prabhupada.
The Swami is insisting that his version of the history of the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is is correct. And what is his version of the history? He has turned to “smoke and mirrors” to try and bewilder the devotees into believing a false history. In the “history according to Jayadvaita’s imagination”, Srila Prabhupada only typed and dictated the first draft of his Bhagavad-gita As It Is and handed it over to his editors and did not work with his editors on the book. In this way he claims the first draft that he has is authoritative and he is justified in changing the printed book if he can find something different in the first draft.
On his website he debunks “The myth that Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva together carefully reviewed the completed text of Bhagavad-gita As It Is“. He does this by debunking a statement by Govinda dasi, who saw Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva working together on editing Prabhupada’s books in 1968 in Los Angeles. Prabhupada and Hayagriva were actually working together on editingSrimad-Bhagavatam at that time. And according to Jayadvaita, that “proves” that Prabhupada and Hayagriva did not work together on editing the Gita. Strange logic, but we are expected to believe the Swami anyhow.
In a recent blog post [“Book Changes: History Really Does Back the BBT“] Jayadvaita continues to try and distort and change the history:
“And so the image of Srila Prabhupada sitting with Hayagriva in December of 1968 carefully going over every verse of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, seeing to the finishing touches, is a persistent image of something that never took place. That’s the truth. Here’s the timeline. See for yourself.” (Jayadvaita Swami)
Then he goes on to present many quotes from Srila Prabhupada that are supposed to prove that Srila Prabhupada did not work with his editors on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is at all. However, Krishna slipped one quote into his article that completely blows his cover:
December 14, 1967: Srila Prabhupada writes Rayarama, “I have already sent you the purports of each and every sloka that you sent me for correction. . . . As soon as you finish the Gitopanisadbusiness and the matter is handed over to the Macmillan Co. we begin on the Bhagavatam work without delay.”
Here Jayadvaita is letting us know that Rayarama, while he was editing Bhagavad-gita, was in constant contact with Srila Prabhupada and was asking many questions about the editing, which Srila Prabhupada was answering. “I have already sent you the purports of each and every sloka that you sent me for correction.” So even with Rayarama’s editing he was asking Prabhupada many questions and Prabhupada was sending him many corrections to his “first draft”. None of these corrections by Srila Prabhupada are present in what Jayadvaita refers to as “the original manuscript.” This alone completely destroys any justification for using this document as any sort of authority, as it does not include the many corrections that Srila Prabhupada made to it while Rayarama was working on editing his Bhagavad-gita.
The real world is quite different from Jayadvaita’s imaginary world. Even though the Swami constantly says, “It’s not true!” Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva did work together for almost three months in 1967 editing Bhagavad-gita As It Is, during this period Hayagriva Prabhu was consulting Srila Prabhupada daily on almost every verse in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It’s not a myth, it’s history, and this history completely destroys any justification at all for changing Prabhupada’s Gita based on Prabhupada’s first draft of the book (or the “original manuscript”, as the Swami calls it).
If you ask Jayadvaita about this he will lie and tell you: “It could not have happened. Prabhupada and Hayagriva were never living together. It’s an Internet myth…” All lies and deception, unfortunately. It is frightening to think that such a deceptive, dishonest character has been given full authority to change anything at all he wants to change in Prabhupada’s books without any system of checks and balances at all. He can change anything, print the changed books without even disclosing what he has changed. And he smiles and says, “You just have to accept it…”
The proof that Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva worked together daily editing Bhagavad-gita for almost three months in 1967 can be found in Hayagriva Prabhu’s wonderful book, “The Hare Krishna Explosion”:
January 17, 1967: Prabhupada arrives in San Francisco from New York. Hayagriva Prabhu is there to meet him. Prabhupada is still translating Bhagavad-gita and Hayagriva is there with him:
“Swamiji continues translating Bhagavad-gita. He is so eager to print it that we begin negotiations with a local printer. Prices are very high. In New York, Brahmananda continues his pursuit of publishers.”
So Hayagriva is negotiating on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf with a local printer to print Prabhupada’sBhagavad-gita As It Is. Finishing his translation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, working with Hayagriva Prabhu to edit it and getting it printed are clearly the most important projects on Srila Prabhupada’s agenda at this time.
Hayagriva is still in San Francisco on January 29th, two weeks later, for the big concert featuring the Grateful Dead.
Hayagriva is still with Srila Prabhupada in San Francisco in February:
“The days of February are beautiful with perfect temperatures in the seventies, fog rolling off early, skies very blue and clear, sun falling bright and sharp on the lush foliage of Golden Gate Park. The park encloses the largest variety of plant and tree life to be found in any one spot on earth. We are at a loss to identify plants for Swamiji.”
Hayagriva has settled down in the ISKCON San Francisco temple (a storefront near Golden Gate Park) and he is working there:
“I rent an electric typewriter, set it up in the back temple room, and continue typing up stencils forBack To Godhead, writing and editing [Bhagavad-gita] while Harsharani sends people after food, and cooks noon prasadam.”
Hayagriva is the only devotee living in the San Francisco temple and is the “Temple Commander”:
“Being the only person living in the temple proper, and one of the senior devotees besides, I’m naturally looked to as the temple commander, a role I often find myself regretting.”
All this time Hayagriva is living with Srila Prabhupada and his main service is editing Bhagavad-gita:
“Apart from kirtans, I find myself spending many sunny hours in the park, walking past the tennis courts to large, quiet bowers surrounded with hybiscus and eucalyptus. And at times I sit in the shade beneath the white and pink rhododendrons and edit Bhagavad-gita. After editing, I sometimes visit the museum and stroll through the replica eighteenth century gardens, chanting my daily rounds while perusing the curlicues of rococo art.”
Hayagriva is still in San Francisco together with Srila Prabhupada on February 27th. This is now six weeks in the personal association of Srila Prabhupada, working with him editing his Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
He is still there with Srila Prabhupada in March:
“Golden Gate Park is redolent with March flowers. The morning fog disperses early, and the days are cloudless and blue. Thousands continue to flock to San Francisco from the midwest and east, and our Sunday kirtans attract big crowds… On Tuesday evenings, we go to the beach with Swamiji and hold unforgettable Pacific Ocean sunset kirtans. Sitting on the sand, we watch the tide roll in, or chant and wait for the sun to dip below the horizon. After chanting, we roast potatoes and smear them with melted butter. Swamiji eats with us, sitting on a big log. And after potatoes, we roast marshmallows, and red apples stuffed with raisins and brown sugar.”
All throughout this time (now over two months) Hayagriva is working editing Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, consulting Srila Prabhupada on almost every verse:
“Although I write on the Lord Chaitanya play through the spring days, my primary service is helping Swamiji with Bhagavad-gita. He continues translating, hurrying to complete the manuscript but still annotating each verse thoroughly in his purports. Daily, I consult him to make certain that the translation of each verse precisely coincides with the meaning he wants to relate. “Edit for force and clarity,” he tells me. “By Krishna’s grace, you are a qualified English professor. You know how grammatical mistakes will discredit us with scholars. I want them to appreciate this Bhagavad-gita as the definitive edition. All the others try to take credit away from Krishna.”
“I am swamped with editing. Since much of the text is equivocal due to grammar, I find myself consulting Swamiji on nearly every verse. It seems that in Sanskrit, Hindi, and Bengali, phrase is tacked onto phrase until the original subject is lost.”
March 21: Hayagriva is still in San Francisco working daily with Srila Prabhupada on editingBhagavad-gita As It Is… So far this is almost nine weeks constantly with Srila Prabhupada…
“Swamiji leaves for the airport. Before entering the car, he stops, cane in hand, and gives a long look at the little storefront temple. It is a look that says a great deal. Gurudas snaps a photo at that very instant. ‘That’s a farewell look,’ I think to myself.”
So Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva worked together on editing the Bhagavad-gita daily during the almost three months while Hayagriva Prabhu was living with him in the San Francisco temple, from Janurary 17, 1967 until April 9, 1967.
Jayadvaita Swami [desperately]: “IT JUST DID NOT HAPPEN!!!”
The history is the history. Srila Prabhupada worked on the first draft of Bhagavad-gita As It Isextensively with both Hayagriva Prabhu and Rayarama Prabhu. In the three months Hayagriva went through practically every verse with Srila Prabhupada and Prabhupada also sent many corrections to Rayarama Prabhu later on.
At that time Macmillan were only able to print 400 pages, so Rayarama abridged Prabhupada’sBhagavad-gita As It Is. Prabhupada was not happy with this and wanted to publish the complete edition. Hayagriva was again called on by Srila Prabhupada for producing the manuscript, which was submitted to Macmillan for the publication of the complete 1,000 page edition in 1972. At this time there were at least exchanges of letters between Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva and Prabhupada was still giving him many instructions related to the editing and answering the questions he had in regard to the editing.
So Jayadvaita’s “history” that Srila Prabhupada did not work with his disciples on editing Bhagavad-gita is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It is a dishonest attempt to mislead the devotees and cover-up the real history.
The authoritative edition of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is is the final published 1972 “Complete Edition.” Not the first draft that Jayadvaita calls the “manuscript.” Srila Prabhupada spent considerable time, energy and effort working with his editors Hayagriva Prabhu and Rayarama Prabhu to take his first draft to the real manuscript — the manuscript which was submitted for publishing to MacMillan.
Changes to the final published book cannot be justified by referring to the first draft. This is a great mistake.
People are not so foolish. The truth is the truth. Eventually Jayadvaita’s smoke and mirrors will stop working and the blind followers will wake up and see the truth.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!