Prabhupada on Brahma-Samhita: It should be left as is!

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Sri_Brahma-Samhita-cover

In Brahma Samhita by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Introduction, page xvi (page 7 in the PDF):

“…As per Srila Prabhupada’s instructions regarding the publication of this volume, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s somewhat technical and sometimes difficult prose has been left intact and virtually untouched. Fearing that any editorial (grammatical and stylistic) tampering with Bhaktisiddhanta’s text might result in inadvertant changes in meaning, Prabhupada asked that it be left as is, and the editors of this volume have complied with his wishes…”

Ramesvara Prabhu remembers regarding that same publication og Brahma Samhita:

“What about the incorrect grammar? “Prabhupada’s reply, “You cannot change one comma, not even a comma, not even a punctuation mark, that is the etiquette.” So that was just another one of those super heavy instructions that the etiquette in dealing with a great acarya’s books is that whatever he has done it’s eternal and it can never be changed. And I believe that all of this was part of Prabhupada’s training us . He wanted to train people who would be entrusted with his books.” (Ramesvara, Interview 1979)

The Brahma-Samhita was published with only very slight editing done:

  • Typographical errors was corrected.
  • Capitalization was standardized.
  • Sanskrit terms in devanagari script appearing within the English text was transliterated.
  • Already transliterated terms have been adjusted to international standards.
  • The original devanagari text was added for each verse. It was followed by roman transliteration, and then by a word-for-word translation into English (none of these appeared in the original edition).

This very limited editing of Brahma-Samhita were made under the instructions of our Sampradaya-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, who is a pure unalloyed devotee of the Lord. No mistakes and no offenses would be made as long as he supervised and approved the work. In addition, the editors were honest and wrote in the introduction precisely what they did to the original work. The BBT International should also be honest by letting the readers know what they did to Prabhupada Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Something like this ought to be written:

Despite the fact that Srila Prabhupada educated us in the vedic principle of arsa-prayoga that state that the words of the acarya should not be corrected, we, the editor’s, have made extensive posthumous changes and corrections to Prabhupada’s personally typewritten sanskrit translations. We have also added completely new words, sentences and paragraphs and made re-arrangement of words and sentences. Original paintings and pictures have been removed and exchanged with new ones. We have also removed the foreword and changed the cover. All editing is done without the approval of the author. We can’t guarantee that our editing is free from mistakes, or that the author would be pleased with the editing.

Prabhupada’s instructions on front covers not honored

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The text below was sent to the BBT International through their website (http://www.bbtedit.com/contact) and to Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida Prabhu’s personal e-mails (jswami@pamho.net, jayadvaita.swami@pamho.net, dravida108@gmail.com) the 7th Feb. 2014. We asked them to comment on the points raised.

So far we have not received any reply.

Here we see, in the background, the painting Prabhupada chose for the front cover of his Bhagavad-gita As It Is (standing yet unframed on the floor).

He was very happy about that painting, and he wished that Deities precisely resembling Krishna and Arjuna on the painting be made for the alter on the Gita-Nagari farm.

“Srila Prabhupada began to sow the seeds of inspiration in directing the future development of Gita-nagari farming community.  Prabhupada confirmed today that the presiding Deity should be Krsna and Arjuna, exactly as on the cover of the Bhagavad-gita.” (Tamal Krishna Goswami’s Diary, Prabhupada’s Final Days, August 30)

He also desired that the pictures on he covers on his books should remain the same on all their respective translations into other languages. This wish has, unfortunately, never been honored.

Prabhupada:

“And the covers, if possible, should always be the same for each respective book regardless of what language it may be printed in.” (Letter to Jadurani, Bombay, January 3, 1975)

An unfortunate local example of an unauthorized cover can be read in the links below:

DANISH BHAGAVAD-GITA AS IT IS COVER AGAINST PRABHUPADA’S INSTRUCTIONS

DANISH BBT INTERNATIONAL EDITORS COVERS THE GREATNESS OF BHAGAVAD-GITA AND PRABHUPADA

Time for honesty from the BBT International

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Text by Bhajahari and Palaka Prabhus

If the present editors of the BBT(I) insist on continuing their unauthorised revisions of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is – they should at least make it clear that what they are now publishing is NOT the original.

Simple honesty would be good.

Don’t you think?

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This is really how the BBT(I) editors should do their gita cover with regard to full disclosure so the buyer is fully aware it is a revised edition they are looking at.

See Rupanuga Prabhu’s article on this specific subject matter of EDITING PROTOCOL.

Jayadvaita Swami: There are warts on Prabhupada’s books

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Parasurama_leading_kirtan_in_OsloParasurama Prabhu leading kirtan

Reposted from the Sampradaya Sun:

Warts on Books

BY: PARASURAM DAS

Dec 15, 2013 — UK (SUN) — Are there warts on Srila Prabhupada’s books, or are there no warts? (Warts on Books, Part 4b, 4.28) A difference of opinion (difference of understanding) has arisen- should the books be changed to fix these warts? No changes as the books are perfect? And the warts are only in the minds of the academic editors?

A strong divide has arisen in regards to the “changes” made to Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita since 1977. I was asked recently about the difference between the two Bhagavad-gitas: “This one was written by Lord Krishna through Srila Prabhupada and the other one I am not sure.” I apologise in advance as I admit to being confused, as many of us are, and I was hoping that the audio attached may throw some light.

There is a serious concern as on Saturday 3rd May, 2013 at Bhaktivedanta Manor during class, HH Jayadvaita Maharaj was asked the 84 million dollar question: “When will there be an end to the editing, “changing”? The Definite Bhagavad-gita (Part 4a, 5.20) The answer being, when himself and Dravida prabhu leave their bodies… (Part 4a 6.57) but no guarantee of no changes even then.

Alarm bells are ringing… number of changes already made to the book and a licence to continue. Pictures changed and omitted, Mayavad philosophy inserted and only recently removed, editing out Srila Prabhupada’s unique style of language…

I believe HH Jayavaita Maharaj has overstepped the mark, creating division and uncertainty over the law books for the next 10,000 years. Then again, who am I? Not the sharpest pencil in the pack! But this topic should be addressed soon, as in the future there will be great confusion. There is another 10,000 years to go.

Concerns:

1. The ongoing editing, changing and omitting with no end in sight.
2. Creating division in our society.
3. 2.61 purport… Visnu platform added (Mayavad philosophy), only recently changed back to the way it was. Shows that the editors are capable of making serious mistakes.
4. Many places changed or omitted where Srila Prabhupada had actually given class from and had even spoken about the omitted topics.
5. A major concern is that Srila Prabhupada’s unique style of language and phrases have been replaced.

Warts on Books, Part 4a (MP3)

Warts on Books, Part 4b (MP3)

Your servant,
Parasuram das

Tampering with Prabhupada’s personally typewritten sanskrit translations (BG, Chapter One)

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The text below was sent to the BBT International through their website (http://www.bbtedit.com/contact) and to Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida Prabhu’s personal e-mails (jswami@pamho.net, jayadvaita.swami@pamho.net, dravida108@gmail.com) the 7th Feb. 2014. We asked them to comment on the points raised.

So far we have not received any reply. 

By Ajit Krishna Dasa and Bhaktin Anna Nygaard

In regard to the posthumous editing of Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Jayadvaita Swami has expressed (emphasis added by Arsa-Prayoga staff):

1982:

“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 Swami, letter to senior devotees, October 25, 1982)

1986:

“As you know, and as we kept in mind while doing the work, Srila Prabhupada staunchly opposed needless changes.” (Jayadvaita Swami, Letter to Amogha Lila, 1986)

1995:

“When Srila Prabhupada conveyed to us the conclusions of the previous acaryas, he did so perfectly, preserving and transmitting the philosophy exactly as it is, neither watering anything down, nor covering anything over, nor leaving anything out. He gave us the essence of everything.

We therefore don’t need to add anything, subtract anything, or change anything. We need only faithfully serve Srila Prabhupada’s orders, and everything will be revealed.” (Jayadvaita Swami, Sri Vyasa Puja book August 19,1995)

2009:

On BBT International’s website we find this video:

Transcription of the video:

Arsa-Prayoga is a very important principle. The editor should never have the mentality that he’s better than the author, that he has something more to contribute than the author does, that the author really doesn’t know what he is doing, but he knows what he is doing. That’s offensive! And that is…ruins everything! It is an offense to the acarya. The idea, however, that this sort of sanctity that the author’s text has, or that the words of the author have, somehow extends to the mistakes of the editors…is weird! “It’s an offense to correct the mistakes of previous editors!” Are they acaryas? Are they paramahamsas? Are they infallible? They are wonderful devotees, they did wonderful service. But they made mistakes. Understandably.”

Summing up Jayadvaita Maharaja’s standpoints from the above:

In 2009 Jayadvaita Swami admits that the principle of arsa-prayoga is very important, and that it is an offense to violate it. He admits that Prabhupada’s text has sanctity, and that the editors of Prabhupada’s books should never think they are better than Prabhupada and has more to contribute than Prabhupada.

In 1995, twelve years after Prabhupada’s disappearance, Jayadvaita Swami said that we should not add, subtract or change anything in the teachings Prabhupada has given us. Earlier, in 1982 and 1986, Jayadvaita Swami claimed that they had in mind not to make needless changes in their editing of Bhagavad-gita As It is, because Prabhupada staunchly opposed such needless changes. They only changed what they felt was worthwhile changing. However, Jayadvaita Swami further states that the sanctity that Prabhupada’s texts have do not apply to the work done by Prabhupada’s editors (he seem not to appreciate the fact that this work was later approved by Prabhupada. Does Prabhupada’s approval not have sanctity?)

In this way Jayadvaita Swami makes it seem as if he did not add, subtract or change any of Prabhupada’s direct words (except for the grammatical errors, capitalisation and commas). However, during the last three decades, we and many other devotees have observed and documented numerous needless changes made by Jayadvaita Swami to Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. And in spite of Jayadvaita Swami’s own seeming interest in not adding, subtracting or changing anything in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, the posthumously edited books contain all of these three types of edits (adding, subtracting and changing).

We will now start a series of articles documenting the changes made to the sanskrit synonyms (word for word meanings) in the first six chapters of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Why only the first six chapters?

According to Jayadvaita Swami the first five or six chapters of the draft (often referred to as the ”original manuscript”) to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is was personally typewritten by Srila Prabhupada himself.

Jayadvaita Swami writes on his website:

”Some books Srila Prabhupada wrote out in longhand or typed himself. These include Easy Journey to Other Planets, Sri Isopanishad, the first and second cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the first five or six chapters of Bhagavad-gita As It Is,…” (Jayadvaita Swami, Editing the Unchangeable Truth, How Were the Books Written?, Reprinted from ISKCON Communications Journal, Volume 11, 2005)

If anything has sanctity, apart from the finished manuscripts that Prabhupada sent to the press for printing, it must be the words that he himself wrote on his type-writer. We would most certainly not expect to see any changes made to these. Even if they contain mistakes, these mistakes should not be corrected according to the principle of arsa-prayoga.

However, we do see significant changes made to the sanskrit translations that Prabhupada personally wrote on his type-writer. By comparing the posthumously edited 1983 edition with both the 1972 MacMillan edition and the so called “original manuscript” we see that the 1972 MacMillan edition is much closer to and faithful to Prabhupada’s original words.

This is especially interesting because 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)

We now publish for the first time a complete list over all the changes made to Prabhupada’s personally type-written sanskrit translations. Here is the complete list for Chapter One.

PDF: bg-comparing-OM-1972-1983-ch1  

Direct link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/d9u09z5jxnwj50d/bg-comparing-OM-1972-1983-ch1.pdf

New video with Ramesvara Prabhu from “Prabhupada Memories” about the book changes

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Question to Jayadvaita Swami: What would Prabhupada say to you?

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This letter was sent to Jayadvaita Swami the 6th Dec. 2013:

Dear Jayadvaita Swami! Dandavat pranam! Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Some weeks have passed since our last e-mail exchange. I hope  you are in the process of answering the questions I linked to in my first two e-mails to you? Otherwise they are here:

E-mail 1: https://arsaprayoga.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/letter-to-jayadvaita-swami-23rd-oct-2013/

E-mail 2: https://arsaprayoga.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/e-mail-exchange-between-jayadvaita-swami-and-ajit-krishna-dasa/

These are questions that thousands of devotee’s around the world would like to see answered as soon as possible.

While awaiting your promised answers, I am constantly researching the changes made to Prabhupada’s books. Recently I saw this video posted on BBT International’s website:

Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlqbnzzL_28

In the video you say:

”I went back and re-edited especially the translations in the first canto. Especially the first perhaps three chapters where I thought their were a lot of short comings. And I typed up all the translations – after I finished all the work, I typed up all the translations in one manuscript and put them in an envelope, and Prabhupada was coming to New York where I was at the time. Prabhupada came, and I put all the translations in an envelope, and I wrote a cover letter explaning what I have done, and asking him whether it was okay. And then I brought it up to Prabhupada’s quarters at 55th Street in New York–the New York temple—with the idea that I would leave them with his secretary and come back later. But Prabhupada was right there, and so he…I offered obeisances, and he had me, you know: ”What do you do in here?” ”What have you come for?” Not in those words, but, you know, he inquired was I was doing. And I explained that I had come to deliver this. So Prabhupada had me start reading right in his presence. And I began, I read the first verse, the second verse, the third verse. I went through a few verses, and Prabhupada stopped me. Prabhupada was listening very carefully, he stopped me. ”So what you have done?” And I said: ”Well, Srila Prabhupada, I have edited to try to bring it closer to what you originally said.” Prabhupada said: ”What I have said?” I said: ”Yes, Srila Prabhupada!” Then Prabhupada: ”Then it is alright!”, and that was it. ”Then it is alright!” ”What I have said?”, ”Then it is alright!”

 A few points about this story:

1. Your story is merely anecdotal evidence which is considered a rather unreliable and dubious support of a  claim. No one is really able to investigate the truth value of your story. To use anecdotal evidence as the foundation for changing the books that are supposed to guide mankind the next ten thousands years will surely create doubt about the authority of the changed books.

As Srila Prabhupada said about such stories:

“Just like in our ISKCON there are so many false things: “Prabhupada said this, Prabhupada said that.””
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 7/11/1972)

“They misunderstand me. Unless it is there from me in writing, there are so many things that “Prabhupada said.”” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, 2/9/1975)

And as you yourself say:

“If Srila Prabhupada didn’t clearly and definitely say it, and if it first came up after 1977 whatever it is, don’t trust it. Rule of Thumb.” (Diksa-Diksa, Where the Rtvik People are Wrong,  p. 85, Jayadvaita Swami)

You started circulating your story after the book changing controversy started, and there is no evidence to support that it is true. Therefore, “…don’t trust it. Rule of Thumb.”

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2. You seem to conclude that since Prabhupada approved the verses that you brought him, then he also approved that you could change all his books using the same method – even after his disappearance. But this is an unwarranted extrapolation, because you extrapolate far beyond the range of available data, namely from one single instance of editing to more or less all future instances of editing. But from your story no justification for such an extrapolation can be found. The only conclusion to be deduced (if your anecdote is at all true) is that what you did to the very specific verses you brought Prabhupada was okay.  No more, no less.

3. If your anecdote is true, then Prabhupada told you that if you had made the text closer to what Prabhupada originally said, then it was okay.

However, in my previous e-mails to you I have referred to articles where it is clearly documented that you have:

  • Deleted many of Prabhupada’s own chosen words and sentences (even those also found in his ”original manuscript”)
  • Added your own words and sentences (which means they are also not to be found in the ”original manuscript”)
  • Changed Prabhupada’s own personally typewritten sanskrit translations.

The article ”The Duty of the Finger” demonstrates all these types of changes made to Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is:

https://arsaprayoga.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/enjoying-the-self-within-or-the-duty-of-the-finger-bg-4-38/

Now, I think most devotees around the world would like to know what you think Prabhupada would have said if you had told him:

”Well, Srila Prabhupada, in my editing I have deleted some of your own chosen words and sentences! And I have also invented some completely new words and sentences and put them in where I felt they would do a good job! And since we at the BBT are now ”accomplished sanskrit scholars” we have gone through some of your own typewritten sanskrit translations and changed them.”

What do you, honestly, think Prabhupada would have answered? Then try to extrapolate that answer to the changes you have made to Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is.

Your servant, Ajit Krishna Dasa