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?

1485908_574307139305587_32311085_o

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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Skærmbillede 2013-12-09 kl. 22.03.15

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

Prabhupada: “It is not the ornamentation, it is the ecstasy.”

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From “Srila Prabhupada and His Disciples in Germany” (emphasis by Arsa Prayoga staff):

sp-disciples-germany

“On September 9th, Asoka-kumara and I arrived in Los Angeles. Asoka-kumara came along to transcribe and compose the translations, but unfortunately he could not use the BBT typesetting equipment immediately. Special fonts for German, with diacritic marks for the Sanskrit transliteration, had to be ordered, and that took a couple of months.

“Dr. Wolf, a friendly gentleman in his late sixties, was glad to have us there. He was fluent in six languages, and he was eager to help us to bring the translation of Prabhupada’s books up to a more academically acceptable level. But his involvement turned out to be a double-edged sword. He had many valuable suggestions to improve the style, but his vision was flawed by mundane considerations. He found many of Srila Prabhupada’s original English expressions objectionable and wanted to change them in the German edition. For example, he felt it was simply unacceptable to compare Krsna’s legs to elephant trunks.

“In the following weeks, we had several heated discussions, and when Dr. Wolf saw that I was not prepared to change Prabhupada’s words just because a description didn’t fit his conception, he began to question Prabhupada’s position. Having fled Nazi Germany, he felt that our vision of Prabhupada’s authority was dangerously similar to the inflated image of Hitler in the 1930s. Finally he stopped coming. But he sent me a letter explaining his stand on the way our books should be presented. He mailed a copy to Prabhupada, who replied to him as follows.”

I beg to acknowledge receipt of a copy of a letter sent to Sriman Vedavyasa dated January 14,1976.

Mundane books are written by imperfect persons. Everyone has his own theory, which means he is imperfect. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says if there is a real presentation of spiritual understanding, then, even if it is presented in broken language, it is accepted by high, saintly persons, because it glorifies the Supreme Person. On the other hand, if literature is highly metaphorically composed, if it does not glorify the Lord, it is compared to a place inhabited by the crows.

Actually, if some literature doesn’t carry any real knowledge, what is the use of ornamental language? We are not interested in presenting ornamental language.

In India the system is that people go to see the Jagannatha Deity. The Deity is not very beautiful from the artistic point of view, but still people attend by the thousands. That sentiment is required. Similarly with our kirtana we are only using drums and karatalas but people come to the point of ecstasy. It is not the ornamentation, it is the ecstasy. This ecstasy is awakened by sravanam kirtanam by devotees. I hope this makes everything clear.”

The actual letter from Srila Prabhupada:

Letter to: Dr. Wolf

Mayapur
29 January, 1976
76-01-29
Los Angeles
My dear Dr. Wolf,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of a copy of a letter sent to Sriman Vedavyasa dated January 14, 1976.
Mundane books are written by imperfect persons. Everyone has his own theory, which means he is imperfect. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says if there is a real presentation of spiritual understanding, then even if it is presented i broken language, it is accepted by high, saintly persons, because it glorifies the Supreme Person. On the other hand, if literature is highly metaphorically composed, if it does not glorify the Lord, it is compared to a place inhabited by the crows.
Actually, if some literature doesn’t carry any real knowledge, what is the use of ornamental language? We are not interested in presenting ornamental language.
In India the system is that people go to see the Jagannatha Deity. The Deity is not very beautiful from the artistic point of view, but still people attend by the thousands. That sentiment is required. Similarly with our kirtana we are only using drums and karatalas, but people come to the point of ecstasy. It is not the ornamentation, it is the ecstasy. This ecstasy is awakened by sravanam kirtanam by devotees. I hope this makes everything clear.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
ACBS/tkg

TAKING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT’S DUE (By Rupanuga das, ACBSP)

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By Rupanuga das, ACBSP

rupanuga

The revised and enlarged edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is (BGAII), as published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) 1983, disregards the academic community’s protocols or standards governing the revised editions of the books. According to the guidelines now widely accepted and practiced by publishers and academicians, the names of editors and co-authors of such newly revised editions are to be included along with dates. This distinguishes such a 2nd edition from a publication which is only a second printing of an author’s original first edition.

A controversy was created because Srila Prabhupada, the author, was not present to consult with or personally authorize a re-edit of the book, which was first published as an unabridged, “complete edition” in 1972 by the Macmillan Company. From 1972 until 1977, the year Srila Prabhupada passed away, the book had been constantly studied by his disciples, widely distributed to the public and often favorably reviewed. During this time there were no proposals from anyone, nor an explicit authorization from Srila Prabhupada to revise the book then or in the future.

The editors of the 1983, 2nd edition, attempt to circumvent their lack of direct or explicit authorization from Srila Prabhupada by assuming and asserting that his authorization was implicit in his verbal and written approval of Jayadvaita Brahmachari’s editorial work — although during Srila Prabhupada’s time there was no expectation that Jayadvaita or anyone else would be extensively re-editing the BGAII in the future. Srila Prabhupada had noted only a few, easily rectified changes to be made in the book. Had a proposal been made to him in 1977 (the sixth year of its publication) for an extensive revision, it wouldn’t be very hard to imagine the strength of his refusal. There would be nothing equivocal about it, especially in the light of his remarks during his now famous “rascal editor” discussion recorded June 22, 1977 in Vrindavan, just five months before his disappearance.

In fact, it was Srila Prabhupada himself who created an issue about changes then being made to his books without his permission and the possibility of it happening in the future. He wanted his disciples to resolve the issue during his presence. There was no controversy, or two sides to the issue; it was a major problem to be solved and a future disaster to be avoided. Actually, since 1975 Srila Prabhupada had been giving periodical hints, guidelines and instructions along these lines to his BBT Trustee and production manager in Los Angeles and the artists as well. Unfortunately, such information was not carefully compiled, passed on or seriously implemented after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Without such important guidelines in place, editors and trustees have gradually filled the gap with policies and standards which have become controversial, especially regarding the editing of books and paintings published during Srila Prabhupada’s lifetime.  (See The Change Disease and Windows to the Spiritual Sky).

Since an extensive revision of the BGAII was actually published in 1983, there has been and will continue to be a disagreement about it amongst Srila Prabhupada’s followers and admirers. But what is to be avoided, and what Srila Prabhupada wanted to avoid, is controversy about his books amongst the general public, especially the scholars, educators, librarians, et. al. Opinions from intelligent people regarding his books were important to Srila Prabhupada and should not be minimized as only the complicated prejudices and speculations of so-called “non-devotees”. With this in mind, the ongoing controversy may be examined here a bit more from the viewpoint of academia, at the same time keeping out in front the main objective of propagating, perpetuating and protecting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

According to the current Chicago Manual of Style, if 20% of a first edition has been revised, it becomes a second edition — not just a second printing — requiring the date and names of the editors. Additionally, to quote from the Modern Language Association’s Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing: “The publisher when planning a new edition of the work, may obtain revisions from a third party expert if the author refuses to make them or disagrees about their necessity… the contract… should provide that the original author and the revising author be given separate credits.” Of course the BBT editors assert that they were not new authors of the book, but merely bringing it closer to the original author’s words as referenced in available fragmental recordings or transcripts. The predominating difference is, obviously, that Srila Prabhupada was not present to consult with or agree or disagree. Nevertheless, whatever lends more weight to a closure or sealing of the book from further editing is in order. Following the prevailing academic protocols in the next printing would set a precedent signaling more finality than the present practice of editorial anonymity.

As is the cases of the Bible and Koran, over time sectarian scriptures are extensively revised. In the case of the Bhagavad-gita, there are already dozens of them in different languages, all edited according to various authors’ and editors’ preferences and personal philosophies of life. Unlike the Bible and Koran, the Bhagavad-gita truly presented as it is by Srila Prabhupada is universal, which makes it even more subject to spectacular speculations. Interestingly, although the Bible has gone through many variations, or versions, the King James version is the most widely accepted as authoritative.

Similarly, it is imperative that the BGAII remains center stage as the most complete, definitive version. In this connection, it would be naive to assume that in one or two hundred years BBT editors could not fall prey to the change disease, perhaps in response to social or cultural demands. Therefore, a permanent sealing or closing of further editing of the BGAII must be attempted, even though the extensive revision of that book is already a strong precedent. Besides, it won’t be long according to present copyright law, about forty-five years, when the BGAII will be in the “public domain”. By that time it must be considered to be the most authoritative, above all other renditions. Ultimately, the BGAII is designed and destined to be the most universally accepted scripture in the world. Translated from the English, it was printed in numerous languages during Srila Prabhupada’s time. The English edition remains the most important because English is fast becoming the equivalent of the world’s second language. In any country, especially amongst the more educated, people are fluent in English.

Initially, the BBT’s 1983 edition included the phrase “revised and enlarged” in place of “complete edition” originally found beneath the title on the face page of the first or 1972 edition. Also the “Note On the 2nd Edition” was previously included in the revised edition, wherein the editors took credit for their work and explained their qualifications and purposes in rendering the revision, although they remained anonymous. But the editing continues, and the above items were edited out in later printings. The later printings also omitted Professor Dimock’s Forward, although the same literary reviews as well as Srila Prabhupada’s 1971 signature at the end of his Preface are carried over from the original 1972 edition to subsequent 1983 versions. Almost all of the illustrations from that 1st edition have been gradually eliminated or replaced and there are many changes and additions to the original text throughout the book. In other words, there is no doubt the 2nd edition meets the academic criteria for being genuinely designated as a new edition.

A reader of that revised edition might notice that there is no endorsement or acknowledgement by the original author, which is often found in such a scholarly publication. But such a reader would have no way of learning that the author, Srila Prabhupada, had passed away in 1977, since there is no such indication in a section “about the author”, or other biographical information. The original first edition reviews from “some of the world’s leading scholars” are reprinted in the second edition, explaining the special significance of the book and the outstanding qualifications of the author, as if he were still present and endorsing the revised edition.

Be that as it may, Srila Prabhupada’s present pristine reputation as authoritative author must be preserved. As he cautioned in Vrindavan on July 17, 1977, four months before his disappearance: “And people are recognizing that I am great. Don’t make me small.” Now, with Srila Prabhupada-vani in the shape of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, we are blessed with the most definitive single volume of essential spiritual knowledge published in the West since the invention of the printing press. And Srila Prabhupada has proven to be the greatest world-wide exponent of Krsna consciousness. Actually, Srila Prabhupada is already famous all over the universe, as documented by the visitation of Lord Brahma and Narada Muni, both of whom came to attend evening aratis when Radha-Londonisvara were installed in 1969. This has been confirmed by Sriman Padmalocana das, who was instructed by His Divine Grace to make two small vyasasanas for the altar in anticipation of their continuing visits. It remains the task of his followers to assure His Divine Grace’s spotless fame spreads here on Earth.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is named after Srila Prabhupada because it is responsible to present his unalloyed teachings to the world. As the BBT continues to claim not only to be the bona fide publishers of Srila Prabhupada’s books but of books by other genuine Vaisnava authors as well, they will come under closer scrutiny from professionals and general readers alike. So the standards set by the publishing and academic communities should be taken seriously and followed, because Srila Prabhupada was always concerned that his books be respected in learned circles as up to standard.

Considering the current editors’ obvious confidence and conviction in their ongoing work, their somewhat mysterious policy of anonymity appears unnecessary, even contradictory. Yet, by following the standard etiquette or protocols widely in practice as mentioned hereinbefore, any apparent mystery is solved. Such an endorsement would be similar to acknowledgements found in the previous publications listed below:

1. Mukunda-Mala-Stotra, subtitled The Prayers of King Kulasekhara, published by the BBT in 1992, 157 pages, under Srila Prabhupada’s name “And His Disciples”.

2. Narada-Bhakti-Sutra, subtitled The Secrets of Transcendental Love, published by the BBT in 1991 and 1997, 213 pages, 10,000 copies. Authored by His Divine Grace “And His Disciples”.

3. The last Cantos, 10th, 11th and 12th, of the BBT’s Srimad Bhagavatam, authored “by disciples of” His Divine Grace. The names of the editors are listed following the face page.

4. The Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the Macmillan Company abridged edition of 1968, with Preface by Rayarama Brahmacary (Raymond Marais), designated as the editor.

The last example was personally approved by Srila Prabhupada. (Please note the quotation from Rayarama’s Preface at the end of this essay). So the precedent is there for Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to acknowledge when their input is integrated into his books, sometimes as editors, sometimes as authors, but always as assistants or subordinates. Because no disciple, no matter how advanced, can be a hidden co-author with Srila Prabhupada. Such equality is not possible.

Presently the Movement continues to be chronicled by a number of parties, especially as more and more information becomes available on the Internet. According to Statcounter.com, a large web traffic analysis company, there are over two and a half billion Internet users worldwide, 70% of whom use the Net everyday, representing a 566% increase from 2000 to 2013. So far, as an author, Srila Prabhupada has personally escaped serious criticism and his reputation remains intact. However, every precaution can be followed to maintain the continuous good reputation of Srila Prabhupada-vani, especially his books. We look forward to the day when Srila Prabhupada will be so famous that people will clamour for his books. No doubt the BBT should have that expectation, as it’s influence and recognition increases as a respected publishing house. Reputation is important. The reputation of the Macmillan Company, both in the US and England and its endorsement of Srila Prabhupada’s BGAII was a major selling point, especially for the BBT Library Party and the college preaching programs.

So it is imperative that any dispute over the authenticity of books published by the BBT or its licensee, Krsna Books, Inc. (KBI), not be in public doubt. One certain way to help the reputation of the BBT as an authentic publishing house, as well as quell some devotee criticism, would be to comply with protocols recognized by the academic community, such as those outlined in the Modern Language Association (MLA) Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing and the Chicago Manual of Style. In this connection, we are again reminded how Srila Prabhupada was always concerned about how his books were to be viewed by the scholarly community. The protocols currently in customary practice, as mentioned herein, are not at all contrary to Srila Prabhupada’s publishing policies. This is demonstrated, for example, by his approval of Rayarama’s credentials as the bona fide editor of the abridged BGAII. Indeed that publication, along with the Preface by Rayarama, was reprinted by the BBT in 2002. This example, as well as the others, suggests that the editors take credit for their work. There is no need to continue the anonymity.

As far as ISKCON members are concerned, the editors are confident that most of them will choose to read the revised edition. The general public deserves the same option; in other words, to be informed that the second edition is a different one from the first. The editors should also be confident that the general public will also prefer a new, revised and enlarged edition. Otherwise, does not continued anonymity imply the editors’ lack of such confidence, leading them to appear surreptitious, like hidden co-authors? Of course, when it comes to Srila Prabhupada’s books, no one has a right to an extensive anonymous editing of a completed manuscript, anymore than Rayarama did when he extensively abridged the original manuscript for publication in 1968.

Unlike the examples herein of disciples finishing something which Srila Prabhupada had started, the 1983 BGAII is a thorough re-editing of a book Srila Prabhupada considered completed during his lifetime. He acknowledged only some errors and no one proposed anything more. Therefore, the editors of the revised 2nd edition are obligated to take credit where credit is due.

Controversies can take on a life of their own and both the 1st and 2nd editions of the BGAII are going on. But there is a difference. The first edition, still in print, clearly states it to be licensed by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and “is a reproduction of the book first published by Collier Books and the Macmillan Company in 1972”. This statement meets the standard protocols. Whereas the 1983 edition is now identified merely as a current printing of a “2nd edition”, without noting it to be revised (or enlarged), yet still includes the 1972 copyright of the 1st edition. There is no mention of the editors who did the revision or that there ever was one. This is not at all standard procedure and should include the normal protocols in the next printing. Besides protocols there are copyright laws also. Compliance will avoid any potential for Srila Prabhupada as an author, or his books to be marginalized, sidelined, or mixed up with categories of mundane books of dubious value.

Afterall, the people in general are the true beneficiaries of this Movement and the preliminary benediction from Srila Prabhupada has been the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, his most widely printed, distributed, reviewed, read and quoted book. And come what may in this hell-bent world — enchanted by electronics and manipulated by corporate cyber-space cadets– fortunately, one needs only some daylight or candlelight to read Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books!

It won’t be long before Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita will be in the public domain. Well before that happens, we want Srila Prabhupada to be recognized as the only truly authentic authorized translator and commentator. Hare Krsna.

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