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

8 thoughts on “Tampering with Prabhupada’s personally typewritten sanskrit translations (BG, Chapter One)

  1. I thought that Srila Prabhupada only dictated the books into a dictation recording machine and then the task of transcribing was then given to someone else but you say in the PDF:

    “So called original manuscript/draft
    (Type-written personally by Srila Prabhupada)”

    Am I wrong in my understanding that the drafts (that are wrongly referred to as manuscripts) for the Bhagavad-gita As It Is were NOT typewritten by Srila Prabhupada?

    My understanding of the history is that Srila Prabhupada did type a translation of the Gita but that version was stollen when his room in NYC was broken into and at that same time his typewriter was also stollen and neither was ever recovered.

    So then he proceeded to do the entire work all over again but this time using a dictaphone machine. So the drafts that JAS is falsely claiming to be manuscripts are the PRE-EDITED rough draft transcription made by a devotee from the dictation machine reel to reel recordings.

    Then Srila Prabhupada instructed Hayagriva Prabhu to edit those drafts (the ones JAS falsely calls manuscripts) to make another draft that Prabhupada and Hayagriva carefully went over to create the manuscript. Then that Manuscript was published as the Gita we now refer to as the Macmillan 1972 GIta.

    Am I wrong in my understanding?

    Thanks

  2. Dear Prahlada Prabhu!

    Thanks for your comment. Here are some quotes:

    Prabhupāda: One boy, he was coming to me. In that hundred, about one hundred seventy-first street, all my things were stolen. My tape recorder, typewriter. Fortunately they did not touch my manuscript that I was typing, typing my books. (Conversations : 1976 Conversations : September, 1976 : Room Conversation — September 30, 1976, Vrndavana)

    “After I took sannyāsa, a well-wishing friend suggested that I write books instead of magazines. Magazines, he said, might be thrown away, but books remain perpetually. Then I attempted to write Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Before that, when I was a householder, I had written on Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and had completed about eleven hundred pages, but somehow or other the manuscript was stolen.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition : Cc. Antya-lila : Cc. 1975: Concluding Words)

    So it seems the first manuscript was stolen in India, and Prabhupada typed a new one in America which was not stolen.

    Your servant, Ajit Krishna Dasa

    • Thanks for clearing the point up about the steeling. I had mixed the two instances together (Kaliyuga memory)…

      But still there is the point about the dictaphone recording as opposed to Srila Prabhupada personally typing.

      It would be interesting to know exactly what Srila Prabhupada typed and what he did not, just for future reference.

      The real thing is not whether Srila Prabhupada typed the manuscripts or drafts or dictated them into a dictaphone and someone else transcribed them. The real thing is Srila Prabhupada empowered and personally chose and oversaw Hayagriva’s work and then authorized, blessed, empowered and personally read from it.

      So anyone with any intelligence (well at least anyone but JAS) can understand that when any author publishes a book and then approves it it is final.
      On top of that even the author himself reads from those finalized books further proving the validity and finality of them. Then on top of that the author has the words “THE COMPLETE EDITION” published in all capitals in the very beginning of the book to further drive this point home (then the new editors remove this from the front of their bogus edited version, LOL).
      Then on top of all that the author himself personally promotes it, and asks all his disciples to daily read from that “complete edition.”
      On top of that there is not one single review on the new bogus edited version of the book but there are tuns of scholarly reviews on the original blessed book where the scholars are praising the validity and incredible composition and authority of the book that the new upstart editors are claiming is wrong and invalid! It is insane!

      You can read some of these scholarly reviews here:
      http://www.krishnapath.org/reviews/

      I personally have approached some professors and scholars asking them about Srila Prabhupada’s Gita and they literally kicked me out of their office saying that “the work of swami Prabhupada has been destroyed by his followers due to this disrespectful posthumous editing” and they wanted nothing more to do with me.

      It is a complete embarrassment and scar on Srila Prabhupada and this movements reputation.

      Considering all this any sane man can only naturally conclude that it is simply an attack on the author to posthumously go back to some drafts that the exact source of is unknown (even JAS admits this), and change that authorized book back to those drafts which were probably just pulled out of the trash or something.

      • Yes, prabhu! I completely agree on all your points. shocking to hear of the scholars. It would be good if you could get some of them to write something about it, so that the BBTI could understand the negative effect of their editing. Ys, Ajit

  3. Just want to let you all know that of all changes made to the sanskrit word for word meanings of chapter 1, only 2 of them are back to the so called original manuscript. The rest are either changes to the way the sanskrit synonyms are divided and written and/or direct changes to the English translations.

    Of course, changing back to the “original manuscript” is a mistake in itself.

  4. Very nice discussion going on. I remember picking up a 1983 Gita some time back and there was a comment like this: “The perfect has been made more perfect! ” What absolute nonsense!

  5. I’m very upset about all this. In fact I feel like a riven-cloud not knowing which one is closest to Srila Prabhupada’s original. Please clarify… I have no interest in anything but Srila Prabhupada’s Originals. Please sadhus… it’s very important to me. I have no desire to read anyone else’s!

  6. This whole thing is so heartbreaking

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