By Ajit Krishna Dasa
Original and authorized 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Text 13.1-2 purport:
“Sometimes we understand that I am happy, I am mad, I am a woman, I am a dog, I am a cat: these are the knowers.”
BBT International’s unauthorized 1983 Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Text 13.1-2 purport:
“Sometimes we think, “I am happy,” “I am a man,” “I am a woman,” “I am a dog,” “I am a cat.” These are the bodily designations of the knower.”
Prabhupada’s “original manuscript”:
The changes are:
1) “we understand” to “we think”
2) “I am mad” to “I am a man”
3) “these are the knowers” to “These are the bodily designations of the knower.”
What we see is that the original editor is true to the “original manuscript” whereas Jayadvaita Swami is not. Here we want to focus solely on the change from “I am mad” to “I am a man”.
Why has Jayadvaita Swami made this change? He gives the following attempted justification on the BBT International’s website:
This is not a rational justification, but only an unsubstantiated claim that the words in the original Gita are “straight-out nonsense”, “not sacred” and “not the words of Srila Prabhupada”.
Here is our challenge to Jayadvaita Swami.
First of all it is clear that the words from the 1972 edition are not nonsense. “I am happy” and “I am mad” are both states of mind that humans can identify with. Nothing wrong with that. But Jayadvaita Swami speculates that the previous transcribers must have heard wrong, and that “mad” really must have been “a man” instead. I guess his reason is that “a man” fits with “a woman”. “I am a man, I am a woman” then becomes opposites. Just like “cat” and “dog” can be taken as opposites.
But if Jayadvaita Swami was attentive while reading Srila Prabhupada’s books he would have known that Prabhupada often uses “happy” and “mad” as opposites. Even Krishna presents these two states of mind as opposites:
“The mode of goodness conditions one to happiness, passion conditions him to the fruits of action, and ignorance to madness.” (Bg. 14.9)
The mode of goodness and the mode of ignorance have opposite qualities. Krishna here mentions “happiness” and “madness” respectively.
Prabhupada also uses “happy” and “mad” as opposites in other places. Here are a few examples:
Just like a man — ordinarily we perceive — a gentleman, after working very hard, if he gets some bank balance and nice house, nice wife, and some children, he thinks, “I am very happy.” This is also maya. He thinks, “But I am happy.” What kind of maya? Pramattah tesam nidhanam pasyann api na pasyati. He is in maya, mad, illusion, pramatta. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.22, Bombay, December 31, 1974)
Don’t be very much happy when you are in happy condition of life; neither you become mad in miserable condition of life. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.47, Bombay, January 22, 1975)
You must have perfect knowledge. Then you’ll be happy. Then you’ll be peace. And if you are misguided, bewildered, mad, then how you can be happy? (Rotary Club Lecture, Ahmedabad, December 5, 1972)
So these are all mad condition. So when he turns to God… Service he must give. Nobody can say, “I’m not serving anybody.” That is not possible. You must be serving somebody. Just like you are serving government, he is serving some office, because service is our nature. So we are not happy because the service is misplaced. (Room Conversation and Interview with Ian Polsen — July 31, 1972, London)
Prabhupada: Even the father, mother is not crying. The mother’s baby dies. She cries, she becomes mad. But when the child gives up that childhood body, accept another body, she’s happy because she knows: “My son is there. (Room Conversation with Anna Conan Doyle, daughter-in-law of famous author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, August 10, 1973, Paris)
Pradyumna: It’s Canto Five, Chapter Five, verse number seven. “Even though one may be very learned and wise, he is mad if he does not understand that the endeavor for sense gratification is a useless waste of time. Being forgetful of his own interest, he tries to be happy in the material world, centering his interests around his home, which is based on sexual intercourse and which brings him all kinds of material miseries. In this way one is no better than a foolish animal.” (Room Conversation, February 16, 1977, Mayapur)
Because the mad son is loitering in the street without any information of the father, to bring him back before the father. That is the best. He will be happy. (Room Conversation, March 26, 1977, Bombay)
We are just like a criminal who has dirty things within his heart. He thinks, “If I get such-and-such thing, I’ll be happy.” And at the risk of his life he commits a crime. A burglar, a thief, knows that if he is captured by the police he’ll be punished, but still he goes and steals. Why? Nunam pramattah: he has become mad after sense gratification. (BTG, 1983, The Self And Its Bodies)
There is ample evidence to support the claim that the purport of the original Gita has things right. And we see how the original editor is true to Prabhupada’s “original manuscript”. Jayadvaita Swami is changing something that is absolutely perfectly correct from the point of view of grammar, spelling, composition, logic, etc., and at the same time exactly follows the ‘original manuscript’, to something else dreamt up in his mind from his imagination and speculation only. In other words, Jayadvaita Swami here shows no concern for the so-called ‘original manuscript’ and certainly no concern for Srila Prabhupada’s original and authorized 1972 Complete Edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
This is not how an editor is supposed to work. To do what Jayadvaita Swami is doing here is totally unauthorized and completely destroys the authority of Prabhupada’s books.