Rebuttal of Hridayananda Dasa Goswami’s Claims on the Book Changes

Danesh Dasa posted the following on the facebook group “Hridayananda Das Goswami – Friends and Disciples”:

“Hridayananda Maharaj on the revised 2nd edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is:

“I Support This Edition”

“Jaya Advaita Swami and Dravida Prabhu sincerely worked to restore Prabhupada’s original text, and to clear up obvious mistakes by typists. Surely Prabhupada would appreciate this. Further, no one has ever shown that these corrections altered in any way Prabhupada’s philosophical teachings. Thus I support this edition of Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita.””

Here is a screenshot: Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.55.31

Let us take a look at each of Maharaja’s statements:

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami:

“Jaya Advaita Swami and Dravida Prabhu sincerely worked…”

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami here commits the fallacy of “begging the question” and the fallacy of “Ipse dixit / bare assertion fallacy”:

“Begging the question means “assuming the conclusion (of an argument)”, a type of circular reasoning. This is an informal fallacy where the conclusion that one is attempting to prove is included in the initial premises of an argument, often in an indirect way that conceals this fact.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question)

Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida Prabhu did their job sincerely only if they pleased Srila Prabhupada, and we are disagreeing about precisely that. Therefore Maharaja is “begging the question”.

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami needs to give some evidence in support for his claim. But instead of giving evidence he just states it, and this is the fallacy of “Ipse dixit / bare assertion fallacy”:

“Ipse dixit, Latin for “He, himself, said it,” is a term used to identify and describe a sort of arbitrary dogmatic statement which the speaker expects the listener to accept as valid.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipse_dixit)

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami:

“…to restore Prabhupada’s original text, and to clear up obvious mistakes by typists.”

Here Hridayananda Dasa Goswami commits the fallacy of “selective evidence / fallacy of incomplete evidence”:

“Cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking_(fallacy))

It is correct that Jayadvaita Swami and BBTI in some cases have changed the books back to what Srila Prabhupada said in the so-called original manuscripts. But is this really a good idea? Normally your drafts end up in your trash bin. If someone took your drafts out of your trash bin and changed your essay back to what you wrote in your drafts without consulting you first, I think you would feel insulted. Here is an article that deals with this unusual idea of changing a text back to its draft:

https://arsaprayoga.com/2013/10/15/jayadvaita-undoes-prabhupadas-work-on-gita-manuscript/

What Hridayananda Dasa Goswami fails to communicate (and possibly comprehend) is the sad fact that in many cases Jayadvaita Swami and BBTI have brought Srila Prabhupada’s books further away from the so-called original texts. They have deleted Srila Prabhupada’s own chosen words and sentences and added their own. They even changed hundreds (if not thousands) of his personally typewritten sanskrit translations. And in most cases there was no reason to do it at all – other than the whimsical preferences of the editors. I have documented many instances of this sort of editing in my e-book “No Reply from BBTI” and on my website www.arsaprayoga.com (see links below).

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami:

“Surely Prabhupada would appreciate this.”

Here Hridayananda Dasa Goswami again commits the fallacy “Ipse dixit / bare assertion fallacy”.

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami:

“Further, no one has ever shown that these corrections altered in any way Prabhupada’s philosophical teachings.”

Since Hridayananda Dasa Goswami presents no evidence to back up his claim, he again commits the fallacy of “Ipse dixit / bare assertion fallacy”.

He claims that no one has been able to demonstrate that Jayadvaita Swami and BBTI have made changes to the philosophy. But by publishing the 1983 edition of the Gita it was openly declared that it is perfectly okay to violate the principle of arsa-prayoga. This is a serious philosophical deviation, and this offensive mentality is now woven into each and every page of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and everyone who reads them will be contaminated by this mentality.

Besides this, now there might only be very few philosophical mistakes made by Jayadvaita Swami and BBTI, but what about the future? If the door is not closed forever, then the changing business might go on forever, since one change justifies the next. Srila Prabhupada was afraid of this (see the famous “Rascal Editors” conversation).

We also know that Jayadvaita Swami has made his own mistakes. One example of this is his changing “Visnu Form” into the “Visnu platform” (Bg. 2.61). This seems to be a change that takes the Gita in the mayavada direction. And here is a link to an article that demonstrates how Jayadvaita Swami has changed a sentence in the Gita so it gets the opposite meaning of what Srila Prabhupada originally said:

https://arsaprayoga.com/2014/08/12/small-word-big-difference/

Do we want more of these kinds of changes?

Another significant point in this regard is that Hridayananda Dasa Goswami presents an hidden premise, namely that:

All changes that are not of a philosophical nature are okay.

This hidden premise can be disproved by quoting Jayadvaita Swami and the BBTI:

“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)

Now, as we see Srila Prabhupada did not only disapprove of philosophical changes to his books. He also disapproved of “needless changes”. Therefore, if we can find any needless changes in the 1983 edition of the Gita, we know that Jayadvaita Swami and the BBTI have displeased Srila Prabhupada. My contention is that Jayadvaita Swami and the BBTI have made many needless changes (thousands). I have presented some of them in my e-book “No Reply from BBTI”:

https://arsaprayoga.com/2014/05/08/e-book-no-reply-from-bbti/

This e-book shows how the attempted justifications used by the BBTI fails. BBTI usually argue that:

  • We are changing Srila Prabhupada’s books back to what he actually said in his original manuscript.
  • We are making the books “Closer to Prabhupada”.
  • We are only correcting grammar, commas, capitalization etc.
  • We are only correcting the mistakes of previous editors.
  • No unnecessary changes have been made.

But the articles in the e-book documents that the BBT International have needlessly:

  • Deleted many of Srila Prabhupada’s own chosen words and sentences (even those also found in his ”original manuscript”).
  • Added their own words and sentences (which means these words and sentences are also not to be found in the ”original manuscript”).
  • Changed Srila Prabhupada’s own personally typewritten sanskrit translations.
  • Made needless change of syntax (sentence structure).

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami:

“Thus I support this edition of Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita.”

If Hridayananda Dasa Goswami had studied this issue carefully he would not support the 1983 edition of the Bhagavad-gita.

Some might argue that Hridayananda Dasa Goswami’s statement is not supposed to be a thorough defense of his views. That is perfectly fine – as long as we recognize that his above statement is completely useless in any kind of debate on the topic.

The interesting question is:

Will Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ever post a thorough defense of his view on this controversial topic? Or does he expect his disciples and well-wishers to blindly accept his statements without any supporting evidence?

We are many who would love to see how he will attempt to justify the editing of Jayadvaita Swami and the BBTI.

Your servant, Ajit Krishna Dasa

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