Where I differ from Garuda Dasa

By Ajit Krishna Dasa

If you are involved in the controversy about the posthumous changes made to Srila Prabhupada’s books then I guess you know who Garuda Dasa (Graham M. Schweig) is. Otherwise you can easily inform yourself by searching the internet.

To avoid any misunderstandings about my position in relation to Garuda Dasa I will now explain where and why I disagree with him on the topic of the posthumous editing of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Unlike me Garuda Dasa wants a new edition, or version, of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He is not satisfied with the work of Jayadvaita Swami, but at the same time he thinks we still need some posthumous editing. Garuda would like to do this editing himself – with a small group of qualified devotees.

I strongly disagree with him, and I recently presented my worries to him thus (slightly edited):

“You keep bringing up a couple of quotes to support posthumous editing, for example this one:

‘Our editing is to correct grammatical and spelling errors only, without interpolation of style or philosophy’ (Letter to Rupanuga Dasa, February 17, 1970).

And then you add that Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on editing his books can be summed up in the mantra “no changes, no mistakes,” and that this mantra must guide the posthumous editing of his books.

I find your argument fallacious for the following reasons:

1) There is no evidence that Srila Prabhupada included the idea of posthumous editing when he spoke these words. The context was that he was present to supervise the work – if he so desired.

2) Srila Prabhupada spoke out against posthumous editing on several occasions.

3) Srila Prabhupada’s own example was that he did not change his guru’s or previous acarya’s mistakes when he found them. Srila Prabhupada would not even allow corrections of grammatical mistakes made by the editors of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (see more below).

4) Caitanya Mahaprabhu also did not correct the mistakes of the acaryas.

So why do you want to extrapolate these quotes to include posthumous editing?

Why not do as Srila Prabhupada did, i.e. let the books be! And then perhaps create separate booklets to explain the mistakes?”

Garuda Prabhu first said he more or less agreed with me. But a few days later he wrote this:

‘I’ve looked into every one of the changes in the BGAII with the help of an extremely competent devotee. My conclusion: I can accept up to 25% of the editing, and even some of it very good. But at least 75% of the editing was totally unnecessary, even intrusive. With just the 25% of valid editing, no second edition would have been necessary.’ (Garuda Dasa, Facebook post, May 2020)

Garuda says he can accept 25% of Jayadvaita Swami’s editing. And then he wants to do some editing himself. First we had Srila Prabhupada’s Gita, then we had Jayadvaita Swamis new edition, and now Garuda might take over Jayadvaita Swami’s role as a posthumous editor, and then we will have a third.

It should be obvious that Garuda Prabhu’s attempts will not settle the matter. Intelligent devotees are against all sorts of posthumous editing. Why? Well, first of all because of the above mentioned reasons. But also because no matter how well-articulated your reasons are for making a certain change you cannot get Srila Prabhupada’s approval. And that is certainly needed.

This affair can only be settled by reference to an absolute principle. We are fortunate to have this principle. It is called arsa-prayoga. It means that we cannot make any changes to the acaryas words (without explicit instructions from the acarya himself). This settles the matter. There is nothing further to discuss.

But as long as we have conditioned souls taking up roles as authorities on the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s books there will be disagreements as to what constitutes a good, or the best, editor, and what constitutes a good reason to change. One editor will reject the other editors, and new, differing editions of Srila Prabhupada’s books will be published.

My position is, therefore, that this dispute cannot be settled with reference to conditioned souls no matter how good they are at editing. It can only be settled by reference to an absolute principle – arsa-prayoga.

Post November 18, 1977 all editing stops, and thereafter only commentaries on the books are allowed. Everyone can, if they so desire, make their individual commentary describing the mistakes in the original Bhagavad-gita As It Is. And then they can personally publish it at their own cost, and also get all the material profit.

Unfortumately Garuda’s attempts, however well-intented, will result in more frustration. We will have more and more new editions, or versions, of Srila Prabhupada’s Gita. People will lose their trust in Srila Prabhupada’s books, and in the Krishna consciousness movement.

With Garuda Dasa at the helm of the ongoing editing the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books will not be stopped.

Your servant,

Ajit Krishna Dasa

**********

Objections answered

A devotee wrote:

“The suggestion to correct transcription errors made by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, who made mistakes and aren’t gurus or acharyas, doesn’t fit the description of your quote.”

and

“Srila Prabhupada’s editors were not acaryas. They’re conditioned souls. They made mistakes.”

My answer:

As soon as the book the approved there can be no more changes without the direct approval and instruction of the guru.

While discussing the editing of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura’s Brahma Samhita we find this recollection by Ramesvara Dasa:

“Once it’s approved it’s eternal.” That was his quote. “Once it’s approved it’s eternal.” One of the heaviest incidences came up I think in ’76 or ’77, we wrote to Prabhupada about publishing his spiritual master’s book the Brahma-samhita. Because it had already been introduced to chant in the Gurukulas, we were chanting it all over ISKCON. And although Prabhupada in ’75 said, “You cannot read the Gaudiya Math publications, you cannot approach my spiritual master or Bhaktivinoda directly. You have to learn their teachings through me, through my books, through my lectures.” This was a big incident in ’75 because the devotees were buying Gaudiya Math publications and reading directly. And Prabhupada completely smashed it. So it was either ’76 or ’77 we wanted to print Brahma-samhita. Prabhu­pada approved it and he wrote a very heavy letter to Radhaballabha. Because we were asking Prabhupada about editing changes. I’m not sure if he wrote the letter or if it’s on a tape or maybe it’s both. I think Radhaballabha had a room conversation with Prabhupada and I wasn’t present. Tamal was there. And in addition to that I think there’s a letter. Anyway, between the letter and the room conversation, the instruction was given that “You cannot make any changes in my spiritual master’s book.” “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. And who would in turn train the next generation of BBT men, managers and production managers in this fanatical, literally fanatical transcendental phobia about changes. Prabhupada went out of his way to train us. Some of the instructions were so extreme that one might say they’re exaggerated. But they’re not exaggerated. This is exactly what Prabhupada wanted. (Ramesvara Dasa, Interview, 1979)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Saravati Thakura had editors. It was their job to properly edit the Brahma Samhita. But as we see Srila Prabhupada would not even allow corrections to the grammatical mistakes of the editors of the book.

We should follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps by not allowing any changes to whatever Srila Prabhupada has approved to be in his books.

If Srila Prabhupada was here we could ask him, and he might give his approval to such corrections. But since he is not here, and thus cannot give his approval, it is offensive to continue editing his book.

Intelligent devotees can foresee how havoc can come from trying to correct the editors’ mistakes:

-Can only their grammatical mistakes be corrected?

-Is it considered a mistake if an editor has left passages from the so-called original manuscript out?

-How do we know if something is an editorial mistake, or a transcendental mistake made by Srila Prabhupada? Or perhaps not a mistake at all. There are many grey areas.

I think there will be differing answers to these questions, and then we are again left with conditioned souls as our editorial guides, instead of an absolute principle – arsa-prayoga.

And then we have not made progress towards stopping the continues changes and corrections to Srila Prabhupada’s books?

New Video Series on the Book Changes

We are gradually producing videos on the book changes. Check our playlist at Youtube, and remember to subscribe for new videos.

Kindly share the videos on social media – especially on Facebook.

Thanks for watching and helping Srila Prabhupada.

Book Changes – Playlist

“Blessed Lord” Means the Lord is Praiseworthy

By Ajit Krishna Dasa

One of the thousands of things that Jayadvaita Swami changed in the Bhagavad-gita As It is was the term “The Blessed Lord”.

There are some misconceptions about this term in the society of devotees. Even some native English speaking devotees believe that the term refers to a scenario where the Lord is being blessed (endowed) with a certain thing or attribute by one of his devotees.

Based on this misconception they consider the term “The Blessed Lord” as it is used in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is to be mistaken, and thus they support Jayadvaita Swami’s change to “The Supreme Personality of Godhead”.

I am quite amazed that native English speakers are not aware that the term “The Blessed Lord” or “to bless the Lord” means something completely different. I am also amazed to see how they criticise the term “The Blessed Lord” without bothering to look for it’s meaning in a dictionary or online.

Let us help them:

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And

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To learn more about how the term is used we need to nothing more than search the internet. There are loads of answers. In Christianity is perfectly normal to say “The Blessed Lord” and “Bless the Lord” in the sense of praising, glorifying and honoring God.

Here is something from an article that makes the point clear:

“There are two main things that we do when we bless the Lord.  The first is synonymous with giving thanks and praise.  Some translations actually say, “Give thanks to the Lord,” where others say, “Bless the Lord.”  So, blessing the Lord is praising Him and giving thanks to Him—for blessing us!  The other thing we do when we bless the Lord is to proclaim Him blessed.  Here I think I’ll have to make a distinction between “blessed” and “blessed.”  For clarity’s sake, this distinction is between “blessed” and “blest”—though I don’t really like that newfangled form of the word—the former in two syllables and the latter in one.  The former is a state of being, the latter a consequence of something have been done or given to someone.

When we call God blessed, we are saying something about who God is.He is blessed, which is a synonym for “holy.”  Blessed is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  The Byzantine Divine Liturgy always opens with the glorious and magnificent “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and unto ages of ages!” When we speak of God as the recipient of our blessings (praises and thanksgivings), then He is blest.  May the Lord be forever blest!  Sometimes both meanings can apply simultaneously.When Our Lady said, “All generations shall call me blessed,” it means both that all generations acknowledge her holiness and that all generations acknowledge that she has been uniquely blest by God.”

When Jayadvaita Swami made the change from “The Blessed Lord” to “The Supreme Personality of Godhead” he did not used the above mentioned misconception as a justification. Perhaps he knew there was nothing wrong with the term. He attempted to justify his change in another way. His attempted justification will be the subject matter of an upcoming article.

Salt in the Caranamrta (e-book)

 

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Hare Krishna!

I have just made an e-book consisting of most of my articles, letters, rebuttals, quotes, debates etc. from arsaprayoga.com.

Here it is:

Salt in the Caranamrita (04-10-2016-19-40)

You will always be able to find the latest version in the e-book section of arsaprayoga.com.

Spread the word.

Your servant, Ajit Krishna Dasa

E-BOOK: Arsa-Prayoga: Preserving Srila Prabhupada’s Legacy

Almost 400 pages about the changes made to Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Arsa-Prayoga Book

Click picture to visit website

From the back cover:

“Arsa prayoga, lit. “rishi’s license,” means to honour the acarya by preserving his teachings in the originally published form, not changing what he has written to make it appear more effective or politically correct. There should be no confusion between the work written by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and edited by Howard Wheeler and the posthumous cent per cent revised copy proposed by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. By changing Prabhupada’s books without explicitly saying so, they do a discredit to Srila Prabhupada, devotees and scholars. At present it appears that the revisions were made by the original author. This book is meant to be the truth about the editing of Prabhupada’s books carefully chronicled for future generations.”

Go directly to download page: arsaprayogabook.com/book

E-BOOK: Blazing Edits

blazing-edits

Click to download the book

Aug 20, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) —  We invite you to download a copy of Blazing Edits, an e-book collection of segments written by Bhakta Torben Nielsen on the topic of the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This series has been an ongoing publication on Sampradaya Sun and www.arsaprayoga.com.

This e-book was made in a cooperative effort by Bhakta Torben Nielsen (Author), Bhakta Max Køngerskov (Design and Layout), Ajit Krishna dasa (Idea), and the Sampradaya Sun (Publisher). The book will periodically be updated with new segments.

DOWNLOAD LATEST VERSION

Blazing Edits (16 okt. 2015)

E-Book: ISKCON’s Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Bg. and PQPA

Click to download the book

Click to download the book

ISKCON’s Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers (by Madhudvisa Dasa).

Perhaps the first book on the book changes. So old it was made with a typewriter. Definitely of both present day and historical value. It contains a lot of good evidence against the changes, good arguments and historical documentation (like mails).

Download the book here: ISKCON’s Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers (by Madhudvisa Dasa).