Open Letter to Sivarama Swami

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This below e-mail was sent to Sivarama Swami through the e-mail address (asksrs@gmail.com) provided on this website. I hope that the devotees in charge of receiving the e-mails will forward the e-mail to Maharaja. In the meantime I will look for another e-mail address of his.

Dear Sivarama Swami. Dandavat pranama. Jaya Srila Prabhupada.

I apologize if answering this letter becomes a burden on your many other responsibilities.

Recently I heard a podcast from your website where you respond to a few questions about the changes made to Srila Prabhupada’s books.

I have a few comments and points I find important in relation to your response, and I hope you will find the time to answer each of them.

This is an open letter, so it will also be posted online.

The letter is attached to this e-mail, but you can also find it here:

Open Letter to Sivarama Swami

Thank you very much.​
Your servant,
Ajit Krishna Dasa

Srila Prabhupada: “Why did you remove them?”

 Govinda Dasi:

“Now, how do we know that… Srila Prabhupada went over things very thoroughly. He went over this drawing. He corrected me, he watched what I was doing, many things. Teachings of Lord Caitanya, we also worked on the drawings for that while we were in Los Angeles, and I’m bringing this up because there’s a similar change in this regard. Teachings of Lord Caitanya originally had five or six black-and-white drawings. In those days we couldn’t afford to print color. So, Gourasundar and I did five or six black-and-white drawings, and Srila Prabhupada very meticulously went over them. He told us exactly what to put. I had never been in the Jagannath temple, I had never even been to India, and I wasn’t allowed in anyway. And he told me everything that was inside, where the pujari sits, Jagannath was up on this thing, it was dark all around—he gave me specific instructions on how to do that drawing; that drawing and all the rest that are in there. 

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So that’s how meticulous he was. I didn’t work with Hayagriva; Srila Prabhupada was busy working with Hayagriva. I was typing his letters, editing his letters, cooking his chapattis and stuff like that. But Srila Prabhupada was working on his books, OK? Now, those drawings were all removed from the subsequent edition of Teachings of Lord Caitanya, the drawings that Srila Prabhupada personally oversaw. He was quite distressed by this. He said, “Why have you removed those drawings? I had those done. Why did you remove them?” And they put some very nicely, highly beautiful, technically accurate paintings in there. Being an artist, I can relate to this from the artistic point of view. Also the Krsna Book, the artistic paintings, the early paintings were technically not as proficient as the ones that were later substituted for the early ones. But Srila Prabhupada was very distraught. He said, “Why did you remove those early paintings? They were full of bhakti.”” (Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami in Honolulu on Jan 19, 2003)

Read more at Govinda Dasi’s website www.govindadasi.com

Caitanya Mahaprabhu on the poetic mistakes of great vaisnavas

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Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:

Even in the poetic compositions of such great poets as Bhavabhuti, Jayadeva and Kalidasa there are many examples of faults. Such mistakes should be considered negligible. One should see only how such poets have displayed their poetic power.” (Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-Lila, Ch. 16, Texts 101-102)

Prabhupada’s purport to text 102:

In Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.11) it is said:

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso ‘nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

In explaining the glories of the Lord, inexperienced men may compose poetry with many faults, but because it contains glorification of the Lord, great personalities read it, hear it and chant it.” Despite its minute literary discrepancies, one must study poetry on the merit of its subject matter. According to Vaisnava philosophy, any literature that glorifies the Lord, whether properly written or not, is first class. There need be no other considerations. The poetic compositions of Bhavabhuti, or Srikantha, include Malati-madhava, Uttara-carita, Vira-carita and many other similar Sanskrit dramas. This great poet was born during the time of Bhojaraja as the son of Nilakantha, a brahmana. Kalidasa flourished during the time of Maharaja Vikramaditya, and he became the state poet. He composed some thirty or forty Sanskrit dramas, including Kumara-sambhava, Abhijnana-sakuntala and Megha-duta. His drama Raghu-vamsa is especially famous. We have already described Jayadeva in Chapter Thirteen of this Adi-lila.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu on editing the work of a vaisnava

Ishvara Puri also met Gadadhar Pandit and was pleased when he saw the depth of his renunciation. He started to affectionately give him lessons from Sri-Krsna-lilamrta, a book of his own composition. Nimai would also come daily to Gopinath Acharya’s house to visit Ishvara Puri while he was teaching Gadadhar and offer him His obeisances. One day, Ishvara Puripada asked Nimai to correct any mistakes that were in his book. Nimai answered:

Anyone who finds any fault with a devotee’s description of Krishna is a sinner. If a devotee writes a poem, no matter how poorly he does it, it will certainly contain his love for Krishna. A fool says ‘visnaya’ while a scholar knows the correct form is ‘visnave’, but Krishna accepts the sentiment in either case. If anyone sees a fault in this, the fault is his, for Krishna is pleased with anything the pure devotee says. You too describe the Lord with words of love, so what arrogant person would dare criticize anything that you have written? (Chaitanya Bhagavata 1.11.105-110)

We should note carefully that even if mistakes that normally only fools make are in such works, they should not be corrected. If one sees any fault in such so called mistakes, the fault is his.