BBT International Cutting in Srila Prabhupada’s Lectures

There is an error in the below video:

I thought the lecture was from 1976, but in fact it is from 1975. The 1976 edition of the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam was, obviously, not printed in 1975, and thus we now know with 100% certainty that BBT International inserted the wrong text in the transcript.

They cut out the audio read from First Canto 1.7.7 1972, and then in the transcript they inserted the text from First Canto 1976.

Deleting “whatever” (Bg. 6.26)

Bg. 6.26:

Srila Prabhupada’s draft (so-called original manuscript):

Screenshot 2014-04-13 12.00.37

Original and authorized 1972 Macmillan edition:

“From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.”

BBT International’s posthumously edited 1983 edition:

From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.

What did Srila Prabhupada think about the verse?

Visnujana: Verse twenty-six: “From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self [Bg. 6.26].”

Prabhupada: This is the process. This is yoga system. Suppose you are trying to concentrate your mind on Krsna, and your mind is diverted, going somewhere, in some cinema house. So you should withdraw, “Not there, please, here.” This is practice of yoga. Not to allow the mind to go away from Krsna. (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 6.25-29, Los Angeles, February 18, 1969)

The words translated as “whatever and wherever” is “yataḥ yataḥ”. In the 1972 Macmillan edition the word for word looked like this:

 yataḥ-whatever; yataḥ;-wherever

In BBT International’s 1983 edition this is changed to:

yataḥ yataḥ — wherever

Unfortunately these word for word synonyms are missing for 6.26 in the so-called original manuscript. But we do find something in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

yataḥ yataḥ — from whatever and wherever; (SB 7.15.32-33)

As a side note: This verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam in about the same subject as Bg. 6.26:

While continuously staring at the tip of the nose, a learned yogi practices the breathing exercises through the technical means known as puraka, kumbhaka and recaka — controlling inhalation and exhalation and then stopping them both. In this way the yogi restricts his mind from material attachments and gives up all mental desires. As soon as the mind, being defeated by lusty desires, drifts toward feelings of sense gratification, the yogi should immediately bring it back and arrest it within the core of his heart. (SB 7.15.32-33)

Again we left with the conclusion that Jayadvaita Swami and the BBT International are not bringing Srila Prabhupada’s books “closer to Prabhupada”. They are violating Srila Prabhupada’s, sastra’s and their own stated editing guidelines by making both needless and harmful changes in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Prabhupada: Rascals are concerned with grammar. Actual workers are concerned with thoughts.

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Re-posted from krishna.org

The thoughts and the effects of such revolutionary literature are required. Not the grammatical. The so-called rascals, they are concerned with the grammatical. But those who are actually worker, they are concerned with the thoughts…

1972 Conversations, January, 1972, Room Conversation Including Discussion on SB. 1.5.11 — January 19, 1972, Jaipur, 720119RC.JAI

Prabhupada: These people or this revolution is meant for killing the sinful resultant actions of the people. This revolution. Janata agha, agha means resultant action of sinful life. Janata agha viplavah. Viplavah means revolution, this very word is used. Tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api[ SB 1.5.11]. Such revolutionary literature, even they are not properly composed. Yasmin prati-slokam abaddham. Not according to the grammatical rules and other rhetorical rules, but the, I mean to say, thoughts and the effects of such revolutionary literature is required. Not the grammatical. The so-called rascals, they are concerned with the grammatical. But those who are actually worker, they are concerned with the thoughts. What is the thought is there? Therefore, it is said that tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api, namany anantasya yaso “nkitani yat[ SB 1.5.11].

If there is simply the attempt is there how to glorify the Supreme Lord, that is a fact. It doesn”t matter whether it is written in correct language or incorrect language, it doesn”t matter. If the whole thought is targeted to glorify the Supreme Lord, then namany anantasya yaso “nkitani yat grnanti gayanti srnvanti sadhavah. Then those who are actually sadhu, even in spite of all these defects, because the only attempt is to glorify the Lord, then those who are sadhu, those who are devotee, they hear it. Srnvanti gayanti grnanti. Not only hear, they chant also the same thing. And not only chant, but grnanti, they apply in their actual life.

This is the Bhagavata sloka. Is it clear now? Yes. Tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo[ SB 1.5.11]. If the thought is revolutionary for transcendental realization, even it is not properly composed from grammatical and literary point of view, because the attempt is there for glorifying the Supreme Lord, all devotees, all great sages, saintly persons, sadhavah, grnanti, they accept. Yes. Grnanti srnvanti, hear with attention, and gayanti, and chant also. This is the principle. The only center is whether it is meant for awakening God consciousness. That is the central point, not the language(?). But it does not mean that it should not be correctly written. Correctly or incorrectly, if it is spoken by realized soul, that is important. Srnvanti gayanti. Somehow or other, if the attempt is to glorify the Supreme Lord; otherwise, if the attempt is to kill the Supreme Lord… Just like Dr. Radhakrishnan, what is the value of such erudition? A rascal. That is called (Sanskrit), jugglery of words. It has no value.

Anyone who is trying to present… Just like Aurabindo, he has no idea what is Krsna and writing so many nonsense things. Vivekananda, he has no idea. Dr. Radhakrishnan. Rabindranath Tagore, he has no idea what is God, but he is writing Gitanjali. That should be tested by life. Caitanya Mahaprabhu speaking apani acari prabhu jivere sikhaya, He behaves Himself perfectly and then teaches how to become a devotee. He is mad after Krsna, He is falling down in the sea. You see? So that is wanted. And the Bhagavata also says, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir [SB 1.2.6], how one has increased his devotion and love for Krsna, that is the test of it. Not these formalities. Another place Krsna says, api cet su-duracaro bhajate mam ananya-bhak. Even suduracarah, even not well behaved but unflinching faith in Krsna, sadhur eva sa mantavyah [Bg. 9.30], he is sadhu. Don”t consider about his misbehaviors. That is not consideration. That will be corrected. Because he has taken to Krsna consciousness, gradually those things, those defects will be corrected. ksipram bhavati dharmatma sasvac-chantim nigacchati, he will become very soon a great religious soul because he has taken to Krsna.

So in the beginning if there is some defect, we should not consider that. We have to see how much his love for Krsna has increased, that is the test. Not the formalities. That is the test, how much he has sacrificed for Krsna, how much he is prepared to sacrifice for Krsna. If one takes Krsna for making business, that is different thing, that is not devotion. Salagrama, my Guru Maharaja used to say salagram bir badam hoy (?). Just like you have seen salagrama. So if somebody takes that and breaks peanuts, so there is no devotion. It is a show during, attracting the visitors, it is nicely decorated, but in their absence, take it and you will have stone. So all this mostly the temple show is going on like that. They have made it a show of business. The devotees will come and pay something and I may have devotion or not devotion, it doesn”t matter. One should be baccha bankaram suci (?), inside and outside perfect.

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso “nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah
[ SB 1.5.11]

And then against this,

na yad vacas citra-padam harer yaso
(jagat-pavitram) pragrnita karhicit
tad vayasam tirtham usanti manasa
na yatra hamsa niramanty usik-ksayah
[ SB 1.5.10]

Na yad vacas citra-padam harer yasah. You can present a literature very perfect from literary point of view, from metaphor and poetical, rhetorical, very perfectly written, citra-padam, attractive by language. Na yad vacas citra-padam, such kind of literature, if there is no description of the glories of the Lord, na tad vacas citra-padam. Just like there are so many sex literatures, very attractive, it is selling like anything. But we are not interested in those rascal literatures. Tad vayasam tirtham, such literature is considered as the place of enjoyment of the crows. Vayasam means crow. The crow take enjoyment in the garbage, you have seen? They won”t go in a nice place. They will come all together. Just like vultures, they come together to take pleasure in a corpse, dead body. But a white swan, raja-hamsa, he goes to a place where there is nice water, lilies and lotus and nice trees.

You have seen that St. James Park? They will find out such nice place. They won”t go to imitate the crows. The crows-like people will take pleasure in such nonsense literature, sex literature, or any such literature. So many nonsense literatures nowadays they are having good sale. Because people are becoming crows-like, they have no high idea, they have no sense of Krsna consciousness, naturally they will take. Just like hippies, they have become all bad taste, crows-like.

So we have to become swans, raja-hamsa, paramahamsa, paramahamsa. Paramo nirmatsaranam. Then you can understand Krsna consciousness. If you remain crows, then you cannot, that is not possible. By nature”s example we have to see if crows-like and swans-like, pigeons-like, birds of the same feather. Birds of the same feather flock together, is it not? So you have to change your feather, then he will be pleased. If you keep your feather crows-like, then you cannot mix with the swans, that is not possible. This is the test. There are classes of men like crows, and there are classes of men like swans. So we are preparing our devotee… (aside) What is that?
Devotee (1): Is anybody watching?
Devotee (2): No.
Prabhupada: So Krsna consciousness means swan-like, they should be like swans. Their behavior should be like swans. They should live in clean place, at refreshing place. So as soon as somebody will come to the temple, he will be… (aside) You have some papers I shall show?
Syamasundara: I just wanted to check and see if there”s somebody here. It”s Nanda-kumara.
Prabhupada: So keep this principle in view, that you have to become swan, not crows. They say that everyone, every religion is all the same. This is all nonsense. (indistinct) In Bhagavad-gita there are different types of religion, sattvic, rajarsic, tamasic. And our this… If you take it as religion, this is transcendental. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo [SB 1.2.6]. Parah means transcendental, it is not ordinary, aparah.

In aparah dharma, the materialistic dharma, there are ritualistic ceremonies how to make one perfect for accepting transcendental religion. But this Krsna consciousness is directly putting oneself in the transcendental. That is the special (indistinct). Caitanya Mahaprabhu… (aside) Why don”t you close it?

Caitanya-caritamrta says, krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya. If you become Krsna conscious, then it is to be supposed that you have finished all other types of religion. My Guru Maharaja used to cite one example that one”s friend was sitting on the high court judge”s bench. So he was speaking to another, “Oh, that Panchu was playing with us naked. He is sitting on the high court judge”s bench. Oh, how he was playing with us naked, how he is seated in the high court bench?” “Yes, I have seen, you have seen actually he is sitting.” “Oh, then he must not be getting salary.” He must not be getting salary. So this is the argument. Familiarity breeds contempt. So he cannot believe that he has become a high court judge. He thinks that “I am a rascal fool and my friend, how he can become high court judge? He must not be getting salary.” But is that very good argument that the high court judge is seated there without any salary? This argument is false(?). That is enviousness. Nirmatsarata. That is the habit of the conditioned soul. So if… (end)

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

New video with Ramesvara Prabhu from “Prabhupada Memories” about the book changes

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Everyone will welcome Srimad-Bhagavatam, even though presented with so many faults (SB 1.5.11)

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1972-original-srimad-bhagavatam-cover

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yat
śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

SYNONYMS

tat—that; vāk—vocabulary; visargaḥ—creation; janatā—the people in general; agha—sins; viplavaḥ—revolutionary; yasmin—in which; prati-ślokam—each and every stanza; abaddhavati—irregularly composed; api—in spite of; nāmāni—transcendental names, etc.; anantasya—of the unlimited Lord; yaśaḥ—glories; aṅkitāni—depicted; yat—what; śṛṇvanti—do hear; gāyanti—do sing; gṛṇanti—do accept; sādhavaḥ—the purified men who are honest.

TRANSLATION

On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.

PURPORT

It is a qualification of the great thinkers to pick up the best even from the worst. It is said that the intelligent man should pick up nectar from a stock of poison, should accept gold even from a filthy place, should accept a good and qualified wife even from an obscure family and should accept a good lesson even from a man or from a teacher who comes from the untouchables. These are some of the ethical instructions for everyone in every place without exception. But a saint is far above the level of an ordinary man. He is always absorbed in glorifying the Supreme Lord because by broadcasting the holy name and fame of the Supreme Lord, the polluted atmosphere of the world will change, and as a result of propagating the transcendental literatures like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, people will become sane in their transactions. While preparing this commentation on this particular stanza of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam we have a crisis before us. Our neighboring friend China has attacked the border of India with a militaristic spirit. We have practically no business in the political field, yet we see that previously there were both China and India, and they both lived peacefully for centuries without ill feeling. The reason is that they lived those days in an atmosphere of God consciousness, and every country, over the surface of the world, was God-fearing, pure-hearted and simple, and there was no question of political diplomacy. There is no cause of quarrel between the two countries China and India over land which is not very suitable for habitation, and certainly there is no cause for fighting on this issue. But due to the age of quarrel, Kali, which we have discussed, there is always a chance of quarrel on slight provocation. This is due not to the issue in question, but to the polluted atmosphere of this age: systematically there is propaganda by a section of people to stop glorification of the name and fame of the Supreme Lord. Therefore, there is a great need for disseminating the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam all over the world. It is the duty of every responsible Indian to broadcast the transcendental message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam throughout the world to do all the supermost good as well as to bring about the desired peace in the world. Because India has failed in her duty by neglecting this responsible work, there is so much quarrel and trouble all over the world. We are confident that if the transcendental message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is received only by the leading men of the world, certainly there will be a change of heart, and naturally the people in general will follow them. The mass of people in general are tools in the hands of the modern politicians and leaders of the people. If there is a change of heart of the leaders only, certainly there will be a radical change in the atmosphere of the world. We know that our honest attempt to present this great literature conveying transcendental messages for reviving the God consciousness of the people in general and respiritualizing the world atmosphere is fraught with many difficulties. Our presenting this matter in adequate language, especially a foreign language, will certainly fail, and there will be so many literary discrepancies despite our honest attempt to present it in the proper way. But we are sure that with all our faults in this connection the seriousness of the subject matter will be taken into consideration, and the leaders of society will still accept this due to its being an honest attempt to glorify the Almighty God. When there is fire in a house, the inmates of the house go out to get help from the neighbors who may be foreigners, and yet without knowing the language the victims of the fire express themselves, and the neighbors understand the need, even though not expressed in the same language. The same spirit of cooperation is needed to broadcast this transcendental message of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam throughout the polluted atmosphere of the world. After all, it is a technical science of spiritual values, and thus we are concerned with the techniques and not with the language. If the techniques of this great literature are understood by the people of the world, there will be success.

When there are too many materialistic activities by the people in general all over the world, there is no wonder that a person or a nation attacks another person or nation on slight provocation. That is the rule of this age of Kali or quarrel. The atmosphere is already polluted with corruption of all description, and everyone knows it well. There are so many unwanted literatures full of materialistic ideas of sense gratification. In many countries there are bodies appointed by the state to detect and censor obscene literature. This means that neither the government nor the responsible leaders of the public want such literature, yet it is in the marketplace because the people want it for sense gratification. The people in general want to read (that is a natural instinct), but because their minds are polluted they want such literatures. Under the circumstances, transcendental literature like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will not only diminish the activities of the corrupt mind of the people in general, but also it will supply food for their hankering after reading some interesting literature. In the beginning they may not like it because one suffering from jaundice is reluctant to take sugar candy, but we should know that sugar candy is the only remedy for jaundice. Similarly, let there be systematic propaganda for popularizing reading of the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which will act like sugar candy for the jaundicelike condition of sense gratification. When men have a taste for this literature, the other literatures, which are catering poison to society, will then automatically cease.

We are sure, therefore, that everyone in human society will welcome Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, even though it is now presented with so many faults, for it is recommended by Śrī Nārada, who has very kindly appeared in this chapter. (Source: http://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/1/5/11)

In The Early Days (Govinda Dasi)

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Govinda Dasi

A number of devotees attended the recent (January 2003) series of meetings in Hawaii on the book changes. Jayadvaita Maharaja attended the first two meetings, and Nischintya Prabhu attended the third one (Jayadvaita Maharaja was out of town). I attended all three meetings and believe that much was accomplished. Many valuable points were gleaned from these sessions – both inspiring as well as grueling. These meetings are being transcribed, and are available on adi-vani.org for those who are interested.

We held the meetings in Srila Prabhupada’s room at New Navadvipa Dham, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Memorial Tirtha (the Honolulu ISKCON temple), where Srila Prabhupada lived, worked and translated his books. His presence is very strong at our Hawaii temple. We all prayed for Srila Prabhupada’s divine presence at these meetings, and humbly requested that he inspire us to reach understandings based on his transcendental viewpoints, rather than our own limited ones. In my heart, I feel that Srila Prabhupada has urged me to speak out on this issue. I usually do not get involved in controversial matters unless the issue is of great importance. And the issue of Srila Prabhupada’s books, in my opinion, is of paramount importance. I have had many realizations and wish to share them here.

It is unreasonable to consider that Srila Prabhupada would intend to give up the results of two years of editing the book with Hayagriva and go backwards to the original manuscripts.

First, it seems that Jayadvaita Maharaja takes this matter too personally.

Continue reading

A little learning is dangerous

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According to Satsvarupa Goswami in his Prabhupada Lilamrita Srila Prabhupada said arsha-prayoga establishing a no change policy:

But one day while sitting in the garden with Tamala Krsna, Svarupa Damodara, and others, Srila Prabhupada became very disturbed when he detected a mistake in one of his already printed books. Tamala Krsna was reading aloud a verse from the First Canto which began, “Munayah sadhu prsto ‘ham.” Srila Prabhupada had him read the synonyms.

Tamala Krsna read: “munayah-O sages; sadhu-this is relevant; prstah-questioned… ”

“Sadhu?” asked Srila Prabhupada. Thus he uncovered a thoughtless mistake made by the Sanskrit editors. Sadhu means “devotee,” not “this is relevant.” Srila Prabhupada became very angry and denounced the “rascal Sanskrit scholars.” “A little learning,” he said “is dangerous. Immediately they think they have become big scholar, thinking, “I shall arrange!’ And then they write all nonsense.” He continued speaking about the mistake for half an hour. He was disturbed. He ordered Tamala Krsna to write at once to the BBT and stop these speculations by his disciples-changing his books in the name of editing The devotees were startled to see Prabhupada so angry; he was supposed to be peacefully relishing a Srimad-Bhagavatam reading here in his garden. Such a change was very serious, he said, because it changed the meaning. “Even if the authorized acaryas would make a mistake,” he said, “it would not be changed. This is arsa-prayoga. In this way the acaryas are honored.” (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, chapter 52 “I Have Done My Part”)

Arsha Prayoga Part II

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By Locanananda Dasa (originally posted on his blog)

Srila Prabhupada’s desire was to see his books translated into all of the major languages of the world. By 1970, numerous centers had opened in countries outside of the United States and translation work had begun in Germany, France, Canada, South America and Japan. When the German devotees undertook the translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam, they discovered what they thought were grammatical discrepancies in the original English. The translators reasoned that if their spiritual master could publish his books with flaws included, then their own translation work could also contain mistakes and no harm would be done. In a very strongly-worded letter, Srila Prabhupada chastised his disciples for thinking they could imitate their spiritual master and explained that to avoid this offense, they must follow the principle of arsha prayoga.

One should not see mistakes in the books written by his spiritual master, nor should one think he is able take the same liberties taken by him. His Divine Grace warned his disciples that only if they were able to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world as he had done could discrepancies in their translation work be overlooked, otherwise not.

“So far your telling me that some devotees consider that because there may be some grammatical discrepancies in my Srimad Bhagavatam, First Canto, then they may also be allowed to translate with errors accepted, that is just like imitating Raslila. When you do all other things like Krishna, then you can do Raslila. So if these other writers can do like me and spread Krishna consciousness all over the world by becoming big Vedic scholars, then they can do.

“If one is too big, there is no mistake. Arsha prayoga means there may be discrepancies but it is all right. Just like Shakespeare, sometimes there are odd usages of language, but he is accepted as authority. I have explained all these things in my preface to First Canto.” (Letter to Mandali Bhadra dated 1-20-72 )

Srila Prabhupada wrote, “If one is too big, there is no mistake,” so when the BBT [Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.—not the authentic Bhaktivedanta Book Trust established by Srila Prabhupada] decided that his books were full of mistakes and had to be re-edited, they made Srila Prabhupada look very small, and that is their great offense.

Sometimes, the editors try to justify their actions by claiming that scholars would have found fault in our books had they not been revised. The many, many letters Srila Prabhupada received from world-renowned scholars that glorified his phenomenal literary output contradict this false propaganda. The academic community was astounded by the magnitude of his undertaking and showed its appreciation for the exactness with which he translated and the profound devotion he expressed in his Bhaktivedanta purports. We have chosen one such letter which exemplifies to what extent Srila Prabhupada’s extraordinary efforts were acknowledged by the educated class of men. We advise the reader to keep in mind that these comments refer to the original BBT printing of his books.

Excerpted from a letter written by Sri R. Subrahmanyam, M.A., Deputy Research Director of the National Parliament of the Central Government of India:

“To teach this science of God to people everywhere and to aid them in their progress and development towards the real goal of life, Srimad Bhagavatam is most eminently fitted. In fact, this great ancient work of Vyasa will fill this need of the modern times, for it is a cultural presentation for the re-spiritualization of the entire human society. His Divine Grace, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the ISKCON movement, has taken upon himself, in addition to his ceaseless travels and other multifarious activities in the service of the Lord, the stupendous task of translating this Sanskrit work into English in about sixty volumes for the welfare and happiness of mankind.

“So far, eighteen volumes of this most beautiful literature on God have been brought out by ISKCON, and the rest are under preparation. Needless to say that in keeping with the excellence of their other publications, the publishers have seen to it that the printing, get-up, and pictures in these volumes are also of the highest quality, as though to serve as an ornament to the divine contents of the books.

“This is a rare opportunity for people and leaders of every country, race and community in the world to know and understand the glorious science of God and work for their perfection.”

We challenge the BBT managers and their editors to produce a single letter from any recognized scholar agreeing with them that Srila Prabhupada’s original books were full of mistakes and had to be revised for his message to be properly understood. Since their purpose in making these revisions was to impress scholars, we hereby challenge them to come forward and produce evidence that there are indeed scholars who approve of the thousands of changes they made to Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Another argument presented to support the BBT’s questionable editorial policy was that their editors, by dint of their many additional years of experience, had become more qualified than Srila Prabhupada’s earlier staff of editors, and this had supposedly earned them the right to review all of the books after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance and make whatever changes they thought were necessary. In the late 1960′s, Hayagriva had similarly offered to redo some of Rayarama’s editorial work, thinking himself more academically qualified than his godbrother, but Srila Prabhupada did not approve of his proposal. Although Hayagriva was an accomplished professor of English at Ohio State University, contrary to his opinion (and that of today’s BBT managers), Srila Prabhupada affirmed that academic credentials are not the primary qualification to edit transcendental literature. In his reply to Hayagriva, he wrote:

“Rayarama may not be as qualified as you are, but his one qualification that he is fully surrendered to Krishna and his spiritual master is the first class recommendation for his editing any one of our literatures, because editing of Vedic literatures not depend on academic education.” (Letter to Hayagriva dated 1-15-68 )

It is evident from his letter that Srila Prabhupada considered his early editors to be fully competent because they were depending upon Krishna and the spiritual master to give them the ability to perform their service. His Divine Grace was very satisfied with the quality of their work and, to show his appreciation, he later wrote to Hayagriva, “I want your company always for editing my writings very nicely.” As far as we have been able to ascertain, he never contemplated having anyone redo the work of his editors.

It is also a fact that Srila Prabhupada’s involvement in the preparation of his books went far beyond his original dictation, although the BBT’s propaganda would lead one to believe that his participation ended there. The truth is that in order to guarantee a very high standard of presentation, Srila Prabhupada personally supervised all proofreading and editorial work and did not allow any significant changes to be made in the text of his books without his approval. It is customary that once a writer accepts an edited draft of his book, it immediately supersedes an unedited draft. When the BBT editors decided to work again from Srila Prabhupada’s original manuscripts, they were, in effect, rejecting the proofreading and editorial work that Srila Prabhupada himself had overseen. This is not how one shows appreciation for the spiritual master’s endeavor to publish his books, or for the service offered to him by others.

Arsha Prayoga Part (I) – Resistance To Change

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By Locanananda Prabhu (originally posted on his blog)

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Let me first offer my prostrated obeisances unto the lotus feet of that supreme swan-like devotee of the Lord, our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, by whose mercy the fallen souls of Kali Yuga may taste the sweetness of the narrations of the pastimes of the Lord and His pure devotees. As the bonafide representative of Sri Vyasadeva, he composed a mountain of transcendental literature to enlighten the entire human society, explaining even the most confidential truths regarding vaisnava philosophy.

His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada displayed all of the symptoms of an empowered jiva soul, working tirelessly to distribute the transcendental message of love of Godhead throughout the world. It is therefore the duty of his followers to preserve the legacy and protect the honor of such a great spiritual personality whose every moment was dedicated to the spreading of Krishna consciousness.

To guarantee that his teachings would not be forgotten in the oblivion of time, Srila Prabhupada created the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and, assisted by his disciples, he astounded the academic community with his literary output. What follows is a brief account of Srila Prabhupada’s struggle with the BBT staff to keep the final version of his books intact by resisting what he called the “American disease” of always wanting to change things. As will be seen from the letters and conversations cited in this article, Srila Prabhupada would finally insist on an “absolutely no change” policy based on the principle of “arsa prayoga”.

That unwanted changes were being made to his books came to his attention as early as 1975, and it quickly became a pressing matter. In a letter to the production manager of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Srila Prabhupada expressed his alarm that changes he had not approved were appearing in print.

“I will have to see personally what are the mistakes in the synonyms and also how you intend to correct them. I was not satisfied with the corrections that were made before. I saw some changes which I did not approve. Nitai may correct whatever mistakes are there, but the corrected material must be sent to me for final approval.” (Letter to Radha-vallabha dasa dated 1-5-76)

Srila Prabhupada never gave anyone carte blanche to make revisions in his books. This letter confirms that any changes to his books would require his personal approval before being printed.

A few months later, the issue of change was raised again by Radha-vallabha dasa regarding the text of several volumes of the Srimad Bhagavatam which were soon to be reprinted. Srila Prabhupada advised him, “There is no need for corrections for the First and Second Cantos. Whatever is there is all right.” (Letter of 5-4-76) Seeing how persistent his BBT managers were to implement change in the text and presentation of his books, His Divine Grace wrote again to Radha-vallabha dasa in August, 1976, this time more firmly:

“Do not try to change anything without my permission.”

Srila Prabhupada consistently stated that he did not want anything to be changed unnecessarily. Any changes they thought would be an improvement in the text would require his written authorization.

The most serious violation of this instruction actually came years later, after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, when BBT personnel decided to print a new version of the Bhagavad-gita. It is a well known fact that His Divine Grace never authorized anyone to re-edit the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. If Srila Prabhupada ever intended to make changes in the Gita, the ideal opportunity for him to say so came in a room conversation that took place on February 24, 1977 in Mayapur. On that occasion, Radha-vallabha dasa was describing how the upcoming printing of the Bhagavad-gita was going to require so much paper that it would take seventy-six train cars to transport it (1.5 million copies). Srila Prabhupada absolutely did not suggest making any corrections before this largest printing ever of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. In fact, and to the contrary, in a discussion that took place three days later, he established a definitive “no change” policy that he wanted applied henceforward to all of his books. The tendency to want to make corrections was now a very serious problem, and Srila Prabhupada dealt with it.

The transcribed conversation of February 27, 1977 presented below clearly indicates that Srila Prabhupada would never have approved of anyone changing the final edited version of his writings, even after his disappearance. In this exchange, His Divine Grace states that for a disciple to see mistakes in his production-ready finished manuscripts was a bad habit that had to be given up. Even though the one correction his disciple Jagannatha dasa wanted to propose would not have changed the wording of the verse, Srila Prabhupada warned that to make any change whatsoever was “strictly forbidden”. As a servant of his spiritual master, Radha-vallabha dasa was obliged to accept Srila Prabhupada’s instruction that the text should be left exactly as is and that making corrections should never be contemplated.

To further enlighten his disciple, Srila Prabhupada explained the rule of “arsa prayoga”, that whatever the acharya has given, it should be accepted. The tendency to think oneself sufficiently qualified to correct one’s authority is not only a breach of vaisnava etiquette, but is an offense in the service of the spiritual master.

If one continues to see mistakes that he thinks need to be corrected, Srila Prabhupada says, “He is the mistake.” Due to his incomplete understanding, Radha-vallabha dasa reasoned, “So if we think there is some mistake, we should just forget about it.” Srila Prabhupada corrects him again, saying that one should not even think his authority has made a mistake. His opinion was that since Jagannatha dasa tended to see mistakes in the writings of the acharya, he was an irresponsible man who could not be relied upon. Srila Prabhupada then made his final point, that our true purpose is not served by becoming so-called scholars able to find errors in the books of the spiritual master, but by becoming advanced in devotion to Krishna. Radha-vallabha dasa finally got the point, that Srila Prabhupada was establishing the rule of “no corrections anywhere” once a book was submitted to his department for publication.

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Srila Prabhupada was assigning to the BBT trustees the duty of safeguarding his books from being changed in the slightest by anyone who had not been specifically ordered to do so.

The principle of “arsa prayoga” was again referred to on June 22, 1977 when Srila Prabhupada was in Vrndavana, India. In the middle of a reading of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada objected when he heard the synonym that was given for the word “sadhu”. The word-for-word translation said, “it is relevant,” but Srila Prabhupada said, “No. ‘Sadhu’ means ‘devotee’.” The editors had changed his translation, and he found this unacceptable. He spoke as though he had been betrayed by a dangerous element within his movement. His authority was being minimized by his own disciples to whom he had entrusted his most lasting contribution: his books. A number of devotees present voiced their objection to the production staff’s practice of deleting entire sections from certain books, and they mentioned discrepancies they had found in the Sanskrit to English translations. Literally hundreds of changes had already been made in the text of Srila Prabhupada’s books from one printing to the next and the devotees testified that the potency was not the same.

Srila Prabhupada asked for suggestions from his senior men to resolve this dilemma and they offered their advice. After hearing various proposals, Srila Prabhupada’s conclusion was that, “The next printing should be again to the original way.” He then ordered his secretary to contact the GBC man he wanted to entrust this matter to in Los Angeles where the press was located. “So you bring this to Satsvarupa. They cannot change anything.”

Drawing from these letters and conversations, we can gain some insight into Srila Prabhupada’s struggle to keep his books as they were. One should rightly conclude that he would never have approved of the wholesale changes that were made by the BBT editors after his disappearance. He would have expected the BBT trustees to resist on his behalf. The unnecessary and unauthorized changes in the Bhagavad-gita alone number more than seven hundred, so where is Srila Prabhupada’s signed approval for such changes to be made? And where are the rave reviews of the revised edition from scholars and professors praising the editors for having improved the original version of the Gita published by their spiritual master? We do not expect to see any testimonials from these mundane personalities glorifying the “revised and enlarged” edition of the Gita. After all, which scholar would approve of having his own writings altered after his physical demise?

The adulteration of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is was the first major milestone in the BBT’s refusal to follow the rule of arsa prayoga (the unholy practice of dishonoring the acharya), a program which reached its zenith when they declared in court that Srila Prabhupada was simply a writer hired by ISKCON to compile the Vedic classics. We do not know what kind of apology can be made by the BBT’s editors and trustees at this point, but it is our humble opinion that the best way to make amends for past transgressions would be to accept Srila Prabhupada’s instruction that “the next printing should be again to the original way.”