Jayadvaita undoes Prabhupada’s work on Gita Manuscript

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By Madhudvisa Dasa in 2010 (originally posted on bookchanges.com)

ISKCON now distributes a Bhagavad-gita that contains more than 5,000 unauthorized changes. Srila Prabhupada gave all his classes from his original Bhagavad-gita As It Is and read from this book personally on a daily basis and listened to his disciples read from it, and commented on the philosophical points as they read. With the exception of a couple of obvious typographical errors, Prabhupada never at any point of time ordered that his Bhagavad-gita be changed. He most certainly did not authorize the production of a revised and enlarged edition of his book.

Jayadvaita Swami agrees that Srila Prabhupada did not ask him or anyone else to “revise and enlarge” his Bhagavad-gita As It Is. So how did it happen? Where did the authority come from for ISKCON’s current “Revised and Enlarged” edition? It seems just after Srila Prabhupada left our material vision, Jayadvaita thought it was a good idea to revise and enlarge Prabhupada’s Gita, so he did it.

“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’s letter to senior devotees, October 25, 1982)

And what is his “authority” for this you may ask? As he said in the letter to senior devotees, “the text of the manuscript.” “I have made it closer to the original manuscript.”

And what is this so-called “original manuscript”? You can see it here.

This is not a manuscript at all. It is the first draft of the book. No author intends that the first draft of his book be published. He appoints an editor and together they work on the book to produce the manuscript which will ultimately be submitted to the publishers. In this case,  Prabhupada wrote the first draft and then worked with Hayagriva and other editors to prepare the manuscript for hisBhagavad-gita As It Is, which was ultimately presented to Macmillan & Co. for printing.

Imagine you write the first draft of a book and appoint an editor. You work with your editor on a daily basis for months until together you produce a manuscript you are happy with and your book is published. Your book becomes a worldwide best seller and you are very happy with it. It is a spiritual book and by reading it many of the readers have life-changing experiences. They also become very attached to your book. Your book is praised by scholars worldwide with rave reviews. Then many years later, after you have left your body, somebody finds the first draft of your book and decides to “correct” your published book based on your first draft. Of course you were never intending to publish this first draft. That is why you spent so much time and energy working with your editor on that first draft to transform it into a manuscript you actually wanted to present to the publishers. How angry would you be with this fool who wants to undo your work and your editors’ work by going back to the first draft?

Jayadvaita Swami, by going back to the first draft, is eliminating so many corrections and so much work that Srila Prabhupada personally did on his book with Hayagriva and his other editors. This is a great disservice to Srila Prabhupada.

The Swami is insisting that his version of the history of the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is is correct. And what is his version of the history? He has turned to “smoke and mirrors” to try and bewilder the devotees into believing a false history. In the “history according to Jayadvaita’s imagination”, Srila Prabhupada only typed and dictated the first draft of his Bhagavad-gita As It Is and handed it over to his editors and did not work with his editors on the book. In this way he claims the first draft that he has is authoritative and he is justified in changing the printed book if he can find something different in the first draft.

On his website he debunks “The myth that Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva together carefully reviewed the completed text of Bhagavad-gita As It Is“. He does this by debunking a statement by Govinda dasi, who saw Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva working together on editing Prabhupada’s books in 1968 in Los Angeles. Prabhupada and Hayagriva were actually working together on editingSrimad-Bhagavatam at that time. And according to Jayadvaita, that “proves” that Prabhupada and Hayagriva did not work together on editing the Gita. Strange logic, but we are expected to believe the Swami anyhow.

In a recent blog post [“Book Changes: History Really Does Back the BBT“] Jayadvaita continues to try and distort and change the history:

“And so the image of Srila Prabhupada sitting with Hayagriva in December of 1968 carefully going over every verse of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, seeing to the finishing touches, is a persistent image of something that never took place. That’s the truth. Here’s the timeline. See for yourself.” (Jayadvaita Swami)

Then he goes on to present many quotes from Srila Prabhupada that are supposed to prove that Srila Prabhupada did not work with his editors on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is at all. However, Krishna slipped one quote into his article that completely blows his cover:

December 14, 1967: Srila Prabhupada writes Rayarama, “I have already sent you the purports of each and every sloka that you sent me for correction. . . . As soon as you finish the Gitopanisadbusiness and the matter is handed over to the Macmillan Co. we begin on the Bhagavatam work without delay.”

Here Jayadvaita is letting us know that Rayarama, while he was editing Bhagavad-gita, was in constant contact with Srila Prabhupada and was asking many questions about the editing, which Srila Prabhupada was answering. “I have already sent you the purports of each and every sloka that you sent me for correction.” So even with Rayarama’s editing he was asking Prabhupada many questions and Prabhupada was sending him many corrections to his “first draft”. None of these corrections by Srila Prabhupada are present in what Jayadvaita refers to as “the original manuscript.” This alone completely destroys any justification for using this document as any sort of authority, as it does not include the many corrections that Srila Prabhupada made to it while Rayarama was working on editing his Bhagavad-gita.

The real world is quite different from Jayadvaita’s imaginary world. Even though the Swami constantly says, “It’s not true!” Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva did work together for almost three months in 1967 editing Bhagavad-gita As It Is, during this period Hayagriva Prabhu was consulting Srila Prabhupada daily on almost every verse in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It’s not a myth, it’s history, and this history completely destroys any justification at all for changing Prabhupada’s Gita based on Prabhupada’s first draft of the book (or the “original manuscript”, as the Swami calls it).

If you ask Jayadvaita about this he will lie and tell you: “It could not have happened. Prabhupada and Hayagriva were never living together. It’s an Internet myth…” All lies and deception, unfortunately. It is frightening to think that such a deceptive, dishonest character has been given full authority to change anything at all he wants to change in Prabhupada’s books without any system of checks and balances at all. He can change anything, print the changed books without even disclosing what he has changed. And he smiles and says, “You just have to accept it…”

The proof that Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva worked together daily editing Bhagavad-gita for almost three months in 1967 can be found in Hayagriva Prabhu’s wonderful book, “The Hare Krishna Explosion”:

The_Hare_Krishna_Explosion-cover

January 17, 1967: Prabhupada arrives in San Francisco from New York. Hayagriva Prabhu is there to meet him. Prabhupada is still translating Bhagavad-gita and Hayagriva is there with him:

“Swamiji continues translating Bhagavad-gita. He is so eager to print it that we begin negotiations with a local printer. Prices are very high. In New York, Brahmananda continues his pursuit of publishers.”

So Hayagriva is negotiating on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf with a local printer to print Prabhupada’sBhagavad-gita As It Is. Finishing his translation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, working with Hayagriva Prabhu to edit it and getting it printed are clearly the most important projects on Srila Prabhupada’s agenda at this time.

Hayagriva is still in San Francisco on January 29th, two weeks later, for the big concert featuring the Grateful Dead.

Hayagriva is still with Srila Prabhupada in San Francisco in February:

“The days of February are beautiful with perfect temperatures in the seventies, fog rolling off early, skies very blue and clear, sun falling bright and sharp on the lush foliage of Golden Gate Park. The park encloses the largest variety of plant and tree life to be found in any one spot on earth. We are at a loss to identify plants for Swamiji.”

Hayagriva has settled down in the ISKCON San Francisco temple (a storefront near Golden Gate Park) and he is working there:

“I rent an electric typewriter, set it up in the back temple room, and continue typing up stencils forBack To Godhead, writing and editing [Bhagavad-gita] while Harsharani sends people after food, and cooks noon prasadam.”

Hayagriva is the only devotee living in the San Francisco temple and is the “Temple Commander”:

“Being the only person living in the temple proper, and one of the senior devotees besides, I’m naturally looked to as the temple commander, a role I often find myself regretting.”

All this time Hayagriva is living with Srila Prabhupada and his main service is editing Bhagavad-gita:

“Apart from kirtans, I find myself spending many sunny hours in the park, walking past the tennis courts to large, quiet bowers surrounded with hybiscus and eucalyptus. And at times I sit in the shade beneath the white and pink rhododendrons and edit Bhagavad-gita. After editing, I sometimes visit the museum and stroll through the replica eighteenth century gardens, chanting my daily rounds while perusing the curlicues of rococo art.”

Hayagriva is still in San Francisco together with Srila Prabhupada on February 27th. This is now six weeks in the personal association of Srila Prabhupada, working with him editing his Bhagavad-gita As It Is.

He is still there with Srila Prabhupada in March:

“Golden Gate Park is redolent with March flowers. The morning fog disperses early, and the days are cloudless and blue. Thousands continue to flock to San Francisco from the midwest and east, and our Sunday kirtans attract big crowds… On Tuesday evenings, we go to the beach with Swamiji and hold unforgettable Pacific Ocean sunset kirtans. Sitting on the sand, we watch the tide roll in, or chant and wait for the sun to dip below the horizon. After chanting, we roast potatoes and smear them with melted butter. Swamiji eats with us, sitting on a big log. And after potatoes, we roast marshmallows, and red apples stuffed with raisins and brown sugar.”

All throughout this time (now over two months) Hayagriva is working editing Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, consulting Srila Prabhupada on almost every verse:

“Although I write on the Lord Chaitanya play through the spring days, my primary service is helping Swamiji with Bhagavad-gita. He continues translating, hurrying to complete the manuscript but still annotating each verse thoroughly in his purports. Daily, I consult him to make certain that the translation of each verse precisely coincides with the meaning he wants to relate. “Edit for force and clarity,” he tells me. “By Krishna’s grace, you are a qualified English professor. You know how grammatical mistakes will discredit us with scholars. I want them to appreciate this Bhagavad-gita as the definitive edition. All the others try to take credit away from Krishna.”

“I am swamped with editing. Since much of the text is equivocal due to grammar, I find myself consulting Swamiji on nearly every verse. It seems that in Sanskrit, Hindi, and Bengali, phrase is tacked onto phrase until the original subject is lost.”

March 21: Hayagriva is still in San Francisco working daily with Srila Prabhupada on editingBhagavad-gita As It Is… So far this is almost nine weeks constantly with Srila Prabhupada…

April 9:

“Swamiji leaves for the airport. Before entering the car, he stops, cane in hand, and gives a long look at the little storefront temple. It is a look that says a great deal. Gurudas snaps a photo at that very instant. ‘That’s a farewell look,’ I think to myself.”

So Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva worked together on editing the Bhagavad-gita daily during the almost three months while Hayagriva Prabhu was living with him in the San Francisco temple, from Janurary 17, 1967 until April 9, 1967.

Jayadvaita Swami [desperately]: “IT JUST DID NOT HAPPEN!!!”

The history is the history. Srila Prabhupada worked on the first draft of Bhagavad-gita As It Isextensively with both Hayagriva Prabhu and Rayarama Prabhu. In the three months Hayagriva went through practically every verse with Srila Prabhupada and Prabhupada also sent many corrections to Rayarama Prabhu later on.

At that time Macmillan were only able to print 400 pages, so Rayarama abridged Prabhupada’sBhagavad-gita As It Is. Prabhupada was not happy with this and wanted to publish the complete edition. Hayagriva was again called on by Srila Prabhupada for producing the manuscript, which was submitted to Macmillan for the publication of the complete 1,000 page edition in 1972. At this time there were at least exchanges of letters between Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva and Prabhupada was still giving him many instructions related to the editing and answering the questions he had in regard to the editing.

So Jayadvaita’s “history” that Srila Prabhupada did not work with his disciples on editing Bhagavad-gita is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It is a dishonest attempt to mislead the devotees and cover-up the real history.

The authoritative edition of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is is the final published 1972 “Complete Edition.” Not the first draft that Jayadvaita calls the “manuscript.” Srila Prabhupada spent considerable time, energy and effort working with his editors Hayagriva Prabhu and Rayarama Prabhu to take his first draft to the real manuscript — the manuscript which was submitted for publishing to MacMillan.

Changes to the final published book cannot be justified by referring to the first draft. This is a great mistake.

People are not so foolish. The truth is the truth. Eventually Jayadvaita’s smoke and mirrors will stop working and the blind followers will wake up and see the truth.

Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

Your servant,
Madhudvisa dasa

Where Angels Fear to Tread

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By Rupanuga Dasa (ACBSP) (Originally posted on the Sampradaya Sun)

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The editors of the 1983 revised Gita did not believe that they actually interpolated philosophy or style.* Their idea was to improve both translations and purports by transposing and clarifying portions of old manuscripts, etc. existing prior to the one finally submitted to Macmillan in 1972. Truly, many of the grammatical, spelling, format and historical inaccuracies corrected in the revision would have been approved by Srila Prabhupada himself had he been consulted.

Be that as it may, Srila Prabhupada never instructed anyone to use a procedure of re-visiting and researching old manuscripts or dictations to revise future printings of his first editions. On the other hand, recordings made from 1972 until 1977, six years, demonstrate how Srila Prabhupada often personally read excerpts from the Gita in classes, room conversations, engagements, etc. Many times he also instructed devotees present to read aloud as he listened. There is no evidence indicating that he ordered extensive revisions for the next printing. As the current chief editor wrote; “To my knowledge, Srila Prabhupada never asked us to re-edit the book.” (Letter to Amogha Lila, July, 1986 ).

Interestingly enough, none of the scholars, educators, professors and other reviewers of the Gita called for it either. From 1972 until 1983 we don’t find requests from professionals for a revision to a higher standard. Nor do we hear any demand from devotees in general for such a thorough revision. In fact, the editors state in “A Note About the Second Edition” found in the BBT revised editions: “Yet their effort to publish Srila Prabhupada’s work was a success, and the Bhagavad-gita As It Is has become the standard edition for scholars and devotees around the world.” Still, after eleven years of documented success, the Gita was extensively re-worked. Why? What is the reason?

The editors continue their explanation: “For this second edition, however, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples had the benefit of having worked with his books for the last fifteen years. The English editors were familiar with his philosophy and language, and the Sanskrit editors were by now accomplished scholars. And now they were able to see their way through perplexities in the manuscript by consulting the same Sanskrit commentaries Srila Prabhupada consulted when writing Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The result is a work of even greater richness and authenticity… In places the translations, though already correct, have been revised to come closer to the original Sanskrit and Srila Prabhupada’s original dictations…”

The editors are claiming the benefit of 15 years work, which would mean 1968 until 1983, the year of the revision. However, the value of those benefits is uncertain, because in June, 1977 Srila Prabhupada severely chastised the editors for changes to his Isopanisad and Bhagavatam. He described the editors as rascals (a term he usually reserved for atheists, material scientists and politicians), and called them “dangerous” at least six times in ten minutes of discussion. Just five months before his disappearance, Srila Prabhupada made this a major issue for the Society.

The same basic issue came up in 1983 and has continued more or less for the last 25 years. But for us, now, who will decide who is right and who is wrong? One side says “responsible editing,” the other says “irresponsible, unauthorized, etc.” But who is right and who is wrong? Who will decide?

So now we must come to the point of reason. Is it reasonable to conclude that just five or six years after deserving that 1977 chastisement, editors could have emerged as “accomplished scholars” -by 1983? One editor escaped chastisement. Still, isn’t six years a short time for everyone to turn up as “accomplished scholars?” But even if all the editors had been studying Sanskrit for 30 years by 1983, is it plausible that such editors could be able to dive into the superexcellent depths of Sanskrit revelation, and come up with an understanding of it’s complexities—the same complexities-understood by previous acaryas? Was this the prerogative of such disciples, that they could be “able to see their way through perplexities in the manuscript by consulting the same Sanskrit commentaries Srila Prabhupada consulted when writing the Bhagavad-gita As It Is? Is it possible?

And further, “In places the translations, though already correct, have been revised to come closer to the original Sanskrit…” Here the implication is that the editors in 1983, whoever they were, thought they could interpret the original Sanskrit texts comparatively as well as Srila Prabhupada himself, or at least well enough to put their new realizations in his book under his name. And, that they could understand the same complexities understood by previous acaryas (presumably Sridhar Swami et. al.) simply by using the same Sanskrit commentaries Srila Prabhupada used. Is this credible? Is it reasonable to conclude that such editors were capable of producing “a work of even greater richness and authenticity?” Or that translations “already correct” could have been revised to even more correctness by them? Was all this perfection really possible by 1983?

May be, if they had received authorizations and blessings from Srila Prabhupada in 1977 before he disappeared, but that didn’t happen. It is known from that recorded conversation of June, 1977, that when Tamal Krsna suggested to Srila Prabhupada Jayadvaita check any changes before reprinting, Srila Prabhupada countered: “But they are doing without any authority!” In other words, no need for Jayadvaita to become an inspector of changes because nobody was authorized to make such changes in the first place! Tamal had already said to Srila Prabhupada: “Your original work that you’re doing now, that is edited by Jayadvaita. That’s the first editing.” Srila Prabhupada had answered, “He is good.” So Srila Prabhupada, in the midst of all the turmoil, made it clear that he was satisfied with Jayadvaita’s work. Yet a “first editing” is entirely different from re-editing an already finished or printed work, which is what the others were doing. Srila Prabhupada never authorized anyone, including Jayadvaita or Pradyumna to do that with the Bhagavad-gita then or in the future.

The extent of Srila Prabhupada’s disappointment in this matter can not be underestimated. He said, after being informed of the changes in the Isopanisad, “I know what these rascals are doing. What can be done? How they can be relied on?” And later, “It is starting. What can I do? These cannot…These rascals cannot be educated. Dangerous. Little learning, dangerous…What can I do? Ultimate it goes for editorial…”

In the 3rd Canto (3.4.26), Srila Prabhupada writes, “Although one may be well versed in transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality. According to scriptural injunction one should be very careful of transgressing the law of maryada-vyatikrama because by so doing one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world. To be well versed in the transcendental science necessitates awareness of the techniques of spiritual science.”

At this point the significant question emerges: Has maryada-vyatikrama, impertinently surpassing a greater personality, occurred in the process of editing and reprinting Srila Prabhupada’s books? It certainly had by 1977, according to the momentous June 22nd room conversation about changes to the Isopanisad and Srimad Bhagavatam. Six years later, considering the exaggerated claims in the “Note About the Second Edition” and the extreme content-editing of the text, it appears to have occurred again in the 1983 “Revised and Enlarged” version of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Vaisnava etiquette demands that Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, grand-disciples, et. al. always think themselves fools in front of Srila Prabhupada. But, unfortunately, sometimes some of them forget that, and dare to rush in where angels fear to tread.

* “Our editing is to correct grammar and spelling errors only, without interpolation of style or philosophy.” (Srila Prabhupada, 02/17/70)

Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami in Honolulu on Jan 19, 2003 (Part 2)

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(Originally posted on adi-vani.org. Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1 here)

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Govinda dasi: …that in 1966, ’67 and ’68, Hayagriva spent many, many hours alone with Srila Prabhupada, discussing the different aspects of the editing work. They went over each verse extensively, and Srila Prabhupada was actually quite clear in expressing what he wanted. He, even in the case of legal matters, or something else that he might not know how things worked, he knew what he wanted. So he had an uncanny ability to see through any situation. That’s an understatement, and I’m putting that so that people can appreciate it.

So, when the later Gita was edited, the manuscript had already been gone over, how many times? We don’t really know, I don’t really believe, I mean, joined after Hayagriva. I joined in Frisco as soon as Srila Prabhupada came to Frisco, and then I went back to LA with him. I think, Javadvaita Maharaja, didn’t you say you joined in Boston in…

Jayadvaita Maharaja: New York.

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Istagosthi about book changes, January 2003 in Honolulu, Hawaii (Part1)

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Govinda dasi in Honolulu on Jan 26, 2003 (Originally posted on adi-vani.org)

hawaii-govinda-dasiPrabhupada in Hawaii with Govinda Dasi and other devotees

Govinda dasi:  When we had the meetings here [Honolulu Temple], one of the things that Jayadvaita Maharaja said was that they [the BBT trustees] did not ever prevent devotees from printing the books. But we had a letter from Dhanistha dasi, she’s an old book distributor. I don’t know her personally, but she wrote a letter saying that she had approached, she called Jayadvaita in 1996 or 95, to print the books, 5,000, she had the money to do it, and she approached in as simple and stupid a way as possible, just like “Please, just for sentiment,” and so forth, and she was refused.

There’s some reason going on, that they don’t want Srila Prabhupada’s books. You have these books available, but the BBT newsletter in the temple lobby states clearly that the temples cannot buy from Krishna Books Inc.

Devotee: They can buy them from the BBT, but at higher prices than the changed books. But just for the record, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Govinda dasi: OK, I’ll just go over the notes from the meetings. As you know, we had a series of meetings with Jayadvaita Maharaja: two meetings, actually. And one of the things that we had to make very clear is that this is not a personal issue—that we don’t like Jayadvaita’s writing, or we don’t like his editing work. That really isn’t the issue at all. It’s nothow the books were edited; it’s the fact that they were edited.

The issue is not—and of course, he took it a bit personally but I think he did understand eventually that that wasn’t our point—that we think he’s a great writer, and he should write and edit many books—but not Srila Prabhupada’s books. They should be left as they are. So that’s the main issue, actually, the main issue.

He feels that the 1972 edition is not in keeping with manuscript, which he only has access to, and is not available to anyone else that he knows about. And that’s just not the issue. The issue is that when you write something, even if you have an original manuscript—I’m a writer, and I may have three [versions] in the trash before I print something—but whatever I sign my name to and I print, that is the final edition. That’s what I approve for the world to see. And that’s really the issue here.

Srila Prabhupada approved of his Gita. He not only approved of it; he spent ten years lecturing from it. Every verse of the Bhagavad-gita, except for a few verses in the First Chapter, Srila Prabhupada spoke on over a period of ten years. He had ample opportunity to say, “Change this, change this, change this.” But he only requested a couple of changes. There was ‘cattle raising’ he wanted changed to ‘cow protection,’ and I believe there was one other, dhyana-yoga or something like that. Those were very small changes.

Bhaktisiddhartha Prabhu: He wrote that book twice, because the original Bhagavad-gitamanuscript was stolen during his household life. It must have said exactly what he wanted it to say, because he wrote it twice.

Govinda dasi: It was mysteriously, that was before, in the early times. Personally, being a writer and an artist, it has always amazed me that somebody could start over from scratch. I think about that sometimes, when I start getting discouraged with some work. Srila Prabhupada started over from scratch: no Xerox copy, no computer. That’s dedication. So anyway, he knew what he was doing.

And somehow or other, anyway the issue is that you can’t change books post-disappearance or posthumously. And as we discussed, Keli, Satyahit’s wife, did a lot of research on the word ‘bowdlerizing.’ Bowdler was a fellow that lived in the 16th century or 18th century—it was after Shakespeare—and he was the fellow that changed all the books. The original meaning was expurgated, meaning that he went over Shakespeare’s books, and he changed any passages for English schoolgirls, if they had any risqué parts, he took them out. So when a book is changed posthumously, among the scholarly community it’s called bowdlerizing. It’s sort of like bastardizing, it has that connotation. I have information from a Ph.D., Hari-kanta, she sent me an email stating that it has a bad connotation.

And also Dr. John Trimble, the professor of English that I took a course from in 1998. I was unaware in 1998 that the books had been bowdlerized, because I had my own set. I’m like so may other Srila Prabhupada disciples sitting at home with their own sets of books. But unknown to me, my spiritual master’s books had all been completely changed. So when I was in Texas, I went out and got myself a Gita at the local temple. And I opened it up, and I said, “What the hell happened to this book!?” [laughter] Excuse me; I was in Texas. It didn’t even sound anything like Srila Prabhupada’s Gita. So I went to Professor Trimble, and he explained that it had been bowdlerized. And so, Dr. Trimble was the first person to tell me this word; I’d never heard of it before.

So Keli contacted him, and Dr. Trimble wrote a letter back, which is a very interesting letter. Bear in mind that Dr. Trimble wrote Writing With Style. There’s not a writer on earth that doesn’t have this book. There are two [main reference books for writers]—Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, and Writing With Style.

Devotee: Without getting into that debate, because then we could be here for quite some time… I don’t want to get into that debate, because by going into that debate, I am violating Srila Prabhupada’s order not to change one word. Srila Prabhupada didn’t care… In other words, to say that we haven’t changed the philosophy… well, we were told that about so many things. To say that “We haven’t changed the philosophy, so that’s alright,” is really a slap in the face to Srila Prabhupada, who specifically said, “Don’t change it.” So what part about, ‘Don’t change it,’ or the word ‘no,’ don’t they understand? In other words, you can come up with all kinds of rationalizations—‘it’s closer to the manuscript,’ ‘we didn’t change the meaning’—you can go on and on. But we have our spiritual master pounding his desk, saying, “Don’t change one word; this is your American disease.” And even now, there’s a discussion that we should start taking out some of the passages that are not politically correct.

So in other words, you may come up with so many disingenuous arguments—‘Well, it doesn’t change the meaning,’ or ‘It’s closer to the original manuscript’—and this is only 25 years after Srila Prabhupada is gone that this has come to pass, that all the books have been changed. What’s going to happen in another 25 years, another 25 years, another 25 years? We will be just like the Christian Bible! Whatever an institution decides is politically correct or economically viable will then become the standard. So we’re going, “No! No changes. That’s what Srila Prabhupada said, that’s what the scholarly community says, and that’s what thesastra says.” So we don’t even want to go into the manuscript (which of course, nobody is allowed to see), and we don’t need to go into whether they changed the meaning or not. I just come back to, “What part about ‘no’ don’t you understand?”

Satyahit Prabhu: Jayadvaita Swami said that the intention for the future is to write new booksadapted from Srila Prabhupada’s teaching. In other words, their plan is not to go on distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books but to adapt the philosophy and write new ones.

Devotee: In other words, “We don’t like this, we’ll take out this, we’ll change this, we’ll do that.” So, people can do as they like, just don’t put Srila Prabhupada’s name on it. Srila Prabhupada didn’t write it, Srila Prabhupada didn’t authorize it, Srila Prabhupada didn’t approve it; don’t put his name on it. Put your name on it, and go get your own scholarly reviews, and go get your own devotees to distribute them. As for us, what Srila Prabhupada did is good enough for me, it’s good enough for all the other acaryas, it’s good enough for all the Vaisnava sampradayas on the planet—I’m personally going to stick with that. And if somebody wants to do something different, be my guest. I just don’t want to be there when the Yamadutas show up.

Govinda dasi: Bowdlerizing is what happened to the Bible, and Bowdler was responsible for a great deal of what happened to the Bible. I’m not an authority on this, but Keli, Satyahit’s wife, has done a great deal of research on this, and the changes to the Bible—there were many of them made—basically, it’s been bowdlerized.

Now, this is from a PhD named Dr. Holly Ogren, regarding the definition and usage of the word ‘bowdlerizing:’ “Generally, the word has a negative connotation for the person doing the bowdlerizing. If you can access the Oxford Dictionary, you can find more information to support this position.”

Now hear what Dr. Trimble has to say. Keli wrote Dr. Trimble:

Dear Professor Trimble,

You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of a former student of yours, Bonnie McElroy [Govinda dasi]. She and I are both members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The principal editor of our spiritual master’s books is here in Hawaii promoting his editorial changes, which many of our members are very unhappy with. Bonnie remembers a conversation she had with you a few years ago about bowdlerizing, and after reading Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy: a History of Expurgated Books in England and America by Noel Perrin, I realized that this is what the editors of our spiritual master’s books have been doing. Their rationalization and plea is to correct the grammar and English—supposedly to make it more acceptable to the scholarly community. They have gone farther by changing the meaning through subtle word jugglery. The reason I have written is to ask you, ‘What is the scholarly response to posthumous editing, especially of religious texts?’ Our community is meeting with the editor tomorrow; could you please write me. It would be good to know your response for further discussion.

Dr. Trimble’s reply:

Dear Carol,

Regularizing the spelling and grammar is one thing; “improving” the meaning is another, especially when such changes aren’t expressly acknowledged. I think the editor should be challenged. At the very least, he should have to justify every “improvement” that isn’t strictly grammatical. The burden of proof is on him, not on you.

Hope this helps,
John Trimble

Now this is from a scholar, the best writer; he wrote the legal encyclopedia. So this guy knows his stuff. So this argument, that ‘We’ve made it more acceptable to the scholarly community,’ just doesn’t fly.

Devotee: I was at a meeting at the LA temple with a number of senior devotees—and one devotee was putting forth the idea, “Well what about the scholars?” Another devotee  said, “So what if there are a couple of scholars that think this or that; the whole Vaisnava community is in an uproar about it; I think maybe we should worry about that first.”

The second thing I always like to point out is that 99.99% of all our glorious scholarly reviews are done from the original authorized and approved version, and I don’t that we have more than a handful that are done from the new version. In other words, all of our scholarly reviews—of which there are hundreds—are done from authorized and approved versions, and not from the new ‘better for scholars’ version.

Govinda dasi: So really, the issue is not how he changed the books; it’s the fact that they are changed. Also, that the concept of bowdlerizing is a Western concept; it’s a scholarly concept. But there’s another concept that has a Sanskrit name: it’s arsha prayoga. It means ‘respect for the spiritual master’s words.’ That you respect them—if he says that the sky is pink and white polka-dotted, then it’s pink and white polka-dotted—that’s how it is with the disciple. There are so many stories like that in the Vedas, where the guru tests the disciple in this way. So basically, we have to have respect for Srila Prabhupada’s words. He saw, later on, he saw the American disease. I’ve got so many things that are written about the American disease of changing things. [See for example, letter 74-11-24 to Bhakta das]

Satyahit Prabhu: That reminds me of something Jayadvaita Maharaha said, that Srila Prabhupada authorized him to go ahead and make any changes he wanted…

Govinda dasi: Jayadvaita Maharaja seems to believe that he has a carte blanche, open-ended permission that ‘you can change all my books’ from Srila Prabhupada. I do not know where he has gotten this, because it is not written anywhere, and it contradicts…

Devotee: There is one letter, authorizing him to do some editorial work while Srila Prabhupada was here on the planet. It wasn’t a carte blanche for ever and ever, and as far as I know it was in regard to a certain title only for certain editorial work

Devotee: Because Srila Prabhupada authorized and approved it and as she just said, it’s calledarsha prayoga: that the respect for what the spiritual master authorized and approved is such that he tells the disciple, “That’s a snake,” and the disciple sees a rope, he goes, “That’s a snake.” And if he goes later, “That’s a rope,” then the disciple goes, “Oh, it’s a rope.” So we print them as they are, and later on we intend to print little addendums showing some minor corrections. And if they had done this, nobody would object. Just like you were saying, Srila Prabhupada wanted ‘cow protection’ not ‘cattle raising.’ So the solution is to start printing Srila Prabhupada’s authorized and approved books, and if you have a problem with something, put it down somewhere else, or put it in a footnote, put it in an addendum. Print the manuscript that it originally came from, if you want to be so close to the original manuscript, and say, “This is the original manuscript, but this is what Srila Prabhupada authorized and approved. And as Govinda dasi was explaining to me, it wasn’t just that Hayagriva was an English professor and one of Srila Prabhupada’s original disciples, but Srila Prabhupada spent two years with him going over the manuscript.

Govinda dasi: Before Jayadvaita joined the movement in May of 1968, Hayagriva had already been working with Srila Prabhupada on the Bhagavad-gita for two years already. I lived with Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva in Los Angeles. They worked for hours every day. This is before Jayadvaita joined the movement. And so why—the Gita is a song: the Song of God. It’s poetic, beautiful, in Sanskrit it’s actually poetry. Why would Krsna out of the blue send an English professor, a PhD in English, who happens to be a poet, who happens to have the writing style of a Merton and Thoreau, and all of the early transcendental poets? That was an accident, right? He just happened to send in 1966. Havagriva is not the issue. We’re not saying that Haygriva is a pure devotee. That’s not the issue; the issue is that Krsna was sending Srila Prabhupada whatever he needed to do his work. And He sent him a very qualified man to do this editing.

I take one example: “The Blessed Lord said.” It’s been changed to “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said.” This is not something that we want to quarrel about. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Blessed Lord… but how do we know that Srila Prabhupada and his editor didn’t sit down and discuss this point, and decide on “the Blessed Lord said?” We don’t know that because we weren’t there, and actually, Jayadvaita wasn’t there. It was something that was going on already. Jayadvaita joined in Boston on 1968, like May or a couple of months before. We were in Boston at that time. Gourasundara and Srila Prabhupada and I were staying in Boston for a month in May of 1968, about the time he joined and was working for the press.

One day Srila Prabhupada called me in to his room in Boston. He had a Back to Godhead in his hand. He was livid. He said, “Look at this! Look what they have done!” He showed me. I was like, “OK, what did they do?” The Back to Godhead had—and I’ve still got this Back to Godhead—it had a picture of Srila Prabhupada, black and white, and a big statement: “This man has changed the world.” He was very upset. He said, “This, this is the beginning of falldown. To consider, to refer to the spiritual master as a man shows that the consciousness of the disciple does not see the spiritual master correctly. Call them!” So Rayarama was brought on the carpet.

My point here is that this was the mood at the press at the time Jayadvaita Maharaja joined. He was a new devotee. Satsvarupa was the president, Rayarama was the editor of Back to Godhead; Srila Prabhupada later removed him, and I don’t know the exact history on that, but he did not agree with Rayarama’s point of view on the spiritual master or on how Back to Godhead should look. There was an issue with skull on the cover. Srila Prabhupada was like, “A skull on the cover? Pictures of Krsna should be through Back to Godhead! Not skulls!”

So Srila Prabhupada was very on-target about what he wanted. He could see how the consciousness was moving in any disciple. I can remember so many instances. I was really angry about something one day, and he said to Gourasundara, “Govinda dasi is fighting a war.” He could read your mind, from 3,000 miles away, from Krsna-loka away. How about right now? As if we don’t believe he’s sitting right here listening to this discussion. We do. He’s right here, and he’s very happy that we’re defending his books.

My concern is this: I just got a Back to Godhead magazine, and it showed a big party in Poland with over 100,000 people: a big festival. 93,000 plates of prasadam distributed. And it had a picture of the book table, and on the book table was not Srila Prabhupada’s Gitas; on the book table was the changed version. And what we have to realize, as Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, is that Srila Prabhupada’s books have almost been lost. Twenty years they’ve been practically out of print. They’ve almost been lost. How serious is this? This is very serious. Probably the most important thing we can do with our lives is to reinstate his books. I believe that historians are going to look at this era, because you know history and historians have a way of bringing things out. All religions have a very rocky beginning, I have been told by scholars. I’m not a scholar myself. But when they look at this era, there’s no way that the political turmoil and all of the strange things that have happened since Srila Prabhupada left can be hidden; there’s just no way. They’re going to look at this era as being the Dark Ages, or like the Vatican Inquisitions, or an era where they fed the Christians to the lions, or—what did they do to Saint Thomas, crucify him upside down? They’re going to look at this era with great suspicion. My concern is, will they know by that time which one is the original Bhagavad-gita? Will they actually know? If this million-dollar lawsuit had not been won, and these books not put back into print, the world would not have Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita fifty years from now. That is basically the truth, and that’s a very serious thing.

Govinda dasi: One time, I was illustrating—and this is how closely Srila Prabhupada worked with his writers and artists. I was illustrating those early paintings in the Prahlad books. It was very simple, this was in the early days when we were first devotees. I had only been a devotee for a couple of months, so I really didn’t know very much—not that I know very much now, but I mean I really didn’t know. We didn’t even have a Gita in those days, guys. There weren’t any books, only the three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam that Srila Prabhupada had brought from India. And we read those; but there’s a picture where Prahlad is boiled in oil. And so there are all these demons that go and stick him, and Srila Prabhupada described all those demons. So I would draw each picture and then go and show it to him. Just like he would talk with Hayagriva about each change in his manuscript. So in the course of this particular drawing, he told me how each of these demons looked. And I had never seen a demon, so I didn’t know. So I looked at some comic books, and got some ideas, they had some tails and some horns, and I kind of made some demons up s best I could. And I took it in and showed it to him, and he said, “Yes, that’s very good. There are such demons in jungles in Africa and South America, like that.” And I said, “What?” I was, after all, college educated, I was in my fourth year of college when I joined Srila Prabhupada, left abruptly—never have regretted that decision. So I thought I knew everything that existed in the world, because that’s what they told me in college, you know, biology, anthropology and all that. So I said, “I didn’t know that!” In other words, he had said that there were such demons in the world, and I didn’t know that. He looked at me and said, “There are many things you do not know.”

And I think we underestimate; the problem with the movement, with our whole ISKCON, is not really realizing who Srila Prabhupada is, and underestimating who he is. This is the bottom line; this is why these books have been edited. This is why all these things have happened in the way that they’ve happened. And I think in the future, Srila Prabhupada will be recognized more for who he is. Already we have since 1996, when Srila Prabhupada re-entered the society in the form of the Centennial, I think that people appreciate him more. Those of you who lived through the 1978-86 eleven guru days know what I’m talking about. And that’s a separate subject; I don’t want to get into it, I want to stick to the books. But I have a couple of notes here.

One of the things is that Srila Prabhupada accepted his books in 1972 as transcendental. As I said, he lectured on every verse in the Gita. And he constantly pushed book distribution and said his books were transcendental. So Srila Prabhupada said that his books were transcendental then, and yet now these same books aren’t good enough, they’re not transcendental?

Govinda dasi: And another point is, he never actually gave authority to change his books after his departure. He specifically said, “Any changes should be seen by me.” He says many things [about the book changes], and you should read them, and they will be available on the new web site, www.adi-vani.org. And people will be able to write letters in to email@adi-vani.org. The purpose of this website is to have all the many disciples—and there are batches in Europe, batches in India and all over the world—and they’re not unified. The idea is that they will all write letters. And even if the BBT doesn’t change right now, we want to leave a broad enough band of history, a broad enough volume of work that when historians pore over this in 50 years, and we’re all dead and gone and forgotten—and all of us will be, including the biggest leaders—they will be able to see which books were Srila Prabhupada’s books, and they will be able to see what Srila Prabhupada’s original disciples had to say about the changes. This is what we’re trying to do. It’s not a political ‘right now’ thing; it’s a future thing. Other people have other ideas; this is my idea. But basically, we have to leave enough history that Srila Prabhupada’s books don’t get lost.

Because right now, even though they’re printing—they just printed 10,000 Gitas, right?—for the last 20 years, how many millions of the other Gita have been distributed? All over Poland, all over Russia, all over the whole world. So, what will the historians think? That was the originalGita. Of course, there may be three or four more versions or editions by then. So that’ll be just like the Bible. It could easily turn into the Bible, and we don’t want this to happen. So our mood here is we’re just a handful, but there are many, many Srila Prabhupada disciples, sitting in their homes with the Bhagavad-gitas, who are disgruntled and don’t have a forum to speak what they have to say. We want to give them a forum. This is our goal.

Govinda dasi: Srila Prabhupada liked the original books and paintings. For the record, there’s a lot of information that’s available to people, where Srila Prabhupada describes that, “The early paintings are full of bhakti; why did you remove them from the books?” He liked the mood. This was, and for those of you who came later, I want you to know that Srila Prabhupada oversaw every step of the production in many, many ways.

Devotee: The early paintings have a look of pastel, and the colors of Krsna’s form are so, so attractive.

Govinda dasi: They’re full of bhakti. When the spiritual master is present, he has the Midas touch. He touches anything and it’s surcharged with bhakti. He touched us, and we were infused with bhakti. Look at the stuff we did; we were 20-year-old kids, green behind the ears. It was because his energy was working through us; he was using us, we were willing warm bodies, and he guided us from within, he guided us from without, he watched over us, and he was over our shoulder. For example, that original purple Gita, I was staying with Srila Prabhupada in LA, and I drew the cover picture for it. He would come shuffling into my room and look over my shoulder while I was drawing the picture. Macmillan cut the book down; he didn’t like that. He wanted it to be with all the purports, so the next one was. So he wasn’t happy with the fact that they wanted not so much repetition.

And then so far as the Teachings of Lord Caitanya, you mentioned that earlier, because that’s going to be on the press next. That book, we did the drawings while we were living with Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada described how the drawings should look. We were very poor in those days, so we didn’t do full color; we did black-and-white drawings.

I had never been to India, and I had never been to Jagannath Puri temple. And there’s a drawing in there of Jagannath up on an altar, for those of you who have seen it. Maybe a lot of you haven’t even seen it. But Srila Prabhupada described in detail how Jagannath was up on this altar, how the room was dark—it’s dark in those big old Orissan temples—and how the pujari is sitting there and receiving the flowers. He would tell us each step of the way for these drawings. And the same way with the early paintings of Jadurani. Jadurani painted those paintings in the next room, Srila Prabhupada was living in the New York apartment, he was living in the bedroom—he did everything in this one room—and in his living room, me and Gaurasaundara and Jadurani sat and did drawings all day. He would walk in, and he would even pose for us. Sometimes he posed, he showed us how a dhoti was wrapped one day. He wrapped adhoti—an elaborate dhoti, the kind Krsna wears—and stood in a threefold posture. His favorite pose was Lord Nrsimhadeva. He would come in and roar, and you would see the whites of his eyes. [devotees: “Haribol!”] And we were just new kids—but he was actually really into Nrsimha-lila big time—but he showed us each step of the way. We can’t think that ‘We did this,’ anymore than we can think ‘Hayagriva edited this, Hayagriva did this.’

Srila Prabhupada was working through us all, and the people who came to think that ‘I am the doer’ and ‘I am doing this’—and I know a few, and they’re not around anymore. One of them was my ex-husband. Srila Prabhupada said, “He suffered from too much intelligence.” He left because he was brilliant. He thought that he knew more than his guru. Srila Prabhupada said, “He’s suffering from too much intelligence; he thinks he knows more than his guru.” He was brilliant, there’s no question; he wrote books at 21 years old. But that doesn’t cut it. Srila Prabhupada came from Krsna-loka to write some books, print some books; and the fact that they have been altered is the worst thing that could happen. Everything else will be lost in the wash, but his books… He used to say that “Even if we lose all the temples, you have my books.” But we don’t have his books. My point is, his books have been—until the past year—completely lost, except in my bookcase, and so forth. So this is a very significant thing, that he oversaw the production with the artists and the writers, and he infused the work with his own bhakti. That’s why those early writings and those early paintings are so… shining. I look at this painting, and I don’t know how I did it. I look at that one, and I don’t know…[note: Srila Prabhupada’s room in New Navadvipa is decorated with several paintings done by Govinda dasi and other artists directly under Srila Prabhupada’s supervision.] I don’t have the same mood now; I think none of us really do, as we did while Srila Prabhupada was present.

So he saw the American disease of changing things, and he talks about it in a number of different places, that “The American disease is that they will try to improve and they will change.” One time, one devotee came here, and Srila Prabhupada gave him like an hour’s instruction—I was in the room—how he should do deities. He wanted Gour-Nitai deities. And then at the end of it, he said, “My wife wants to make silk. Can we kill the silkworms?” You know, you’ve got to douse them at the end. And after he left, Srila Prabhupada was shaking his head. He said, “These American boys. Next they will be asking me if they can kill cows to make mrdangas!” Because he was disgusted with this American disease of always wanting to change things and ‘improve’ things. And he reached the point where, toward the end—and you can see around the 1976 letters in all this material that we have—he basically said, “No changes.” Because if he gave them an inch, they would take a mile. Which is why, even though there may be some so-called ‘imperfections’ that you may claim that scholars may see, it’s better not to make any changes because the temptation of a barber is to cut too much hair, and the temptation of an editor is to clip too much or to change too much.

Devotee: Just like the Caitanya-caritamrta, there’s a letter from Mathila-dhish about, obviously anyone that was there for the Caitanya-caritamrta marathon knows that the artists, one would fall asleep, another would come and try to finish it. It was a two-month marathon to produce fifteen books. So then after there was more time and energy, and money and facility, they told Srila Prabhupada, “Well we can touch them up and fix them.” Srila Prabhupada said, “No changes.” Then they tried to tell him, da-da-da-da, and Srila Prabhupada said “No changes.” And then they tried again, saying “We just want to finish it, Srila Prabhupada,” and the third time, very furious, “No changes.”

Govinda dasi: One of the points that I really want to make here is that Srila Prabhupada did oversee his work. He really did; it wasn’t like it was just going on. Even the Caitanya-caritamrta, he was on top of it every moment of the day. Srila Prabhupada got up at two in the morning, and started his translation work. His book work was the most important thing he was here to do. And he kept saying that. So he did watch over it. And things were close, like a family in 1966. They were very close in ’67, ’66, there were only a handful [of devotees], and we would sit around in Srila Prabhupada’s quarters in the evening. We were like small family in New York, and we would talk. And so he would have very close direct contact with all of us. And that contact he had with Hayagriva, he was working on the manuscripts, it wasn’t like later when you had to make an appointment to see Srila Prabhupada; you walked into his room, and in and out all day long! And he sat with you and talked with you and worked with you. This was what the Bhagavad-gita was born amongst, this was how it was edited. So Srila Prabhupada worked closely to get the books like he wanted them, and even if there were a few so-called ‘errors,’ they were still acceptable to him.

And as I said, the underlying danger here is the one, the core danger here is seeing Srila Prabhupada as an ordinary man. This is the greatest danger, and I mentioned that ad [in an early Back to Godhead magazine], and after he left in 1977, a decade of forgetfulness ensued. And in this era, many mistakes were made and many wrongs were done, and there was a confusion surrounding his whole disappearance and everything really kind of fell apart. And those of you who lived through this know that it is true. 90% of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples either left or were forced to leave. In 1996 Srila Prabhupada began to enter back into the center of ISKCON, with the Centennial, and simultaneously with the winning of the court case, his original books started coming out again, so that his work will be preserved.

So my concern is that in 50 years, what will history see? If we allow the gate to be opened for the changes, they will go on. There are already indications that they’re thinking of making other changes.

Bhaktisiddhartha Prabhu: There’s a forum on COM that discusses proposed changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. The major theme that they’re discussing is ‘the removal of sexist and racist language.’ They’re talking about removing whole sections of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Tejo-prakash Prabhu: Jayadvaita told us when he was here that nothing has been changed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Govinda dasi: That’s not true.

Devotee: Not true.

Bhaktisiddhartha Prabhu: There are thousands of changes.

Tejo-prakash Prabhu: So where’s their credibility?

Jayadvaita Swami admits: There is no one original manuscript

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Excerpts regarding the so called “original manuscript” from an article by Govinda Dasi

govinda-dasiGovinda Dasi

“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.”

“Jayadvaita Maharaja says that he changed the Bhagavad-gita to be more in keeping with the original manuscript.’ I question which manuscript, since nearly two years of editing by Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva had already taken place before Jayadvaita even joined the movement. There certainly were many working drafts and manuscripts in various stages of editing, since Srila Prabhupada spent many hours, weeks and months going over every detail of every single verse of the Gita with Hayagriva. Jayadvaita Maharaja confirmed this in the second Hawaii istagosthi meeting: there is no one original manuscript.’

A writer usually prepares several working drafts before the final draft is polished and sent to press. For example, I made several drafts of this letter, correcting spelling, grammar and style. The first drafts are in my trash bin. I am signing this, the final draft, for publication. If someone took an earlier draft out of my trash bin and published it, I would be greatly annoyed. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada’s signature is on the final draft of the complete Bhagavad-gita As It Is (completed in 1968 but not published until 1972), not on any so-called original manuscripts’ Jayadvaita Maharaja may possess. To assume that Srila Prabhupada was not watching over and scrutinizing this whole process is absurd. His books were most important to him. He knew both internally and externally what was going into his books, and he signed and sealed the work when it was completed to his satisfaction and ready to go to press.”

“Certainly, the few typos that slipped through needed Srila Prabhupada’s correction, but the scope of alterations in Jayadvaita Maharaja’s edited version is far broader. Jayadvaita Maharaja’s version of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita doesn’t just correct typos; it also succeeds in changing Srila Prabhupada’s mood, style and often, his meaning. Indeed, after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, the original Bhagavad-gita was rewritten to suit the taste of the editors, on the plea that it is closer to – in Jayadvaita Maharaja’s opinion – the original manuscript.’ But Jayadvaita Maharaja stated in the second book changes meeting in Hawaii that there were many original manuscripts’ of varying quality and content. There is no one original manuscript.’

In this case, any changes are really unreasonable, when you consider that Srila Prabhupada had the original manuscripts in hand, but chose to sign off on the edited version. Why didn’t he just choose to print one of those manuscripts? Why did he, instead, spend hundreds of hours with Hayagriva, editing his manuscript to flow beautifully in the English language? Moreover, why would Srila Prabhupada sign it and gift it to the world, if he intended that future editors would dig up some so-called original manuscripts’ and try to change it back to the original.’ 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.’”

“When Jayadvaita Maharaja presents his rationale for editing Srila Prabhupada ‘s Bhagavad-gita As It Is to the public, he quotes a few passages from Bhagavad-gita As It Is that are obviously confusing, and claims, “these need to be changed.” For example, he cites “planet of the trees” [Bg. 1972 edition 10.24 P] and “cattle raising” [Bg. 1972 edition 18.44 T]. He uses these isolated examples to justify his wholesale rewriting of the entire Gita. Perhaps no one would object if Jayadvaita Maharaja had noted those few changes authorized by Srila Prabhupada in footnotes or an addendum, instead of making sweeping, unauthorized editorial changes to virtually the entire book. If he feels there are confusing aspects, or as he himself is fond of putting it, “goofs” in Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, then these portions can be selected and clarified in a published addendum or series of footnotes without changing the meaning of any other part of the book.”

“Jayadvaita Maharaja has rewritten the whole book according to some manuscripts that he believes to be the original – and which Srila Prabhupada did not choose to print. Rather, in both 1968 and 1972 Srila Prabhupada chose to print the edited version, not a manuscript.

The overriding fact is that Srila Prabhupada never told Jayadvaita Maharaja or anyone else to edit his books after he left. I repeat, Srila Prabhupada never gave Jayadvaita Maharaja or anybody authority to edit or change his books after his departure. Instead, he said, “Print the books the original way.” By late 1976, he was acutely aware of the American disease’ of compulsively changing things, so he chose the safest route to protect his books: “NO CHANGES.””

In The Early Days (Govinda Dasi)

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govinda-dasi

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

Not back to “the original manuscript” (BG 13.3)

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This article was sent to the BBT International the 15th Oct. 2013. We asked them to comment on the points raised. So far we have not received any reply.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is (13.3)

The original manuscript:

bg-original-manuscript-13.3

The authorized and approved 1972 edition:

bg-original-1972-13.3

The translation from the 1972 edition was approved by Prabhupada, and we see how it follows the draft (the so called original manuscript) very nicely. But then something strange happens in the BBT International’s 1983 edition:

The BBT International’s 1983 edition:

bg-1983-edition-13.3

We can see that the BBT International have changed the word “owner” to “knower” in the second line. Why? Searching the BBT International’s website and the internet we have found no information on why this change was made.

Questions to the BBT International:

Before you changed Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is verse 13.3…

  • Did you know that Prabhupada approved the galley proofs / the blueprint of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and according to Brahmananda Das (at that time swami) Prabhupada read the complete galley proofs before approving them to be sent to MacMillan to be used for printing what became the original and authorized 1972 edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is?
  • Did you know that Prabhupada lectured many times on BG 13.3, and that he did not object to the word “owner” in the translation? Did you know he actually reconfirmed the word “owner” by using it in these lectures?

Pusta Krsna:

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama

Translation: “O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.”

Prabhupada: That is greatness. This is the distinction. God is great. I know about my body, you know about your body, but God knows about your body and my body and his body and every… That is greatness. (Evening Darsana — July 6, 1976, Washington, D.C.)

Hari-sauri:

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama
[Bg. 13.3]

Prabhupada: Ksetra-ksetrajnayor jnanam yat taj jnanam matam mama. English?

Hari-sauri: “O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.”

Prabhupada: First of all knowledge means ksetra-ksetrajna. The body is the field of activity. You are acting, I am also acting, everyone is acting — according to the body. But the actor is called ksetrajna. Just like a cultivator is tilling the land, his own, and the tiller is cultivator. Similarly, this body is an analogy of this field, and we are tilling. So Krsna says that “I am also one of the tillers.” Just like the tenant and the landlord. In an apartment house, the tenant is occupier of a certain house, certain apartment, but the landlord is the owner of the whole house. So God says “I am also ksetrajna — but for all the buildings.” Everything that is there, all planets, all, everywhere. That is His all-pervasiveness. I am the proprietor of this body, owner of this body, but God is proprietor of all the bodies. In this way that is explained.” (Room Conversation with George Gullen, President of Wayne State University — June 15, 1976, Detroit)

“So people are taking this, that “I am this body.” That is ignorance. If they know, if one knows that “I am not this body; I am proprietor of this body, I’ll have to work with this body for my future,” then that is knowledge. Etad yo vetti ksetra-jna, knower, one who knows. That is the beginning of knowledge. Then Krsna says,

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetra-jnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama
[Bg. 13.3]

Krsna is giving His opinion, the Supreme Authority, that “If you want to know, if you want to be in knowledge, this is knowledge.” What is that? “That this body, you are not this body; you are the owner of the body. And you should know also that the there is another person. As you are a person, you are owner of this body, there is another person.” Who is that? “That is I am.” Krsna says. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi: “I am also owner of this body.” Actually Krsna is the owner of the body. Just like in a, in an apartment, there is the occupier and the landlord…Similarly, Krsna is the real owner of this body because Krsna has given me this body just to occupy it and work. So far. Not that I am the actual proprietor of this body.” (As the body is our field for cultivating Krsna conscious ness, so the land is our field for cultivating food…Vedic civilization means every man should produce his own food. More precise reference to be added soon)

Devotee: “O scion of Bharata, you should also understand that I am also the knower in all bodies and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is my opinion.”

Prabhupada: So Arjuna inquired from Krsna six things: ksetra, ksetrajna, prakrti, purusa, jnanam, jneyam. What is knowledge and what is the object of knowledge. (Bhagavad-gita 13.3 — Paris, August 11, 1973)

Nitai: Translation: “O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.”

Prabhupada:

ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
ksetra-ksetra-jnayor jnanam
yat taj jnanam matam mama
[Bg. 13.3]

Jnanam, knowledge. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna is explaining about knowledge. People are being educated all over the world for advancement of knowledge. Knowledge is meant for the human being, not for the cats and dogs. Therefore, for human being, there are so many universities, schools, colleges, institutions, laws. There are so many things (indistinct) to advance knowledge is to understand “Who am I?” If I do not know who am I, then what is the meaning of my advancement of knowledge? Generally, despite so many universities all over the world, people are going on in the concept of this body, “I am this body.” “I am Indian,” “I am American,” “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim.” So everyone is identifying himself with this material body. Then where is the advancement of knowledge? Here Krsna says, ksetra-ksetra-jnayor jnanam yad jnanam, taj jnanam matam mama. The ksetra, this body, and the owner of the body… I am not this body, I am the owner of this body. This is jnanam. (Bhagavad-gita 13.3 — Hyderabad, April 19, 1974)

  • Did you know that Prabhupada used the words “knower”, “owner”, “occupier” and “proprietor” many times for both the soul and Krishna? And many times when referring specifically to BG 13.3? And did you know that Prabhupada often translated ksetra-jna as both the “knower of the body”, “owner of the body”, “possessor of the body” and “proprietor of the body”?

“But there is another living being. He is supreme living being, Krsna. He says that “I know everything of everyone’s body.” Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. This is the verse. Ksetra-jna means the knower of the body. You are individual knower of your body; I am knower individually of my body.” (Lecture at Boys’ School — Sydney, May 12, 1971)

“In Bhagavad-gita it is said, ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. Everything is there. The ksetra-jna means the possessor of this ksetra, body, the owner or occupier.” (Bhagavad-gita 7.3 — London, March 11, 1975)

The ksetra jna, the owner of the body, is also called the khaga, the living entity. Within the body there are two such ksetra jnas — the individual soul and the Supersoul. The individual soul is the owner of his individual body, but the Supersoul is present within the bodies of all living entities.” (SB 10.2.27)

“In another place, Krsna says this dehi or ksetra-jna, the owner of the body is there, and there is another ksetra-jna, another owner. That is Krsna. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. As the individual soul is there within the body, similarly, the Supersoul, Krsna, is also there.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.30 — London, August 31, 1973)

“In another place also Krsna says ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. The question of the ksetra-jna, the owner of the body and the body. In this Chapter, in the Thirteenth Chapter, it is discussed. So in that chapter Krsna says that “I am also one of the owner of the body,…”” (Bhagavad-gita 9.3 — Toronto, June 20, 1976)

“In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, ksetrah ksetra-jnah. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata [Bg. 13.3]. Ksetra-jna means the proprietor of the ksetra, this body. Body is called ksetra. So I am proprietor.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.4 — Bombay, November 4, 1974)

(For more references please search the Vedabase/folio for these key words in relation to BG. 13.3. There are too many examples to include them all here).

The BBT International can’t justify this change from “owner” to “knower” in BG 13.3 by referring to the so called original manuscript, Prabhupada’s desires, to faulty sanskrit translation, to meaning, to spelling or to grammar.

Then how will they justify it?