Arsha Prayoga Part II

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

srila-prabhupada-reading-his-own-books

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.

BBT(I) MYTH: Hayagriva’s memory failed him

By Ajit Krishna Dasa

Did Hayagriva Prabhu’s memory fail him when he said that he was working closely with Srila Prabhupada in the spring of 1967?

Fra Hayagriva Dasa’s The Hare Krishna Explosion:

“Daily, I consult him [Prabhupada] to make certain that the translation of each verse precisely coincides with the meaning he wants to relate.”

The_Hare_Krishna_Explosion-cover

On BBT International’s website it is stated:

“Hayagriva does speak of consulting Srila Prabhupada “daily” throughout the spring of ’67. But Hayagriva’s memory must have been tricking him: In the time he speaks of, he was in San Francisco, Srila Prabhupada in New York.“

How did Jayadvaita Swami reach this particular conclusion? No matter how I analyze the situation, I reach the conclusion that Hayagriva’s explanation holds true.  I could be wrong, so if anyone has some input, I am all ears.

Let’s look at history :

We know that Prabhupada was in San Fransisco where Hayagriva was also from 19th of January 1967 until April 9th 1967. This can be seen by looking at Prabhupada’s letters. Hayagriva wrote in his book The Hare Krishna Explosion that Prabhupada arrived in San Francisco the 19th of January 1967, and that is also precisely the day when the first letter from Prabhupada is sent from San Fransisco. Hayagriva also wrote that Prabhupada took off from San Francisco April 9th, and the last letter Prabhupada sent from San Fransisco is sent 7th of April. The first letter he sent from New York, where he left to from San Fransisco, was sent 10th of April.

Regarding spring, a short search on the internet shows that spring in San Francisco lies in the months of March, April and May. From Hayagriva’s book we know that the period in which he was very busy editing the Bhagavad-gita As It Is under Prabhupada’s personal supervision, and where he consults Prabhupada daily about the verses to ensure that they accurately convey what Prabhupada wants, took place between March 1st and March 21st 1967.

So there are no inconsistencies in Hayagriva’s memory when he says that he and Prabhupada cooperated in the spring of 1967. Nor is there anything at all hindering that this cooperation took place throughout the complete period of time when Prabhupada was in San Fransisco which is 82 days. Taking Prabhupada’s eagerness to send the Bhagavad-gita As It Is to the press, it would not at all be unimaginable that he was very involved in the editing of the book in these 82 days. Actually, who can believe anything else? One can do a lot of work in 82 days. Especially when you only need 2-4 hours of sleep every night.

Who knows the details of what was going on there? No one really knows the precise extend to which Prabhupada was involved in the process of editing. But in one period he was, according to his cheif editor Hayagriva Dasa, daily consulted with nearly every verse to make certain that the translation precisely coincided with the meaning he wanted to relate. Therefore the thousands of changes done by the BBT International to the verses and purports of the 1972 edition are for the most part based only on guesswork.

This is clearly an unsafe, irresponsible and unacceptable editing protocol.

If my calculation are correct – and I think they are – then the BBT International and Jayadvaita Swami ought to either correct or remove their mistaken calculation from their respective websites. If I am wrong, then I would like to see my calculation countered by another analysis done by the BBT International and/or Jayadvaita Swami.

Will they do any of these things? Or will they just let their analysis stay on their websites, even if they are wrong? Time will tell.

Is Jayadvaita Swami still good?

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

By Ajit Krishna Dasa

BBT International and their supporters often attempt to justify the changes made to Prabhupada books by Jayadvaita Swami by pointing out that Prabhupada a couple if times spoke highly of his editing work.

This article will show that these statements by Prabhupada can’t be construed to mean that Jayadvaita Swami editing work after Prabhupada’s disappearance is pleasing to Prabhupada.

From BBT International’s website:

“Of course, regarding Jayadvaita Swami, the BBT’s chief editor, Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him.” (letter to Radhavallabha, 7 September 1976)

BBT International and their supporters often speak about this quote from Prabhupada as if it was some kind of blessing from Prabhupada that makes Jayadvaita Swami and his editing infallible even to this very day. This, of course, makes no sense and even Jayadvaita Swami himself admits that he sometimes commits mistakes in his editing. One example of this is his changing “Visnu Form” into the “Visnu platform”:

visnu-platform

(Click to enlarge picture)

So it’s obvious that we can’t take the statement “…whatever he does is approved by me” too literal. In order to be continuously approved by Prabhupada Jayadvaita Swami need to continuously meet certain criteria set forth by Prabhupada and sastra in regard to editing protocol. If it can be argued in any way that the editing policy of BBT International compromises the transcendental potency of Prabhupada’s books, or if Jayadvaita Swami becomes an atheist or a mayavadi or falls down and or if he somehow goes against the direct instructions of Prabhupada in his editing proces, then we must conclude that his editing is unauthorized and must be stopped. He can then no longer be “approved”.

This blog and several other websites have for years been showing that there is no evidence to support even the slightest change in Prabhupada’s books. It has been shown how Jayadvaita Swami does not at all perform his editing work according to the accepted protocol set forth by Prabhupada (“NO CHANGES”), sastra (arsa-prayoga) and even academic scholars. We have shown how he is actually sabotaging the books – however well-intentioned he may be.

So even though Prabhupada spoke highly of Jayadvaita Swami’s editing 40 years ago it does not make Jayadvaita Swami infallible, and it does not mean that he can just do whatever he likes to Prabhupada books.

The other quote that BBT International and their supporter often refer to is this:

From BBT International’s website:

“And in the conversation where Srila Prabhupada complained so strongly about “rascals editors,” Srila Prabhupada said about Jayadvaita, “He is good.””

So 40 years ago Prabhupada said about Jayadvaita Swami that he was “good”. Does it then follow logically or experientally that he is still “good”? Obviously not! There are several examples of Prabhupada at one point praising some of his disciple, and then at a later point criticized them severely.

Prahlada-Nrsimha Prabhu has written a very nice article about this (published on bookchanges.com):

Just because Srila Prabhupada at one point said someone was a good man, does that mean that they are one now? Srila Prabhupada liked many devotees at one point and at that point put them in positions of power and authority and praised them, but later on down the road he changed his opinion about them and/or they went astray or deviated to one degree or another. So although at one point Prabhupada approved of someone and complimented them, that does not mean that from that point on they are bona-fide no matter what they do. Here are a few examples to further examine this point.

One Prabhupada disciple did HUGE service for Prabhupada, pushing on the book distribution mission (probably) more than any other Prabhupada disciple in ISKCON’s history, and was pretty much running ISKCON at one point. But later he changed the basic rules of the four regulative principles to three. Does that mean because he had so many thousands of disciples, and at one point was so dear to Srila Prabhupada that Prabhupada even commented on how he was so intelligent and empowered, that now we should all only have three regulative principles instead of four and continue to follow this devotee?

There were so many big, big devotees that Srila Prabhupada personally gave sannyasa to but later on Srila Prabhupada became so fed up with their deviations that he said that they should give up those positions as sannyasi! Srila Prabhupada even said “This should be strictly outlawed, no more sannyasis….there will be no sannyasi anymore.”

(Room Conversation — January 7, 1977, Bombay)

Srila Prabhupada established the GBC as the ultimate managing authority for all ISKCON. But at one point Srila Prabhupada totally disbanded the whole of the GBC within ISKCON due to their deviations! So simply because at one point in time Srila Prabhupada appointed them to power and trusted them, does that give them permanent power? No! At any time anyone can lose their position and power and deviate or go astray and at that point one is no longer authorized and empowered.

I feel the most relevant example is from the concluding words of the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, dated November 10, 1974

“Now, by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, it is finished. In this connection I have to thank my American disciples, especially Sriman Pradyumna dasa Adhikari, Sriman Nitai dasa Adhikari, Sriman Jayadvaita dasa Brahmacari and many other boys and girls who are sincerely helping me in writing, editing and publishing all these literatures.”

But then on February 27, 1977 in Mayapura India Srila Prabhupada says “Nitai, he’s a rascal.”

Unfortunately there are so many examples I could mention, but in order to not depress/and embarrass all of us unnecessarily in this article I will stop here.

In conclusion, we have shown how the above two claims by the BBT International about Jayadvaita Swami being “good” and his work being “approved” by Prabhupada can’t be used to justify the changes he has made to Prabhupada’s books. And that they can’t be used as a guarantee that Jayadvaita Swami has not comitted mistakes himself or that he has pleased Prabhupada by his work.

Arsha Prayoga And Shakespeare (I)

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

By Locanananda Dasa (originally posted on his blog)

shakespear

The question as to whether the writings of the acarya may or may not be revised by his disciples after his disappearance is answered by the rule of “arsa prayoga”.

This principle states that one should not see mistakes in what the spiritual master has written or think that his writings may be changed to make them more effective or politically correct. To preserve his teachings in their originally published form is the way by which the acarya is honored, and to do otherwise is to dishonor him. That is the rule of “arsa prayoga”, a principle that devoted followers of a bona fide spiritual master must adhere to without deviation.

The rationale for changing Srila Prabhupada’s books was based on a series of false arguments, many of which were defeated by Srila Prabhupada himself, as this article will show. To justify their actions, the BBT editors created the illusion that Srila Prabhupada’s books were defective and in need of extensive editing even though they knew His Divine Grace had never authorized anyone to revise his books after his disappearance. Subsequent to his departure, they conveniently overlooked the principle of “arsa prayoga” and proceeded to do exactly what vaisnava tradition strictly prohibits.

It was by the distribution of transcendental literature that Srila Prabhupada hoped to introduce Krishna consciousness to people everywhere. For those who saw the movement spread from city to city and from country to country, it was clear that the original version of Srila Prabhupada’s books was full of spiritual potency and did not require to be changed in any way for his words to act upon the hearts of the conditioned souls. Srila Prabhupada himself never doubted that his books would bring about a revolution in consciousness and induce people throughout the world to take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His transcendental vision was revealed in the following letters, all of which refer to the original version of his books.

“I am glad to learn that you are having nice success in placing my books in the libraries and in schools and colleges…. I am sure that this will revolutionize the thinking of the thoughtful men of your country as well as the students and professors, and the ultimate end will be to save the world from the clutches of material illusory activities which is now causing havoc everywhere.” (Letter to Karandhara dated 9-13-70)

“If we introduce these books in all of the bookstores, schools, colleges, libraries and everyone’s home, our religion will be the only religion in the world very soon.” (Letter to Krishna Bamini dated 1-4-72)

“We have got a great mission to fulfill, and these books and magazines are the torchbearers of Truth which can save the world.” (Letter to Ksirodakasayi dated 1-3-72)

Srila Prabhupada’s books, then, should be thought of as a permanent legacy meant to be shared and enjoyed by generations of devotees everywhere. His purpose in writing was to reestablish religious principles and, ultimately, to revive every conditioned soul’s dormant love of God. These transcendental literatures were Srila Prabhupada’s gift to the world and proof of his empowerment by Krishna. Judging from the statements made above, His Divine Grace seemed totally convinced that the books he had published, if distributed widely enough, would deliver the entire world from the darkness of ignorance. Therefore, there was no reason to believe that, to fulfill his mission, his books would have to undergo another round of editing, what to speak of the complete overhaul concocted by the BBT editors.

Our guideline in Krishna consciousness is that the only duty of the disciple is to faithfully execute the order of the bona fide spiritual master. If a disagreement arises over how to best serve the guru, the issue can generally be resolved by following whatever course of action the spiritual master had specifically recommended in his direct instructions to his disciples. In a room conversation that took place in Paris in 1976, Srila Prabhupada elaborated on this point, and his explanation soundly defeats virtually all of the arguments presented in favor of changing his books.

Excerpt from a room conversation taking place in Paris, France on August 5, 1976

Hari-sauri: Sometimes there’s some discrepancy, two parties, that may both want to serve but they have different ways, different ideas how to execute the same order, so there may be some disagreement.

Srila Prabhupada: Service means you must take order from the master. Otherwise, it is mental concoction. Actually the servant requests, “How can I serve you?” So when the master orders, “You serve me like this,” then you do that, that is service. And if you manufacture your service, that is not service. That is your sense gratification. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. You have to see how he is pleased. Now if he wants a glass of water and if you bring a nice glass of milk, you can say, “Milk is better than water. You take it.” That is not service. He wants water, you give him water. Don’t manufacture better thing.

After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, and without his consent, the BBT editors took it upon themselves to re-edit his books, making thousands of unnecessary changes in an attempt to improve their wording and style. But, as Srila Prabhupada stated above, without his order, their service was a concoction. They were offering him milk when he had asked for water. He wanted them to follow the rule of “arsa prayoga”, but they decided to manufacture a better thing. So, according to the spiritual master, their editing was not service at all, but sense gratification.

Srila Prabhupada often insisted that he did not want his disciples to spend a great deal of time on editing work. He was also not very concerned with literary style. On one occasion, His Divine Grace said,

“We are not meant for presenting any literary masterpieces.”

and in the following letter, he gave further instruction to his book production staff with regard to their editorial and proofreading services:

“We have to do things now very dexterously, simply we have to see that in our book there is no spelling or grammatical mistake. We do not mind for any good style, our style is Hare Krishna, but still, we should not present a shabby thing. Although Krishna literatures are so nice that, even if they are presented in broken and irregular ways, such literatures are welcomed, read and respected by bona fide devotees.” (Letter to Satsvarupa dated 1-9-70)

Unless the BBT trustees felt that Srila Prabhupada’s books had been shabbily presented in the past, they had no right to tamper with them. While it is not our philosophy to print errors, it should be remembered that spiritual subject matter is transcendental to all mundane considerations and remains potent despite mistakes in grammar, spelling, etc.

As soon as Srila Prabhupada was satisfied with the standard of presentation of his books, he adamantly warned the BBT staff that further changes should not be made. He said it would be considered an offense for them to even think there were mistakes in his books. When it was brought to Srila Prabhupada’s attention in 1977 that significant changes had been made to his books without his approval, he instructed the directors of the BBT that their next printing should be again to the original way. The editors were well aware how averse Srila Prabhupada was to making changes, especially once a book had been published. How, then, could they act so boldly against his wishes, daring to change everything, and so soon after his physical departure? If Srila Prabhupada ever spoke of making improvements, he was referring to the quality of the printing only and was not suggesting that changes be made in the text of his books. When Srila Prabhupada first examined the 1972 MacMillan Gita, for example, he said it did not meet our vaisnava standard. He was disappointed with the quality of the paper, the binding, the color work and so on. These are the things he wanted improved. As far as the text was concerned, he said that nothing should be added or subtracted.

Cover Up

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

By Bhakta Torben Nielsen

(This was originally posted in the Sampradaya Sun.)

bg-cover-original

Here in Denmark we have a “new” version of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is (supposedly), coming up. One of the editors, Jahnu/Jahnudvipa prabhu, publicized his suggestion for a front cover (pictured below). As everyone can see, by comparison, it is different, in so many ways, from Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This is a local example, but from research on the Internet, it is easily seen how widespread this corruption is.

Srila Prabhupada:

“And the covers, if possible, should always be the same for each respective book regardless of what language it may be printed in.” (Letter to Jadurani, Bombay, January 3, 1975)

“Regarding Bhagavad-gita, enlarged edition, the picture approved by me to Jadurani is all right.” (Letter to: Satsvarupa – Los Angeles 31 July, 1970)

A subsequent “debate” on editor Jahnu’s suggestion of a Bhagavad-gita cover was quickly censored, including Jahnu’s picture. The topic was banned, as there is a stricture on that facebook forum (Krishna.dk) not to bring up “institutional”, “controversial” or “negative” material.

The idiotic irony is that bringing up the topic is “controversial” and forbidden – but DOING these things, changing the books, is fine.

jahnus-cover-bg-1

Jahnu’s Suggested Bhagavad-gita cover

______________________________________________

A few comments from Ajit Krishna Dasa (not featured in the post at Sampradaya Sun)

It is truly astonishing to see the amount of mistakes on this suggested cover:

  • Bhagavad-gita is not spelled with capital “G” in “gita, but with a small “g”.

Prabhupada says:

“Regarding the listing of the Bhagavad-gita in the religion catalog of MacMillan, they have spelled it Bhagavid Gita and not Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I do not know why they should commit such mistake, I hope that this will not hamper the sales. Please point out this discrepancy to Mr. Wade.” (Letter to Brahmananda, Los Angeles, 19 December, 1968)

  • Over the “i” and the “g” there should be a line. That could be excused if this is not the final version, and the sanskrit will be added later.
  • On the original it says “As It Is”. In Jahnu’s this is changed to only capital letters “SOM DEN ER”.
  • On the original books it says “His Divine grace”. On Jahnu’s we find “Sri Srimad A.C…”
  • Regarding the artwork itself. Prabhupada was happy about the front cover of his 1972 edition. He approved it. He never asked for it to be changed at any point. The original cover is shining, it gives the impression of heroism, chivalry and fighting for the right cause. The colors on Jahnu’s cover is dark, boring and depressing. Prabhupada said that if a painting should be changed it should be the exact same scene, but made better (read more about this here). On Jahnu’s cover we find a different scene, and the dark and depressing colors certainly does’nt make it better.

I find it truly astonishing how a BBT International editor like Jahnu, who has been working for BBT(I) for more than 20 years, doesn’t know or care about the clear instructions from Srila Prabhupada regarding front covers, artwork and text-editing. The amount of speculation Jahnu puts into his cover is amazing.

Arsha Prayoga Part (I) – Resistance To Change

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

By Locanananda Prabhu (originally posted on his blog)

ct45-0541

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.

prabhupada-admiring-book

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.”

Debate with Jahnu Dasa (editor for BBT International) on the book changes

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

The below debate took place on Govinda Dasi’s Facebook profile in May 2013. It is mainly a debate between Jahnu Das aka. Jahnu Dvipa Dasa who is editor for BBT International on one side and Kim Møller, Torben Nielsen and Ajit Krishna Dasa on the other side.

Jahnu Das is from Denmark but now lives in Mayapur where he is engaged in translating BBT International’s 1983-edition of Bhagavad-gita in collaboration with Lalitanath Dasa. Even though informed about all the arguments against the book changes, they are still intent on doing this job dispite the outcry of many Danish devotees who are concerned about the editing of Prabhupada’s already authorized books.

Jahnu Das used to be disciple of Harikesh Swami (who started BBT International and was behind the closing of Prabhupada’s original BBT). After Harikesh Swami’s fall he took reinitiating from Jayapataka Swami.

In the below I have deleted postings unrelated to the debate going on between Jahnu Das, Kim Møller, Torben and myself, Ajit Krishna Dasa. I have also deleted certain elements from Facebook such as “like” buttons, dates etc.

A link to the following article was posted on Govinda Dasi’s Facebook profile: Jayadvaita is Wrong — still he insists on justifying his blunders? (article by Govinda Dasi)

 Jahnu Das Personally, I have infinite more faith in a staunch follower of Srila Prabhupada like Jayadvaita Swami, than those who criticise him…
 Kim Møller That Jahnuji think its oki for Jayadvaita Swami to change Srila Prabhupadas books and still calling him a “staunch follower” can come as no surprice since he must be loyal due to himself translating from these changed books. However there are tons of substantial evidence from both shastra and Srila Prabhupada Himself to the fact, that you can NOT change in Acaryas litterature and forsure Prabhupada never gave any order to continue this change disease forever after His demise. Prabhupada clearly stated that you cant change a singel word, even if there is a mistake, its called “arsha prayoga”
 Jahnu Das Srila Prabhupada personally asked Jayadvaita Swami to edit his books. Maharaja has a web-page, where he thoroughly explains and justifies each and everyone of his corrections and rationally points out the editorial mistakes of the previous versions of Srila Prabhupada’s books. To say that Srila Prabhupada’s books should not be edited at all is just plain dumb and not what Srila Prabhupada instructed his editors to do.
 Kim Møller Prabhupada gave the edit service to several devotees which does not indicate that they must continue to change His book in an on going flow, a few obvious corrections can be accepted, but this massive change is simply out og hand. And to this web-page Jahnu Prabhu mentions, every singel so called justification has step by step been refuted, the claim that Hayagriva didnt consult SP personaly also was refuted since both Hayagrivas own book gave other evidence and also from Brahmananda Prabhu and Govinda Dasi came other evidence and the so called “original manuscript” turned out to be a hoaxy attempt. Jayadvaita Swami him self have admitted that Prabhupada never told him to continue edit and change His books after demise. Lets not forget Prabhupada accepted, loved and preached from His original books, so my humble suggestion is that it is simply plain dumb to think we can do a better job.
 Jahnu Das You mean, ‘the planet of the trees’ being changed back to ‘the planet of the pitrs’ has been refuted? hahaha:)
 Kim Møller That is a minor thing, like i said, a few obvious mistakes can be corrected, but not this on going massive change.
 Jahnu Das So give an example of such massive changes. Lets hear it…
 Kim Møller Why comment on changes when they are forbitten by guru sadhu shastra in the first place, its called ARSHA PRAYOGA you cannot change a single word, even if there is a mistake. So it would be foolish to talk about these changes at all, plain logic.
 Jahnu Das IOW, you don’t know what you are talking about, when you say ‘massive ongoing changes.’
 Jahnu Das IOW, when you say ‘massive ongoing changes’ you don’t know what you are talking about.
 Kim Møller Well its pretty hard to avoid Jahnuji, one must be really blind if that is not obvius
 Jahnu Das I don’t see anything in that link that warrants your statement – massive ongoing changes. Maybe you can help, give us just one example of such massive ongoing changes.
 Jahnu Das The Danish phrase ’empty barrels make the most noise’ comes to mind
 Kim Møller You dont get it Jahnu Prabhu, simply dont change anything because it is an offence to Acarya to do so after His demise, so why talk about the changes at all when it is forbitten (ps. that was not my link  )
 Torben Nielsen Try to at look “Arsha Prayoga“- site in Denmark, Jahnu prabhu. Your own birthcountry. This is so obvious that you have to willfully deny it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that you, Jahnu prabhu, is translating the Gita into Danish from the unauthorized Jayadvaita Swami edition?

 Kim Møller Because of lack of argument no need to be offensive although i agree, im just an empty barrel.

 Jahnu Das In my mind, to accuse JAS of changing the message of Prabhupada’s books, like these critics do, now THAT’s offensive – especially when they cannot give one single example to back up their blitherings.
 Kim Møller You want eksample to the fact that you cannot change Acaryas litterature ???
 Kim Møller No problem!!!
 Jahnu Das I think we have established that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
 Kim Møller You have not established much my dear friend
 Torben Nielsen We invite you, dear Jahnu Prabhu, to come to the site “Arsha Prayog” , in your own language even. You´ll get plenty of evidence there.
 Torben Nielsen But you seem to run away every time you get some opposition.
 Torben Nielsen It is a standing invitation.
 Torben Nielsen Also to Lalitanath prabhu, who is your co-editor.
 Ray Berry Once again Srila Prabhupada speaks about changing the printed words of the Spritual authority;
Raddha-vallabha: Now Jagannātha had some questions on corrections in the book. In verse twenty-eight it says, “Then he worshiped Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the essence of all Vedas, with this hymn.”
Prabhupāda: Where it is? Brahma-saṁhitā?
Rādhā-vallabha: Yes.
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Rādhā-vallabha: So it says, “Then he worshiped Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the essence of all Vedas, with this hymn.”
Prabhupāda: Where it is?
Rādhā-vallabha: It’s verse twenty-eight, “Then he worshiped Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” So Jagannātha said it should be, “Then he worshiped…”
Prabhupāda: No, no. Jagannātha cannot correct. That bad habit he must give up.
Rādhā-vallabha: So we should just leave it exactly.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. You should not be more educated.
Rādhā-vallabha: He wasn’t changing any of the words. He was just…
Prabhupāda: Nothing of the… This of should be strictly forbidden.
Rādhā-vallabha: So no corrections. That makes it simple.
Prabhupāda: They can divide the synonyms. That’s all.
Rādhā-vallabha: Synonyms. So even…
Prabhupāda: That is his tendency, to correct. That’s very bad. He should not do that.
Rādhā-vallabha: So I’ll just forget this, then.
Prabhupāda: The system is: whatever authority has done, even there is mistake, it should be accepted.
Rādhā-vallabha: Oh.
Prabhupāda: Asa-prāya(?) That is ha… He should not become more learned than the authority. That is very bad habit.
Rādhā-vallabha: He was always wondering how he should think. So I’ll tell him that. He thinks, “If I think I see a mistake, what should I think?” I’ll tell him what you just said.
Prabhupāda: He cannot see mistake. He is mistake. (laughter) He should… That is being done by this rascal. I don’t want.
Srila Prabhupada’s Room Conversation — February 27, 1977, Mayapura
 Torben Nielsen Why? It´s spiritual.
 Torben Nielsen It is a standing invitation, Jahnu.
 Torben Nielsen I can hear an echo from that barrel, jahnu, ahnu, ahnu, nu, u, u
 Kris Pawlak Srila Prabhupāda:” The system is: whatever authority has done, even there is mistake, it should be accepted.” that is a great standard, we should treat all these mistakes with respect, but we should still realize them for what they are. Minor mistakes do not detract from the core message.
 Kim Møller Even if transcendental literature is written in faulty language, it is acceptable if it is written by a devotee.Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 8.39
 Kim Møller Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 12.150 – The Cleansing of the Gundica Temple:”This is a matter of etiquette. If a previous acarya has already written about something, there is no need to repeat it for personal sense gratification or to outdo the previous acarya. Unless there is some definite improvement, one should not repeat.”
 Jahnu Das The simple fact remains that Srila Prabhupada requested his disciples to edit his books so they would be presentable to academics and other educated people
 Kim Møller Ehhh “simpel fact” where is this fact?? where is the quote saying; you continue edit my books for academics after my demise ? The books that the academic community was so impressed from, that He was so proud of, that dragged thousands of people to Krishna consciousness, books that are standart teaching material in universities. Before they went to printing he wanted them edited of course and they were (also for academic) by Hayagriva who is academic, in all respect, Jayadvaita Swami is not. Lets not forget the quotation is there saying; Actually i wrote these book for my disciples. However lets see the quote Jahnu Prabhu.
“They’re ruining my books.” — Srila Prabhupada
bookchanges.comThe greatest anxiety Srila Prabhupada has is that after he’s gone we will add things to his books that are bogus, we will take things out that are bona fide, we will make changes in his books and the whole work for 10,000 years, his plan Prabhupada was working on, it will all be spoiled by us becaus…

To Edit or Not To Edit – That Is The Question
bookchanges.comThe book editing issue is a very serious one, perhaps the most serious issue in ISKCON today. I have seen the attractive and seemingly authentic website promoting these changes, but most of it is propaganda, a lot of it based on speculation of what took place. It is most unfortunate that this has oc…
 Kim Møller . Even though such literature is presented in broken language or grammatical inconsistency or rhetorical irregularity, still, those who are saintly persons adore such literature. They hear such literature, and chant it and adore it, simply because the Supreme Lord is being glorified in this literature. In other words, we are not meant for presenting any literary masterpieces, but we have to inform people that there is a fire of maya which is burning the very vitality of all living entities, and they should guard against the indefatigable onslaught of material existence. That should be our motto. (Letter to: Krsna dasa – Los Angeles 13 Feb, 1969)
 Kim Møller I also do not like too much editorial work. This too much editorial work on Geetopanishad has created some misunderstanding between the members of the editorial staff. Anyway, in the future one man should edit it, and that will be sufficient for our printing. And I do not want that Teachings of Lord Chaitanya should be edited again and typed again and time wasted in that way. I have also informed Rayrama of this, and you can also inform him like this. The book should be printed immediately, without any waste of time. That is my desire. (Letter to Satsvarupa, Dec 23, 1967)
 Kim Møller Can it be more clear ??
 Jahnu Das Still, Srila Prabhupada asked his disciples to edit his books so they would be presentable to an ‘educated’ audience. He gave Jayadvaita Swami carte blanche to make any changes he deemed necessary to that end.
 Kim Møller Lets see the quote and take it from there
Jahnu Das I have it personally from Maharaja. Are you calling him a liar?
 Kim Møller Maharaja can say what he want, if we do not have it from Prabhupada it has no value, otherwise anybody can say anything, anyway this is only third hand info and so with out value, we need confirmation from source namely His Divine Grace AC Bhativedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
 Jahnu Das I begin to understand why you have not received initiation even after your 20+ years of contact with ISKCON  Need I remind you, that everything you know about Prabhupada you know by the mercy of his disciples?
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Yes, either JAS is a liar or all the people who got the opposite instructions are liars. We now have black and white: NO CHANGES!
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Jahnu writes that he has it personally from maharaja! That is not strong evidence at all. Strong evidence are the direct statements by Prabhupada. On top of that we have all the instruction from Ramesvara Prabhu, Govinda Dasi and others who contradict JAS’ statements.
 Jahnu Das That goes for you, too. If it wasn’t for Prabhupada’s disciples we wouldn’t know anything about Krishna, Srila Prabhupada or his books.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa And we do not need to find massive changes. Prabhupada became furious even over very small changes!
 Jahnu Das Still he asked his disciples to edit his books so they would be acceptable by so-called educated people.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa So what? That is not related to this issue!
 Ajit Krishna Dasa I could have gotten something much better if the BBTI hadn’t changed the books! Then I could have made even more progress.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa He never asked them to change AFTER his departure. He asked them not to change anything. We have reference on that – many many references.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Jahnu, you are talking about initiation – are you initiated? What is the qualification of a guru?
 Kim Møller May i remind Jahnu that everything i know about Krsna i due to Srila Prabhupada and His potencies and as a reminder, Jahnu do not know about my initiation into Gaudia Vaisnavaisem, he is just guessing again *LOL*
 Jahnu Das Do I need to remind you, that if it wasn’t for the diligent work of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, you would never have heard of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada or his books?
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Jahnu, so are ALL Prabhupada disciple correct? Just because they gave us mercy, doe it then follow logically that they must be correct? If yes, then why do they differ on the matter of the book changes? Which Prabhupada disciples should we listen to? Even better that a discussion about that would be for you to put forward som LOGICAL arguments for your case.
 Kim Møller Its all due to Srila Prabhupada, if it wasnt for Him no books no Krsna, but yes some fine disciples assisted him, but thats not the point Jahnuji, stick to the point my dear friend and not divert the topic
 Jahnu Das Actually, I think it is Rupa Goswami who advises us to not take part when there are disagreements between groups of superior Vaishnavas.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa As far as I know: If a disciple lies to his godbrothers by telling them that their diksa-gura elected him to be acarya (a pure devotee mahabhagavata) when that in fact was not the case, then he can not be a guru. In fact by doing this he is revealing he is an offensive kanistha. Now you put 2 and 2 together.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Jahnu, so why are you taking part? You have been taking part for more than 20 years now. So I guess you are the last one to refer to such a quote by Rupa Goswami. Secondly, you are arguing in circles, since the very topic for this debate includes a discussion about WHETHER OR NOT these editors are actually superior. I say they are not.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Jahnu is GETTING PAID by the BBT International despite Prabhupada’s clear instructions on the matter:”in 1974 we had , at the Mayapur festival , we had decided that we were going to give Acyutananda Swami some royalty for writing the songbook . And with that royalty he was going to use it to preach in South India which was his preaching field . Prabhupada found out about it and was furious . Just furious . He said , “No one in the BBT gets a royalty , even myself. Why he has written something , he get s a royalty? ” And Prabhupada was so angry over this principle that nobody can take a royalty for himself from the BBT , even if he ‘ s going to use it for Krsna, it doesn’t matter. So on this principle he was very angry and he forced Acyutananda to turn in all the money.” (Ramesvara Dasa)There are more quotes like that.So Jahnu Das has vested interests is promoting Jayadvaita Swami and the book changes. Jahnu is himself translating the unauthorised 1983 edition of the gita into Danish.
 Jahnu Das I never received so much as a penny from the BBT
 Ajit Krishna Dasa Okay, fair enough! I apologize if that is the case. But that is not what I have heard from other Danish devotees.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa The arguments on the website of BBT International have been debunked. The most blatant fault of the BBT International that they think they should go back to first drafts. Of course you never go back the draft without the permission of the author. Especially when you do not know enough about how the author worked personally with an editor to come from the draft to the end product.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa The new interviews with Ramesvara Prabhu ought to be the final nail in the BBT International’s coffin. The debate is over. Admit defeat. Apologize to everyone, especially Prabhupada. And let us work together in a loving spirit to spread Prabhupada’s books, As They Really Are.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa “The first of many experiences I’ve had with Prabhupada literally drilling me , pounding it into my head that you’re never allowed to change anything in his books. He trained me so intensely on this point. Even when the changes make sense he wouldn’t let me change. Just to train me.” (Ramesvara Dasa)
 Kim Møller And from the same text: “Prabhupada just explained how everyone’s a rascal for daring to touch anything in his books. The greatest anxiety he has is that after he’s gone we will add things to his books that are bogus, we will take things out that are bona fide, we will make changes in his books and the whole work for 10,000 years, his plan Prabhupada was working on, it will all be spoiled by us because of our tendency to change. And Prabhupada gave an example that the disease to do things differently is so inherent in the Americans that for the sake of doing things differently we would walk on our hands rather than our feet.”(Ramesvara Dasa, Interview, 1979)
 Kim Møller So here it is again, the thing that we think we can do a better job than Prabhupada for academics is simply bogus. More from Ramesvara Dasa: He (Satsvarup Maharaja)organized world-wide l ibrary distribution onevery continent and he changed the whole face of our movement . He single-handedly , this party gained unlimited respect for our movement, tremendous support and recognition from the leading scholars and theologians in the world , the leading universities in the world, and our movement was overnight practically recognized as bona fide . The relationships with the professon became one of our most valuable assets . It was just the momentum from this initial start just flooded America and Europe and India . There ‘ s no way to describe the joy that Prabhupada derived . He made a special note of it at the end
of his Caitanya-caritamrtas in the concluding words that he wrote , at the end of the Antya . S when it was finished . In the last paragraph he expres ses his deepest thanks and gratitude to the scholars of the world who are reading his books and appreciating them . So there ‘ s just so much pleasure that we saw Prabhupada deriving from the book distribution up to this point and now simultaneous with the on-going development of the regular book distribution and the spreading of it to other zones was now this new Library Party . So all of these things were just filling Prabhupada with so much happiness and his
disciples were hearing of this ecstasy , getting letters from him, and knowing that this was the most dearest thing to their spiritual master spurred them on to unbelievable sacrifices.
 Ajit Krishna Dasa What about the incorrect grammar? “Prabhupada’s reply, “You cannot change one comma ,not even a comma, not even a punctuation mark , that is the etiquette .” So that was just another one of those super heavy instructions that the etiquette in dealing with a great acarya’s books is that whatever he has done it’s eternal and it can never be changed. And I believe that all of this was part of Prabhupada’s training us . He wanted to train people who would be entrusted with his books .(Ramesvara Dasa, Interview, 1979)
bookchanges.com
Soon after the intense marathon for completing the publication of Caitanya Caritamrita, Radhaballabha prabhu approached Srila Prabhupada and mentioned that the artists are now completing the paintings in preparation for the second printing. To this, Srila Prabhupada replied “NO changes”.

Without explaining why Jahnu Das left the debate at this point.

“They are ruining my books”

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

Ramesvara interview

A very, very important document has just become public. It is a 300+ page transcript of a 1979 interview with Ramesvara Dasa (manager of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust when Prabhupada was with us). Ramesvara Dasa was the person directly in charge of printing Srila Prabhupada’s books.

In this interview Ramesvara Dasa is giving a completely honest account of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to him in regard to not changing his books and on many other points also.

This is perhaps the most important document that has come to light in ISKCON since 1977.

You can download and read the PDF file of the interview by clicking on:

Ramesvara-interview-1979

Please read it…

Here are some of the important instructions on responsible publishing given by Prabhupada to Ramesvara Dasa:

Ramesvara Dasa:

“And also at that Mayapur meeting of 1976 we had had meetings with Prabhupada about the Bhagavatam. We prepared for that Mayapur festival a color board which showed all the volumes of the Bhagavatam drawn in for each Canto what the color would be. And Srila Prabhupada approved the color scheme for the Srimad-Bhagavatam for all the reprints. But he warned us emphatically that this must be the very very last change that is ever to be made in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

“Prabhupada at that time approved the new design for the Krsna Book trilogy and then he approved the standardization in terms of lettering and so on for the Bhagavatams and he approved the new color board. That is what the 12 Cantos are going to look like. Prabhupada was very happy to see that we had made a plan. But then he got very grave and said, “Now, this is the final plan, this is the final approved standard, there can never be any more changes.” He was emphatic, he was insistent, and he pounded it into our heads.

“What about the incorrect grammar? “Prabhupada’s reply, “You cannot change one comma, not even a comma, not even a punctuation mark, that is the etiquette.” So that was just another one of those super heavy instructions that the etiquette in dealing with a great acarya’s books is that whatever he has done it’s eternal and it can never be changed. And I believe that all of this was part of Prabhupada’s training us . He wanted to train people who would be entrusted with his books.

“…you can get a first hand understanding of how intense Prabhupada was and how concerned he was that in the future no one ever be allowed to make changes in his books. This was more than just a preoccupation with Prabhupada. This was a, you could call this a transcendental phobia, that the entire movement would without any shadow of a doubt be completely wasted and all the work and effort of all the devotees that Prabhupada was directly as well as his own efforts would all be ultimately lost if his books we re changed. That was his attitude. He expressed that attitude very clearly in 1974 in that conversation and in that letter you’ll see the statements Prabhupada made about how everything will be ruined if his books are changed.

“With the BBT, the size of the books, the type of art in the books and so on, on principle Prabhupada would not allow changes even if the change was an improvement. Just to teach that principle of don’t change.”

“Prabhupada just explained how everyone’s a rascal for daring to touch anything in his books. The greatest anxiety he has is that after he’s gone we will add things to his books that are bogus, we will take things out that are bona fide, we will make changes in his books and the whole work for 10,000 years, his plan Prabhupada was working on, it will all be spoiled by us because of our tendency to change. And Prabhupada gave an example that the disease to do things differently is so inherent in the Americans that for the sake of doing things differently we would walk on our hands rather than our feet.”

Don’t you dare change the picture on my book! I have deliberate ly chosen the picture of Visnu because I want this book to be attracting the Mayavadis and impersonalists. So that was the first direct instruction that I had received from Prabhupada which gave me an understanding o f how much he would meditate on every facet of his books. The art, the size, the pictures, who the market was. And I began to realize Prabhupada is very much on top of his book design and publishing.”

If you put anything bogus in my book , this is my greatest fear that you will ruin my book and the whole book will be ruined because of you!

“The first of many experiences I’ve had with Prabhupada literally drilling me , pounding it into my head that you’re never allowed to change anything in his books. He trained me so intensely on this point. Even when the changes make sense he wouldn’t let me change. Just to train me.”

Ramesvara-interview-1979

To Edit or Not To Edit – That Is The Question

Help us by “liking” and “sharing” this post!

By Govinda Dasi (ACBSP)

govinda-dasi-sp

Govinda Dasi & Srila Prabhupada

The book editing issue is a very serious one, perhaps the most serious issue in ISKCON today. I have seen the attractive and seemingly authentic website promoting these changes, but most of it is propaganda, a lot of it based on speculation of what took place. It is most unfortunate that this has occurred, as it endangers everything Srila Prabhupada came to this world to do. He came from Krishna Loka “to write some books.”

So many times, Prabhupada said, referring to his books, “NO Changes!” “Don’t change anything!” but this instruction, given repeatedly, has been glossed over by so many elaborate, and often untruthful, explanations and excuses.

The very real danger is that his books could be lost in time, as some changes lead to more changes, and “tinkering” with editing is the disease of the American nature. Prabhupada complained of this “Westerner disease” often, and there is ample evidence that he did not want his books changed after he left this world.

Posthumous editing is not respected by the scholarly community (see Dr. John Trimble, famous for his Writing with Style) nor is it respected or approved of by the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. The opinions of such famous Western scholars as Dr. Trimble, and the opinions of famous Gaudiya scholars, have not been included in this BBT-edit website — because they are NOT favorable. So the reasoning for doing this massive edit is flawed, i.e. “to make the books more acceptable to scholars…”

Continue reading

Prabhupada did the proofreading of the entire Bhagavad-gita As It Is

By Ajit Krishna Dasa

Brahmananda Prabhu as quoted in ”Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta”:

“Macmillan Company was publishing Bhagavad-gita, and Prabhupada himself was publishing Teachings of Lord Caitanya through Dai Nippon in Japan. Because Brahmananda had contacted the editors at Macmillan Company, Prabhupada credited him with the success of the Gita’s being published by such a famous company. Brahmananda was also Prabhupada’s man for dealing with Dai Nippon. Both books were on tight printing schedules, and Brahmananda had to return quickly to New York with the corrected proofs.

Brahmananda: “I came up to show Prabhupada the galley proofs for both Teachings of Lord Caitanya and Bhagavad-gita, As It Is. I just happened to have both galley proofs that had arrived. So it was a wonderful thing to bring these galley proofs to Prabhupada for checking. I was there only for a few days, maybe a weekend or so. Prabhupada personally read through the entire galleys and made notations in his own hand. He did the proofreading of the galleys. Everything was done by Srila Prabhupada. It was a very personal kind of thing. Of course, that gave Prabhupada great pleasure because he wanted his books published, and we had started to do it. So Prabhupada took great pleasure in proofreading those galleys. And he handed them to me, and it was very wonderful.” (SPL 7-4: A Summer in Montreal, 1968 / http://vedabase.com/en/spl/7/4)

prabhupada-gita-smiling

For those who are not familiar with the term “galley proofs” here is a definition from wikipedia:

“In printing and publishing, proofs are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, editors, and proofreaders, often with extra wide margins. Galley proofs may be uncut and unbound, or in some cases electronic. They are created for proofreading and copyediting purposes, but may be used for promotional and review purposes also.”

These memories from Brahmananda Prabhu informs us that Prabhupada read through the complete Bhagavad-gita, As It Is before it was sent to be printed in late 1968. This means that Prabhupada read through all 700 verses and their purports.

An interesting point in this regard – which serves as an example of unauthorized editing – is that the word ”coward” was in verse 2.35, and that the word ”brimming” was in verse 2.1 both in the 1968-edition and the 1972-edition. But still the BBT International took the liberty to remove and change these words on their own initiative in their 1983-edition. Prabhupada saw and approved these two words. He did not change them to ”insignificant” og ”full of tears” respectively, even though he had from 1968-1972 to do so if that was what he wanted. Even after 1972 he could have ordered them changed. But just like with all others words and sentences in his Bhagavad-gita, As It Is (except 2-3 instances) he did not give any order to change them. And therefore we also do not have the right to do it.