BY: THE ASSEMBLED DEVOTEES
Jul 28, 2014 — GLOBAL (SUN) — Srila Prabhupada wasn’t involved at any stage of the production?
In the 2003 Honolulu conversation (reposted in the appendix), Jayadvaita Swami stated:
“He [Prabhupada] wasn’t involved at any stage of the production [of the unabridged Bhagavad-gita]”
“all I really wanted to do is contribute to the history of the Gita.”
Yet there appears to be a disconnect between Jayadvaita Swami’s version of history and the evidence on record. It is well known that Srila Prabhupada indicated on many occasions that he wanted to be relieved from management to concentrate on writing. However, due to various shortcomings on our part we saw him take the helm time and time again to correct the course of his mission. We get the vivid impression from Jayadvaita Swami that Srila Prabhupada entrusted all aspects of book production and publishing to his disciples, thus perpetrating the myth that His Divine Grace was a passive author who, once the writing was done, simply handed the ball off to Jayadvaita and a few others to finish everything; that he wasn’t necessarily concerned with or even fully aware of the nuts and bolts of the process and that he didn’t always see the big picture. And that somehow Jayadvaita knew what His Divine Grace would have approved or not approved.
Conversation between Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami- Honolulu, Jan 19, 2003:
“I could tell you that some of the verses that some of the BBT staff questioned, Prabhupada would never have approved. I can say with confidence, Prabhupada would never have approved. Some of the very few verses that we had issues with, there’s no question in my mind that Prabhupada didn’t see them.”
Might this be a tad presumptuous? Could it be that Jayadvaita wasn’t aware of how involved Srila Prabhupada was in the production and publication of his Bhagavad-gita and that he (Jayadvaita) was not the only person Prabhupada was communicating and interacting with?
The following conversations and correspondence are just a sampling of the communications between His Divine Grace and others from 1969 thru 1972 regarding the publishing of his unabridged Bhagavad-gita As It Is. For the sake of brevity, we have only used excerpts from these communications. We encourage everyone to look at the full text in the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase to understand Srila Prabhupada’s depth of involvement in the details of publishing, and to study the complete history of events to truly appreciate the astonishing number of people, publications and issues Srila Prabhupada was dealing with. These citations show that in addition to writing, His Divine Grace was involved in approving layouts, deciding on book binding, directing artists, corresponding with his editors, studying printing options, contacting MacMillan, reviewing contracts, fund raising and more. Again, these citations only reference his work on the unabridged Gita — Srila Prabhupada was working on several titles simultaneously. And book publishing was but one facet of his mission.
(Emphasis is added in the following)
Letter to Satsvarupa- Los Angeles, June 27, 1969:
“Regarding Madan Mohan…he must continue the work of indexing very nicely the original Bhagavad-gita As It Is. As soon as this indexing is finished, I shall publish another revised and enlarged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is at my own cost. I was not happy to publish it [abridged edition] through MacMillan as they have crippled the explanations for so many important verses.”
Discussion with BTG Staff- Boston, December 24, 1969:
Srila Prabhupada sets the wheels in motion
There are several existing manuscripts
He tells Jayadvaita, “So whatever is lacking, you ask me. I will supply you.”
He approves the translations edited by Macmillan
Prabhupada: One thing may appear to be very simple and to other, terse, but you do your own duty. Another thing: where is the Bhagavad-gita with my full translation and synonyms? Where is that manuscript?
Hayagriva: I have… There are several existing manuscripts. I have… The manuscript I went over is in Columbus.
Hayagriva: The total manuscript is there.
Prabhupada: So we have to prepare for next publication, revised and enlarged, giving in the same process: original verse, transliteration, synonyms, and translation, and purport….
Jayadvaita: There’s another manuscript of Bhagavad-gita also in New York, the original.
Prabhupada: Oh. You have got?
Jayadvaita: Yes. It’s in New York except for the first two chapters. Everything else is there.
Prabhupada: So first two chapters might be with Janardana. But you have got the whole thing, Hayagriva.
Hayagriva: Yes. That has been… I have gone over that, the one I have. The one that is in New York, no one has gone over that.
Jayadvaita: Some of it has been edited by Rayarama, but you can see around it and go to the original behind it.
Prabhupada: So whatever is lacking, you ask me. I will supply you.
Hayagriva: Well, I have nothing lacking. But I would like to see that version.
Jayadvaita: That’s with a dictaphone. So it’s…
Hayagriva: I would like to see that in going over mine. I’ll have to go over it chapter by chapter. But I will compare the version I have with that version, and… I know the translations themselves, they were somewhat changed in Bhagavad-gita As It Is as it came out in Macmillan. Did you like those translations?
Prabhupada: Whichever is better, you think. That’s all. You can follow this Macmillan.
Hayagriva: That was the second… They’re good. I think they’re very good.
Prabhupada: Yes. You can follow that translation. Simply synonyms he can add, transliterations.
Hayagriva: And we have all the purports. We can include everything. Nothing will be deleted. Everything will be in there.
Prabhupada: That’s all right.
Letter to Hayagriva- January 14, 1970:
“Regarding our enlarged, revised Bhagavad-gita As It Is, if possible you can conveniently give an enlarged introduction also.”
Letter to Pradyumna- Los Angeles, February 22, 1970:
“I have read the transliteration of Bhagavad-gita verses, but I think you have to do it very carefully because there are some mistakes in some of the verses. But I am sure in your next reading they will be all corrected. So your next compositions shall be Bhagavad-gita As It Is, revised and enlarged edition. Please do it nicely.”
Letter to Syama, February 23, 1970:
“Please ask Hayagriva Prabhu to finish the Bhagavad-gita As It Is with full explanation and text, and as soon as it is finished I shall send you some new tapes which you shall work husband and wife conjointly and you will be very pleased.”
Letter to Hayagriva- Los Angeles, March 9, 1970:
“I am so glad to learn that the Gita is going on nicely. Perhaps you know that Mandali Bhadra wants to translate into German, so as you finish one chapter you may send one copy to him immediately for being translated into German.”
Letter to Hayagriva- Los Angeles, April 18, 1970:
“So what you are now doing on the Bhagavad Gita manuscript is alright, do it nicely….
Regarding the editing process, I am glad to know that they are improving and doing nicely, but finally you should see each manuscript before printing. That should be the arrangement.”
Letter to Jadurani- Los Angeles, July 11, 1970:
“Regarding the picture for the cover of Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS, revised and enlarged edition, yes, if the painting for the cover is similar to the picture which you sent from the Bhagavad-gita in Pictures that will be alright. Regarding further pictures for the Bhagavad-gita, if you want suggestions from me then I can give you hints with reference to important verses in the Gita;”
Letter to MacMillan Company- Los Angeles, July 18, 1970:
“Regarding my book, THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS, I beg to inform you that when I had originally submitted the manuscript to Mr. James Wade he informed me that it had to be considerably shortened due to production requirements.
Since the publication of the book in 1968, which I understand is now in its third printing, I desire to publish the GITA according to the original manuscript….Please inform me whether MacMillan wants to publish this expanded version of the GITA. I look forward to receiving your early reply.”
Letter to MacMillan Company- Los Angeles, August 5, 1970:
“If MacMillan does not desire to publish this expanded version, then I will have it published elsewhere immediately.”
Letter to Satsvarupa- Bombay, November 4, 1970:
“I am prepared to give up dealing with Dai Nippon if ISKCON Press can print my books. What is being done with the manuscript of the unabridged Bhagavad-gita As It Is? It should be printed as soon as possible.”
Letter to Hayagriva- Bombay, November 24, 1970:
“Regarding Printing of Bhagavad-gita complete and unabridged edition, it may be printed with our ISKCON PRESS and 5,000 copies may be sent, printed and folded to Bombay because I notice in your ISKCON PRESS newsletter that Advaita has expressed his opinion that if sent by ship without folding first, it would not be possible for the books to be properly folded and printed here in India. Regarding the missing verses, I will see if it is required and will send you at a later date.”
Letter to Advaita- Surat, December 19, 1970:
“I had never considered either closing down our ISKCON Press or removing your responsibility for managing the press affairs. You may immediately resume your former activities and work the press according to your best ability because I am very eager to see our own press printing the majority of our publications. The first thing now should be the printing of the new, enlarged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.”
Letter to Satsvarupa- Surat, December 19, 1970:
“I have seen the layout proposal for the first pages of our new edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is and it is fully approved by me…. You may inform Jadurani that the picture she has sent is alright with necessary adjustments. Krsna is of course to be pictured in the same dress in all the scenes of the Kuruksetra delivery of Bhagavad-gita because the episode took place all within about one half hour. Some ideas are: 1) Duryodhana and Dronacarya conferring in a tent just before the battle. 2) A ratha with four horses drawn before the ranks of soldiers and akshouhini carrying Krsna and Arjuna. 3) Arjuna morose; leaving weapons aside he is almost crying. 4) A man pictured dead and also living. Krsna says to Arjuna, “the wise mourn not for the dead or the living.” 5) pictures of an individual from babyhood to youthhood, in manhood and in old age and death. The figure of the soul in each different body remains the same indicating that the body changes, not the soul. 6) Krsna instructing the Sun-god; Vivasvan instructing Manu (his son). I will send you more ideas later if required by you.”
Letter to Satsvarupa- Surat, December 28, 1970:
“You can offer my thanks to Advaita. The dummy Bhagavad-gita sent by him is approved by me. If it is possible it may be improved further.”
Letter to Bali-mardana- Calcutta, January 6, 1971:
“Immediately I want $17,000 for printing Bhagavad-gita As It Is in new enlarged and revised edition, so try to help in this connection.”
Letter to Satsvarupa- Allahabad, January 11, 1971:
“Regarding the Preface to Bhagavad-gita I shall send that as soon as I have got some time to write one. In the meantime you can go ahead with the remainder of layout work.”
Letter to Satsvarupa- Calcutta, February 9, 1971:
“Please accept my blessings. I hope that everything is going on well there with the production of Bhagavad-gita. In this regards please make the following addition to the text:
Chapter IX, The Most Confidential Knowledge, in the purport of the 34th verse you will read “Krishna is not an ordinary human being; He is the Absolute Truth, His Body, Mind and He Himself are One and Absolute”. Immediately therefore you can add the following: In the Kurma Purana, as it is quoted by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami in his Anubhasya comments of Caitanya Caritamrta, 5th chapter Ādi lila, verses 41-48, “deha dehi bibhedo ‘yang nesvare vidyate kvacit” which means that there is no difference in Krishna, the Supreme Lord, between Himself and His body.”
Letter to Advaita- Gorakhpur, February 10, 1971:
“Please inform me immediately how you stand in the matter of the $17,000 needed to print Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I want that it should be printed by the time I return to the States at the end of March. So if there is any lack of the money, I shall immediately take steps to arrange it for you so the printing can begin at once. We are expecting to remain in Gorakhpur for about one month, so you can reply me immediately to the above address.”
Letter to Karandhara- Bombay, March 16, 1971:
“Yes, you may give the donors an honorable mention page in Bhagavad-gita.”
Letter to Advaita- Bombay, March 18, 1971:
“Regarding Bhagavad-gita As It Is, this book is very urgently required. You had previously quoted a price of $17,000. So why print in Dai Nippon for $20,000 and lose $3,000? If it is possible to print on our press, that is better, but if not then Dai Nippon may do the printing.”
Letter to Hayagriva- Bombay, March 23, 1971:
“I have already sent to you the purports for B.G. Chapter 9, verses 16-25, 27 (no 26). I will send the purport to verse 28 very soon. So far the index is concerned, speed it as far as possible; I am very anxious to print.”
Letter to Jadurani- Bombay, April 1, 1971:
“The philosophy should be illustrated, but everything must be done with clear intelligence according to the Parampara revealation of the Absolute Truth and Krsna will give you good understanding for the purpose. The picture of the upside down tree drawn by Bharadraja as a sample is good. The roots of the trees are like pillars growing large and making the tree strong. Regarding the descriptions in Bhagavad-gita Ch XV in verse 1 the leaves are described as the Vedic hymns and in the 2nd verse, the sense objects or vishaya are compared with the twigs. The jiva in the heart of the living entity appears as a sparkling star along with Supersoul depicted as four-handed Visnu as He appears on the cover of “Isopanisad” or similar.”
Letter to Rupanuga- Bombay, April 9, 1971:
“You say that Bhagavatam printing is going on, but what about Bhagavad-gita As It Is? Some San Francisco Indian friends promised to pay $20,000, for this. So somehow get this money and manage to print Bhagavad-gita as quickly as possible, without stopping. Best thing is to get Bhagavad-gita printed on our own press, some soft bound and some hard bound, regularly sewn.”
Letter to Krsnakanti – Bombay, April 11, 1971:
“Try and get KRSNA book and Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS recommended by the professors.
Letter to Advaita- Bombay, April 17, 1971:
“I have written as you know to Dai Nippon regarding the printing of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, but I do not know what is the actual position of the manuscript. Neither I know whether you want to print this book with Dai Nippon or on ISKCON PRESS. In San Francisco the Indians wanted to pay $20,000 for the printing cost, so what is the position now? Are the pictures ready? the index, Sanskrit and English editing, the missing purports, layout, composition, etc.??”
Letter to Abhirama- Malaysia, May 5, 1971:
“So far as distributing the fifteen thousand dollars, I would advise you to send this money to ISKCON PRESS for printing Bhagavad-gita As It Is enlarged edition. They require about $20,000 out of which I have asked Karandhara Prabhu to send them $5,000 from the Book Fund. Similarly, if Lyndan Prabhu can contribute $15,000 then the present problem of printing this book is solved.”
Letter to Advaita- Calcutta, May 17, 1971:
“My Dear Advaita,
Please accept my blessings and offer the same to all the Press staff. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 27th April, 1971 and have noted the contents carefully. Yes, I have sent off the Preface to the enlarged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, sent from Sydney, and you should have received it by now…
Yes, very soon I shall go there. In the meantime get busy with the printing of Bhagavad-gita and that will encourage me to come there sooner.”
***ON MAY 12, 1971, SRILA PRABHUPADA SIGNS HIS PREFACE TO THE UNABRIDGED EDITION OF BHAGAVAD-GITA AS IT IS
***Letter to Jadurani- Bombay, June 8, 1971:
“Arjuna was not present when Krishna spoke Bhagavad-gita to the sun god. He was present on a different occasion. So the picture is all right. The painting of the chariot of the body is nice.”
Letter to Rupanuga, Bhagavan, Satsvarupa- Bombay, June 15, 1971:
“The preface to the enlarged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is was sent to you long ago, from Australia. It was sent on 12th May, 1971 and you should have received it by now. I do not know why it is missing. So I am enclosing a second copy herewith.”
Letter to Kirtanananda- London 22 August, 1971:
“I understand that during the festival Hayagriva Prabhu was not there. How is that? Where he is now? The index of BHagavad Gita is very much delayed. Kindly ask him to send the complete index immediately for which the complete work is suffering.”
Letter to Karandhara- Mombassa, Kenya, September 19, 1971:
“Regarding the MacMillan agreement, Brahmananda says that he left everything with Rupanuga when he left N.Y. So kindly inquire from him. So far I know the agreement was made that my royalty would be paid directly to the society. In the beginning they paid me $1,000. and later on I think I got another $600. Besides this I have never received any money from them. If they paid anything it may have been paid directly to N.Y. ISKCON. So you can inquire and do the needful….
What has happened to the Bhagavad-gita quotation? Mr. Ogata told me to wait due to the fluctuating monetary standard, but for how long? Without the quotation we cannot send the manuscript. So please inquire.”
Letter to Karandhara- Nairobi, October 3, 1971:
“I think you have already advised N.Y. to send the full manuscript for Bhagavad-gita As It Is to Dai Nippon. If not you can advise them immediately.”
Letter to Advaita- Calcutta, November 1, 1971:
“Regarding Bhagavad-gita, if the Morocco binding is as costly as the hard binding, then we will prefer hard binding.”
Letter to Bahulasva- Vrindaban, November 30, 1971:
“You may request the Prof. E. Dimac and Prof. Van Buitenin to review and write a forward for our Bhagavad-gita As It Is. That is very nice. I am very glad that you understand the importance of these books.”
Letter to Rupanuga- Vrindaban, November 30, 1971:
“As far as Bhagavad-gita is concerned, I do not know why it is delayed. For the last three years you’ve been saying Bhagavad-gita is going to be printed and the last deadline was given by Advaita that it would be printed by the 1st October, 1971. Unfortunately, nothing has been done by now. Now it is December, 1971. If for printing one book it takes so much time I do not know how the other 60 books will be printed. I am very much depressed.”
Letter to Rupanuga- Delhi, December 5, 1971:
“…I am very glad to know that MacMillan Co. is enthusiastic to print our Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 30,000 paperback and 10,000 hardback. Now you carry out all negotiations very carefully, and reserve for us all editing rights.”
Letter to Sudama- Bombay, February 4, 1972:
“I will be very glad if you can print Bhagavad-gita As It Is in Japanese version, and that will be sufficient to convince many Japanese boys and girls to become devotees of Krishna.”
Letter to Rupanuga- Calcutta, February 22, 1972:
“I noticed that on the carbon-copy [Macmillan] contract you neglected to initial the last clause (b) of Section XX Special Provisions, although you had done so on the original copy. In addition, I have added the phrase to XII. Competitive Material as follows: “as well as the 48 pages of illustrations for which the Author reserves the right to publish for any purpose he may determine,” as per your instructions in the letter to Syamasundara. dated February 15, 1972.”
Letter to Jayadvaita- Calcutta, March 5, 1972:
“My dear Jayadvaita, Please accept my blessings. I have also received your letter along with Bali Mardan’s….As I have informed, Pradyumna and Syamasundara will be sending you regularly completed transcriptions of my translation work by post, that will avoid the high cost of sending tapes, which besides are very expensive and may be lost easily in mail, and because I am here if they have questions I can answer and make the final proofreading, and this will expedite everything. One thing, now you say the date for printing by MacMillan Co. is set for August 1st, but last time you said June 1st, so I am wondering how long this delaying business shall go on? Our Bhagavad-gita As It Is is so much important to the world for uplifting it from darkest condition of ignorance, but still we cannot give them it, that is our neglect. I shall appreciate if you can help to expedite the printing of BGAII as quickly as possible.”
Letter to Bali-mardana- Bombay, March 22, 1972:
“I have received your letter of March 11, 1972, along with copy of MacMillan contract. Now, first thing is don’t sign any contracts without hearing from me, I am thinking about the matter. There is some opinion that it may not be very much advantageous for us to enter such contracts with Macmillan Company. But first I want to know the opinion of Karandhara and others like Rupanuga and Bhagavan. So far Bhagavad-gita As It Is, that is already signed, so we must continue as we have agreed.”
Letter to Jayadvaita- Los Angeles, May 28, 1972:
“My Dear Jayadvaita, Please accept my blessings. I have received your letter dated May 26th, 1972, along with the blue-print copies of Bhagavad-gita As It Is from MacMillan Company. It is very nice. So I shall be looking forward to seeing the entire manuscript and book sometime around first July, 1972.”
***ON MAY 29TH 1972, THE DAY AFTER SRILA PRABHUPADA APPROVES THE BHAGAVAD-GITABLUE-PRINT, HE SIGNS THE BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST FOUNDING DOCUMENT THUS CREATING THE BBT.
***Letter to Tejiyas- Los Angeles, June 12, 1972:
“So far Mr. Iswar Puri of Atmaram Book Store, let him make a concrete contract to publish our MacMillan version of Bhagavad-gita in cheap edition. You can send one copy of the contract to me and one copy to Bali Mardan at ISKCON Press in New York. I do not know if we are covered by copyright in India or not.”
In 1973, Brahmananda Svami summarizes the publication of the Macmillan Gita in a Back to Godhead article:
The Books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
by Brahmananda Svami- Back to Godhead Magazine #52, 1973
“Srila Prabhupada had never been entirely satisfied with Macmillan’s edition of his Gita because they had drastically shortened it for business reasons. However, when the book was well into its fifth printing, Macmillan informed him that they would be honored to bring out the complete edition, including the Sanskrit slokas. All other published editions of the Gita were decreasing in sales, they reported, whereas Srila Prabhupada’s was steadily increasing. Therefore, in the fall of 1972, the Macmillan Company released the complete edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, containing the entire text of Srila Prabhupada’s original manuscript, fully indexed and cross-referenced, along with more than fifty color plates. Finally, this was indeed the complete and authoritative edition of Bhagavad-gita that we had hoped for.”
Jayadvaita Swami stated:
“all I really wanted to do is contribute to the history of the Gita.”
“He [Prabhupada] wasn’t involved at any stage of the production.”
Appendix(reposted from the first installment of Proof Positive)
Conversation between Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami- Honolulu, Jan 19, 2003:(emphasis is added)
Jayadvaita Maharaja: …It differs in uh, [inaudible] uh, in addition to that, of course, Prabhupada did see the galley proofs in 1968 of the abridged edition. He never saw the proofs in 1972. He wasn’t involved at any stage of the production, except, um, mainly for expressing impatience at how slow it was being turned out—a slowness for which I was partly responsible. Um, but he didn’t go over, didn’t go over the manuscript…
Govinda dasi: Srila Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs?
Jayadvaita Maharaja: No, he did not. [inaudible] Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs of the 1972 edition. But he did see the galley proofs, and we have galley proofs with Prabhupada’s handwriting and directions, just in very few places, for the original edition. But he didn’t see the galley proofs for the 1972 one…
Govinda dasi: There must be some preliminary, something that he went over, if he didn’t see the final galley proofs.
Jayadvaita Maharaja: Not that I remember.
Govinda dasi: Then he had to have… I mean, I…
Jayadvaita Maharaja: As far as I remember, he didn’t. He was just… the main thing that he was asking was, “Where is it? I’ve been hearing, ‘Just now coming, just now coming;’ I’ve been hearing that for some time now—where is the book?” The main thing that we were hearing from Prabhupada was, “Where is it?” And, um, Prabhupada at that time was already traveling extensively, um, around the world, and, uh, there was just none of this, there was no opportunity to like send Prabhupada back and forth, like sending him the second chapter and getting it back and asking questions; it just didn’t happen.
Govinda dasi: Hayagriva was living with Srila Prabhupada in ’68, and they were going over things, and that was after this book [the abridged edition] was printed. So that must have been for the ’72 one.
Jayadvaita Maharaja: He may have, for some brief time, spent some time with Prabhupada. It’s possible. Um, but the final product was certainly not, um, something that Prabhupada, um, you know, pored over the original, he just didn’t have, couldn’t possibly have the… I could tell you that some of the verses that some of the BBT staff questioned, Prabhupada would never have approved. I can say with confidence, Prabhupada would never have approved. Some of the very few verses that we had issues with, there’s no question in my mind that Prabhupada didn’t see them.
Later in the same conversation:
Jayadvaita Maharaja: Just all I really wanted to do is contribute to the history of the Gita and say that, um, what Prabhupada saw and signed off on, um, in 1968, was the abridged edition. And the unabridged edition he really didn’t see in its preparation for its, um, pre-publication stages, except perhaps there were some meetings at some point…
Jayadvaita Maharaja: Just all I really wanted to do is contribute to the history of the Gita and say that, um, what Prabhupada saw and signed off on, um, in 1968, was the abridged edition. And the unabridged edition he really didn’t see in its preparation for its, um, pre-publication stages, except perhaps there were some meetings at some point…
Book Change Rebuttal
Response to the author of “No More Cattle Raising on the Planet of the Trees”
In the following we will discuss the article “No More Cattle Raising on the Planet of the Trees” that was recently posted on the Dandavats website (http://www.dandavats.com/?p=14403).
The author attempts to prove that Srila Prabhupada instructed his editors to make changes and corrections to his books after his disappearance. In support of his conclusions the author quotes from the “Rascal Editors” conversation and from a mail exchange between Ramesvara Dasa and Tamala Krishna Goswami.
A careful analysis, however, reveals that the author’s conclusions are invalid. He is correct when he says that after the “Rascal Editors” conversation Srila Prabhupada approved that further editing could be performed. This is revealed in the mail exchange between Ramesvara Dasa and Tamala Krishna Goswami (see Appendix 2 in the author’s article). But his conclusions about HOW editing could be continued, and FOR HOW LONG it could be continued are fallacious. He specifically commits three logical fallacies that invalidate his conclusions:
- SELECTIVE EVIDENCE/CHERRY PICKING
- NON SEQUITUR
- TAKING A QUOTE OUT OF CONTEXT/CONTEXTOMY
In order to properly understand Srila Prabhupada’s last instructions on editing (that we know of) we have to take a closer look at the letter Tamala Krishna Goswami wrote Ramesvara Dasa (see Appendix 2 in the author’s article), because a crucial sentence has been left out of the author’s analysis (reproduced here in bold):
“Your suggestion that in the future any mistakes which are found can be reported to Satsvarupa Maharaja, Jayadvaita Prabhu, Radha Ballabha Prabhu, or yourself, and after sufficient investigation and confirmation these mistakes can be rectified is accepted. As we are working on this Fifth Canto planetary system, whatever corrections are required to be made, we will get approved by His Divine Grace and then send them on to you so that the new edition will be free from any of these discrepancies.“
“Although He has certain doubts in regard to the perfectness of our service, He is quite confident that you will do the needful to make any corrections that are required. [handwritten:] I explained the contents of your letter and Satsvarupa’s, and Radhaballabha and He seemed satisfied that things were not being unauthorizedly changed, while at the same time whatever corrections needed to be done were being made.” (Letter to Ramesvara from Tamala Krishna, July 22, 1977)
From these quotes we can understand that Srila Prabhupada did not want any more editing that was not “sufficiently investigated” and “confirmed”. Nothing should be “unauthorizedly changed”. Now, the questions is:
WHO will ultimately confirm and authorize the editing?
We get a hint about whom by looking at the sentence that the author has left out:
“As we are working on this Fifth Canto planetary system, whatever corrections are required to be made, we will get approved by His Divine Grace…”
So it seems the four above mentioned devotees were not just changing the books themselves. They were sending their changes to Srila Prabhupada for final approval. This seems to be the procedure that Tamala Krishna Goswami is talking about.
By leaving the sentence about the edits to the fifth canto out the author commits the fallacy of “selective evidence” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking_(fallacy).
Some might argue that MAYBE the changes to the fifth canto were the only changes that were sent to Srila Prabhupada, and not any other changes. But “maybe” is guesswork. And we do not make changes to the books of the acaryas based on guesswork (maybe, I think, perhaps etc). A principle of caution must be observed in editing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Better safe than sorry!
So contrary to what the author argues we find no evidence in the exchange between Ramesvara Prabhu and Tamala Krishna Goswami to support the conclusion that these four above mentioned devotees could edit without having Srila Prabhupada approve or disapprove all their changes.
The author’s conclusion about posthumous editing simply does not follow from it’s premises, and therefore he also commits the logical fallacy “non sequitur” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)) which cover all arguments in which the conclusion does not follow from the premises.
Another very important point is that neither in the “Rascal Editors” conversation nor in the exchange between Tamala Krishna Goswami and Ramesvara Dasa do we find any information about posthumous editing. They were spoken/written within a context where Srila Prabhupada was around to approve or disapprove the editing work of BBT. The conversation and the letters came into existence because Srila Prabhupada and some of his disciples were dissatisfied with some of the editing work done by the BBT – not because anyone asked Srila Prabhupada about how editing should be done after his disappearance.
The burden of proof is on the devotee who states that we can project, extend or expand the instructions given by Srila Prabhupada on book editing from one context (when he was around) into a completely different context (when he is no longer around). In connection with the book changes no one has been able to lift this burden of proof successfully, and the author’s attempt also fails:
The author argues that since the letter written by Tamala Krishna Goswami states that “in the future” the editing should follow the above mentioned procedure, and since Srila Prabhupada never asked them to stop this procedure, therefore this procedure must still be followed after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. There are several problems with this argument:
- The letter was signed by Srila Prabhupada, but was written by Tamala Krishna Goswami. So we cannot know for certain how Srila Prabhupada understood and interpreted the words “in the future”. We cannot even be sure he took special notice of the words.
- We humans often use “in the future we should do such and such” in a very unspecified way – and often it is implicit that there is a timeframe involved, or that if certain factors are changed then the procedure must also be changed or stopped. For example, if I tell my wife that “in the future” the procedure is that she should have my breakfast ready at 9:00a.m., then I do not also have to state the obvious fact that if I die today, then she should stop that practice tomorrow. Similarly, based on sastra and Srila Prabhupada’s clear instructions on the arsa-prayoga principle it can be argued that he did not also have to tell his editors that if he leaves his body, then they should stop the editing. At least there is NO PROOF for the contention that the editing should continue.
- If one states that the words “in the future” also refers to the time after Srila Prabhupada left his body, then one is clinging to the same faulty reasoning as the ritviks. Ritviks state that the word “henceforward” in the famous July 9th letter (also written by Tamala Krishna Goswami and signed by Srila Prabhupada) should be taken to mean that ritvik initiations should continue after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. But neither the author nor any other ISKON leader will accept that interpretation of the word “henceforward” in the July 9th letter. Thus they have a double standard – i.e. they apply a different set of principles for similar situations. Unless the author wants to fall prey to the same faulty reasoning as the ritviks, he has to admit that there is no proof that “in the future” refers to the time after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance.
Summing this point up:
Nothing seems to suggest that the instructions on book editing given by Srila Prabhupada in the “Rascal Editors” conversation and in the exchange between Ramesvara Dasa and Tamala Krishna Goswami can be extrapolated into a context where Srila Prabhupada is no longer around. So by insisting on this unjustified extrapolation the author is effectively invalidating his own argument by committing the logical fallacy of quoting out of context/contextomy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_quoting_out_of_context).
We do not have one single instruction from Srila Prabhupada where he allows for posthumous editing of his books. However, he actually taught us how to deal with the transcendental mistakes of the acaryas.
First of all he gave philosophical instructions about the dangers of violating the arsa-prayoga principle:
“If one is too big, there is no mistake. Arsa-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, Jaipur 20 January, 1972)
“So unless one is self-realized, there is practically no use writing about Krsna. This transcendental writing does not depend on material education. It depends on the spiritual realization. You’ll find, therefore, in the comments of Bhagavatam by different acaryas, even there are some discrepancies, they are accepted as arsa-prayoga. It should remain as it is.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23-24, Vrndavana, March 31, 1976)
Prabhupada: This of should be strictly forbidden.
Radha-vallabha: So no corrections. That makes it simple.
Prabhupada: They can divide the synonyms. That’s all.
Radha-vallabha: Synonyms. So even…
Prabhupada: That is his tendency, to correct. That’s very bad. He should not do that.
Radha-vallabha: So I’ll just forget this, then.
Prabhupada: The system is: whatever authority has done, even there is mistake, it should be accepted.
Prabhupada: Arsa-prayoga. That is ha… He should not become more learned than the authority. That is very bad habit….
Prabhupada: Why finish it? Whatever is done is done. No more….
Radha-vallabha: Well, now that this system of no corrections anywhere, that makes it very simple. Then he can’t do anything. I don’t think he wants to, either. It makes it more simple for him. It makes him very uncomfortable.
Prabhupada: No corrections. (Room Conversation 27 february, 1977)
Srila Prabhupada also taught us by his own practical example. The article “Srila Prabhupada’s Instructions on editing are in his own books” (by Prahlada Nrisimha Dasa) reveals how Srila Prabhupada himself dealt with the transcendental mistakes made by the previous acaryas (he did not change or touch them). Here are two examples from the article:
“In the Caitanya-caritāmṛita, Madhya-līlā 9.358, Srila Prabhupāda cites his spiritual master Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who points out that in the seventy-fourth verse of this same chapter there is an apparent error made by Kṛṣṇa dāsa, Kavirāja Gosvāmī. Srila Prabhupāda, just to teach us the principle of arsa-prayoga, [please see quotes from Srila Prabhupāda on “arsha-prayoga” at the end of this article] does not touch the words of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kaviraja Goswami, but leaves this apparent error as it is, out of respect for the transcendental book. Even though Srila Prabhupāda’s own spiritual master, the most pure and intimate confidential devotee and associate of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu himself, had clearly pointed out that this is an apparent error and is apparently wrong.
Furthermore in the purport to that seventy-fourth verse, mentioned above, Srila Prabhupada mentions nothing; only at the end of the chapter, after Srila Kṛṣṇadāsa Kaviraja concludes his narration, does Srila Prabhupāda even mention the apparent mistake.
That Caitanya-caritāmṛita, Madhya-līlā 9. 358 purport is cited here for your reference:
“Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura points out that in the seventy-fourth verse of this chapter it is stated that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu visited the temple of Śiyālī-bhairavī, but actually at Śiyālī, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu visited the temple of Śrī Bhū-varāha. Near Śiyālī and Cidambaram there is a temple known as Śrī Muṣṇam. In this temple there is a Deity of Śrī Bhū-varāha. In the jurisdiction of Cidambaram there is a district known as southern Arcot. The town of Śiyālī is in that district. There is a temple of Śrī Bhū-varāhadeva nearby, not Bhairavī-devī. This is Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s conclusion.”
This is a very good lesson to make a clear and prominent note of how Srila Prabhupāda, the teacher by example, has chosen to edit (or rather not edit) the words of the spiritual masters or previous acharyas’ writings.”
“We will cite another place were Srila Prabhupāda left a seeming mistake as it is, even though it may be considered “wrong.”
“Ambikāvana is situated somewhere in the Gujarat province. Ambikāvana is said to be situated on the river Sarasvatī, yet we do not find any Sarasvatī River in the Gujarat province; the only river there is Savarmati. In India, all the big places of pilgrimage are situated on nice rivers like the Ganges, Yamunā, Sarasvatī, Narmadā, Godāvarī, Kāverī, etc. Ambikāvana was situated on the bank of Sarasvatī, and all the cowherd men and Nanda Mahārāja went there.” (KRSNA Book 1970 edition Volume 1 Chapter 33 / Vidyādhara Liberated and the Demon Śaṅkhāsura Killed)
In this quote from Srila Prabhupāda’s original KRSNA book, Prabhupāda mentions that although it says, “Ambikāvana is said to be situated on the river Sarasvatī, yet we do not find any Sarasvatī River in the Gujarat province…” Prabhupāda does not change the text to correct the seeming mistake.” (Prahlada Nrisimha Dasa, Srila Prabhupada’s Instructions on editing are in his own books)
The article has additional examples and many other interesting points in regard to the topic of book changes.
Sastra also confirms that the mistakes of the acaryas should not be corrected:
“Anyone who finds any fault with a devotee’s description of Krishna is a sinner. If a devotee writes a poem, no matter how poorly he does it, it will certainly contain his love for Krishna. A fool says ‘visnaya’ while a scholar knows the correct form is ‘visnave’, but Krishna accepts the sentiment in either case. If anyone sees a fault in this, the fault is his, for Krishna is pleased with anything the pure devotee says. You too describe the Lord with words of love, so what arrogant person would dare criticize anything that you have written?” (Chaitanya Bhagavata 1.11.105-110)
The conclusion is that there is no mention of posthumous editing in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings other than:
1) The clear statements about not changing the works of an acarya (the arsa-prayoga principle).
2) Srila Prabhupada’s own example of not touching the mistakes of the previous acaryas.
3) Sastric injunctions on not to correct the mistakes of the acaryas.
As cited above Tamala Krishna Goswami writes to Ramesvara Dasa:
“Your suggestion that in the future any mistakes which are found can be reported to Satsvarupa Maharaja, Jayadvaita Prabhu, Radha Ballabha Prabhu, or yourself, and after sufficient investigation and confirmation these mistakes can be rectified is accepted.” (Letter to Ramesvara from Tamala Krishna, July 22, 1977)
Besides the obvious problem that none of the changes made post-1977 can be approved by Srila Prabhupada, there is also the problem that HARDLY ANY of the changes made to the Gita have been “sufficiently investigated”. The changes were made by Jayadvaita Swami – more or less alone. And as we see there are many discrepancies in his editing. And most of his changes are directly violating clear instructions from Srila Prabhupada. For example, Srila Prabhupada did not want any needless changes.
“As you know, and as we kept in mind while doing the work, Srila Prabhupada staunchly opposed needless changes.” (Jayadvaita Swami, Letter to Amogha Lila, 1986)
But the Gita (and other books) is filled with thousands of needless changes. Many of these are mentioned in the e-book “No Reply from BBTI” which is easily found by searching the internet.
This e-book shows how the attempted justifications used by the BBTI are very problematic. BBTI usually argue that:
- We are changing Srila Prabhupada’s books back to what he actually said in his original manuscript.
- We are making the book “Closer to Prabhupada”.
- We are only correcting grammar, commas, capitalization etc.
- We are only correcting the mistakes of previous editors.
- No unnecessary changes have been made.
But the articles in the e-book documents that the BBTI has needlessly:
- Deleted many of Srila Prabhupada’s own chosen words and sentences (even those also found in his ”original manuscript”).
- Added their own words and sentences (which means these words and sentences are also not to be found in the ”original manuscript”).
- Changed Srila Prabhupada’s own personally typewritten sanskrit translations.
- Made needless change of syntax (sentence structure).
So even if we – for the sake of argument – accept the conclusion that some changes could be made posthumously (for which there is no evidence), then we would still be in a situation where the BBTI has violated the instructions on how Srila Prabhupada wanted his books edited while he was still around to supervise the work.
All the articles in “No Reply from BBTI” have been sent to Jayadvaita Swami, Dravida Dasa, BBTI and the author of “No More Cattle Raising on the Planet of the Trees”. But so far we have received no replies to the points raised – hence the name “No Reply from BBTI”.
We humbly ask you to read this e-book, and also visit the many different websites made by devotees who are skeptic towards the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. The author of this article shall promptly send you links to “No Reply from BBTI” and other relevant websites on your request.
Your servant, Ajit Krishna Dasa