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

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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)
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.

A relevant question

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By Bhakta Torben Nielsen

prab-rupaPrabhupada at Rupa Goswami’s Samadhi (©Bhaktivedanta Book Trust)

Rupa Goswami says in Nectar of Instruction, text 6:

“Being situated in his original Kṛṣṇa conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.”

(So is Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is not as purifying as the Ganges?!

And should we, taking Rupa Goswami’s instructions above to heart, find any faults in it?!)

Greetings from Denmark,
Hare Krishna.

Bhakta Torben Nielsen