Is ISKCON Editing or Changing Prabhupada’s Books?

BBT, Changes — By on February 14, 1998 3:56 am

“Too much editing is not required. If Satsvarupa has already edited it, there is no need of further editing.” (Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Rayarama 21-Dec-67)

“To my knowledge, Srila Prabhupada never asked us to re-edit the book.” (Jayadvaita Swami)

Some Statistics:
496 out 625 Purports have been changed;
483 out 653 Translations have been changed.

“As you know, and as we kept in mind while doing the work, Srila Prabhupada staunchly opposed needless changes.” (Jayadvaita Swami)

Jayadvaita’s 1986 explanation of his changes to “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” published recently on VNN mentions many changes which seem to be justified. There are some typographical errors in the original 1972 edition of Srila Prabhupada’s “Bhagavad-gita As It Is.” That is accepted by everyone, however Srila Prabhupada accepted the book, and read from it and gave classes from it himself almost daily and many devotees claim Srila Prabhupada’s personally accepting and using the book means he approved of it.

This appears to be confirmed in a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Hamsadutta where Srila Prabhupada states in reference to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, “Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated May 30, 1975 and have noted the contents. I don’t think that Hayagriva [one of the original editors] is at fault. He has not changed the meaning or the philosophy in any way.”

However, on comparing Jayadvaita’s changes to the original book approved by Srila Prabhupada himself, some devotees claim Jayadvaita’s revisions to the book appear to have changed the meaning of the philosophy in a number of places. Until now Jayadvaita has not offered any explanation for these revisions other than the letter recently published by VNN.

Many devotees accept the few apparent errors in Srila Prabhupada’s original Bhagavad-gita in the same mood as the Srimad-Bhagavatam verse (1.5.11):

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

Srila Prabhupada authorized Jayadvaita Swami to edit his books, but some devotees have asked, “Where does Srila Prabhupada give Jayadvaita permission to ‘Revise and Enlarge’ his books as he has done for the Revised and Enlarged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is? Some also question if so many revisions will effect the potency of the book.

Previously, in an earlier article, we have asked Jayadvaita to explain his change to Bg. 10.34:

“…One need not read many books on different subject matters; the ability to remember a few and quote them when necessary is also another opulence.”

“Revised and Enlarged” version:

“And the ability not only to read many books on different subject matters but to understand them and apply them when necessary is intelligence (medha).”

However he has not provided any explanation at all for this change and after three weeks we simply get the same old 1986 letter from Jayadvaita which has been sent to the author at least five times already. This change is not mentioned in his letter. And some devotees claim there are dozens of very significant changes of this nature in the “Revised and Enlarged” Bhagavad-gita along with hundreds of others that subtly change the meaning of the text. These points are not cleared up in Jayadvaita’s letter.

A number of the changes appear to be bona fide corrections to the original edition, however there are other changes which appear to alter the meaning of the text. Previously, when this has been pointed out to Jayadvaita Swami, he has called the person pointing this out “self-righteous and abusive” and flatly refused to offer any explanation…

Date: 19.4.1997
From: Jayadvaita Swami
To: H. N. Subject: Vedabase editions & book revisions
Ahmedabad 18 April 97

Dear Mr. N.,

Hare Krsna. Since you’ve already decided what books you will accept as bona fide and what you will criticize as bogus, and since you are already sure enough of your convictions that you think it worthwhile to express them in a self-righteous and abusive manner, I have nothing to say to you except that I see no need for us to correspond further.

Best wishes. Hare Krsna.

Jayadvaita Swami

Some devotees are not satisfied with such an explanation and feel it is their right to know why changes have been made to their spiritual master’s books which the editors are not prepared to justify or even discuss.

Some of the alleged changes have been listed on a Book Changes web page at <http://bookchanges.com/examples-of-iskcons-bhagavad-gita-changes/>

“Whenever difficult questions arose, Gopiparanadhana and I met to consider them, and we consulted the original books Srila Prabhupada consulted when he wrote Bhagavad-gita As It Is–the Bengali translations and commentaries by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana.” (Jayadvaita Swami)

“Regarding your proposed program of editing, the Bhagavatam First Canto is already edited, so when making final typing, you shall simply see it for proofreading. (Srila Prabhupada to Rayarama May 15, 1969)

Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

Madhudvisa dasa

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