There are a few different points I would like to address in this article. Firstly, in regard to my article called “Can I Trade For That Original One?”, I was just reading Srila Prabhupada’s original Gita and in the preface Srila Prabhupada himself says three times that his finished book is what is to be referred to as the original manuscript! So the trickery and word jugglery of calling the drafts manuscripts is cleared up by Srila Prabhupada himself in his 1972 Macmillan Bhagavad-Gita preface:
“Originally I wrote Bhagavad-gita As It Is in the form in which it is presented now. When this book was first published, the original manuscript was, unfortunately, cut short to less than 400 pages, without illustrations and without explanations for most of the original verses of the Srimad Bhagavad-gita. In all of my other books-Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Isopanisad, etc.-the system is that I give the original verse, its English transliteration, word-for-word Sanskrit-English equivalents, translations and purports. This makes the book very authentic and scholarly and makes the meaning self-evident. I was not very happy, therefore, when I had to minimize my original manuscript. But later on, when the demand for Bhagavad-gita As It Is considerably increased, I was requested by many scholars and devotees to present the book in its original form, and Messrs. Macmillan and Co. agreed to publish the complete edition. Thus the present attempt is to offer the original manuscript of this great book of knowledge with full parampara explanation in order to establish the Krsna consciousness movement more soundly and progressively.” (Bg-1972: Preface)
This is what happens when a conditioned soul meddles in the perfect transcendental writings of a nitya-siddha pure devotee of Lord Shri Krishna! Above Srila Prabhupada himself clearly says three times that his 1972 Macmillan published book is the manuscript. A previous draft is just that, a draft. To revert an author’s work posthumously without his blessings is simply a big gamble and definitely unauthorized! Srila Prabhupada clearly says that it is the “complete edition” in this above quoted paragraph.
Also in the very front of the book (next to the publishers page) under the title of the book, in all caps and boldface letters it is stated “COMPLETE EDITION“. Thus absolutely establishing this point and making it clear that the book is finished/complete! To change the book now would imply that it is actually not complete and that the person changing it must feel themselves to know better than the author.
Unfortunately the staff at the BBTI have completely removed the words “COMPLETE EDITION” and replaced it with “REVISED AND ENLARGED”.
Calling the draft a manuscript is simply word jugglery and disobeying and contradicting Srila Prabhupada’s words printed directly in the book itself.
This is a very sly move that directly opens the door for unlimited changing of the text of Srila Prabhupada’s perfect transcendental books! It creates a mentality that Prabhupada’s books are imperfect and thus not transcendental. Naturally the effect of this is that it creates the impression that if the books are not complete and perfect (they need a conditioned soul to constantly edit them to keep them relevant and/or remove all the “mistakes”) then they are also not to be followed with one’s life and soul. It also takes the validity away from Srila Prabhupada’s finalized and approved books thus further directly paving the way for more unlimited changes by the imperfect minds and senses of conditioned souls now and in the future.
Over just the last 20 or so years there has been over 5000 changes to Prabhupada’s Gita. Just imagine in the future maybe 30 or 100 years from now, at the rate we are going, our children or our grandchildren may pick up a book with Srila Prabhupada’s name on it and it will be a whole different book. A book full of words and changes from the mental speculations of a conditioned, imperfect soul full of anarthas. So naturally when one opens their heart and soul to those words, changes, mental speculations and anarthas that are now present within the pages of Srila Prabhupada’s once holy and pure transcendental book, what benefit will there be?
It seems simple to me. Jayadvaita Swami was not there when Hayagriva and Srila Prabhupada were creating his Bhagavad-Gita. Why would I want to read the version of a conditioned soul who wasn’t even there when Prabhupada was manifesting his book through the literary gifts of Hayagriva? Hayagriva was the conditioned soul that Prabhupada specifically chose, empowered and gave specific instructions to for that seva. These instructions may have never been recorded anywhere – if one wants to benefit from them one must simply read Prabhupada’s original books. So why second guess Srila Prabhupada, step over his head and read some other conditioned soul’s unauthorized, revised editions? It just makes no sense to me.
Srila Prabhupada never designated Jayadvaita Swami to revise the Gita after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, and Jayadvaita Swami admits it. So it seems to come down to this: who do you want to trust? The person Srila Prabhupada chose, designated and empowered to finish and complete the book, or someone else that unauthorizedly changes that finished complete edition, without his approval and after his departure?
The 1972 Macmillan edition was good enough for Srila Prabhupada, so it’s good enough for me.
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.
I guess it just takes a bit of intelligence to figure all this out. But for those that look at the world through extremes and feel that a rubber-stamp carries more weight than common sense does, what can be said to persons like that?
Even great sages have fallen from their exalted positions. Even after getting blessings to be in positions. It’s nothing new, it’s in the Srimad-Bhagavatam many times.
This is why we conditioned souls have to be really careful in messing with Srila Prabhupada’s perfect transcendental books. On that same note, we should be even more careful of those devotees that feel they can mess with them.