“They’re ruining my books.” — Srila Prabhupada

Featured-2, Testimonials — By on May 14, 2013 9:51 pm

A very, very important document has just become public. It is a 300+ page transcript of a 1981 interview with Ramesvara Prabhu, the manager of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, the person directly in charge of printing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Ramesvara had unlimited direct instructions from Srila Prabhupada in regard to printing his books. He also gives an eye-witness account of many other important events that occurred in ISKCON in the presence of Srila Prabhupada. The events were very fresh in his mind at that time as this interview took place only two years after Srila Prabhupada had disappeared from our material vision.

In this interview he 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.

I request you to please read the whole 300+ pages of the interview transcript. You will find it uplifting, encouraging, inspiring and also very informative.

In today’s ISKCON almost everything has been changed and so many of Srila Prabhupada’s orders have been disobeyed. This document is truly a wake up call for the BBT and ISKCON, coming perhaps just at the right moment.

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

Ramesvara-interview-1981

or: An easier to read text version with headings you can browse to quickly find what you are looking for:

Ramesvara-1981-interview-full-text

Please read it…

A few short quotes from the interview (these are about book changes but the interview covers a very broad spectrum of interesting topics so please read the transcript for yourself):

“Prabhupada got involved in many of the facets related to his books. In 1974, for example, we had proposed to put a new picture on the cover of Isopanisad, Krsna playing the flute on the rock. We mailed a copy of the picture to Prabhupada and told him, “We’re planning to do this.” Prabhupada fired back a letter, “Don’t you dare change the picture on my book! I have deliberately chosen the picture of Visnu because I want this book to be attracting the Mayavadis and impersonalists.”

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.”

“The artists were always writing letters to Prabhupada asking him to explain how he wants the transcendental lilas painted. How to paint the spirit soul, how to paint Krsna, how to paint the spiritual world, what it looks like, what the atmosphere is, what the ground should look like, all kinds of detailed questions. And Prabhupada would write hundreds of letters to his artists explaining to them the answers. Even though these questions bothered him sometimes, they were like teasing him, but still he took the time to always answer. He once had said that ISKCON Press is the heart of ISKCON and the art department is the heart of the Press. So to Prabhupada these paintings were windows to the spiritual sky.”

“Prabhupada actually wanted 50 paintings in every volume. That was Prabhupada’s vision. Genius! No philosopher ever thought of such a thing. And therefore their books never sell. These art paintings were the basis of all the book distribution. Of course, it was our sincerity and our drive and our desire to please Prabhupada. But the technique was showing people the paintings, attracting their senses, getting them curious and interested and attracted by the art. The more beautiful the art the more you could tell people that this describes the most beautiful, peaceful way of life, the most beautiful spiritual thing. You’d show the paintings and you’d say things like, “This explains how to experience the highest happiness. Just look at this painting. Wouldn’t you like to be there?” The paintings were the basis for the book selling. And Prabhupada is the genius who thought that up.”

“By 1974, Radhahallabha and I and the artists were talking about reprinting the Krsna Book, “Let’s update the paintings.” These paintings were done in 1969, 1968. The artists have gotten much better. Their expertise was much better. So the decision was made by myself and Radhaballabha, we were going to upgrade all the paintings. The artists would get together with Radhaballabha and pick out which ones they wanted and then we would work it out together which ones to take out and which ones to put in. So Prabhupada and Bali came to Los Angeles and I had a meeting with Prabhupada upstairs in his room and I started showing him all of the paintings that were corning out, page by page, and all the paintings that were going in. This was one of the most astonishing meetings I ever had with Prabhupada in my life.

Just before we started going over the Krsna Book paintings, we went  over these drawings that Pariksit had done for the Teachings of Lord Caitanya. He had worked for one year on about 24 or so black and white drawings which would be going on the title page for each chapter of the Teachings of Lord Caitanya. This was his first major work at the BBT art department. And they had sent them to me so I could show them to Prabhupada because we were getting ready to print the TLC in Dai Nippon. So we went through drawing after drawing after drawing and Prabhupada was becoming angrier and angrier and more and more livid, and it was becoming a frightening experience. He was condemning them, he was throwing them out, he was rejecting them, he was blasting them, he was describing how they were going to ruin his book, they’re off, they’re misrepresentative, they’re not clear, they’re bogus, and “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!” And on and on, it was devastating! And I wrote a letter to the artists with the description of Prabhupada’s comments like a blow by; blow because it was so impressed in my mind. As soon as I got out of the room I ran downstairs and typed out this letter, remembering all of the things Prabhupada said. So I’ll be able to find that letter and you can refer to it and you’ll see exactly how Prabhupada analyzed the drawings in relation to what they were supposed to be illustrating very carefully and rejected them and just with devastating critique. Prabhupada was so expert. So then after going through that scene, then I took out the Krsna Book and said “Now, these are the paintings they want to take out and these are the ones they want to put in, Srila Prabhupada.” And we started again going page by page, color plate by color plate. And Prabhupada was becoming more and more livid, and more and more angry. And it was just the most terrifying experience that I have ever gone through. He was screaming, “They’re ruining my books! They have no brain! They are hippies! They are rascals!” Screaming, pounding his fist on the desk. At one point they wanted to take out the old Putana, the dead Putana with Krsna sucking the breast of Putana or playing on her lap, whatever it was, and in the background you have the Vrndavana village. And they wanted to put the new one in from the 2.2 which Prabhupada considered to be an inferior painting because it did not show as much. “An ugly black lump,” he said. But the worst was when we came to the rasa-lila, this was one of Prabhupada’s favorite paintings, the original Devahuti painting of the rasa-lila which we’ve made the poster of, which is now in the Krsna Book and so on. They wanted to take it out and  they wanted to put this painting of Krsna dancing with the gopis from the first printing of the Third Canto, Volume 2. Now in the reprinting of the Third Canto, Volume 2 this rasa-lila has been taken out and the original Krsna Book rasa-lila has been put in. Because the rasa-lila that they wanted to put in the Krsna Book was the final straw. Prabhupada just turned white! He looked into his bedroom at the original painting which was hanging on his wall. From his sitting room in Los Angeles he could look into his bedroom. He turned white. He looked at that painting. Then he looked down at the painting that they were proposing was better. Krsna’s hair was wild and long, Radharani’s head was uncovered, the gopis‘ hair was uncovered. It was like a, Prabhupada said, “hippie dance, sex dance. Hippie seeds, hippie contamination, hippie mentality, hippie, hippie, dirty! Rascals!” On and on. Prabhupada was screaming, banging his fist on the desk. There was nothing you could say, it was just an explosion that “They’re ruining my books.”

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. When the Dallas Gurukula was collapsing, I begged Prabhupada, “Let us send money from the BBT.” He said, “No. It is not the business of the BBT to support children, it is the business of parents.” The parents didn’t have any money, how could they support the children? But on this principle, Prabhupada wouldn’t let the BBT bail out the Dallas Gurukula and it closed. I was ready to bail them out. I proposed it, I wanted to bail it out, but it just didn’t happen.

I’ve had many experiences 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.

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

Ramesvara-interview-1981


Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

 

Madhudvisa dasa

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25 Comments

  1. Prahlada-Nrsimha das says:

    Why has this not been released till now?

    Why are the BBTI (un)trustees not following Srila Prabhupada’s orders to not change his books?

    Why are they lying to us in so many ways claiming the opposite of what Srila Prabhupada said?

    If the BBTI devotees are not following Srila Prabhupada’s orders, and knowingly lying about and suppressing direct instructions that they have been given by Srila Prabhupada, then what is the position of devotees that follow them?

    Why has this document been suppressed for 34 years?

    If this important document with so much direct Instructions from Srila Prabhupada has been completely suppressed and hidden for 34 years what else is being hidden?

    How can we have faith in devotees or institutions that are lying about and changing direct instructions they have been given by our Acharya and jagat guru Srila Prabhupada?

    These and many many other questions are on my mind…

  2. Knut Eberhardt says:

    Hare Krishna,

    Please do not change the eternal treasures our beloved spiritual master Srila Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada herited us to pass to further Generations “as they are”.

    Purity is one of our fundaments.

    You know your Situation better than I do.

    What ever you do is 100% OK with me.

    Be blessed on your way back to Our Origin.

    your servant,

    Kavi Karnapura Dasa

    Goloka Dhama, Germany

  3. Devananda Uchoi says:

    Change is the nature of the material world but not the spiritual world. Therefore material science theories are changing every now and then. So, we must be determined to live spiritual life by preserving the original format of Prabhupad’s books. I pray to recall all the books which are altered from the original one. This will please Our Spiritual master.

  4. Juan Carlos says:

    Hare Krishna! The mantra is not changed!

    Please forgive me for my bad English.

    The battle of the changes in Srilas books was due, I believe the unclear about who would lead the movement. It is unfortunate that there are now two versions of each of Srilas books.

    I have at home two versions of the Gita, as amended and unamended.

    The best thing would be that the parties could agree on a single version, otherwise it will be so that the most important book, the Gita will be the bump stone for all people.

    Juan Carlos

  5. Gunalan Krishnan says:

    Dear Madhudvisa,

    On the Hare Krishna Malaysia website please read , “Ramesvara wants back in” and ” Just what was Ramesvara’s Role” Thank you.

  6. Dinadayadri dasi says:

    I looked at the 321 page transcript, and I’m pretty sure it is Ramesvara’s interview that was done for the Lilamrita. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was one of the transcriptionists who worked on it. There are two sets of initials at the tops of the pages — dd (that’s me) and md (that was the other transcriptionist). We both worked on this because it was so long. Satsvarupa’s team was overwhelmed by the volume of work so they would sometimes send us tapes to transcribe at the Archives, and we were glad to help out. Transcribing those interviews was one of the most ecstatic services I have ever done because it was so close to the events and everyone’s memories were very fresh, and we were a lot younger so brains were working better. I have always remembered Ramesvara speaking very extensively in his interview about Srila Prabhupada’s adamant insistence that his books not be tampered with by anyone after they were published. I have always wondered why nobody ever tracked Ramesvara down and asked him to give his input on this most important issue. So I am wondering where this transcript came from — did Ramesvara give it to you? Most devotees who gave interviews for the Lilamrta were sent a copy of their transcript (I still have mine). This is important because apparently the original Lilamrta transcripts burned up in a fire at Gita Nagari. I have always wondered why Ramesvara didn’t speak out vociferously about the book changes since he has so much first-hand knowledge about it directly from Srila Prabhupada. I am a little out of the loop on events in this arena, so probably much has happened that I am not aware of. Please let me know if you can if it is Ramesvara who is making this transcript public. I would be very proud if him if he has in fact finally done so.

    • I am not completely sure of the circumstances as to how it became public but it is certainly not Ramsesvara who has made this public.

      • Dinadayadri dasi says:

        Do you know what is Ramesvara’s current position on the book changes, has he made any comments about it?

        • I have not heard that Ramesvara has made any comments on the book changes. I wrote to him a few years ago and he told me basically that he had no opinion on it, he did not admit to receiving any orders from Prabhupada like this not to change his books and he didn’t think Jayadvaita had done anything wrong. He asked me to send him examples of the changes, which I did, but never replied to me on that, never said if he approved of the changes or not…

          Obviously Ramesvara must have approved of the changes made to Bhagavad-gita As It is in around 1982 which removed all the original color plates except 2 and reduced them from 48 color plates to 16 and replaced the cover with a different painting and changed more than 80% of the verses and purports and even called it the “Revised and Enlarged Edition”. So there is part of the story that remains untold here. How is is possible that Ramesvara could go from what appears in this interview to be someone who was dedicated to serving Srila Prabhupada and completely aware that the greatest fear that Srila Prabhupada had was that someone would change his books after his disappearance to a person who was prepared to go against these repeated orders from Srila Prabhupada and make such massive unauthorized changes to his Bhagavad-gita As It Is. So I think Ramesvara needs to tell this story. How within a couple of years of Prabhupada leaving our material vision he became prepared to go against Srila Prabhupada’s orders to him not to change his books… Why did he do this?

    • Mahendra das says:

      Ramesvara gave the 321 pages to the Archives long ago. Evidently they were put in a drawer and forgotten. They were found there years later in that drawer.
      Who it is that facilitated the recent release is an open question; I’m certain it isn’t Ramesvara and I would like to see whoever it is come forward.
      Having been quite distracted in the construction business since 1988, I’ve only gradually in recent years become aware of both the volume… and in some cases the magnitude of… the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s originals. What’s needed now is, at best, a return to those originals followed by a no-holds-barred debate about the desirability and propriety of making posthumous changes to literatures (and artworks) created and/or sanctified by a Vaishnava acharya in our line of disciplic succession.

    • satyahit das says:

      why you didn’t speak up ?

  7. SATISH KUMAR TRIPATHY says:

    Hare Krishna,
    Everything happens in the world as Lord “Krishna” wants to think something he is doing for our good.The evil cannot suppress the Good may be as strong the evil may be…….so words of our Lord teaches us patience so I have patience as I have my believe that truth will come to me one day.
    Hare Krishna…..

  8. Dina A Das says:

    this evil must stop! srila prabhupada’s instructions for his divine books must be obeyed by his disciples!

  9. Dinadayadri dasi says:

    The only possible explanation for Ramesvara’s lack of help on the book changes issue is that it is maya’s influence. We are all conditioned souls and tend to fall into maya in various ways (I know I have!). But this issue of the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books is of such paramount importance that it cannot be ignored. I’m sure everyone by now has seen the heroic presentation Govinda dasi made in L.A. on 5/26/13 about the book changes, and I was very happy to see that Shyamasundar sat right beside her and supported what she was saying. I have had some realization on this matter, which is: From 1972 onwards for about 10 or 15 years, a “mania” took hold in Iskcon and everything else was put on the back burner so that Srila Prabhupada’s original books could be distributed by the millions. I was observing Iskcon from the outside for much of that time so it sometimes puzzled me why other standards seemed to be being neglected (cooking standards, the Gurukulas were not run properly, temple programs were sparsely attended by devotees because they were all out distributing books, even Deity worship standards suffered to some extent). Not being a direct participant in the book distribution mania, it disturbed me to see this neglect of other standards; but there was no denying that those devotees were being empowered to get millions and millions of copies of Srila Prabhupada’s original books out into the world. I lived in the L.A. temple during the year 1972 and witnessed Ramesvara as the main igniting force behind the fire of book distribution that began devouring Iskcon during that time period. Krishna clearly used him to perform that all-important service, so all respect should always go to him for that. Now looking back on it, it appears very clearly to have been Krishna’s will to empower those devotees to distribute all those books BEFORE the wholesale changes started. As Govinda dasi said in her presentation on 5/26, Srila Prabhupada and Krishna knew the book changes were likely to happen. So it appears that They made arrangements to get as many of the original books out into the world as possible before that happened. Even though due to our material conditioning there were inevitable and unfortunate excesses (we all know about some techniques they used that were not ideal, the abuse of some of the female book distributors, and the neglect of the children in the Gurukulas, etc.), I am sure that anyone who suffered for the sake of Krishna’s plan for massive distribution of Srila Prabhuapda’s original books will be profusely rewarded by Krishna for their sacrifices with great blessings of advancement on their path back Home to Godhead. Hare Krishna!

  10. sivakumar, gujarat India says:

    i am amazed at the works behind the publication of each and every page of many books of Srila Prabhupada!

    my profound respect dandavad pranam to srila prabhupad!

    certainly he made a home in which the whole world can live and certainly we can understand when we read the contributions of HIM.
    my glorious moments are only those when i read / listen something related to BG AS IT IS/ SBGM/ KRISHNA. other moments are only unnecessary waste of time when i interact with mundane world.

    hare krishna!

  11. Hladini Sakti says:

    It is heart breaking that anyone would dare to think that they could do a better job at translating Srila Prabhupada’s books then Srila Prabhupada. Such simple instruction to follow yet they dare to disobey. 100 years from now there will be so many versions and no one still here that walked with Srila Prabhupada in a world of lost souls. So sad…

  12. Locanananda dasa says:

    Jayadvaita Swami is not alone in his conviction that the books of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada needed to be re-edited. He has his minions and they think his editing work is just swell. They think of themselves as scholars who have some kind of direct line to Srila Prabhupada and know what would please him better than the rest of us. Perhaps they have forgotten that the qualification for understanding the transcendental science and the will of the spiritual master is devotion to Krishna, not scholarship and erudition.

    I read a letter written by Srila Prabhupada to his disciple Mandali Bhadra who was translating his books into German. Srila Prabhupada was responding to the observation that in his writings there were sometimes grammatical discrepancies, to which he replied, “If one is too big, there is no mistake.” He compared himself to Shakespeare whose works also sometimes display awkward wording or sentence structure, but because he is the authority, it is overlooked.

    Srila Prabhupada often quoted the Bhagavatam verse tad-vag-visargo-janataga-viplavo to point out that even if the written conclusion of Absolute Truth is not properly composed, still, it is understood, accepted, appreciated, recited and glorified by saintly persons who are thoroughly honest.

    What was Srila Prabhupada’s intention? Was it that his followers would have two different editions of the Bhagavad-gita at their disposal to distribute for the salvation of mankind? Or would he expect the leaders of this movement to resolve this huge controversy that burns like a fever in the minds of sincere devotees by producing a single edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is that we can all take pride in because the “voice” of our spiritual master has not been lost?

  13. satyahit das says:

    Jayadwaita swami just visited gainesville for 1 week.
    the SB class became an old testament class.
    then just before leaving the SB class became a heated discussion led by JS supporting his changes .

  14. Uma Sridhar says:

    Hare Krishna!

    Pranam Swamiji,

    I bring to your kind notice that in our/your Krishna.org web site your divine articles are published which are very useful and guide for me those who want to improve in Krishna Conciousness. Like millions I am also a beneficiary. I pray to Lord Krishna, to bless u with good health and long life to guide us through your excellent postings.

    Its very nice to see the new look ie new cover page of Krishna.org. But I humbly want to bring your kind notice that I am unable to post any comments/doubts in each articles published in Krishna.org. Because, there is no provision given for that. ie. each of your post, below there used to be “Leave a Comment, mentioning NAME, Email,etc.It is missing Prabhuji.

    I once again humbly request you to give provision for Comment column in Newly version Krishna.org website.

    Hare Krishna!
    Uma Sridhar

  15. Bhayahari Das says:

    The book change cheerleaders never missed a oppurtunity to gang up and over and over repeat the same lie’s however with the release of these transcripts,They are as quiet as church mice,After reading, It becomes abundantly clear just what Srila Prabhupada wanted NO CHANGES TO HIS BOOKS memories which Ramesvara cannot now deny, Ramesvara Prabhu alway’s presented everything with such intensity, what to speak of these pastimes POUNDED INTO HIS HEART AND HEAD ……the final word from THE BOOKS AUTHOR? NO-CHANGE !!!

  16. tony says:

    Why the books change??? demons at work

  17. tony says:

    Srila Prabhupada said do not change my books..still there are being change demons ay work am I wrong…

  18. Chetan says:

    Hare Krishna Madhudvisa Prabhu,

    Request you to be active on facebook, twitter linkdin, youtube as well.

    I read Edited BG and Unedited BG and came to conclusion that only “Unedited BG” explains verses properly.

    Furthermore, guide us to propagate “book changes of Srila Prabhupada’s book” and unedited books.

    Thanks!
    Chetan

    • I am active on Krishna.org and will one day be active on KrishnaConnect.com

      I will never be active on facebook, twitter, youtube, etc.

      These are brainwashing channels and completely controlled by maya. You need to get off these channels…

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