Recently I met one nice young gentleman and presented Prabhupada’s books to him. I went through my whole presentation and explained how it’s the original, unedited pure wisdom. He then all of a sudden, without saying anything at all, just turned and went to his car, reached into it and pulled out a BBTI Bhagavad-Gita and walked back to me. He said, “Can I trade for that original one?” I, a bit nervous about what was going on, replied, “I don’t distribute those books. They are completely different, why do you want to trade me for that one, what’s wrong with it… what happened?” In a very irritated mood, and slightly angry he told me, “Look this one’s been revised, I’ll show you in the front of the book, look right here” and he immediately opened right to the front of the book and pointed to the big bold faced words “REVISED“. He continued to say, “I don’t want anything that’s been changed, I want the original stuff.” With a totally disgusted look on his face he told me, “I bought this book off somebody thinking I was getting the pure stuff and it turns out it isn’t, it’s been revised! Is there any chance I can get that one instead?” I gave him Srila Prabhupada’s pure unadulterated original Bhagavad-Gita and we both stood there looking at his revised BBTI version. He asked, “Do you want that one?” I had to be honest and tell him, “No, sorry, maybe just give that one away to someone who doesn’t care about these things, there are still a few people out there who don’t care about these things”.
This reminds me of several years ago when I personally approached one scholar at a university teaching a course on eastern philosophy. I presented Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-Gita with the offer that if they would consider using it as course material then I would beat whatever price they were paying for the version they were presently using. This scholar’s reply was: I know you people from ISKCON, I know you have changed Swami Prabhupada’s Gita after his demise, so how can I use such a book.
I am not any type of scholar or editor or anything like that, but I am a sincere seeker of the pure unadulterated truth. I was thinking about all this editing stuff and one thing that has stuck out in my mind is how for many years now Jayadvaita Swami has claimed to have what he calls as an original “manuscript” of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-Gita and he claims to be changing Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita to become closer to that so-called “manuscript”. So I looked up the word manuscript in the dictionary:
man·u·script [man-yuh-skript] –noun
1. the original text of an author’s work, handwritten or now usually typed, that is submitted to a publisher.
Then I got the idea to look up the word draft:
draft [draft, drahft] –noun
1. a drawing, sketch, or design.
2. a first or preliminary form of any writing, subject to revision, copying, etc.
From this it appears to be incorrect and misleading to call what Jayadvaita Swami has a manuscript because it was never submitted to the publisher (Macmillan). What he has is simply a rough draft that was never intended to be published. A draft is, as it says here, a first or preliminary form of any writing, subject to revision, copying, etc. This is a perfect description of what Jayadvaita Swami has. The manuscript is what becomes the actual published book. The manuscript is verbatim to the 1972 Macmillan Bhagavad-Gita. So with that being cleared up, the question is whether it is such a good idea for a conditioned soul to revert a published, approved manuscript of a Maha-bhagavata Acharya Sad-guru back to a previous unpublished draft without his direct permission. Jayadvaita Swami: “I never got an explicit word from Srila Prabhupada to do this work at an explicit time.”
Also all the reviews by world famous scholars that the BBTI have placed in their revised edited Gita are not reviews of that revised edited version, they are reviews of Srila Prabhupada’s original approved version.
It amazes me that there are so many thousands upon thousands of dollars being spent on so many elaborate international propaganda campaigns, books being written and distributed, websites and videos created, all for the sole purpose of simply trying to spin the minds of all the innocent, simple devotees into thinking that Prabhupada’s approved, authorized books are not any good, and need to be continuously changed without end. But I ask, what will be the result of all this besides people completely loosing faith in Srila Prabhupada’s books due to the intensive revisions that they have undergone?
Imagine if all that same money, propaganda, resources, websites, videos, time, energy, manpower, intelligence etc. was used to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books instead of just continuously changing them (and desperately trying to justify those changes)? Just think how many more thousands of poor, fallen conditioned souls miserably lost and drowning in the ocean of nescience and illusion without a glimmer of hope in all directions could have gotten to hear from Srila Prabhupada, if all those same resources where used to distribute Prabhupada’s books?
Why not just accept Srila Prabhupada’s original books the same way Srila Prabhupada and all those scholars did? Srila Prabhupada would daily read his own books and Srila Prabhupada accepted them. All those big, big scholars accepted them. While Srila Prabhupada was still personally directing and overseeing things the devotees accepted them, and distributed them. Prabhupada was pleased by this. Now after Srila Prabhupada is not there any more personally overseeing everything there is so much change. What would we think if someone started revising say the original published texts of Sanatana Goswami, Jayadeva Goswami, or Bhaktisidanta Saraswati Thakura? Would anyone tolerate the revision of even a mundane document like the constitution of the USA? So why do we tolerate the revisions on Srila Prabhupada’s books?
This reminds me of a funny quote in this regard from Hari Sauri Prabhu’s Transcendental Diary where he recalls what Srila Prabhupada said about his disciples changing things: “You must do something new. If you have to put your feet upward and head down, walk on your hands and clap your feet, but do something new!” He shook his head in slight exasperation. “This is your American disease. Always changing! Change every few minutes. Our qualification is we don’t change anything.” Then he quoted Bhagavad-gita 4.2: “This supreme science was thus received in disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” “This changing will ruin everything.”
For further reading on this subject of manuscript or draft there is a nice article by a very senior Prabhupada disciple at: https://bookchanges.com/iskcons-original-manuscript-scam/
OK, back to the nectar! I was distributing books at one of the last big concerts of the summer. I was wandering around back stage (how I get into places like this even surprises me sometimes, and reminds me that Krishna and Prabhupada are the doers and I just have to go along for the ride) and I bumped into the head sound guy. I was checking out all his high-tech sound equipment and he showed me how he was broadcasting the whole show live to some local radio station. Anyway, I showed him Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-Gita and did my little presentation and he patiently listened to me and had a big grin on his face the whole time. Then he just said, “This is totally synchronistic”, and handed me a $20. So I gave him Prabhupada’s Gita, KRSNA, and an Isopanishad. Then I asked him what was so synchronistic about it. He told me that he was just reading a book by Robert Anton Wilson called “Prometheus Rising” and he explained that in that book the author gives examples of some synchronistic events that may happen in our life, and if any of these events happen then it is some type of very special occurrence. He explained that one of the examples of synchronistic events he gives in the book is someone walking up to you and handing you a Bhagavad-Gita!
If you would like some of Srila Prabhupada’s original, authorized (pre-1978) books to bring with you in your daily life to distribute, please goto www.krishnastore.com