Srila Prabhupada used to like to sit in his garden in Vrindavan especially in the mornings. He liked to hear his books read to him daily. One time Yasodanandan Prabhu was reading Sri Isopanisad when Srila Prabhupada stopped him and asked him to reread the last paragraph. After hearing it again Srila Prabhupada said, “Those are not my words! They are changing my words! Is my English not good enough?” Srila Prabhupada became very angry and continued, “This is the worst thing a disciple can do! Do not become like a leap frog and try to jump over the spiritual master thinking you know better than him. Tell them immediately [the editors] do not change my words!”
Srila Prabhupada was very upset about the changes in his books. I never saw him get so angry any other time.
When Srila Prabhupada was asked by Revatinandan Prabhu if we could read Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati’s books; Srila Prabhupada said not the ones that were edited by his disciples. Srila Prabhupada also told him that we really couldn’t understand Bhaktisidhanta’s books. He said not even his Godbrothers could understand them. Then Srila Prabhupada said, ” actually, he wrote those books for me.” (Memories of Srila Prabhupada)
Srila Prabhupada translated the spiritual law books for the next 10,000 years, day and night, until his dying day. He translated constantly despite his busy preaching schedule. He did this to live on in the books. He said before he left the planet that he had given us everything in his books. He said the books were the manifestations of his ecstasy. He said if we read his books and cooperated together, every thing would go on nicely. To edit his books without his sanction is risky business. We should try to be absorbed in the ecstasy of the spiritual master and not try to alter it, thinking we can ‘improve upon’ his ecstasy.
Some of the reasons given to justify the modern day editing are that the new edition is closer to what Srila Prabhupada said on the original tapes. Srila Prabhupada lectured on many verses many times and never said to change them. He authorized about three changes, not the 800+- we have in the new Bhagavad Gita. We need Bhagavad Gita As It Was! There is a nicer vibration to the original Srila Prabhupada approved version. I’m sure more devotees would be inspired to distribute the original. It would be nice if we could at least have both versions available. To each his own!
When a new book came out Srila Prabhupada would be in total bliss. I remember when he was so sick he could hardly sit up. When he heard that the new Srimad Bhagavatam had arrived and he asked to be propped up on his bed. He asked for his glasses and more light. As he marveled over the quality of the book and the excellent artwork tears came to his eyes. This gave him life.
Another time when Srila Prabhupada asked a devotee to read in the garden the devotee asked him why he liked to hear his own books so much. Srila Prabhupada said, “I did not write these books. Krishna wrote these books!”
When Srila Prabhupada came into the room and caught me reading the Srimad Bhagavatam, he smiled nicer than ever and told his secretary, “He’s reading in his spare time; this is very good!” I was surprised to see how happy Srila Prabhupada was because I was reading. Srila Prabhupada put everything into his books and we would be better off to accept them as is/was. They made so many devotees in the past and will in the future. They are tried and true!
Another important publication is the ‘Back To Godhead’ magazine. Srila Prabhupada said the BTG and Hari Nama Sankirtan are ‘the backbone of our movement.’ We need a mass distribution BTG. So many of us became devotees by getting a BTG one way or another. It should be cost effective say 25 to 50 cents so we can distribute it for a dollar or so. The old BTG’s are great. We could update the calendar and presto, the all-attractive ‘Back To Godhead!’
Srila Prabhupada said the disease of the Americans is that we want to change everything. Let’s get rid of this disease and maintain what Srila Prabhupada has worked so hard to give us; without adulteration or change.