Aug 27, 2010 — HAWAII, USA — Dear Prabhus, please accept my most humble obeisances. Thank you for all your extensive research into Srila Prabhupada’s letters and lectures, verse comparisons, etc. And thank you for your articles, Madhudvisa Prabhu, Ramadas Prabhu, Hotra Prabhu, and any and all other sincere devotees who care so much about Srila Prabhupada’s Legacy, his sacred books, that you are willing to go before the firing squad to defend them.
And thank you for researching the time frame when Hayagriva Prabhu lived with us, in Srila Prabhupada’s apartment, in Los Angeles in late 1968. Since I am at present caring for my elderly mother, I have no time to do such research. So I very much appreciate that some of you pointed out that Hayagriva was indeed with Srila Prabhupada at that time, staying with us for two or three weeks.
Certainly I was very busy at that time in 1968 typing the daily dictation tapes that Srila Prabhupada gave me each morning, of the early chapters of Nectar of Devotion. So he was also translating Nectar of Devotion at that time, as well as working with Hayagriva on the final editing of the Gita, and from information in your letter, also the Srimad Bhagavatam. I should also mention he had begun Chaitanya Charitamrita only a few months before, and was having my then husband Goursundar do the transliteration. It was not uncommon for His Divine Grace to have several writing projects going at once.
Please understand, along with typing letters and NOD tapes, I was also the housemaid, cooking Srila Prabhupada’s prasad, cleaning his room, and bringing water and fruits in to Hayagriva and Srila Prabhupada while they were working “elbow to elbow” on his low trunk-style desk. Since I was in and out of Srila Prabhupada’s room many times a day, they no doubt could have also been working on Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, and probably on Nectar of Devotion as well, since I was transcribing a tape each day.
Of course, I realize it is not possible to say exactly what all they were working on, since it was probably all of the above, but it is a well-known fact that Hayagriva WAS Srila Prabhupada’s trusted editor for over two years at that time; he met Srila Prabhupada (Swamiji) in New York in 1966, and very shortly after meeting him, Srila Prabhupada requested him to help him edit his writings. If anyone wishes to research this time frame, please do so by reading Hayagriva’s book, The Hare Krishna Explosion. This book written by Hayagriva details his early meetings and editing work from 1966. In it Hayagriva describes many meetings, his discussions with “Swamiji” on the verses, and also other writing works as well. This book is a wonderful eyewitness account of those precious early days; it is accurate and insightful. And it is compiled from Hayagriva’s diaries and notes, at a time when most of the other early disciples had not yet begun even thinking of such compilations.
Hayagriva’s book, The Hare Krishna Explosion was also written and printed many years before the advent of the idea of posthumous editing and long before the introduction of Jayadvaita Maharaj Editingism. You will find it a truthful and politically untainted version of the early days, the progress of Prabhupada’s books, and the mood of the early days of ISKCON. Hayagriva expresses himself so eloquently and so wonderfully glorifies Srila Prabhupada. He also expresses his humility in feeling so unqualified to do this editing, even though “Swamiji” prods him to do so, and works with him closely every step of the way, both internally and externally. Srila Prabhupada’s sweetness and pure spiritual simplicity shines through at the same time as his precision of intent so far his writings are concerned.
In reading over the hair-splitting protests of the BBT editors, I can only wonder at the vehemence with which they justify their editing, even in the face of so many angry Godbrothers and Godsisters, so much evidence that Srila Prabhupada wanted his books held sacred, unchanged, and enshrined for posterity, and even a monumental million-dollar court case that was decided not in their favor. It is bewildering to me. What is the name of the Maya wherein one commits a blunder, is told by others, and even within their heart knows that he has done wrong–yet still, he insists on justifying his blunder? Can anyone of the respected Vaishnava scholars please tell me or describe to me this category of Maya’s agency? And in relation to one’s Guru, this category of aparadha?
Is it pride, is it stubbornness, is it fear of public shame? In spite of so many hundreds of devotees who stand in opposition to the book changes, still the editors insist on their claims–their claims to the exclusive right to change Srila Prabhupada’s books however they choose!
Is it enviousness of the fact that Hayagriva was already chosen by Krishna and Prabhupada to do this work? Is it power hunger, or a burning desire to make a name for oneself? What is it? What is at the root of this rejection of Prabhupada’s original books, that he himself often said were “written by Krishna”? Why are we in this predicament, and why are we even having this discussion?
Really, it should just be a matter of respect–respect for the Guru, Vaishnava etiquette, and common sense–that one does not alter one’s teacher’s books without his direct sanction and supervision. Why is this issue shrouded in such elaborate layers of man made monkey-poo? What is the reason for all this?
Even though many of Prabhupada’s disciples strongly disagree with this editing, and it was done at a time when everyone was grieving the loss of our beloved Srila Prabhupada, (and then by only one vote of the GBC), and has been challenged in a court case that then ushered in the wholesale re-printing (and distribution) of Srila Prabhupada’s original books–still, the editors stubbornly cling to some very shaky justifications. Why?? What is the cause of this??
I am no scholar. I am just a simple devotee who loves Srila Prabhupada wholeheartedly. When I met him in January of 1967, he immediately became the most important person in my life–a story repeated by many, many of Prabhupada’s disciples And later on, when I was fortunate enough to become his servant and secretary for well over a year, he became the father I never had. Like Sruta Kirti, whose father died when he was a small boy, my father left home when I was a child. Srila Prabhupada became not only my revered Spiritual Preceptor, but my father as well–my all-in-all most important person in my life.
Please remember, in 1967, 1968 and 1969, when I was first with His Divine Grace, ISKCON had not blossomed into a full-blown lotus; it was a bud just coming forth. In those days, there were no books, not even a Gita, and only a couple of small storefront temples existed– and a handful of devotees, mostly teenagers.
Yet “Swamiji”, Srila Prabhupada, had his plans, his dreams, and his visions of what was to be. He foresaw everything, from his books to his broad scale preaching work.
While I served as his secretary, Prabhupada received only a handful of letters daily, yet when he was giving me dictation to reply his letters, he would often sit and speak for hours at a time–about so many subjects. For at least two or three hours daily, I would sit before him in his simple apartment, across from his trunk-desk, and he would talk about everything under the sun. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps because I loved to listen, loved to hear him speak–about anything–and I believed in him. Even though we were in a cheap (and rat infested) apartment, with very little money, and only a handful of disciples, he would tell me of his long-range plans. He would often describe how he was going to have a world-wide Sankirtan party; he spoke of his plans to have an auditorium with a stage for bhajans where people could come and see various devotional performances. It was akin to a pauper speaking of plans to build a Disneyland. Yet, I would listen patiently with full faith, and never once doubted he would do the things he planned to do.
These were the sweet and intimate days of early ISKCON, with many precious hours spent daily with our beloved “Swamiji.” And with old-timers like Brahmananda, Mukunda, Satsvarupa, Rupanuga, Hayagriva and others. All simple souls who believed in our Swamiji. Because of this, these daily dealings with Srila Prabhupada, we loved him for who he was, long before he became famous all over the world. For us, he was not only our vastly learned great spiritual personality descending from the spiritual sky, but also the sweet and caring father that loved and cared for each of us. This was our beginning, our entry into his ISKCON. It was all sweetness. We held Srila Prabhupada in great esteem and we still do.
Jayadvaita Maharaj was not there at this time. Hayagriva was there, daily working on Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was the one sent by Krishna. He was educated–a college professor who specialized in the transcendental poets like Emerson, Thoreau, and Yeats. Krishna sent Srila Prabhupada the most qualified editor He could find, someone who could poetically present Prabhupada’s magnificent spiritual literature.
Hayagriva spent many hours and days and weeks with “Swamiji” working on his writings, smoothing and polishing, discussing and deciding on the various points. Hayagriva worked with “Swamiji” first in New York in late 1966, then went out to San Francisco in early January of 1967. He was one of the very first devotees I met when I came to Srila Prabhupada’s shelter in January of 1967, and yes, I also remember Hayagriva’s French horn that Srila Prabhupada affectionately mentions–his”bugle”. Hayagriva had a little cubby-hole set up at the back of the San Francisco storefront, where he worked on the editing, and was often up in “Swamiji’s” room discussing various editing points. That was in early 1967, and Hayagriva was still working with him in late 1968, even living with us in Prabhupada’s Los Angeles apartment.
Jayadvaita Maharaj wasn’t there then, and neither was Dravida Prabhu. Hayagriva, on the other hand, knew Srila Prabhupada well and worked “elbow to elbow” with “Swamiji” for perhaps two years before Jayadvaita Maharaj even became a devotee. Hayagriva served as Srila Prabhupada’s chief editor long before His Divine Grace was even known as “Srila Prabhupada.”
Now I ask, why is it that those persons who were so near to His Divine Grace, who spent so much time with him, serving him, and who witnessed his early plans for ISKCON, for his books, for his preaching mission, etc. ignored? Why are such devotees and their service and opinions ignored by a GBC/BBT that persists in this travesty of rewriting and redoing Srila Prabhupada’s books? Where is the common sense in this??
It reminds me of the Christian history/philosophy that is popular today. Some Biblical historians say that Christianity should be called “Paulism” rather than Christianity, since Paul’s views and ideas did not coincide with Christ’s. Though Paul never even met Jesus, in person, and had not very much regard for Jesus’ spiritual teachings, or divinity, he set himself up as a main disciple, and proceeded to promote his own views in the Biblical texts, rather than what Jesus actually taught. Thus Christianity morphed into something far different from what Jesus taught, and has now splintered into a thousand different ideologies all claiming to be the teachings of Christ.
Even our Srila Prabhupada pointed out that it was a mistake to emphasize the death of Christ, rather than his teachings, and this focus on the crucifixion was introduced and promoted by the disciple Paul. Srila Prabhupada often spoke of the Aquarian Gospel as the true teachings of Christ, not the popular version promoted by Paul that came to be embraced by the Catholic Christianity. Certainly I am not a Biblical historian, and really know very little about all this, yet it seems that a similar pattern has emerged in our own day and age.
Is it always this way? A great saint, prophet, or personality comes from the spiritual world to uplift mankind–someone who inspires the hearts of millions of people–and trailing along behind him are those who obscure the path and teachings; with their editing brooms they sweep the path so that it’s changed for all those who come later. Is this just the way of the world? The reason Krishna tells Arjuna that He gave this knowledge to the Sungod but in the course of time it has been lost??
It has only been slightly more than 30 years since our Srila Prabhupada has left us–yet for perhaps 20 years or more, his original books were out of print completely, available only at second-hand stores, but not at his temples. Only the edited ones have been available, and even now, they continue to be the only books that are promoted by his very own temples! How is it that we have chosen to keep his temples, but not his authentic teachings intact??
Now, by the grace of Krishna, and also a federal court judge, those sacred original books are back in print, and being widely distributed, even going like hotcakes. Can’t anyone see a divine plan in all this? Are we really so deaf and dumb and blind (and perhaps prideful) that we can’t see Krishna’s plan in reviving these original sacred books and protecting them form all assailant editors?
What is missing in this picture? Is it humility, intelligence, or perhaps just the simple ability to say, very humbly: “I’m sorry, Srila Prabhupada. I made a mistake. Please forgive me.”
Yours in Srila Prabhupada’s seva,