BY: DHAMESVAR MAHAPRABHU DAS
Following is an email exchange I had with Jayadvaita Swami on his changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. I believe that I defeated him within two emails.
Hare Krishna Jayadvaita Swami,
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Shrila Prabhupada.
Not sure how much you remember me, but I’ve met you many times over the years and done a little service for you. I hope you are doing well. I have some questions about editing. I have read as far as possible your comments on these issues. I want to ask you about the integrity between how the editing is explained and what has been done.
My understanding from bbtedit.com and ‘Note About the Second Edition’ is that the changes made to Bhagavad Gita As It Is are minimal corrections of understandable mistakes made by previous editors. However, in my perception there are many significant changes which do not fit this description of what has been done.
For example, you write on bbtedit.com that you reluctantly changed the title of chapter 6 from sankhya yoga to dhyana yoga. Shrila Prabhupada titled the chapter sankhya yoga and consistently called it that in his classes. You write that was changed in consideration of Gaudiya math versions, previous acharyas, and Sanskrit scholars.
A preface was written by professor Dimock which Shrila Prabhupada many times referenced in preaching to add credibility to his presentation of the Gita. This was removed, and I have not seen an official statement why, but a woman named Kaishori who claimed to work for bbt told me that it was for considerations of space.
The artwork of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is was inspired, directed, and approved by Shrila Prabhupada. The number of pictures was drastically reduced, and many of the pictures were replaced. One of the replacements is a picture of a man killing a cow.
Without getting into too much detail, I have compared differences in the text between the draft, the 72 version, and the 83 version, and I noticed that in many cases the 83 version is NOT actually closer to the draft. For example, BG 2.13 purport, last sentence:
draft: “Under the circumstances it is admitted that Lord Krsna is the Supreme Lord superior in position to the living entity Arjuna who is apt to be a forgotten soul under the illusion of maya.”
72: “Under the circumstances, it is admitted that Lord Krsna is the Supreme Lord, superior in position to the living entity, Arjuna, who is a forgotten soul deluded by maya.”
83: “Under the circumstances, it is admitted that Lord Krsna is the Supreme Lord, superior in position to the living entity, Arjuna, who is a forgetful soul deluded by maya.”
“Forgotten” becomes “forgetful”, and this is not found in the draft. If the 83 were closer to the draft, it would include the words “apt to be”.
I am sincerely requesting your thoughts on the integrity between what you have stated are the principles and self-imposed limitations of your editing and some of these examples. Clearly, none of these examples are mistakes of a previous editor which were corrected. Rather, in my perception, they are executive decisions made for different reasons. My question is, would it not be honest and integral to either retract all changes to the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is which do not fit the claims in ‘Note About the Second Edition’, or to be more forthcoming in accounting for the changes to Shrila Prabhupada’s aesthetic selections and words?
Thank you very much, maharaja.
Dhamesvar Mahaprabhu Das
Dear Dhamesvara Mahaprabhu, Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Thank you for your letter.
An appendix to the “annotated scan” for Chapter Six lays out the thinking more fully. One may reasonably take a position for or against the revision.
I had nothing to do with the removal of the preface. Someone else would have to explain the BBT’s reasons for it. Likewise, I’ve had nothing to do with the artwork. So again I’m not the person to speak about it.
If the right word is “forgotten,” one naturally has to ask, “Forgotten by whom?” I suppose the answer would have to be “forgotten by Krishna.” So if we think that Srila Prabhupada intended to say that the living entity, such as Arjuna, is apt to be forgotten by Krishna, the revision was wrongly made and should be reversed. If, however, we think that the intended meaning is that the living entity, such as Arjuna, is apt to forget Krishna, then “forgetful” is the right word, and the revision is justified. I leave it to you to decide for yourself which of these two positions is more consistent with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
The annotated scans for the Preface, the Introduction, and the first nine chapters, all online, account for practically every significant revision, giving the reasons for each. I intend to post annotated scans for the remaining chapters as well. But of course each person is different, so your perceptions about these revisions may differ from mine.
Thank you, Dhamesvar Mahaprabhu. Hare Krishna. Hoping this finds you in good health, Yours in Srila Prabhupada’s service, Jayadvaita Swami
Hare Krishna Jayadvaita Swami Maharaja!
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Shrila Prabhupada.
Thank you for taking the time to respond.
I don’t want to take the approach of arguing whether and change should or should not have been made. What I do want to do is ask why there is what I consider a discrepancy between the explanation of the changes and the changes themselves. What I read in ‘Note About the Second Edition’ is that changes have been made to make the book closer to Shrila Prabhupada’s original dictation and the Sanskrit. However, there are many changes which are for reasons other than this explanation. So it would be integral to state in the explanation of the editing done that changes were not just made to be closer to Shrila Prabhupada and Sanskrit, but to fit the editor’s understanding of philosophy, Sanskrit, previous acharyas, and so on.
Regarding the purport of Bg 2.13, one may argue in favor of Arjuna being ‘forgetful’ of Krishna or ‘forgotten’ by Krishna (see SB 7.9.19), but this edit is not closer to Shrila Prabhupada’s draft. Rather it is the editor’s understanding of his philosophy. I have included a picture of the draft. So therefore I believe it would be honest to say in the ‘Note about the Second Edition’ that verses and purports were edited to fit the editor’s understanding, or to put your name on your work: Bhagavad-Gita As It Is by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupda, Edited by His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami Maharaja. That way people know that the author’s words, presentation, and content have been altered, removed, and replaced by various people for various reasons besides the reasons explained in the current ‘Note on the Second Edition’, namely to be closer to Shrila Prabhupada and Krishna.
Say, for example, that I had been serving you by cleaning your room, and then you left on vacation without saying that I should or should not clean, but I decide to clean your room. When you return, you notice it is different and ask me why. I say that I just dusted, but you see that the furniture is different and things are missing. Even if I had the intention to improve your room and make it better for you, according to my understanding of what you want, wouldn’t you be suspicious that I failed to explain everything that I did… or said other unknown people also came for unknown reasons and took things?
What do you think, Maharaja?
yours in service,
Dhameshvara Mahaprabhu Dasa
Dear Dhamesvara Mahaprabhu,
I think you’ve said what you wish to say and I’ve heard you, I think I’ve said all I wish to say in reply, and I think that further correspondence between us now would be unproductive. Best wishes. Hare Krishna. Jayadvaita Swami