The following is a letter I read some years back by one of my God brothers; Bhagavat das. Very interesting account of the Importance of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and the need to have them remain in their original state. I am personally opposed to the changing of Srila Prabhupada’s books by the present editors of the BBTI.
Leave the books alone!
by Bhagavat das
My Dear Godbrothers and Godsisters:
Please accept my most humble obeisances! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I am very glad that we as disciples of Srila Prabhupada are finally doing something about this great offense to our Spiritual Master. I would like to tell three stories that are personal experiences of mine with Srila Prabhupada and his books. It is my earnest hope that these stories will once and for all lay to rest the controversy of anyone ever editing Srila Prabhupadas books.
The first story takes place in Mayapur where Srila Prabhupada was talking about why he came to the material world.
Srila Prabhupada said: He (meaning Krishna) asked me to come here and I said that I did not want to go because it was such a dirty place. He (meaning Krishna) told me if you go I will arrange so many nice palaces for you to live in. I said but I do not want to go. He (meaning Krishna) said you just go and write these books and I will make it comfortable for you. So Srila Prabhupada said because He asked me to write these books I came.
So here it is quite clear that the main reason why Srila Prabhupada came to this world was to write these books by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna. Is Jayadwaita a Nitya Siddha eternal associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna who was ordered to come here to edit these books. If not then he should leave the books alone!
Once in Bombay Srila Prabhupada ordered me to come to his room and listen to him preach to some life members. I sat there and listened for almost an hour. After they left he started to chastise me. Why are you not coming here everyday to listen to me preach. You are one of my leaders if you do not learn how to preach from me then what will happen? Then he quoted a verse in Sanskrit from Bhagavad Gita and asked me if I knew this verse in English, where it was in the Gita, and what the meaning was. I unfortunately had no answers. Are you reading my books everyday? he asked. I admitted my neglect. If you do not read my books everyday then how will you learn? You are going out to make life members and collect big donations but you are not reading my books. You must read my books every day! Then he said Even I read my books everyday. Do you know why? I proffered no answer and waited for the revelation. Because every time I read these books even I learn something! I sat in stunned silence. Then he asked Do you know why I learn something every time I read these books? Now I was completely bewildered Because I have not written these books. What transpired next was simply amazing. He looked me very intently making strong direct eye contact. He spoke with great authority but with a mystical mood bordering on the ecstatic as he began to describe how His books are written. Everyday He said When I sit down here to write these books He was now looking into space waving His hands in the air His voice filled with Transcendental emotion Krishna personally comes and dictates every word. I got the sense that Krishna was present in the room at that moment but I was too blind to see Him. Now Srila Prabhupada returned His eyes to mine Therefore He said Whenever I read these books even I learn something and if you read my books everyday you will also learn something every time you read them.
So here it is quite clear that just like Valldeva Vidya bhushana and other great Acharyas in our line Srila Prabhupada received direct dictation from Krishna when he was writing His books. Is Jayadwaita receiving direct dictation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna when he edits the books? If not then he should leave the books alone!
Before we move on to the last story we should examine in more detail some of the inner meanings of Srila Prabhupada’s descent into the material world for the purpose of writing these books. Whenever the Supreme Lord descends he always brings with him his entourage. Similarly when a greatly advanced Nitya Siddha devotee appears in this world a few associates from the spiritual world and many highly developed souls with great amounts of sukriti from the material world come to join him. In a lecture in Los Angeles on the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Prabhupada wept openly as he told the devotees that they had all been sent here to assist him by His Guru Maharaj. It is not an accident that Srila Prabhupadas style of writing from the early Srimad Bhagavatams was a flowery British English which is derived from the poly-syllabic Mediterranean languages. It is not an accident that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur sent Srila Prabhupada Hyagriva who was a writer and ardent admirer of the early American transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau who wrote in a similar poetic style. It is not an accident that Srila Prabhupada spent hours pouring over the manuscripts, the paintings, etc editing and adjusting everything so it was just right. None of these things are accidents, the pastimes of the pure devotee are transcendental.
Unfortunately some people have a mundane view of the Spiritual masters activities and think that they can improve on what is already perfect even if there are some so called discrepancies. Even if the verses are imperfectly composed they are transcendentally potent none the l ess. Does Jayadwaita have any absolute evidence in writing from Srila Prabhupada that approves every single change that he makes? Unless Jayadwaita was sent here personally by Sri Krishna for this purpose or is taking dictation from the Supreme Lord then his adjustments are simply speculation or personal preference. Jayadwaita was not invited into the editing process by Srila Prabhupada. One good reason could be Jayadwaita’s writing style. Jayadwaita favors the short choppy English form influenced by the Viking languages which is used more for business and common literature like magazines and newspapers. This was his style at BTG and that is not acceptable for poetic scripture. Jayadwaitas problem is he just doesn’t get it. The Disciples of Srila Prabhupada want that he should leave the books alone!
He has taken a very slim 1 vote margin of the GBC to fix some typos to changing the entire meaning of the text s. Without Srila Prabhupada’s personal presence to confirm the changes he is making, from old tapes and manuscripts which have not been accurately cataloged, he cannot be sure that Srila Prabhupada did not already reject those versions in favor of what is already in the book. What we are absolutely sure of is that Srila Prabhupada approved of each book that was printed after extensively reviewing it. Therefore whatever has been signed off on by Srila Prabhupada while he was here on the planet cannot be changed period. You may add an errata or addendum in the back of the book if you have some serious concerns but the actual texts and purports themselves must not be adjusted in any way. To do so is to insult Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur by doubting their transcendental plan. To do so is to insult Sri Krishna as the Supreme arranger. To do so without a mandate from Sri Guru and Gouranga is to place your own speculation above the Supreme Lord and His Divine emmisaries. Without the Nitya Siddha Pure Devotee present to confirm the changes we are allowing the mental speculation of one man to destroy the absolute nature of the most important scriptures for the next 10,000 years. Jayadwaita leave the books alone!
Now to Let us see how a purely devoted disciple of His Divine Grace approached the translating and editing process.
After Srila Prabhupada’s departure there is a little known pastime, that will not remain so after this letter goes on your website, where Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj helped to reveal the unrivalled perfection of Srila Prabhupada’s masterful translation of Bhagavad Gita. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj was given the service by Srila Prabhupada of translating all of His books into the Orissan language. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj was a great scholar who could write and speak in five languages, Orissan, Hindi, Bengali, English, an d Sanskrit. He got his degree in English from the University with a minor in Sanskrit. I lived with Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj in the same room for nearly 3 years. He translated Srila Prabhupadas Bhagavad Gita with the greatest love and devotion and attention for detail. Because of His vast command of languages He was able to notice little details that others may have overlooked. One thing that was a cause of great transcendental concern for Him was the fact that when Srila Prabhupada translated a word from Sanskrit to English it would not be the same if Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj translated the Sanskrit word directly to Oriya. In other words the English word that Srila Prbhupada used to explain the Sanskrit word had an entirely different meaning than the Oriya word that would normally be used as a translation of this same Sanskrit word. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj was concerned that in translating the literal English into Oriya that many Pandits and Scholars would c omplain that this was not an accurate translation.
Since Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj did not want to change one single word of His beloved Spiritual Masters books but at the same time be able to defend the scholarships of His Guru Maharaj beyond the shadow of a doubt, He devised a plan for writing down all of the so called contradictions in a list until he completed the entire work. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj then went to a little village to see the now retired Sanskrit professor who had taught Him Sanskrit in college. This man was considered one of the foremost authorities on the Sanskrit Language in India having one of the largest personal libraries on the subject, including one of the best collections of Sanskrit to English Dictionaries. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj knew that this scholars grasp of Sanskrit to English translation would provide him with the evidence he needed to prove the authority of Srila Prabhupada’s work.
After about ten days Srila Gour Govinda Maha raj returned to the little mud hut that we lived in with the Sanskrit professor in tow. The Sanskrit professor introduced himself (I apologize but unfortunately I cannot remember his name) and began glorifying His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada’s masterful translation work. The Professor told me that he started studying Sanskrit when he was five years old, now in his late 70′s he had been studying the language for over 70 years. He told me how on the first review of his dictionaries he could not find the translations that Srila Prbhupada had made from Sanskrit to English, but he said that Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj kept encouraging him to keep looking, assuring him that he would find the translation if he looked long and hard enough. The professor said he would have given up if it were not for Srila Gour Govinda Maharajs insistence that His Guru Maharaj had been accurate and that if he looked hard enough he would find it. Then the professor told me that he found each and every translation that Srila Prbhupada had made. The professor told me that these translations that your Guru has made are the most obscure and brilliant explanations of these words from Sanskrit to English that he had ever seen. The professor admitted that with all of his education and training he could not have thought of these obscure and brilliant meanings that so perfectly expressed the inner truths of the mysteries of the Bhagavad Gita. The professor then said having seen this translation work of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada he was convinced that Srila Prabhupada was the greatest Sanskrit scholar in the history of civilization and must have been directly enlightened by the Supreme Lord Krishna to accomplish this work.
There is so much to learn from this pastime. The first thing of course is that no one is qualified to edit one single word of Srila Prabhupada’s books period! Unless he is on the same level as His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and since it is pretty obvious Jayadwaita is not then he should leave the books alone!
Now some may say how do we know he is not and the answer to that is the second important lesson that we learn from this pastime. Unlike Jayadwaita who has changed the words of his Spiritual masters books in order to meet with the approval of scholars and professors. The pure devotional attitude of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj was to elevate the professor by engaging him in devotional service and then bring him up to a spiritual platform so that he could get the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. Instead of acting like and editor and scholar Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj teaches us how to protect and defend the honor of the Spiritual Master through His Pure Devotional mood.
Jayadwaita’s erasing the words of our Divine Master Srila Prbbhupada and replacing them with h is mental speculations reminds me of the story when the Mayavadi scratched out the name of Krishna in the book and replaced it with the word Brahman. Krishna eventually appears before him with scratches on His face the Mayavadi realizes his folly and surrenders to the Lord. Srila Prabhupada’s books are his transcendental body how much longer are we going to sit back and let his books be abused. If Srila Prabhupada were here and some one was abusing him would we stand by idly and watch it happen! NO! Why do we continue to allow Jayawaita to abuse our Spiritual Masters books. Can we not stand up in the pure Devotional mood of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaj and defend the Honor of our Spiritual Master.
Let us all work together to restore Srila Prabhupada’s books to their pristine and uncontaminated glory. Then let us distribute those books again and preach the pure devotional service of the Lord to the innocent masses yearning to be free of the shackles of maya. Let us enter the arena of the material world proclaiming the Glories of the Lord with the absolute conviction that we can only benefit everyone we meet with the highest good. If any demoniac persons try to stop us then we should proudly proclaim like the Christians of old being attacked by the lions in the Roman coliseum that we are the servants of the Lord and our spiritual master and we are fearless.
Your most worthless servant