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the Legacy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
by Mayesvara dasa for the Bhaktivedanta Archives
We All Benefited
We all owe a great debt to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. His divinely inspired realizations gave us meaning and transformed undirected, mediocre individuals into extraordinary servants of Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada’s profound contribution to this world extends far beyond "Good Literature." His teachings are a theological landmark that we know will bring light to this dark place for the next 10,000 years.
In 1978 the Bhaktivedanta Archives was formed for the sole purpose of accurately preserving the 6000+ personal letters, 30,000+ photos, 10,000+ pages of manuscripts and transcriptions, and 2000+ hours of audio recordings of His Divine Grace. These first-hand artifacts are the closest things we have to properly understand the devotional legacy Srila Prabhupada left in our care. This venerated collection is the origin of the numerous books, magazines, videos, audiotapes, CDs, and computer research tools that bear the familiar Bhaktivedanta Book Trust logo. The Bhaktivedanta Archives is the only place in the world that has the original resources capable of confirming Srila Prabhupada’s exact words and teachings.
We Are All Responsible
The facts are obvious and clear and do not require advanced realization. Srila Prabhupada was meticulous about managing all the funds Krishna entrusted to Him. He said many times that His movement should be financed from the profits of his book sales. If we want to support the work of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, we cannot condone the dishonest activities of those who sell bootleg copyrighted Bhaktivedanta Book Trust material for their own personal gain. Self-serving excuses aside, the simple fact is that these thieves are stuffing their pockets with revenues that belong to the estate of His Divine Grace, and no self-respecting devotee should patronize them. Those who knowingly purchase pirated goods are equally culpable.
Every dollar given to bootleggers is a dollar less the Bhaktivedanta Archives gets to preserve the vani of Srila Prabhupada. The Bhaktivedanta Archives is very dependent on the profits derived from the market of its professionally produced offerings under the BBT copyright. Contrary to popular belief the Bhaktivedanta Archives receives only a small annual working budget from the BBT, hence the large dependency on Lakshmi received from the small market place known as devotee sales.
Some feel that the fees charged for transcendental products are excessive because the media it is distributed on is comparatively inexpensive. A blank ream of paper is also cheaper than a well-researched book, but everyone agrees to pay more for the value-enhanced paper. Where is that individual who will say that Srila Prabhupada’s message is not far more significant than anything else that is currently being published?
Others assert that they have been given a form of carte blanche power of attorney to work independently of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust because they believe that His Divine Grace authorized them to do so. These claims are conveniently unprovable. What we do know is that Srila Prabhupada did set up the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust as a completely separate entity outside the ISKCON corporate umbrella. He did this to copyright and protect his work from theft and alterations.
Cheap, insincere rationalizations that justify copyright infringements do not impress those who are educated and understand the psychology of the criminal mind. The jails are filled with people who did a wrong in an attempt to make things the way they thought it ought to be. Even Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangster criminals who ever lived, considered himself to be a servant of the people. His own words reveal just how strongly he believed in what he was doing: "I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man."
Those who have no regard for the copyrights Srila Prabhupada himself put in place, not only sabotage the very system He intended to fund the Krishna Conscious revolution, but they also jeopardize the integrity of His work.
We Are All Affected
Corporate executives in the music industry are very concerned about how easy it is for people to steal other people’s creative property using sophisticated technology that is now available to everyone.
Shouldn’t we also have the same type of concerns for maintaining Srila Prabhupada’s copyrights and the integrity of his teachings?
Regardless of how effectively someone can twist meaning out of the things that Srila Prabhupada may have said, copyright infringements have become a growing impediment for those who are committed to preserving the legacy of His work. It is preposterous to suggest that His Divine Grace would approve of the vigilante anarchy that comes from reckless bootlegging because it is neither a good business decision nor a healthy spiritual directive.
Freedom of Choice
Bootleggers disrupt the law of economics and the natural flow of commerce just like terrorists disrupt the security of the citizens. Neither is acceptable in an ethical society and everyone must decide if they are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
If His Divine Grace wanted to offer all his work to the world as share-ware, he would not have copyrighted his books in the first place. The fact that he did is proof that he wanted those copyrights to be honored. Legally protecting the contents of His books not only provided the revenue base to print more books, but it also protected his work from slipping into the fickle world of the public domain. If that were to happen then anyone could add or subtract whatever they wanted to from his divine words to serve their own purposes. Those who hijack copyrights that belong to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada shamelessly jeopardize both of these objectives!
When we purchase stolen goods from the software pirate in the street, we finance their aparadha and emasculate the very source we claim to feel so indebted to. Anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the law of Karma understands that stealing from the guru is a very serious offense and would never consider condoning it.
Those who disregard these facts flagrantly defy the wishes of His Divine Grace. They are in effect Obstructing the Legacy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. That is why the spiritually evolved are extremely careful to avoid such reckless indiscretion.
The Future is in Our Hands
In the spring of 2001, a web site known as Napster became extremely popular because it distributed pirated contemporary music estimated to be at an annual value of approximately $150 million. Later that same year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shut the site down with the following ruling: "Napster had infringed on the copyright holder’s rights to control the reproduction and distribution of their music."
We are left with these choices: Am I personally willing to adhere to the same legal and ethical standards that were awarded to Sony Music in order to protect Srila Prabhupada’s work; or, will I patronize those who commit the most egregious intellectual theft possible and adopt the same type of absurd reasoning as Al Capone?
We all face these two choices every time we purchase something for our own transcendental library.
It is our prayer that every devotee who reads this plea will understand how important our individual decisions are. Everyone who appreciates what Srila Prabhupada gave us must be vigilant in not tolerating those who steal revenues that belong to Him. It is not a matter of abiding by mundane laws. It is what you can personally do to ensure that the legacy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami will prosper for the next 500 generations.
Thank you for your attention and your anticipated cooperation. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
The Bhaktivedanta Archives
1453 Tom Shelton Road
This document was written at the request of, and in cooperation with, the Bhaktivedanta Archives, a division of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust by:
Mayesvara dasa (805)640-0405
© CHAKRA 7 March 2002
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