This page was last updated on January 15, 2004.

Editing Srila Prabhupada's Books

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"The Changes" Web Site

from Jayadvaita Swami

The "changes" and the original manuscripts side by side.

You'll find more than 70 interesting, instructive, and controversial differences between the first and second editions of Bhagavad-gita As It Is —shown side by side with the version found in the original manuscripts — at this address:

Change to the Gita Explained 
By Jayadvaita Swami 

CHAKRA (Mayapur, India) - Dear Madan Mohan Prabhu, Someone has forwarded to me a VNN editorial (Dec 25) in which you write:

Are these changes significant? If any aspiring sadhaka has been discouraged from or deprived of taking the direct shelter of pure devotees, I would think so.

These changes *are* significant. What they signify is that the text of the Second Edition more closely matches Srila Prabhupada's original words.  

© CHAKRA 27-January-2001

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Response to Dhira Govinda Prabhu
By Dravida dasa

Having read that Jagannatha dasa Babaji initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the reader would naturally assume that Jagannatha dasa Babaji is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's initiating spiritual master. But we know that Bhaktivinoda already had one--Vipina Vihari Goswami--and so that impression would be false because "acceptance of more than one [initiating spiritual master] is always forbidden."

The common meaning of the term as understood in ISKCON comes from how Srila Prabhupada used it--either to refer to the formal process of first initiation by himself personally or by himself through his representative, with fire sacrifice, the taking of sacred vows, the change of name, etc.--or to the awarding of the sacred thread at the time of second initiation. 
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 9-July-2000

Caitanya-caritamrta, Page 1, and Conflict Resolution in ISKCON
By Dhira Govinda dasa

Below is an exchange of correspondence between Dravida Prabhu, and myself in which he answers a letter that I originally sent to Jayadvaita Maharaja. The topic is a change that was made on the first page of the most recent edition of Sri-Caitanya-caritamrita. Following the correspondence I make some comments.  
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 © CHAKRA 4-July-2000

Answers to critics of Gita Revisions Web Site
By Jayadvaita Swami

WORDS FROM A CRITIC: "The new BBT book changes web page informs us that the transcripts for the last six chapters of Srila Prabhupada's dictation of 'Bhagavad-gita As It Is' were lost 'sometime before 1972.' Most editors would have some difficulty in editing a book to 'make it closer to the original' if they did not have the original to work from! But it's no problem for our BBT editors! They still managed to make hundreds of changes in these six chapters without any original material from Srila Prabhupada to work from at all. It appears to be all their own work. It seems they had NOTHING to work from except Srila Prabhupada's original unabridged 'Bhagavad-gita As It Is' and the final version of the manuscript that was used by the typesetters to produce the book (which must be practically identical to the printed book)."

COMMENT: The critic misunderstands things badly. Yes, the original transcriptions were lost. No, we did not have "nothing to work from." As explained in an opening text on the Gita Revisions Website, the "original manuscripts" we relied on for the last chapters were "the old retyped manuscripts from which the 1972 Macmillan edition was produced. The 'retyped manuscripts' for the last six chapters were copied from original transcriptions on which much editing had already been done. The typist followed the edited version, adding what the editor had added and deleting what he had deleted."
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 10-Aug-99

Changes in Krsna
Book Explained

from Dravida dasa

(Note: This article can also be downloaded.
Click here.)

(Note: This article can also be downloaded.
Click here.)

Recently the ISKCON Reform Group posted an "in-depth examination" of the revisions in Srila Prabhupada's Krsna book. After comparing chapters 6, 11, 78, and 88 of the 1970 edition to those of the 1996 edition and listening to copies of Srila Prabhupada's original dictation tapes, the unnamed examiner concluded that no revisions were needed beyond fixing "spelling mistakes, obvious errors and missing commas." His overall conclusion was that the revision of Krsna book was a great offense to Srila Prabhupada.

Before we explain the reasoning behind the changes the critic found objectionable, a little history of Krsna book is in order.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 26-Feb-99

Bhagavad Gita Revisited
from Antardwip das JPS

Hare Krishna

I feel that the most important part of the issue concerning the editing of the Bhagavad Gita and other books is not about the authenticity of doing this, but whether it should be done when devotees object to it.

With regard to the authenticity, Maharaj writes: "I sent the same letter not only to Kirtanananda Maharaja but also to every other member of the GBC, most English-speaking ISKCON sannyasis, various other senior ISKCON devotees, and every ISKCON temple president in the English-speaking world."

However, was that enough to gain the acceptance of other ISKCON membership? No, it obviously has failed to win approval from many devotees. While some may be enviously using this to gain political support, most devotees are genuinely perplexed about the editing. Why this should be, when most changes are, frankly, irrelevant, I have a few suggestions:
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 15-Dec-98

Was the Bhagavad-Gita Changed?
Studying Books of Knowledge
a correspondence

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Vibhav Krishna das to Jayadvaita Swami:

"After demolishing the faith of people in GBC and the guru system, the latest target is Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-Gita as it is.

"HG Madhu Pandit Prabhu and the devotees of Bangalore ISKCON now point out that "Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-Gita as it is" is not really as it is, the reason being the present available edition has been tampered with. They specifically point out to the purport of Verse no:4.34. "Nor by independant study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life".

"They argue in favour of ritvikvad saying that the original text of the edition prior to 1983 do not contain the above text. This has been added they say by the GBC to support a guru system which was never desired by Srila Prabhupada.

"Could you please clarify this point to enable us to respond to persons who have been thus spoken to and to clear their confusion.

"your servants

"Vibhav Krishna das and others"

Jayadvaita Swami replies:

"The relevant part of the original unedited manuscript—it was apparently typed by Srila Prabhupada himself—reads as follows:

"'Therefore mental speculation or dry arguments cannot lead one to the right path. Neither by self study of the book of knowledge can help one progress in spiritual life. One has to approach therefore a bonafide spiritual master for receiving the knowledge.'

"I'm looking right at a photocopy of the original page. That's what it says, word for word.

"Thank you. Hare Krsna.

"—ys, js

© CHAKRA 28-Nov-98

Responsible Publishing

Why and How the BBT Publishes
Revisions of Srila Prabhupada's Books


Because Srila Prabhupada's books are sacred works, his followers may sometimes wonder: Is it proper to edit them? Is it proper to revise them?

In this paper, Srila Prabhupada's publisher, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, answers these and related questions.

Though the paper especially focuses on Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the questions and answers illuminate the BBT's editorial policies for all of Srila Prabhupada's books.

This paper has been prepared by the English editorial department of the BBT and approved by the BBT trustees.
>Click Here

CHAKRA - 8 May 98

Prabhupada's Books Must Change
By Hari Sauri Dasa

I am not sure who the devotee is that Ananda prabhu is referring to in his text, but I appreciate his stout defence of Jayadvaita Maharaja, who was indeed given a mandate by Srila Prabhupada to edit his books to increasingly better standards. He trusted that he was competent to do this without changing the message. Having worked with Maharaja on the BTG for a year and also having gone into detail with him in the early 80s on the update of the Bhagavad-gita, I can certify that Jayadvaita Maharaja is meticulous in preserving Srila Prabhupada's message while presenting it in the best way possible.

In case anyone has anyone doubts that this on-going work of improvement should be done, here's what Srila Prabhupada himself said in the last few weeks he was with us.
>Click Here
CHAKRA 23-Apr-98

Prabhupada's Books Must Change
by Ananda Das

(Reprinted from Com)

Dear Devotees:

Recently a misguided devotee has made a cause celebre of his contention that the ongoing process of improving the scholarly presentation of Srila Prabhupad's books while at the same time making them conform as closely as possible to his intent should be stopped. This devotee contends that at an arbitrary time in the past these books were perfected, and they should thereafter be fixed in time without further changes ever.

This argument, taken to its ultimate conclusion, would eventually make Prabhupad's books a curious historical artifact rather than a spiritual guide for the next 10,000 years, because the English language, as any other language, will not stand still.

>Click Here

CHAKRA 23 Apr 98

"Jayadwaita Means Parampara"
A recollection by Devamrta Swami

Srila Prabhupada was touring the BBT in 1975, to turn up the heat in the famous book production marathon. He came into my office and I explained to him my service as copy editor--doing the final checks on type-composed copy. Next he walked into Jayadwaita das brahmachari's office. Sitting down on the chaddar of his chief English editor, he declared, "Jayadwaita means parampara."
>Click Here

The Gita on VNN
by Dravida dasa
I would like to lodge a vociferous protest with whoever runs the Black Peacock download page, accessible on the VNN site within "Interactive Forums." And by extension I lodge a protest with the VNN operators themselves for allowing this travesty.

Among other books, the BP download page offers a Folio version of what they claim is Srila Prabhupada's Macmillan edition of Bhagavad Gita As It Is, but in truth it is no such thing.

>Click Here
Dravida dasa

Reading Many Books
Dravida Dasa explains
changes to BG 10.34

Madhudvisa Prabhu asked for an explanation of Jayadvaita Swami's change to BG 10.34. Here it is.

In the original transcript we find:

Medha, memory, not only to read many books on many subject matter, but to keep them in the memory and produce them when necessary, that is also another opulence.

In the Macmillan edition we find:

One need not read many books on different subject matters; the ability to remember a few and quote them when necessary is another opulence.

In the 1983 BBT edition we find:

And the ability not only to read many books on different subject matters but to understand them and apply them when necessary is intelligence (medha), another opulence.

You decide which version is closer to Prabhupada's original.

The fact is that Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter (7 Sept 1976):

Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him.

We should all follow the lead of Srila Prabhupada.

Editing the Gita
Dravida Dasa forwards a letter
from Jayadvaita Swami

Who would be willing to insist that the reference to the province of "Behar" (old edition, page 185) should not be changed to "Bihar"?

[[MAC 3.20, purp: Being a great devotee of the Lord, he was transcendentally situated, but because he was the king of Mithila (a subdivision of Behar province in India), ...]]

Chapter 16, verses 1-3, purport. Read the first line of the last paragraph in the old edition. Despite what the purport says, the transcendental qualities add up to 26, not 16. Someone typed a "1" instead of a "2," so the count is off by 10.

[[MAC 16.1-3 purp: All these sixteen qualifications mentioned are transcendental qualities. ]]

10.27. They once took a "sea journey." Hardly. Our old friend Neal the typist, the college kid who walked into 26 Second Avenue and volunteered to type, simply heard things wrong. It was "sea churning." But back in the old days in the storefront, no one knew the real story.

[[MAC 10.27 purp: The devotee demigods and the demons (asuras) once took a sea journey. On this journey, nectar and poison were produced, and Lord Siva drank the poison.]]

[[NE 10.27 purp: The devotee demigods and the demons (asuras) once took part in churning the sea. From this churning, nectar and poison were produced, and Lord Siva drank the poison.]]

...and much much more

>Click Here

Sanskrit Error?
Dravida dasa on editing the Bhagavad-gita
Since I am one of the editors who has changed Srila Prabhupada's books, I would like to respond to the recent letter by Madhudvisa dasa entitled "Sanskrit Error?"

First of all, we have this excerpt from a letter written by Srila Prabhupada to Radhavallabha dasa on 7 Sept 1976:

"Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him."

Since Srila Prabhupada had full confidence in Jayadvaita Swami's editing, why shouldn't we?

Secondly, if the example of Jayadvaita Swami's editorial crimes provided by Madhudvisa Prabhu is indicative of the rest of the changes in the Bhagavad-gita, the devotee community can breathe a sigh of relief, because the change in the purport to 7.30 is entirely justified.

>Click Here

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