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History of Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Gita

History of Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Gita

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This was Prabhupada’s
Gita
, and yet, here a GBC treated it like poison, like it was a deviant politicalstatement to give class for ‘that’ (banned?)
Gita
.
INSIDE NAMHATTA
News, Developments, Issues important to disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
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[Posted Sep 11, 2009]
History of Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Gita
 Ameyatma das - Sep 1, 2009
from post at Sampradaya Sun
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, USA — Dear Jnanagamya Prabhu, please accept my obeisances. All glories to the savior of the worlds,Srila Prabhupada. Prabhuji, I have not had time lately to follow this story on the
Sun
, but I was forwarded your reply, and since wehave known one another for many years I felt compelled to respond.Not all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples share Jayadvaita’s and the formal GBC decisions tomake so many changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. We see a very real and holysacredness in the books that Srila Prabhupada personally gave approval of and used inlectures for years.I am not opposed to correction of a limited few and obvious grammatical errors, but I havebeen opposed to the massive
Gita
 changes since the very beginning, long before I knewthere were massive changes in the editing, or what all the changes were.We were in Detroit in the early 80’s when a number of the GBC members held a closeddoor secret meeting where they discussed the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. At thetime of the meeting they would not even tell us what the meeting was about.On regaining the rights to his unabridged
Gita
, Srila Prabhupada gave Ramesvara instructions regard future printing. In thoseinstructions it is my understanding that there was absolutely no mention by Srila Prabhupada that the wording should be Changed!!!Prabhupada had used that
Gita
 for years. He gave classes from it, and we have no record of him ever asking that massive changes bemade. That it be edited and changed to make it ‘perfect’. Where are such orders from Prabhupada?Ramesvara, at the time, told the artists, including myself, what changes Srila Prabhupada requested, and it was concerning thepaintings. Ramesvara never mentioned to us, and we also knew the BBT proof readers and editors as well at that time, and they nevermentioned any order by Srila Prabhupada to edit the wording. The only instruction Ramesvara told us, either the same day Prabhupadagave the instruction, or just days after, was that he wanted many more paintings.Srila Prabhupada ultimately wanted 108 full color plates, but told Ramesvara that in the next printing there should be Minimum 54. 54is 1/2 of 108. Ramesvara told us that Prabhupada wanted, in the next printing, a minimum of 54 color plates.But, there was no BBT printing until the early 1980’s, when the mass changes to wording were made. I was still in Detroit when thenew changed printing came out. It had been many years since the last MacMillan prints were made. ISKCON / BBT had either run out,or very low on
Gitas
, so, this printing was long awaited and long needed. When I got the new
Gita
, the first thing I noticed was thechanged cover. That bothered me, as Srila Prabhupada had not asked for the cover to be changed. He wanted new paintings to beadded, but had told Ramesvara not to change the existing ones. Why the cover was changed? Then, I immediately thumbed through tolook at the paintings. The paintings were the first thing, because I knew what Prabhupada told Ramesvara, to increase them, 54minimum. I was shocked and bewildered. There were not more paintings, there were no 54 paintings, there were far FEWER colorplates.And, worse, the disciplic succession was taken out of that printing. In the MacMillan
Gita
, aside from Srila Prabhupada’s picture, thereis Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Srila Gaur Kishore, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. But, in the new ‘changed’
Gita
 there was onlySrila Prabhupada. All the other Acharyas had been removed. My heart sank. And, I knew that very second that Srila Prabhupada wasnot pleased with that new botched reprint. This was NOT what he asked for. A few weeks later Ramesvara visited Detroit, where I wasliving, and I made an appointment to see him privately. I asked him, point-blank, why the past Acharyas were removed? His faceremained stern and quiet, then I reminded him of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to him, that there be minimum 54 plates, and yet,this new changed
Gita
 had fewer prints? Ramesvara took the defensive and became immediately angry. He raised his voice and said, “Ameyatma, you are not a Preacher. You are not a real devotee of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu because you have no understanding how toPreach.” He said that that instruction by Srila Prabhupada was not practical. And that what Srila Prabhupada really wanted, more thenincreasing the number of color plates, what he really wanted was More Books distributed. Ramesvara argued that adding color printsto 54 would have raised the cost of printing so high that no book distributors would be able to sell it. To keep the costs below $3.50, sothat book distributors could sell at $5, he not only did not increase the color plates, but he purposefully took many out, to reduce thecost, to keep the costs lower.But, I countered that Prabhupada’s order was to be followed, and that we should not try to think we are more intelligent. If we simplyfollow what he wanted, then the result will be perfect. If we thwart what he wanted, then no good result will come.This logic simply made Ramesvara raging mad with anger. He pounded his fist on the table and repeatedly shouted, “You are not aPreacher, Ameyatma, you are not a book distributor and therefore you are not a real devotee of Lord Chaitanya, therefore you have nounderstanding. Because you don’t distribute books, you can’t know what Prabhupada wants. He said he wanted more pictures, but apreacher knows he really wants more books. You are simply a fault-finder, finding fault with the real devotees of Chaitanya, andfinding fault with the real preachers.” And, then he went on lecturing me how I was so fallen, and boasted how he was now an Acharya,and that I was committing a great offense by trying to find fault with him about his decisions.That meeting left a black rotten taste in my mouth. This was the attitude and mood behind the printing and changes of the new
Gita
! Atthe time I had absolutely no knowledge that there was even one grammatical change made, what to speak of en mass. All I knew wasthe attitude behind the changes to what Srila Prabhupada said he wanted was wrong. Srila Prabhupada’s instructions were thrown out,what he wanted was thrown out, and other opposite changes occurred.From that day onward, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the new changed
Gita
, and as I said, it had nothing to do with thechanged edits that Jayadvaita made. I had my own separate reasons for rejecting the new
Gita
. The taking out of the past Acharyaswas proof enough to me that Ramesvara was the one who had no real understanding. And, his angry, defensive attitude during our
Go for genuine!
Question Mark Over the RevisedBooks
 
Gadadhara das
One is a book that Srila Prabhupada mighthave approved of or he also may not haveapproved of. There is a large question markhovering over this one, and we will neverknow the answer. But we are 100% surethat [the original edition] is authorized.more
History of Changes to Srila Prabhupadas Gita1
 
meeting finalized my conclusion, that the new changed
Gita
 was not at all pleasing to Srila Prabhupada. Thus, I kept my original
Gita
ever since, and for years had no other
Gita
 at home.Years went by, and sometime around 1996 or '97 or so, while [I was] living in Alachua, Virabahu was visiting Alachua. He was GBC forAlachua at the time. We were old friends back before he had become a
guru
 and then GBC, so I invited my old friend over to my housefor a program. He agreed to come and probably 50+ devotees came for the program. On arriving, he asked me for a
Gita
 so he couldgive
Gita
 class. I handed him my original MacMillan copy.Now, at the time I had avoided the controversy over the changes that Jayadvaita made. I simply did not want the new changed
Gita
due to the above reasons. But, many years had gone by, and in '96-'97 I wasn’t even thinking about it. When I handed Virabahu theOriginal
Gita
, his out-reached hand jerked back when he saw it was the original
Gita
. He then looked at me incredulously and said, “Why are you handing me this
Gita
?” I wasn’t into politics, I had no idea what his problem was. I said, “What’s wrong, this is the only
Gita
 I have.” He said, “What? I can’t give class from that
Gita
.“ Then he turned to others in the room and said, “Can someone go homeand get me a BBT
Gita
.“ This created a bit of a stir, and one devotee come over to me and asked what sort of political statement was Itrying to pull off by handing Virabahu an original
Gita
? Another told me that was so uncool and fallen of me to try and force Virabahu togive class from “one of those”
Gitas
.That was it. Before then I had avoided the Changes controversy. But, what the HELL was going on? This had been my One and Only
Gita
 for nearly 25 years at that point. It was the SAME (version)
Gita
 that Srila Prabhupada had given classes from all over the worldfor years. It was the SAME
Gita
 that he fought for to get back the full printing rights to. This was Prabhupada’s
Gita
, and yet, here aGBC treated it like poison, like it was a deviant political statement to give class for ‘that’ (banned?)
Gita
.We know of no instruction by Srila Prabhupada asking us to make massive changes to that
Gita
. When he won back the full printingrights to HIS
Gita
, He only asked that we increase the number of color plates, he Did NOT ask that we edit it and change verse afterverse after verse. Until that day I had no idea what the controversy was over the ‘changes’, I had my own reasons for rejecting thenew changes. But, after that, I could see, again, a sick attitude by those who supported the changes. Virabahu jerked back his handand would not even touch the original
Gita
, as if it were poison to him. Others told me it was a political statement to give a class fromthat
Gita
. GREAT then, I will make it a political statement in their eyes, if that is how they see it. This is the SAME
Gita
 SrilaPrabhupada spoke from, had read to him, gave classes on. And, they won’t even touch it, seeing it as poison.So, you have your way of seeing things, and may side with Jayadvaita, but not all Srila Prabhupada’s disciples see it that way. Somedo get upset and terse in their language at times, but that does not negate the underlying issue. It is simply an easy cop out for you tolabel us all as fallen fault-finders. For those who disagree, over the years we have had no voice, and so it gets very frustrating indealing with those whom we disagree with. The GBC has, formally, stood behind the changes, and they are the ones who havepoliticized the issue, as I saw personally in the actions of Virabahu, who jerked his hand back and refused to touch Srila Prabhupada’soriginal
Gita
, and refused to give a class using the same version that Srila Prabhupada himself used. He is the one who made a boldpolitical statement that night, I simply didn’t have any other
Gita
, I wasn’t trying to make any such statement, but he and his followersdid. And, I do not agree with their political views. I consider his view, his actions, and those the GBC and Jayadvaita Swami as deviant,politically based, and fallen.Here is excerpt of what Srila Prabhupada had to say about those RASCALS who make numerous changes to his books:YASODA-NANDANA: In the Gurukula we were teaching
Isopanishad 
 class to the children. So we took… [break]…Prabhupada and the words which the recent edition of the Press is wrong. Many changes were brought. They were tryingto make better English, but sometimes, to make better English, I think they were making philosophical mistakes also. Thereis no so much need of making so much better English. Your English is sufficient. It is very clear, very simple. We havecaught over 125 changes. They’re changing so many things. We are wondering if this is necessary? I will show you today. Ihave kept the book.PRABHUPADA: I know what these rascals are doing. What can be done? How they can be relied on?SVARUP DAMODAR: It’s not the responsibility of the BBT trustee, to see these things don’t change without Prabhupada’ssanction?PRABHUPADA: And Ramesvara is indulging this. The great rascal is that Jagannatha? He’s there in Los Angeles.TAMAL KRSNA: Jagannatha dasa?PRABHUPADA: Maybe.INDIAN DEVOTEE (2): Jagannatha-suta.PRABHUPADA: Jagannatha-suta.TAMAL KRSNA: No…PRABHUPADA: And the one rascal is gone.TAMAL KRSNA: Nitai.PRABHUPADA: It is starting. What can I do? These cannot… These rascals cannot be educated. Dangerous. Little learning,dangerous. So how to correct? The leader of these dangerous — Radha-vallabha.TAMAL KRSNA: Radha-vallabha?PRABHUPADA: Hm. He’s a dangerous, who maintains these rascal with this work. He’ll always have questions andalteration. That is his business. That is American business. They take that always. What can I do? Ultimate, it goes foreditorial. They make changes, such changes.See my note below, why Prabhupada was so much against Radha Ballabha, and what Prabhupada meant by he is maintaining theserascals.TAMAL KRSNA: Your original work that you’re doing now, that is edited by Jayadvaita. That’s the first editing.PRABHUPADA: He is good.TAMAL KRSNA: He is good. But then, after they print the books, they’re going over. So when they reprint…PRABHUPADA: So how to check this? How to stop this?TAMAL KRSNA: They should not make any changes without consulting Jayadvaita.PRABHUPADA: But they are doing without any authority.SVARUP DAMODAR: I think we should make whole survey, all books already printed, before printing the next batch andcheck any mistakes so that it should be all corrected. Otherwise, if the scholars find out that there are so many mistakes inthe books, then the quality and the appreciation will be reduced.GIRIRAJA (?): [indistinct]SVARUP DAMODAR: Yes. We find so far that they are appreciating so much within the scholarly circle, and we want tomaintain that actually.PRABHUPADA: Very serious feature. It is not possible for me to check, and they are doing all nonsense, freedom.Hmm... this should be discussed. Prabhupada did not want them to make so many edits and changes, but, he says here, it is notpossible for him to check them, to stop them. That is an interesting statement. He cites Ramesvara later as being the director behindall this, and Prabhupada wanted it stopped, but could not do so himself at the time - interesting.YASODA-NANDANA: Jaya Srila Prabhupada.PRABHUPADA: What to do?TAMAL KRSNA: I think Svarupa Damodara’s point, that all the books should now be checked before they’re reprintedagain… And they have to be checked not by some so-called learned Sanskrit man but by a learned devotee. Just like youalways favored Jayadvaita because his Krishna consciousness…PRABHUPADA: Jayadvaita, Satsvarupa…YASODA-NANDANA: Bhakti-prema, Satsvarupa is there.TAMAL KRSNA: So Bhakti-prema… That’s a good solution.PRABHUPADA: Yes.
History of Changes to Srila Prabhupadas Gita2
 
 History of Changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Gita/  Inside Nam Hatta
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PRABHUPADA: It is very serious situation. Ramesvara is in direct…SVARUP DAMODAR: I think they’re working too independently without consulting properly.YASODA-NANDANA: Sometimes they appeal that “We can make better English,” so they change like that, just like in thecase of Isopanisad. There are over a hundred changes. So where is the need? Your words are sufficient. The potency isthere. When they change, it is something else.Note that Yasodanandana is speaking of changes to the English, and that Prabhupada agrees, he is opposed to such changes also, theSanskrit editing was also mentioned, but, the main changes made to
Isopanishad 
 were English changes, and that Prabhupada alsoopposes this. Svarup Damodar was speaking of major editing, but, Prabhupada does not really discuss the idea, he does not reallyagree to that idea, he is simply calling those who made the changes, RASCALS.SVARUP DAMODAR: That’s actually a very dangerous mentality.YASODA-NANDANA: What is it going to be in five years? It’s going to be a different book.PRABHUPADA: So you… What you are going… It is very serious situation. You write one letter that “Why you have made somany changes?” And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that “This is the position.They are doing anything and everything at their whim.” The next printing should be again to the original way.They made "so many changes", Prabhupada says, so the NEXT PRINTING SHOULD BE AGAIN TO THE ORIGINAL WAY." That is howmany of us feel today. Way TOO Many changes have been made, wholesale, we should simply go back to the original and respect theSACREDNESS of Srila Prabhupada's work....PRABHUPADA: So write them immediately that “The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained byRamesvara and party.” TAMAL KRSNA: Sometimes there’s a fear that some word will be unpopular, and on account of desire to gain popularity oracceptance, they lessen the strength of the word. They change the word. They choose a word which is more so-calledacceptable....PRABHUPADA: So you bring this to Satsvarupa. They cannot change anything.My dear Jnanagamya, what about this instruction by Srila Prabhupada? He said, next printing go back to the Original, and then hesays, They Can NOT Change ANYTHING. What about these words from our Guru Maharaj? regarding changes to his books????PRABHUPADA: So on the whole, these dangerous things are going on. How to check it?...PRABHUPADA: So they are doing very freely and dangerously. And this rascal is always after change, Radha-vallabha. He’sa great rascal.(Conversation, “Rascal Editors,” and Morning Talk — June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)First, about Radha-vallabha: In ‘76, Srila Prabhupada came to LA and took a tour of the BBT offices. Prabhupada found that many
grihastas
 were being maintained by the BBT. So, Prabhupada said, no salaries, BBT was not to hire
grihastas
. He said all work was tobe VOLUNTARY.
Grihastas
, he said, should get outside job and work outside to earn income, then they can volunteer service for theBBT in the evenings and weekends. And,
brahmacharis
, he said, they can do service and be maintained by the temple, but not the
grihastas
. Besides, BBT was paying for their apartments, paying the temple for their meals, and paying them salary. Even though itwas stipend, living in poverty, Prabhupada on principal did not want BBT to maintain
grihastas
. All service to BBT must be voluntary.This Jagannath Suta was
grihasta
, and BBT was paying him. Srila Prabhupada wanted him off BBT payroll. But, Radha-vallabharejected this idea. He argued with Prabhupada that these
grihastas
 (including himself) were essential to the operation of the BBT, thatbook publication, and then distribution will suffer and decrease if they follow what Prabhupada wanted. Prabhupada insisted, and [but]in the end, Ramesvar and Radha-vallabha kept maintaining most of the
grihastas
, and that has been followed ever since.Like the Archives, or Sura, etc., these
grihastas
 are maintained by BBT funds, and Prabhupada’s instruction was that all such
grihastas
go work outside, maintain themselves, then do Voluntary SERVICE for the BBT. Prabhupada’s instructions and orders were ignored,disobeyed and thwarted and not followed. Radha-vallabha himself was
grihasta
 then, and Prabhupada also wanted him to get outside job, work and maintain himself, and just render SERVICE to the BBT. But, he and Ramesvara refused to obey Prabhupada’s directinstructions to them. Thus, months before Prabhupada departs, the last thing he has to say about Radha-vallabha is he is calling himRASCAL, a Great Rascal, and he is also implicating Ramesvara, he is directing, he is behind all this.When this Jagannath Suta was finally let go by the BBT, he got very upset and left ISKCON and became a born-again Christian andbegan preaching against ISKCON, and against Srila Prabhupada. Just see.But, what started this conversation? CHANGES to his books. 125 changes to the Isopanishad. Srila Prabhupada was not pleased at all.He never said, oh, they found so many errors, good work. He never asked, oh, so many errors, what were they? He did not care whatchanges they made, but, wholesale changes he was against. Only others are suggesting that they go through and make changes to hisbooks and try to make them perfect. Only others make that suggestion, and no where does Prabhupada actually agree, rather, he saysthings like, What is to be done? What to do? And says, it is now starting…. When he does state what HE wants, he says write a letterand tell them NO CHANGES, and he says, Next Printing, go back to the ORIGINAL. Others suggested changing to make it so called ‘perfect’ but those were not Prabhupada’s words, not his suggestion, not his request, not his order. His order is, NO CHANGES – GoBack To The ORIGINAL.That is what so many of us want. We are fed up with all the changes, changes, changes. We see this conversation and we hear SrilaPrabhupada is not happy with changes, others suggest changes, but, he says NO CHANGES Go Back to the Original.Devotees have been crying fowl for over 30 years, for at least the last 25, and the GBC calls us fault-finders, even when we havepresented our side in a civil and respectful way. So, devotees like Hasti are simply expressing their frustration in dealing with this. So,he used sarcasm and you see that as fault-finding mentality. Sorry, after being ignored and labeled in derogatory terms for simplywanting to see that Prabhupada’s orders are carried out, No Changes, go Back to the Original – we want his Sacred Works preserved –AS They WERE, otherwise, we see this conversation and we see how Prabhupada was upset, calling them all RASCALS, and we are fedup. We point out they are rascals, and we are demonized. But, hopefully if you can get over Hasti’s sarcasm, maybe you can see thereal issue we have with the changes to the books.Offer my respects to your dear wife, Maha Maya, by the way, we are now in Albuquerque running a preaching center here.Aspiring to become your worthy and humble servant,Ameyatma das
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