Srila Prabhupada with dictaphone

Compiled by: Purujit Dasa
Contributed by: Yasoda Nandana Dasa

CONCERNING THE EDITING OF JAYADVAITA PRABHU

Note: On 7 September, 1976, Srila Prabhupada sent Radhavallabha dasa a letter which stated:

“Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him. Your changes which I have seen of the Sanskrit synonyms is also approved by me. Tanmayataya refers to the fact that the trees and the father were absorbed in the same feelings.”

OBJECTIONS 

1) It is argued that the 1976 version of both First and Second Cantos is bona fide, because Srila Prabhupada approved of Jayadvaita’s editing in this letter. However, it is not clear what the context of the exchange between Srila Prabhupada and Radhavallabha really was. It might as well refer to Jayadvaita’s editing of the later Cantos, which were being prepared for printing at the same time. Surely Prabhupada is not saying that Jayadvaita can do anything he likes. Suppose Jayadvaita became a Mayavadi, would Srila Prabhupada still approve of him editing his books? That is very unlikely. So, this instruction is meant for a particular circumstance. From the previous research we do not find a single instance where Srila Prabhupada allows his disciples to reedit his already printed books without him seeing the changes and approving them. Why would Srila Prabhupada change his policy in this instance?

Unless we see a letter from Radhavallabha to Srila Prabhupada with the original question to which Srila Prabhupada responds in this letter, we cannot accept this as clear evidence that Srila Prabhupada approved of Jayadvaita’s 1976 editing. We have asked the Bhaktivedanta Archives for these letters from Radhavallabha dated August 25 and 31, 1976, but they have not been found, unfortunately.

2) Another point to consider:

Tamala Krishna: Your original work that you’re doing now, that is edited by Jayadvaita. That’s the first editing.

Srila Prabhupada: He is good.

Tamala Krishna: He is good. But then, after they print the books, they’re going over. So when they reprint…

Srila Prabhupada: So how to check this? How to stop this?

Tamala Krishna: They should not make any changes without consulting Jayadvaita.

Srila Prabhupada: But they are doing without any authority.

and then later on:

Conversation, June 22, 1977, Vrndavana:

“So, everything is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. And then these unfortunate rascals, they are distorting. What can I do? How to stop it?”

Note: In this conversation Tamal is complaining about editors reediting after the books are printed, to which Srila Prabhupada expresses his desire to stop such a policy. However, this is exactly what Jayadvaita has done with the 1972 version. He went over the 1972 version and reedited it after it had been printed, distributed, and after Srila Prabhupada gave numerous classes from it. We have a difficulty accepting that Srila Prabhupada is saying that Jayadvaita is good because he has reedited the 1972 version, as this is precisely what Srila Prabhupada wants to stop in the next sentence — reediting without any authority.

3) Letter to Rayarama, May 15, 1969, Columbus, Ohio:

“Regarding your proposed program of editing, the Bhagavatam First Canto is already edited, so when making final typing, you shall simply see it for proofreading.”

Note: This particular letter shows that Srila Prabhupada did not like the 1972 version to be reedited. Unless we’re shown direct evidence, we do not find any letter, conversation, or any other instruction from Srila Prabhupada authorizing the opposite. The editor of the 1976 version himself admits that he was acting on his own accord and that Srila Prabhupada never asked for the 1976 version to be made.

Jayadvaita on the BBTi website:

“For both books[First and Second Cantos], Srila Prabhupada never asked for a second edition. Both books were revised by the BBT’s lowly editor Jayadvaita Swami.” 

JAYADVAITA SPEAKS OUT

Jayadvaita Swami, “Editing of the Unchangeable Truth”:

“In 1972, when the first American edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, was in preparation and the first volume nearly ready for printing, Satsvarupa brought to Srila Prabhupada’s attention that in numerous instances the edited version seemed to have low fidelity to Srila Prabhupada’s original work. Srila Prabhupada responded, in essence: ‘Don’t lose time. Just print it’. In 1976, however, on my own initiative, I did extensive revisions for this canto, especially for the translations in the first two chapters.”

Jayadvaita then offers a testimony on the BBTi website where he says that he showed this reedited 1976 version to Prabhupada before it was printed:

“I then prepared a list showing these revised translations, with a cover letter explaining what I had done, and when Srila Prabhupada visited ISKCON New York in July of 1976 I brought the package to his room.

I had expected merely to drop it off with his secretary. But to my surprise I found Srila Prabhupada right there before me, asking to know why I had come. I told him, and he instructed me to read to him the revised translations, right there on the spot. So I began, Srila Prabhupada listening attentively, and after I had read a few verses he interrupted: ‘So, what you have done?’

‘I’ve revised the translations to make them closer to what Your Divine Grace originally said.’

‘What I have said?’

‘Yes, Srila Prabhupada.’

Srila Prabhupada then made a characteristic dismissive gesture and said: ‘Then it is all right’.

And that was that.”

OBJECTIONS

But as it was shown before in the article, “Distinguishing the Original Books from the Changed Ones”, the 1976 differs from the 1972 version in purports, as well. For example, in the purport of 1.11.9, the inhabitants of Dwaraka can see Krishna eye to eye in the 1972 version, whereas in the 1976 version, Krishna can be seen by them face to face only. So naturally we are to ask: who edited the purports and where is the proof that Srila Prabhupada approved of it?

Letter to Radhavallabha, January 5, 1976, Nellore:

“I will have to see personally what the mistakes in the synonyms are and also how you intend to correct them. I was not satisfied with the corrections that were made before. I saw some changes which I did not approve. Nitai may correct whatever mistakes are there, but the corrected material must be sent to me for final approval. So, reprinting the volumes will have to wait until the mistakes are corrected and approved by me.”

Note: The above-mentioned letter refers to the upcoming 1976 version of the Srimad Bhagavatam (most likely the First and Second Cantos). Note how emphatic Srila Prabhupada is about bringing corrected material to him for approval. And here the discussion is about corrections in the synonyms, what to speak of purports and translations. We find it highly unlikely that Srila Prabhupada would authorize reediting of the 1972 version without even checking what the editing was. Where is the proof that this meeting ever took place and that Srila Prabhupada ever authorized Jayadvaita to reedit the First Canto?

O SAGES AND OTHER CORRECTIONS

Note: Srila Prabhupada in the “Rascal editors” conversation complained about a change in the 1972 version. Namely, the editors had changed the word “oh the sages”(found in the Delhi edition of the First Canto) and replaced it with “of the sages” in the word meaning section. We should note that this was done by the Sanskrit editors who worked on the 1972 edition with Hayagriva, and not Haayagriva. The current version of the First Canto on the Vedabase 4.11 says “O sages” in the word meaning, which means that this error has been corrected as Srila Prabhupada instructed. There have been more corrections submitted by Radhavallabha which Srila Prabhupada approved of. (Letter to Radhavallabha, September 7, 1976)

OBJECTIONS  (also see even if there’s some mistake, that doesn’t matter.)

The letter from the 7th of September, 1976 states:

“Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him. Your changes which I have seen of the Sanskrit synonyms is also approved by me.”

Note: It is clear that these were corrections of the Sanskrit synonyms and they have nothing to do with Jayadvaita’s editing, which is addressed in the first sentence.

Due to the missing letter addressed to Srila Prabhupada by Radhavallabha, however, we are not able to specify which corrections they were. The 1976 version most likely contains them.

INDEX

In a letter from the 9th of February, 1975 to Radhavallabha, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“Every volume of Srimad-Bhagavatam as well as Chaitanya Charitamrita must be fully complete with an index, list of references, glossary, Sanskrit pronunciation guide, and index of Sanskrit (or Bengali) verses. This will be best.”

Letter to Radhavallabha, January 19, 1975, Bombay:

“I have received one copy of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 4, Volume 4, and Krishna Consciousness: The Matchless Gift. Thank you very much for these books. One thing is that every volume of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita and any other big volumes, must have a full index. It is not a very prestigious presentation without the index. All volumes in the future must have the index.”

Note: In the first four cantos, several volumes are missing an index. In the 1976 version this is corrected. As the inclusion of the index in the first four cantos does not seem to jeopardize the content of the book and this problem is of a technical character, we do not find any objection to the 1976 version in this regard.

SRILA PRABHUPADA GAVE CLASSES FROM IT

According to the Vedabase 4.11, Srila Prabhupada gave classes from verses which differ in the two versions in three instances in the case of the First Canto. 

OBJECTIONS

Note: If Srila Prabhupada was indeed giving class from the 1976 version it would have to be in these three. We have carefully examined them. They are as follows:

6th of September, 1976 (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.7):

The audio is cut where the relevant passage is read.

We’re left with the BBTi transcript. It quotes the 1976 version. But this is impossible, because the volume has not been printed yet. Srila Prabhupada clearly stated in a letter to Radhavallabha on the 5th of January that “reprinting the volumes will have to wait until the mistakes are corrected and approved by me.” On the 7th of September, 1976 (a day after this class took place), Srila Prabhupada is approving of the Sanskrit corrections and continues: “Tanmayataya refers to the fact that the trees and the father were absorbed in the same feelings.” This is a reference to verse 2.2 of the First Canto. This means that the preparation for printing the 1976 version was still going on. So how could Srila Prabhupada give a class from it one day before?

1st of October, 1976 (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.40)

The BBTi transcript states the following:

Pradyumna: “Suta Gosvami said: Although Krishna, who was examining Arjuna in religion, encouraged Arjuna to kill the son of Dronacharya, Arjuna, a great soul, did not like the idea of killing him, although Asvatthama was a heinous murderer of Arjuna’s family members.”

This is the 1976 version. But when we listen to the audio, Pradyumna is reading from the 1972 version:

“Suta Gosvami said: Despite being instructed in his duty and encouraged to kill the son of Dronacharya, Arjuna, a great soul, did not like the idea of killing him, although he was a heinous murderer of his family members.”

So, the BBTi transcript is changed and does not follow the original recording.

7th of October, 1976 (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.49-50)

The BBTi transcript states the following:

“Nakula and Sahadeva (the younger brothers of the King) and also Satyaki and Arjuna, the Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna, son of Devaki, and the ladies and others all unanimously agreed with the King.”

But when we listen to the audio, Pradyumna is reading from the 1972 version:

“The younger brothers of the King, Nakula and Sahadeva and also Satyaki and Arjuna, the Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna, son of Devaki, and the ladies and others all unanimously agreed with the King.”

Second Canto

HISTORY

Note: Dravida das, another editor from BBTi, admitted in a personal email when asked about printing dates for different books:

Sun, Sep 21, 2008 at 10:17 AM email to B. Charles:

“For Second Canto I have 1970-1972. The first chapters were printed individually; that’s where the 1970 comes in. It appears that a slightly revised version was printed in 1976 also.”

Jayadvaita fills in:

“Sometime in 1972 or 1973 I made extensive revisions to the Second Canto. The revised version, though never marked “Second Edition,” was used in all printings after the first.”

Note: Because the 1970 serialized chapter by chapter version is as far as we’re concerned identical with the 2-volume edition printed in 1972 we can understand that reediting done by Jayadvaita was published for the first time in 1976 and many changes have been documented between the two versions. (For examples, see

Note: “Distinguishing the Original Books from the Changed Ones”). However, we cannot find any instruction from Srila Prabhupada authorizing the reediting. Note the following changes:

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.12 purport 1976 version:

“This material world is a manifestation of the three modes goodness, passion and ignorance, and the Supreme Lord, for the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material world, accepts three predominating forms as Brahma, Vishnu and Shankara (Siva).”

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.12 purport 1970-2 version:

“This material world is a manifestation of the three modes goodness, passion and ignorance, and the Supreme Lord, for the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material world, accepts three predominating forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shankara (Siva).” 

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.11 1976 version:

“Suta Gosvami said: When Sukadeva Gosvami was thus requested by the King to describe the creative energy of the Personality of Godhead, he then systematically remembered the master of the senses [Sri Krishna], and to reply properly he spoke thus.”

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.11 1970-2 version:

“Suta Gosvami said: When Sukadeva Gosvami was thus requested by the King to describe the creative energy of the Personality of Godhead, the former then systematically remembered the master of the senses [Sri Krishna], and to reply properly he spoke thus.” 

This is from the 4th chapter, which was personally checked by Srila Prabhupada himself:

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Uddhava, July 24, 1970, Los Angeles:

“I beg to acknowledge your letter dated 20th July, 1970, along with the blueprint for chapter 4 Second Canto Srimad-Bhagavatam. I have gone through the blueprint and I am also sending the necessary Sanskrit corrections to Pradyumna. So, when these corrections are made then you can print immediately.”

Note: Another letter confirms Srila Prabhupada’s great satisfaction with the 1970-2 version of the Second Canto:

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Uddhava, June 18, 1970, Los Angeles:

My Dear Uddhava,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 15th June, 1970, along with a copy of Srimad-Bhagavatam, 2nd Canto. I think this style is very nice following the tradition of my other Bhagavatam publications. So please continue this process, chapter after chapter, and it will give me complete satisfaction. Thank you very much.

I am also in due receipt of one letter from Pradyumna regarding Sanskrit editing. I will study this letter scrutinizingly and then I shall reply. But on the whole, the Sanskrit editing has been done very nicely and the style is completely satisfactory. Answers to the questions will follow in the next mail. 

Note: More quotes in regards to the Second Canto’s first editing:

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Uddhava, July 14, 1970, Los Angeles: 
“I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 12th July, 1970, along with the blueprint for the third chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam Second Canto, entitled “Pure Devotional Service: the Change in Heart.”

I have looked over the blueprint and noted a few points to be corrected, so I am sending back the blueprint to you for seeing the necessary changes as they are in the text. I have also corrected the points sent by Pradyumna and the sheet is also sent back herewith.”

Srila Prabhupada Letter, July 31, 1970, Los Angeles: “Regarding Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, I am glad that manuscript is also being composed. Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Canto, improper title pages being rectified is good news. Please keep me informed about the progress of those manuscripts.”

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hayagriva, September 9, 1968, San Francisco:

“So, then you take up the second part, second canto, and keep along with you Pradyumna; he will help you in marking diacritic signs on the original verses and be always in correspondence with me. And be seriously engaged in this task, and it will be a great service to Krishna.”

OBJECTIONS: 

Note: If Prabhupada himself went through the blueprint of these chapters, corrected errors and approved of it, why did Jayadvaita change them in the second printing?

Another point in favor of the 1972 version is the already mentioned letter to Radhavallabha: 

“There is no need for corrections for the First and Second Cantos. Whatever is there is all right. Once Pradyumna comes to join me here from India, then there will be no need for Nitai das or Jagannatha das to edit the Srimad-Bhagavatam.”(Letter of 5-4-76)

Note: According to the historical records, Srila Prabhupada gave only one class from a verse which differs in the two versions. It is the 2.3.20 recorded on the 24th of March, 1977. Just as with the First Canto, the Vedabase transcript confuses one into thinking that Srila Prabhupada gave a class from the 1976 version. But when we examined the audio we discovered that Srila Prabhupada is giving class from the 1972 version. BBTi transcript:

“One who has not listened to the messages about the prowess and marvelous acts of the Personality of Godhead and has not sung or chanted loudly the worthy songs about the Lord is to be considered to possess earholes like the holes of snakes and a tongue like the tongue of a frog.”

The actual audio of this class:

“One who has not listened to the messages about the prowess and marvelous acts of the Personality of Godhead and has not sung or chanted loudly the worthy songs about the Lord is to be considered to possess earholes like that of the snakes and a tongue like that of the frogs.” 

Note: Therefore, no evidence so far has been shown to prove that Srila Prabhupada ever gave classes from the 1976 version. In fact, there’s no evidence whatsoever that Srila Prabhupada authorized the 1976 version of the Second Canto. This is confirmed by the editor himself:

Jayadvaita on the BBTi website:

“For both books [First and Second Cantos], Srila Prabhupada never asked for a second edition. Both books were revised by the BBT’s lowly editor Jayadvaita Swami. ”

The Third and Fourth Canto

Note: Dravida das, in a personal email states that besides the First and Second Cantos, no other cantos have been revised. And Jayadvaita claims in his article, “Editing the Unchangeable Truth”, that the Srimad-Bhagavatam from the Second Canto onwards continues to be published only in its original BBT edition. The truth is that there are many changes made.

Judge for yourself:

1974 Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.29 purport:

“Sometimes it is questioned how the living entity falls down from the spiritual world to the material world”

1978 Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.29 purport:

“Sometimes it is asked how the living entity falls down from the spiritual world to the material world.” 

1974 Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24-45-46:

“Thus the raga-marga, or Bhagavata-marga, friendship exists on a higher platform with Krishna, namely the platform of vipralambha friendship. Paternal friendship, conjugal paternal service, as well as conjugal service, are visible in the Vrndavana raga-marga relationships.”

1978 Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24-45-46:

“Thus the raga-marga, or bhagavata-marga, friendship exists on a higher platform with Krishna, namely the platform of vipralambha friendship. Paternal friendship, paternal service and conjugal service are visible in the Vrndavana raga-marga relationships.” 

Srimad Bhagavatam.4.1.1 purport, original edition:

“Svayambhuva Manu is the son of Brahma.”

Srimad Bhagavatam.4.1.1 purport, current edition:

“Svayambhuva Manu was the son of Brahma.” 

Note: According to the Bhaktivedanta Archives, the 1978 printings are the second printings of the volumes where these examples can be found. In other words, there have been no printings in between. The changes as we see them were printed after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure. (Note the printing dates of different books in the attached inventory spreadsheet). 

Rest of the Cantos

The comparisons have not been done yet.

CONCLUSION 

History:

Early 1960′s, Srila Prabhupada prints Delhi Bhagavatam

1968, 9th of September, Srila Prabhupada expresses desire to have the First Canto reedited by Hayagriva

1970, The Second Canto is printed in a serialized version, chapter by chapter

1972-73, The 1972 version of the First and Second Canto are printed.

The first volume of the Fourth Canto is printed

Jayadvaita reedits the Second Canto

1976, January the 5th:

Srila Prabhupada writes to Radhavallabha: “Nitai may correct whatever mistakes are there, but the corrected material must be sent to me for final approval. ”

April 22nd

Radhavallabha das from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust sent Srila Prabhupada a letter, which besides other issues mentions the following: “Nitai hasn’t sent me any corrections for the reprints of First and Second Cantos, so I want to reprint them as they are. ”

May 4th:

Srila Prabhupada answers: “There is no need for corrections for the First and Second Cantos. Whatever is there is all right”

July:

Jayadvaita supposedly meets Srila Prabhupada and gets approval for his correcting translations on the First Canto

August 25th and 31st:

Radhavallabha submits Sanskrit corrections for the upcoming 1976 print of the Cantos

September the 7th:

Srila Prabhupada writes a letter to Radhavallabha (“Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him”) and approves of the corrections sent by Radhavallabha

1976 version is printed

1977, June 22nd:

Srila Prabhupada instructs in a conversation: “The next printing should be again to the original way”

November 14th 1977: Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance

1978: The Third Canto and Fourth Canto are printed in a reedited version 

QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ANSWERED ABOUT THE CURRENT BBTi SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM SET

Note: The question at stake is not whether the first ISKCON printings of the first four Cantos were authorized, because it was (for example: “There is no need for corrections for the First and Second Cantos. Whatever is there is all right”). We only have a problem with the reedited versions of the first four Cantos, and whoever advocates for these has to answer the following:

1) Where is the letter of Radhavallabha addressed to Srila Prabhupada upon which Srila Prabhupada responds with, “Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me”? What is the context of this exchange? Where is the evidence that Srila Prabhupada refers in this letter to Jayadvaita’s reediting Hayagriva’s 1972 version?

2) Assuming the 1976 version of the First Canto is identical with the subsequent printings, we are wondering why has the BBTi Vedabase falsified the transcript of Srila Prabhupada’s classes on the first and second Cantos and replaced the passage of the original 1972 version with the reedited 1976 version in the following four instances:

6th of September, 1976 (SB 1.7.7)

1st of October, 1976 (SB 1.7.40)

7th October, 1976 (SB 1.7.49-50)

24th March, 1977 (SB 2.3.20)

3) Where is the evidence that Srila Prabhupada ever gave anyone permission to reedit his books without consulting him?

4) Why did Jayadvaita reed[ited] the Second Canto’s third and fourth chapters after Srila Prabhupada made corrections in them, approved them and instructed to print them?

5) Where is the evidence that Srila Prabhupada met with Jayadvaita in July 1976 and approved of his reediting the First Canto?

6) In conclusion, the provided quotes show that the 1976-78 versions of Srimad Bhagavatam (First four Cantos):

1) were not asked for by Srila Prabhupada

2) its editing was done without consulting Srila Prabhupada, as confirmed by the editor himself

3) there is no evidence of Srila Prabhupada ever approving, correcting, checking over the corrections or reading/hearing from these books

4) were printed after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure (i.e. some of the volumes of the Third and Fourth Cantos)

There’s another book in which case we can say the same – the highly controversial 1983 Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This version of the book has similarly:

1) not been asked for by Srila Prabhupada

2) its editing was done without consulting Srila Prabhupada

3) there is no evidence of Srila Prabhupada ever approving or reading/hearing from it

4) been printed after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure

Note: Furthermore, the editor justifies this work by the very same letter from September the 7th to Radhavallabha (“Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him”) On the BBTi website he also states that the same editorial policy has been followed in case of the 1976 First Canto as with the 1983 Gita:

Jayadvaita on the BBTi website:

“Of the revisions done in 1976, those for the translations in the first and second chapters were the most extensive. Those revisions are shown below. Examining these revisions can help us better understand the revisions later done for Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Though the revisions for the Gita were done after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure, they followed the same principles and had the same purpose as the Bhagavatam revisions shown here.”

Note:  If we’re accepting the second versions of the first four Cantos, then why do we have a problem with the 1983 Gita?

We apologize if any of the historical evidence herein is misinterpreted or excluded. It was not our intention. In the spirit of reestablishing the printing of Srila Prabhupada’s original books, we will appreciate your feedback.

Hare Krishna!


REFERENCES: 

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: Srimad Bhagavatam First Canto 1972 version

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: Srimad Bhagavatam Second Canto 1972 version

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: Srimad Bhagavatam Third Canto first printing

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: Srimad Bhagavatam Fourth Canto first printing

The Vedabase 4.11

Hansadutta dasa: “Just What is Jayadvaita’s point?”

Bhakta Charles: Are you on the blacklist?

Jayadvaita Swami: “Editing the Unchangeable Truth”

The Prabhupadanugas: “Distinguishing the Original Books from the Changed Ones”

BBTi website www.bbt.info

BBTi Srila Prabhupada MP3 Audio Library -MP3 set of audio recordings by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Bhaktivedanta Archives