I personally find Vyswambhara’s article “Editing: War of Words or Substance” extremely interesting and inspiring & therefore would like to comment upon it. I remember Vyswambhara prabhu from Montreal temple about 1970. Three of us devotee’s went to do a program at a high school north of Montreal. We performed kirtan on the auditorium stage, then Vyswambhara prabhu gave a highly enthused talk after which we distributed many small books to the audience which was a packed auditorium. So I would like to delve a little further into some of the points made by Vyswambhara prabhu. As I read his article some points came to mind which he then brought up in this article. One such point is the talk made famous by Srila Prabhupada by His reciting of Srila Bhakti Sidhanta Maharaj’s writing which begins with “The materialistic deminar cannot approach”.
We all listened to this recording in the early days of ISKCON. Srila Bhakti Sidhanta Maharaj has a particularly high sounding and complex way of writing, at least to my mind. Srila Prabhupada did not alter, edit, or change His spiritual masters words to suit the more simplified minds of the present day. Srila Prabhupada is the spiritual master acharya for all His disciples especially, and for all who would pay any attention to Him. In this regard it is incorrect for His disciples not to follow the acharya and to go on changing His exalted words in any way, shape, or form. They should do as their spiritual master did, if in fact Srila Prabhupada is their spiritual master. The word “deminar” we did not find in the present day dictionary, and still Srila Prabhupada left the translation unchanged.
(SB 1:5:11) “On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions ,of the transcendental glories, forms, pastimes, etc., of the Unlimited Supreme Lord is of a different creation, full of transcendental words directed towards bringing a revolution in the impious lives of this worlds misdirected civilization. Such literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest”.
Therefore the anti thesis of this verse spoken by Sukadeva Goswami five thousand years ago is that is that men who do not accept the words of the acharya Maha Bhagavata as they are, are not fully purified and thoroughly honest although they may think they are and go on with their editing business instead of publishing, (which they have stoped doing), and distributing the words of their spiritual master, as they were, such as “The Bhagavad Gita As It Is”. Now that they have changed the words in The Bhagavad Gita As It Is, it is no longer as it was.
I have heard that some stalwart devotee’s of Srila Prabhupada say that we should “modernize” our spiritual master’s writings to suit the present Kali Yuga mentality. Perhaps that includes altogether taking out any phrases or sentences which in any way lessens the intelligence status of females to that generally of man’s because it is now the fashion that all are equal, but that is not what our spiritual master said, so rather we, as His disciples, and others should try to understand what he is saying in a good and proper way although we may have more difficulty in explaining this point to others. It is certainly and most definetly not for us to correct our spiritual master in any way.
(SPL 01.09.70) “…we have to see that in our book there is no spelling or grammatical mistake. We do not mind for any good style, our style is hare Krsna, but still we should not present a shabby thing. Although Krsna literatures are so nice that even if they are presented in irregular and broken ways, such literatures are welcomed, read, and respected by bona fide devotee’s”.
So again, if one does not welcome, read, and respect these literatures as they are given by the acharya, there is the question of motivation behind changing them especially when hundreds of the editors god brothers and sisters not only say not to do this, but are vehemently opposed to it, and still there is absolutely no stop in the changing and editing of Srila Prabhupada’s most famous, loved, and fully inspired writing’s after His passing on, so that he is not present to put a stop to it. Certainly they have become carried away with themselves within their sealed institution.
Those of us who knew the mood of Srila Prabhupada understand that His main ambition was to write, print, and distribute His books. Were He present the BBT editing staff would be halted, and sent out on Hari Nam sankirtan with His books thus saving time and money spent on useless endeavours which also greatly displease so many god brothers and sisters. Srila Prabhupada did not appreciate His disciples to sit in ten day long GBC conferences year after year debating over and listening to intellectual dissertations, thus placing ourselves at the forefront, rather His focus was always that we go out and try to help the suffering humanity by prasadam and book distribution, hari nam sankirtan, along with any programs meant to help others in their Krsna consciousness. In this way He continuously impressed us with the idea that we are servant of the servant, and we should always try to serve others and not place ourselves in any imaginary exalted position.
We have found in the past by submitting articles to “chakra”, which were posted, that invariably my articles were edited much to my dismay, but better posted than not, so I said nothing. So this editing propensity appears to be the norm within the ISKCON infra structure of which charka.org is a spoke person website. This editing propensity appears to be their mind set, and therefore no one in ISKCON stands up against the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and by so doing or not doing anything about this, are condoning the editing. I am reminded of the story of the Brahmin who had defaced the Bhagavad Gita and that Lord Krsna came to him with tears. The point being made is that the book and the words of Bagavad Gita is non different from the person Krsna. Since Srila Prabhupada is a transparent via media of the Lords message and mercy, where is the difference in altering and or defacing His words and commentaries?
The advance of Kali Yuga is un deniable, how far reaching it has become in our short span of life time. It is apparent, that Kali Yuga has advanced on all fronts. How so? Our Guru, The Acharya’s words are changed. We waited all our short youthful age in agony to know, to find out spiritually, transcendentally, that, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami was our Saviour, our spiritual master. Then gross mismanagement took over after His passing on. We feel as a disciple of Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami, that all His disciples should remain in awe of His teachings and writings, unless they subtly or grossly claim to be equal or on some higher stage. We tire of hearing from the editors continuously of their changing of grammatical errors, when so many small phrases have been uselessly changed to suit their fancy.
Have the editors also altered Lord Krsna’s words spoken five thousand years ago, and Krsna das Babaji’s words written five hundred years ago, because they require modernization?
The only sentence of Vyswambhara prabhu’s which is incorrect, is “there is no way to prove or disprove that His Divine Grace might be pleased or displeased with any such change”. He is displeased for the same reasons that so many of His disciples and others are displeased. If they are not displeased, they should be to see their spiritual master A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami so whimsically treated after His departure. On the one hand glorifying Him, while on the other defacing His books and then not even publishing His original works.