According to Jayadwaita Swami in his letter addressed to Senior Iskcon Devotees and dated 10/25/1982 there seem be some very good and legitimate reasons for changing certain of the translations in Srila Prabhupada’s Books to reflect closer to the scholarly exponent, and especially changing blatant errors, such as using the word “sea” when the Sanskrit meant “To See”.
Quote:”… but warned that he should be careful not to make needless changes in his "personal ecstasies," his purports.”
Now just the very fact that Srila Prabhupada called His Purports His Devotional Ecstasies, would make any diligent servant of his stop and think twice, or maybe three times, before even considering changing a purport.
After all, the Purports were his own words. There was no possibility that there was some “mistranslation” from Sanskrit text to English.
But below I will show one example, out of many that I could show, where a change was made to a purport that clearly changes the exact facts which Srila Prabhupada was stating.
“Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, who *initiated* Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn initiated Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji"
(C:C, Chapter 1)
In the new BBT doctored 9-volume edition, the same passage reads:
"Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn accepted Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji"
In other words it has been decided that contrary to what Srila Prabhupada states, Jagannatha Das Babaji did not really INITIATE Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura after all. That is what Srila Prabhupada tried to tell us, but now that has changed.
Dravida Das, the BBT editor, upon being asked by Dhira Govinda Prabhu to justify the change, first sums up the reason for NOT changing Srila Prabhupada's teachings as follows:
"On the side of not changing the "initiated" phrases we have the strong bias against changing the books unless absolutely necessary and the fact that Srila Prabhupada did indeed say that Jagannatha das Babaji initiated Bhaktivinode."
(BBT Editor, Dravida Das)
Please note that Dravida clearly ADMITS that Srila Prabhupada "DID indeed say that Jagannatha das Babaji initiated Bhaktivinode".
To any sane person, this would be the ONLY reason required to NOT tamper with Srila Prabhupada's teachings in any manner whatsoever. But hold on.
Dravida Das has a reason that far outweighs a mere detail such as what Srila Prabhupada himself actually taught. Rather he states we must change Srila Prabhupada's teachings to ensure they conform with what is currently understood within ISKCON in regards to initiation:
"Leaving one or both "initiated"s will strongly imply that the use of the phrases "direct disciple" and even "accepted [as his disciple]" indicate formal initiation as we know it in ISKCON, which is far from the truth." (BBT Editor, Dravida Das)
Dravida then adds that this reason was paramount in justifying the change:
This last was the weightiest argument, in my view, for changing the passage.
(BBT Editor, Dravida Das)
Thus to summarise, what Dravida is saying is this: That whenever Srila Prabhupada's teachings differ from the way 'we know it in ISKCON', then they must be changed to conform with the way we DO 'know it in ISKCON'.
What makes this shocking state of affairs even more ludicrous is that the way things are 'known in ISKCON' are themselves constantly changing anyway.
1) Thus from 1978-onwards, in ISKCON we 'knew' one thing in regards to the process of initiation - that you could ONLY take it from 11 people, and then ONLY whichever of the 11 people 'owned' your geographical area.
2) Then from 1986 we 'knew' something else about initiation - that you could take it from many others providing they had received the necessary number of votes.
This is a very troubling development for yet another reason. For this justification is laying the ground for making ANY further change to Srila Prabhupada's teachings that the GBC deems fit. Thus in the future if it is 'known in ISKCON' that 'women are as intelligent as men' say, then we will be able to alter all of Srila Prabhupada's statements where he says that women are less intelligent, since then it would not conform with the way things are 'known in ISKCON'.
So my question to Jayadwaita Swami and Dravida Das is this.
Why go to such great lengths to justify what any reasonable person can see are meaningful editions to gross errors in Translations, and be so careful and precise about making them so nicely, and then go and blatantly change Srila Prabhupada’s purports in order to alter their meaning as you plainly admit?
I am perplexed and dumbfounded. I don’t really think you could give an answer to this that would exonerate you of making such a terrible mistake, but perhaps you could admit that it was a mistake and kindly offer not just apologies but to restore Srila Prabhupada’s original purports for us?