Recently, a discussion between His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami (JAS) and myself (Vyapaka dasa) regarding precedents and authority for posthumous change to Srila Prabhupada's books was undertaken via email.
JAS's last email never received a reply and this essay addresses points found in that and other correspondence. The reply is lengthy and will be published in four parts.
The first subject to be discussed is as follows.
SRILA JIVA GOSWAMI AS A PRECEDENT FOR POSTHUMOUS EDITING
JAS writes in an April 28, 2006 email to myself (Vd) regarding an alleged precedent of posthumous change to an acarya's work:
"> Okay. The fourteenth chapter of the Bhakti-ratnakara contains a letter
> from Sri Jiva Gosvami to Srinivasa Acarya in which Srila Jiva mentions
> he was editing Srila Rupa Gosvami's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. The letter
> was written after Srila Rupa Gosvami's physical departure from the
"(Vd in a previous email) >>Do you have examples where the writings of great vaisnava acaryas
>>on Srila Prabhupada's level has been edited posthumously?
JAS: I provided you an excellent example and asked
> Is that good enough for you?
You (Vd) replied:
>No. Definitely not. You are comparing your actions to those of Srila
"To satisfy you, what I need to find is an example in which the writings of a great acarya were posthumously edited by an idiot whose editing was approved by great souls.
"That's why I asked earlier whether, if the answer to your previous question were yes, your thinking would change or I would just be wasting my time.
"You have answered my question.
"And you have persuaded me that going further with our correspondence would be pointless.
'When a man is so sure he's right that no evidence would be enough to change his mind, there's no use of further discussion.
'That appears to be where you stand. And so I beg your leave.
"I wish you well in your devotional service to His Divine Grace.
Hare Krsna. Goodbye."
We apologize to JAS for wasting his time but unfortunately we remain unconvinced by his argument and logic.
His evidence regarding precedent within our tradition for posthumous change amounts to one letter by Jiva Goswami. Rationally, one would expect that additional examples would be cited if available. We will base our arguments on JAS's presentation that no other examples exist.
Therefore, Jiva Goswami had no precedent for posthumous change. So, if no previous authority posthumously edited an acarya's work, then the only reasonable deduction, for this to be a precedent for JAS, is that Jiva Goswami acted upon his own initiative to edit Srila Rupa Goswami's writings, after receiving no order to do so.
This is necessary because JAS admits that no instruction was given by Srila Prabhupada to posthumously edit his books. So an order by the spiritual master (in this instance to Srila Jiva Goswami) must be lacking in order to qualify as a precedent for JAS.
Similarly, if Jiva Goswami was instructed to edit by Rupa Goswami before his departure, or that he never edited the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu but offered a commentary, then Jiva Goswami's editing or writing also cannot be claimed as a precedent by JAS.
Queries have been made to different scholars of the Goswamis and one has opined that Jiva Goswami likely edited his spiritual masters' work, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. However, he emphasized that the editing was limited to adjusting Sanskrit meter, etc.
Jiva Goswami was the most prolific and scholarly of all the Six Goswamis. As will be seen, he edited and commented on a wide variety of spiritual literature.
Srila Prabhupada informs us in a Caitanya Caritamrta (C.C.) purport:
"...This is described in the Bhakti-ratnakara. As far as our information goes, Srila Jiva Goswami composed and edited at least twenty-five books. They are all very much celebrated, and they are listed as follows: (1) Hari-namamrta-vyakarana, .... (12) a commentary on the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, [my emphasis].... After the disappearance of Srila Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Gosvami in Vrindavana, Srila Jiva Gosvami became the acarya of all the Vaisnavas in Bengal, Orissa and the rest of the world, and it is he who used to guide them in their devotional service."(C.C., Adi-lila 10.85, purport)
In the same purport it continues:
"Srila Jiva Gosvami strictly followed his predecessor gurus [my emphasis...]" (C.C., Adi-lila 10.85, purport)
That a direct reference to this situation is found in a Srila Prabhupada purport is important. If indeed, Jiva Goswami polished the Sanskrit, Srila Prabhupada seems not to see it as noteworthy and thus highlighted his commentary.
JAS states in the Vedabase that: "At the highest level of authority we can place Srila Prabhupada's books. These are the works in which Srila Prabhupada formally presented for the world the message of the scriptures and the previous acaryas. It is these books that form the very basis of the Krsna consciousness movement." (The Bhaktivedanta Vedabase: What to Make of What You Find by Jayadvaita Swami)
We agree with JAS that the information contained in Srila Prabhupada's books is our highest level of authority. So we must conclude that Srila Jiva Goswami, based upon information provided in Srila Prabhupada's purports, did not edit the substance of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, but simply offered a commentary.
To our knowledge, Srila Prabhupada did not translate JAS's edition of the Bhakti-ratnakara so we defer to Srila Prabhupada's conclusion as stated in the Caitanya Caritamrta. It is notable that both Srila Prabhupada and JAS refer to the Bhakti-ratnakara yet with differing conclusions. Until further clarification is offered, accepting Srila Prabhupada's conclusion seems the wisest course.
It is telling that JAS reveals further research regarding his judgment. This appears unscholarly. Further inquiry should have been taken to understand the nature of Jiva Goswami's alleged edits and their relevance to JAS's venture towards the Bhagavad Gita As It Is (BGAII), before brazenly offering it as a precedent.
Srila Jiva Goswami's spiritual position is very exalted as he is understood to be an incarnation of the gopi known as Vilasmanjari (The Six Goswami of Vrindavana by Satyaraja dasa). It is difficult to believe that a devotee of Srila Jiva Goswami's stature would enter into our sampradaya the precedent of posthumous change to a former acarya's work lacking any instruction to do so.
The risk of a lesser mortal emulating Srila Jiva Goswami's action places the parampara at obvious risk. Another illustration of Jiva Goswami's desire to protect vaisnava siddhanta is revealed in his support for svakiya-rasa in fear that future sahajiyas would exploit the parakiya-rasa as is the current fashion (C.C. Adi 10.85).
Therefore, it is difficult to accept JAS's conclusion that Jiva Goswami would step outside vaisnava tradition. Considering Srila Prabhupada's statement that Jiva Goswami was the acarya of all the devotees and strictly followed his predecessors gurus, JAS must provide stronger evidence than this one citation of the Bhakti-ratnakara to support posthumous editing.
Even if we were to accept JAS' assumption that Srila Jiva Goswami was authorized to edit the Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu, it cannot be employed as a precedent for JAS's posthumous editing of Srila Prabhupada's books. Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami were contemporaries and in essence spiritual equals as revealed by Srinivasa Acarya.
lokanam hita-karinau tri-bhuvane manyau saranyakarau
vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
That is, they are "...very expert in scrutinizingly studying all the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings..."
His Holiness JAS cannot claim a similar relationship in regards to Srila Prabhupada as Jiva Goswami does with Rupa Goswami. So Jiva Goswami's alleged editing cannot be used as a precedent for his effort towards Srila Prabhupada's books, due to JAS's inferior spiritual status.
In the Caitanya Caritamrta it is further stated that: "Sanatana Goswami gave his Vaisnava-toshani commentary to Srila Jiva Goswami for editing and Srila Jiva Goswami edited this under the name of Laghu-tosani." (CC. Madhya 1.35 Purport)
This was completed while both devotees were present on the planet and offers Jiva Goswami a ripe opportunity to edit Srila Sanatana Goswami's writings and publish it under Sanatana Goswami's authorship. However, he re-titled the work as noted above.
This does not support the claim that Jiva Goswami edited the Bhakti-rasmrita-sindhu and later published the edited version as the work of Srila Rupa Goswami. Such inconsistency does not seem befitting a devotee of Jiva Goswami's stature.
The most likely conclusion would be that the editing work by Jiva Goswami would have been previously ordered by his spiritual master, Srila Rupa Goswami; or Srila Jiva Goswami simply offered a commentary. Independent, unauthorized editing does not seem in character with the likes of Srila Jiva Goswami. This attitude is supported in another writing of his.
In the Sri Madhava Mahotsava compiled in 1555 A.D. while Srila Rupa Goswami was still on the planet, he wrote:
"By the mercy and order of my famous master [my emphasis], the self-satisfied Sri Rupa Goswami who is worshipable by the whole world, I have begun to write this poem."
"A great wealth of courage to fulfill the order of Sri Rupa Goswami [my emphasis] has made this insignificant creature begin poetic work with excessive boldness. By the mercy of Srila Rupa Goswami may the great devotees experienced in bhakti rasa derive satisfaction from this work.
"This work, ordered by my guru [my emphasis], Sri Rupa Goswami, and partially described in his work entitled "Dana-keli-kaumudi" (1549 A.D.) has now been completed.
"I eternally serve beautiful Krishna and His servant, Srila Rupa Goswami, who have made my present and future life auspicious, whose precious lotus feet are most worthy of service, and who, as personification of magnanimity, have bestowed their own prema bhakti on me in a shower of mercy.
"In 1555 A.D. one jiva [Srila Jiva Goswami] living in Vrindavana completed this new poetic work by his own desire."
JAS and the BBT Trustees admittedly did not receive any instruction to edit Srila Prabhupada's books upon his passing. The above passage reveals that Jiva Goswami received direct instruction and encouragement from Srila Rupa Goswami to undertake his writing service. For JAS and the BBT to claim legitimacy using Srila Jiva Goswami example is unsubstantiated and further proof is required before acceptance is given.
JAS remarked about the comment re. his alleged Jiva Goswami precedent as follows:
"When a man is so sure he's right that no evidence would be enough to change his mind, there's no use of further discussion.
That appears to be where you stand.".
Actually, with due respect, this appears to be JAS's position.
It seems the Maharaja could be a bit more open to opposing viewpoints in action as opposed to theory. In a recent class given by JAS at New Vrindavana, he publicly labeled those opposing unauthorized posthumous change as stupid and raving fanatics. He included me in that group when referring to my non-acceptance of his alleged Jiva Goswami precedent. However, stupid is, is stupid does, and I'd conjecture that JAS's interpretation of Jiva Goswami, after viewing the evidence at hand, does not portray His Holiness in the best of light.
That the massive posthumous re-editing of the works of an acarya of Srila Prabhupada's stature is rationalized using such a frail and pallid historical example is as frightening as revealing.
All glories to Srila Jiva Goswami and Srila Prabhupada.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.