[Editor's Note: The article Hidden Co-Authors referred to in this article was confidentially submitted to adi-vani.org so that the author(s) could remain anonymous. The source of the reference to "Bhakta Alex" is unknown.]
Just now reading the recent Bhakta Alex article discussing the excellent and highly informative "Hidden Co-Authors". My good wife ordered a full Caitanya-caritamrta from the local BBT here in Alachua, which she received and gave back, which angered the BBT representative. The representative told her that the changes made were minimal and within certain accepted guidelines. The book had been advertised, my wife says, as 'original' so naturally she thought it would be original, but she was mistaken.
I asked her about the type of changes. Were Srila Prabhupada's words changed? She said nothing, then slightly glaring, yes, reluctantly, the subject is so painfully repugnant to her that she does not care to speak of it. So now on top of changing Srila Prabhupada's words another aspect of this present scenario is false advertising. The BBT feels that this is OK. They have their own standards as to what is 'original'. If it's changed only a little then its ok to say 'original'. This is trustworthy?
I once noticed that in the little town of Ganges on Salt Spring Island, in British Columbia, Canada, all the storefronts had turned gray. In other words, the town voted to have a similar look on all buildings in the town center. Whereas before each store or even bank had its own characteristic look, now they all had similar fronts. Sorta like some real estate or military-like company had taken over. The book changers are devotees who like to blend in. They do not want to shock. They do not want to show phrases by Srila Prabhupada or Lord Krsna that are too much against modern thinking, such as 'women are less intelligent'. I hesitate and shudder momentarily to think of female reaction to this, but ultimately I did not say it, so there. But if Srila Prabhupada had of been so "blend in" minded as they, then Krsna consciousness would not have been the revolution that it was in the 60's and 70's.
We all accept that He did something spiritually, morally, financially, and in all ways astoundingly fantastic, yet they insist on changing the words and phrases he used to do it. They may say that times are different now as they simultaneously turn off the majority of Srila Prabhupada's sensitive and sincere disciples, along with the greater percentage of original thinking newcomers. Their ads and sales look to fresh persons unaware of the history of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada's adamancy to keep his books the way he wished them to be. There is evidence in quotes by Srila Prabhupada that the changers disagreed with Srila Prabhupada, and disobeyed their Spiritual Masters instructions on the matter and edited his books, in their ways contrary to Srila Prabhupada's expressed desires.
Without fail, when I see the changes they made I dislike them. Srila Prabhupada was also a person. His personal desires for the formatting and phrasing of sentence structure should be according to His desires. They may be free to publish as they wish, but should do so independent of using Srila Prabhupada as the author of their changes. That is dishonest, as is false advertising. But because of being a religious organization with ties to ancient Vedic scriptures which the average person is not conversant with, they gain a great amount of leeway to do things, to edit, as they please, and apparently even continuing to use Srila Prabhupada's name as the original author. Although Srila Prabhupada physically left us in 1978, they have continued to change His words in His books ever since and even before he left this world. There's all kinds of Hare Krsna devotees, practically as many as there are people. So we have differences of opinion on many accounts. What are ya going do as they say. Well, we talk about it for one thing, in order to make it known to thinking persons what is occurring.
It does not matter if one thinks that the new changes are ok or not. It is not their book either to alter. They are Srila Prabhupada's books and He said things in the ways he wanted to say things. If He does not please your sense of whatever, still you must concede that they are His books, and if He chooses to keep them as they are then we should respect that. When you die and maybe leave a will, is it then up to others to re-interpret your will, and desires according to their ideas. A lot more respect please, to Srila Prabhupada's books and all persons who cherish them in their divine originality.
We always stress chanting 16 rounds and following 4 regulative principles. Why? Because it makes sense to us? No, it is because our Spiritual Master requested us to do these things, and he asked us when being initiated, what are the 4 regulative principles, so we answered. He asked us not to change his books! But somehow some devotees see fit to change them, advertise them as original, and continue doing all this using the name of the same author who left us in 1978. They even speak sarcastically of our attachment to the original words of Srila Prabhupada in his books. Obviously these are not devotees I care to associate with, neither in the form of the changed and outrageously edited books of my Spiritual Master.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, Ki Jai, in all His Glorious Originality!
[Editor's Note: This article appeared on the Sampradaya Sun - http://harekrsna.com/sun/index.htm]