Dear Sriman Sankarshan das Adhikari, I want to address one point at a time. You wrote:
“Srila Prabhupada’s early editors made many mistakes such as translating “go-raksya” as “cattle raising” instead of “cow protection”. Do you think we should let the early mistakes stand or present the books in line with what Srila Prabhupada gave us in the original manuscripts and the dictation tapes?”
Sankarshan das, let us be honest. Srila Prabhupada wanted grammatical and a few other errors like ”cattle raising” corrected. But let us not extrapolate that idea even a little unless we get into a mud pit in deciding how little is “little”.
However, please read the following conversation and then explain to the world when and where did Srila Prabhupada give anyone the order to go back to “original transcripts and the dictation tapes” and revise all books, verse by verse???
Yasoda-nandana: In the Gurukula we were teaching Isopanisad class to the children. So we took... (break) ...Prabhupada and the words which the recent edition of the press is wrong. Many changes were brought. They were trying to make better English, but sometimes, to make better English, I think they were making philosophical mistakes also. There is no so much need of making so much better English. Your English is sufficient. It is very clear, very simple. We have caught over 125 changes. They're changing so many things. We are wondering if this is necessary. I will show you today. I have kept the book.
Prabhupada: I know that these rascals are doing. What can be done? How they can be relied on? It is starting. What can I do? These cannot... These rascals cannot be educated. Dangerous. Little learning, dangerous. So how to correct? The leader of these dangerous--Radha-vallabha... He's a dangerous, who maintains these rascal with this work. He'll always have questions and alteration. That is his business. That is American business. They take that always. What can I do? Ultimate, it goes for editorial. They make changes, such changes... But they are doing without any authority... It is very serious situation. Ramesvara is in direct...
Yasoda-nandana: What is it going to be in five years? It's going to be a different book.
Prabhupada: So you... What you are going... It is very serious situation. You write one letter that "Why you have made so many changes?" And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that "This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim." The next printing should be again to the original way... So write them immediately that "The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party..." So they are doing very freely and dangerously. And this rascal is always after change, Radha-vallabha. He's a great rascal.
Secondly, why are the BBT editors not releasing all original transcripts and dictation tapes? Are they above scrutiny of devotees in general? What are they hiding? They are trustees of BBT. They are not owners of BBT.
Third, why did the BBT take almost 30 years to follow the order of HDG Srila Prabhupada that “next printing of (Shri Isopanishad) should be again to the original way”?
Why have the BBT editors been secretive about their changes - first Shri Isopanishad was changed, then Gita was changed, then Chaitanya-caritamrata?
Your honest answer is asked for.
Do you not realize what Srila Prabhupada is saying above - calling them rascals: What can be done? How they can be relied on? It is starting. What can I do? These cannot... These rascals cannot be educated. Dangerous. Little learning, dangerous -- And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there.
Do you honestly believe that Srila Prabhupada wanted his BBT editors to go back to “original transcripts and the dictation tapes” and revise all books, verse by verse?
Do you think Srila Prabhupada will say that I approve of all book changes made by Jayadvaita Swami & Company? Honestly, go on record and make your statement.
What if Srila Prabhupada said the same thing he said in 1977 - all rascals, cannot be relied on, little learning dangerous?
What makes you so sure that this will not be the response of HDG Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada says: ”But they are doing without any authority”.
So if changes to Shri Isopanisad were done without any authority, then what makes you think that all other book changes were authorized? Please educate us when, where, and to whom such open-ended authority was given.
If all the above does not budge you from your dogmatic institutional trap, then let me point you to a few words from HDG Srila Prabhupada in the same conversation - where he says “it is starting”, meaning it will continue down the dangerous slippery slope of changes here and there, little here little there, not a big deal. Does it sound prophetic to you?
Since you are the supporter and participant of the present ISKCON leadership, keep in mind the words of Prathu Maharaj:
“I request all the pure-hearted demigods, forefathers and saintly persons to support my proposal, for after death the result of an action is equally shared by its doer, its director and its supporter."
Leaders who have fallen into ignorance and who mislead people by directing them to the path of destruction [as described in the previous verse] are, in effect, boarding a stone boat, and so too are those who blindly follow them. A stone boat would be unable to float and would sink in the water with its passengers. Similarly, those who mislead people go to hell, and their followers go with them. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.7.14)
"The actual center is sastra, the revealed scripture. If the spiritual master (or anyone else, including the GBC) does not speak according to scripture he is not to be accepted. The same applies to the saintly person. The sastra is the center for all. Only through the revealed scripture can all conditioned soul receive knowledge." (Madhya, 20 text 352)
You are grihasta, but have taken up the role of sadhu. Sadhu is fearless and will speak truth to even his enemy. Your ISKCON buddies may not like it, but are you prepared to extend your neck out and speak the truth always and under all circumstances?
We are as helpless as Srila Prabhupada when he said "what can be done?, what I can do?", meaning not much if the disciples decide to disobey by assuming the authority they are not given.
[Editor's Note: This article appeared on the Sampradaya Sun - http://harekrsna.com/sun/index.htm]