A Question Of Authority
Author: Madhudvisa dasa
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| A Question Of Authority |
"So, when you change, then the authority is lost. Just like in our society, sometimes they do something nonsense and they say, 'Prabhupada said.' (laughter) They are doing that. We know that. It is deteriorated like that.
Therefore Krsna said, sa kaleneha mahata yogo nastah kaunteya: 'And in due course of time, this yoga was lost. Therefore I am repeating the same thing, old philosophy to you.' So it requires like that." (750509rc.per Conversations)
There is currently something of a controversy over the changing of "The Blessed Lord" to "The Supreme Personality of Godhead" in Srila Prabhupada's "Bhagavad-gita As It Is." However, the real issue is not of one particular change. The entire book has been "revised and enlarged" by Jayadvaita Swami. He has changed more than 70% of the purports and translations. Many of his changes significantly alter the meaning of the text in the original book which was read daily by Srila Prabhupada without any complaints.
The original "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" was clearly considered quite satisfactory by Srila Prabhupada. With the exception of "cattle raising" he did not request any changes.
The unabridged edition was published in 1968 and it clearly says "The Blessed Lord" and Srila Prabhupada reads it himself many times on folio and hears it read by devotees so many times, but he never says it should be changed. If he wanted to change it he had nine whole years to request the change. If he wanted it changed he could have easily asked the devotees to change it before 1972 when the unabridged edition was printed. But Srila Prabhupada did not request anyone to change it.
"Vrndavana dasa Thakura has previously elaborately described this. That which is clear need not be scrutinized for good qualities and faults." (Adi 16.26)
The issue is not if a particular change is good or bad. The issue is AUTHORITY. Jayadvaita Swami quite openly admits he has no AUTHORITY to make the changes:
"To my knowledge, SRILA PRABHUPADA NEVER ASKED US TO RE-EDIT THE BOOK.
"As you know, and as we kept in mind while doing the work, SRILA PRABHUPADA STAUNCHLY OPPOSED NEEDLESS CHANGES." (Jayadvaita Swami's Letter to Amogha Lila 1986)
Jayadvaita Swami has the audacity to say this after making more than five thousand [mostly completely needless] changes to the book!
"Comparing each verse in the book with the text of the manuscript, I made only those changes that TO ME SEEMED WORTHWHILE. I tried to be conservative and not make needless changes. At the same time, I kept in mind that whatever changes we are to make we should make now, so that the book will never need to be revised again."
It's very important to note that the more than five thousand changes made to Srila Prabhupada's "Bhagavad-gita As It Is," the most important book in the world, are "Only those changes that seem worthwhile to Jayadvaita Swami..."
The "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" has put everything into the hands of Jayadvaita Swami? Whatever he wants to change in Srila Prabhupada's books, that's fine... And he has changed so much...
It's not a question of arguing a particular change is good or bad. ANY unauthorized change destroys the AUTHORITY of the book.
As we have said over and over, if the BBT had simply corrected the real typos in the English and Sanskrit there would not have been a problem. We are not talking of the sort of typographical errors a proof-reader would find. The really serious changes are the ones where the philosophy is changed or watered-down in the new version of the Bhagavad-gita. There are many such changes:
"On the other hand, he who controls the senses by the mind and engages his active organs in works of devotion, without attachment, is by far superior." (Original Bg. 3.7)
"On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma yoga [in Krsna consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior." (Revised & Enlarged Bg. 3.7)
So one does not have to be a great scholar to notice "contoling the senses by the mind and engaging in works of devotion" is NOT NOT NOT the same as "TRYING to control the senses and beginning karma yoga??" Do we no longer have to control our senses and engage in works of devotion? Is is enough to just TRY to control our senses??
There are SO many changes like this. You can see the book changes web page for more. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/8403/
"I must admit my frailties in presenting Srimad-Bhagavatam, but still I am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society on the strength of the following statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.11):
"On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the pastimes of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc. of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest." (Srimad-Bhagavatam Introduction)
Srila Prabhupada: No. If one's mind is perfect, he may give a meaning, but, according to our conviction, if one is perfect, why should he try to change the word of God? And if one is imperfect, what is the value of his change? [note: in Bhagavad-gita 3.7 as mentioned above and in so many other cases Jayadvaita Swami has changed the translation of the words of God as accepted by Srila Prabhupada to one he considers "more correct..."]
Disciple: Aquinas doesn't say "change."
Srila Prabhupada: Interpretation means change. If man is imperfect, how can he change the words of God? If the words can be changed, they are not perfect. So there will be doubt whether the words are spoken by God or by an imperfect person.
Disciple: The many different Protestant faiths resulted from such individual interpretation. It's surprising to find this viewpoint in Aquinas.
Srila Prabhupada: AS SOON AS YOU INTERPRET OR CHANGE THE SCRIPTURE, THE SCRIPTURE LOSES ITS AUTHORITY. Then another man will come and interpret things in his own way. Another will come and then another, and in this way the original purport of the scripture is lost.
Jayadvaita Swami is just the beginning. He will be gone and another chief editor of the BBT will change Srila Prabhupada's "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" again, of course he will, like Jayadvaita, only make the changes that seem worthwhile to him... BUT THE ORIGINAL PURPORT OF THE SCRIPTURE IS LOST by such changes.
We have already seen this happen with "Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers." Jayadvaita Swami edited it in 1978 and in 1993 the BBT had "Sita devi dasi?" re-edit it to remove the things ISKCON didn't like about Srila Prabhupada's preaching in PQPA...
Jayadvaita explains in regard to his Bhagavad-gita changes: "For this second edition, however, Srila Prabhupada's disciples had the benefit of having worked with his books for the last fifteen years. The English editors were familiar with his philosophy and language, and the Sanskrit editors were by now accomplished scholars. AND NOW THEY WERE ABLE TO SEE THEIR WAY THROUGH PERPLEXITIES IN THE MANUSCRIPT BY CONSULTING THE SAME SANSKRIT COMMENTARIES SRILA PRABHUPADA CONSULTED WHEN WRITING BHAGAVAD-GITA AS IT IS... in places [Srila Prabhupada's] translations, ALTHOUGH ALREADY CORRECT, HAVE BEEN REVISED to come closer to the original Sanskrit... (Note About the Second Edition p. 866 of the "Revised and Enlarged Edition, 1983 printing. This note has been removed from subsequent printings!)
"I am also practically finding that if any of our students artificially try to become scholars by associating with unwanted persons they become victimized, for a little learning is dangerous, especially for the Westerners. I am practically seeing that as soon as they begin to learn a little Sanskrit immediately they feel that they have become more than their guru and then the policy is kill guru and be killed himself." (76-09-18 Letter: Dixit)
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 not 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?... And Ramesvara is indulging this. The great rascal is that Jagannatha? He's there in Los Angeles... Jagannatha-suta... And the one rascal is gone.
Tamala Krsna: Nitai.
Prabhupada: 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. Hm. 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...
Prabhupada: So how to check this? How to stop this?...
Prabhupada: BUT THEY ARE DOING WITHOUT ANY AUTHORITY...
Prabhupada: Very serious feature. It is not possible for me to check, and they are doing all nonsense, freedom. (pause)
Yasoda-nandana: Jaya Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: What to do?
Prabhupada: ...Now do the needful. OTHERWISE EVERYTHING WILL BE SPOILED.
These rascal editorial... That Easy Journey, original, this (indistinct) Hayagriva has changed so many things.
Tamala Krsna: He actually took out the whole part about their going to the moon being childish. He deleted the whole section.
Yasoda-nandana: Also in the Bhagavatam, where Prabhupada was talking about Lord Buddha... You mentioned that if the followers of Lord Buddha do not close the slaughterhouse, there is no meaning to such a caricature. That word was very nice. But in new book that word is not there any more. They have pulled the word. The meaning of the word is not... So many times.
Prabhupada: It is very serious situation. Ramesvara is in direct...
Yasoda-nandana: Sometimes they appeal that "We can make better English," so they change like that, just like in the case of Isopanisad. There are over a hundred changes. So where is the need? Your words are sufficient. The potency is there. When they change, it is something else.
Svarupa Damodara: That's actually a very dangerous mentality.
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...
Prabhupada: So write them immediately that "THE RASCAL EDITORS, THEY ARE DOING HAVOC, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party..."
Prabhupada: So what to do?
Prabhupada: So you bring this to Satsvarupa. THEY CANNOT CHANGE ANYTHING!
Tamala Krsna: (indistinct)
Prabhupada: So on the whole, these dangerous things are going on. How to check it?
Prabhupada: So they are doing very freely and dangerously. And this rascal is always after change, Radha-vallabha. He's a great rascal. (770622rc.vrn )
[For clarity I have removed quite a bit from the above conversation but you can read the whole thing on folio. All the way through this discussion Tamal Krsna Maharaja is trying to get Srila Prabhupada to agree to Jayadvaita Swami going through and re-editing all the books, but Srila Prabhupada just says "Hm." and goes on to say "The next printing should be to the original way... They cannot change anything!"]
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