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Srila Prabhupada vani
Voices! - Letters (active link)

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  Srila Prabhupada said:

"Srila Vyasadeva revealed these statements after perfect realization and therefore they are perfect, for liberated sages like Vyasadeva never commit errors in their rhetorical arrangements. Unless one accepts this fact, there is no use in trying to obtain help from the revealed scriptures."  -- CC Adi-Lila Chapter 2 text 86 purport.

"If you concoct, 'I am more intelligent than my Guru,' 'I can make additions and alterations,' then you are finished." -- Srila Prabhupada lecture July 12, 1975 Philadelphia Pa.

"We cannot water down the philosophy to make it more palatable. Our books must remain as they are." -- Srila Prabhupada letter to Lilavati devi dasi March 31, 1977.


  Notable Quotes:

Jasomatinandan prabhu:  " ... commonsense dictates that except for typographical mistakes such as "planet of the trees," no editions and subtractions should be done from 1972 edition."



Istagosthi January 19, 2003 in Honolulu Hawaii (Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami)
Author: Govinda dasi
Added: 02/10/2003
Type: Review
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Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami in Honolulu on Jan 19, 2003 (pg. 3)

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Anyway, he was the final editor. [inaudible] The unabridged edition, uh, the unabridged edition, um, I was the production manager at the time…[inaudible] and, for that edition, Hayagriva had some manuscripts already with him. And, he called for whatever other manuscripts we had available at that time at ISKCON Press.

Parenthetically I might insert, that not by virtue of any special qualification or skill, but more by historical accident, I wind up being the historical expert on manuscripts of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Um, I worked with all of them, uh, before the book came out. I worked with… I worked with all the… I worked with Hayagriva’s manuscripts; I worked with manuscripts that Hayagriva had not yet edited; I worked with manuscripts that Rayarama had worked on; I retyped the entire Bhagavad-gita As It Is from, from beginning to end; I transcribed some of the missing portion from the Ninth Chapter; I don’t think I transcribed it actually, but I, I was the editor for that, so I know what those things are; um, I don’t think anybody has spent more time with the manuscripts of Bhagavad-gita As It Is than I have. Um, I’m familiar with the quality of the manuscripts, the variation in quality of the manuscripts, um, I just know the manuscripts… really well. Um, the way that ornithologists know birds, and uh, everybody else knows whatever they’re most into, uh, I know those manuscripts really well. I know which ones are unquestionably Prabhupada’s work, I know which ones are unquestionably heavily edited, and retyped so that you can’t tell what Prabhupada did and didn’t say. [inaudible] Um, I know which ones were dictated, I know which one’s weren’t dictated, which ones were typed and not dictated. I just really know those manuscripts well. So when, um, one could naturally express doubts about ‘how do you know which is the original manuscript?’ I just happen to be the world’s expert at it. Not by, again, not any great qualification, just because somehow or other I was there with them. Um, not at the time the first edition was made, but a long time after that…[inaudible] Um, and if anybody wanted to go through, you know, any section, say, and how do you know that this is, uh, what is this, uh, you know? I feel pretty confident about my ability to say what it was; how we know what it was.

Um, for the second edition… rather for the first unabridged edition, Hayagriva Prabhu pulled together [inaudible] all the manuscripts available. [inaudible] And he largely re-edited the work. He wrote to me, in fact, that that’s what he was going to do. Um, of course he relied upon, or rather made use of earlier editing that he had done or that others had done; but he largely, he did extensive revision of what was already done. Um, to the extent that the translations that he, uh, gave for many of the chapters were simply pasted over, retyped and then pasted, pasted them over what was already on the, uh, original manuscripts. Um, so in places it was the same, in places it was entirely different, in places it was done from scratch; in places, um, some of those translations had some serious problems, that people in the production department have had to, um, have some discussions… [inaudible] Uh, again Hayagriva, I think is, as you said he was, expert in poetry, he was an expert editor. Uh, if I had to do the work that he did, I couldn’t have done it, and even now, I don’t think I have the same kind of skills that he had, in many arts. Um, but there were problems, there would be, um, the point I think I wish to make is that when you said that we should understand that what Prabhupada’s to be… whatever extent that Prabhupada worked with Hayagriva shoulder-to-shoulder, I don’t know for what period of time, because he went to India for his health, he wasn't always with Hayagriva. But to the extent that he did, those translations were not necesser… those translations and commentaries were not uh, necessarily the same, you know, the product of Hayagriva in 19, pre-1968, was not the same product as Hayagriva in 1972. It differs in uh, [inaudible] uh, in addition to that, of course, Prabhupada did see the galley proofs in 1968 of the abridged edition. He never saw the proofs in 1972. He wasn’t involved at any stage of the production, except, um, mainly for expressing impatience at how slow it was being turned out—a slowness for which I was partly responsible. Um, but he didn’t go over, didn’t go over the manuscript…

Govinda dasi: Srila Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs?

Jayadvaita Maharaja: No, he did not. [inaudible] Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs of the 1972 edition. But he did see the galley proofs, and we have galley proofs with Prabhupada’s handwriting and directions, just in very few places, for the original edition. But he didn’t see the galley proofs for the 1972 one…

Govinda dasi: There must be some preliminary, something that he went over, if he didn’t see the final galley proofs.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Not that I remember.

Govinda dasi: Then he had to have… I mean, I…

Jayadvaita Maharaja: As far as I remember, he didn’t. He was just… the main thing that he was asking was, “Where is it? I’ve been hearing, ‘Just now coming, just now coming;’ I've been hearing that for some time now—where is the book?” The main thing that we were hearing from Prabhupada was, “Where is it?” And, um, Prabhupada at that time was already traveling extensively, um, around the world, and, uh, there was just none of this, there was no opportunity to like send Prabhupada back and forth, like sending him the second chapter and getting it back and asking questions; it just didn’t happen.

Govinda dasi: Hayagriva was living with Srila Prabhupada in ’68, and they were going over things, and that was after this book [the abridged edition] was printed. So that must have been for the ’72 one.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: He may have, for some brief time, spent some time with Prabhupada. It’s possible. Um, but the final product was certainly not, um, something that Prabhupada, um, you know, pored over the original, he just didn’t have, couldn’t possibly have the… I could tell you that some of the verses that some of the BBT staff questioned, Prabhupada would never have approved. I can say with confidence, Prabhupada would never have approved. Some of the very few verses that we had issues with, there’s no question in my mind that Prabhupada didn’t see them.

Govinda dasi: You mean there were errors?

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Um, I mean there were, um, yes.

Govinda dasi: Typos?

Jayadvaita Maharaja: No, I don’t mean typos. I mean, um, no, I’m reluctant to talk about it, Govinda dasi. I’ve always had the policy that as a matter of professional courtesy and personal courtesy, um, I talk about all positive things, um, in the editing of the first edition. And as far as possible I’d like to keep that policy. I just say, to make a long story short, that there were things… in the manuscript that came to me that Srila Prabhupada would not have approved. [inaudible] Um… [inaudible].

Govinda dasi: That was when Srila Prabhupada was present.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Yes, that was before the second edition was published. [inaudible] Well, I went back and forth with Hayagriva Prabhu, who had just returned to Krsna consciousness, uh, [inaudible] Kirtanananda Gosvami, and… [inaudible] and they came back.

Govinda dasi: Srila Prabhupada wrote letters, “I am shedding tears every day, wondering how my boys will come back,” something like that.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Right. Prabhupada was so pleased that they came back.

Govinda dasi: The way he would go… their hearts would have to be made of stone, not to melt.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Right. So they came back. I remember one night [inaudible] said, “Kirtanananda and Hayagriva have come back.”

Govinda dasi: He really, really loved Hayagriva.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: He really did.

Govinda dasi: He really did. It’s like, he was a really, um, [indistinct] big-bearded, I don’t think he ever shaved that beard off, and he was a professor. You know how professors are.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: And, you know, as they say, Mr. Bennet, my, uh, high school English and math teacher, he used to tell us that, “It all comes out in the wash.” The purport of which is that, I think it would be fair to, um, appreciate Hayagriva Prabhu but how he ended his career in Krsna consciousness, you know, like what happens at the finish line, and uh, you know, I think you can see that this person crossed the line.

Govinda dasi: Very much so. He was actually sincere. His heart was very sincere.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Yeah. A sincere person. But he had his problems.

Govinda dasi: Yeah, he had his problems. But he as so sincere, and he did have really good credentials.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Yeah, he did. Just all I really wanted to do is contribute to the history of the Gita and say that, um, what Prabhupada saw and signed off on, um, in 1968, was the abridged edition. And the unabridged edition he really didn’t see in its preparation for its, um, pre-publication stages, except perhaps there were some meetings at some point, you were there to…

Govinda dasi: He signed it in ’71…

Jayadvaita Maharaja: I mean to say, in terms of actually going over the text, seeing what was being done, approving or disapproving the particular ways that things were edited, Prabhupada wasn't involved. With the possible exception, you know, that there were some meetings, on some…occasional meetings. Like when the manuscript came to me, it was clear, that this was not something that Prabhupada had, um, gone over in the same kind of painstaking detail that you described for the abridged edition. Um…

Govinda dasi: Well, I once got a letter from Srila Prabhupada, he was in [indistinct] I was in Hawaii. Our neighbors had cut down all our tulasi plants in the middle of the night. And I was very upset. But I didn’t want to bother Srila Prabhupada because he was in India. And normally the system that we had, I wrote him and he wrote me [indistinct], I wrote him and he wrote me [indistinct]. But about two weeks later I got a letter, “I’m just thinking of you and your tulasi garden. How are they growing. Please write me, and tell me how your tulasi plants are doing.” [see letters 72-01-06.Gov and 72-02-12.Gov] And another letter he wrote, “I know your mind.” So he knew…

Jayadvaita Maharaja: You can say that the extent to which Srila Prabhupada was in touch with the manuscripts was to the extent that he was aware of things from afar. But apart from that, he wasn't involved.

Devotee: [indistinct]

Jayadvaita Maharaja: He read from the book so many times.

Devotee: [indistinct]

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Um, in the course of production I wrote to him about 2.12; you read the answer, Prabhupada said it was OK. Um, I wrote to him about some missing verses; you read about that also, there was a section in the Ninth Canto, the purports I think, there were just no purports for that stretch of verses. I wrote to Srila Prabhupada and said, “There are no purports,” and Prabhupada dictated the purports, and sent manuscripts.

Govinda dasi: Then you transcribed them.

Jayadvaita Maharaja: Um, no, he sent the manuscripts. No, um, I forget whether he sent the manuscripts, or whether he sent a tape and I transcribed it. I’m not quite sure. In any case, He sent me the missing material. [indistinct] I just want to contribute that much to the history, that translations were extensively redone, and the purports were edited without Prabhupada’s participation. That’s what I was saying. Um, OK. The translations also differed considerably between the abridged and unabridged. Not… to some extent.

Now I wanted to address, I guess, a, uh, what’s perhaps a mundane issue that takes a transcendental turn. This is his point about posthumous editing. And the first point is that neither in academia, or neither in the world of literature or in the world of transcendence, neither in the East nor in the West, is it, um, approved. And that’s simply, um, that’s either untrue or exaggerated. Um, I’d like to know first of all what this bowlderization [sic] thing is. Because I feel unprepared for what Keli and [indistinct] said last time around. I wasn't familiar with the term, and I wasn't familiar with the arguments, so [indistinct]. Um, the primary meaning of bowlderization [sic] as she mentioned, is still the essential meaning, is, um, basically gutting a work. When, uh, to expurgate a book or writing by omitting or modifying words or passages considered indelicate or offensive. That’s the primary meaning of bowlderize [sic].

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  Article Comments   Add Comment | View All (2)
Poster: Damodara dasa
Added: -0/8-/2005

Great conversation! Very bold and courageos Mata! Very thoughtful questions and remarks.

It appears there may be more to this conversation, and I would be interested in being able to read the entire transcript to its conclusion, if that's the case.


Poster: mirza
Added: -0/3-/2003

But there is a letter to Hamsadutta( I think...)where Prabhupad said NO changes any...and He said that what is now( bhagvat gita '72) that is final!!
I think to Ramesvar is said the same...everything wil be spoiled if you change ONE word...!..

It is obvious.We don't need manuscripts and circus...


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