Dear Devotees and Friends, please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupad and Mahaprabhu.
I have been reading the arguments against the need for the second edition of Bhagavad Gita. All the devotees who have written articles about it seem to be genuinely concerned about the need to preserve the words - and hence the shakti - of Prabhupad's books.
I commend Shrimati Govinda dasi statement, "To remain silent is to agree." In Iskcon, there is no need to fear anyone anymore. Yes, it was possible yesterday, but not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
As one shouldn't change Shri Krishna's words in Bhagavad Gita, so should one be careful not to change the words of the empowered and direct representative of Shri Krishna. I fully agree that by doing so one sets a dangerous precedent for future generations to want to take the liberty of editing Srila Prabhupad's books. The more one changes his books or allow himself to lose faith that the books are not suitable for American colleges -as is the case with some leaders-the more Prabhupad's Iskcon is being sent into a deeper abyss as a hodgepodge Hindu society. And then one wonders why people, especially those in white-bodies, are not being attracted to our society.
Reflecting on the articles, however, most of the devotees have "hammered" away at Jayadvaita Swami for the second edition. Is this fair? Who really should be blamed if the second edition is a deviation from Srila Prabhupad's desire? It certainly rang hollow with me that Jayadvaita Maharaj should be targetted.
In his article, the Maharaj stated that he did not whimsically edited Bhagavad Gita. Rather, he sought the permission of the GBC. They voted for it and hence he went ahead with the second edition. All the constructive criticisms, therefore, should have been levelled at the GBC. Though not an associate of Jayadvaita Swami (he doesn't know me), in my opinion, he is the wrong man to blame.
The onus is now on all the GBCs who served in 1983 and who are still physically and spiritually alive to come out from their "hiding" and say why they voted for the second edition for the benefit all followers of Srila Prabhupad. Let's hear from you!Without being diplomatic, maybe we can learn something from you.
Let's also hear the Maharaj's comment on why Srila Prabhupad said, "Jayadvaita Prabhu can make changes" (not the exact quote).
If Jayadvaita Swami has done bad in the second edition, then others have done worst in the translation of Prabhupad's books into other languages as they try to make it "as you like it" instead of "as it is". Besides, he has no problem if one only studies the first edition.
It is hard not to dismiss Jayadvaita Swami use of the slang "hoo-ha" and "let me not use a word" as a flaw. But the Maharaj fares well otherwise. His exemplary sannyas life in terms of his eating, dressing, spending and non-hankering for disciples serves well in Iskcon. Moreover, he is a fearless and open critic of the gross deviations of Iskcon's leadership-a quality you would hardly find in many others as they try to be all "yes" men.
Lest we become hijacked by the mentality that only book changes can and have caused Iskcon's meltdown and accused Jayadvaita Swami because he doesn't seem to be one of those high-profile fear-driving men, we need to look elsewhere. Some months ago, the GBC absolved Shridar Maharaj (Prabhupad's godbrother), though late, of the accusation of being responsible for the creation of the zonal acharya system in Iskcon.
Any man with some intelligence would therefore expect to know who then was responsible and when the GBC would make it known to everyone. After all, much greater than some editorial changes in the second edition, this single most monstruous deviation from Prabhupad's instructions has wreaked havoc in the heart of Iskcon and the intractable aftermath of it is still being felt today.
Those of us who have seriously inquired about the truth know the man responsible for the zonal acharya system. He "resides" in an unimaginable place.
Let us continue to study, practise and distribute the first edition as the Maharaj encourages and, hopefully, we can get a separate tika someday.
Jay Srila Prabhupad and his Bhagavad Gita as it is!
[Ed. Note: Balavanta dasa, a GBC member in 1983, commented on the vote for what was supposed to be "minor corrections to more closely conform to the tapes and gramatical corrections ..." Click here to read Balavanta's letter on VOICES!: http://www.adi-vani.org/forum/viewthread.php?tid=9 ]