I am not a writer or a philosopher but a fallen devotee who came to Krishna Consciousness because of the unlimited mercy of Srila Prabhupada by receiving "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" on the 6th of January 1970. One of your contributors advised me to submit this letter retelling of my experiences with the changes made to Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita .
I was serving in Vrindaban, India in 1984-86 as manager of the BBT, leader of book distribution and Bhakta Program Director under the direction Srila Gopal Krishna Goswami, who was my initiating spiritual master. At the time we had a very enthusiastic group of Sankirtan Book Distributors and had also organized the Gurukuli's to distribute books from a Traveling Bus. When the new editions of the Bhagavad Gita came to us, the attraction of the new edition caused many of the Sankirtan devotees, the new Bhaktas in the bhakta Program and the Gurukuli's to want the new edition, so I obliged by giving them the new edition in exchange for their old copies. However for some reason I was very attached to my old edition that had made me a devotee so I kept it.
At that time there was a Bhakti Shastri course guided by Jagadish Maharaj (GBC member and Iskcon's Minister of Education) that many Sankirtan Devotees attended and many Gurukuli's .. When the marathon came at the end of the year I was enthusiastic to engage as many devotees as I could, especially the older Gurukilis, I had always believed that distributing Srila Prabhupada's books was the best way of repaying him for having delivered me from ignorance. However I noticed that many of the devotees had sort of dried up, many Sankirtan devotees and the Bhaktas had no choice but to join the Marathon, but none of the Gurukulis wanted to engage in sankirtan. So we continued with the Marathon arrangements as best as we could and I had obtained permission to set up a large stall in a busy marketplace in Gwalior and left a party of devotees there. When I came back one week later, I found they had given up the place and were in some obscure fair outside the city and doing very poorly, so we had an istaghosti and I took my old Bhagavad Gita and turned to chapter 18 verses 13-14 and read:
O mighty-armed Arjuna, learn from me of the five factors which bring about the accomplishment of all action. These are declared in the sankhya philosophy to be the place of action, the performer, the senses, the endeavor, and ultimately Supersoul.
So I explained that I had investigated the best place to set up our book stall (location, location, location) and they had to follow up with the rest of the factors and Krishna as the Supersoul would do the rest. So then one of the devotees in the party opened his book ( the new edition revised and changed by Jayadvaita Swami) and said: "That is not what it says here, it says that adhistanam is the body"
SO I LOOKED IN AMAZEMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE BHAGAVAD GITAS WE WERE DISTRIBUTING AND REALIZED INDEED THE PHILOSOPHY HAD BEEN CHANGED.
From then on I started investigating the changes, how they had occurred and how extensively and importantly these sacred book had been tampered with, of course at that time no-one wanted to hear me out, I wrote a paper on this and it was burnt, I interviewed many GBC's. Hridayananda Das Goswami called me a "lousy philosopher" but my paper demonstrated that many of the changes were serious attempts to change Srila Prabhupada's very practical explanations of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy towards the Advaita School (Jay Advaita!)
I finally met with my initiating spiritual master Srila Gopal Krishna Goswami at the Mayapura festival and he said that Jayadvaita Swami had investigated the original tapes dictated by Srila Prabhupada and revised the text to the real original version. So I asked Srila Gopal Krishna Goswami: "Then, whose version is this one through which I became a devotee?" He answered: "That is Hayagriva's version" ..
The next day I was leaving Mayapura and before I boarded the boat Srila Bhaktisvarup Dhamodar Goswami came and asked me: "Why are you leaving Mayapur in the middle of the festival, you have so many managerial responsibilities in Vrindabana?"
I answered: "My spiritual master told me that this book that made me a devotee and which presented this philosophy so perfectly that I wanted to surrender my life to its author was written by Hayagriva Das, therefore I have to find him and surrender to him."
When I met Hayagriva Das who was still alive at the time, he told me that if he had changed so much as a coma in the manuscripts he was editing for Srila Prabhupada he would have been sauced so badly, it was definitely not possible to change anything in his presence.
At that time I took refuge of Srila Kirtananada Swami who was also vociferous about the changes and had been expelled from ISKCON at that Mayapura GBC meeting. and when I asked him about the benefits of distributing the new Bhagavad Gita and also the lack of enthusiasm I had encountered in the devotees who were reading the new Bhagavad Gita , he said " MILK TOUCHED BY THE LIPS OF A SERPENT CAUSES A POISONOUS EFFECT"
I have seen with great delight the new edition of the original version of the Bhagavad Gita As it Is by Srila Prabhupada, complete with beautiful original pictures, I am as I said at the beginning of the letter in a very fallen state and have committed many offenses to many vaishnavas so I am begging forgiveness from all those who may read this and remember that I have offended them, and also ask for the mercy of everyone so that I may be able to distribute this original version to the conditioned souls, I am trying to obtain a permit to set up a book table at the Port Authority in New York, I think this is one of the ideal places to distribute books in New York City, if anyone is interested in doing sankirtan there please contact me by e-mail at: email@example.com
Chaitanya Charitamrita Das