I, Nara Narayan Vishwakarma das, spent over twenty years involved in the production of Srila Prahupada's books. I have heard many statements made by Him on the subject, and have read many letters and heard many room conversations on the subject. I have also heard directly from Him on the subject of His own Spiritual Master's books having been changed.
From all of this, I have drawn one single conclusion: THAT FOR WHATSOEVER REASON, SRILA PRABHUPADA DID NOT WANT ANY APPROVED BOOK THAT HE PRODUCED, PUBLISHED AND LECTURED FROM FOR YEARS TO BE CHANGED IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. Srila Prabhupada did not even want NEW ILLUSTRATIONS to repalace older, inferior illustrations in already published books, or publishing editions with fewer illustrations. than originally printed.
IN OTHER WORDS, HE INTENDED HIS BOOKS TO REMAIN EXACTLY AS THEY WERE IN THE FIRST EDITION OF EACH SET.
Now, what to do about obvious errors and mistranscriptions of the original tapes? In educated scholarly circles, "errata" are dealt with in various ways. ERRATA ARE NEVER EDITED OUT OF THE MAIN TEXT but are addressed through footnotes, an companion book of corrections, appendices etc. As soon as the main text is edited, THE ENTIRE CREDIBILITY OF THE AUTHOR IS ERASED!
Scholars can take the original transcripts or even the original tapes and create ANOTHER BOOK under their own name as editors, that explore the scholarship of the original vs the authorized version. (this is the written equivalent to publishing the preparatory sketches of a Master Painter as a companion to the Masterpiece that was the end result of the sketches.) Such a book would be a fascinating peek into the mind of a pure devotee as He assembles the final product that He intends as his public presentation.
Few would argue that Srila Prabhupada's UNEDITED books and manuscripts are far more colorful and savory than ANY edited edition. THIS HOWEVER, WAS NOT HIS WISH! HE WANTED THE SCHOLARSHIP OF THE HIGHLY EDUCATED HAYAGRIVA TO PRESENT HIS WORDS TO THE WORLD.
In retrospect, we can see that Hayagriva TOOK BIRTH just to edit Srila Prabhupada's books! We cannot rule out a previous life connection, any more than we can puzzle out how Lord Brahma became a muslim known as Hari Das Thakur! Jayadwaita swami is (at best) self educated. He joined Iskcon in 1968 at the age of 17 which means that he probably did not even complete high school. Without exposure to academia, it is not to be expected that he would know the niceties of formal accepted mainstream editing practice. If he know such things, he would never demonstrate the hubris of overriding the process of historic document verification as he has. Unexplained changes in a book simply destroy it's authenticity. In a "post-humus" context, it is even worse! HOW DID THE AUTHOR CHANGE HIS OWN BOOK AFTER HIS DISAPPEARANCE? and if He did not change it, then WHY HAS NOT CREDIT BEEN GIVEN TO THE EDITOR WHO DID?
It is unfortunate that Jayadwaita swami somehow imagines that HIS changes will go unnoticed, and that the substantially revised text will somehow be credited to the original author!......SUCH ABSURD SUPPOSITION HAS APPARENTLY PREVAILED IN THE PRESENT ISKCON CONTEXT! Even though by doing so, the authority of the Author to shape his own book has been destroyed.
There is a supposition that the original Author has not right to the book that He publishes. This Apasiddhantic view continues with the notion that the book is SHASTRA and therefore endlessly to be "pruned and tweaked" to the satisfaction of generation after generation of "editors present and editors yet to come". WHAT IS LOST IN THIS PROCESS IS THE AUTHORITY OF THE ACHARYA HIMSELF, AND THE SHASTRIC ADMONISHMENT THAT ANY APPARENT "ERROR" PRESENT IN THE WORK OF THE ACHARYA SHOULD BE ACCEPTED AS TRUTH AND NOT CRITICIZED AND CHANGED!
When I think of my ancestors "going to the planet of the Trees" I find it likely, considereing what sort of ancestors they were!...THEY PROBABLY ARE ALL TREES AT THIS TIME!...so, that error does not "rock my boat".....even though some would say it should read "planet of the "Pittris".....Nonetheless, a simple footnote with the editor's name attached would suffice to "correct" this "error".
There is a story of a Brahmin who did not like that Krishna was used to describe God, so he scratched it out of his text and substituted "Brahman". After some time, a little boy appeared at his door, whose back was lacerated badly. When the Brahmin asked, "who has done this" the little boy said...YOU DID! The brahmin then realized that the little boy was Krishna, and went back to his text and took out the corrections.
IN CONCLUSION, WE SHOULD NOT TRY TO "KILL GURU AND BECOME GURU". WE DARE NOT QUESTION OUR SPIRITUAL MASTER'S JUDGEMENT IN WHO HE PICKED AS EDITOR. AS SOON AS THE BOOK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED AND APPROVED BY THE PERSON BHAGAVAT, IT MUST REMAIN. IF THERE ARE ANY SO-CALLED ERRORS, THEY MUST BE FOOTNOTED WITH CREDIT GIVEN TO THE EDITOR, OR SIMILARLY ENCLOSED IN ANOTHER BOOK. GIVEN THE THOUSANDS OF CHANGES MADE IN THE GITA ALONE, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT STYLE IS BEING CHALLENGED AS WELL AS SO-CALLED "ERRORS". PERHAPS THE PRESENT EDITOR FEELS THAT SRILA PRABHUPADA'S CHOICE OF AN UNUSUALLY SINFUL MAN TO EDIT HIS BOOKS WAS A LAPSE OF HIS DIVINE JUDGEMENT! PERHAPS HE FEELS THAT HE IS PRIGGISHLY MORE VIRTUOUS THAN THE SPIRITUAL MASTER'S CHOICE! IF TRUE, THAT IS (TO SAY THE LEAST) AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS POINT OF VIEW!
IN FINALITY? .......LEAVE THE BOOKS ALONE!
Your eternal servant, Nara Narayan Vishwakarma das
NB: I invite my children; Narottam, Shakuntala, Kuva, Kirtiraja, nand Dhanajaya to write letters of their own composition to add to this body of protest against the changing of Srila Prabhupada's books!