I read with interest the recent article "Hidden Co-Authors", wherein we find the following statement:
"The problem of hidden co-authors even occurred during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Some disciples deviated from the honest relationship between Srila Prabhupada as author and the disciples as editors. Such persons changed his manuscripts and printed books without his permission and knowledge."
The statement ties into something that I've been thinking about for the past few months. In January of 2007 I read an article entitled "Distinguishing Srila Prabhupada's Original Books from Changed Ones" in the Sampradaya Sun. A few months after that, I had an exchange with someone about the 1968-72 version of the Teachings of Lord Caitanya (TLC) versus the 1974 version. At the time, I was somewhat "defending" the 1974 version.
As far as I understand, in 1974 an edited version of the TLC was put out by the BBT. I had assumed that the editing was done with Srila Prabhupada's approval, and that it was perhaps even overseen by Srila Prabhupada.
I eventually read an article entitled "Teachings of Lord Caitanya 1968-72 to Present Comparison", wherein Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu compares these two versions of the TLC. I found the article quite interesting. In it he writes:
"...the 1968 and 72 Editions of TLC are the same. After that (1974) many changes took place. Srila Prabhupada didn't really like those changes and wanted that the original TLC be printed again. That didn't happen and now we have over 1,108 changes in the TLC. In other words the whole TLC was re-written."
One of the changes that Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu points out in his article, is the removal of a section of text that included the following excerpt about Lord Caitanya:
"... He was strict-like a thunderbolt-with those of the renounced order who cheated by the method known as 'drinking water underwater while taking a bath on a fast day.'"
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu also mentions the removal of this section, in his audio seminar "The Cure of Souls in Vaisnava Communities":
"But you'll find this statement by Srila Prabhupada in the original...ah preface, or introduction to the Teachings of Lord Caitanya. It was a big one, that first, the first printing of that that came out. It was taken from some lecture of Prabhupada where he talks about...ah...the strictness of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And he mentions that Lord Caitanya...ah...would, would uh...he was very merciful, but where he drew the line...uh as he says here: 'I cannot tolerate'...he could not tolerate was someone who cheated by the method of drinking water under water while taking a bath on a fast day. Then he goes on to say how he dealt with Junior Haridasa in this matter. When, uh when ah...that was re-edited by Hayagriva, he removed that, that paragraph. I was all "I knew I read this somewhere"...I was looking for it for it in the context of thinking about this. I finally saw somebody had the old original Caitanya Ca...uh...Teachings of Lord Caitanya, with all the bad spelling and the cap...the weird capitalizations and everything, but there it was. So, I've...I've notified the BBT, and I've been told that it will be restored in the...new edition. Again somebody will say "You're changing Prabhupada's books", but...uh...as all these cases, we're just putting back what somebody else took the liberty to take out. That's what he said 'drinking water underwater while taking a bath on a fast day'. I assume that means a nirjala ekadasi or something."
It seems from the above excerpt, that Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu feels that the removal of that paragraph from the TLC was not a good idea. This is only one change among those that Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu documents. What about the other portions of text that somebody seems to have taken the liberty to change or take out?
My understanding is that Mother Govinda devi dasi worked under Srila Prabhupada to create some images that were part of the original version of the TLC. In a text available on the Internet, entitled "Istagosthi January 19, 2003 in Honolulu Hawaii", she states:
"Teachings of Lord Caitanya originally had five or six black-and-white drawings. In those days we couldn't afford to print color. So, Gourasundar and I did five or six black-and-white drawings, and Srila Prabhupada very meticulously went over them. He told us exactly what to put. (…) Now, those drawings were all removed from the subsequent edition of Teachings of Lord Caitanya, the drawings that Srila Prabhupada personally oversaw. He was quite distressed by this. He said, 'Why have you removed those drawings? I had those done. Why did you remove them?'"
Both Mother Govinda devi dasi and Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu are asserting that changes were made to the original TLC, and that Srila Prabhupada wasn't pleased with those changes. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu also mentions one change that he seems to see as being for the worse. Is it possible that the 1974 version of the TLC contains changes that Srila Prabhupada didn't like?
In an article entitled "Editing the Unchangeable Truth", Jayadvaita Swami states:
"In 1974 the BBT published a second edition of Teachings of Lord Caitanya, again revised for English by Hayagriva. (He revised the book entirely from the published text, without benefit of the original manuscripts, by then lost, or Srila Prabhupada's Caitanya-caritamrita, not yet written.) The second edition used Sanskrit diacritical spellings, and with Srila Prabhupada's permission Nitai Dasi supplied transliterations for many Sanskrit verses given in the first edition only in English."
In an article entitled "In Touch with the Supreme Consciousness", Jayadvaita Swami states the following about the 1974 TLC:
Dear . . . .
Regarding the text of the book ["Teachings of Lord Caitanya"], you write,
> I would be even more happy to hear that Srila Prabhupada's
> original words would be put back into the TLC. . .
In this regard: Though the edition the BBT currently publishes is not the original one, this second edition was edited by Hayagriva Prabhu during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence and published with Srila Prabhupada's explicit approval. The editing was done in perhaps 1972 or 1973, and this edition was first published in, I believe, 1974. The BBT has not revised it since.
Does that change your thoughts about it?
Jayadvaita Swami is asserting that the 1974 version of the TLC was published with Srila Prabhupada's explicit approval. The implication seems to be that Srila Prabhupada approved of the editing and changes that gave us the 1974 version of TLC. Did Srila Prabhupada approve of these changes? Did he approve of the removal of certain drawings? Did he approve of the removal of the section about "drinking water underwater while taking a bath on a fast day"? Did he approve of the other changes documented in Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu's article? Was Srila Prabhupada made aware of the scope of these changes before the 1974 version was published?
I originally assumed that the edits which gave us the 1974 TLC, were like the edits to the first three volumes of the Srimad Bhagavatam, which Srila Prabhupada brought with him to America. Srila Prabhupada had the three-volume "Delhi Bhagwatams" published in India, and subsequently he had those three volumes edited and put out by the BBT. I assumed that in the same way, the 1974 version of the TLC was edited under Srila Prabhupada's supervision, or at least with his approval.
But Mother Govinda devi dasi and Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu both assert that changes, which displeased Srila Prabhupada, were present in the revised version of the TLC. When I read Mother Govinda's and Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu's statements, they seem to be describing a situation where changes were made to the TLC without consulting Srila Prabhupada. Mother Govinda describes Srila Prabhupada as being "quite distressed" by some of these changes.
How to understand this? Do we have a recorded statement where Srila Prabhupada approves of the changes to the TLC that gave us the 1974 version of that book, or where he requests that the book be re-edited? Or perhaps a recorded statement where Srila Prabhupada expresses either his appreciation or displeasure for the changes present in the 1974 version?
When I first read Jayadvaita Swami's two articles, wherein he mentions the editing that gave rise to the 1974 TLC, I tended to accept his assertions. After reading Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu's article, it was certainly clear to me that there were significant changes made to the 1968-72 TLC. Did Srila Prabhupada want all of those changes? Was he okay with them?
I assumed that since Jayadvaita Swami wrote what he did about the 1974 TLC, he must have had some reason for doing so. I assumed that there must be a recorded statement where Srila Prabhupada explicitly approves the 1974 version.
I haven't yet found such a statement from Srila Prabhupada. I've emailed Jayadvaita Swami about it, asking for his help in locating such a statement. Jayadvaita Swami has written that Srila Prabhupada approved of the 1974 edition of the TLC, and in his personal response to my email, he has no specific reference to support this.
According to an article by Jayadvaita Swami, the TLC was first published in 1969, rather than 1968, and the original editing was done by Satsvarupa and Rayarama Prabhus. In the "Notes" section of the same article, Jayadvaita Swami writes the following in connection with the original TLC:
"Satsvarupa did preliminary editing, as he did on all the books for which he is listed. Here Rayarama was the main editor."
In an article entitled "Arsha Prayoga Part II", Locanananda Prabhu writes:
"In the late 1960's, Hayagriva had similarly offered to redo some of Rayarama's editorial work, thinking himself more academically qualified than his godbrother, but Srila Prabhupada did not approve of his proposal. Although Hayagriva was an accomplished professor of English at Ohio State University, contrary to his opinion (and that of today's BBT managers), Srila Prabhupada affirmed that academic credentials are not the primary qualification to edit transcendental literature. In his reply to Hayagriva, he wrote:
"'Rayarama may not be as qualified as you are, but his one qualification that he is fully surrendered to Krishna and his spiritual master is the first class recommendation for his editing any one of our literatures, because editing of Vedic literatures does not depend on academic education.' (Letter to Hayagriva dated 1-15-68)
"It is evident from his letter that Srila Prabhupada considered his early editors to be fully competent because they were depending upon Krishna and the spiritual master to give them the ability to perform their service. His Divine Grace was very satisfied with the quality of their work and, to show his appreciation, he later wrote to Hayagriva, 'I want your company always for editing my writings very nicely.' As far as we have been able to ascertain, he never contemplated having anyone redo the work of his earlier editors."
In the above quoted section from Locanananda Prabhu's article, Srila Prabhupada expresses appreciation for the work of both Rayarama and Hayagriva Prabhus. Even though Srila Prabhupada appreciated Hayagriva Prabhu's editing, do we have evidence that he requested that Hayagriva re-edit the 1968-72 TLC, which had apparently already been edited by Rayarama and Satsvarupa Prabhus? After all, Srila Prabhupada did also express appreciation for Rayarama Prabhu's editing.
In his previously-mentioned article, Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu also asserts:
"There are many letters by Srila Prabhupada praising devotees for their editing work. Starting in 1975 Srila Prabhupada didn’t seem so pleased anymore."
Is it possible that Hayagriva Prabhu made changes to the 1968-72 TLC, without Srila Prabhupada's permission, and in ways that Srila Prabhupada would disapprove of?
There seems to be some evidence for that sort of editing by Hayagriva Prabhu, in connection with another of Srila Prabhupada's books:
Srila 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. (June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)
According to Srimad Bhagavatam Prabhu's article, it seems that sections of text were also deleted from the original version of the TLC. Was this a good idea?
Things seemed to running in such a way that it was possible for editors to make changes to Srila Prabhupada's books, and then to have those changed books published, without informing Srila Prabhupada:
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 no 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.
Srila Prabhupada: I know that these rascals are doing. What can be done? How they can be relied on? 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… 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… But they are doing without any authority… (June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)
In "Editing the Unchangeable Truth", Jayadvaita Swami states:
"Also beginning from the early 1970s, the BBT began publishing Srila Prabhupada’s books in versions revised so extensively that they deserved to be called 'second editions.' The first of these were re-edited versions of Easy Journey to Other Planets (1972) and Sri Isopanishad, both revised by Hayagriva Dasa on the grounds that the English editing stood in need of substantial improvement."
Jayadvaita Swami identifies both of these books as having been originally edited by Rayarama Prabhu. In the "Notes" section of the above-mentioned article, Jayadvaita Swami writes the following, in connection with the two books mentioned in the above quoted excerpt:
"The revised editions of these books came under criticism in a discussion between Srila Prabhupada and some disciples in Vrindavana on 22 June 1977. With reference to a judgment by Srila Prabhupada, the discussion was later entitled 'Rascal Editors.'"
Is it possible that the 1974 TLC is a result of a similar type of editing to that which gave us the revised editions of Easy Journeys to Other Planets and Sri Isopanisad? There is also a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Satsvarupa, from December 23rd, 1967, where Srila Prabhupada states:
"I have already written to Rayarama about Lord Caitanya's Teachings, that there is no need of editing the final manuscripts. (...) I also do not like too much editorial work. This too much editorial work on Gitopanisad has created some misunderstanding between the editorial staffs. Anyway, in future, one man should edit it and be sufficient for our printing. And I do not want that Lord Caitanya's Teachings should be edited again and typed again and waste time in that way."
We also have a letter to Rayarama Prabhu from December 21st, 1967, to which Srila Prabhupada seems to be referring in the quoted excerpt above. In the December 21st letter, Srila Prabhupada writes:
"I am anxious to know about Damodara. What happens to him.(...) It is understood that the finished MSS. of the Teachings of Lord Caitanya is with him; whether he has delivered this final MSS. to Brahmananda for printing purpose? Please inform me about this.
"Too much editing is not required. If Satsvarupa has already edited it, there is no need of further editing."
These appear to me to be fairly clear and powerful statements from Srila Prabhupada about further the editing of the TLC. Do we have a recorded statement from Srila Prabhupada, post-1967, where he requests that the TLC be edited again? Was Srila Prabhupada made aware of the extent of the changes and deletions that are present in the 1974 version of the TLC?
I would be interested to learn more about this. Also, perhaps someone might be willing to re-print the 1968-72 TLC, sometime in the near future?