- Srila Prabhupada on Editing His Books
Srila Prabhupada on Editing His Books
BY: MADHUDVISA DAS
The Principle is No Change:
"One should accept the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by bowing down at the lotus feet of the Lord. This means that anything spoken by the Personality of Godhead should be taken as it is, with great care and attention and with great respect. It is not our business to amend the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or make additions or alterations, as it has become a custom for many so-called scholars and swamis who comment on the words of Bhagavad-gita. Here the practical example of how to accept the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is shown by Prthu Maharaja. This is the way to receive knowledge through the parampara system.” (SB 4.20.17 P Lord Visnu’ s Appearance in the Sacrificial Arena of Maharaja Prthu)
Regarding your editing, I would very much like it. I am sending my lecture copies to you. I think my other copies are lying on the left side of my seat in a cardboard box which please find out. Please be careful not to change the ideas. (Letter to Kirtananda, Feb 10, 1967)
“Brahmananda & others cannot change the style. They want to see if there is any grammatical discrepancy.“( Letter to Satsvarupa, Jan 22, 1968)
I have dictated the missing purports from Chapter IX and they are set enclosed herewith. So far changing the working of verse or purport of 12:12 discussed before, it may remain as it is. (Letter to Jayadvaita Mar 17, 1971) [This order from Srila Prabhupada was ignored and the purport was changed]
I am very glad to learn that you are translating the Bhagavad-gita As It Is into Portuguese. Be careful not to change anything but present it exactly as it is. This is how we receive Bhagavad-gita through the disciplic succession as stated in the Fourth Chapter. By this translating work you will learn our philosophy very nicely. It is very important to broadcast Krishna consciousness all over the world. This is the great need of modern civilization. (Letter to Frederico, Oct 24, 1974)
No, the printing of the Gitar-gan cover this fashion is not at all approved by me. You have done most nonsensically. Why change the cover? When people look to see the Bhagavad-gita they expect to see Krishna and Arjuna, not the picture of Krishna with cow. You have done a great mistake by changing the front picture and it will hamper the sale. In future you don’t do any changes without asking me first.
Simply because there is no stock of books, we can do anything whimsically??? Is this logic? Gita is not spoken in Vrindaban, it is spoken on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, but this is Vrindaban picture. That chariot driven by 4 horses, that is the real Kuruksetra picture. It is not that because there is no stock we can do whimsically as we like and lose the idea, that is rasa-bhasa. Because there is no bread, you take stone to eat? There is no stock of bread so you will take stone??? The front picture is most important thing and you have changed it. It must remain standard, and not change. Also, the lettering is not nice on the cover. You could have taken a color picture of Krishna and Arjuna and used it black and white (one color) on the front cover. Just as you did with the inside back cover of the Bhagavat darsana, the original picture of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in color but you have printed it in black and white. You could have done this on the front cover with Krishna and Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, but the cover must not be changed. (Letter: Bhargava, May 29, 1976)
You may title this book, Teachings of Lord Kapila, but it must be subtitled, “The Son of Devahuti”. That will remain, do not try to change it. The Americans may like it or not like it, but we must make the distinction between devahuti putra kapila, and the atheistic Kapila. Do not try to change anything without my permission. (Letter to Radhavallabha, Aug 26, 1976)
Titling of the Ninth Canto as Liberation is good, and the Tenth Canto should be called “The Summum Bonum”. As far as the 11th and 12th Cantos are concerned they shall be named when they are presented. The title which you have given to the Eighth Canto was a little hard to understand at first but if it refers to pralaya, then it is alright. You must consult with me on such matters. Do not manufacture anything. (Letter to Radhavallabha, Oct 7, 1976)
Please accept my blessings. With reference to your letter to Harikesa dated 21st inst., regarding the purport, 2nd paragraph to Bhagavatam 2.2.38, it is clear. Do not try to change anything. (Letter to Gopiparanadhana, Sep 28, 1976)
Some Corrections are OK:
Regarding the corrections you have sent, this kind of changes is admissable. There is no harm. (Letter: Radhavallabha, Oct 21, 1975)
The review from “Choice” is very remarkable considering the importance of the journal, and I thank you very much for securing it. You have written: “We are all eager for the day when your books are recognized as the greatest masterpieces of all. We are all eager for the day when your books are the most demanded works in the library. We are sure that day is not far away.” Yes, Krsna will fulfill your desire. Actually it is so. But because they are fools and rascals it will take some time. Regarding the error which the critic has noted about the location of Tirupati, I did not say so. It should be corrected. (Letter to Ranadhira, Apr 18, 1977)
There Should Not be Very Much Editing:
There is a verse in Srimad-Bhagavatam that a book or poetry in which the Holy Name of Krishna is depicted, such language is revolutionary in the matter of purifying the material atmosphere. Even though such literature is presented in broken language or grammatical inconsistency or rhetorical irregularity, still, those who are saintly persons adore such literature. They hear such literature, and chant it and adore it, simply because the Supreme Lord is being glorified in this literature. In other words, we are not meant for presenting any literary masterpieces, but we have to inform people that there is a fire of maya which is burning the very vitality of all living entities, and they should guard against the indefatigable onslaught of material existence. That should be our motto. (Letter to: Krsna dasa – Los Angeles 13 Feb, 1969)
I also do not like too much editorial work. This too much editorial work on Geetopanishad has created some misunderstanding between the members of the editorial staff. Anyway, in the future one man should edit it, and that will be sufficient for our printing. And I do not want that Teachings of Lord Chaitanya should be edited again and typed again and time wasted in that way. I have also informed Rayrama of this, and you can also inform him like this. The book should be printed immediately, without any waste of time. That is my desire. (Letter to Satsvarupa, Dec 23, 1967)
I have sent a few tapes to Bhagavan das. He sends to you his edited copies and they may be made final. I want two editings only, just to see if there is any grammatical or spelling mistake. Your present program of two editions first by yourself and then by Jayadvaita is a nice arrangement. Jayadvaita has good knowledge. (Letter to Satsvarupa, Feb 15, 1970)
Yes, there is no need for corrections for the first and second Cantos. Whatever is there is alright. Once Pradyumna comes to join me here from India, then there will be no need for Nitai das or Jagannatha das to edit the Srimad-Bhagavatam. (Letter to Radhavallabha, May 4, 1976)
English and Sanskrit in the Books Must Be Correct:
Prabhupada: Those who have got books, there should be one correction. It is written “how.” It should be “now,” n-o-w, not “how.” (Srimd-Bhagavatam Lecture, Oct 19, 1974)
I have just received the blueprint copy of KRSNA, the Reservoir of Pleasure and I have begun to read it through. But I notice that there are some points you should correct before the final printing. I have already noted you the injunction that you should change the pretipadika artha to first case ending instead. Sannyasin should be printed Sannyasi, etc. So please correct these.
Another point is that there are some errors in the English also. On page 2 it should read “. . . decided to kill his sister, Devaki.” but it has become sisters, plural. Then, what does it mean? “The Lord’s compromise was that He had Vasudeva propose . . .” This does not seem to be very clear or at least it is very awkward expression. So please see that the editors make a very careful final proofreading before printing the final copies. (Letter to Pradyumna, Apr 28, 1970)
Regarding publishing the Life from Life in English it should be grammatically correct because it is written book. Yes, it will be very good if you publish a book of lectures. (Letter to Hamsaduta, Nov 14, 1974)
Concerning the Bhagavat darsana cover, this Hindi on the back is not good. Who is translating this? Also, the address on the back of our Vrindaban Temple is not correctly spelled. It has been spelled Chattakara Road; But it should be Chattikara Road. Who is proof-reading? (Letter: Bhargava, May 29, 1976)
Hayagriva Did Not Change the Meaning of the Philosophy:
I don’t think that Hayagriva is at fault. He has not changed the meaning or the philosophy in any way. But if you like to use the original manuscript, then if it is possible, you can use it. (Letter to Hamsaduta, Jun 8, 1975)
BBT Editors Were Making Unapproved Changes:
I will have to see personally what are the mistakes in the synonyms and also how you intend to correct them. I was not satisfied with the corrections that were made before. I saw some changes which I did no approve. Nitai may correct whatever mistakes are there, but the corrected material must be sent to me for final approval. So reprinting the volumes will have to wait until the mistakes are corrected and approved by me. In the meantime you can supply the standing orders whatever new volumes are published. (Letter to Radhavallabha, Jan 5, 1976)
Prabhupada: The nonsense, they are… They are correcting my trans… Rascal. Who has done this? Munayah is addressing all these munis.
Tamala Krsna: It’s addressing the munis?
Tamala Krsna: Sadhus, great sages.
Prabhupada: Yes. Sadhu means they are very pure. What can be done if it goes there and these rascals becomes Sanskrit scholar and do everything nonsense? One Sanskrit scholar strayed, that rascal… He take… What is his…? Saci-suta? Saci-sandana?
Tamala Krsna: Jaya-sacinandana?
Prabhupada: And they are maintaining them. Different meaning.
Tamala Krsna: “Bhavadbhih – by all of you; loka – the world; mangalam – welfare; yat – because; krtah – made; krsna – the Personality of Godhead; samprasnah – relevant question; yena – by which; atma – self; suprasidati – completely pleased.” Translation: “O sages…”
Prabhupada: Now here is “O sages,” and the word meaning is “of the munis.” Just see. Such a rascal Sanskrit scholar. Here it is addressed, sambodhana, and they touch it — “munayah – of the munis.” It is very risky to give to them for editorial direction. Little learning is dangerous. However proper Sanskrit scholar, little learning, dangerous. Immediately they become very big scholars, high salaried, and write all nonsense. Who they are? (pause) Then?
Tamala Krsna: “O sages, I have been…”
Prabhupada: No, they cannot be reliable. They can do more harm. Just see here the fun(?).
(Conversation, “Rascal Editors” — June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)
Books Can Not Be “Simplified”:
Our literature is not sentimental stories. It is meant to be understood by the intelligent class of men. Children and those with child-like mentalities will do better to chant “Hare Krishna” and take prasadam. We cannot water down the philosophy to make it more palatable. Our books must remain as they are. Do not waste your time anymore with such attempts. We are not going to publish it. Whatever books we have got, let them try to understand, and if they cannot then let them chant “Hare Krishna” and take prasadam. (Letter to Lilavati, Mar 31, 1977)
Even if there are Some Discrepancies, They Are Accepted:
Transcendental literature that strictly follows the Vedic principles and the conclusion of the Puranas and pancaratrika-vidhi can be written only by a pure devotee. It is not possible for a common man to write books on bhakti, for his writings will not be effective. He may be a very great scholar and may be expert in presenting literature in flowery language, but this is not at all helpful in understanding transcendental literature.
Even if transcendental literature is written in faulty language, it is acceptable if it is written by a devotee, whereas so-called transcendental literature written by a mundane scholar, even if it is a very highly polished literary presentation, cannot be accepted. The secret in a devotee’s writing is that when he writes about the pastimes of the Lord, the Lord helps him; he does not write alone.
As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (10.10), dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te. Since a devotee writes in service to the Lord, the Lord from within gives him so much intelligence that he sits down near the Lord and goes on writing books. (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-Lila 8.39)
So unless one is self-realized, there is practically no use writing about Krsna. This transcendental writing does not depend on material education. It depends on the spiritual realization. You’ll find, therefore, in the comments of Bhagavatam by different acaryas, even there are some discrepancies, they are accepted as asat-patha. It should remain as it is. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23-24 — Vrndavana, Mar 31, 1976)
The Next Printing Should be the Original Way:
Yasoda-nandana: Sometimes they appeal that “We can make better English,” so they change like that, just like in the case of Isopanisad. There are over a hundred changes. So where is the need? Your words are sufficient. The potency is there. When they change, it is something else.
Svarupa Damodara: That’s actually a very dangerous mentality.
Yasoda-nandana: What is it going to be in five years? It’s going to be a different book.
Prabhupada: So you… What you are going… It is very serious situation. You write one letter that “Why you have made so many changes?” And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that “This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim.” The next printing should be again to the original way.
Prabhupada: So you bring this to Satsvarupa. They cannot change anything… So on the whole, these dangerous things are going on. How to check it? (Conversation, “Rascal Editors” — June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)
THE RASCAL EDITORS (Jayadvaita Swami), THEY ARE DOING HAVOC
Srila Prabhupada: The rascal editors, they are doing havoc.
Jayadvaita - Jay Israel
Yasoda-nandana: Sometimes they appeal that "We can make better English," so they change like that, just like in the case of Isopanisad. There are over a hundred changes. So where is the need? Your words are sufficient. The potency is there. When they change, it is something else.
Svarupa Damodara: That's actually a very dangerous mentality.
Yasoda-nandana: What is it going to be in five years? It's going to be a different book.
Prabhupada: So you... What you are going... It is very serious situation. You write one letter that "Why you have made so many changes?" And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that "This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim." The next printing should be again to the original way.
Tamala Krsna: They should have a board of Satsvarupa and Jayadvaita.
Tamala Krsna: Those two men are both in Los Angeles now.
Prabhupada: So write them immediately that "The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party." (S.P.Conversation, "Rascal Editors,"June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)
Prabhupada: Change of government... Just like they say, a change of theories by the rascals. Change means rascal.
Harikesa: But as soon as a government changes...
Prabhupada: Anything change means it is the domain of rascals, pandemonium. Just like in Manu-samhita it is said that, nasyam svatantratam arhati, women should not be given independence. Once said, that is fact. If you want to change, you suffer. That's all. (S.P. Morning Walk December 14, 1975, New Delhi)
Don't make addition, alteration. Then you become rascal. Immediately you become rascal. And many times they give me very great credit that I have done wonderful. Yes, I have done wonderful. But what is the reason? Because I am not a rascal. I speak what Krsna has spoken. That's all. Very easy. Everyone can do that. Not only I. Any of you, you can do this. Simply speak what is..., what Krsna has said. That's all. Don't make addition, alteration. Then you become rascal. Immediately you become rascal. (Srimad-Bhagavatam Lecture 1.5.29 Vrndavana, August 10, 1974)
Srila Prabhupada: "They’re ruining my books"
Please also see:
To edit - or not to edit
5000 (book) Changes and Counting
"They’re ruining my books" — Srila Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada Instructs Jayadvaita