“Book Changes Controversy” Coming to a Close

On October 17, 2019, the BBT and GBC cooperatively appointed an Editorial Review Panel (ERP) to deal with devotees’ issues about making modifications to Srila Prabhupada’s books after his bodily departure.

Formed with the mandate to assessment all proposed and beforehand printed edits to Srila Prabhupada’s books within the English language, the ERP has now been convening for greater than a yr, and they’re making progress of their assessment. The panel consists of devotee students and editors who had been nominated and authorised by each the GBC and BBT, together with Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, Bhanu Swami, Kalachandji Dasa, Krishna Kshetra Swami, Krishnarupa Devi Dasi, Radhika Ramana Dasa, and Keshava Bharati Dasa Goswami.

The ERP’s first order of enterprise was to compile a set of ideas and tips by which they may successfully conduct their assessment. Some of those tips embrace being ‘conservative and cautious’ about any modifying completed after Srila Prabhupada’s lifetime, not modifying his statements resulting from altering scientific or social views, however correcting ‘easy errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and phrasing for power and readability,’ and likewise rectifying ‘errors launched into his books by a previous editor, proofreader, transcriber, typist, or designer.’

Inquisitive readers are invited to see the ERP’s full paper, “Editorial Principles”.

Guided by these ideas, the ERP will think about every revision that has been made to Srila Prabhupada’s books and suggest to both settle for or take away the revision. All their suggestions will probably be made by consensus. Once the ERP’s work is full, they may submit their strategies to the BBT Editorial Board for assessment and implementation.

This ought to successfully put to relaxation the longstanding ‘ebook modifications controversy,’ which has sadly generated division and offensive discourse inside ISKCON. The BBT apologizes for any lack of readability which can have inadvertently contributed to this controversy.

Let’s put variations apart and work collaboratively and tirelessly to put a set of Srila Prabhupada’s books in each dwelling on the planet, and, extra importantly, to deeply imbibe his teachings inside our personal hearts.

Background: Srila Prabhupada’s Desire to Distribute Books

The publication and distribution of Kṛṣṇa acutely aware literature was foremost amongst Srila Prabhupada’s goals in informing the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. As the primary merchandise within the Seven Purposes of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“To systematically propagate non secular data to society at massive and to coach all individuals within the strategies of non secular life so as to examine the imbalance of values in life, and to realize actual unity and peace on the planet.”

And within the ultimate seventh function, he writes:

“With a view in direction of attaining the aforementioned functions, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books, and different writings.”

Srila Prabhupada’s guru, Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, was such an avid writer that he coined the time period bṛhad-mṛdaṅga as a reputation for the printing press on the Gaudiya Math. At a fateful assembly in November 1935, he gave our Srila Prabhupada an instruction which might set the trajectory for the remainder of Prabhupada’s life: “If you ever get cash, print books.”

As quickly as Srila Prabhupäda noticed that his fledgling ISKCON society was gaining some stability, he fashioned a publishing division to supervise the manufacturing, printing, and distribution of his books, together with an bold imaginative and prescient for a sixty-volume commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam. This started because the ISKCON Press in 1969 and later manifested because the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) in 1972.

Perfect, More Perfect, and Most Perfect

In order to make sure the standard of his books, Srila Prabhupada appointed a number of devotees as editors. He knew that he was setting a rigorous tempo and that the BBT was struggling to maintain up. Although the BBT staff did their finest, many errors nonetheless went unnoticed. In a letter to Brahmananda Prabhu (17 April 1970), Srila Prabhupada factors out one such error that was printed within the first version of KṚṢṆA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead:

“In KRSNA chapter #87, on web page 4, the final line, it’s stated, “often known as budbuvasa, which is manifested by Govinda.” I have no idea what is that this modifying. The appropriate phrase is Bhurbhuvasvah as it’s within the Gayatri mantra and everyone is aware of it. This “budbuvasa” is a unprecedented phrase, neither it’s Sanskrit nor English, so the way it has averted the vigilance of so many editors? So if not one of the editors knew this phrase, why was it pushed? There ought to be no such negligences like this, nothing unsure ought to be pushed. Now what different discrepancies there could also be like this? Or what’s the usage of such modifying? Everything have to be completed very rigorously and attentively.”

Srila Prabhupada acknowledged that such errors don’t diminish the efficiency of the transcendental message, however he nonetheless needed these errors to be discovered and corrected. In a letter to Hamsaduta Prabhu (20 January 1972), Srila Prabhupada explains:

“It is just not that we could current something crude translation and that’s acceptable. No, though the transcendental material of Vedic literature continues to be spiritually potent regardless of the crudest translation, nonetheless, as a result of we now have bought facility to make it excellent, that’s our philosophy. When I translated Srimad-Bhagavatam I had not the power so chances are you’ll discover grammatical discrepancies.

“It is just not our philosophy to print errors. Of course, our non secular material is transcendental and due to this fact it stays potent regardless of errors in grammar, spelling, and so forth. But one of these translation could solely be allowed if there isn’t a different method to appropriate it, then it’s all proper. But if you realize the proper order, then it’s essential to make it excellent. That is our philosophy: the whole lot excellent for Krishna”

Devotees on the BBT took be aware of Srila Prabhupada’s want to supply the best high quality publications, freed from errors. In 1975, Jayadvaita Prabhu started reviewing the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and he rigorously compiled dozens and dozens of revisions to errors he discovered within the first version. After talking with Jayadvaita and reviewing a few of the proposed modifications, Srila Prabhupada wrote to a different BBT editor, “Concerning the modifying of Jayadvaita Prabhu, no matter he does is authorised by me. I’ve confidence in him.”

Service in Separation

After Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, Jayadvaita Prabhu (now Swami) and different devotees on the BBT continued their editorial companies, ever striving to carry BBT publications to the best customary by correcting errors which had discovered their method into the printed editions of Prabhupada’s books. Thanks to their tireless effort, the present editions are vastly improved from earlier variations. As Srila Prabhupada wrote: “We have gotten facility to make it excellent, that’s our philosophy.”


How did so many errors happen within the preliminary publications? There had been a variety of related components at play:

  1. The early ISKCON editors had been inexperienced in working with Srila Prabhupada and unfamiliar with the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.
  2. Typists who transcribed Prabhupada’s dictated translations and purports usually had a really troublesome time understanding his thick Bengali accent. They additionally knew nearly not one of the Sanskrit verses Prabhupada quoted whereas composing his purports.
  3. The Sanskrit division was in its infancy and was unable to offer significant perception through the editorial course of. Srila Prabhupada was a prolific creator and a completely transcendental character, and it was usually troublesome for the BBT to maintain up along with his literary output.

Thankfully, through the years the BBT has rigorously reviewed Srila Prabhupada’s books to catch and proper errors. For a extra detailed historical past of the BBT’s editorial course of, readers are invited to see the article “Editing the Unchangeable Truth” by Jayadvaita Swami and the compilation “Responsible Publishing” by Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida Prabhu.




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