Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Few Words About Book Changes


Revatinandana: One day we were going to a Gaudiya Math in Calcutta. This particular Math had a bookstore with all kinds of old Gaudiya Math publications, some of which were quite rare. Prabhupada and I were standing in the doorway of the ISKCON temple on Albert Road, and I asked, "Srila Prabhupada, I understand that your books are all that we need, but there will be books for sale at the Math. Once you told Bali Mardan that if he read the Brahma-samhita he would become a good preacher. I was wondering if it would be all right if I bought the Brahma-samhita and some other books, since we are going to this place."

Prabhupada answered my question in three parts. He said, "For one thing, I do not think you will be able to understand those books very well. My Guru Maharaj was not pleased with the sincerity of most of his disciples, and he wrote his books in a difficult language so that almost none of his disciples could understand them."

Then he said, "Actually, my Guru Maharaj wrote those books for me. Only I could understand them."

Another thing he said was, "We shouldn't read anything published by the Gaudiya Math after 1932, because by that time politics were entering into the editions that were being printed." I said, "Didn't your Guru Maharaj pass away in 1936?" He said, "Yes, but in the last four years he was infirm and was not directly supervising the editing."


From Andrew Whitlock

To all my devotee friends:

“It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

And here's a story that proves this Mark Twain quote to be oh so true! Back in the late sixties Srila Prabhupada arrived in the USA on a mission to spread Krsna consciousness in the West. He brought with him manuscripts, written in Sanskrit, which were to be translated into English. Among these the Bhagavad Gita for which he would also write purports, or explanations of what was said in each verse.

Srila Prabhupada wanted to get the book published as quickly as possible and remarkably, this was achieved in the space of two years after he met Professor Howard Wheeler, who by most accounts, did the bulk of the editing in consultation with the author. This work was done in San Francisco and is well documented.

Prof Wheeler was one of the youngest and clearly most talented English poetry experts in the USA at that time. So Bhagavad Gita As It Is was published by MacMillan Publishers in 1968 in an abridged version and then in 1972, what is now known as the Original Edition, was published. The book received great reviews and was an instant success.

And that really should be the end of the story … there were a few grammatical mistakes which could easily have been corrected in a Second Edition. Srila Prabhupada's clear instruction was to correct only spelling and grammar, without interpolation … The number of minor errors, including spelling and grammar and the famous "Planet of Trees" totalled around 94.

But instead what happened was … (and this is where the people who have been fooled should starting taking notes) … the Zonal Acaryas who were running Iskcon at that time, commissioned a Revision of Bhagavad Gita and in 1983 the Revised Edition appeared. The Editor of the Revised Edition made 4984 changes to the text and claimed that this was what Srila Prabhupada "intended". The Editor made these changes in complete anonymity, instead of following the standard practice of placing his name on the cover of the book, or at least on the inside cover page.

The BBTi then replaced the Original Edition with the Revised Edition at all Iskcon Temples. So for about 12 years the Original Edition which the Author had signed off at MacMillan Publishers, was not printed by BBTi. The attempt to "replace" the Original was almost successful!

It was only when some senior Prabhupada disciples noticed changes in the text, that the full extent of the changes became clear. The Editor, Jayadvaita Swami, claimed that he had "returned to the oldest manuscripts" and that Srila Prabhupada had sanctioned these posthumous changes.

Central to this debate is the question of the "Manuscripts". The most recent information on BBT website finds Jayadvaita Swami saying this: In this conference, I shall present and discuss some of the more interesting, instructive, and controversial revisions made for the Second Edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.

Unlike comparisons published elsewhere, these discussions will include comparisons to the original unpublished manuscripts. (You can expect to see, as in Krsna’s universal form, “many wonderful things which no one has ever seen or heard of before.”)

A few words of explanation: “Original manuscripts” means different things, according to different Gita chapters. For the first five or six chapters, it refers to original manuscripts apparently typed by Srila Prabhupada himself. For the middle six chapters, it refers to the original transcriptions of his tapes. And for the last chapters it refers to the old retyped manuscripts from which the 1972 Macmillan edition was produced. In all cases, “original manuscripts” means the oldest and most reliable manuscripts in the BBT files.

The “retyped manuscripts” for the last six chapters were copied from original transcriptions on which much editing had already been done. The typist followed the edited version, adding what the editor had added and deleting what he had deleted. Sometime before 1972, the original transcriptions themselves were apparently lost. (This loss is why the revisions in the last six chapters of the Second Edition are particularly light.)

The text of the manuscripts for all eighteen chapters has been converted into digital form, and for convenience while traveling I am relying on the digital version. If this results in any significant errors that later come to my attention, I shall report them.

Thank you. Hare Krsna.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.