“Do Not Change My Words”
Srila Prabhupada used to like to sit in his garden in Vrindavan especially in the mornings. He liked to hear his books read to him daily. One time Yasodanandan Prabhu was reading Sri Isopanisad when Srila Prabhupada stopped him and asked him to reread the last paragraph. After hearing it again Srila Prabhupada said, “Those are not my words! They are changing my words! Is my English not good enough?” Srila Prabhupada became very angry and continued, “This is the worst thing a disciple can do! Do not become like a leap frog and try to jump over the spiritual master thinking you know better than him. Tell them immediately [the editors] do not change my words!”
Srila Prabhupada was very upset about the changes in his books. I never saw him get so angry any other time.
Srila Prabhupada: "The nonsense, they are correcting my translations. Rascal. The rascal editors, they are doing havoc. So you bring this to Satsvarupa. They cannot change anything … So on the whole, these dangerous things are going on. How to check it? 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." (Conversation, “Rascal Editors” – June 22, 1977, Vrndavana)
Years before Srila Prabhupada said the same thing. "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 Vrindavan, August 10, 1974)
Srila Prabhupada said if someone sees a mistake he is a mistake.
Radha Vallabha; Now Jagannātha had some questions on corrections in the book. In verse twenty-eight it says, "Then he worshiped Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the essence of all Vedas, with this hymn.It's verse twenty-eight, "Then he worshiped Śrī Kṛṣṇa." So Jagannātha said it should be, "Then he worshiped..."
Prabhupāda: No, no. Jagannātha cannot correct. That bad habit he must give up.
Rādhā-vallabha: So we should just leave it exactly.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. You should not be more educated.
Rādhā-vallabha: He wasn't changing any of the words. He was just...
Prabhupāda: Nothing of the... This of should be strictly forbidden.
Rādhā-vallabha: So no corrections. That makes it simple.
Prabhupāda: They can divide the synonyms. That's all.
Rādhā-vallabha: Synonyms. So even...
Prabhupāda: That is his tendency, to correct. That's very bad. He should not do that.
Rādhā-vallabha: So I'll just forget this, then.
Prabhupāda: The system is: whatever authority has done, even there is mistake, it should be accepted.
Prabhupāda: Asa-prāya(?) That is ha... He should not become more learned than the authority. That is very bad habit.
Rādhā-vallabha: He was always wondering how he should think. So I'll tell him that. He thinks, "If I think I see a mistake, what should I think?" I'll tell him what you just said.
Prabhupāda: He cannot see mistake. He is mistake. (laughter) He should... That is being done by this rascal.
Srila Prabhupada's Room Conversation -- March 1, 1977, Mayapura
When Srila Prabhupada was asked by Revatinandan Prabhu if we could read Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati’s books; Srila Prabhupada said not the ones that were edited by his disciples. Srila Prabhupada also told him that we really couldn’t understand Bhaktisidhanta’s books. He said not even his Godbrothers could understand them. Then Srila Prabhupada said, ” actually, he wrote those books for me.” (Memories of Srila Prabhupada)
Srila Prabhupada translated the spiritual law books for the next 10,000 years, day and night, until his dying day. He translated constantly despite his busy preaching schedule. He did this to live on in the books. He said before he left the planet that he had given us everything in his books. He said the books were the manifestations of his ecstasy. He said if we read his books and cooperated together, every thing would go on nicely. To edit his books without his sanction is risky business. We should try to be absorbed in the ecstasy of the spiritual master and not try to alter it, thinking we can ‘improve upon’ his ecstasy.
Some of the reasons given to justify the modern day editing are that the new edition is closer to what Srila Prabhupada said on the original tapes. Srila Prabhupada lectured on many verses many times and never said to change them. He authorized about three changes, not the 800+- we have in the new Bhagavad Gita. We need Bhagavad Gita As It Was! There is a nicer vibration to the original Srila Prabhupada approved version. I’m sure more devotees would be inspired to distribute the original.
When a new book came out Srila Prabhupada would be in total bliss. I remember when he was so sick he could hardly sit up. When he heard that the new Srimad Bhagavatam had arrived and he asked to be propped up on his bed. He asked for his glasses and more light. As he marveled over the quality of the book and the excellent artwork tears came to his eyes. This gave him life.
Another time when Srila Prabhupada asked a devotee to read in the garden the devotee asked him why he liked to hear his own books so much. Srila Prabhupada said, “I did not write these books. Krishna wrote these books!”
When Srila Prabhupada came into the room and caught me reading the Srimad Bhagavatam, he smiled nicer than ever and told his secretary, “He’s reading in his spare time; this is very good!” I was surprised to see how happy Srila Prabhupada was because I was reading. Srila Prabhupada put everything into his books and we would be better off to accept them as is/was. They made so many devotees in the past and will in the future. They are tried and true!
Another important publication is the ‘Back To Godhead’ magazine. Srila Prabhupada said the BTG and Hari Nama Sankirtan are ‘the backbone of our movement.’ We need a mass distribution BTG. So many of us became devotees by getting a BTG one way or another. It should be cost effective say 25 to 50 cents so we can distribute it for a dollar or so. The old BTG’s are great. We could update the calendar and presto, the all-attractive ‘Back To Godhead!’
Srila Prabhupada said the disease of the Americans is that we want to change everything. Let’s get rid of this disease and maintain what Srila Prabhupada has worked so hard to give us; without adulteration or change.
Hoping this meets you well and Happy in Krsna Consciousness,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
\o/ HariboL \o/
Chant and be Happy!