BBT Books: Closer to Srila Prabhupada

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By Pancharatna das

BBTedit.com puts annotated Gita scans online

The BBT has launched a new website, BBTedit.com, full of information about the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Among the features:

· More than 80 video clips: BBT editors and other senior devotees offer facts and perspectives on editorial history, myths, and controversies.

· A collection of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions about editing.

· First time ever: Annotated scans of Jayadvaita Swami’s copy of the 1972 Gita showing his editing for the second edition.

The scans show practically all the revisions and restorations done for the word-for-word meanings and purports. (The translations were revised separately.) The annotations let you see what the original manuscripts said and tell the reasons for changes made.

“The purpose of the annotations,” Jayadvaita Swami says, “is not to argue for anything but simply to make clear what was done and why.”

The scanned Preface and Introduction for the Gita are already online now. (Included: Nearly forty audio clips of Srila Prabhupada speaking for the Introduction.) The eighteen chapters will follow, one by one.

It’s all here: www.bbtedit.com .

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1 Akruranatha

Congratulations to Pancaratna Prabhu and whoever else was involved in creating this website, BBTedit.com. There is a great deal of informative material on the site.

The video clip of Gopiparanadhana’s answer to “Why edit a book that has already been edited and approved?”, on the right hand side of the home page, really says it all. There is just so much of Srila Prabhupada’s original Bhagavad-Gita As It Is that got lost through inexperienced editors who had no knowledge of Sanskrt and little knowledge of Krishna consciousness in the early editions. It was the early editions that changed Prabhupada’s words, and it would be a travesty and a disservice to humanity if the later editions which restore Prabhupada’s original meanings were not published, distributed and studied by those who want to know Prabhupada’s real version.

I am convinced it was Prabhupada’s intention to get the books out quickly with the means and editors he had available, and to improve them later when the opportunity arose.

He did not want his books to be edited by nondevotees (at MacMillan) or by inexperienced devotees who did not understand his intentions or who whimsically and incorrectly changed things, but he trusted senior, trained editors like Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida, Gopiparanadhana and Pradyumna, etc., and he wanted his books that were produced for mass distribution to be completely in accordance with the meanings of what he dictated, but rendered in proper English grammar and as free as possible from mistakes.

It was interesting to learn (on this website) that Jiva Goswami edited work of Rupa Goswami after Rupa Goswami’s departure.

It seems, by and large, that it is not the academic or scholarly community that is upset with the BBT’s editorial policies, but many within the devotee community who are concerned, primarily, that Prabhupada’s teachings may have been or will be adulterated by unfaithful editors.

I think these devotees, if they examine the actual changes and the editors closely, will eventually agree (along with most senior, scholarly devotees) that the newer editions are more faithful to Srila Prabhupada’s original intent, and that these are faithful, well-trained editors in whom Srila Prabhupada had trust and confidence.

At any rate, even if some still prefer the old editions, everyone should agree there is no conspiracy, no evil motive to change meanings by editors, no lack of potency or inability to make new devotees in the newer editions.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 28th, 2009
2 Madhavananda Das (Orissa)

The site looks great! Thanks Pancaratna Prabhu. I particularly appreciated the testimonies from so many senior learned devotees such as Pradyumna, Garuda, Kripamoya, Gaura Mandala Bhumi, Gopiparanadhana, and Rameswar Prabhus.

It was a particular delight to read the comment from Rameswar Prabhu. He has been close to my heart for many years and is a dedicated and powerful follower of Srila Prabhupad.

Comment posted by Madhavananda Das (Orissa) on August 30th, 2009
3 Suresh das

The site is very well presented. It answers many of the questions I have about changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books, but did not know whom to ask, or where to turn to for answers.

Comment posted by Suresh das on September 1st, 2009
4 dhimana_krishna

Prabhus,
I offered the following post on the site:

I have known Jayadwaita Swami since 1968 at 26 2nd Ave. NYC. Jayadwaita was then a sankirtan brahmachari, a street preacher, a collector, a Times Square distributor of BTG’s., nothing more and nothing less. His success in Krishna conscious is due to his preacher spirit, and his lack of personal ambition.

At the Sunday Feasts back then he preferred preaching to eating, taking prasad just to satisfy the guest he was trying to enlighten or make Krishna conscious. Even Prabhupada was moved to ask him “Why are you so skinny?”

We both went to ISKCON Press Boston together, me as bookbinder, him as editor. Then again we knew each other at Henry St, Brooklyn, again as preachers. So from the beginning Jayadwaita was not an ambitious person motivated by making it up the ranks. Generally, ambition is the poison for a would-be leader in a spiritual organization and the ambitious tend to depart soon enough. Jayadwaita Swami was then and is now an unmotivated preacher of Krishna consciousness. Whatever Jayadwaita Swami has achieved in the Editorial dept was not due to desire or manipulation but due to his own scholastic and devotional qualifications. Hence I cannot find any fault in his service as he has endeavored only for the honest pleasure of Shrila Prabhupada.

I have looked at both sides of the controversy and feel he is a victim of a bad rap that is undeserved. My opinion has four decades of thought behind it. I can’t help but wishing that devotees would preach at Sunday feasts the way we did back then.

Jayadwaita Swami deserves immense respect from the Vaishnava community for his lifelong contributions to Krishna consciousness. He is a lifelong preacher and an invaluable asset to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. I offer my Godbrother all obeisances and unreservedly touch his feet. (I understand that my comments needs some editing, but who would care to?)
Signed
Patita Pavana das Adhikary

Comment posted by dhimana_krishna on September 6th, 2009
5 Pavamana

I have known Jayadvaita Swami for many years, and lived in Laguna Beach in the late ’70’s when he was working on the revision of the Srimad Bhagavatam. At the time, he was not a Sannyasi, but was a very serious and studious Brahmachari. And yes, he was very skinny! He was very austere in his diet.
I have to admit, when I read the latest revision of the Bhagavad Gita, I was very alarmed that the book had been edited again, especially since Srila Prabhupada didn’t want anything changed. My opinion of the matter changed when I had the good fortune to speak to Dravida Prabhu here in San Diego about the changes that were made. I was skeptical at first, but his explanation reassured me that the editing that has been done is closer to Srila Prabhupada’s intended meaning than previous editions.
I have to apologize for doubting the integrity of Jayadvaita Swami in his work, especially since he is a good friend of mine. I have never doubted the wonderful job he did on the Srimad Bhagavatam, so why was I worried about the new Gita changes?
Now that the new website is up, we can see clearly why the changes needed to be made.

Your servant, Pavamana dasa

Comment posted by Pavamana on September 9th, 2009
6 Locanananda dasa

What follows is taken from a beautiful comment on Srila Prabhupada’s books by Dr. V.N. Shukla, M.A. (Sanskrit and Hindi), of M.U. Aligarh, U.P., India:

“I consider as one of my life’s greatest spiritual thrills, that I had through a physical darshan of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on 30th March, 1976 for the first time. I had the rare privilege to see with my own eye the very embodiment of Krishna consciousness, the be-all and end-all of all beings….

“I had earlier known Srila Prabhupada through his enormous works on Krishna Bhakti, the nucleus of all Indian Vedic spiritual literature. To name a few of them, the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the Nectar of Devotion, Krishna (three volumes), Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta and the commentary on Sri Isopanisad will suffice. It is noteworthy to mention that the Isopanisad Bhasya is the greatest contribution of Srila Prabhupada as it completely refutes the Mayavada arguments of Sankaracarya. This book is a treasure to be possessed by every western scholar.”

This letter can be found in the June, 1977 issue of the BBT Newsletter in its entirety.

The letter continues:

“Words fail me to describe the height of scholarship and devotion manifested in the volumes mentioned above. Our future generations and the posterity will definitely find a better world to live in through the efforts of Srila Prabhupada, as he stands for the feelings of international brotherhood and spiritual integration of all mankind, which is the backbone of the Vedic sanatana dharma of India.”

Scholars loved Srila Prabhupada’s original books. Hundreds of letters like the one cited above came pouring in, glorifying his literary achievements. In light of the consistent praise Srila Prabhupada was receiving from scholars around the world, I can understand why he would say, “The next printing should be to the original way,” when the conversation concerning changes to the Sri Isopanisad took place. He always resisted the BBT managers’ pressure to make changes once a book had been published.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on September 10th, 2009

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