The myth that after an acarya departs his works are never to be edited

“There is no precedent in our sampradaya for posthumous, unapproved changes to an acarya’s books. If a devotee needs to clarify a previous acarya’s work for the understanding of his contemporaries, he writes a separate tika and appends it to the original work, leaving the previous acaryas’ commentaries unchanged. This is the accepted practice in the Gaudiya-sampradaya.” (This, verbatim, from a critic on the internet.)

History shows that the critic is wrong.

The fourteenth chapter of the Bhakti-ratnakara contains four letters written by Sri Jiva Gosvami to Srinivasa Acarya. In the first letter, Jiva writes that he is still proofreading/correcting the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu of Srila Rupa Gosvami, who by then had passed away.

Though the Bhakti-ratnakara contains some historical inaccuracies, these letters are accepted by all scholars as genuine. (The letters, though not translated in the Bhakti-ratnakara that circulates in ISKCON, appear on pages 632 and 633 in the Gaudiya Mission’s Bengali edition.)

Commentaries, of course, form an essential part of the Gaudiya tradition, and commentaries are always distinct from the original works. But editing too (even posthumous editing) has a distinguished place in the tradition. 

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