Authorization

Editing without direct approval violates the principle of “arsa prayoga,” or honoring the guru

Argument: 

Śrīla Prabhupāda struggled with the BBT staff to keep the final version of his books intact by resisting what he called the "American disease" of always wanting to change things. Śrīla Prabhupāda finally insisted on an "absolutely no change" policy based on the principle of "arsa prayoga," or giving the guru what he wants, not what you think he should have.

Response: 

Indeed, editors should not edit without approval. Of course, regarding Jayadvaita Swami, the BBT's chief editor, Srila Prabhupada wrote, "Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him." (letter to Radhavallabha, 7 September 1976) And in the conversation where Srila Prabhupada complained so strongly about "rascals editors," Srila Prabhupada said about Jayadvaita, "He is good."

In fact, in that same conversation Srila Prabhupada mentioned that in Easy Journey to Other Planets one editor had "changed so many things." "The next printing, Srila Prabhupada said, "should be again to the original way." And so Jayadvaita Swami undid that editor's changes and restored the original text. 

For the second edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Jayadvaita Swami did a similar service, restoring text the first edition had lost or changed. When Srila Prabhupada was present, he specifically approved of Jayadvaita Swami's doing this for other books. And after Srila Prabhupada's departure Jayadvaita Swami simply followed the same principle.

 By the way, the notion that Śrīla Prabhupāda "struggled with the BBT staff to keep the final version of his books intact"  and finally insisted on an "absolutely no change" policy is simply not historically true.

There were some Sanskrit editors whose editorial ideas he didn't like, and he strongly said so, and he expressed great displeasure when he found that an English editor had deleted a passage from Easy Journey to Other Planets and "changed so many things." 

On the other hand, he was greatly pleased by the Sanskrit editing of Pradyumna Dasa ("So your efforts in the matter of our Sanskrit editing are effectively improving our books more and more with scholarly standards." Letter to Pradyumna, 21 June 1970) . As noted above, he also expressed full approval of the editing done by Jayadvaita Swami. And far from declaring a policy of "absolutely no change," Srila Prabhupada on many occasions told his editors they should correct whatever errors they found.

For example: 

In a lecture in Hawaii on January 17, 1974, when Srila Prabhupada found an error in his published Srimad-Bhagavatam, he said, "You can have a notebook. . . Whenever there is some discrepancy, you note in the next [that is, fix it in the next printing]."

On September 19, 1972, Pradyumna wrote to Jayadvaita:

"Here's an important point: Srila Prabhupada was looking at the new edition of Second Canto the other day and he called me up because he had found some mistakes. The first mistake was in tihe first verse of the Third Chapter. There the first line of the Dvanagari script is placed last, and the last line is placed first. I don't know how this mistake has occurred; in the Second Canto chapter books there is no mistake, so this must have occurred during layout sometime. The second mistake is in the Second Canto, Fifth Chapter, 24th verse. There, in both the old edition and the new edition, the middle line of Devanagari script is missing. Prabhupada said that if there is one mistake in one book, then you spoil the whole book. Murder the whole book. So also besides Sanskrit errors, there have been many, many English errors also, which are very obvious, just like these two above-mentioned errors, so Prabhupada has been emphasizing lately about the great need for making our books free from errors. 'What's done has been done,'* [* Srila Prabhupada. (Pradyumna's footnote)] but now we should try to do two things: ;make sure that errors like these won't occur again, and start a listing of past mistakes in each book so that we can correct them when they are reprinted."

Pradyumna was simply restating the same policy Srila Prabhupada had told his editors to follow all along. On April 22, 1970, Srila Prabhupada had written to Brahmananda: "If the books are printed with spelling mistakes and other mistakes, that will be a discredit for our publication. So please see that editorial work is done very nicely." 

 Srila Prabhupada's BBT continues to honor these instructions. 

Teaser text for this

Video: 
See video

If there is one mistake, you murder the book

[A letter from Pradyumna Dasa Adhikari to Jayadvaita Dasa Brahmacari]

Syndicate content