The Jaya-Haya Letters

Correspondence between Jayādvaita Dāsa and Hayagrīva Dāsa
about the editing of Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, 1970–71

With an introduction and annotations by Jayādvaita Swami

In October of 1970, production of the first unabridged edition of Bhagavad-gīta As It Is was in full swing. The entire manuscript had been edited for English and Sanskrit, and the book was in the midst of typesetting, proofreading, and layout.

Editing the Unchangeable Truth

“Don’t add anything. Don’t subtract anything. Don’t change anything.” This was the instruction ISKCON’s founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, many times gave to his disciples. Yet some disciples he engaged to edit his words for publication—that is (by definition) to add, subtract, and change. Here I present a brief history of that editorial work.

“Rascal editors”: Mistaking the mistake

“Rascal editors!” Srila Prabhupada said. He had come upon an editorial mistake in a verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and so he strongly denounced “rascal editors” who make unauthorized editorial changes.

This incident, which took place in Vrindavan on June 22, 1977, has been known to Hare Krishna devotees for more than thirty years. And for more than thirty years, most devotees have been wrong about what mistake he had found.

This makes no difference to Srila Prabhupada’s point. Rascal editors are rascal editors.

Happiness on 2nd Avenue

The brief film Happiness on 2nd Avenue gives a glimpse of what the Hare Krishna movement was like circa 1966, when Hayagriva Prabhu first edited Bhagavad-gita As It Is. (He revised the manuscript a second time circa 1970.) Hayagriva Prabhu first appears in the film at 1:13, a bearded figure chanting. At 4:05 the camera zeroes in on him chanting, and then he gives some short and cogent remarks. The film has nothing to do with book editing, and it certainly doesn't "prove" anything. We offer it just as an item of interest. Enjoy!

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