Inside Nam Hatta

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

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[Posted March 11, 2006]

Prabhupada Did Not Make Mistakes

  The Bhaktivedantas

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"The identical verses of the Scriptures may be recited by the devotee and the non-devotee, may be apparently misquoted by the non-devotee but the corresponding values of the two processes remain always categorically different. The devotee is right even when he apparently misquotes, the non-devotee is wrong even when he quotes correctly the very words, chapter and verse of the Scriptures.

"It is not empiric wisdom that is the object of quest of the devotee. Those who read the scriptures for gathering empiric wisdom will be pursuing the wild goose chase. There are not a few dupes of their empiric Scriptural erudition. These dupes have their admiring under-dupes. But the mutual admiration society of dupes does not escape, by the mere weight of their number, the misfortunes due to the deliberate pursuit of the wrong course in accordance with the suggestions of our lower selves.

"What are the Scriptures? They are nothing but the record by the pure devotees of the Divine Message appearing on the lips of the pure devotees. The Message conveyed by the devotees is the same in all ages. The words of the devotees are ever identical with the Scriptures. Any meaning of the Scriptures that belittles the function of the devotee who is the original communicant of the Divine Message contradicts its own claim to be heard." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur in "Thakur Bhaktivinode")
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Changes to Srila Prabhupada's Books

Some time after Hansadutta das was appointed a BBT Trustee by Srila Prabhupada, he went to Srila Prabhupada and suggested, "Prabhupada, the devotees really like your original Bhagavatam from India with the quaint and quirky language..." and before he could even finish, Srila Prabhupada said, "No. I have full faith in Hayagriva. Whatever he has done is perfect. Don't touch it."

The bottom line is: Srila Prabhupada is the ultimate authority. If Srila Prabhupada has designated someone to edit and has indicated he has faith in him, in other words, entrusted something to him, then we, as his disciples, must accept that. Otherwise, if we try to circumvent his directions by arguing that Hayagriva might have done this mistake or that, then we show we do not have faith in Srila Prabhupada. "Love me, love my dog." Hayagriva was the chief editor. If you listen to the tapes, Srila Prabhupada always refers to "Professor Howard Wheeler." You never hear Prabhupada refer to Jayadvaita. Hansadutta recalls: "I clearly remember when Jayadvaita Joined at 26 2nd Avenue temple. He had a head of hair like Curly of the three stooges. I personally shaved his head with my own straight razor, I trained him up to distribute BTG's. He never even finished high school." It was Hayagriva who was the editor-in-chief. Prabhupada was proud to have him as a disciple, and he had credentials. Prabhupada said at one time when Hayagriva had understood the spirit of his books: "Now I can die in peace."

Real editing means entering into the spirit and current of the author. It's not merely a matter of grammar and standardized dictionary spellings. Jayadvaita was only just a clerk. He was never chief editor. But what Jayadvaita has done by changing Prabhupada's books indicates that he thinks Srila Prabhupada didn't know what he was doing. Only the author can authorize who can and who cannot make this fine-tuning. Prabhupada was not a buffoon, a fool incapable of understanding who and what was necessary for final publication of his books. Basically, Jayadvaita is saying that Srila Prabhupada didn't know, and he has thrown everything that Srila Prabhupada said, wrote and did into doubt. That's why it is so dangerous. The book changes have opened the door for perpetual tampering with Srila Prabhupada's books. They're all up for grabs.

Either we trust Srila Prabhupada and have faith in him, or we don't. Meaning Srila Prabhupada decided that Hayagriva was competent to edit his books, and he approved them for publication, distributed those books, used them and lectured from them. Did he know what he was doing or not? Was he just a feeble old man who didn't know what needed to be done with his books? Jayadvaita's insistence on correcting Srila Prabhupada's books reflects his and ISKCON's understanding of Srila Prabhupada, implying that he didn't have the intelligence to select a competent editor, that he didn't know who was qualified and who was not, that he somehow or other failed to recognize that Jayadvaita was more qualified. This suggests that Srila Prabhupada himself was not qualified.

To Jayadvaita: In answer to the argument that the publication of Chaitanya-charitamrita was so rushed that there were many mistakes, making it necessary to go back and fix them now, we ask, So where is the order to go back and correct those mistakes? You cite this and that authority—karmi scholars, karmi publications—to justify downsizing, downgrading Krishna from He to he [see footnote], but can you produce the letter from Srila Prabhupada authorizing you to change anything after his departure? Is there a letter telling "My dear Jayadvaita, please ignore everything I have said to the contrary and go back and correct all my books, not just fix typos and grammar, but add and subtract text from translations and purports, and change their meanings"? We challenge you to show us the blank cheque from Prabhupada. Never mind all your reasons and explanations. It doesn't matter why you are changing the books: you have given so many justifications, including even "restoring" the books to the original words dictated by Srila Prabhupada, but it's not about WHY. What we need to see is Srila Prabhupada's authorization, plain and simple. Srila Prabhupada's instruction to you can be the only legitimate, satisfactory justification.

Do we suppose Srila Prabhupada did not know what lay ahead in the future for each of his disciples, for the movement, for his books? Do we suppose he left it up to his disciples to fix mistakes that he somehow failed to notice?

In London, 1973, in conversation with Fr. Tanner and other guests, Srila Prabhupada said in regard to what might happen to his disciples in the future:

Prabhupada: No, this argument is not very strong. Just like one foodstuff, freshly made, it is fresh. But if somebody argues that if it remains four days more, it will become bad, that is surmisation. Now it is fresh. We take it fresh. What will happen in future, that is no consideration. In future, everyone may fall and everyone may become elevated. But we have to take his present situation, what he is at present.
Father Tanner: But couldn't it be the difference between appearance and reality?
Prabhupada: This is reality. If at the present moment he is free from all sinful activities, that is reality. In future, everyone is susceptible to fall down. If he does not carry the principles strictly that proneness is there. But that is not consideration. What he is at present, that is consideration.

Whatever Hayagriva did with Srila Prabhupada's books was fine by him right then and there. Srila Prabhupada accepted it as final. In the presence of Srila Prabhupada, the books were edited, printed and distributed. He accepted them as perfect. "Right now the food is tasty, fresh, so let's have it. Of course by tomorrow they may all go off, the food will spoil, so let's eat it now." In this spirit all these books were edited, published and distributed as they were, accepted and authorized by Srila Prabhupada. He read from them, he referred to them, he gave lectures from them. If he had wanted to make any changes, he could have said so at any time. But he didn't.

Everything Jayadvaita has done in changing Srila Prabhupada's books since his departure contradicts and undoes what Srila Prabhupada is known to have authorize. His impudence undermines Srila Prabhupada's authority and credibility of his books. And ISKCON hierarchy is standing aside and letting him do it. Why? Because he has assumed the role of the pseudo sadhu. What can be the depth of his realization, when he finds fault with Hayagriva in whom Srila Prabhupada found some little perfection and magnified it, and when he finds fault with Srila Prabhupada's approved final publications? He has never opened a center, never made devotees. Yet somehow ISKCON is intimidated by the image he projects: stereotyped sadhu. He's got his head shaved, got his dhoti on, danda in his hand, stupid grin on his face. No gravity, no authority—not from Srila Prabhupada. The only reason Jayadvaita is able to take this position is because the leaders are so weak and adulterated.

In Satsvarupa's book Appreciating Srila Prabhupada, Jayadvaita is said to have asked Srila Prabhupada, "What if the spiritual master makes mistakes?" Satsvarupa explains: "Prabhupada pointed out that to see such discrepancies is a material viewpoint." So what can we understand about Jayadvaita's view of Srila Prabhupada and his stated mission in life to change all Srila Prabhupada's books in light of this statement?

Footnote
Jayadvaita wrote in a proposal to BTG and BBT: "Strong reasons can be advanced... for leaving aside our present standard in favor of extending 'down style' to all pronouns. The editors of Chicago 'urge a spare, down style' in the field of religion, as in others. Specifically, they say that pronouns referring to God (or Christ) 'are today preferably not capitalized.' Does the use of lower case signify an impious lack of regard for the Deity? The King James Bible, that great work of awe and reverence, affords God a lower-case he. (For that matter, so does the Book of Mormon)..."

Prabhupada Did Not Make Mistakes/ Inside Nam Hatta
© 2004 - Hansadutta dasa
World Sankirtan Party


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