Letter to Madhudvisa, revised
by Hansadutta das
Dear Madhudvisa Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Just the other day you sent out an email practically glorifying Ramesvara as a truthteller. Why are you promoting him? We are concerned that he has some intention to make a comeback on the ISKCON and BBT Int’l, Inc. stage (Ramesvara wants back in BBT). In the past he has shown himself to be duplicitous, ambitious, cunning and disloyal, and what kind of restitution has he made to demonstrate that he is a changed person with sincere intentions to serve Srila Prabhupada and preserve Srila Prabhupada’s books?
Are your readers readers aware of the below historical facts – the most telling of his deceptive and criminal behavior being that he came forward to testify AGAINST PRABHUPADA by claiming Srila Prabhupada was never authorized to form the BBT since he was hired by ISKCON (“works for hire”) (pdf, 868 Kb), and therefore whatever he wrote belonged to ISKCON, thus he had no legal right to make a BBT trust, and therefore Hansadutta, who Prabhupada appointed as a lifelong trustee, had no legal position or authority? Do your readers know this? Are you going to make them aware of this fact by publishing this information outlined below? I hope so. Please let me know, so I can act accordingly.
Madhudvisa dasa wrote:
A very, very important document has just become public. It is a 1979 interview with Ramesvara Prabhu, the manager of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, the person directly in charge of printing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Ramesvara had unlimited direct instructions from Srila Prabhupada in regard to printing his books. He also gives an eye-witness account of many other important events that occurred in ISKCON in the presence of Srila Prabhupada. The events were very fresh in his mind at that time as this interview took place only two years after Srila Prabhupada had disappeared from our material vision.
In this interview he is giving a completely honest account of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to him in regard to not changing his books and on many other points also.
This is perhaps the most important document that has come to light in ISKCON since 1977.
Ramesvara Prabhu, completely honest? In a 1979 interview? I don’t think so. We have to see the activities in toto rather than just one stray interview 34 years ago of high-sounding words.
Below is an account of his actual activeties (1976-86) underlying the attempt to bring him on board the lawsuit filed By ISKCON and the fraudulent, LOOK-ALIKE BBT – International corporation (the one that has been changing Prabhupada’s books for years). Ramesvara enthusiastically came forward to support it, passing himself off as a BBT trustee, which turned out to be another lie, fraud and deception by Rameswara. Fortunately, the court discovered Rameswara was NEVER EVER A BBT TRUSTEE, so we were spared his lying and maliciously envious support for ISKCON, who wanted to establish themselves as the owners of Prabhupada’s copyrights, and invalidate his BBT trust and trustee, Hansadutta das.
So now you bring him up in connection with arguments against changes being made to Srila Prabhupada’s books. You have provided a link to the interview with Ramesvara, and a few snippets from it, for instance:
Prabhupada just explained how everyone’s a rascal for daring to touch anything in his books. The greatest anxiety he has is that after he’s gone we will add things to his books that are bogus, we will take things out that are bona fide, we will make changes in his books and the whole work for 10,000 years, his plan Prabhupada was working on, it will all be spoiled by us because of our tendency to change. And Prabhupada gave an example that the disease to do things differently is so inherent in the Americans that for the sake of doing things differently we would walk on our hands rather than our feet.”
I’ve had many experiences with Prabhupada literally drilling me, pounding it into my head that you’re never allowed to change anything in his books. He trained me so intensely on this point. Even when the changes make sense he wouldn’t let me change. Just to train me.
Prabhu, you express that it’s greatly significant that Ramesvara went on record to say this, and go so far as to say “This is perhaps the most important document that has come to light in ISKCON since 1977.” But why give so much credit to Ramesvara? Why do we have to rely on his statement? Devotees can find Srila Prabhupada’s own words in the VedaBase transcripts of audio recordings of conversations, or listen to the actual conversations. These have been available for years, in part thanks to your efforts to render them in MP3 format and make them affordable for everyone.
Now, as to being completely honest… Ramesvara had personal oversight over changes being made to Srila Prabhupada’s books even when Srila Prabhupada was still amongst us, and here is an excerpt from a conversation in 1977, when Srila Prabhupada called him out on it.
PRABHUPADA: So you… What you are doing… ? It is very serious situation. You write one letter that “Why you have made so many changes?” And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that “This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim.” The next printing should be again to the original way.
TAMAL KRSNA: They should have a board of Satsvarupa and Jayadvaita.
TAMAL KRSNA: Those two men are both in Los Angeles now.
PRABHUPADA: So write them immediately that “The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party.” (Conversation, “Rascal Editors,” and Morning Talk, June 22, 1977, Vrindavana (VedaBase 770622rc.vrn))
So yes, he was telling the truth to say that Srila Prabhupada was adamantly opposed to changes to his books. But the same Ramesvara published the revised Bhagavad-gita in 1983. It was supposed to have been the first printing since the 1972 MacMillan edition, but in fact, Hansadutta had beat him to it with the printing in 1982 of three editions of Bhagavad-gita As It is, reprints of the very same text and artwork from the 1972 MacMillan edition, in small pocketbook with vinyl cover, paperback, and hardbound. The Bhagavad-gita As It Is that Ramesvara rolled out in 1983 was changed from the original.
So if Ramesvara was being totally honest in the interview of 1979, perhaps he was not being very sincere. Cuz he certainly did not act in keeping with the instructions he recalled.
Lately Ramesvara asserted that he was appointed a BBT trustee personally by Srila Prabhupada in Mayapur, 1976 – which Hansadutta vehemently contests. Hansadutta was also in Mayapur in the year 1976, and he has no knowledge of Srila Prabhupada adding Ramesvara as a trustee. There is no document, no resolution on record of his appointment as a BBT trustee. Rather, he was sometimes referred to as a secretary to the BBT. Just like one might be an accountant, a truck driver, or warehouse manager for the BBT, but that does not mean one is a TRUSTEE. There is a world of difference. During the BBT court case (1997-1998), the court determined that Ramesvara had no standing or position as a legally appointed trustee, and excluded him from joining as a witness for ISKCON and BBT – International, Inc. in their attack on Srila Prabhupada’s BBT, represented in court by Hansadutta, who was appointed lifetime BBT trustee in September, 1974.
On the other hand, there is a copy of a transfer of BBT trademarks (the BBT name and logo) to ISKCON of California, dated 1976, with Ramesvara’s signature, and beneath that, “BBT Trustee”. How can he have legally transferred BBT trademarks to ISKCON? Who authorized it? And signed as BBT Trustee, when he wasn’t a trustee at all. This is called FRAUD. It’s a serious felony crime that can be filed against Rameswara and prosecuted by the court.
We also know that Ramesvara was operating ISKCON of California as BBT, which was illegal. And he was also very active in the plan making process, already underway at the time, for ISKCON to illegaly take over the BBT and convert the assets of Srila Prabhupada’s BBT – the copyrights – to a corporation (BBT International, Inc.). Thus in 1988, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc., a look-alike fraudulently claiming to be owners of Srila Prabhupada’s copyrights, was born.
Fake BBT, fake trustee, changed books, bypassing the legal trustees and illegal takeover of the trust. Ramesvara had a hand in all this.
The whole legal action initiated By ISKCON and BBT International, Inc. was an attempt to cover up this illegal conversion of Prabhupada’s BBT copyrighted works. Their pivotal legal claim was that Prabhupada was hired by ISKCON (“works for hire”) (pdf, 868 Kb), and therefore Srila Prabhupada had no legal ownership of his writing, and was not legally authorized to set up the BBT trust, vested with the copyrights, and following that logic, therefore Hansadutta was not ever a legal trustee, and the copyrights of Prabhupada’s books belonged to ISKCON.
Now Rameswara wants to strut himself on the stage of ISKCON as a sincere defender of Srila Prabhupada’s books and copyrights and BBT, but the fact is he was for years (both during and after Srila Prabhupada’s presence) working in direct opposition to Srila Prabhupada’s interests, going so far as to make himself available as a witness to support the court case filed by ISKCON and the fraudulent and criminal look-alike BBT International corporation against Srila Prabhupada, and his legally appointed BBT Trustee, Hansadutta das.
This is the sum and substance of Rameswara’s factual and legally documented activities through the years, right up to 1998.
Some might recall the trial of O.J. Simpson, in which his defense attorney Cochran famously said, “How many cockroaches do you have to find in a bowl of spaghetti” before you won’t eat it? This is reasonable doubt.”
Please don’t parade Ramesvara as a truthteller and hero. He had the audacity to relay the words of the real hero, Srila Prabhupada, to show off the profile of a loyal, obedient disciple, yet all the while he had been taking steps to undermine the BBT and Srila Prabhupada’s legacy.
Hope you are well. – Your servant,
For Prabhupada’s BBT