Since 1978, ISKCON and Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. have been publishing revised editions of Srila Prabhupada’s books, heavily edited by disciples without his authorization.
ISKCON and Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. are NOT the authentic Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) founded by Srila Prabhupada for publishing his phenomenal works. Srila Prabhupada’s Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is a legal trust and has no connection with ISKCON and the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc., a California corporation formed in 1988, 11 years after Srila Prabhupada departed from this world.
Srila Prabhupada established the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in 1972, and in 1974, appointed Hansadutta dasa BBT trustee for life with these words: “The temples may go, the devotees may go, but my books will live forever.”
We received this email from a friend of ISKCON:
Date: Thu 18 August 2005
From: Jerry Oranski
Subject: Re Available Books
yes! i am excited and now want to consider the purchase of these books of swami prabhupada but how to do so is not clear. the titles listed in your site are many and surmise from my reading are also offered by iskcon’s BBT. in fact all book i do have at present issue from iskcon’s BBT, but now am given to worry that prabhupada’s message contained therein is not faithfully rendered. is my concern justified? if replacements are not currently available from you, can you offer guidance as to how it is i should read these books differently — or perhaps not at all. haribol! your friend, jerry.
Date: Fri 19 August 2005
To: Jerry Oranski
From: Das dd
Subject: Re Available Books
This is a fair question. I have signed up Hansadutta to an affiliate program with Madhudvisa’s online store. Madhudvisa is selling the original, unrevised Bhagavad-gita As It Is and other books by Srila Prabhupada which have not been revised by Jayadvaita since he undertook his mission to revise all of Srila Prabhupada’s works in print. I just have to put up the links to the store, and will be doing this over the next few days.
…I think I need to make a clearer explanation how the revised editions differ—lay some samples of unrevised and revised side by side for comparison, perhaps, but don’t wish to scare off newcomers over the controversy.
The changes are significant. Jayadvaita has done extensive editing, in some places adding material and in others subtracting, all without authorization from Srila Prabhupada. His main justification is that he is cleaning up the grammar and typing mistakes, but the changes go beyond that, to even altering the meaning of the text altogether. Not only this, Jayadvaita’s revisions are incorporated seamlessly into the text, not as errata marked in footnotes, so whoever picks up Srila Prabhupada’s books, expecting that whatever is printed on the page is what Srila Prabhupada said can no longer be certain of that. ISKCON-BBTI are printing and distributing these books as if they are the same thing, as good as, or even “new and improved” and in this way defrauding the devotees and the public.
As far as reading the books… Srila Prabhupada has said that the book Bhagavat and the person Bhagavat are the same, or that the book Bhagavata is as good as the person Bhagavat, but when there is question over the book Bhagavat, then we should refer to the person Bhagavat. Have you seen Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s essay “Thakur Bhaktivinode”? In every instance in devotional life, the spiritual master or his recognized devotee is the point of reference.
Anyway, we wish to promote Srila Prabhupada’s books and make them accessible, but we also want to warn newcomers so that they will know enough to ask, “Are these the unrevised, original books? Or the changed books?” I think it would be good if Madhudvisa were to put up a statement on his store site in this regard.
Thank you very much once again for pointing this out. I’ll note it down as something to get working on right away.
Hope you are well. — Your servant, Das dd
Madhudvisa Prabhu followed up with a reply, assuring us that he is indeed selling mainly the original, unchanged books at his store.
[Posted Fri 19 August 2005]
ORIGINAL BOOKS at Hare Krishna Store
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005
From: Madhudvisa dasa
Subject: RE: re unrevised books sold at store
To: Das dd
…It is a very good point. I will make a more clearer declaration on www.krishna.tv that all the books are original. All the books there are the original Pre-1977 books. The only exception is the CC [Chaitanya-charitamrita] is there but it is clearly marked as being the current BBT edition. And it is not prominently advertised anywhere right now. Thank you very much for this suggestion.
ALL the books we have on www.krishna.tv [now krishnastore.com] are the original pre-1977 books. So you can see we have practically everything in print now. The only thing that is really missing is the Cc. and printing of that is now underway… we should have it by the Mayapur festival next year at least.
I will make this more clear on the site tomorow.