The Tradition of Debate (Pt 2: “Books Are The Basis”) (Classic)
THE TRADITION OF DEBATE
“BOOKS ARE THE BASIS”
by Yashoda Nandana dasa
THE POSITION OF THE SACRED SASTRAS AND THE COMMENTARIES OF THE CURRENT SAMPRADAYA-ACARYA, HIS DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA.
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness also known as The Krishna Consciousness Movement
It is imperative for anyone who may wish to suggest a debate or disputation, to consider many of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada’s statements regarding the sacred sastras [scriptures]. All bona fide Vedic debates and disputations are based on Sastra and the authorized commentaries of the previous acaryas. In our particular case, the importance and position of Srila Prabhupada’s original unrevised books and commentaries is supreme. Srila Prabhupada often stated that “Books [His books] are the basis.” His original books are solidly based on the foundation of the authentic Vedic shastras and the Puranas and the commentaries of the previous acharyas.
Sastra is the center for all.
“The descriptions given in these books are not mundane speculations, but they are authorized versions of liberated souls, presented by our humble self. The strength is not in us, but the strength is in the Supreme Lord. .And we have to simply present them without any adulteration. That is the secret of success.” (1) His Divine Grace] A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami [Prabhupada]. Letter to Devananda dasa, September 26, 1968
However, throughout His original books we find that he constantly refers to the sacred shastras as the actual center for establishing the absolute truth.
sruti smrti puranadi pancaratra-vidhim vina
aikantiki harer bhakti utpatayaiva kalpate.
Unless one refers to sastra (sruti. smrti and puranadi), one’s spiritual activity simply disturbs society.” (2). HDGACBSP. Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta Madhya-Lila 20.353 [Los Angeles, CA, USA Bhaktivedanta Book Trust [BBT] 1975]
“Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, sadhu sastra guru vakya. cittete kariya aikya. One should accept a thing as genuine by studying the words of saintly people, the spiritual master and shastra. The actual center is shastra, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the shastra, he is not a saintly person. Shastra is the center for all. Unfortunately at the present moment people do not refer to the shastra.” (3) Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, Madhya-Lila 20.352
Not only sentiment.
It is sometimes argued that all this logic and debate might be nice, but we should just allow the devotional sentiment to prevail. Why bother to engage in disputations, debate and arguments? Why not just be friendly with everyone and love all the devotees? Such wonderful sentiments are definitely appreciated, however Srila Prabhupada clearly says:
“So Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is not sentimental. People think that this is a sentimental movement. No. We have got very good background. If one wants to understand this sankirtana movement through philosophy and learning and logic. Oh, there is ample opportunity. It is not sentimental. It is based on science. It is based on the authority of the Vedas. But it is simplified, that is the beauty of this movement.” (4) Srila Prabhupada lecture May 2, 1969. Columbus, Ohio, USA.
“Everything is there, provided they take it. Everything will be all right. So this is not a sentimental fanaticism religious movement. That is scientific movement for the good of the whole world. That we have to convince by our character, by our behavior the people will accept it.” (5) Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 13, 1975. Tehran, Iran.
Debate on the basis of shastra and the statements of the Sampradaya-Acarya or on the basis of authoritarian dicta?
It is very important to differentiate between bona fide Vaishnavas in the authorized Sampradaya following the actual unrevised instructions of Srila Prabhupada and pseudo Vaishnavas. Bona fide Vaishnavas follow the instructions of the Sampradaya-Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, without change and without concoction. Bona fide authorized Vaishnavas and bona fide acharyas have the greatest respect for the sacred scriptures and the authorized commentaries or the fully realized acharyas. And the first sign of such respect is to present the sacred words and purports of the Acharya as they are, without any change, distortion, and manufactured conclusions. However, pretenders and impudent imitators have no respect for the authorized acharyas, although they are most expert at pretending to follow such great authorities. They engage in changing the words of the Sampradaya-Acharya and concoct philosophies not based on the pure and original teachings of the Acharya. One of the most important instructions in this connection is the no change instruction.
“Therefore we are presenting Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. No change. Others they are interpreting in their own way. That is not Bhagavad-Gita. That is something else.”(6) Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, August 5, 1976. Paris, France.
“So in the parampara system in that disciplic succession, you will find no change…you cannot change anything.” (7) Srila Prabhupada lecture, December I, 1996, New York, NY, USA.
Importance of the sacred shastras and the commentaries of the previous Acaryas.
No one can claim to be a bona fide Vaishnava and what to speak of a bona fide Vaishnava Acharya, if he disrespects and decries the great Purva-Acharyas or predecessor Vaishnava Acharyas, in our case the Sampradaya-Acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and His bona fide predecessors. Ambitious and envious persons in the dress of Vaishnavas and acharyas will often exhibit their envy and disrespect towards the great Acharyas and the sacred Shastras. In various statements and rationalizations to justify how they deviated from the original order of the Sampradaya-Acharya, such less intelligent persons actually display their disregard for the sacred and exalted positions of the acharyas and the sacred scriptures.
The potency of Srila Prabhupada’s books.
“But one thing I may inform you that the three books which I have already prepared namely the Bhagavad-Gita as it is, Teachings of Lord Chaitanya and Srimad-Bhagavatam, all these books are the ultimate source of knowledge. If you simply reproduce what I have tried to explain in those books, surely you will come out victorious, even in the midst of so many mundane scholars. The description given in these books, are not mundane speculations, but they are authorized versions of liberated souls, presented by our humble self. So the strength is not in us, but the strength is in the Supreme Lord. And we have simply to present them without any adulteration, in humble service spirit. That is the secret of success” (8) Srila Prabhupada letter to Devananda dasa, September 26, 1968.
Why are Srila Prabhupada’s books so potent?
Srila Prabhupada repeatedly told us again and again that He did not invent a new philosophy or his own philosophy. He said that His books were simply the presentation of the message of the great Acaryas.
Srila Prabhupada: “Thank you. You have read some of my books?”
Srila Prabhupada: “They are not my books. I am simply translating. They are written by Vyasadeva, the original Vedic scholar.”
Srila Prabhupada lecture, February 26, 1973, Jakarta, Indonesia
Ramesvara: “The only hope is to read your books.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Not my books, Krsna’s books.” (10)
Srila Prabhupada Room conversation, June 8, 1976, Los Angeles, CA USA.
Srila Prabhupada’s literary contribution will be remembered in history.
Brahmananda: “In the airport. And this caused big sensation, because never, even big Indian gurus have come to South Africa. Never have any whites bowed down. It was the first time whites bowed down to…”
Srila Prabhupada: “They clapped. After hearing me, they clapped. They purchased books. Now they are selling books. Some think my books are more important. We shall give more concentration for pushing and publishing. What do you think?”
Tamala Krsna: “Yes. That is our weapons. They are our strength, they are our guidance, and they are our ammunition. Everything is based on these books, everything. We are…”
Srila Prabhupada: “One Indian. a very learned scholar in Chandigarh, he has given very good certificate. What is that?”
Satsvarupa: “He said that ‘There have been many commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita including Ramanuja, Madhva and Sankara,’ and then, he said ‘Tilak and Gandhi, but of all of them the commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is the greatest commentary. ‘Punjab University.’ Then he said later that ‘ In this suffering mankind, God has sent His Holiness A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”
Srila Prabhupada: “So, let us do our duty. Our attempt Krsna will see. That gentleman has written,” Swami Bhaktivedanta will be remembered for centuries, making history.” Is not that?”
Satsvarupa: “Unsurpassed,” this…Not just remembered, it will be unsurpassed.”
Srila Prabhupada: “And many foreign scholars also, they have. In France… In France one professor has said, the…
Srila Prabhupada: “Aurobindo and Dr. RadhaKrishnan, they have compromised with the Western idea, but here is the real tradition of India.” Actually it is a fact. All of them, they have tried to make a hodge podge. And from the beginning my idea was I shall present as it is. That’s all. Therefore I gave this name. “As it is.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu said yare dekha tare kaha krsna-upadesa. Why shall I manufacture idea? Present this as it is.” (11)
Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, February 15, 1977, Mayapura, India
It is not humanly possible to write so many books.
Srila Prabhupada: “Are you reading sometimes my books? Which one?”
George Harrison: “Mainly Krsna.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is the main book.” [laughs)
George Harrison: “Mukunda gave me the new books, but there’s so much to read.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Philosophy.”
George Harrison: “I don’t know how anybody could have written it, it’s is difficult to read all that amount”
Srila Prabhupada: “Sometimes, they are surprised how one man can write so many books, but it is Krsna’ s grace. Otherwise, not possible. Human being, it is not possible.”(12)
As It Is. No Addittion. No alteration.
Aksayananda: Preach more, then that would help? Because he was previously a principal of a school.”
Srila Prabhupada: “No, how he is preaching? Have you heard? No you cannot understand in Hindi.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Anyone?”
Dhananjaya: “We have been told he preaches nicely.”
Srila Prabhupada: “I have told him that ‘You simply read My books and reproduce it. That’s all. That will be preaching. ‘”
Aksayananda: “At least when he speaks to me in English, it is always very nice.”
Brahmananda: “He can memorize Prabhupada’s books and then just speak it.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is preaching. Our process is anusrnuyat. We hear from the superior and reproduce it. That is sravanam-kirtanam. Then perfect. If I add something, my own imagination, then it will spoil. No addition. alteration; As It Is. As it is your hear from your spiritual master, reproduce. That’s all. Yare dekha tare kaha krsna upadesa. This Krsna-upadesa is coming by parampara, so you reproduce. That’s all. Even a child can reproduce what he has heard from his father. It is not at all difficult.” (13)
August 29, 1975 Vrindavana, India
What will your three minutes preaching do? “If you sell a book to someone, that is better than your speaking to them, what will your three minutes preaching do? If they read a book [Srila Prabhupada’s original books] it may turn their life.”(14)
rila Prabhupada letter to Brahmananda Maharaja, November 3, 1972
How to associate with the Sampradaya-Acarya: Srila Prabhupada.
Indian man: “[we] like your company very much in Toronto and we feel like talk you so much, but we don’t have so much time to talk with you. You have so much mercy, so we have not known much about Krsna from you.”
Srila Prabhupada: “So in my absence you read the books. What I talk, I have written in the books. That’s all.”
Indian man: “Personally we think more greater.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That’s all right. But still, you can associate with me by reading My books.”(15)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, August 7, 1975, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“I am pleased to hear that you are chanting 16 rounds daily and reading my books regularly and following the four rules. In my books the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual will develop. Krishna Consciousness is not a hackneyed thing but it is something which is our natural and original consciousness. You may please me most by reading my books, and following the instructions therein and by becoming fully Krishna conscious in this life time.”(16)
Srila Prabhupada letter to Bahurupa dasa, November 22, 1974.
The authority of the Sampradaya-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: “I am surprised how I have written so many, [books] what to speak of them? It is all Krsna’s mercy.”
Dhira Krsna: “One professor the other day was trying to convince one of our boys that you were coming in the disciplic succession and were authorized to translate all these books.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, that is right.”
Dhira Krsna: “Because he was dressed and he didn’t know that he was your disciple, so he was saying, ‘Bhaktivedanta Swami, he is coming in a disciplic line straight from Krsna. That’s why he can speak on all these books.
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, that is a fact. That authority I have got. That’s a fact. tasyaite kathita hyarthah prakasante mahatmanah. They become manifest all the meanings of the Vedic literature yasya deve para bhaktih.”(17)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 1, 1975, Atlanta Georgia, USA
Great danger of disrespecting the great authoritative acaryas.
Srila Prabhupada describes this tendency in His purport to the lsa Upanisad:
“..By false religious sentiments they [the pseudo-religionists) present a make-show of devotional service, indulging in all sorts of immoral principles and still pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative acaryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession; and to mislead people in general they themselves become so-called acaryas, without even following the principles of the acaryas.”(18)
Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 12, purport, page 64, 2nd paragraph, Iskcon Press 1969
“So this is the fact, that Krsna will never tolerate insult on a devotee.He will never tolerate. The devotee may excuse, trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna. He may suffer. Just like Prahlada Maharaja, he was suffering. His father was torturing him. He was suffering, .All right.’ But Krsna never tolerated. ‘ Oh, you have done so much. Now, it the time to kill him.’ This is the process. Krsna will tolerate. If you insult Krsna, He will tolerate, but if you insult His devotee, He will never tolerate. Then you are finished. Then you are finished.” (19)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, December 2, 1973, Los Angeles, CA, USA
The mentality of the critics of the bona fide acaryas.
“The bona fide spiritual master always engages in unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By this test he is known to be a direct manifestation of the Lord and a genuine representative of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Such a spiritual master is known as acaryadeva. Influenced by an envious temperament and dissatisfied because of an attitude of sense gratification, mundaners criticize a real acarya. In fact a bona fide acarya is non-different from the Personality of Godhead.”(20)
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 1.46 purport
Srila Prabhupada established that “Books are the basis” for the Krsna Consciousness movement. The original books and writings of His Divine Grace AC. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada constitute the fundamental basis and the authority of the Suddha-Vaishnava movement promulgated by Srila Prabhupada. Thus, prior to His departure for Goloka Vrindavana. Srila Prabhupada, expressed his serious concerns about change which had been made in His books during His manifested presence. Let us examine some of the various categories of deviations plaguing the GBC and its self-appointed acaryas. This will help us to keep in perspective the various contradictions and shaky philosophical position of the proponents of a so-called debate.
1) CHANGING THE SACRED WORDS AND PURPORTS OF THE ACARYA.
Devotee: “But sometimes to make better English, I think they were making philosophical mistakes also. There is not so much need of making so much better English. Your English is sufficient. It is very clear, very simple. We have caught over 125 changes. They’re changing so many things. We are wondering if this is necessary. 1will show you today. I have kept the book,”
Srila Prabhupada: “I know that these rascals are doing. What can be done? How can they be relied on?”
Svarupa Damodara: “It’s not the responsibility of the BBT trustee, to see these things don’t change without Prabhupada’s sanction.”
Srila Prabhupada: “How to check this? How to stop this?”
Tamala Krsna: “They should not make any changes without consulting Jayadvaita.”
Srila Prabhupada: “But they are doing without authority.”
Svarupa Damodara: “1 think we should make whole survey, all books already printed, before printing the next batch and check any mistakes so that it should be corrected. Otherwise, if the scholars find out that there are so many mistakes in the books, then the quality and the appreciation will be reduced. Yes, we find so far that they are appreciating so much within the scholarly circle, and we want to maintain that actually.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Very serious feature. It is not possible for me to check, and they are doing all nonsense, freedom.”
Devotee: “Jaya Srila Prabhupada.”
Srila Prabhupada: “What to do?”
Tamala Krsna: “I think Svarupa Damodara’s point, that all the books should be checked before they’re reprinted again… And they have to be checked not by some so-called learned Sanskrit man but by a learned devotee.”
Srila Prabhupada: “It is a very serious situation. R is in direct.”
Svarupa Damodara: “I think they’re working too independently without consulting properly.”
Devotee: ., Sometimes they appeal that ‘We can make better English,’ so they change like that, just like in the case of Isopanisad. There are over a hundred changes. So where is the need? Your words are sufficient. The potency is there. When they change, it is something else.”
Svarupa Damodara: “That’s actually a very dangerous mentality.”
Devote: “What is it going to be in five years? It’s going to be a different book.”
Srila Prabhupada: ” So you…What are you doing… it is a 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 the original way.” (21) Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, June 22, 1977, Vrindavana, India.
Later on in the conversation Prabhupada gives an order not to change anything.
Srila Prabhupada: “So you bring this to Satsvarupa. They cannot change anything.”(22) Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, June 22, 1977, Vrindavana, India.
The result or changing the Acarya’s books is that the authority is lost.
Paramahansa: “People… I’ve talked to professors who know the original Hebrew and the original tongues that the Bible was written in. They say that it has changed so much that you can hardly..”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, they are changing, just like he said, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ They are now changing, ‘Thou shall not commit murder.’ They are doing that.”
Paramahamsa: “Yes. They have a modern Bible, using all modern terminology.”
Srila Prabhupada: “So when you change the authority is lost. Just like in our society, sometimes they do something nonsense and they say, Prabhupada said’… We know that it is deteriorated like that.”
Ganesa: “Srila Prabhupada. if the knowledge was handed down by the saintly kings, evam parampara praptam how is it that the knowledge was lost?
Srila Prabhupada: “When it was not handed down. Simply understood by speculation. Or if it is not handed down as it is. They might have made some changes. Or they did not hand it down. Suppose I handed it down to you, but if you do not do that. then it is lost. Now the Krishna Consciousness movement is going on in my presence. Now after my departure, if you do not do this, then it is lost. If you go as you are doing now, then it will go on. But if you stop…”(23)
Room Conversation with Srila Prabhupada, May 9, 1975, Perth, Australia.
The vikara-vadis [change advocates] should take serious note of the above warnings by Srila Prabhupada. Changing the words of the acarya is a very serious business with serious consequences.
Disobedience of the Acarya’s Order?
It is important to note that as of writing of this essay, the original corrections of several books have never been returned to the “original way,” as specifically ordered by His Divine Grace. This was the direct order of Srila Prabhupada. As such the original editions of Sri lsopanisad, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, Second Canto, etc. still remain in their unauthorized changed edited format. It is also significant to note that Srila Prabhupada also told one Gurukula teacher in Vrindavana: ‘You can tell them [the GBC] that if they change one word from my books, it will spoil everything I have done.’(24) Unrecorded statement by Srila Prabhupada to senior disciple, June 23, 1977, Vrindavana, India.
The proponents of a so-called debate have yet to return Srila Prabhupada’s books their original first printed editions. Before they can be allowed to present their views and opinions in a so-called debate, they first must return Srila Prabhupada’s books to their original first printed edition condition, as ordered by Srila Prabhupada.
2) IN CONSULTATION WITH WHOM? March 1978.
“First offense is guror avajna, defying the authority of the guru. This is the first offense. So one who is offensive. how he can make advance in chanting? He cannot make. Then everything is finished in the beginning. Guror avajna. Everything is there. If one disobeys the order of the spiritual master, he cannot remain in the pure status of life. He cannot be siksa-guru or anything else; he is finished immediately…The first offense is to disobey the orders of guru. That is first offense. So if you are offensive, how can you become advanced by chanting? That is also not possible?”(25)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 4, 1974, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
In late March of 1978, the Governing Body Commission [GBC] of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness [ISKCON] convened for its annual meeting at Mayapura. West Bengal, India. This was the first annual meeting since the departure of the Founder-Acarya on the 14th November of 1977. The members of the managerial commission took it upon themselves to go and seek advice from outside of the books and self-evident instructions of Srila Prabhupada, the actual authority for ISKCON. They chose to consult other authorities than the sacred words and instructions of their spiritual master. This was reflected in the second line of their paper to the entire Krsna Conscious Society. The title of the paper was “The process for carrying out Srila Prabhupada’s desires for future initiations,” (A Paper Prepared by the GBC in Consultation with Higher Authorities, Mayapur, March 1978)”
It is helpful to remind ourselves that many of the current philosophical deviations and concepts of the GBC and its acaryas have their origin with certain alleged authorities consulted by the GBC after Srila Prabhupada’s departure for Goloka-Vrindavana. The very title of this report raises a series of questions which the GBC still has to give satisfactory explanations. First, they used the term’ authorities’ in the plural sense. This brings up several questions:
1)Who were these ‘authorities?’
2)When did Srila Prabhupada ever say that there were other authorities than Him to be consulted for the management and practical spiritual direction of His movement?
3)Where did He ever describe in His original books about consulting with outside authorities?
Further, the term “higher authorities” still has not been clarified by them. Again more unanswered questions rernain.
1)Who are these “higher authorities?”
2)When did Srila Prabhupada ever say that there were “higher authorities” than Him for the practical application of the Krsna Consciousness philosophy and the management of His movement?
3)Where in His books and teachings did Srila Prabhupada ever recommend to go to outside and seek the advice of “higher authorities?”
The use of the plural sense is also troubling because, if the GBC claims that Prabhupada authorized them to go and consult some of his Godbrothers, or one elderly saintly Godbrother of Srila Prabhupada in particular, they are then caught in a contradiction of their own making. There is an ample body of evidence (which is now finally available) to suggest that this was not desired by Srila Prabhupada for His institution and His movement.
“We shall not make the same mistake in our Iskcon camp.” (26)
Srila Prabhupada letter to Rupanuga Maharaja, April 28, 1974.
“Now I have issued orders that all my disciples should avoid all of my Godbrothers. They should not have any dealings with them nor even correspondence. Nor should they give them any of my books or should they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of their temples. Please avoid them.” (27)
Srila Prabhupada letter to Visvakarma dasa, November 9, 1975.
It should be noted that the above order of Srila Prabhupada was never amended or altered from November of 1975 up to His departure in November of 1977. If the GBC intended to refer to a singular “higher authority,” the wording was actually incorrect. The ramifications of making such a statement would be very deep. However, were they indirectly referring to themselves as “higher authorities?” Was the new advisor now considered a higher authority than Srila Prabhupada by the authors of this March 1978 paper? If that was the logic and thinking at the time, they should have used the word authority? Of course this would have begged a whole series of fresh questions? Who is a higher authority than Srila Prabhupada in His own society and movement etc? Another consideration is whether the individuals who drafted this so-called authoritative paper considered themselves “higher authorities” than their own guru? If they did not consider themselves higher than their own guru, and were truly and actually following His instructions, orders and desires, as expressed in His original books, then what was the necessity to go and consult with “higher authorities,” without the permission of their own authority, Srila Prabhupada? If one is fixed in the order of the spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, then why does he need to go and consult other “higher authorities,” not authorized by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada?
Thus the unauthorized consultation with “higher authorities” was the beginning of a long list of deviations and transgressions of Srila Prabhupada’s orders. This would soon manifest as a result of the impudent disobedience of the order and the neglect of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and books. All necessary information and knowledge necessary for the practice and preaching of Krsna Consciousness is found in Srila Prabhupada’s original books and instructions.
“If death takes place, let it take place here. So there is nothing to be said new, whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue with your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present, it doesn’t matter. As Krsna is living eternally, similarly living being also lives eternally.”(28)
Room Conversation with Srila Prabhupada, May 17, 1977, Vrindavana, India.
Gargamuni [letter to Prabhupada] “We fervently pray that Your Divine Grace continue to remain in this world because we need your personal guidance. Even when Lord Krsna left disappeared, Arjuna lost all strength temporarily”
Srila Prabhupada: ” I shall remain your personal guidance, physically present or not physically, as I am getting guidance from my Guru Maharaja.”(29)
Room conversation with Srila Prabhupada, July 14, 1977, Vrindavana, India.
Paramananda: “We’re always feeling your presence very strongly. Srila Prabhupada, simply by your teachings and your instructions. We’re always meditating on your instructions.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Thank you. That is the real presence. Physical presence is not important.”(30)
Room conversation with Srila Prabhupada, October 6, 1977, Vrindavana, India.
It is obvious from the above conversations that the individuals who decided, and on their own volition and without Srila Prabhupada’s authority, to go and consult with higher authorities [themselves?], did not understand or believe in the above instructions of His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada. Thus a dangerous precedent of minimization and disobedience of Srila Prabhupada’ s instructions was set.
3)REJECTING THE AUTHORITY OF SRILA PRABHUPADA AND THE PREVIOUS ACARYAS.
26 February 1977. Vrindavana, India
In late February of 1979, the entire GBC body and its various “appointed gurus” assembled in Vrindavana to allegedly calm the various concerns of numerous local devotees. The various devotees had expressed their concerns and disagreements over the issue of the installation of large Vyasa-asanas in the direct presence of Srila Prabhupada in His temple rooms and the perceived displacement of Srila Prabhupada as the center and focus of His movement. The issue of whether the “appointed gurus” had factually been appointed or selected in the capacity of Diksa-Guru was a non-issue, since the GBC refused to even discuss or open up this particular point. When various scriptural evidences were presented to the entire GBC body to the effect that it is an offense and it is forbidden in the sastras to accept separate worship in front of one’s own spiritual master, the GBC categorically rejected the evidence. They stated: ‘This is not in Prabhupada’s books, therefore we cannot accept this.’ When it was further argued that ‘The statements of Srila Jiva Goswarni Prabhupada and Srila Sanatana Goswarni are as good as Srila Prabhupada’s statements because they are the original Acaryas of our Sampradaya,” the reply was ‘We are not going to accept this evidence, because Prabhupada did not quote this directly in His books.'(31) GBC representative, Late February, 1979, Vrindavana, India.
Thus, in direct disobedience of Srila Prabhupada’ s instructions and the sacred Sastras and the statements of our previous authoritative Acaryas, the GBC chose to deliberately disobey their instructions. They adamantly insisted that large Vyasa-asanas should remain in Srila Prabhupada’s temple rooms and that the “appointed acaryas” should accept worship in front of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. Thus the GBC and its ‘self appointed gurus’ established a double fault in their philosophical position.
- Sruti sastra nindanam.
They impudently rejected the authority of the previous Acaryas and the sacred sastric statements of the Acaryas, [specifically Srila Jiva Goswarni Prabhupada and Srila Sanatana Goswarni), which are the real explanation of the sacred sastras, by disobeying their authoritative sacred statements and injunctions thus minimizing and belittling their importance,
ajnas casraddhadhanas ca samsayatma vinasyati
nayam !oko ‘srina paro na su/chamsamsayatmanah
“Persons who are almost like animals have no faith in or knowledge of, the standard revealed scriptures; and some of them. even though they have knowledge of, or can cite passages from the revealed scriptures, have actually no faith in these words. Such persons cannot have any standing in Krsna Consciousness. They fall down. Out of all the above mentioned persons, those who have no faith and are always doubtful make no progress at all… In other words doubtful persons have no status whatsoever in spiritual emancipation. One should therefore follow in the footsteps of great acaryas who are in the disciplic succession and thereby attain success.”(32)
Bhagavad Gita As It Is, 4.40 1972 McMillan Edition.
Acarya-ninda- insulting the Acarya.
The GBC simultaneously insulted and offended His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada by choosing to maintain the large unauthorized Vyasa-asanas and accept separate simultaneous worship in front of Him, despite the fact that they had been told that this constituted an offense against the spiritual master. This went on for almost ten years after having received direct Sastric evidence that this was a serious transgression and offense. They continued and accepted direct worship in front of Him, and thus daily insulted him. The result is that persons who were still struggling with anarthas were and still are being promoted as being full fledged acaryas in the parampara.
Accepting and rejecting the authority or the great Acaryas, the mayavadi technique.
“This is a devotee, that I accept everything, whatever you say ‘This is devotee, not that I make some amendment and then I accept. And this is nonsense. You cannot’…This is called ardha-kukkuti-nyaya means one man was keeping a hen. and it was delivering every day a golden egg. So the man thought. ‘It is very profitable, but it is expensive to feed this hen, better cut the head so I shall save the expenditure of feeding her, and I’ll get the eggs without charge.’ So these rascals. they take. accept sastras like that. ‘Oh. this is not… That is very expensive. Cut this portion.’ And when Krsna says’ Anyone who sees me in everyone.’ ‘Oh. that is very palatable.’ And when Krsna says: ‘You give up everything, you surrender…’ ‘Oh. That is not palatable.’ And this is ardha-kukkutinyaya. So people accept sastras in that way, the mayavadis.”(33)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, December 13, 1970, Indore, India.
“Logically, if one accepts half the truth, he cannot understand the whole.” (34)
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 7.140
“So there are many who actually do not follow the principles of sastra. but they have got some faith. Then what is the result of such mentality? ye sastra vidhim utsrjya: “Not following the sastra-vidhi. the regulative principle mentioned in the sastras,” yajante sradhayanvitah. they also make one guru or incarnation or this or that there are so many going on. So what is the result of such activities? This is very important question because there are so many pseudo so-called gurus. They do not know what is Sastra, neither do they follow the principle. Still. They gather some people, and the world is full with such not bona fide gathering. So, but they have faith in their so-called guru that some way or other, so called meditation… These things are going on. So what is the result of this? It is very important question. ye sastra vidhim utsrjya yajante sraddha yanvitah. But they have got faith, faith is there but misguided.”(35)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 4, 1974, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
“And if he does not follow the instruction of the spiritual master he is a rascal. He is defying the authority. That’s all.”(36)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 4, 1974, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
The question may be raised as to why this incident which took place in 1979, is still being cited. The answer is that many of the GBC’s current philosophical positions and arguments are now based on some esoteric statements of some books of Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada and Srila Sanatana Goswami. The GBC later changed their views when they deemed it convenient to rationalize their position. And they do misinterpret those statements. So on one hand the GBC and its self-appointed gurus claim that the scriptural evidence presented in 1979 had to be rejected since it was not contained in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Now they claim that the writings of these Acaryas should be accepted, when they quote it to attempt to evidence some of their pet theories regarding re-initiations and gurus becoming demons. One year they reject the authority of the acaryas, the next year they allegedly cite the same acaryas to defend their speculative theories. Thus the proponents of a so-called debate would have to answer this contradiction before they can hope to present any apologists or panditas to defend their position. For no one can claim to be a bona fide Vaishnava, if he rejects the authority of the predecessor acaryas, what to speak of debating contentious points of Vaishnava philosophy. If one has no respect for the Sarnpradaya-Acarya’s words and sastras, and for the predecessor acaryas’s statements then what is his position? Thus they must first answer the following questions.
1) Why did the GBC and its panditas chose to disobey the injunctions of Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada and Srila Sanatana Goswami when it was directly presented to them, regarding the offense of accepting separate worship in front of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada?
2) What is the position of a Vaisnava acarya or a group of Vaishnava Acaryas who disobey the injunctions of the previous acaryas?
First of all it is important to remember that a bona fide spiritual master never deviates from the instructions of Lord Krishna and the previous acaryas.
“A bona fide spiritual master… never deviates at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord…”(37) Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, 4.42 McMillan 1972 First edition
“The spiritual master is never deviated from the path of the authorities.”(38) Srila Prabhupada’s original unrevised edition of Easy Journey to Other Planets, page 24.
“The spiritual master must never be carried away by an accumulation of wealth or a large number of followers. A bona fide spiritual master will never become like that.”(39) Nectar of Devotion, Ch 14, p.117, “Devotional Qualifications” Boston, MS,USA ISKCON Press, 1970
Result of disobeying the order of the guru.
Hrdayananda: “He wants to know if the greatest offense is to disobey the guru.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, that is the first offense. Guror ava}na sruti sastra nindanam… If you accept guru and again disobey him, then what is your position? You are not a gentleman. You promise before guru, before Krsna, before fire, that .I shall obey your order: I shall execute this,’ and again you do not do this. Then you are not even a gentleman, what to speak of a devotee. This is common sense.”(40)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, February 11, 1975, Mexico City, Mexico
“First offense is guror avajnam defying the authority of guru. This is the first offense. So one who is offensive. how he can make advance in chanting? He cannot make. Then everything is finished in the beginning? Guror avajna. Everything is there. If one is disobeying the order of the spiritual master, he cannot remain in the pure status of life. He cannot be siksa-guru or anything else. He is finished immediately.” (41)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 4, 1974 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
“You sing everyday. Guru mukha padma vakya cittete kariya aikya. That is the process. Wherever you live, if you follow strictly the instruction of guru, then-you remain perfect. But if we create, concoct ideas against the instruction of guru, then we are doomed, hell. Yasyaprasada bhagavat prasada yasya prasadan na gatih kuto’pi. There is no more shelter, finished.”(42)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, February 3, 1975 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
From the above statements of His Divine Grace, one can see that the transgressions of changing His books, suppressing Srila Prabhupada’s letters, and disobeying His instructions to return his books to their original format is a very serious deviation and disobedience of the acarya’s order.
4)SASTRAS ARE INCONCLUSIVE IN THEMSELVES?
August 17, 1980. In July of 1980, a GBC and guru from Southern California [now former guru) decided to remove his Vyasa-asana from Srila Prabhupada’s temple rooms. He informed his initiates that Srila Prabhupada should now be the exclusive center of worship for all of his followers and for all the devotees in his “zone”! He wrote two papers attempting to explain his position. Many, if not most devotees were very sympathetic to the idea. The concept of a senior devotee initiating devotees and guiding them to exclusively worship Srila Prabhupada was viewed by most devotees in the “zone” as a solution to the divisive and chaotic system of the then prevailing “zonal gurus” and their impudent imitation of Srila Prabhupada.
Prof. E. Burke Rochford, Jr. analyzed the changes proposed by the Southern California Guru: ..”The guru from the Western zone in America [Rarnesvara Swami] sought to have the spiritual role of the new gurus redefined theologically. It was his view that because the gurus had shown themselves to be fallible and therefore not pure in their Krishna Consciousness, which their guru status required, the formal role of the gurus should be altered. In particular he believed that the gurus were not worthy of the level of worship that they had been receiving from their disciples. He wanted that level of worship to be reserved for Srila Prabhupada, the true acarya. Western guru argued that the new gurus should serve only as Prabhupada’s representatives. The gurus would initiate disciples into Krishna Consciousness on Prabhupada’s behalf, instead of their own behalf… Western guru believed that the proper role of the new gurus should be to link their disciples directly to Srila Prabhupada. Acceptance of this interpretation of the role of the new ISKCON guru would have limited drastically the independent authority of the gurus. In a symbolic gesture, Western guru had his Vyasa-Asana removed from the temples in his zone and discontinued Guru puja [his own guru puja]. Despite the fact that this proposal had the support of many of Prabhupada’s disciples, the GBC under pressure from the other ten ISKCON gurus, overruled Western Guru’s proposals to restructure the guru system.” (43) Professor E. Burk~Rochford. Jr. Hare Krsna in America Chapter 9. The end of Charisma. Page 234-235.
The GBC and its various “zonal appointed gurus”swiftly reacted by convening an emergency meeting in Dallas, Texas in August of 1980. A sort of emergency fire brigade to douse the fires of rebellion. After severely chastising the “deviant guru brother” who had the audacity to attempt to re-establish the exclusive worship of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, in Srila Prabhupada’s temples, the GBC had to calm the various devotees who were protesting its various policies and its convoluted and often contradictory philosophies. The issue of guru worship in Srila Prabhupada’s temples was the most controversial at the time, and the one which was alienating the most devotees. The GBC had to respond swiftly to attempt to calm the masses. They released a paper to the entire society from Dallas, Texas on August 17, 1980.
While the GBC paper itself has been critiqued by numerous devotees, the purpose of this section is not to engage in a detailed refutation, but to show how the technique employed by the various gurus and members of the GBC was a serious deviation from the proper understanding of the role of sastra or scriptural reference in the matter of debates and Vedic disputations. In addition there is a serious problem when a guru miscites and misquotes his own guru. This is not in line with the standard of the great Acaryas. These miscitations and discrepancies may not be evident to the unsuspecting reader through simple cursory reading, but careful study and thorough analysis of the original texts and letters cited will display the GBC’s blatant disregard for scriptural authority as well as a propensity for distortion and misrepresentation.
GBC statement: “Certainly all ISKCON standards are based on sastra, but sastra has to be understood as ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada taught and demonstrated. This is the meaning of mahajano yena gala sa pantha. In that verse, even the sastras are declared inconclusive in themselves; the truth must be learned from the Mahajana. Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s greatest authority, and from the Vedic literatures He has selected and established these principles we must follow.”(44) Governing Body Commission, International Society for Krsna Consciousness, GBC Report, Chapter 2, “Illogical Misleading philosophy”, pg.2. [Dallas, TX. USA, GBC of ISKCON, August 17, 1980)
The above statement does contain some truths, however, there is a dangerous misinterpretation inserted there. On one hand it appears that the authors of the GBC paper are glorifying Srila Prabhupada by placing his importance as the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON in a unique perspective, Further they argue that the standards of ISKCON are based on Srila Prabhupada’s example and that He is the greatest authority of ISKCON and the Mahajana. Yet they proceed to simultaneously insult him by distorting his translation of that verse in the Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta. On one hand the Panditas of the managerial commission claimed that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s greatest authority, yet while this was being written [August 1980] they already had done and/or were in the process of doing the following:
1) They already had disregarded the scriptural and traditional authority of the great Acaryas such as Srila Jiva Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami in February of 1979 [see section no. 2], and
2) They had already neglected to return His authoritative books to their original condition as requested by Srila Prabhupada, [section no.1] and .
3) They had already suppressed the availability of crucial and most important conversations in the last days of His Divine Grace’s manifested presence. [section no 6]
4) And now they were in the process of misrepresenting the Acarya’ s words in His own translation of the verse mahajano yena gatha sa panthah.
Let us examine Srila Prabhupada’s translations of the famous verse mahajano yena gala sa panthah from the Maha-Bharata. This verse is cited twice in the Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, once in Madhya-Lila 17.186, and once in Madhya-Lila 25-57, Both of Srila Prabhupada’s English translations are identical.
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued: ‘Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person. Consequently as the sastras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the Mahajanas advocate.”
“This is a verse spoken by Yudhisthira Maharaja in the Maha-Bharata, Vana Parva (313.117)”(45) Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, Madhya-Lila 17. 186 and 25.57
Thus the official managerial commission’s interpretation that “the sastras are declared inconclusive in themselves” is quite different than the authorized translation of Srila Prabhupada which reads “dry arguments are inconclusive.” What is noteworthy here is that of the five members who wrote this paper on behalf of the managerial commission, four of them were actually members of the original self “appointed acaryas.”
This naturally brings up more questions.
1) Which sastra did the “appointed acaryas” and authors of the managerial commission paper consult before writing this speculative idea that “the sastras are declared inconclusive in themselves?” It could not have been from Srila Prabhupada’s words since they are categorically different than their concocted version.
2) Which previous bona fide acarya or acaryas in the bona fide Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Parampara ever misquoted and misrepresented the actual words of their guru? And what is the position of a guru or acarya who misrepresents the actual statements of His guru?
3) If according to the managerial commission’s scholars, the “sastras are declared inconclusive in themselves,” then why do they bother quoting the “inconclusive sastras” to support their conclusions? Why cite and quote a body of texts [sastras] which they deem to be “inconclusive in themselves?”
4) What kind of conclusion will the Panditas reach by referring to the “inconclusive sastras”?
5) The traditional orthodox understanding of the position of a bona fide realized acarya is that whatever he speaks is directly inspired and directed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada often stated that whatever the pure devotee acarya speaks it is to be understood that the Supreme Personality of Godhead dictates from within. Were these Acaryas inspired by Sri Krsna to misrepresent Srila Prabhupada, Lord Sri Krsna’ s pure devotee? And also to misrepresent the Sastras?
If after so much research and scriptural analysis, the members of the managerial commission’s research team have reached a conclusion that the “sastras are declared inconclusive by themselves,” and then they allege that such a statement in found in the Maha-Bharata verse translated by Srila Prabhupada in the Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, then regardless of what discussions and conclusions the managerial commission’s Panditas reach it will ultimately be inconclusive, as per their own statements.
There are several points to conclude from the above statements:
1) The GBC acaryas and Panditas misrepresented the actual original statements of Srila Prabhupada.
2) They also simultaneously misrepresented the meaning of the verse from the Maha-Bharata cited in the Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta.
3) They have put forward a misleading contradiction.
4) By insisting that all the members of the Krsna Consciousness society should accept their statements, and declarations, even though untrue, they propagated falsehoods in the position of acaryas, and apa-siddhanta or misrepresentation of the sacred sastras.
5) If any of the Panditas and scholars of the GBC wish to debate any philosophical contentions they should not quote from “the sastras which are declared inconclusive in themselves,” or else the participants in a so-called debate should first publicly disassociate themselves from any members of the GBC, or the entire GBC, who have written and participated in the propagation of the “inconclusive sastra” falsehood and misleading propaganda.
5) CHANGING THE ORIGINAL “BHAGAVAD-GITA AS IT IS” OF THE ACARYA. 1977-1983
Srila Prabhupada hinted several times about the secret of His success. He told His devotees that He was only presenting the same message and the exact same instruction that He received from His Guru Maharaja, with no change. This is the real essence of the continuation of the disciplic succession. In 1983 the GBC and the then BBT trustees unauthorizedly allowed the original unabridged edition of the Bhagavad-Gita  edition to be changed on the plea of restoration of grammatical correctness and embellishment. They allowed hundreds of changes to take place in many of Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports. It is important to mention at this point that neither the GBC and their so-called authorized restoration specialists have ever produced one verifiable quote or direct order from Srila Prabhupada where He gave the order or the instruction to change His original translations and purports from the unabridged Bhagavad-Gita [1972 edition]. On the contrary, He has given hundreds of quotes and citations where He says not to change, not to alter the sastra, [original scriptural texts and purports of the Acarya]. We hereby cite a few excerpts from these instructions of Srila Prabhupada to illustrate the point.
We do not change.
“We are therefore presenting Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. no change. We do not change. Anybody seriously reading our book. he’ll be liberated. There is no doubt. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eii. That’s a fact, if not all books, simply Krsna book. if one reads carefully, daily, he is liberated undoubtedly.”(46)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, April 13, 1977, Bombay, India
Our books must remain as they are.
“Our literature is not sentimental stories. It is meant to be understood by the intelligent class of men. Children and those with child-like mentalities will do better to chant “Hare Krishna” and take prasadam. We cannot water down the philosophy to make it more palatable. Our books must remain as they are. Do not waste your time anymore with such attempts. We are not going to publish it. Whatever books we have got, let them try to understand, and if they cannot then let them chant “Hare Krishna” and take prasadam.” (47) Srila Prabhupada letter to Lilavati devi dasi, March 31, 1977.
Do not change.
“So if you read Bhagavad-Gita as it is, that is mad-asrayah. But if you interpret Bhagavad-Gita according to your rascal imagination, that is not Bhagavad-Gita. Therefore it is called mad-asrayah, ‘under my protection’, as I am teaching …We are therefore presenting, we do not change. Why should you change. What right you have to change? Bhagavad-Gita is a book of authority and if I make my own interpretation, then where is the authority? Can you change the lawbook according to your interpretation? Then what is the meaning of that lawbook? That is not lawbook. You cannot change. Similarly, if you accept Bhagavad-Gita as the book of authority, you cannot change the meaning. THAT IS NOT ALLOWED. What right? If you have got some opinion, if you have got some philosophy, you can write in your own book. Why you are, I mean to say, killing others and yourself by interpreting Bhagavad-Gita? You give your own thesis in a different way. But these people they take advantage of the popularity of Bhagavad-Gita and interpret in a different way according to their own whims. Therefore people do not understand what is Krsna. That is the difficulty. And the purpose of Bhagavad-Gita is to understand Krsna. And the so-called scholar and politician’s commentary is to banish Krsna or to kill Krsna. the Kamsa’s policy – The Kamsa was always thinking of Krsna how to kill Him. This is called demonic endeavor. So that will not help you.”(48)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, April 27, 1974 Hyderabad, India
The official explanation from the GBC and the editorial Pandits.
The GBC and their editorial Panditas often reply that the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is was not changed. but it was restored as close as possible to its manuscript condition to reflect the original dictation of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. Their explanation of why they have undertaken the task to “restore” or change the original 1972 Gita edition is given on page 866 of the revised edition. We hereby cite from the GBC official explanation
.. A note about the second edition”
.. Srila Prabhupada finished Bhagavad-Gita As It Is in 1967. two years after He came from India to America. The Macmillan Company published an abridged edition in 1968 and the first unabridged edition in 1972.” After giving a brief summary of the early efforts and struggles of the English and Sanskrit editors in their efforts to properly edit Srila Prabhupada’s original dictations and how they had to deal “with heavily accented English hard to follow and his Sanskrit quotations strange to their ears, “the Panditas continued their explanations of how they achieved the current revised edition. They state:
…And now they were able to see their way through perplexities in the manuscript by consulting the same Sanskrit commentaries Srila Prabhupada consulted when writing Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.” The result is a work of even greater richness and authenticity. The word-for-word Sanskrit-English equivalents now follow more closely the standard of Srila Prabhupada’s other books and are therefore more clear and precise. In places the translations, though already correct, have been revised to come closer to the original Sanskrit and to Srila Prabhupada’s original dictation. In the Bhaktivedanta purports, many passages lost to the original edition have been restored to their places.”(49) H.H. Jayadvaita Swami and BBT editors. Bhagavad-Gita As It is, Revised Edition. p. 866 [Northampton, MS, USA, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust reg, 1983
There are a few problems with some of these explanations.
No verifiable evidence from Srila Prabhupada Himself.
A) Where is the order to change?
The restoration specialists and the GBC appointed Panditas have not provided any verifiable evidence from direct statements of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada where He directly ordered them to revise His original edition of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. Although they have claimed that their revision was authorized, the question remains, authorized by whom?
B) Plenty of time to advise a change.
An undertaking of this magnitude must have the permission of and authority of the original author, Srila Prabhupada. The original complete and unabridged Bhagavad-Gita was published in 1972. Srila Prabhupada ended His manifest physical presence on November 14, 1977. That is a full five years’ where the original Bhagavad-Gita was practically read every day by Srila Prabhupada in lectures, room conversations, speeches, discussions etc. If He did intend to have His verse translations and purports amended, altered, corrected or reedited, why did He not give one verifiable indication for His leaders to do so? So far the Panditas have yet to produce one verifiable statement from His Divine Grace where He directly instructed His devotees to correct His original Bhagavad-Gita.
C) Going beyond the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada?
The official GBC position on the so-called authorized changes is that the editors
a) had now been working with his books for the last fifteen years and “they were able to see their way through perplexities in the manuscript by consulting the same Sanskrit commentaries Srila Prabhupada consulted when writing Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.” They alleged that they reached a better result in their new edition than Srila Prabhupada did with his first edition.
b) “the result is a work of even greater richness and authenticity”, in places the translations though already correct, ave been revised to come closer to the original Sanskrit and to Srila Prabhupada’s original dictation.”
There are several points to be considered in this connection.
On whose authority did the GBC Panditas consult the original Sanskrit commentaries which Srila Prabhupada consulted when He wrote His Bhagavad-Gita As it is?, On their own or on Srila Prabhupada’ s authority? If they claim that it is on their own authority, then their revision project has no authority from Srila Prabhupada If they claim that it is on Srila Prabhupada’s authority, then when did Srila Prabhupada ever authorize his students to go and consult the different bhasyas [commentaries] of the great Acaryas such as Sripada Ramanujacarya, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, to re-edit His original work? If He did, where is the specific verifiable evidence that His students should go beyond him and consult the commentaries of the previous Acaryas to attempt to present an edition of “greater richness and authencity”? Have the students become more than the master?
D)Warning to students from the master, Srila Prabhupada.
“Personal realization does not mean that one should try to show the vanity of one’s learning trying to surpass the previous acarya” (50) Hdg A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami [Prabhupada) Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.4.1. Purport [New Delhi, India, The League of Devotees, 1962).
We do have evidence that He directly said not to change His books
“We cannot water down the philosophy to make it more palatable. Our books must remain as they are.” (51) Srila Prabhupada letter to Lilavati , March 31, 1977
Srila Prabhupada’s original Gita had been acclaimed by scholars and professors all over the world?
Srila Prabhupada’s first 1972 edition had so much richness and authenticity that it had been widely acclaimed and accepted by scholars and professors from allover the world? It was sufficiently rich and authentic by them to deserve their worthy appreciations and reviews. Were the scholars and professors tricked into reviewing a commentary of Serial Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-Gita and giving their appreciations?
If Srila Prabhupada felt that it was such a great necessity for His Bhagavad-Gita As It is translations and purports to be enriched, and that His students should go and consult the same Sanskrit commentaries that He consulted when He wrote His masterpiece, why did He not indicate this directly in His manifested presence? If the Panditas admit that ‘<the translations, although already correct,” then why go beyond the translations and try to outdo the acarya? Why not leave the correct translations as they were? Srila Prabhupada left these translations as they were originally published in 1972?
“One cannot change the words of the authority. If you believe in Lord Jesus Christ [in our case Srila Prabhupada] you cannot change to your convenience.”(52) Srila Prabhupada lecture, May 8, 1973 Los Angeles, CA. USA
Srila Prabhupada’s original Gita made thousands of devotees of Krishna all over the world, why change the formula?
Srila Prabhupada’s potent preaching and His Bhagavad-Gita As it Is commentary made thousands and thousands of devotees of Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada attributed this to the fact that He presented the knowledge of the disciplic succession As It Is. He did not change the teachings or compromise the message. He used the words…As It Is” thousands of times to illustrate how to preach and how to present the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
sangamah khalu sadhuna ubhayesam ca sammatah
yat-sambhasana-samprasnah sarvesam vitanoti sam
“When there is a congregation of devotees, their discussions, questions and answers become conclusive to both the speaker and the audience. Thus such a meeting is beneficial for everyone’s real happiness.”
“Hearing discussions among the devotees is the only means to receive the powerful message of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For instance, Bhagavad-Gita has been well known all over the world for a very long time, specially in the Western world, but because the subject matter was not discussed by devotees, there was no effect. Not a single person in the West became Krsna Conscious before the Krsna Consciousness movement was founded. When the same Bhagavad-Gita was presented as it is through the disciplic succession, there was immediate spiritual realization.”(53) Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhaktivedanta purports 4.22.19 1974 unrevised edition
The potency of the original words of the Acarya is beyond any doubt. The results are there. No need to change.
Even Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would not allow one word to be changed.
The Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta gives us the historical example that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not like even one word changed for the sacred Sastra. After He defeated the famous impersonalist scholar Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the scholar recited a famous verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam in which he changed one single word. Srila Prabhupada explains this incident as follows:
“When reading this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8), Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya changed the original reading from mukti-pade to bhakti-pade. Mukti means liberation and merging into the impersonal Brahman effulgence. Bhakti means rendering transcendental service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because of having developed pure devotional service, the Bhattacarya did not like the word mukti-pade, which refers to the impersonal Brahman feature of the Lord. However, he was not authorized to change one word in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will explain. Although the Bhattacarya changed the word in his devotional ecstasy, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not approve of it.”(54)
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 6.261
From this example of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’ s chastisement of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, we can conclude that one cannot change any words from the original texts or the sacred purports and commentaries of the Acarya.
The traditional standard of the great parampara-Acaryas: no change.
The single most compelling argument expressed by many senior Vaishnava devotees and various followers of Srila Prabhupada is that no bona fide previous acarya has ever changed even one word from their Guru’s writings. The traditional Vaishnava-Sampradayas and their illustrious acaryas have a voluminous body of Vaisnava literatures and commentaries of the great personalities describing the glory and position of the Supreme Lord. Sri Krsna and the subservient position of the living entities. It is important to note that no acarya has ever dared to change even one word from their guru’s writings. This is unthinkable for the bona fide followers of Vaishnava religion. This is considered disrespectful and offensive. Let us examine various statements of Srila Prabhupada in this connection.
Bhagavad-Gita cannot be changed by the whims of rascals.
“So Bhagavad-Gita, the lessons of Bhagavad-Gita, cannot be changed by the whims of rascals this is not possible.”(55)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, January 9, 1975, Bombay, India.
Sastra does not change.
“There is no change. Therefore sastra means it is for all the time, not that sastra was meant in the past for something else, and now something else. That is not the fact. That is, means, sastra that it does not change.” (56) Bhagavad-Gita lecture by Srila Prabhupada [16-.11.12) February 7, 1975 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
No question of changing the words of God.
“So religion you cannot manufacture religion. Religion means the words of God. And if yearly or quarterly you change the words, that is not religion. That is not religion. That is mental concoction. Therefore we are presenting Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. No change. Others, they are interpreting in their own way. That is not Bhagavad-Gita. That is something else. In the words of God, there is no question of changing. You cannot change. As soon as you change immediately it is material. It has nothing to do with spiritual world. That is nowadays happening. Which edition of Christianity? There are so many. Therefore it is, the purport of Christianity is lost. That is lost”(57)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, August 5, 1976, Paris, France.
No change since time immemorial.
Dr. Patel: “And now we are to define who is a rascal.”
Srila Prabhupada: “No, rascal is meant. who has no authority. They are changing every day. They are changing. We don’t change. These rascals are changing. We… Over five thousand years ago Sukadeva Goswarni said that, As I have heard it I am explaining.’ That means time immemorial, the thing is, same thing is coming. There is no change, not that after a few days, No, no. It was wrong. This is now right. ‘Again somebody comes.”
Dr. Patel: “They are explaining the truth in their own way. That is the change of theory. But the truth is always the same.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is the truth of rascaldom, as soon as you change your position”(58)
Srila Prabhupada conversation, November 17, 1975, Bombay, India.
No change in the parampara system.
“I have given you the process of disciplic succession: from Krsna, Brahma, from Brahma, Narada, from Narada, Vyasa; from Vyasa, Madhva; from Madhva, Madhavendra Puri; Isvara Puri; from Isvara Puri; Lord Caitanya. Sa evam parampara. So in the parampara system, in that disciplic succession, you will find no change. The original word is there. That is the thing. They are not foolish to manufacture something new. What new? People are after something new manufactured by this tiny brain. What new can you manufacture? That is all nonsense. If you want real thing, then you have to take the old, the oldest. You cannot change anything.”(59)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, December 1, 1966, New York, NY, USA.
‘Sastra should be changed,’ that is nonsense.
“And what Krsna said five thousand years ago, the same thing Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, same thing. There was no change, as there was no change between the statement of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Narottama dasa. Thakura. Sadhu sastra. As sastra there is no change. Not that ‘modernize, the sastra should be changed. ‘ No, that is nonsense. That is not Sastra. Sastra cannot be changed. Circumstantially, it will be changed, seasonal changes, no. That is not sastra, sastra means perpetual.” (60)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, November 30, 1976, Vrindavana, India.
God’s words cannot be changed.
“Just see the sastra cannot be changed. God’s words cannot be changed. Then what will be the difference between God and ourself? He is always perfect. He is always perfect. What he said five thousand years ago, that is also correct up to date. That is sastra. Not that, so many years have passed and it has become old. Now let us reform it and put it in a new way. ‘No. You can put the same thing in a new way, but you cannot change the principle sadhu sastra guru vakya. tinete kariya aikya. Sastra is never changed. And the sadhu. Sadhu means one who follows the sastras. He is sadhu. He also does not change. sadhu sastra guru vakya tinete kariya aikya. Yah sastravidhim utsrjya vartate kama karatah. na siddhim avapnoti. “(61)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, November 30, 1976, Vrindavana, India.
Note: It is noteworthy to mention that just as Srila Prabhupada criticizes the concept of reforming the sastra, the GBC invented the idea of reforming the ‘acarya.’ an unprecedented concoction never described by Srila Prabhupada.
It is not our business to amend the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“It is not our business to amend the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or make additions and alterations, as it has now become a custom for many So-called scholars and Swamis who comment on the words of Bhagavad-Gita.” (62)
No change to your convenience.
“One cannot change the words of the authority. If you believe in Lord Jesus Christ [or in Srila Prabhupada), you cannot make any change to your convenience.” (63) Srila Prabhupada lecture, May 8, 1973
And what is the result of additions and alterations.
“If you concoct, ‘I am more intelligent than my Guru,’ ‘I can make additions and alterations,’ then you are finished.”(64) Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 4, 1975, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
The result of alterations and additions: finished.
“Therefore we present Bhagavad-Gita As it is, no addition, no alteration. The same thing, AS SOON AS THERE IS ADDITION, ALTERATION, IT IS GONE, FINISHED.” (65)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 2, 1974, Melbourne, Australia.
It is worthy to note that no previous bona fide acaryas and bona fide disciples in any Vaishnava disciplic succession have ever changed one word from their guru’s writings and purports. There is no record anywhere of a bona fide guru even attempting to change one word from his guru. what to speak of the hundreds of unauthorized changes which the GBC has authorized in the original Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. As such the changes in the Bhagavad-Gita were never authorized by His Divine Grace. The Panditas and apologists of the GBC’s seIf-appointed acarya succession must first explain, from direct verifiable statements of His Divine Grace, where they have derived the authority to change Srila Prabhupada’ s original Bhagavad-Gita, before they can be eligible to be bona fide participants in any debate or disputation.
6)SUPPRESSION OF THE LETTERS OF THE ACARYA!
First, let us examine the potential results of suppressing the guru, and His letters, in this case Srila Prabhupada.
Result of suppressing guru?
Srila Prabhupada: “sarvam etad rtam manye yanmam vadasi kesava That is our position. You know this verse?”
Patita Pavana: “This verse I don’t know. I don’t know this verse. Sarva…?”
Srila Prabhupada: “Find out. sarvam etad rtam manye yad vadasi kesava. Find out Bhagavad-Gita.”
Giriraja: “Whatever you say I accept in toto.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That’s all.”
Patita Pavana: “Oh, that’s from Arjuna speaking.”
Srila Prabhupada: “This is our position. That is very easy for us. We haven’t got to manufacture. To manufacture idea is troublesome. Why should I take trouble? And as soon as you want to manufacture something to my…, that is dangerous. guru mukha padma-vakya. cittete kariya aikya. ora na kariha mane asa. This is… You are singing every day, What our guru has said, that is our life and soul. We do not want… ora na karihe mane asa. And your guru’s article, you have given. Do you think is allright? We are reading everyday, yasya prasadad bhagavat prasadah. And as soon as this poison will come ‘Suppress Guru and I become Brahman’ [big] everything finished. Spiritual life is finished. Gaudiya Matha finished, that…violated the orders of Guru Maharaja.”… So it is easy for us. What Krsna says and Vyasadeva says, that’s all. We haven’t got to manufacture. And as soon as you manufacture, fall down. Evam parampara praptam imam rajarsayah… This manufacturing idea is very, very dangerous in spiritual life. Whatever little success is there for me, I did not manufacture any idea.”
Tamala Krsna: “Neither you take any credit.”
Srila Prabhupada: “No why shall I take?” tandera carone sevi bhakta sane vasa janame janame haya ei abhilasa. Our mission is to serve the bhakta-visesa and live with devotees. NOT THAT YOU TAKE THE PLACE OF THE GURU. That is nonsense, very dangerous. Then everything will be spoiled, as soon as you become ambitious to take the place of guru gurusu nara matih. That is the material disease.” (66)
Srila Prabhupada conversation, April 20, 1977, Bombay, India.
The history of how the publication of Srila Prabhupada’s letters was suppressed.
Following the departure of Srila Prabhupada for Goloka Vrindavana on the 14th of November of 1977, a widespread campaign was launched throughout the whole Krsna Consciousness society to obtain Srila Prabhupada’s original letters to his various disciples and followers. The stated purpose of this project was to preserve the original letters and their very important and pertinent instructions for posterity. These letters were very important documents to establish the growth of the movement and Srila Prabhupada’s numerous personal instructions and directives for the practical management of His society and His specific guidelines of how He wanted His society to evolve and preserve His pure and original teachings. These letters were and are very important. During the years of 1978-1983, thousands of these priceless letters were obtained, accumulated and kept in the original Bhaktivedanta Archives located in Los Angeles in those days.
The crucial information contained in those letters were the subject of considerable discussion and debate among members of the GBC. Thus three opinions soon surfaced among members of the GBC:
1)Various individuals felt they should be published in their entirety with no editing for the sake of the devotee community.
2)The majority of the GBC objected, feeling that they contained very sensitive and often confidential information which should not be made public, especially to the masses of devotees.
3)Others felt that they should be published, even in an edited form, if need be.
It should be noted that the original five volume set of Srila Prabhupada’s letters was not published by the GBC and the BBT, but by a group of other devotees, who published it in Mexico. And this was printed in one limited edition of 500 sets. The GBC never reprinted this original five set volume in its original form.
A large number of the temple presidents within ISKCON preferred the approach of publishing them, even in an edited format. However, the GBC never published Srila Prabhupada’s letters. They even refused to publish them. Their position was described by Jayadvaita Swami in his well publicized paper of March 5, 1987 to the whole GBC body.
Item No. 25: “The GBC in concert with the BBT trustees and against the expressed will of the ISKCON temple presidents, deliberately suppressed publication of Srila Prabhupada’s letters, even in edited form.” (67) H.H. Jayadvaita Swami. Several Grievances against the members of the GBC, March 5, 1987
So the proponents of a debate are now confronted with several other problems. If they wish to debate or even discuss, they now must explain and inform the devotee community:
1) Who are those GBCs and BBT trustees who “deliberately suppressed” the publication of Srila Prabhupada’s letters? This is very important so that we have a very clear idea of who tried to suppress Srila Prabhupada’s Instructions in those letters. If we are to debate some philosophical contentions, we have to first establish who will represent a specific viewpoint. As such, individuals who may have been responsible for “deliberately suppressing” extremely crucial and most important information from the devotees should not be allowed to subsequently resurface as so-called alleged representatives of Srila Prabhupada, and say that now they wish to debate, and claim that they are followers and representatives of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada. As such for the benefit of the worldwide devotee community those “deliberate suppressers” of Srila Prabhupada’s letters should be clearly identified, and the same individuals must first of all publicly state:
a) Why they suppressed these letters of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada?
b) What are the contents of these letters that needed suppressing, and what was unfit for the tender ears of the devotees to hear? Further, whoever is put forward to defend the GBC position must be required to answer publicly the following questions and answer specifically from Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings. ”
c) Which previous bona fide Vaishnava-Acarya has ever suppressed the letters and/or instructions of His Guru?
d) What is the position of a Vaishnava-Acarya who suppresses the letters and/or instructions of His guru?
2) Any of the proposed defenders and advocates of the GBC philosophy should not use any of the Prabhupada letters and statements from these letters to defend their position. Since they worked so hard to “deliberately suppress” the publication of these letters, why should they now try to use the letters as evidence to present their so-called position?
3) If these letters of Srila Prabhupada were fit to merit “deliberate suppression” in the early 1980’s “by the GBC in concert with the BBT trustees,” then why should the apologists for the same GBC and BBT trustees be allowed to use the evidence which they worked overtime to suppress? One year the letters are suppressed, and a few years later they are resurrected to present their case! Thus the sacred sanctity of the Acarya’s letters has been rejected and desecrated by the proponents of the GBC official party line. This constitutes another example of rejection of sastric and acarya authority.
7)SUPPRESSING THE IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS OF SRILA PRABHUPADA? 1977-1990.
One of the most important body of evidence to ascertain Srila Prabhupada’s desires and intentions are the various room conversations and morning walks which were recorded during the manifested presence of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. Just as the publication of the letters of Srila Prabhupada and the crucial and important instructions they contained were “deliberately suppressed” by the GBC, similarly the GBC also did not publish the original conversations with Prabhupada for 13 years until after the departure of Srila Prabhupada. Many devotees still suspect that many conversations with Srila Prabhupada in the last few months of 1977 are still missing. These important conversations especially the ones during the last eight months of Srila Prabhupada’s manifest presence were extremely crucial to the implementation of Srila Prabhupada’s desires for the immediate aftermath of His departure. Some devotees say that the suppression of these conversations for many years was an integral part of the false “acarya/guru appointment” propaganda. Since no one but a handful of GBC’s had access to the original conversations with His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, no devotees could actually verify Srila Prabhupada’s actual statements. As such it was easy for the GBC through propaganda to pass on whatever slanted versions’ of the truth they wanted to publicize. Whatever segments of conversations did not fit the GBC propaganda agenda were conveniently deleted or omitted. Of course one of the major casualties of this slanted propaganda is that truth gets lost. And many devotees still suspect that the truth is still lost.
Result of false propaganda.
Srila Prabhupada: “Anything imperfect will fail. That is my proposition.”
Devotee: “His propaganda is that it is perfect because it has made the Chinese people…”
Srila Prabhupada: “Propaganda. by propaganda you can do anything. That is a different thing. But fact is fact. If your theory is not perfect. you make however propaganda, it will fail… without having philosophy, this is going on in the animal kingdom. So what is the use of your philosophy? By philosophy, you give something which will not create any conflict. But by conflict. by crushing, by subduing, if you want to establish your peace, then what is the value of this peace?” (68)
Srila Prabhupada conversation, Philosophy exceprts 123-3
Here Srila Prabhupada decries the notion of subduing, crushing to establish so-called peace. After the departure of His Divine Grace in 1977, the GBC picked and chose whichever so-called evidence suited their “appointed guru” propaganda agenda. Any conversation with His Divine Grace which did not suit their “appointed guru” concoction was suppressed for almost 13 years after Srila Prabhupada’s departure. This pick and choose style of evidence manipulation was a major factor in the apparent confusion which prevailed for several years after the departure of His Divine Grace in November of 1977.
These conversations with His Divine Grace were very important to ascertaining the exact desire of Srila Prabhupada, especially with regards to initiations in His society for the aftermath of His physical departure. Thus the proponents of a debate should first publicly answer why they have chosen to suppress these crucial and important conversations for more than 13 years after the departure of our Sampradaya-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada.
Unless they can satisfactorily answer this above question, they have no right to use any of Srila Prabhupada’s conversations in support of their contentions. And why were Srila Prabhupada’s conversations recorded in the first place?
So all the devotees in the different branches can hear.
Reporter: “I think the first question is kind of basic, is why everything always taped at all the…”
Srila Prabhupada: “Because we have got so many branches, they want to hear me, my singing, my speech, therefore they record it and send it to different branches.” (69)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, February 1, 1968, Los Angeles, California, USA.
So everyone in the world can listen.
Doctor: “Why do you tape record?”
Hari-Sauri: “Everything Prabhupada speaks we tape record and then everyone in the world can listen.” (70)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, September 29, 1976, Vrindavana, India.
And what is the real purpose of taping Srila Prabhupada’s conversations and speeches.
Guest: “I don’t want to talk with the tape recorder. I come to honor my Swamiji and my elder brother.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That’s all right.”
Tamala Krsna: “We tape everything Prabhupada says. Everything he says, we tape, whether you’re here or not.”
Guest: “No I don’t want to talk on the machine.”
Tamala Krsna: “We’re not taping for any other purpose, but our Guru Maharaja’s words are very sacred to us. So we tape all the time, whether you’re here or not here.”
Srila Prabhupada: “No he has no objection to the tape.”(71)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, May 24, 1970, Vrindavana, India.
Needless to say the crucial conversations which took place in the last few months of Srila Prabhupada’s presence in 1977 were never sent to all the branches for the members to hear. The GBC released what they wanted the devotees to hear, not the complete version. Was there something that our GBC leaders did not want us to hear? The pontiffs and panditas of the GBC should first present a valid public explanation of why these crucial conversations were suppressed, otherwise they should not use any of those conversations to try to establish their contentions.
Arddha-kukkuti-nyaya. The mayavadi technique.
Let us hear from the conclusion of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, about His thoughts on this ‘accept and reject’ technique.
” When Krsna says that ‘anyone who sees me in everyone.’ ‘Oh that is very palatable.’ And when Krsna says’ You give up everything you, you surrender… Oh that is not palatable.’ And this is ardha-kukkuti-nyaya. I accept things which are very favorable to my understanding, and other things I reject. This is called arddha-kukkutinyaya. So people accept sastras in that way, the mayavadis.”(72)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, December 1970, Indore, India
I.No devotee is authorized to change the original [first printed editions] of Srila Prabhupada’s books especially Srila Prabhupada’s 1972 Bhagavad-Gita As It Is edition.
2.Any devotee who has participated or acquiesced in the deliberate suppression of the publication of Srila Prabhupada’s letters should not be allowed to debate or represent the GBC viewpoint in any discussions.
3.Any GBC or Guru who has been involved in the “sastras are declared inconclusive in themselves” concoction should also not be allowed to represent the GBC viewpoint unless they satisfactorily answer all relevant questions raised in this connection.