Let us first offer our obeisances to our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah
Also, let us extend our respects to His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami. We pray he will understand the concerns expressed in this essay and not construe our presentation as something other than a quest for truth.
In a conversation with Govinda dasi In 2003 (see Appendix A), His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami repeatedly denied that Srila Prabhupada saw the galley proofs for his 1972 MacMillan edition of Bhagavad-Gita, indicating there were mistakes Prabhupada would not have allowed, implying this is why the book needed re-editing.
Jayadvaita Swami stated:
“He [Srila Prabhupada] never saw the proofs in 1972.”
“No he did not.”
“Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs of the 1972 edition.”
“But he didn’t see the galley proofs for the 1972 one…”
"there was no opportunity to like send Prabhupada back and forth, like sending him the second chapter and getting it back and asking questions; it just didn’t happen."
“I could tell you that some of the verses that some of the BBT staff questioned, Prabhupada would never have approved. I can say with confidence, Prabhupada would never have approved.”
“And the unabridged edition he really didn’t see in its preparation for its, um, pre-publication stages”
The above statements appear to be in stark contradiction to the following letter from Srila Prabhupada to Jayadvaita found in the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase (Prabhupada regularly referred to galley proofs as “blue-prints"- see Appendix B).
SP Letter to Jayadvaita- Los Angeles, May 28, 1972
"My Dear Jayadvaita, Please accept my blessings. I have received your letter dated May 26th, 1972, along with the blue-print copies of Bhagavad-gita As It Is from MacMillan Company. It is very nice. So I shall be looking forward to seeing the entire manuscript and book sometime around first July, 1972."
After receiving the blue-print copies, Srila Prabhupada states “it is very nice”, gives no indication that he found any mistakes, and expresses anticipation to see the completed book. It would oppose reason to argue that the above letter does not indicate Prabhupada’s approval of the blue-prints/galley proofs. In absence of evidence to the contrary, the May 28th letter proves that not only did Srila Prabhupada see approve the blue-prints/galley proofs but that Jayadvaita himself sent them to His Divine Grace.
The printing of Is in 1972 was to be the very first publication of Srila Prabhupada’s unabridged version of the book and it was about to be printed by a world-renowned publishing house. This was a very important event and a very significant milestone in Srila Prabhupada’s literary corpus—presumably something a disciple involved at responsible levels of the book production process would not take lightly or easily forget. Taking all these factors into consideration, is it unreasonable to wonder how Jayadvaita Swami not only forgot he had sent Prabhupada the blue-prints but also forgot Prabhupada personally acknowledged receipt of them had indeed approved them? In additionit seems Jayadvaita Swami never came across the digital copy of the above letter in the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase during his otherwise scrupulous research regarding BBT editing.
As disciples of Srila Prabhupada, we feel duty bound to petition Jayadvaita Swami to explain these discrepancies to the Vaisnava community. At the same time we caution our readers not to rush to judgment without allowing Jayadvaita Swami a chance to respond. We concede that there may have been extenuating circumstances that we are yet unaware of. Perhaps Jayadvaita Swami has letters from Srila Prabhupada that never made it to the Bhaktivedanta Archives or other evidence that could shed light on this issue. If so, we hope he will share them with the assembled devotees and uproot our reasonable doubts. Under the circumstances, we trust he will understand why we would consider physical evidence much more compelling than personal recollection. When all the evidence is presented, if our assessments prove wrong, an apology on our part would certainly be warranted.
We conditioned souls have four defects. Our senses are imperfect; we fall prey to illusion, make mistakes and have a tendency to cheat. From the evidence available thus far, one would conclude that Jayadvaita Swami is also a victim of the four defects. Even if we assume the alleged error was an honest mistake, it is nonetheless, a grave mistake and it could cast doubt on his credibility as an impartial editor of the sanctified words of our Spiritual Master. It may even raise the greater question: Is it appropriate for any conditioned soul to edit the books of an empowered and fully realized nitya-siddha devotee after their departure and without their express approval or direct oversight?
Jayadvaita Swami Letter to Amogha Lila, quoted in Responsible Publishing
To my knowledge, Srila Prabhupada never asked us to re-edit the book [1972 MacMillan edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is]
Conversation between Govinda dasi and Jayadvaita Swami- Honolulu, Jan 19, 2003
(emphasis is added)
Jayadvaita Maharaja ...It differs in uh, [inaudible] uh, in addition to that, of course, Prabhupada did see the galley proofs in 1968 of the abridged edition. He never saw the proofs in 1972. He wasn’t involved at any stage of the production, except, um, mainly for expressing impatience at how slow it was being turned out—a slowness for which I was partly responsible. Um, but he didn’t go over, didn’t go over the manuscript…
Govinda dasi Srila Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs?
Jayadvaita Maharaja No, he did not. [inaudible] Prabhupada didn’t see the galley proofs of the 1972 edition. But he did see the galley proofs, and we have galley proofs with Prabhupada’s handwriting and directions, just in very few places, for the original edition. But he didn’t see the galley proofs for the 1972 one…
Govinda dasi There must be some preliminary, something that he went over, if he didn’t see the final galley proofs.
Jayadvaita Maharaja Not that I remember.
Govinda dasi Then he had to have… I mean, I…
Jayadvaita Maharaja As far as I remember, he didn’t. He was just… the main thing that he was asking was, “Where is it? I’ve been hearing, ‘Just now coming, just now coming;’ I've been hearing that for some time now—where is the book?” The main thing that we were hearing from Prabhupada was, “Where is it?” And, um, Prabhupada at that time was already traveling extensively, um, around the world, and, uh, there was just none of this, there was no opportunity to like send Prabhupada back and forth, like sending him the second chapter and getting it back and asking questions; it just didn’t happen.
Govinda dasi Hayagriva was living with Srila Prabhupada in ’68, and they were going over things, and that was after this book [the abridged edition] was printed. So that must have been for the ’72 one.
Jayadvaita Maharaja He may have, for some brief time, spent some time with Prabhupada. It’s possible. Um, but the final product was certainly not, um, something that Prabhupada, um, you know, pored over the original, he just didn’t have, couldn’t possibly have the… I could tell you that some of the verses that some of the BBT staff questioned, Prabhupada would never have approved. I can say with confidence, Prabhupada would never have approved. Some of the very few verses that we had issues with, there’s no question in my mind that Prabhupada didn’t see them.
later in the same conversation:
Jayadvaita Maharaja Just all I really wanted to do is contribute to the history of the Gita and say that, um, what Prabhupada saw and signed off on, um, in 1968, was the abridged edition. And the unabridged edition he really didn’t see in its preparation for its, um, pre-publication stages, except perhaps there were some meetings at some point, you were there to…
SP Letter to Jayadvaita- Los Angeles, May 28, 1972
My Dear Jayadvaita, Please accept my blessingsIt is very nice. So I shall be looking forward to seeing the entire manuscript and book sometime around first July, 1972.
The following letters show
Srila Prabhupada regularly refered to galley proofs as blueprints
was consistent in his oversight of the editing
was meticulous in his scrutiny regarding errors
Letter to Pradyumna- Los Angeles, April 20, 1970
Please accept my blessings. I have just received the blueprint copy of KRSNA, the Reservoir of Pleasure and I have begun to read it through. But I notice that there are some points you should correct before the final printing.
Letter to Brahmananda- Los Angeles, April 20, 1970
P.S. There are some editorial mistakes in the blueprint of The Topmost yoga.
Letter to Brahmananda- Los Angeles, April 22, 1970
Please accept my blessings. Regarding the Topmost Yoga, in the blueprint there are many mistakes. I am pointing out some of them as follows:
Letter to Brahmananda- Los Angeles, June 2, 1970
I have received the blueprint from Uddhava and I have already corrected 180 pages and sent it to Boston, and the balance will be sent tomorrow.
Letter to Brahmananda- Los Angeles, June 19, 1970
Regarding Bhagavatam printing, I have received the blueprint copy of 1st chapter, 2nd Canto, and it is very nicely done. The style is to the standard of my previous books.
Letter to Uddhava - Los Angeles, July 11, 1970
Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you for your letter dated 6th July, 1970, along with the blueprint copy of the Lord in the Heart. Thank you very much. It is alright to go ahead with the printing of this second chapter. I have approved all the questionable points noted by Pradyumna, so it is alright.
Letter to Uddhava- Los Angeles, July 14, 1970
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 12th July, 1970, along with the blueprint for the third chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam Second Canto, entitled "Pure Devotional Service: the Change in Heart.'' I have looked over the blueprint and noted a few points to be corrected, so I am sending back the blueprint to you for seeing the necessary changes as they are in the text.
Letter to Uddhava- Los Angeles, July 24, 1970
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge your letter dated 20th July, 1970, along with the blueprint for chapter 4 Second Canto Srimad-Bhagavatam. I have gone through the blueprint and I am also sending the necessary Sanskrit corrections to Pradyumna. So when these corrections are made then you can print immediately.
Based on the above letters, one might ask: If Srila Prabhupada had wanted any corrections made in the blue-prints of the '72 Gita, would he not have stated so?