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Testimonials

I appreciate the added material in the purports of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, orginally included but subsequently deleted for various reasons. As Srila Prabhupada generally followed the commentaries of Baladeva Vidyabhusana and Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur and as these previously included passages incorporated explanatory material from both of these acaryas, their reinstatement in Bhagavad-gita As It Is certainly adds to the student’s understanding of the Gita, as well as of the more precise siddhanta of the previous acaryas and Srila Prabhupada.

[Pradyumna Dasa served as the chief Sanskrit editor for all of the books of Srila Prabhupada published during Srila Prabhupada's lifetime.]

JAS and Dravida Prabhu sincerely worked to restore Prabhupada's original text, and to clear up obvious mistakes by typists. Surely Prabhupada would appreciate this. Further, no one has ever shown that these corrections altered in any way Prabhupada's philosophical teachings. Thus I support this edition of Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita.

I strongly support the editing work that yourself [Jayadvaita Swami] and others like Dravida Prabhu have done. Many of those who are vocal in the ongoing debate, despite being well intentioned, are not aware of what is involved in editing Srila Prabhupada’s books, having never done that service themselves.

[Gaura Mandala Bhumi Prabhu has served as a BBT translator and for many years has been preaching in Indonesia.]

 

I comment as one who has been reading the Bhagavad-gita since 1967, conducting his personal practice of bhakti since 1972, and teaching in a university setting for over eighteen years. I should also mention that I have used Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita in the classroom for well over a decade, giving reading assignments, having discussions with students, and exposing thousands of students over the years to the BBT Gita.

With all this said, I must state emphatically that the second edition of the Bhagavad-gita is the only one I can use without hesitation, without worry that critical readers in the classroom setting would point out obvious textual inconsistencies.

I would not be able to use the first edition in any serious academic fashion because of its problems, and therefore I am thankful to Jayadvaita Swami for the work he has done to make the BBT edition of the Bhagavad-gita presentable in the intellectual arena without embarrassment.

Srila Prabhupada’s presentation has an extraordinarily rich tradition to offer in the educational arena, and it would be a shame to have textual mistakes and even philosophical errors distract from this contribution.  

So, again, I am grateful for the second edition. Again, I could not present the BBT Gita without it.

[Garuda Dasa (Dr. Graham M. Schweig) serves as Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Director of the Indic Studies Program at Christopher Newport University, and Visiting Associate Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Virginia. He is the author of several books, with two more forthcoming from Columbia University Press.]
  

 

 Among my other "come-back" activities, I attend a Bhagavad Gita study meet-up group, organized by a Columbia University graduate and attended by college students and others. Meetings are held once each month at 26 Second Avenue, and I get to subtly preach and point out the true meaning of Bhagavad Gita As It Is, since we use Srila Prabhupada's Gita.

Anyway, this past Sunday we studied the 11th Chapter, and I have to say that I was slightly embarrassed. I brought my old version of Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit, transliterations, etc). Some students bring their own Gitas translated by nondevotee "scholars."

In the class we always pass out the new edited/corrected paperback Gita (without the Sanskrit and transliterations). We were all reading and analyzing the verses and purports, and came to Text 10-11. The old edition, which the organizer used to type her handouts of what each verse says, was missing words that I saw were right there in the Sanskrit (such as "...bore many divine upraised weapons...").

When one person (who came with his own Gita from some "scholar") commented on the different interpretations that different translators have, I at first thought maybe "ornaments" includes weapons. Then I looked at the Sanskrit and saw that weapons was in the Sanskrit and transliteration but somehow didn't make it into the text. Then I opened the newly edited Gita and saw that Text 10-11 had been beautifully corrected.

I explained to the group that the original devotees at the BBT, perhaps not familiar with Sanskrit, listening to Srila Prabhupada's dictaphone tapes, had somehow skipped over or left out certain words. I told them that through an exhaustive process of listening to those tapes, re-editing, etc. the new edition of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is has those corrections, or were printed without those omissions. The study group was fascinated that the BBT had gone through that process and appreciated it.

So did I!

THANK YOU AND YOUR TEAM FOR THIS MONUMENTAL EFFORT!

 

[Ramesvara Dasa served for many years as a trustee for the BBT.]

I have once or twice had a dream where I've found myself trying to explain to Srila Prabhupada why I did not move heaven and earth to ensure that both typos and glaring errors in books accredited to His Divine Grace were changed.

It is essential that Srila Prabhupada's words are accurately reflected in his books, as opposed to maintaining inaccuracies that somehow have found their way into his books in the first place.

When Srila Prabhupada says "full moon day" and his editor somehow records those words as "pu-mun-di" there is little doubt that all followers of Srila Prabhupada have a duty to ensure that what is written in his books is consistent with his original words.

Therefore I prefer the revised editions to any original ones that do not accurately reflect the words and message of Srila Prabhupada.

[Praghosa Dasa serves as a member of the  ISKCON Governing Body Commission.]
 

I prefer the revised editions simply because it was the author himself who set in motion the process of editing for grammar and clarity. Srila Prabhupada personally requested his own English usage and vocabulary to be edited so that his books would be accepted by an intelligent class of men.

Revisions do not obscure meanings, they illuminate them.

[Kripamoya Dasa serves as a leading preacher in the United Kingdom.]

I am delighted that the BBT is determined to correct Srila Prabhupada's books to glorify him more by not letting typos, transcription errors, etc., distract from Srila Prabhupada's message. When I first met Srila Prabhupada, I often had to have him or his secretary repeat his words to me, since I could not always understand his accent or British English vocabulary. I am sure the young devotees preparing the first editions of his books had the same problem. I truly find the corrected editions an improvement and am delighted to see this clear and transparent explanation by the BBT. 

[Brahmatirtha Dasa met Srila Prabhupada in India in 1972, and their conversations became the book Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers. Brahmatirtha has been active in presenting Krishna to the academic and intellectual communities. For several years he directed a division of the BBT.]

 

I regularly listen to the recordings of Srila Prabhupada dictating Krishna Book. So I sometimes find places where what he dictated is substantially different from what was in the first editions. 

For example, in an early edition we find the following:

The identity of Krsna and Govardhana Hill is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Krsna in the temples. Devotees therefore collect small rocks or pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them at home, because this worship is as good as Deity worship.

What Prabhupada actually said, and what is in the latest edition, is as follows

The identity of Krsna and Govardhana Hill is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Krsna in the temples. The followers of the Krsna consciousness movement may therefore collect small rocks or pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them at home, because this worship is as good as Deity worship.

Surely it is important to know that Prabhupada authorized the worship of Govardhana silas for his own followers and disciples.

Sometimes I find other errors and hope that they will be corrected in future editions. Here is one of the several examples I have sent to BBT editors:

In Prabhupada's dictation tape of Krsna Book, chapter 35, (one can hear it plainly on the tape, and it is also there in Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary) he states that the clouds who are friends of Krsna decided to relieve the Lord of heat not with rain but with "small, flowerlike snow" that created an umbrella for the Lord. However, the phrase describing the snow is absent from any BBT edition. 

Of course, the early editions are full of spiritual potency. At the same time, I appreciate having books that bring me closer to Prabhupada’s words and intentions.

[Urmila Devi Dasi is an associate editor for BTG. She has contributed substantially to the development of educational programs within ISKCON. In 2006 she earned a doctorate in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.]

 

I just came across your video discussion about the first six chapters.

Excellent. Bravo! Anyone who is not educated by your presentation either doesn't understand books or has an ulterior motive. End of story.

[Ranchor Dasa is a writer, publisher and former BBT artist, whose books include a simple translation of the Bhagavad-gita.]

I think the readers of the Gita Changes web site will find the following article insightful:

http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/tale.html

The above article details changes/errors/corrections made during the editing and publishing of The Lord of the Rings books during Tolkien's lifetime.

Furthermore (since then), to mark the 50th Anniversary of the publishing, Christopher Tolkien and others have released a revised edition of Lord of the Rings, which includes:

"hundreds of small corrections that have been approved by Christopher in order to achieve the author's desires and ensure perfection." (emphasis added)

http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/reviews/nowavailable.htm

The parallels between Lord of the Rings and the Gita As It Is are not only true of their editing, but also of their readership. Both came into popular consciousness around the same time, and both, I'm sure, have readers who hold significant memories of their first encounters with the books, and who cherish yellowed, dog-eared copies of the originals.

While I would not discount the literary merit and genre-spawning nature of Tolkien's works, Srila Prabhupada's books hold even greater significance due to their spiritual nature. Ensuring their correctness is therefore of even greater importance, since they form doctrine.

On a more personal note, I wish to quote a passage from Lord of the Rings. In response to Legolas the elf's concern at the prospect of Dwarves visiting Helm's Deep, Gimli replies:

We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them. With cautious skill, tap by tap--a small chip of rock and no more, perhaps, in a whole anxious day. . .

It is exactly this kind of loving and respectful care that I see in the "Gita Changes" PDFs that you are now publishing on BBTedit.com.

My sincerest thanks for your wonderful historical and continuing service.

Hare Krishna.
David Crick

[David Crick offers his skills as a photographer in service to Bhaktivedanta Manor and the London Radha-Krishna Temple.]

Over the years, some opinions against the Bhagavad-gita revisions have been well reasoned and may have some merit, such as perhaps a reduced poetic flow in the verses. However, I believe that too many opinions and articles arguing against the changes rest on a fear-based premise. The fear is that any editing jeopardizes the original meaning. Emotions run high as we envision treasures in Srila Prabhupada's legacy pillaged by BBT editors and lost forever to humankind, much like the looting of the National Iraqi Museum during the US invasion.

I have seen little discussion from the devotee community about the accuracy or inaccuracy of the actual amended words. It seems that the opposition is largely against the concept of editing rather than against the revisions themselves, and many would rather we keep the mistakes. On the other hand, we want Srila Prabhupada to be respected as an prominent Vedic scholar, and thus we need our Bhagavad-gita to be worded accurately and convey Srila Prabhupada's intended meaning.

Many devotees complain that our Bhagavad-gita was changed unilaterally. Yet the proposed Gita revisions were sent out to all ISKCON leaders in the early 1980's for their input. I know this to be true because I remember that the Towaco temple received a BBT package with a cover letter asking all the temples for comments on the proposed revisions. Visnugada dasa, the TP and my husband at the time, asked me to look over the revisions.

Armed with a dictionary, we found it fascinating to examine the changes and word connotations against the word-for-word Sanskrit-English translations. At the time, I tried to discuss the proposed revisions with many devotees who'd had an opportunity to go over them, but to my surprise I did not find anyone else who had seriously read them.

After Visnugada dasa mailed his comments, someone from the BBT told him that he was the only one thus far to respond. I thought that devotees either agreed with the revisions or agreed to let the editors make the changes they believed appropriate. Once the new version was published, I was shocked to see the uproar against the changes. Ever since, I have been telling devotees that the protest makes no sense, given that so few cared to go over the revisions when they had the chance.

We should seriously consider the alternatives regarding mistakes and odd word choices, keeping in mind that Srila Prabhupada instructed that his words be edited and mistakes be corrected before the original version went to press. Why would Srila Prabhupada want the mistakes discovered before publication corrected, but not the ones discovered after publication? The mistakes in the original version may be charming to us, but they conflict with the concept that the sastras are absolute truth.

I think it boils down to this: If Srila Prabhupada's books are to be regarded as a relic or merely as literature, then no changes should be made. But if they are to be accepted as scripture, then it is absolutely necessary to ensure accuracy. This is what we have to decide.

Meanwhile, I am looking at my French-version Gita in a new light, for every single word from Srila Prabhupada's original English version was altered by translators and French editors. With translations in over 60 languages, the stance against word changes could have a significant impact.

[An active devotee since 1974, Dharini Dasi has obtained a master's in sociology and a law degree. She currently has a law practice based in Oregon and is licensed in four US states.]

Anybody who has questions about the issue of editing Srila Prabhupada's books can find a proper and detailed answer here.

[Gaura Sakti Dasa serves as the temple president of the New Vraja Dhama community in Hungary.]

After reading all of the changes made to the Gita, along with the commentaries explaining the reasons for the changes, I am honestly relieved. For years now I've read so many things about how the spiritual masters and the GBC are doing all of these devious and underhanded things. Then when I read these changes and the explanations for them for myself, and all of the changes made sense, I was quite relieved. Thank you for restoring my faith and for giving me a tremendous sense of relief. And thank you for restoring the true meaning to Srila Prabhupada's words. Well done!