Last month I was in Vrindaban and visited Srila Prabhupada’s rooms at Radha-Damodara temple. This time, there was a piece of paper lying on the table in front of Srila Prabhupada’s murti. I bent down to read it. It looked like a facsimile of a letter from Srila Prabhupada. All the more so, because of a pen placed in Srila Prabhupada’s hand. This is the content of the “letter”:
The fact that the “letter” was undated and not addressed to anyone made me question its legitimacy. Even supposing that it was only an excerpt from a letter to a disciple, at the very least there should have been a reference to the original.
“Those who stay there [at the Radha-Damodara Temple] will realize that those acaryas [Sri Rupa, Sri Jiva, Sri Kaviraja Goswami and Sri Bhugarbha Goswami] are still living there. And if one is actually advancing in the spiritual field, they can still take instruction from the acaryas living there. It is up to the individual, how he realizes this by his devotional service. By staying there you must realize how pure the environment is. The environment itself gives a high taste of consciousness. Radha-Damodara is there and the great acaryas samadhis are there. There cannot be any other better place to live than Radha-Damodara… This corner at the Radha-Damodara Temple is just like the hub of the wheel of the spiritual world — it is the center.’
“I eternally reside in my rooms at the Radha-Damodara Temple.”
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
I wondered who was responsible for placing the “letter” in that very spot. The content alludes to the possibility of taking instruction from those acaryas who have long ago left their material bodies as well as from Srila Prabhupada. This could be construed as evidence in support of taking Srila Prabhupada to be one’s guru without any formal initiation, even of the ritvik variety.
And so when I returned to Malaysia, I looked it up in the VedaBase. A simple search for the string “they can still take instruction from the acaryas living there” returned exactly one hit:
22. Biographies and Glorification of Srila Prabhupada\Prabhupada at Radha-Damodara – Mahanidi Swami (New-2003)\PRD 11:”My Eternal Residence”…advancing in the spiritual field, they can still take instruction from the acaryas living there. It is up to the…
Double-clicking on the link took me to the following:
What are the benefits of living and serving in Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan kutir? Ksirodakasayi, who lived there for nine months in 1972, answers.
Ksirodakasayi: “Those who stay there will realize that those acaryas are still living there. And if one is actually advancing in the spiritual field, they can still take instruction from the acaryas living there. It is up to the individual, how he realizes this by his devotional service. By staying there you must realize how pure the environment is. The environment itself gives a high taste of consciousness. Radha-Damodara is there and the great acaryas samadhis are there. There cannot be any other better place to live, than at Radha-Damodara!”
These are the words of Ksirodakasayi das, not Srila Prabhupada!
For the reference to Srila Prabhupada’s rooms being “just like the hub of the wheel of the spiritual world”, again Mahanidi’s book turns up among the search results. Mahanidi concludes the 11th chapter thusly:
Although Prabhupada never stayed again in his rooms at Radha-Damodara after 1972, he did say at that time:
Srila Prabhupada: “This corner at the Radha-Damodara temple is just like the hub of the wheel of the spiritual world – it is the center.”
Even though this statement doesn’t turn up amongst the conversations recorded in 1972, Hayagriva memorialized it in his book Vrindaban Days, Chapter 5: Srila Prabhupada at Radha Damodar:
“I’m simply Vrindaban’s messenger,” he says humbly, his demeanor suddenly very serious and reflective. “Vrindaban is revealed in the heart of the sincere devotee. In reality, it is not on any map, nor is it part of any country. It was in Vrindaban that I first began writing, not for name and fame, but because my Guru Maharaj told me, ‘Spread the gospel of Krishna in the English language.’ Although he gave that instruction in 1935, I hesitated, not knowing how to go about it or how to write. Then, twenty years later, my Guru Maharaj began appearing in my dreams, telling me to give up householder life and go to Vrindaban. After several of these dreams, I knew that the time had come. My children were grown, and I could leave my wife in their care. So, I came here, and eventually, by Krishna’s arrangement, stayed at this most sanctified place, Radha Damodar. It was here that I began writing. I thought, ‘It may be published, or it may not be published—that does not matter. I will write for purification, that’s all.’
“Actually, it was my Guru Maharaj speaking through me. But I was not very expert at writing, as he was. Oh, he was a most erudite man, most refined and expert, a gentleman, a Vaikuntha man. Because I had never written before, there were so many grammatical discrepancies, yet I had to write. The subject matter was so important, so urgent. So I wrote those first three volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam, the First Canto. All of our philosophy, everything you need to know, is in those first three volumes. By Krishna’s grace, I managed to collect money to get them printed, and I took them with me on the boat to New York I didn’t go to America empty-handed. I went with the complete philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, written in these rooms, inspired by the Goswamis. Thats what is pushing this Krishna consciousness movement. If I have been successful, it’s because I have delivered my Guru Maharaj’s message intact, without change or deletion. That is parampara. The bona fide guru is like the postman delivering a message. He doesn’t open the mail and write his own opinion. You may like the message or not, take it up or not—I have done my duty. I have delivered it. And it all began here. Therefore these Radha Damodar rooms are the hub of the wheel of the spiritual universe.”
As for the final sentence, “I eternally reside in my rooms at the Radha-Damodara Temple”, it doesn’t turn up anywhere in the VedaBase. Satsvarupa Gosvami did record in Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita (Vol 5) that Srila Prabhuapda had said that he lived eternally in his rooms at Radha-Damodara Temple, but Srila Prabhupada does not mention it in any book, lecture, conversation or letter. Of course we know that not every single thing Srila Prabhupada said was recorded on tape, and he very well might have said it, but authentic or not, the words have been tagged onto the end of this hodgepodge piece of work, and finally, the words “Signed, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami” complete the illusion that this is a letter from Srila Prabhupada.
I personally find it outrageous that anyone would dare to leave such a fabrication on the table in front of Srila Prabhupada.
I noticed that none of Srila Prabhupada’s original books are in his rooms at Radha-Damodara Temple — not a single one! — and over at Krishna-Balarama Mandira the changed books occupy pride of place on the shelves in Srila Prabhupada’s room. There are no original books other than the first three volumes he published before coming to USA. It was here that Srila Prabhupada dictated the Tenth Canto Part Three of Srimad-Bhagavatam up to Chapter 13, Text 64 (he passed before the work was completed), yet there is not a copy of this volume in the room! All the other books on display are the changed books and translations of the changed books. In light of this travesty, the fake letter on the table in Srila Prabhupada’s room at Radha-Damodar Temple doesn’t seem so out of place.
It all makes sense, in a perverse kind of way. Jayadvaita and his team of editors have taken licence with Srila Prabhupada’s books to the extent that reading the revised editions, one cannot be sure what Srila Prabhupada really did write after all. The changes have been documented, and it is clear that the so-called corrections go way beyond fixing typos and grammatical errors. Purports have been altered. Certainly Srila Prabhupada was poisoned – his vani has been poisoned. From 1980 onwards, no original books have been reprinted except for the books printed by Hansadutta. If not for his printing, and if not for the BBT court case, there would not have been any original books available to devotees. Additions and subtractions have been rendered seamlessly in the texts. Invisible, undetectable, like arsenic. Despite Srila Prabhupada’s own vehement objections and despite protests from several senior disciples, ISKCON leaders and rank-and-file devotees have given Jayadvaita a free hand to do any and all revisions, and so doing, they have ingested the insidious poison. Now the poison acts subtly. It does not kill immediately, but first induces a state of doubt in the potency and veracity of Srila Prabhupada’s words, and later, blind indifference. ISKCON devotees do not care for Srila Prabhupada’s original books. Rather, the opposite. ISKCONers treat the originals with disdain and prefer the changed books. Devotees are discouraged from reading or possessing the original books. We received a report from someone who was surprised that a visiting devotee invited to give class rejected an original Bhagavad-gita As It Is and demanded to read from the revised edition instead. From what we’ve heard since, this was not an isolated incident. ISKCON promotes and sells only the changed books, and even the Bhaktivedanta Archives has removed the original books from the VedaBase library of Srila Prabhupada’s works.
The business of the disciples is to preserve the integrity of the spiritual master’s teachings and put them into action, but ISKCON has failed spectacularly in this regard. Recall, too, how ISKCON GBC stooped to the level of formally declaring in reply to legal interrogatories that Srila Prabhupada’s books were “works for hire” created by employees of ISKCON. (They’ve never apologised or retracted the statement, by the way.) This blatant insult coupled with the changing of the books has had the effect of minimizing Srila Prabhupada’s place as the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. The mentality of disrespect for the Founder-Acharya’s words has pervaded the Society, and over the last several years or so we’ve seen at least one guru openly questioning the relevance of Srila Prabhupada’s books in this day and age and calls from others for the BBT International, Inc. to edit out non-pc statements about women and homosexuals.
Devotees owe a debt of gratitude to Hansadutta for his determination to preserve and keep Srila Prabhupada’s books in print and distribution. Through the years, ISKCON made all kinds of propaganda to demonize him, and claimed he was out to destroy ISKCON and was against Srila Prabhupada! But thanks to Hansadutta, devotees can still get hold of original books. If not for his fierce defence of Srila Prabhupada’s BBT in the face of ISKCON and BBT International, Inc, today there would be no KBI printing the original books under license from BBT International, Inc. He was the only one who could save the original books, because he was the last remaining BBT trustee. Certainly Srila Prabhupada did not make a mistake in appointing him as BBT trustee for life.
I don’t hold out hope that ISKCON leaders will come to their senses and remedy the situation. But I do wish now that I could give the knucklehead who typed that scrap of paper lying in front of Srila Prabhupada a piece of my mind. What is wrong with quoting what Srila Prabhupada himself said and leave it at that! (As if Srila Prabhupada did not say enough.) Why put words spoken by another as if spoken by Srila Prabhupada? And by the way, I’d like to induce the caretaker to put the original books on display in Srila Prabhupada’s room at Radha-Damodar Temple. Can anyone please tell me who is in charge of Srila Prabhupada’s rooms in Radha-Damodara Temple? Please provide name and contact. Thank you.