Gaudiya vedanta publications: The end of an era?

I was first introduced to Gurudevas books in 2002, and I have since had a 15 year love relationship to His books. I have loved the work of Gaudiya Vedanta Publication, the beautiful art work, the bindings on the books which are so beautiful at times. It hasn’t only been about the content of the book, but the book itself. There is a lot of art work in just producing the beauty a book can be and GVP has done so, expertly.

My favorite color is golden brown (/copper), just like the cover of Gurudevas Sri Gita Govinda version. The coptic binding on Gaura-vani pracarine. Book publishing is a craft. There’s a lot of emotions connected to Gurudevas books.

I have tried to be careful about expressing emotions on this blog because I find people have a tendency to favor emotions before using sound judgment (or just common sense as I like to call it). In the case of the changes made in Gurudevas books though, describing emotions has an important place.

At first it was disbelief (nooo, they can’t have stooped to that level). Now it has been disappointment for a while which are slowly entering grief. I have loved GVPs work: Gurudevas books, the content and the physical book. The bhaktibase app is really good. The GVP facebook page which published new content often and with different reports. A few cartoons. My latest favorite is the youtube videos of different people who talks about their favorite book. For me, the GVP has really shown what jewels devotees are. You see it in the work that are presented. The people behind all the work is not shown, the work itself really shines like diamonds.

I’m slowly realizing that my love relationship is coming to an end.

Why, oh why, do you edit the books to suit your siddhantical belief? Why can’t you let Gurudevas words talk for themselves? In the case of controversial topics that are presented in books, why not just print the words exactly as Gurudeva said them? There is no need to edit the words to fit your belief. If your belief is correct, those words will speak for themselves.  If those words are true, the truth prevails.

There is larger issues at stake here as well, more than just two parties disagreeing. As Malati didi points out in a comment in the previous blog entry, the edited books becomes unfit to be used for book distribution to people for ethical reasons. The disagreements aren’t really that important in the larger sense, it’s for those who have been devotees for a long time. But we who hold opposite views will not present such books to new devotees, to avoid later confusions and to make sure the truth prevails.  We don’t want new devotees to think we fell from Vaikuntha, we want them to begin by having a correct basic understanding before the controversies/confusion enters.

If GVP could stick to the exact words of Gurudeva, this problem resolves itself in a way that should be satisfactory for both sides. Both sides claim they follow Gurudevas words, so let’s stick to Gurudevas exact words. 

Problem solved?

Okey, I know it’s a simplistic notion to believe that Gaudiya Vedanta Publication will change their stance and print Gurudevas words exactly (I can’t believe I’m writing that sentence even). When something like this happens, its because a rot has entered the organization – meaning many people.

This has even broader implications. So they want to argue their position that all of the parampara is only manjaris and only manjaris can be rupanugas. So they change Gurudevas books to prove themselves. So when they are questioned – they can just point to the books they themselves edited to prove their own point. That is fabrication.


Okey, so the use of the strong word “fabrication” implies intent. That the changes made are done intentionally, and not because of a misunderstanding or lack of understanding the impact. I’m not convinced that there is intent there – that is yet to be proved.

But it is very problematic that they are making up their own proof. This is something that should interest people no matter what side they are on.

In no other tradition is it usual that books become edited and even published after an author is dead – yet for us it is business as usual. I’m not sure if that’s okey.

So – now another work begin. To track changes in the books – track and transcribe the audio behind these statements to prove the changes made and what is actually being said.

So I created a page to begin tracking the discrepancies found  in books, lectures, dates, whatever.

It will be a big job. I hope I’m up for it. Any help and tips will be appreciated.

Because I’m getting worried. The legacy of Gurudeva must be protected.

Preserving Gurudevas legacy

The devotees of KBM keep on publishing refutals on siddhantical disagreements which are technical in nature. This is exactly what is needed when arguing siddhanta. It has to be technical.

For most of us lay people this debate is difficult to enter. We don’t have enough background and effort to really get into it (because damn it, we have a life to attend to).

There are many layers to this debate which increases the complexity of these issues and by being aware of them, we can slowly unravel some of it:

  • Who is rupanuga?
  • Can our parampara only consist of manjaris?
  • Did Gurudeva deceive us and how am I supposed to make sense of it?
  • Senior devotees disagrees and it never seems to end
  • There are strong emotions on both sides and I find it difficult to understand it
  • Senior devotees I previously admired are loosing my esteem
  • Who can we put our faith in as there seem to be backstabbing from anybody towards anybody with some following?
  • The sanga is splitting into groups who seem to be unable to talk to each other
  • Everybody is crying up about vaishnava aparadha everytime there is a problem
  • Empathy, see an issue from multiple sides and learn the ability to differentiate
  • Accepting flaws in others and may be admitting our own

No wonder this is uncomfortable for most of us to dive into, but if we do we will be richer for it. The siddhantical differences is especially important for us as this has broader implications for who we accepts as Gurus and take siksa from.

This debate will never end until one side has won, because this is about preserving the truth and Gurudevas legacy. I want to emphasize the last one, because its important: We need to preserve Gurudevas legacy from watering down until it becomes unrecognizable.

The Gaudiya Vedanta publications are run by those who believe that only those who have manjari moods are rupanugas and can be in the guru parampara. This becomes problematic if Gurudevas books becomes edited to suit their belief.

We are entering a situation where what editions a book is in matters. This is just like the “as it is” books of Srila Prabhupada. The editing of Srila PRabhupadas books was very controversial after His disappearance, and the consequence was that many of the books are now sold “as it is” – the original books without editing. Personally, I have several of those books as I find them more appealing.

Now I find myself wishing I knew Hindi so I could read Gurudevas words exactly as he intended them so the only lack there is, is in me. This is creating a dangerous precedence. Please, please – can we avoid a situation where we don’t trust the books published with Gurudevas name as author on them? Can we avoid an “as it is” situation on Gurudevas books?

I truly believe that GVP should issue a statement on this which specifically targets the changes and how GVP will treat siddhantical disagreements. Not Syamarani, but GVP so that we can feel secure that we can trust Gurudevas books.

Doing translations of Gurudevas lectures is difficult as there are varying degrees of sound quality, people speaking on top of each other, understanding the context, so many different people talking and one don’t always know who and not the least: so much can be said so quickly and humor and body language and gestures are lost. We appreciate the work being put into it.

I hope we avoid an “as it is” situation. Preserving Gurudevas legacy is too important.