Starting from the early 1970s, or perhaps even earlier, the BBT has published revised versions of Srila Prabhupada’s books.26 The editorial staff discovered occasional errors in published books and routinely corrected them in later printings. Rarely, Srila Prabhupada himself also pointed out a word or passage he wanted revised.27 In accordance with standard publishing practice,28 the BBT published such revisions without giving notice.
Also beginning from the early 1970s, the BBT began publishing Srila Prabhupada’s books in versions revised so extensively that they deserved to be called “second editions.” The first of these were re-edited versions of Easy Journey to Other Planets (1972) and Sri Isopanishad, both revised by Hayagriva Dasa on the grounds that the English editing stood in need of substantial improvement.29 Sometime in 1972 or 1973 I made extensive revisions to the Second Canto. The revised version, though never marked “Second Edition,” was used in all printings after the first. In 1974 the BBT published a second edition of Teachings of Lord Caitanya, again revised for English by Hayagriva. (He revised the book entirely from the published text, without benefit of the original manuscripts, by then lost, or Srila Prabhupada’s Caitanya-caritamrita, not yet written.) The second edition used Sanskrit diacritical spellings, and with Srila Prabhupada’s permission Nitai Dasi supplied transliterations for many Sanskrit verses given in the first edition only in English.
In 1972, when the first American edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, was in preparation and the first volume nearly ready for printing, Satsvarupa brought to Srila Prabhupada’s attention that in numerous instances the edited version seemed to have low fidelity to Srila Prabhupada’s original work. Srila Prabhupada responded, in essence: “Don’t lose time. Just print it.”30
In 1976, however, on my own initiative, I did extensive revisions for this canto, especially for the translations in the first two chapters. I then prepared a list showing these revised translations, with a cover letter explaining what I had done, and when Srila Prabhupada visited ISKCON New York in July of 1976 I brought the package to his room.
I had expected merely to drop it off with his secretary. But to my surprise I found Srila Prabhupada right there before me, asking to know why I had come. I told him, and he instructed me to read to him the revised translations, right there on the spot. So I began, Srila Prabhupada listening attentively, and after I had read a few verses he interrupted: “So, what you have done?”
“I’ve revised the translations to make them closer to what Your Divine Grace originally said.”
“What I have said?”
“Yes, Srila Prabhupada.”
Srila Prabhupada then made a characteristic dismissive gesture and said: “Then it is all right.”
And that was that.31