Change, Change, Change!

Apr 2 2018 - Krishna Talk 204

Recently, we made an interesting discovery while doing some research on Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s poem glorifying Haridasa Thakura. The ninth stanza is well-known amongst the devotees and reads:

"He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die, when thou art living still in sound. The Vaishnavas die to live and living try to spread the holy name around."

This is the way you will see the verse throughout the internet and printed in contemporary books also.

The poem (given at the end of this article), consisting of 10 stanzas, was originally written in English by Bhaktivinoda in 1871 after he visited the samadhi of Haridasa Thakura in Jagannatha Puri. In the version of the poem that we find today all over the internet, the last line of ninth stanza reads, “…to spread the holy name around.” However, I thought I remembered that line being different. My recollection was that the original line was, “…to spread a holy life around.”

Our research has proved my otherwise wretched memory to be correct. We found a 1929 edition of Bhaktisiddhanta’s Harmonist magazine, wherein the entire poem was printed and the last line of stanza 9 reads:

 "The Vaisnavas die to live and living try to spread a holy life around."

Of course, one may think that to say, “…to spread the holy name around” sounds better, but that raises the question, “Who are we to change the words of Bhaktivinoda Thakura?” Keep in mind, this is not a matter of translation. Bhaktivinoda wrote the poem in English. It seems that the conditioned souls of this world are infected with the disease of ‘change’ – addicted to changing everything—change, change, change!

In fact, in the present day, the disciples of Srila Prabhupada who are in charge of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) have made more than 7,000 changes to Prabhupada’s original books. One may argue that those changes were simply to improve the language, but sadly, while trying to ‘improve’ Prabhupada’s use of the English language, a significant number of those changes have philosophically altered the meaning of what Srila Prabhupada had originally written. Among other things, the siddhanta has been changed to fit the narrative of ‘society consciousness’ rather than that of Krsna consciousness.

At present, devotees worldwide are very disturbed by the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s original books and they have every right to be so. They are now fighting in the courts regarding the changes in Prabhupada’s books. Unfortunately, they never stop to think how much this affair displeases Srila Prabhupada. It is shameful, it is an abomination!

Here are some quotes from His Divine Grace regarding changes to the writings of the spiritual master:

Srila Prabhupada: You cannot make any changes in my spiritual masters book.

Govinda Dasi: What about the incorrect grammar?

Srila Prabhupada: You cannot change one comma, not even a comma, not even a punctuation mark. That is the etiquette! The etiquette, is called ‘arsha prayoga’... which is...whatever the guru has spoken, that is set in cement for eternity. (Room conversation with Govinda Dasi, Ramesvara and Radha-Vallabha in 1976)

I am practically seeing that as soon as they, our students, begin to learn a little Sanskrit they immediately feel they have become more than their Guru. Then the policy is kill their guru and become guru themselves. (Letter to Dixit, Sepetember 18th 1976)

…As soon as he learns guru maharaja is DEAD, I am so advanced that I can kill guru and become guru, then he is finished.” (Room conversation, Bombay, August 16th 1976)

So let this be a warning to devotees everywhere. That which our Guardians have given us will deliver us from samsara, the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, we should not be over-intelligent and change their teachings, thinking that we know better. Such arrogance and pride should never arise in the heart of a pure devotee.


On Haridas Samadhi
by Bhaktivinoda Thakura

1] O born of Moslem parents Haridas! 

And trained in youth in Moslem creed 

Thy noble heart to Vaishnava truth did pass 

Thy holy acts thy candor plead! 

2] Is there a soul that cannot learn from thee 

That man must give up sect for God 

That thoughts of race and sect can ne'er agree 

With what they call Religion broad 

3] Thy love of God and brother soul alone 

Bereft thyself of early friends 

Thy softer feelings oft to kindness prone 

Led on thyself for higher ends! 

4] I weep to read that Kazees and their men
Oft persecuted thee, alas! 

But thou didst nobly pray for th' wicked then! 

For thou wert Vaishnava Haridas! 

5] And God is boundless grace to thee, O man! 

United thee to one who came 

To save the fallen souls from Evil's plan 

Of taking human souls to shame 

6] And He it was who led you all that came 

For life eternal, holy, pure! 

And gave you rest in Heaven's endearing Name 

And sacred blessings ever sure! 

7] Thy body rests upon the sacred sands 

Of Swargardwar near the sea, 

Oh, hundreds come to thee from distant lands 

T' enjoy a holy, thrilling glee! 

8] The waters roar and storming winds assail 

Thy ears in vain, Ah, Vaishnava soul! 

The charms of Brindaban thy heart regale, 

Unknown the wheel of time doth roll! 

9] He reasons ill who tells that Vaishnavas die 

When thou art living still in sound 

The Vaishnavas die to live and living try 

To spread a holy life around! 

10] Now let the candid man that seeks to live 

Follow thy way on shores of time 

Then posterity sure to him will give 

Like one song in simple rhyme!