In these series we show various changes found in the 1972 edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and how they change the meaning of Srila Prabhupada’s words. It is understood that while editing, sometimes words are changed for clarity. Therefore, in these series of articles, we try to avoid spending too much time focusing on changes that alter the words with the purpose of giving the intended meaning in the original writing more force. With each change discussed we present the original spoken dictation as recorded by Srila Prabhupada on February the 19-20th 1966, the same passage in the 1972 Macmillan edition and finally our humble commentary.
Now one may doubt that because Krsna was the friend of Arjuna, therefore he might say all these things to his own friend. But Arjuna, just to drive out this kind of doubts in the mind of the readers of Bhagavad-gita, he establishes his proposition by the authorities. He says that Lord Sri Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead not only by himself, Arjuna, but He is so accepted by authorities like Narada, Asita, Devala, Vyasa. These personalities are great personalities in distributing the Vedic knowledge. They (are) accepted by all acaryas. Therefore Arjuna says that “Whatever You have spoken so far to me, I accept them as completely perfect.” Sarvam etad rtam manye [Bg. 10.14]. “I take it, I believe it that whatever You have spoken, they are all right. And Your Personality, Your Personality of Godhead, is very difficult to understand. And therefore You cannot be known by even the demigods. You cannot be known even by the demigods.” That means the Supreme Personality Godhead cannot be known even by greater personalities than the human being, and how a human being can understand Sri Krsna without becoming His devotee?
Introduction to Gitopanisad (Earliest Recording of Srila Prabhupada in the Bhaktivednta Archives) Bhagavad-gita Introduction, New York, February 19-20, 1966.
Now one may think that because Krsna was the friend of Arjuna, Arjuna was telling Him all this by way of flattery, but Arjuna, just to drive out this kind of doubt from the minds of the readers of Bhagavad-gita, substantiates these praises in the next verse when he says that Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead not only by himself but by authorities like the sage Narada, Asita, Devala, Vyasadeva and so on. These are great personalities who distribute the Vedic knowledge as it is accepted by all acaryas. Therefore Arjuna tells Krsna that he accepts whatever He says to be completely perfect. Sarvam etad rtam manye: “I accept everything You say to be true.” Arjuna also says that the personality of the Lord is very difficult to understand and that He cannot be known even by the great demigods. This means that the Lord cannot even be known by personalities greater than human beings. So how can a human being understand Sri Krsna without becoming His devotee?
In this section Srila Prabhupada refers to the 10.12-13 sloka, namely:
Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.
Bg 10.12, Bg 10.13, Bg 10.12-13
In the 1972 version, after the great acharyas Narada, Asita, Devala, Vyasadeva are named the editor adds the words “and so on.” Similarly, in the subsequent sentence the meaning is changed from “They are accepted by all acharyas” (“They” meaning Vyasadeva, Narada, Devala, Asita) to “as it is accepted by all acharyas” (“it” meaning the Vedic knowledge). So this is a clear example of subtly changing the meanings of Srila Prabhupada’s words. There are only these four achrayas mentioned by Krsna. There’s no question of “and so on” All other acharyas accept Vyasa, Narada, Asita, Devala as top most authorities. Srila Prabhupada does not speak anything about how the acharyas accept the Vedic knowledge.
The second change in the editing is the edition of “great”. Originally Srila Prabhupada speak of all demigods, but in the 1972 edition it’s only the great demigods who cannoot understand Krsna