Our Faith Has Vanished Underfoot a Long Time Ago…(08/19/07)
Dear N____ Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Sorry for this late reply to your enquiry but due to being out of station for several weeks I only received your email yesterday.
“Perhaps you have a vague memory of this humble servant of Śrīla Prabhupāda?”
I don’t think we have actually done service together or met other than in passing. But yes, I do remember you and I have heard much about your service to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
“The BBT trustees were given information that you were agreeable to the BBT publishing the book ‘In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life’ which you edited and published.”
The book has gone through three editions since 1991 and has improved in quality with each consecutive edition.
“I think you have had some discussions with J___ Mahārāja and then B____ prahbu in this regard.”
Yes I have.
“But it was not clear to the body of devotees what the circumstances and what you would be agreeable to. There were a few questions which B___ Prabhu could not answer. I was requested by the BBT trustees to discuss with you your desires in regards to this title. And in turn to convey any concerns from the BBT which may arise in their publishing the work.”
When B____ Prabhu and I talked we hit a stumbling block, which he may or may not have mentioned to you. He said to me that if the BBT were to publish the book that they wanted the complete copyrights turned over to the BBT. I disagreed and we discussed the matter for some time.
B____ said that BBT wanted copyrights because they felt that they should hold the copyrights to Prabhupāda’s books. This hit a sensitive nerve in me and I asked, “Who am I talking to? BBT or BBTI?” To which B____ replied “BBTI”. You might imagine where the conversation went after that — the BBT court case with Hamsaduta winning BBT and ISKCON getting BBTI was discussed among other similar
discouraging events. We also discussed Prabhupāda’s desires and some devastating histories of ISKCON of the past 30 years since Śrīla Prabhupāda’s departure.
However, we ended our discussion on a positive note wherein I said I was open to a dialogue and he said someone would get back to me. But after further reflection on our conversation I decided not to pursue
the matter further. We discussed this in our community of devotees and everyone was of the same opinion that the best thing to do was to continue publishing the book and distributing it according to our means.
We concluded that BBTI would not be any better or worse off with or without our cooperation. We felt that we were pushing something on them that they in the first place were not really interested in. And that is where we ended our thoughts on the matter.
“I heard that you put a lot of editing work into preparing the text for publication. It would be a shame not to have access to this offering to Śrīla Prabhupāda, and they would be interested in keeping this
intact. Would you be agreeable to this?”
If the conversation was reopened we would only agree to an arrangement that BBTI could publish the book with the following in tact; imprint page [with permissions added], about the author, introduction, preface, pranams by the author, full text of the book, verse index and in the current design format and cover. At the end of the book is a Bengali song that glorifies Śrīla Prabhupāda (written by me) but that could be omitted. Hard cover or soft cover would be the choice of the BBTI.
“Would you prefer that the book being published in its present form or could it be repackaged?”
The “packaging” is already quite nice but if it can be improved how could we say no. The present edition was designed by my disciples who have done work for the BBT/BBTI in the past. For many years they were the design team at Mandala and are now Alian Design and have recently completed the new BBTI website in coordination with P_____ Prabhu in Māyāpura. Our design team is very good and we like the book design as it is but what would be your idea of a repackaging?
“What other concerns would need to be addressed by the BBT in order to move forward with this?”
We are most concerned about attitudes in working together. But thus far, my discussions with B___ have led us to believe that BBTI was only interested in controlling our little project and not recognizing
the chance for greater cooperation and appreciation among godbrothers. We are definitely not interested in being controlled by anyone or any institution that does not have our best interests at heart, or does not facilitate our continued service to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Unfortunately, our faith that BBTI or ISKCON as an entity represents the desire and will of Śrīla Prabhupāda vanished underfoot a long time ago. All we see now are relative opinions and jaded ideas of individuals controlling an institution that has spiritually run amok. It will take a lot of convincing before we again start to think otherwise.
We would never agree to turning over complete copyrights of the book to anyone for fear that it would become just another one of the BBTI titles and eventually join the list of Prabhupāda’s books that are
already out of print. As it is now we continuously keep this book in print as our solemn duty. The only advantage that we could see with BBTI would be a greater distribution world wide. That would be a good idea but not at the cost of turning over the copyrights.
We think that it is also important that the BBTI trustees understand that the book we are talking about (written as an essay in 1959) is distinctly unique among all of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s other books. In this book Śrīla Prabhupāda discusses certain higher topics in depth as never before and never again after. The subject of this book takes the reader from the most fundamental aspects of Kṛṣṇa consciousness
to the highest concepts concerning the Absolute Truth. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s unique potency shines through on every page, charming our hearts and at times leaving us utterly speechless. If a devotee is well versed in this book then it is unlikely that he/she will ever be misled by sahajiyās and others who sometimes attack Śrīla Prabhupāda’s movement from without and from within.
Here is my proposal — we give the BBTI a release to print and reprint the book (as it is) as many times as they like and distribute them world wide but we retain the original copyright and we are able to print the book if and when it ever goes out of print. This sounds simple and straight forward to us. How does this proposal sound to you?
“Mahārāja, please forgive this approach by email which is not the best medium for this kind of discussion. But at this point I have no alternative since I am not aware of your whereabouts and our paths rarely cross these days. I look forward to your response on the above ,and if you would prefer that we talk on the phone then please let me know the number that I can call.”
Probably you need to think about what I have said above and then get back to me again via email. If the above doesn’t work for you, it’s not a problem for me either so speak your mind. To paraphrase B___
Prabhu, “The BBTI probably has enough on its plate already to keep them busy for a long time. The issue of having one more title on their list isn’t really their greatest concern”
Thank you for your genuine approach in this matter. Hoping this meets you well.
Śrī Rūpānuga dāsānu-dāsa,
Swami B.G. Narasiṅgha