Nonsense Corner - HH Bhaktimarga Swami


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 69, Vol 2, 2021, Interactive

This is a column in which we answer articles or statements that have been forwarded to us by our readers for rebutting. As just noted, the article on HH Bhaktimarga Swami ("BMS") from BTP 67, when circulated on social media, received many comments in agreement with it. However, there were a couple of persons who tried to find fault with it by claiming that we had misrepresented what BMS actually said. These claims against the IRM article are reproduced below in yellow boxes, with our responses to these claims given underneath. Both the claims against the IRM article, and our responses, quote BMS, and these BMS quotes are shown in bold text. The IRM article quoted from an interview BMS gave, and one can listen to this interview in full here: One will note that below we provide exact timings in minutes and seconds for quotes from this BMS interview for reference. All emphases added.

"I listened to the full thing [...] he was talking about how WE should present Krishna Consciousness to the public, not about Srila Prabhupada's books. This relates to all the collected quotes – they were meant as advice for us, not for BBT. [...] Perhaps on another occasion he would call for outright editing out male pronouns but he didn't do it here."

1) In the "full" interview, BMS specifically states that he means "this is for BBT trustees looking at the books". He then goes on to suggest "language adjustments", which refer specifically to making changes to Srila Prabhupada's words in the books. This is proven by the fact that BMS gives an example of such "language adjustments" by referring to the editing of male pronouns so that "he" and "she" would be represented in "a fair share of words":

"we need to find the words that will be important to us [...] I mean this is for BBT trustees, you know, looking at the books, they really have to look at some of the words and put things in such a way that would – they should consider, you know, the language adjustments. Like say for instance, generically, if everything's, ‘he, he, he,' and there's no ‘she, she, she,' then you're eliminating half of the population. [...] It's got to be a fair share of words"
(Timing in interview: 70:07-70:47)

"Maharaja's opinion was that BBT should be aware of changes in modern language and find a way to deal with it. His own suggestion was to put footnotes, not that we should remove "dirty" words from the books as the article implies."

2) After suggesting language adjustments, which, as just shown in point 1), refers to the changing of words, BMS then goes on to state that he is proposing "as well" that "maybe" "footnotes" or "explanations" could be added:

"for BBT trustees, [...] they should consider, you know, the language adjustments [...] It's got to be a fair share of words (70:11 -70:47) [...] Maybe we need some footnotes or some more clear explanations, so that's what I wanted to say as well" (71:02-71:13)

Thus, making language adjustments and adding footnotes are two different actions that BMS is proposing for Srila Prabhupada's books.

""and then we also should give some thought to what that would mean for our own BBT books. You know maybe we need some footnotes or some more clear explanations..." (70:55-71:09). That was his example of what he meant by "they should consider, you know, the language adjustments" (70:22-70:25) said earlier in reference to BBT – "maybe need some footnotes." (71:02-71:04)"

a) As we showed in point 2), the above quote actually states:

"maybe we need some footnotes or some more clear explanations, so that's what I wanted to say as well"

So the part underlined is cut off by our detractor. Why is this significant? Because as proven in point 1), BMS had first suggested "language adjustments" (70:24), which specifically referred to changing Srila Prabhupada's words, with BMS even giving the example of changing male pronouns to make his point. Then, BMS later adds that he is proposing "as well" that "maybe" footnotes or explanations should be given. Thus, BMS first suggested word changes and then later "maybe" footnotes for Srila Prabhupada's books, as an additional suggestion.

b) The above point can also be proven simply by noting what the words "adjustment" and "footnote" mean in English. A "footnote" is the exact opposite of a language "adjustment", since it allows one to keep the language of the text intact with no adjustment, and instead offer a separate explanation for the language. Whereas a language adjustment actually "adjusts" the language by changing it. Otherwise, unless the language is changed, there would actually be no adjustment made!

"The editor [of BTP] summarizes the Swami's position by stating "He states Srila Prabhupada's books are 'embarrassing'". No, not in the very quote offered. He is speaking about some language aspects "will be" embarrassing, not that they are currently or perhaps some are currently."

BMS confirms that he is talking about a current (so-called) problem because he is referring to language that is present right now on "almost any page" of Srila Prabhupada's books. He says the words are "dirty", not will be dirty, and he says he has to block his ears when he hears "preach", not will have to block his ears:

"I mean somebody's just have to sit down in a back room and figure out what are the dirty words in ISKCON that we use [...] you could open almost any page and find something (77:18-77:50) [...] 'Preach' is just like to me, I just want to block my ears" (78:57-79:01)

"The IRM presentation's summarizing introductions are not accurate. [...] "New depths," really? No, not really. [...] So there's hyperbole."

Our introduction to the article stated:

"HH Bhaktimarga Swami ("BMS") has continued ISKCON's trend of minimising Srila Prabhupada's books, taking things to new depths of offense."

We – and, judging from the reaction to the article, most readers – have never before come across an ISKCON guru and GBC publicly preaching that Srila Prabhupada's books are "embarrassing", contain "dirty words", and that his word choice is "crass or harsh". Thus, BMS's statements can be considered as "new depths of offense".

Therefore, in conclusion, claiming that BMS was only talking about adding footnotes, or that "language adjustments" means "no language adjustments", and other similar arguments, won't get BMS off the hook for what he said about Srila Prabhupada's books.

Return to "Bhaktimarga Swami" Index

Return to IRM Homepage


Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!