In the Spirit of Cooperation
Recently there was a post on Dandavats with a letter (at bottom of post) by the BBT Communications Team trying to justify their attempts to stop the distribution of the newly printed Original Srimad-Bhagavatams that Jitarati Prabhu has printed. I read the article with some interest, just to hear their argument and justification, for trying to stop the distribution of this fine set. But what was more interesting to me was the nice comment posted by Padmapani Prabhu.
His comment is as follows:
Hare Krishna Prabhus. Thank you for airing this matter publicly. I’ve been deluged with inquiries from concerned devotees around the world about this conflict and I’d like to get a better understanding of the details so that I can respond accurately. I was under the impression that devotees had reached an amicable agreement after the last court case that KBI (Krishna Books Inc.) could legally print Srila Prabhupada’s original books, so I was surprised and dismayed to learn that there is yet another court case on the horizon. Surely devotees can somehow or other work this out co-operatively between one another without resorting to expensive lawyers and creating even more bad publicity for Srila Prabhupada’s movement.
On a personal note, I’d like to mention that I served with Jitarati Prabhu back in the 70’s in both the Winnipeg and Montreal yatras. Due to Jitarati’s leadership and dedication to sankirtana, the Winnipeg temple was consistently number one in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books for years in the small temple category. Later Jitarati helped to spearhead large-scale collections for remodeling the old church in Montreal which is now the beautiful home of Sri Sri Radha Manohara. Although I haven’t seen Jitarati Prabhu for at least 40 years, I always remember him as a sincere and devoted disciple of Srila Prabhupada.
We all have our own slants in Krishna Consciousness, but Srila Prabhupada repeatedly told us that we should try and work together despite our differences. I know from personal experience in publishing a magazine for devotees back in the 80’s (The Vaisnava Journal) that we can get along no matter how far apart we might be on personal or philosophical issues. Devotees of all persuasions and from all camps — including the GBC — were communicating together on the same page, so I know it can be done. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Below are but a few of the many quotes from Srila Prabhupada which I hope will remind us all of the bigger picture and our collective duty to His Divine Grace. Thank you for listening.
“Now all my disciples must work combinedly and with cooperation to spread this Sankirtan Movement. If you cannot work together then my work is stopped up. Our Society is like one big family and our relationships should be based on love and trust. We must give up the fighting spirit and use our intelligence to push ahead.”(SPL to Upendra, August 6, 1970)
“We have so much work to do, we cannot lose our solidarity.” (SPL to Malati, January 7, 1974)
“Let us try to work cooperatively, otherwise the fighting spirit will ruin our great movement.” (SPL to Ramesvara, April 10, 1974)
“So we have to all cooperate amongst ourselves, otherwise what will people think if we ourselves fight with one another?” (SPL to Patita Uddharan, December 12, 1974)
“Everyone should be friendly for the service of the Lord. Everyone should praise another’s service to the Lord and not be proud of his own service. This is the way of Vaisnava thinking, Vaikuntha thinking. There may be rivalries and apparent competition between servants in performing service, but in the Vaikuntha planets the service of another servant is appreciated, not condemned. This is Vaikuntha competition. There is no question of enmity between servants. Everyone should be allowed to render service to the Lord to his best ability, and everyone should appreciate the service of others. Such are the activities of Vaikuntha. Since everyone is a servant, everyone is on the same platform and is allowed to serve the Lord according to his ability.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.12, Purport)
For immediate release
May 25, 2017
Contact: BBT Communications Team
Recently, the BBT trustees became aware that Jitarati Prabhu, through his company Pristine International, printed sets of Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam in New Delhi without consulting with or being authorized or licensed by the BBT. This is a serious legal matter, and his printing also has ramifications for the worldwide distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books; and so the BBT trustees who discovered Jitarati Prabhu’s printing have delayed the release of the books.
Jitarati Prabhu stated in a public memo that his independent printing of Srimad-Bhagavatam is his way of preserving an older edition of the text. He also expressed concern that the books he printed might now be destroyed by the BBT.
First, please note that Jitarati Prabhu’s edition and the BBT’s edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam are practically identical. There is no question of “preserving” some earlier edition of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.In fact, the BBT not only preserves Srila Prabhupada’s books, but it also publishes earlier editions of them when needed. For example, it regularly prints the first edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is for those who prefer it.
The BBT trustees have not proposed that the books Jitarati Prabhu printed be destroyed. Rather, the trustees discussed ideas with Jitarati Prabhu about how to move forward. Because he hasn’t liked the proposals, the matter is now before the court.
The devotees who serve at the BBT, especially its legally appointed trustees, are bound not only to uphold the BBT’s founding documents, personally approved by Srila Prabhupada, but also to execute the specific instructions Srila Prabhupada gave on March 14, 1974 in his “Memorandum to all ISKCON Centers.” In that memorandum, Srila Prabhupada forbids the printing of his books outside the BBT as well as the collection and spending of the proceeds from sales by anyone other than the BBT. “This must not go on.” Why? Because such independent printing “could eventually cause the financial ruin of the BBT.”
Jitarati Prabhu and others are in direct opposition to Srila Prabhupada’s orders on these matters and should not be lauded for their departure from these instructions.
There is no doubt that Srila Prabhupada wanted to safeguard the BBT and the BBT’s exclusive rights to print his books in order to protect and encourage the distribution of those books around the world. The distribution of BBT books is on the rise all over the world; in particular, BBT book sales have more than doubled in the last five years in North America, and there are similar increases in India, the UK, and Africa.
This is not happening by accident. Rather, such increases require painstaking planning, cooperation, and dedication. Independent and unauthorized printing of Srila Prabhupada’s books can easily sabotage this growth. Governments all over the world provide strict laws to protect companies from unfair interference in their businesses. Srila Prabhupada enacted similar protections for his main business interest, the BBT, to prevent undercutting by competitors not held to the same responsibilities he established for the BBT – for example, his desire to use BBT profits to “print as many books in as many languages”1 and then to distribute them throughout the whole world, and also to contribute significantly toward the construction of ISKCON temples.
Every follower of Srila Prabhupada holds his books as sacred. However, his specific instructions that his disciples and followers cooperate with the BBT for the printing and distribution of his books, his formula for allocating BBT profits for BBT and ISKCON development, and his specific written empowerment of legally appointed trustees to oversee these proceedings are also sacred.
Srila Prabhupada invested the BBT with the exclusive right to print his books in order to keep the BBT financially solvent and able to print his books in perpetuity. This is something we all want.
–BBT Communications Team
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