This brief article will hopefully serve as a guide in helping devotees to understand how to detect Srila Prabhupada's original books. We may just say that in the past on different websites certain books have been advertised as being original when in fact on closer observation they have proven to be changed. Whether this was deliberate or done unintentionally is a subject matter for debate but the fact remains that there is still considerable confusion on the matter. We were fortunate to have a full set of Srila Prabhupada's originals (first printings) and thus started making a comparison. Random checks were done just as a simple test and on every single one of those checks changes were found. The fact that changes were found leaves sufficient room for doubting that entire volumes may well be riddled with changes.
We haven't gone through each and every one of Srila Prabhupada's books page for page to list the numerous changes since the time was an issue (hopefully a detailed comparison will be undertaken in the future for the benefit of all devotees).
Srila Prabhupada's books can be broken into 3 basic categories:
1) Books that he himself directly wrote.
2) Books that are compilations of his statements coming from lectures, letters and conversations etc…( these were compiled specifically under his instruction by his disciples, such compilations were put together in his physical presence.
3) Book compilations that were put together after his physical departure.
Of the above-mentioned 3 categories the first two are of greater relevance to the issue. We are as yet to make a complete comparison of category 2 we thought it more urgent to deal with group 1 since group 2 which consists of letters and conversations etc… can be verified by checking back it's original source i.e. complete lectures, conversations or letters which can be found on Vedabase. In the case of group 1 we would have no other source than the books themselves.
The significant point which is worth noting is that even though some books are titled pre-1978, edition they may still have unauthorised changes to them. To properly understand this it would be in the reader's best interest to read in the Vedabase the 1977 conversation titled "Rascal Editors". In this conversation with Srila Prabhupada it is very clear that his books were being changed without his authorisation even in HIS PHYSICAL PRESENCE!!! Therefore the question which should naturally arise is "among the pre-1978 books, which ones are authorised and which are not?" This basically is the crux of the matter.
Srila Prabhupada in the same conversation states that his books should be printed in the original way. What does that mean? It means that to ensure we get the authorised version we must in fact get the first printing of his books!!! Sometimes individuals with an overly compromised mentality argue that not all of the changes were of great significance and therefore minor changes should be overlooked. To answer such faulty logic one should carefully consider that any action performed without authorization of the spiritual master is in itself the cause of destruction on the spiritual path. Therefore the issue is not how big or small are the changes, it is only a question of did Srila Prabhupada authorize it or not. One with a little sincerity will accept what he has authorized without posing superfluous and offensive arguments. We therefore present below the first printings of Catergory 1) and 2):
Bhagavad-Gita Unabridged (1972)
Srimad-Bhagavatam-First Canto parts 1,2,3 (1972)
Second Canto parts 1,2 (1972)
Third Canto part 1(1972)
Parts 2,3,4 (1974)
Four Canto parts 1,2,3,4 (1974)
Fifth Canto parts 1,2 (1975)
Sixth Canto parts1,2 (1975)
part 3 (1976)
Seventh Canto part 1,2,3 (1976)
Eighth Canto parts 1,2,3 (1976)
Ninth Canto parts 1,2,3 (1977)
Tenth Canto parts 1,2 (1977)
part 3 (1980)
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta:
Adi Lila vol 1,2 ,3 (1973-74)
Madhya Lila vol 1-9 (1974-75)
Antya lila vol 1-5 (1975)
Krsna Book vol 1,2 (1970)
Teachings of Lord Caitanya (1968)
Nectar of Devotion (1970)
Easy Journey to Other Planets (1958, if not mistaken)
Sri Isopanisad (1969)
Nectar of Instruction (1975)
Note: Although on the whole one must get the first printings, there are the following few exceptions which were not first printings but were printed in the physical presence of Srila Prabhupada and were definitely not changed. They are:
Otherwise speaking, the others which were printed for a second time in the physical presence of Srila Prabhupada, like the 1st and 2nd Cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam, were changed. One thing which has been circulated by some devotees is that the small set of 30 volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam which were printed in Singapore and also made into a one volume edition are original, but we happen to have a set of that also, and found changes. There are certain tricks to quickly spot first printing Bhagavatams, if found in second hand book shops:
1) The first 4 Cantos do not have the volumes labeled in numerical notations on the spine whereas the remaining cantos do. The titles on the 5th-10th Canto are all in gold letters whereas in the previous cantos (1st-4th) have different coloured letters for the titles.
2) The 3rd and 4th Cantos do not have an index but the other cantos do.
3) When checking the inside of the Bhagavatam volumes there should be mentioned only one date, i.e., first printing which is the same as the copyright year. If there are other dates mentioned don't trust them, with the exception of the above mentioned few books, viz TLC, KB etc.
4) The colours of the dust jacket for the 5th-10th Cantos are the same as with the recent printing, however the 1st-4th Cantos are different.
Vol 1-2 of 1st Canto are blue, Volume 3 is a yellowish colour
Vol 1-2 of 2nd Canto have no brown borders around the pictures like in the second printings. They just have the photos of the temple altar in New York.
3rd Canto Volume 1, blue wall paper design dust jacket
Volume 2, grayish wall paper design dust jacket
Volume 3, brown
Volume 4, pink
We would like to end with examples of some of the changes found in the second printings of Srila Prabhupada's books, especially ones which were printed in his physical presence, and also the famous morning walk titled "Rascal Editors", so as to leave no doubt in the mind of the readers that obtaining a set of the first printings is a must. We will appreciate any feedback from devotees and apologise if any statistical facts are not included or are misrepresented. It's not our intention since we feel that the content herein is as true as can be.