One of the most miserable spiritual pathologies afflicting the century which we live in is, in my view, the deliberate process of the devitalization of the words, as λóγος, that is, as depository forms of transcendent meaning whose comprehension provokes, in one way or another, a committed understanding in the listener.

Obviously, the meaning of words is not univocal and allows, even demands, a certain inherent vagueness: reeds that line the road have verticality as their own; however, wind can tip them in one way or another without altering their essential nature.

The same happens with words. Agitated by intellectual breeze, they open to a margin of interpretation which does not detract their profound sense and enables the richness of language and dialog. There is no landscape more beautiful in this world than that of two people peacefully discussing some subtle matter, making wise use of rules imposed by the amicable colloquium.

Regarding the written tradition, there are hardly differences with the earlier example: the words of the book are what they are, but their full realization occurs when those words interact with receptive readers to reach a fortunate understanding. This is the greatness of the Logos and its perfection, which is always the same and simultaneously always different from itself.

However, the great Leviathan of the times always knows that the generosity of the highest concepts can be interpreted and used for selfish benefit, and this by way of distorting words, force, relativizing, denaturing them or moving them from their natural place. When this happens (and it happens all the time) the words Justice, Love, Beauty, Truth, Freedom, Religion, Virtue and ultimately God, among others, end up meaning nothing. They become empty shells in the service of something or someone who obtains some advantage from the confusion that ensues from their misuse.

And so a similar linguistic code, i.e. essentially a corrupted linguistics of cheating verbosity, will naturally correspond to the world that has made illusory forms its grotesque scenario. If the current state of things was not built upon certain capital concepts, all of the above would be as anecdotal as the bartering dialogue between a seller and a buyer of carpets, but it is not so. The Social Contract that recollects the acme of human aspirations, our desiderata to call it somehow, rests on certain inviolable mantras: duty and right, the need to be educated, the correction of social inequalities, the empire of peace, the protection of the most disadvantaged, etc.

The function of these words is not merely poetic, aims to guide the πρᾱξις, —the activities, individually and collectively— in the direction of the common good, as the score that enables universal harmony, if we give the same interpretation to those terms. Faith in such concepts gives meaning to our actions and if our actions make sense, we can reach some plausible happiness.

Hence this book Arsa Prayoga is first a defense of the correct Word, the Word As It Is, because it WAS such, and so it should be transmitted to the future, without traps, honorably, black and white. That is honesty.

Srila Prabhupada —seen here in his role as sage and scholar— devoted his life to a colossal work: to make available around the world the traditional legacy of classical Vedic texts, of which the principal is the Bhagavad-gita. His version is an essential reference for advanced students of Theology and Comparative Religions worldwide. I would like to remind the reader of the structure that Prabhupada wanted for his work:

  1. Sanskrit text in Devanagari characters.
  2. Phonetic transcription of the verse.
  3. Phonetic translation word by word.
  4. Translation.
  5. Personal commentary based on tradition.

Such philological rigor is not at all an exercise in superficial erudition. On the contrary, it responds to a sincere zeal in showing the text As It Is, so that no one can propose as real a version As It Is Not. In my opinion, there is not a conceivably greater demonstration of love for the spirit of the book (and who inspires it) than to show the book in its strict nature.

Having secured the authentic letter of the text, the reader can access the profound meaning of the words and reflect on them in a framework of interpretation that, as we said, allows for reasonable debate, but not for confusion. And even if the previous five points were not enough to answer questions that might arise, there is always the resource of a 6th point, which is to go to a legitimate authority and formulate the necessary questions.

But the textus receptus the master has given for good is and has to remain untouchable and not allow corrections, amendments or additions because any attempt to improve it is to make it considerably worse. Srila Prabhupada was very strict in this respect. A reviewer of the text proposes to change a virgule, continues recomposing a phrase of dubious interpretation and then end by evaporating the work of a lifetime. Consummatum est. Straight judgment has lost the battle against the opinion and the “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” has lost it against the “Bhagavad-gita As It Should Be.”

I cannot enter the realm of intentions —some of which seem dark to me— that have helped some persons to correct the legacy of the master. However, I do know the author of this Arsa Prayoga. I am aware of his devotion to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna consciousness, and I understand that he would have never compiled this work, if there was not a real need to protect a precious deposit, denouncing with serious arguments the attempt, conscious or unconscious, of diluting valuable knowledge on the altar of superficiality. In my view, this work is in itself an expression of Bhakti yoga. I wish and I hope it to be well received by all those who are concerned.

Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, September 1, 2015 Santiago Jubany Closas M.A. in Religious Studies, Facultat de Teologia de Catalunya
M.D., Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona