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BBT Manifesto

BY: ISKCONToday Staff
Dec 05, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK — Dated: July 11, 2008

1. BBT Trustees[1] shall ensure that a sacred spiritual tradition is formed around the books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada ("Srila Prabhupada") such that this generation and the subsequent future generations for the next 10,000 years shall treat all of Srila Prabhupada's vani, or teachings, with utmost sacred respect, as words of God. This spiritual tradition, by education, culture, and devotion shall be formed such that no one will allow Srila Prabhupada's teachings to be physically distorted or disrespected in any manner or form that could put the whole basis of our parampara in danger. One of the duties of the Trustees given by Srila Prabhupada in BBT Instrument Document dated May 28, 1972 is “Directing and managing all publicity and distribution of my books;” Hence the Trustees shall direct and manage the publicity of these books with this grave responsibility in their minds.

2. Revising Srila Prabhupada books, whether well intentioned or not, sets a dangerous precedent. If not reverted back now to the original editions, future generations will look at the example and mood set by the first generation BBT Trustees and may do likewise as the times, personalities and circumstances change. Moreover, the current laws provide for copyright control of Srila Prabhupada's books through the BBT, so that only the Trustees of BBT can effectuate the changes. In future when the copyright law releases the copyright of Srila Prabhupada’s books into public domain, most likely starting in 55 years i.e. from 2063, if the pure tradition of Absolute Sanctity of these books is not set, anyone with authority in the preaching mission may change them like it has happened to the Bible. On the contrary, if this "revisionist" fallacy is rebutted & reverted and subsequently Srila Prabhupada's original book’s “no-change” policy is maintained, then THAT will become the established tradition. It will become part of the history of BBT that initially the books of Srila Prabhupada were "erroneously revised", but then after due consideration by the majority of followers of Srila Prabhupada and on the authority of scriptures, this policy was changed permanently. This will act as a lesson for future generations. Hence the goal of current BBT Trustees is very crucial, and their responsibility is critical, in how Srila Prabhupada and his teachings are regarded in the future for thousands of years to come.

3. For that purpose, there are multiple activities that the BBT Trustees shall perform.

4. First and foremost, all control of copyrights, printing and primary distribution ought to be with Srila Prabhupada's BBT and that BBT shall be reactivated. Without this centralized legal control, as organized and instructed by Srila Prabhupada, it will be difficult to ensure cohesive maintenance of the sanctity of Srila Prabhupada's books.  

 5. Secondly, the BBT Trustees shall follow all the basic written instructions of Srila Prabhupada regarding the operations of BBT. Srila Prabhupada formally executed BBT Trust Agreement document dated May 29, 1972. Thereafter Srila Prabhupada gave certain other written instructions to operate the BBT. The BBT shall function exactly according to these instructions:  

6. Third, all initial authorized editions of Srila Prabhupada's books shall be identified and only those shall be printed. All other editions shall be completely scrapped.  

 7. Fourth, an official history of the BBT shall be published describing in detail the incidences from the inception of the BBT till now so that the future generations can learn from it.

 Reactivate BBT as a legal Trust

 8. Only BBT, a legal US Trust, registered in Los Angeles, CA, shall be the centralized legal entity that owns all the copyrights of Srila Prabhupada's books all over the world, in all languages. All other corporations or entities domestic or international shall stop misrepresenting that they are BBT unless authorized in writing to do so by the BBT. BBT shall operate conjointly with its subsidiary divisions around the world as per Srila Prabhupada's written instructions.

9. This BBT shall be the only entity that authorizes printing of Srila Prabhupada's books in US and/or through its offices/subsidiaries in other countries. This is the direct instruction of Srila Prabhupada.

 "I specifically formed the BBT to invest in it exclusive rights for the printing of all literature containing my teachings, writings and lectures. In this way the collections are to be divided fifty percent for printing new books and fifty percent for construction of temples.

The BBT can authorize a center to print, as in the case of foreign translations, with the agreement that when the foreign printing becomes financially solvent they will pay royalties to the BBT. But all printing of ISKCON literature must be by the BBT or under their sanction and approval." (Letter from Srila Prabhupada to all Presidents, March 14th, 1974)

10. For the same reasons, the license by BBT to Krishna Books, Inc. ("KBI") should be scrapped. It is redundant and adds another competitor to Srila Prabhupada's BBT, against the direct instructions of Srila Prabhupada above and below:

 "If temples print independently it will be at the cost of the books I am, myself printing, and could eventually cause the financial ruin of the BBT, meaning I could not order new books from the printer or have sufficient funds for construction of temple projects. I trust this is now clear and you will all do the needful."(Letter from Srila Prabhupada to all Presidents, March 14th, 1974)

11. All payments from sales of English books must be deposited with BBT LA. Foreign offices/subsidiaries/divisions translating and printing Srila Prabhupada's books ought to give 10% royalty to BBT LA as per Srila Prabhupada's instructions:

 "Prabhupada just spoke with me regarding the distribution of foreign (other than English) language literature. His direction is that 10% of the gross income on the sales of all of our literatures, books, and magazines, should be sent to The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust."(Letter by Karandhara to Foreign Divisions of BBT, Counter-signed by Srila Prabhupada dated September 16, 1974)

12. Bylaws of BBT shall be adopted in order to supplement the original BBT Trust Agreement Document with later additional instructions by the setlor of the Trust, Srila Prabhupada. These Bylaws would further protect against mismanagement of BBT from happening again. These Bylaws shall include certifications of original books, provisions against revising the books, and editing policies, among others. The BBT governing documents shall be transparently made available over the internet.

Obtain Tax-exemption status from IRS  

 13. The BBT, a legal US Trust, shall apply for tax exemption from the IRS as per the written directive of Srila Prabhupada. The Trustees shall appoint a competent Probate Lawyer to complete the formalities under the Trust tax-exemption Rules given by the IRS.  

 Open Bank Account of BBT

 14. BBT shall open a bank account in its name in Los Angeles. All other corporations or entity's bank accounts with DBA BBT, or Doing Business As BBT, as being currently allowed by the Trustees in the case of Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, Inc. ("BBP") bank account in LA are to immediately cease.  

 15. All checks and payments for books that are received in the name of BBT are to be deposited in this authorized BBT account and not in the un-authorized BBP account as is being currently done.  

 Transfer all Copyrights back to BBT  

 16. All copyrights shall be immediately transferred to BBT from Bhaktivedanta Book Trust-International, Inc.("BBTI"). BBTI, a California Corporation, is a completely different entity from the BBT, a Trust. The Trustees shall order the BBTI directors to:  

 a. Re-assign all copyright records in US Copyright Office, falsely claiming to be owners of books and other works of Srila Prabhupada back to BBT. Most of the copyright records indicate that BBTI is the current owner of the copyrights, which is illegal.  

 b. All assigned copyright records ought to reflect that the author of each one of these works is "His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada" rather than the current offensive and illegal classification of Srila Prabhupada as "Worker for hire" that is currently being recorded on all these works. To classify Srila Prabhupada like any other employee of BBT is extremely insulting.

c. All copyright records of any of Srila Prabhupada works, in any translation, in all countries shall also reflect the same. The copyright owner of all translated works should be BBT with its address in Los Angeles, the author shall be mentioned as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and additionally the translator should be mentioned as "Worker for Hire" i.e. BBT Volunteer(s) translated that work. Not that Srila Prabhupada shall also be put in the same category of a hired worker or a volunteer like any other devotee.

d. All copyright declarations on all future publications, in any language, from the BBT shall be "© Copyrighted by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust 2009" and not "© Copyrighted by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust-International 2009". This is illegal and a misrepresentation by BBTI. This misrepresentation should stop immediately.

Transfer all Trademark and Logos back to BBT

17. All trademarks of BBT, currently with BBTI illegally, shall be immediately transferred to BBT:  

 a. “Bhaktivedanta Book Trust” trademark currently claimed to be illegally owned by BBTI shall be transferred back to BBT.

b. “BBT” logo currently owned by BBTI shall also be transferred to Srila Prabhupada’s BBT.

Dissolve BBTI & BBP  

 18. BBTI and BBP, formed in CA in 1988 and 1987 respectively, without the authorization of Srila Prabhupada, shall be officially disenfranchised as so-called agents of BBT. They have has been created to deceive the public into accepting them to be the same or equivalent of Srila Prabhupada’s BBT. They are not the same entity as the BBT and they do not follow Srila Prabhupada’s instruction for running his BBT in their legal corporate documents. Their bank accounts are to be closed and the current balance are to be immediately transferred back to the new BBT bank account. All other assets they possess or claim to posses are to be also transferred to BBT. Upon completion of the above, these entities are to be dissolved in every country they have been registered.  

 19. Till that happens, both these organizations shall hereby immediately stop misrepresenting themselves as the BBT or using the logo of BBT or misrepresenting that they own the BBT copyrights.  

 Stop Publishing Other Authors

20. The BBT Trustees are not to publish any book other than those written by Srila Prabhupada. BBT is not a "publishing house for Gaudiya Vaisnava books" as they write on Krishna.com. Instead this Trust was made by Srila Prabhupada specifically to hold and print his own books. "The properties which shall constitute the Trust Fund include all books and manuscripts and other documents written by me or translated by me, including the following hereinafter listed, and all those written by me in the future, including all copyrights and publication rights incidental thereto:" (BBT Trust Agreement document dated May 29, 1972. , Section 1 Trust Fund)  

 21. Srila Prabhupada may have himself authorized some books by some of his disciples to be printed by the BBT, but he himself could do so as it is his own Trust. But he has not left any specific instructions or policy for the Trustees for including other author’s books. His desires to the contrary are “Our translation must be documents. They are not ordinary... One cannot become unless one is very realized. It is not A-B-C-D translation”. (Conversation May 28, 1977). But the current Trustees have made their own policy. They have copyrighted and published many books from other authors in the BBT. These books are of questionable credibility and authenticity compared to the high standard of the intended books in the BBT- Srila Prabhupada’s. This is unethical and not sanctioned by the setlor or the Trust Instrument.  

 22. The mixing of completely pure books, words of God, with books of questionable purity may make the authority, authenticity, and respect of Srila Prabhupada's books and of his BBT to go down eventually in tandem. As we cannot sit on the Vyasasana of Srila Prabhupada, similarly we cannot put our books with Srila Prabhupada's books on an equal stature, unless he personally asked us to do so. Another official ISKCON publishing house can be made to print books by other authors and other official publications, but BBT should be left alone.  

 23. BBT funds, trademark & logo are not to be used for any books other than that of Srila Prabhupada's works. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's exclusively. It is his personal vehicle to reach out to the whole world and teach them the Science of God, Krishna. It is not a publisher of any or all books on 'Bhakti' and 'Vedanta' as the BBT trustees are apt to present BBT in an impersonal manner.  

 24. All solicitation of new manuscripts from other authors for printing under the Logo of BBT shall be immediately stopped.

 Stop printing all "revised" books  

 25. All first editions of Srila Prabhupada's books shall be identified and then printed, “as is” by the BBT. None of the "revisions" shall ever be printed. A note on the book shall identify each book as original and a replica of the first edition printed of each volume. At the end of each book, a note from the editor ought to be added:  

 "Some previous editions of this book were printed that were erroneously changed from the original due to a faulty editorial policy. Please check the authenticity of the edition by checking the inside cover page for the correct edition. You can check the correct edition of this book at {website}. If you do not have the correct edition, please send the book back to us, we will send the correct original edition to you free of cost. You can print a postage slip from {website}. Alternatively, you can download the free book from {website}. Thank you and sorry for the confusion. Hare Krishna."

Transparent, collective editorial policy

 26. A widely discussed and accepted editorial policy shall be adopted by the BBT . This editorial policy shall be encased in the new bylaws of the BBT.

 27. The books originally edited and published under the authority of Srila Prabhupada are to be considered free of defect or mistake by those who would consider themselves to be disciples. Srila Prabhupada instructed likewise in reference to seeing "mistakes" in his spiritual masters books. He called this spiritual principle "ashraya prayoga" or seeing a mistake in what the spiritual master has given as his legacy, as disrespectful and a faulty mentality. Only his editors, directly authorized by him to correct any errors, could do so, and that too only for the duration of that service to him understood to be until the editions were approved by Him. No modifications, corrections or explanations can be made to an Acharya's books once he has approved Them. This fact is more applicable now that he has left our physical presence.  

 28. Exempt shall be those errors specifically identified by Srila Prabhupada to be changed in the next edition. The first editions containing these errors shall be corrected. The overall principle shall be to follow Srila Prabhupada's instruction "to print the books in the original way", i.e. first editions + changes asked for by recorded instruction of Srila Prabhupada.

 29. As for the argument of the current editors that there are many genuine grammatical or factual errors (introduced by Srila Prabhupada’s transcribers or editors and not by Srila Prabhupada himself), those few specific errors can be considered:  

 a. to be printed in an errata separately from the books; or

 b. to be published on its website; or

c. as footnotes: where the correct spelling or word could be written as a footnote.

30. Current BBT editors have used these few errors to make a case for wholesale unnecessary changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. These changes range from philosophical to the original writing style which are thoroughly unnecessary. This faulty editorial policy shall be condemned in strongest terms and historically recorded for educating the future generations.

Main function of BBT Trustees

 31. As far as the printing of books of Srila Prabhupada, there are mainly two functions that the BBT Trustee shall ensure.  

 a. Reprint books. Cover, binding etc. can be modified according to current trend to make the book more presentable.

b. Compile more books from Srila Prabhupada's teachings under a certain topic (yoga, science etc) like the BBT are currently doing, but the editing shall be strictly minimal. The editing standard for printing new books shall also be encased in the Bylaws.

Integrate Archives with BBT  

 32. The Bhaktivedanta Archives shall deed all the historical archive material it possesses to the BBT. The Archives shall preserve and reproduce Srila Prabhupada’s works as a department of BBT, not as a division of BBTI. Bhaktivedanta Archives as a separate independent corporation shall be dissolved. It can function as a department within BBT and shall be fully integrated with BBT. Its location need not be changed for now.  

 33. The Bhaktivedanta Archives shall provide the Vedabase to be freely downloadable from its website; or for a nominal amount for a certain time to offset the actual cost in order to make it available in that format and for future updates. It shall not be more than $49.99 in any event. For full time devotees it shall be freely available.

 34. The Archives shall endeavor to make the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase be browsed and searchable from the BBT website itself. The main philosophy of Bhaktivedanta Archives department shall be to distribute Srila Prabhupada's vani (instructions) freely, far and wide using the latest electronic communication medium. Wide distribution is the best method of preserving Srila Prabhupada's teachings. The Archives shall seek to preserve Srila Prabhupada's books using the latest technologies for the next 10,000 years.  

 Back to Godhead  

 35. Back to Godhead was designed by Srila Prabhupada to be the backbone of our movement. It shall again be made likewise. “This Back to Godhead will always remain the backbone of the society because more the magazine is popular the more society becomes popular.” (Letter to Rayarama, 30th Jan, 1967)

36. BTG shall be published as a monthly Sankirtan magazine. Not as a primarily bi-monthly periodical. Of course the subscriptions are important and they shall be serviced religiously but the main customers shall be new people, as per Srila Prabhupada's instructions. BTG price for distribution in the US ideally should be $1, not more than $2 so it can be freely distributed. BTGs of other languages shall follow the same principle.  

 Book Fund and Temple Fund

 37. The policy of 50% income to BBT Book Fund and 50% of income to BBT temple fund shall be maintained as per Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in the BBT Trust Instrument: “The Trustees shall collect all proceeds from the sale of my books, that is One Hundred Percent (100%) of all the proceeds from all of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness Temples and divide these proceeds into two funds, one-half (1/2) for the fund known as the Book Fund, and one-half (1/2) for the fund known as the Building Fund.”  

 38. Transparency of accounting shall be the foundational principle of the BBT as well as full public disclosure of all assets owned by BBT. Monthly financial statements shall be posted on its website.  

 39. For the time being, the Temple Fund shall not be utilized as per the discretion of the trustees. As Srila Prabhupada says in a video to Ramesvara, "First of all Books!" Until all of Srila Prabhupada's original books are in print in the main languages of the world, none of the Temple Fund money shall be utilized except in the event of an emergency, short-term construction loan that is secured according to current international mortgage securing guidelines, and preferably by an individual guarantor. Instead the Temple Fund should be utilized to print and populate books in all major languages as per Srila Prabhupada’s desires. This temporary policy shall be followed at least for the next few years.  

 40. The Trustees shall use none of these funds for fighting any legal challenges due to their mismanagement. Srila Prabhupada did not allocate the BBT funds for that purpose. If they feel that they are right, then they should use other sources for funding their legal misadventures.  


 41. The Krishna.com and www.bbt.info domain name shall be transferred back to BBT. Krishna.com as an arm of BBT, but not the official website of BBT, has a certain amount of laxity in what it can promote. Still, for starters none of the books related to Bhakti Shastras should be sold on the website that are not Srila Prabhupada's books.  

 42. The official BBT website shall be {website}.  

 43. Any other websites in the world, in various languages, that are websites of various divisions of BBT or BBTI, shall be similarly transferred to BBT.  

 Internet Distribution, Copyrights and sales  

 44. The fast changes in the Internet have made sharing, distribution and sales of Srila Prabhupada's teachings much easier. These tools shall be utilized to the utmost.  

 45. As a principle, one basic version of the books, audio and video recording shall be freely available on the net for viewing and searching for non-commercial purposes probably protected by a "creative-commons" license, like this one.  

 46. Same policy shall be followed for the photos. Low resolution photos of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna shall be readily available and shared.  

 47. Any extra services like Vedabase, iPOD files, audio books, an electronic book format, downloads of more than 1 book etc. can be charged a proper fee according to current market standards.  

 We, the disciples and followers of Srila Prabhupada, will do our utmost to see that this manifesto is adopted by the BBT Trustees.  

 We will plead with them, implore them, and we sincerely wish to work conjointly and harmoniously with them, toward the end of pleasing Srila Prabhupada and preserving his great legacy. BUT, if that does not work, and the trustees are unwilling, then we are forced to coalesce around the legal battle to ensue, in order to ensure that these current BBT Trustees are removed, and Srila Prabhupada's BBT is restored to exactly the way that Srila Prabhupada ordered it, so that future generations may benefit from Srila Prabhupada's tireless effort in presenting Krishna Consciousness for the benefit of the whole world.


[1] BBT Trustees in current tense refers to BBTI directors who are representing themselves as BBT Trustees.