Published on March 23rd, 2024 | by Madhudvisa dasa


Book Review: Srila Prabhupada’s 1969 Sri Isopanisad

I have just had the great pleasure of reading Srila Prabhupada’s original 1969 Sri Isopanisad for the first time. Of course I have read Sri Isopanisad many times before, but this edition is very special. It is a photographically reproduced version of the original book. It’s printed on first-class paper, it has nine beautiful color prints and perfectly clean, clear and crisp text.

When the BBT editors made extensive unauthorized changes to Srila Prabhupada’s Sri Isopanisad in 1977 Prabhupada, when he learned of the changes, was very distressed and directly ordered the BBT to return the next printing of Sri Isopanisad to the original way it was published without any unauthorized changes.

Yasoda-nandana: In the Gurukula we were teaching Isopanisad class to the children. So we took… (break) …Prabhupada and the words which the recent edition of the press is wrong. Many changes were brought. They were trying to make better English, but sometimes, to make better English, I think they were making philosophical mistakes also. There is no so much need of making so much better English. Your English is sufficient. It is very clear, very simple. We have caught over 125 changes. They’re changing so many things. We are wondering if this is necessary. I will show you today. I have kept the book.
Prabhupada: I know that these rascals are doing. What can be done? How they can be relied on? It is starting. What can I do? These cannot… These rascals cannot be educated. Dangerous. Little learning, dangerous. So how to correct? The leader of these dangerous–Radha-vallabha… He’s a dangerous, who maintains these rascal with this work. He’ll always have questions and alteration. That is his business. That is American business. They take that always. What can I do? Ultimate, it goes for editorial. They make changes, such changes… But they are doing without any authority… It is very serious situation. Ramesvara is in direct…
Yasoda-nandana: What is it going to be in five years? It’s going to be a different book.
Prabhupada: So you… What you are going… It is very serious situation. You write one letter that “Why you have made so many changes?” And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that “This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim.” The next printing should be again to the original way… So write them immediately that “The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party…” So they are doing very freely and dangerously. And this rascal is always after change, Radha-vallabha. He’s a great rascal.

Just a few months after this conversation Srila Prabhupada left his body in Vrndavana. Instead of following Srila Prabhupada’s clear order to return his books to the original way, the BBT immediately took advantage of Prabhupada’s departure and began “revising and enlarging” his Bhagavad-gita As It Is. They made more than 5,000 mostly completely needless changes and in many cases completely changed the meaning of the text in the book Srila Prabhupada himself read and gave class from almost daily for more than six years. During all these years, even though the book was reprinted many times, Srila Prabhupada never requested anyone to “revise and enlarge” it.

These matters have been thoroughly discussed by the followers of Srila Prabhupada and the almost unanimous opinion of all groups of Srila Prabhupada’s followers [even including the vast majority of devotees in ISKCON] is the BBT should not change Srila Prabhupada’s books at all. For more information one can refer to

Srila Prabhupada’s Sri Isopanisad has been unavailable since the BBT published its first unauthorized edition in 1977. Since 1977 the BBT have continued to edit and change their version more and more with every printing even up to today. With every printing the BBT’s books become more and more unauthorized. Of course the BBT do still stock some of Srila Prabhupada’s authorized original books, particularly small books, but this is possibly only because the editors have not yet had the time to “revise and enlarge” them.

Yasoda-nandana: What is it going to be in five years? It’s going to be a different book.
Prabhupada: So you… What you are going… It is very serious situation. You write one letter that “Why you have made so many changes?” And whom to write? Who will care? All rascals are there. Write to Satsvarupa that “This is the position. They are doing anything and everything at their whim.” The next printing should be again to the original way… So write them immediately that “The rascal editors, they are doing havoc, and they are being maintained by Ramesvara and party…” So they are doing very freely and dangerously. And this rascal is always after change, Radha-vallabha. He’s a great rascal.

So today is a great festival as we see the first of Srila Prabhupada’s original books back in print. The BBT’s changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books have smothered the Hare Krishna movement. One simply does not get the same impression by reading the BBT’s version as one does by reading Srila Prabhupada’s original books. Since the BBT have published their “Revised and Enlarged” version of the Gita it is doubtful if anyone has understood the actual meaning of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is by reading their version. The result of reading the BBT’s version is very different from the result of reading Srila Prabhupada’s version and many devotees will testify to that. Today’s ISKCON is living proof that devotees reading the BBT’s version of the Gita are completely unable to understand the real meaning of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is..

It seems the end of the dark era of completely unauthorized BBT books being distributed as Srila Prabhupada’s books is coming to an end. This publication of Prabhupada’s original 1969 Sri Isopanisad is a great and hopeful sign for the future.

This book is for everyone. It covers, in a nutshell, all aspects of spiritual life including the purpose of life, the attainment of peace, understanding of the soul and reincarnation, real education and the process of self realization. It’s a book one can read over and over again and always gain new inspiration and new insights.

I strongly recommend you to purchase and read this original Sri Isopanisad by Srila Prabhupada and as far as possible distribute it to your friends, neighbors, work mates, etc. The greatest charity, the greatest welfare work is to give people real spiritual knowledge and the best way to do that is to let them read Srila Prabhupada’s original books.

This book is a must for anyone interested in Vedic thought in any way whatsoever. It is one of the most important of the 108 Upanisads. The book contains eighteen Sanskrit mantras. Srila Prabhupada has given an excellent introduction called “Teachings of the Vedas.” His introduction gives even someone new to the Vedas a complete understanding of the history, the purpose and the scope of the Vedic literature.

Sri Isopanisad is a complete introduction to ancient Vedic spirituality but at the same time is very profound and a great source of knowledge and inspiration for advanced students. The original Devanagari script is given and for those of us who can not read Devanagari there is a roman transliteration also. Srila Prabhupada has provided English synonyms for all the Sanskrit words, beautiful clear English translations and elaborate purports explaining the verses with reference to other Vedic scriptures and the previous acaryas [great self-realized spiritual teachers.] In the appendix we find a short biography of Srila Prabhupada, a Sanskrit pronunciation guide with an introduction to Devanagari script, a comprehensive glossary and an index.

Although the book only runs to 124 pages it is quite a large format paperback and contains a great deal of spiritual knowledge indeed. I am sure you will enjoy it very much. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

Srila Prabhupada’s original 1969 Sri Isopanisad is available from:

Madhudvisa dasa


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About the Author

My first contact with a Hare Krishna was a most merciful Mataji in Oxford Street, London who sold me a "Higher Taste" cook book in 1984 while I was on holidays there. I started seriously reading Srila Prabhupada's books in Australia 1985 and by 1986 Srila Prabhupada had convinced me "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead" and "we should surrender to Krishna." I joined the Hare Krishnas in Perth, Western Australia in 1986. Since then I have been chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and preaching as much as I can. That's my life and full-time occupation now really. I like it more than anything I've ever experienced before. Srila Prabhupada's books are so amazing... Even after reading them all many times they're still fresh and new. They are truly transcendental! That's it really. Now I'm just hankering to once again see the world chant Hare Krishna, dance and feast and float away in the ecstasy of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana movement as it did in Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Let the whole world drown in the ecstatic flood of love of Krishna!

5 Responses to Book Review: Srila Prabhupada’s 1969 Sri Isopanisad

  1. Ahinsra das says:

    Dear Madhudvisa Prabhu,

    Your attempts to keep Srila Prabhupada’s original books for future generations are enough for you to attain Lord Krishna’s mercy. You need do nothing else, for it is so important.

  2. Uma Sridhar says:

    Hare krishna!

    Please accept my pranam Swamiji! Very much delighted to see comment column back!

    Sri Ishopanisad is my favourite book! I read many times; Whenever, I am in distress I go through the book and get solace.

    I want to clear my doubt swamiji! Even reading spiritual books ie Ishopanisad and other Gurudeva’s books, and chanting etc, and I am wondering why I am unable to find peace? Yes, why my mind is hankering on my materialistic problems, failures?

    Now I am clear that this world/this body is not permanent, I should focus on Krishna Consciousness! but at the same time I know I am helpless, and I am bound by my family; being a woman you cannot run away from your family and take “sanyass”. I have to do my duties of a married woman, and mother. Earlier you pointed out that our sufferings are due to our previous karma! Right, ok, let me concentrate on family matters and other problems. If all solved, shall I concentrate on Krishna?

    Why I am asking is this, I am giving you example like this, its like I am watching movie in a theatre for 3 hours. During 3 hours I concentrate only on the movie think nothing else! As soon as it finishes, I come back to my routine.. Similarly, While reading or chanting I am really free from materialistic things. Unfortunately, I am unable to continue for long due to my commitments.

    What should I do? I feel no improvement in my spiritual progress. After prayer, I think of my failures and worrying all the same? Is it wrong to ask Krishna for success in life Swamiji? Only happy person will be peaceful and he will able concentrate more in Krishna Conciousness!

    In distress I am unable to do/concentrate on japa regularly!

    With pranam!

    Uma Sridhar

    • Hare Krishna Uma

      We do not notice that we are advancing in Krishna consciousness because it is a gradual process. But do not worry you are making a lot of advancement in Krishna consciousness by chanting Hare Krishna and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books.

      In the beginning it is a purificatory process. We are diseased, like the man with jaundice, he can not taste sweet things, sweet things seem bitter to him, so he does not like to take them. But the cure for jaundice is to take the sweet things, which he does not like to take because of the disease. So because of this material disease our taste for Krishna consciousness is covered and we can not taste it very much, but this chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra and reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books is the cure to the material disease. It is the medicine, and it is very effective medicine, if we continue to take the medicine of chanting Hare Krishna and reading Prabhupada’s books our material disease will be cured and then we will be able to truly taste the real bliss in the Hare Krishna mantra.

      As far as your situation it is good, you are finding the time to chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and you are finding the time to read Prabhupada’s books and you are managing your material responsibilities of family, etc, at the same time. So it is very good.

      As you become more advanced in Krishna consciousness you will at least internally become more detached from the family affairs, etc, and you will become more attached to Krishna. The two things are opposite actually. And as we become more attached to Krishna we will automatically become less attached to the material things like the family and so on. But still we should continue our duty but we need to become unattached to the results.

      You seem to be troubled and feeling that somehow you are not succeeding in the material world as much as you would like to and this is causing you distress. But you should not be distressed in any apparently distressful situation.

      Actually it is unrealistic to expect that you will find ‘peace’ in the material world. Devotees are completely at peace within, but that does not mean that externally everything is always very nice. You know taking to Krishna consciousness is declaring war against maya. And she fights back. So as soon as we try to become Krishna conscious maya is going to try and distract us and frustrate us in so many ways. That is just the way it is and we have to expect that.

      Trying to become Krishna conscious and go back home back to Godhead is like trying to swim against the current up a very fast-flowing river. In the material world everyone around us is going straight to hell and they want us to come with them and they a dragging us and pulling us and trying to convince us to go with them to hell. But we don’t want to go there. We want to go to Krishna. But not many others actually want to go to Krishna.

      So from the external view it is not very peaceful. This material world is actually a crazy place, as the scientists say “Struggle for existence and survival of the fittest.” So around us everyone is struggling to “succeed” and fighting with everyone else to try and exploit the material resources for their personal sense gratification. It is not very peaceful.

      And I think you have become a little influenced by this craziness. Actually a devotee is completely peaceful, even in the middle of all this craziness. How is that possible? Because the devotee knows that everything is ultimately going on under the direction of Krishna and he is surrendered to Krishna. All the devotee is concerned about is serving Krishna and he works according to his duty but he is not at all attached to the results.

      We are not actually in control of the results of our work. So we should not care actually about the results of our actions, if they are successful or if they are failures, it does not matter. What matters is that we are always engaged in the service of Krishna, and always working in Krishna consciousness. As far as your material duties all you can do is try your best, and the result of your work is not in your control. So if it is successful that is OK, and if it fails, that is also OK, you can not control the result. The result is in Krishna’s hands.

      And you will never be able to please everyone in the material world, that is not possible, no matter how nicely you serve the family and how nicely you do things, there will still be someone not satisfied, someone complaining. That is just the way of the world. So we should actually serve Krishna and please Krishna and Krishna will appreciate our service.

      Actually devotees are somewhat detached from the material world. They are in a relationship with Krishna and they are serving Krishna and that is what is important. Of course there is also a material side particularly for the devotees with families, they have to work in the material world, but they do not work exactly in the same way as the karmis work, they know everything is in Krishna’s hands and they accept everything as Krishna’s mercy.

      You know Sukadeva Goswami’s mother was bitten by a snake and died and he was a young boy with only the mother to look after him. But he took his mother’s death as Krishna’s mercy and went out traveling. The Pandavas were put into so many difficulties by the Kurus but later you know when they were in a more comfortable position, Kunti was praying to Krishna “Let there be calamities.” She was thinking that when they were in danger they were simply depending on Krishna to protect them so they were always remembering Krishna, but now they were safe it was easy to forget Krishna, so she was praying “Let there be calamities” so that we will always remember Krishna.

      So the things a materialistic person would see as a great problem or as a disaster, a devotee takes it as Krishna’s mercy. A devotee is not at all surprised to see all sorts of disastrous things happening in his life or in the lives of the people around him. He knows that disaster is the nature of the material world and he expects the disasters. He is not surprised by them. And he sees them as “Krishna’s mercy”.

      So we have to be realistic. This material world is dukalayam asasvatam, it is a place of misery and death, so you have to expect to see misery and death all around you. That is the way of the world. It is not surprising. This material world is a horrible place and we want to become Krishna conscious and get out of here…

      So do not worry so much. Just concentrate on chanting Hare Krishna and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and do your best as far as your family duties and know that is all you can do, and do not be happy if there is a good result and do not be distressed if there is a bad result. The result is not in your hands. All you can do is your duty, unattached to the results. We can not control the results, the results are not in our hands.

      The solution to everything lies in chanting Hare Krishna and reading Prabhupada’s books. So if you are ever feeling distressed chant Hare Krishna more and read Prabhupada’s books more and quickly the distress will be gone and you will be feeling happy and Krishna conscious.

      We have to learn the art of transforming all the activities of our life into devotional service. And that you will learn more and more by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. And gradually you will still be doing your duties to your family, but actually you will not be serving your family, you will be serving Krishna… That art you can learn by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books.

      So do not become discouraged, maya will try to discourage you in so many ways, but we have to become determined to become Krishna conscious and determined not to become discouraged no matter how bewildering maya’s tricks become…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  3. SS says:

    Prabhu, please kindly accept my greetings. Although my problem is not directly related to this article, it was one of the more recent ones so I thought that maybe my comment will get your attention sooner. For days I have been searching from some guidance and thought that you may be able to help as I read your articles often. It is a very personal and embarrassing problem for me, and I was wondering if there is a more private way to contact you, such as email. Please kindly have mercy on me and help me Prabhu. Hare Krishna, all glories to Lord Sri Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. Thank you.

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