Krishna Books Inc. Now Actually Printing Books!
The tentative publishing schedule this year alone (2001) provides for at least one paperback per quarter and the printing of a hard and soft cover 1000 page, 48 color print, 6×9, 1972 McMillan edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Volume One of Krishna Book may also be printed this calendar year, or early next year. Easy Journey to Other Planets was printed in the first quarter, and Krishna, The Reservoir
Hare Krishna Locanananda Prabhu and Madhudvisa Prabhu:
cc: Nara Narayana Vishwakarma Prabhu, Nischintya Prabhu, Puranjana Prabhu, Veda Guhya Prabhu, Yasodanandan Prabhu
Please accept my obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
After reading the published correspondence between yourselves along with Locanananda Prabhu’s VNN article, Part III, I would like to offer a few observations regarding issues surrounding Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental literatures. Having just spent a good part of the 1990’s researching and litigating over many of these issues, it appears to me that many of the points discussed involve information which has resulted in inaccurate conclusions being drawn. Kindly take my comments in that light.
As regards the 1997-1998 BBT International Inc (“BBTI”) v Kary litigation:
A primary result of the BBTI v Kary litigation in California was revalidation of the original Bhaktivedanta Book Trust formed by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on May 29, 1972. It is, therefore, inaccurate to say that Srila Prabhupada’s BBT does not exist when, in fact, revalidation of Srila Prabhupada’s BBT was the precise legal result of eighteen months of fierce litigation.
Neither is it accurate to say that Hans Kary (Hansadutta dasa) signed over the copyrights to the BBTI, or to any entity for that matter. Rather, in return for stipulating to avoid a trial on his dubious claim as a “lifelong” BBT trustee (“dubious” because of the strong counter argument that he failed to act and was not fit to act as a trustee), the original BBT was legally revalidated and Hansadutta dasa was offered a seat on the nonprofit licensee publishing board, Krishna Books Inc, a California nonprofit religious corporation.
The reason that this resolution of that litigation was undoubtedly better than going to trial on the merits was that even had Hansadutta dasa been recognized as a BBT trustee, it is overwhelming likely that he would have been swiftly removed thereafter on a 40 day probate petition by the beneficiary, ISKCON, for admittedly being “inimical” to the beneficiary. Moreover, and most importantly, revalidation of the BBT would NOT have resulted in the legal right to print the pre-1978 works — a primary litigation goal.
Of course, it was highly doubtful that Hansadutta dasa would have been permitted by the court to serve as a BBT trustee in any event, in part because of his continuing criminal problems. Even as late as 1998 during the BBTI case, he pled out to felony weapons violations and ‘driving under the influence’ charges. And, during the pendency of the BBTI case he was sentenced and incarcerated in a county facility and served time. All of this information is, of course, a matter of public record — but the information would have been disastrous if it came out during the case.
As regards the BBT and the BBTI:
For legal reasons involving intellectual property right law — a discussion of which is outside the scope of this brief letter — the BBTI is now an agent of the BBT — the BBTI does not own the copyrights. Moreover, the BBTI is not, as suggested, “ISKCON operating under another name.” The BBT (and its agent the BBTI) has nothing to do with ISKCON, other, that is, than the obvious and legally intimate relationship of a trust to its beneficiary.
Therefore, the BBT (not the BBTI) holds the copyrights to the pre-1978 literary works of His Divine Grace, which is the precise legal arrangement personally made by His Divine Grace and which was confirmed by the court in the 1998 BBTI v Kary litigation.
Thus, whether or not there is support from within ISKCON for editing changes is not exactly a controlling issue since the BBT is legally independent of ISKCON and the GBC. This latter point — that the BBT is independent of ISKCON — was an express condition of the trust document executed by Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles in 1972 (and was reaffirmed in the BBTI v Kary case in 1998). Of course, if ISKCON rallied for the pre-1978 books and pressure was placed on the BBT to only print the pre-1978 books, the BBT would have to take note — but the GBC cannot just flip a switch to make it happen.
As regards Krishna Books Inc:
Krishna Books Inc (“KBI”) is not an “arm” of the BBT any more than Hansadutta dasa was ever its “head.” Rather, KBI is an independent nonprofit licensee authorized to print and publish the pre-1978 literary works of His Divine Grace. KBI is controlled by a nine member board of directors — and not, obviously, by any one person.
That I now personally represent the BBT on a number of intellectual property rights issues (after litigating the case which revalidated the BBT) should not exactly be earth shattering news. After all, supporting the validity of the BBT copyrights was Srila Prabhupada’s desire and is the same legal umbrella under which KBI now takes shelter.
Considering these points, various conclusions in your writings need reevaluation in light of actual historical facts.
First, there was no “KBI fiasco,” as was melodramatically written. Rather, after expensive, time-consuming litigation supported by dozens of concerned devotees spanning almost a decade, the right to print and publish the pre-1978 works of His Divine Grace was legally secured. If you question that point, kindly ask any of the devotees copied with this email (Nara Narayana Vishwakarma Prabhu, Nischintya Prabhu, Puranjana Prabhu, Veda Guhya Prabhu and Yasodanandan Prabhu) who can each verify their own personal involvement and who are each well aware of the broad-based effort which was made to secure the KBI publishing license. There are, of course, many others who played important roles in this effort as well.
Thus, the fact that there has been post-settlement litigation which resolved various legal issues regarding KBI among it’s board members only serves to confirm its authenticity and validity. Now, no one person can claim sole ownership and control of the license, as was the unfortunate scenario in early 1999, when Hansadutta dasa and his two acolytes took that unsupportable legal position (and were firmly shot down by the court).
Second, KBI’s board has never “indicated” that it does not intend to print books. After all the time, effort and money to obtain the license such a course of inaction would be absurd. Rather, it takes a great deal of time and money to create a working organizational infrastructure to finance, arrange for, print, stock, sell and distribute books. KBI is self-financed by its own board members. No one on the board receives any compensation. All legal work is performed on a pro bono basis. Moreover, obtaining a 501(c)3 exempt status for a religious publishing entity is no walk in the park. That process was only recently and successfully completed after a long, involved, time-consuming interchange with the IRS.
After hundreds of thousands of dollars and literally thousands of lawyer hours litigating complex trust and copyright issues, along with literally thousands of hours contributed by many devotees, KBI can only be viewed as a labor of love by all concerned. KBI is not a public utilities company which one calls to complain when the lights don’t go on. If you want to see books printed then support the legal process we have in hand. All of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples have a responsibility to support the printing and distribution of His Books — not just the ones who already paid a price to establish a conduit to do so.
The tentative publishing schedule this year alone (2001) provides for at least one paperback per quarter and the printing of a hard and soft cover 1000 page, 48 color print, 6×9, 1972 McMillan edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Volume One of Krishna Book may also be printed this calendar year, or early next year. “Easy Journey to Other Planets” was printed in the first quarter, and “Krishna, The Reservoir of Pleasure” is scheduled for printing in the second quarter.
Third, it should be obvious there would be no necessity for KBI to print the pre-1978 works if the BBT decided to do so. In the meanwhile, however, no one has articulated a serious rationale for not supporting the effort of KBI, the licensee of Srila Prabhupada’s revalidated BBT, to print the pre-1978 works. Srila Prabhupada wanted all of us to work together, he wanted the publishing efforts concentrated under the umbrella of his BBT and he wanted his pre-1978 works in print. Now that there is a non divisive, legal conduit to do just that why not cooperate and help push the cart ?
I hope this brief discussion helps to shed some light on these issues, and that you consider supporting KBI’s continuing efforts (under the umbrella of Srila Prabhupada’s original BBT) to print and publish the pre-1978 works of His Divine Grace.