As previously mentioned, there were 20 tapes in the set Isa dasa received from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami in 1977. In a handwritten note to Isa dasa dated November 16, 1997, Satsvarupa dasa acknowledged that the tapes had been edited in India prior to his bringing them to Dallas. He could not, however, remember who had done the editing.
Each 90 minute tape contains conversations and kirtanas that had taken place within Srila Prabhupada’s room during the last 6 to 8 weeks of his manifest presence (October/November 1977). Within a few weeks of having received the original tapes from Satsvarupa, Isa dasa duplicated 10 sets, which were sent to various GBC members. The original 20 tapes were sent to the BBT in Los Angeles. Isa dasa also made two extra sets, keeping one for himself, and giving another to Jayadharma dasa, the devotee who had assisted him in duplicating the tapes.
All together, 12 sets of 20 tapes were made. Although Isa dasa cannot remember which GBCs he sent the tapes out to, it is highly likely that many of the originally duplicated sets are still in existence. To the best of our knowledge, the following GBC members were in office at the time of Srila Prabhupada's departure. We have marked with an asterisk those we can logically conclude would most likely have received a copy:
*Tamal Krishna Goswami
*Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
(who probably received the BBT copy)
Adi Kesava Swami
Gopal Krsna dasa
INTEGRITY OF THE TAPES
It was recently discovered that the set of tapes originally delivered to the BBT by Isa dasa were subsequently edited and/or cleaned-up by BBT staff. Recent audio enhancements and investigation of Isa dasa’s set of tapes also show signs of splicing and editing, which confirms Satsvarupa’s report that the tapes had been edited in India. When Balavanta dasa presented tapes to the Perle Laboratory for investigation, Perle refused to work with the BBT Archive tapes, saying they were so significantly altered as to have no integrity. Perle was satisfied with the first-generation quality of Isa dasa’s tapes, which proved to have been recorded without further covert stops, splicing or editing beyond what had clearly existed on the original tapes Isa’s copy came from. Perle conducted his investigation using one of Isa dasa's tapes.
In 1980, Isa dasa’s tapes were in a fire at the Baltimore Temple, and some of the tapes in his set of 20 were slightly damaged. In late 1997, Isa dasa had a firm in Miami repair and re-package the damaged tapes. He reports that the only part of the tapes that had been effected were the plastic housings, and approximately one inch of the exposed sections of tape. Of the 20 tapes, only five were damaged and later repaired, as forensic analysis would show. Specifically, tape number 46, which contains several of the recently discussed suspicious whispers, had not been fire damaged, and remains intact.
At the present time, it appears that the most suspicious instance of tape editing was that done in India, before the tapes were sent back to North America with Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. In addition to the many splices and covert stops identified on these tapes, audio professionals and individual devotees have also identified several inconsistencies in the continuity of conversations, kirtans, etc. There was no introductory explanation recorded on any of the tapes as to the date, time of day, speakers, persons in attendance, etc. Minimal date information was recorded on the tape labels themselves. There seems to be no conclusive information available as to who was deputized in Vrindabin to do the original editing work. VNN received a letter from Bhagavat dasa, who reported his experiences of witnessing the handling of tape recordings in Vrindabin.
IDENTIFICATION OF SPECIFIC TAPES
Over the course of the last month, many references have been made to specific sections of the archival tapes which are thought to contain suspicious or unusual audio events. Many devotees have found it difficult to understand which specific tapes are being referred to at any given time. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that the tapes are referred to in a variety of ways:
by numbers 1 to 20;
by numbers 45A, 45B, and 46, etc.; or
by the dates of the room conversations.
We have compiled a list of tape identifiers in an attempt to clarify the situation. The column entitled “Original Numbers” refers to the numbers appearing on the original set of Isa dasa’s tapes. The column entitled “Isa dasa’s Numbers” refers to Isa’s personal numbering system, instituted after the fire. The column entitled “Conversation Dates” describes the dates of conversation recorded on each tape.
The following link, "Transcripts and Tape Segments", leads to an index of the transcripts and sections of tape currently under discussion.
TRANSCRIPTS AND TAPE SEGMENTS
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