1972Srila Prabhupada founded the BBT in 1972, but its immediate roots go back some years earlier.
1966Since arriving in America in 1966, he had already published Teachings of Lord Caitanya and some small pamphlets; his abridged Bhagavad-gita As It Is had been published by the Macmillan Company; he was writing more books; and he had disciples helping him with publishing in New York City at what was then called ISKCON Press.
Direction of Management
July 28, 1970On July 28, 1970, Srila Prabhupada, at the age of 75, composed and signed a Direction of Management in which he established for ISKCON a Governing Body Commission and set forth some guidelines for ISKCON’s administration.
That document, under the heading “Particulars of the Governing Body Commission,” says:
“The GBC has no jurisdiction in the publication of manuscripts, which will be handled by a separate committee; profits to be returned to
As the document nears its end, Srila Prabhupada says, “So far my books are concerned, I am setting up a different body of management known as the BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST. The trustees of this body are also members of the GBC, but their function is not dependent on the GBC.”
July 29, 1970
In a draft document dated the next day, July 29, Srila Prabhupada tentatively established the Trust, appointed three trustees, and gave some directions about what the Trust should do. (The envisioned trustees were Karandha (sic) das Adhikary, Rupanuga das Adhikary, and Bhagavan das Adhikary)
In the margin, he made some further notations. But the document remained unsigned.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Agreement Bombay
March 30, 1972On March 30, 1972, Srila Prabhupada had signed a “Deed of Trust” establishing a Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in Bombay. He had named himself, Giriraj das Brahmachary, and Shyamsundar das Adhikary as the original trustees. The deed says that Srila Prabhupada is “entitled to copyrights and publication rights in his writings,” that he is “desirous of creating a Trust” for them, and that he has “handed over copies” of them to the Trustees.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
April 22, 1972
While in Tokyo, Srila Prabhupada reconfirmed the statements he had made in the “Direction of Management.” At that time, on April 22, 1972, Srila Prabhupada had Karandhara Dasa compose and send to all ISKCON temple presidents a letter setting forth, in outline, Srila Prabhupada’s formula for the organization of ISKCON and the BBT:
“The formula for ISKCON organization is very simple and can be understood by everyone. The world is divided into twelve zones. For each zone there is one zonal secretary appointed by Srila Prabhupada. The zonal secretaries [sic] duty is to see that the spiritual principles are being upheld very nicely in all the Temples of his zone. Otherwise each Temple shall be independent and self-supporting. . .
“Now, so far the BTG and Book Funds are concerned, these matters shall be managed separately from the GBC by a body known as The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. The Book Trust shall be comprised of Srila Prabhupada, Karandhara dasa, and Bali Mardan dasa. They shall combinedly collect the sales proceeds from each Center and utilize all funds for the printing of Srila Prabhupada’s books and the construction of ISKCON Centers all over the world. Not a farthing is to be spent for any other purpose.”
This letter included a signature of endorsement from Srila Prabhupada: “APPROVED: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Founder-Acarya of ISKCON.”
The following month, Srila Prabhupada’s basic ideas about the BBT, as expressed in the “Direction of Management” and the letter from Karandhara, took legal form in the founding document of the BBT.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Agreement CA
May 29, 1972On May 29, 1972, while in Bombay, Srila Prabhupada signed a “Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Agreement,” giving all the rights in his books to a trust which (though the document doesn’t say so) would be based in Los Angeles, California. As the original trustees, Srila Prabhupada named himself, Bali Mardan dasa Brahmachary, and Karandhar dasa Adhikari. As the trust property, Srila Prabhupada included
“all books and manuscripts and other documents written by me or translated by me, and all those written by me in the future.”
The document specifically names seventeen books he had thus far published.