The Mystery Of The 16,000 PART TWO
Continuing with the topic of Narakasura and his kidnapping of 16,000 princesses, Sai Baba continues relating the legend in another quote. But first, I seem to have discovered yet another anomaly in Sai Baba's presentation. Please observe:
4 - "God does not like to kill the wicked Himself. So, Krishna decided to weaken him gradually by subjecting him to fits of anger. The modus operandi was to provoke Narakasura and when he would come chasing in a fit of anger, Krishna would withdraw. Anger is the main cause for man to lose his physical and mental powers. If one gets angry, one loses energy obtained from the food partaken over a period of three months. When Narakasura lost all his strength due to his anger, Krishna made Satyabhama kill him. God has His own master plan for everything because He is the master of everything."
From this quote we can see a theme that Sai Baba has developed elsewhere about the debilitating effects of anger. Sai Baba has notably used the example of the battles between Krishna and Jarasandha, a demonic rival king. The same rationale is presented wherever he speaks about it; Krishna weakens Jarasandha by deliberately provoking him into battle and then deliberately retreating to anger him, his anger being so weakening that after 18 or so non-battles it became easier for Jarasandha to die. Have we just discovered yet another instance of Sai Baba's forgetfulness in regards to his habit of telling Puranic stories? So, according to Sai Baba, who was it that Krishna weakened - Jarasandha or Narakasura?
That aside, it wasn't Satyabhama who killed Narakasura, but Krishna Himself as evidenced by Section 10.59.21 of the Bhagavata Purana.
5 - "Narakasura committed many sins in his life. He imprisoned thousands of women and tortured them. They were the sixteen thousands Gopikas. They could neither live nor die. After Narakasura was killed, Krishna freed them from prison and asked them to return to their respective homes after being prisoners of Narakasura. They said, 'Krishna was their only refuge and prayed that he should take care of them. Krishna agreed to take responsibility of protecting them." - SS, 11/12-98, p. 290
The funny thing about this extract is that it almost exactly follows the version of the Bhagavata! Whereas Sai Baba has elsewhere proclaimed that the meaning and existence of the 16,000 damsels was strictly symbolic and that it is a libel to suggest that Krishna married all of them, here he completely contradicts himself by appearing to verify the story as laid in the holy Bhagavata. Just from this example it is easy to see how confusing Sai Baba can be when he wants to be. Since this story has been briefly explained in Part One of this blog, I'll say nothing more here except to observe how Sai Baba appears to agree that Krishna had to take responsibility for the damsels in some way, as their honour had been "tainted" by virtue of their contact with the demonic Narakasura.
6 - "Is it possible for any ordinary individual to make his appearance simultaneously in the homes of 16,000 Gopikas, not only will people today disbelieve it, but many will ridicule it. But this is the reaction of petty, unthinking people, who have no spirit of enquiry. If one enquires into the truth, it will be seen that even in the modern times such a phenomenon is taking place. The broadcast of a music programme from Delhi is heard in millions of homes in its completeness, all at the same time in myriad different places. A person, speaking on TV, can be seen in a million homes. If a man-made contrivance (Yantra) can have such a far-reaching power, why should it not possible for the power of Mantra to reach millions simultaneously? The image of Krishna could appear in the hearts of the Gopis, though they were far away from him. What is necessary is to purify the heart. The image of the Divine will not be reflected in an impure heart. There is no limit to the power of the Divine. Only the small-minded have limited power." - SS, 9/93, p. 228.
It is perfectly reasonable for an atheist or rationalist to dismiss all of these stories of Krishna's marriage to 16,000 damsels as pure fancy, but it is very surprising to hear this contention come from those who are favourable to Sai Baba. Some of those devotees and admirers who are obviously biased in Sai Baba's favour quickly jump to his defence, disbelieve and ridicule the story, and exhibit their agreement that such stories are either fancy or have a "sensible" inner meaning. As one admirer has noted: "When SSB said that Krsna's 16,000 wives were symbolic of nadis/kalas/deities, that is much more believable than Krsna LITERALLY manifesting 16,000 separate forms, marrying 16,000 separate wives and having sex with each and every one of them, populating the Earth."
After all, how can Krishna expand Himself into 16,000 (and more) forms in order to associate with each queen and engage in the responsibilities thereof, even if He is God? "Impossible!" - sayeth the critic. "Possible! - sayeth the average theist who may also assert that nothing - nothing - is beyond the omnipotence of God and as such, He can quite easily marry 16 billion wives (why even stop there?) and associate with all of them accordingly. Needless to say that the Bhagavata Purana contains several quotes to this effect and much more besides. Judging from the above quote, Sai Baba seems to agree completely.
"There is no limit to the power of the Divine" - indeed. How very inventive and modern of Sai Baba to illustrate the entire concept with comparisons to radio and televisual technology. Following on from this explanation, I find it very hard to comprehend how the typical disbelieving devotee or admirer may continue to declare the symbology of this story and also to continue worshipping and revering Sai Baba in good conscience.
At the very least, the discussion of this issue has only shown how Sai Baba contradicts himself several times on yet another topic. It has been interesting to observe his flip-flopping between symbolic and literal explanations, stating here that there were no marriages and then stating there that marriages took place, making careless mistakes in his relation of the stories at hand, and then finally undercutting the views of his own admirers.
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