The "Sai Krishna" Picture Imbroglio PART ONE
Sometime around the year 2000, I read a post on the (now offline) Sai Unity yahoogroup about a certain Australian devotee, 'Luther Christ', who had visited Puttaparthi sometime in the 1980s, and who took photos of Sai Baba during darshan times. Upon returning to Australia and subsequently developing the photos, he was surprised to find that one of them was a miraculous picture of "Sai Krishna", a photo of Sai Baba as Krishna! This photo was attached with the post for all to see. As usual, several devotees on that forum thanked the poster for allowing them to partake of such grace as well as be in possession of this photo.
The only problem with this story was that I immediately recognised that this photo was a complete fake. It was not just the fact that it was an incredibly poor effort but that the background was similar to a painting of Krishna done by ISKCON artists. Since I have a long background with ISKCON I was able to recognise it immediately. In the "Sai Krishna" version, the blue of Sai Baba's face is markedly different to the blue of the arms and the edges of the photo are rather conveniently blacked out. However, a gopi in the corner can be seen clearly. To double-check, I visited the galleries of various ISKCON-oriented websites as well as look in my old picture collection only to find that my guess was correct: the picture was indeed from ISKCON.
When I was thus armed with indisputable evidence of fraud and voiced these objections on the forum, there appeared to be no real reply except for one particularly long-winded rationalisation as to why we should accept the "Sai Krishna" photo as a genuine miracle. The explanation went something like this: "It is probably Swami's will that those who need to see him this way will see him in that way. We do not need to concern ourselves whether this photo is fake or not." With this type of logic, one can get away with anything under the sun. The devotees did not really seem to care that a fraud had been perpetrated and that they were guilty of blindly swallowing yet another inscrutable leela of Swami's. Perhaps they were too embarrassed to admit it?
Since I had only made claims, I was asked by a more honest devotee in private to prove such claims by supplying him with the original ISKCON picture. This I did, and he promptly declared on the (also now offline) Unity In Diversity yahoogroup that he was in possession of the original picture and that I was able to support my claims of fraud. Even then, there was no real retraction of the picture or the accompanying story from the forum archives by any member or moderator.
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