Gerald Moreno: Tackling A Krishna Problem
Moreno recently posted an article entitled, 'Lord Krishna's Inability To Protect His Devotees?'. He referenced a news story relating to a grenade that was thrown into a Krishna temple in India on Janmashtami 2006 (Krishna's birthday festival), resulting in 5 deaths and 40 injuries. After posting this, he quickly got to the point:
"Although this attack is horrifying, and should not be trivialized in any way, I can't help to wonder how Sanjay's arguments against Sathya Sai Baba come into play when applied to violent acts perpetuated against the Hare Krishna's?"
Whew! And there was me wondering what on earth a bomb attack on a Krishna temple had to do with me, and why such an article should appear on Moreno's obsessional and hateful stalkblog against me! It turns out that he is not actually expressing any concern about the tragedy, but simply uses it as another opportunity to relish attacking me at the cost of 4 dead Indian citizens. Shame on Moreno.
But let us carry on; Moreno then took issue with statements I had made in relations to the Al-Qaeda bombing of the Mumbai railway system that took place in July of this year. He quoted me thus:
"For this atrocity to happen the day after the festival of Guru Poornima itself casts doubts upon the ability of Sai Baba to warn and protect his own country from terrorism,.."
Notice how the sentence trails off? What Moreno forgets to tell everyone is that he selectively quoted me, conveniently quoting only the part that suits the premise of his article. Here is what I said in full:
"For this atrocity to happen the day after the festival of Guru Poornima itself casts doubts upon the ability of Sai Baba to warn and protect his own country from terrorism, despite his frequent meetings with Cabinet ministers and other government representatives."
Tsk tsk. Delving further into Moreno's rant, we'll see the precise reason why he desired to avoid quoting the latter part of my statement in a queer bid to defend Sathya Sai Baba:
"Putting aside the glaring fact that Lord Krishna (the 'real' God, to Sanjay) was unable to warn or protect his country from the terrorist blasts in Mumbai, one can't help to notice how Sanjay flip-flops and ignores violence when directed towards the Hare Krishna's (of which he is a congregational member) and the implications thereof about his savior, Bhagavan Sri Krsna.
"If Lord Krishna is really God (as Sanjay contends), then why did Sri Krishna allow others to die so horribly?"
You know, Gerald Moreno claims to have been a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba for seven years (between the ages of 18-25). He also claims to have been influenced by a wide variety of gurus and saints including Shirdi Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Premananda, and others. Although he has now decided to favour agnosticism, there is no denying that exposure to a wide variety of teachers would have similarly exposed him to a wide variety of teachings. Comments and questions like the one above really astound me; How is it that Moreno asks a question that is amateurish beyond belief?
First of all, I never "contended" anything, nor did I make any mention of Krishna in my article about the Mumbai bombings. Nor have I "ignored" any such violent incidents. I have made no mention of these things anywhere. We already noticed it - Moreno is here guilty of setting up a strawman argument for the purpose of needlessly attacking me, expecting me to respond to things that are beyond my purview. And to end it with a ridiculously amateurish "spiritual" question will likely bring a chuckle to spiritual aspirants all over the world. But let us plow further through Moreno's jungle of misconceptions:
Reflecting on Sanjay's words, in relation to the Iskcon attack (with a slight modification):"For this atrocity to happen on Janmasthami Day itself, casts doubt upon Lord Krishna's ability to warn or protect his devotees or country from terrorism and attacks."
This is exactly the problem with Sanjay. His critiques are one-sided and highly selective. When wagging his tongue and frothing at the mouth, Sanjay fails to divulge the relevance of his critiques to his own belief system. No doubt, he does this in order to mislead others with his propaganda. Anti-Sai Activists do the same thing. They point out numerous world-wide atrocities and blame Sathya Sai Baba because he claims to be God. However, since Anti-Sai Activists do not consider Sathya Sai Baba to be God, all of their critiques and citations of atrocities fall flat at the door-step of their own chosen God concept! If Lord Krishna could not protect his own devotees who gathered at a temple dedicated to him (no less than during his birthday celebrations), what hope does Sanjay have in being saved from his perversities, obscenities and absurdities? I think the chances are slim to none.
Erm,.. where do I start?
Moreno is very fond of deflecting criticisms of Sai Baba by highlighting the fact that the same objections "lie at the door of their own God-concept". Indeed, he has repeated himself so many times that some of his catchphrases should earn their place in the annals of japa-mantras. At first glance, Moreno's argument appears to have some merit but it is a person with only a cursory understanding of Hinduism/Vedanta who would attribute any such merit. Contrary to Moreno's strongly-held ideas, Vedanta philosophy does not agree with the premise of God being "blamed" for any calamity and catastrophe that occurs leaving alone the fact that much mainstream criticism of God for being "unconcerned" with world affairs and personal tragedies is unwarranted in the overwhelming majority of cases.
To understand this further, let's take a look at Lord Krishna's words in India's best-loved scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita:
"After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection. From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again." (8.15-16)
"O Dhananjaya [Arjuna], all this work cannot bind Me. I am ever detached, seated as though neutral." (9.9)
Readers should please bear in mind that I am presenting these quotes in an extremely reductionist form and that the topic is certainly more complicated than to be restricted to just three verses, but it is possible to say that these three quoted verses represent the bare bones of the doctrine as a whole. Essentially speaking, the material world is intrinsically a place of misery and suffering whereby personal and environmental tragedies occur from time to time as a matter of course. It is in the nature of things to rise and fall, suffer upheaval and enjoy calm, and such happenings occur via the mechanisms of personal and mass karma too. Whereas God's involvement can be invoked, the general situation is that nature is like a self-actuating machine that functions according to it's intrinsic blueprint while God is seated detached and neutral.
Personal tragedies are usually the result of man's inhumanity to (or interaction with) man, a favourite saying of Sai Baba's. Environmental catastrophes are almost always believed to be the result of man's misuse of natural resources. There is essentially a karmic repercussion behind every occurrence, good and bad. With all of these karmic connections interacting with each other on a personal, national and worldwide scale, this idea gains credence among spiritual aspirants as a workable method of understanding the problems of life. Consequently, Moreno's argument about how criticisms of Sathya Sai Baba should similarly apply to the "God-concepts" of other people do not hold water. Why?
Why well, because we're forgetting the small matter of Sai Baba claiming to be an avatar (incarnation of God) and his repeated declarations that he has advented with the sole purpose 0f saving humanity from self-imposed destruction. There are many such statements from the Baba, but I believe that just the one will suffice:
"For the protection of the virtuous, for the destruction of evil-doers and for establishing righteousness on a firm footing, I incarnate from age to age. Whenever disharmony (asanthi) overwhelms the world, the Lord will incarnate in human form to establish the modes of earning peace (prasanthi) and to reeducate the human community in the paths of peace. At the present time, strife and discord have robbed peace and unity from the family, the school, the society, the religions, the cities, and the state. The arrival of the Lord is also anxiously awaited by saints and sages. Spiritual aspirants (sadhus) prayed and I have come ... Many hesitate to believe that things will improve, that life will be happy for all and full of joy, and that the golden age will recur. Let me assure you that this divine body (dharmaswarupa) has not come in vain. It will succeed in averting the crisis that has come upon humanity." - 23 November 1968
Sounds like a helluva job, to say the least!
Whether or not you believe that Sai Baba is God, the fact still remains that he has stated on numerous occasions that improvements in the world's condition will be brought about as a result of his influence. When Sai Baba openly claims to have directly advented with the express purpose of solving the world's problems at large, a criticism of his non-participation or initiative is bona-fide. Gerald Moreno will find many of these facts unpalatable due to his self-consuming hatred of Sai Baba's critics and his devoted defence of Sai Baba, but he will have to deal with it. Objections towards Sai Baba's influence in the world and catastrophic events (or lack thereof) still stand on account of his self-admitted responsibility for them. Desperately trying to lay the blame at the feet of other God-concepts (as Moreno loves to do) is mere deflection of the issues that remain as serious concerns for Sai Baba's integrity and honesty.
In the context of terrorist incidents, Sai Baba himself is noted for his frequent meetings with Indian politicians at the highest levels, occasionally meeting with the heads of state of other countries. After all, his devotees boast about these events often enough! In a deceptive bid to selectively quote me, Moreno attempted to do away with this prickly political clause in a misguided attempt to deride me and which backfired spectacularly. The point stands: "For this atrocity to happen ... casts doubt upon the ability of Sai Baba to warn and protect his own country from terrorism, despite his frequent meetings with Cabinet ministers and other government representatives."
One would have expected more from Sai devotees but unfortunately they prove and continue to prove their almost total ignorance of spiritual matters, leave alone trying to defend Sai Baba and failing miserably while at it. :-)
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