03 November 2005

Baba's Bhagavata Boo-Boo continued

Continuing on the theme of my last blog, I recalled reading a more complete version of the story in SB's 'Bhagavata Vahini'. I decided to read through the specific section and I noticed that there is also no mention of any gopikas at all!

Rather, there is copious mention of the queens, children and other citizens whom Arjuna was requested to save from the coming disaster. Some quotes:
  • [Arjuna reading from Krishna's letter:] "Therefore, you have to take to Indraprastha City the queens and other women who survive, along with the children and babies and the old and decrepit."
  • Arjuna: "We collected the jewels and valuables of all the women and kept them in a secure place; the queens alighted from the palanquins and the maids scattered themselves for rest."
  • Arjuna: "Before my very eyes, the robber bands dragged away the queens, the maids and others."
  • Arjuna: "And the queens - those who were living in golden palaces in the height of luxury! When I contemplate their fate in the hands of those fierce savages, my heart is reduced to ashes."

It seems that, yet again, Sai Baba continues to contradict himself in matters of mythology. Whereas it is typical of Sai Baba to differ from the version of the scriptures (under the excuse of claiming to be the self-same Krishna re-telling his own story!), it is very surprising how he has contradicted himself. Referring to the ladies of Dvaraka as queens in his authored text and then as gopikas in a discourse some decades later can of course be attributed to a memory lapse, but this reasonable explanation will not sit well with his devotees who have fervent faith in his divinity and claims of omniscience et al. If Sai Baba were indeed Krishna, the least one could expect of him is to present a consistent recollection of his "previous" incarnation! If anything, this issue brings a highlight to Sai Baba's other boo-boos in regards to Krishna's story.

Another troubling inconsistency is the concept of the letter which, according to Sai Baba, was authored by Krishna and delivered to Arjuna as a final message. As I perused through the relevant sections of the Bhagavata Purana I found no mention of such a letter. Section 1.15.20 of the Purana simply makes a mention of Arjuna's protection of Krishna's wives. It is unclear whether Arjuna took on this responsibility on Krishna's order (if you believe Sai Baba) or on his own initiative. Section 11.31.25 mentions Arjuna's escorting of the women, children and elders to Indraprastha, again no mention of whether he did this on the order of Krishna.

Given that the Bhagavata Purana's primary subject matter is all about the activities and glories of Krishna, we can confidently say that Sai Baba has presented an inventive embellishment in his version of this story. However, it is also possible that this 'letter' incident may be described in other Puranas and thus it could also be possible that Sai Baba is referencing such descriptions in his text. This explanation would present a textual fallacy in that Sai's Bhagavata Vahini is supposed to be his free rendition of the Bhagavata Purana.

A devotee responds.

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