Krishnashtami nonsense by Sai Baba


Date: 09-01-03

By: Sanjay K. Dadlani 




The ‘Inauspicious Birth’ issue

“Embodiments of Love! Krishnajanmashtami is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Lord Krishna. Man's Hridaya (heart) is the birthplace of Krishna. To worry over why Krishna and Rama were born on such inauspicious Thithis (8th and 9th phases of the waning and waxing moon) is foolish. It is only when the Hridaya becomes cool, pure and peaceful like the Himachala (the Himalayan mountains), that is the true birthday of Krishna.” 

Unfortunately for Sai Baba, his opening line is filled with errors and prepares the readers for much more to come. It should be known by now (even after all these years!) that Krishna was most certainly not born in anyone’s heart, thus implying that Krishna may have been a figment of some poet’s imagination. Krishna was an avatar, an actual incarnation of God, and He lived on this planet displaying His pastimes for the whole world to see and record.

An interesting aspect of this discourse relates to the supposed astrological inauspiciousness of the celebrated date of birth. Interesting indeed, that the awaited Avatar might be inauspicious! It should be noted, though, that the scriptures describe the evil omens and inauspicious signs that accompany the births of very powerful demons. For example, it is described that when the demons Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu (previously Jaya and Vijaya) were born, there were all sorts of unfavourable portents apparent in the climate. As follows: 

“The virtuous lady Diti had been very apprehensive of trouble to the gods from the children in her womb, and her husband predicted the same. She brought forth twin sons after a full one hundred years of pregnancy. On the birth of the two demons there were many natural disturbances, all very fearful and wonderful, in the heavenly planets, the earthly planets and in between them. There were earthquakes along the mountains on the earth, and it appeared that there was fire everywhere. Many inauspicious planets like Saturn appeared, along with comets, meteors and thunderbolts. There blew winds which were most uninviting to the touch, hissing again and again and uprooting gigantic trees. They had storms for their armies and clouds of dust for their ensigns. The luminaries in the heavens were screened by masses of clouds, in which lightning sometimes flashed as though laughing. Darkness reigned everywhere, and nothing could be seen. The ocean with its high waves wailed aloud as if stricken with sorrow, and there was a commotion among the creatures inhabiting the ocean. The rivers and lakes were also agitated, and lotuses withered. Misty halos appeared around the sun and the moon during solar and lunar eclipses again and again. Claps of thunder were heard even without clouds, and sounds like those of rattling chariots emerged from the mountain caves. In the interior of the villages she-jackals yelled portentously, vomiting strong fire from their mouths, and jackals and owls also joined them with their cries. Raising their necks, dogs cried here and there, now in the manner of singing and now of wailing. O Vidura, the asses ran hither and thither in herds, striking the earth with their hard hooves and wildly braying. Frightened by the braying of the asses, birds flew shrieking from their nests, while cattle in the cowsheds as well as in the woods passed dung and urine. Cows, terrified, yielded blood in place of milk, clouds rained pus, the images of the gods in the temples shed tears, and trees fell down without a blast of wind. Ominous planets such as Mars and Saturn shone brighter and surpassed the auspicious ones such as Mercury, Jupiter and Venus as well as a number of lunar mansions. Taking seemingly retrograde courses, the planets came in conflict with one another. Marking these and many other omens of evil times, everyone but the four sage-sons of Brahma, who were aware of the fall of Jaya and Vijaya and of their birth as Diti's sons, was seized with fear. They did not know the secrets of these portents and thought that the dissolution of the universe was at hand.” – Srimad-bhagavatam 3.17.2-15 

Quite descriptive. However, the same is certainly not true for Krishna. On the contrary, the Srimad-bhagavatam describes the following conditions: 

“Thereafter, at the auspicious time for the appearance of the Lord, the entire universe was surcharged with all the qualities of goodness, beauty and peace. The constellation Rohini appeared, as did stars like Asvini. The sun, the moon and the other stars and planets were very peaceful. All directions appeared extremely pleasing, and the beautiful stars twinkled in the cloudless sky. Decorated with towns, villages, mines and pasturing grounds, the earth seemed all-auspicious. The rivers flowed with clear water, and the lakes and vast reservoirs, full of lilies and lotuses, were extraordinarily beautiful. In the trees and green plants, full of flowers and leaves, pleasing to the eyes, birds like cuckoos and swarms of bees began chanting with sweet voices for the sake of the demigods. A pure breeze began to blow, pleasing the sense of touch and bearing the aroma of flowers, and when the brahmanas engaging in ritualistic ceremonies ignited their fires according to Vedic principles, the fires burned steadily, undisturbed by the breeze. Thus when the birthless Lord Krishna was about to appear, the saints and brahmanas, who had always been disturbed by demons like Kamsa and his men, felt peace within the core of their hearts, and kettledrums simultaneously vibrated from the upper planetary system.

“The Kinnaras and Gandharvas began to sing auspicious songs, the Siddhas and Caranas offered auspicious prayers, and the Vidyadharis, along with the Apsaras, began to dance in jubilation. The demigods and great saintly persons showered flowers in a joyous mood, and clouds gathered in the sky and very mildly thundered, making sounds like those of the ocean's waves.” – Srimad-bhagavatam 10.3.1-8 

Very interesting how lotuses and lilies were in full bloom despite the fact that Krishna was born around midnight. Also interesting is how the climate of springtime appeared around August-September! A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, an internationally renowned great scholarly devotee of Krishna, commented on these verses with the following: 

“In an astronomical treatise by the name Khamanikya, the constellations at the time of the appearance of Lord Krishna are very nicely described. It is confirmed that the child born at that auspicious moment was the Supreme Brahman or the Absolute Truth.” – Krsna, Chapter 3. 

Therefore it is conclusive established that not only was the birth of Lord Krishna supremely auspicious, but it also took place in the physical realm around 5000 years ago and has been admitted by Sai Baba himself. There is no reason to believe that Krishna takes birth in the heart of anyone. We will have to question here if Sai Baba is actually interested in doling out “feel-good” slogans as per his usual practice, or if he is properly describing the truth behind the appearance of Lord Krishna on this auspicious day? 

“From the worldly point of view, Krishna was born on Ashtami in the midnight. People consider Ashtami to be inauspicious. How can the birthday of a Divine incarnation be inauspicious? In fact, all days are auspicious and are meant to confer welfare and prosperity.” 

Well, we have already seen from the above scriptural quotations that, according to the commentary of Bhaktivedanta Swami, “According to the astrological conclusion, besides the proper situation of the stars, there are auspicious and inauspicious moments due to the different situations of the different planetary systems. At the time of Krishna's birth, the planetary systems were automatically adjusted so that everything became auspicious” [purport to Srimad-bhagavatam 10.3.1-5].

 If the text of ‘Khamanikya’ is consulted, it should be gleaned therein that the auspicious signs take place on a particular day and not every day.  

“Kamsa was at a loss how to capture Krishna. He issued an order that all the newborn babies of Repalle be killed. Initially, he wanted only the male babies to be killed. Later on, he changed his mind and wanted even the female babies to be killed. He resorted to such heinous acts only out of fear.” 

Well, Sai Baba is again incorrect. On what basis does he say that Kamsa changed his mind when the scripture clearly states: 

“If this is so, O King of the Bhoja dynasty, beginning today we shall kill all the children born in all the villages, towns and pasturing grounds within the past ten days or slightly more.” – Srimad-bhagavatam 10.4.31 

Clearly, there was no basis for the idea that Kamsa changed his mind. Kamsa was influenced by his wicked ministers to massacre all the children born within ten days of the divine event. 

 “Kamsa's end approached fast. He devised a nefarious scheme to lure Krishna and Balarama to Mathura and kill them. Kamsa sent his messengers to Repalle to bring Krishna and Balarama to Mathura to attend some Yajna which he was performing. He deputed Akrura, who adored Krishna and Balarama to persuade and bring Krishna and Balarama to Mathura.” 

At this point in the discourse, Sai Baba has mentioned the name of ‘Repalle’ quite a few times, and now mentions the travel arrangements to transport Krishna and His elder brother Balarama to Mathura. Now where exactly is Repalle and what evidence exists to suggest that Krishna ever lived there? The scriptural descriptions of Krishna’s early life generically mention Gokul, Vrindavan and Mathura as the site of the Lord’s early pastimes. These towns and cities still exist even today in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, and are a great attraction for pious pilgrims and tourists.

Upon consulting my Encarta Atlas software, I have managed to determine that Repalle is in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the same state where Sai Baba lives. What does this have to do with Krishna? Well, look at a map of India and see for yourself how far Repalle is from Uttar Pradesh. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that the two Brothers traveled so far considering that the main method of transport in those days were horse-drawn chariots. Besides that, nowhere in the scriptures does it mention that Krishna was anywhere else except Vrindavan at the time Akrura was deputed to bring Him to Mathura. 

“Thereafter, Krishna, in a trice, leapt on the platform where Kamsa was seated, pinned him down and rained severe blows on him. Balarama, who was equally strong, joined him. Together they crushed Kamsa to pulp … Krishna and Balarama left for Repalle unnoticed by others. The inhabitants of Repalle were anxiously awaiting their return. They were highly depressed as they could not see any sign of their arrival in the vicinity. Mother Yashoda was very nervous thinking of the well-being of her sons. The Gopikas too were drowned in sorrow and started abusing Kamsa, presuming that he must have harmed Krishna and Balarama. All the men and women of Repalle were praying to Krishna all the time chanting His Name. All of a sudden, Krishna and Balarama appeared in their midst to their astonishment and joy. Krishna spoke to them soothing words and pacified them.” 

There is no record of this event. As insinuated earlier, Krishna and Balarama decided to stay in the Mathura area and perform more pastimes. Eventually, Krishna set up His own kingdom called Dvaraka (in present-day Gujarat) and started associating with the Pandavas. In this way He heightened the transcendental feelings of separation (vipralambha-bhava) that were being experienced by the Gopis, and only managed to meet them again much much later at Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse. It’s incorrect of Sai Baba to state that immediately after killing Kamsa, Krishna and Balarama headed back to “Repalle.” By the way, it was only Krishna who killed Kamsa, not Balarama. 

“Many are under the mistaken notion that Krishna used His divine weapon, the Sudarshana Chakra (disc) to behead him. In fact, Krishna just threw the plate, in which He received the first offering at Sisupala. In this age of Kali, people talk of Vishnu Chakra and Sudarshana Chakra as the weapons of Krishna. But whatever Krishna used served as Chakra with His Divine Will.” 

I propose that Sai Baba here attempts to throw his own spin on the Krishna story so as to dupe his devotees into thinking that only he can give the correct facts about Krishna since he himself claims to have been Krishna in a past life. The scriptures clearly describe the use of the Sudarshana Chakra in killing Sisupala. Of what use is it to claim that Krishna used a plate? Since when is a plate (even a gold or silver one at that) sharp enough to behead a man except by tremendous force?  

“At that point the Supreme Lord stood up and checked His devotees. He then angrily sent forth His razor-sharp disc and severed the head of His enemy as he was attacking.” – Srimad-bhagavatam 10.74.43 

The verse is so clear in that the words ‘kshuranta-chakrena’ are being used, which means ‘razor-sharp disc.’

Is it not easier to believe that Krishna simply raised His finger, called on His chakra and sent it to behead Sisupala, especially as the other devotee-kings were ready to kill Sisupala on account of the latter’s blasphemy? That would be much more simpler than believing that Krishna beheaded Sisupala with a plate. Just imagine if modern-day devotees thought that Sai Baba was talking of today’s ceramic plates!

For Sai Baba to suggest that the author of Srimad-bhagavatam (none other than Veda Vyasa himself!) is guilty of having mistaken notions itself proves that Sai Baba is inculcating blasphemy amongst his followers, as well as a scornful attitude towards holy scriptures. 

“In this manner, Krishna had to wage a number of wars during His lifetime. That is why elders say that the birthday of Krishna, Ashtami, is associated with difficulties. When Krishna was born, the day was Ashtami and the star was Rohini. It is a common belief that whoever is born with such a combination of day and star, will face hardships throughout his life. There is another belief that such a person will be the emancipator of the nation. Krishna destroyed the wicked and protected the righteous. He established Dharma. Hence, do not consider the time of Krishna's advent to be inauspicious. It is a noble and a sacred day.” 

Several times now, Sai Baba has mentioned that Ashtami is supposedly associated with ‘difficulties’ while providing no references at all to support this wild claim. The vaguest hint is given; some anonymous “elders” apparently state it. Well then, the question to ask is, who are these elders? What are their names? What authority do they have? Why are they anonymous? And why should we accept their opinions when they are clearly opposed to the scriptural descriptions?

Earlier in this article, the evidence was shown that proves that the climate and circumstances all changed into an auspicious situation to mark the forthcoming appearance of the Lord. It was also stated that the ‘Khamanikya’ astrological text describes that the child born at that precise time was the Absolute Truth Himself. We cannot afford to take Sai Baba seriously on this and other points considering that he is so clearly, obviously and factually wrong. 

“Right from the beginning till the end, the tasks performed by Krishna were wonderful, sacred, mysterious and beyond human comprehension. Therefore, it is not proper to consider the birthday of Krishna to be inauspicious.” 

Now it seems that Sai Baba finally gets it. 

The rest of the discourse descends into the self-praise, self-adoration and self-aggrandizing behaviour that Sai Baba indulges in as usual. Presumably, Sai Baba is under the impression that people are actually interested in his on-painful medical problems and tedious re-telling of childhood incidents that have no relevance to Krishna-lila. Perhaps now we can get to the nitty-gritty that inspired this little essay. 

The ‘Radha’ issue 

“Even Vasudeva was not fully aware of what he was doing. He took the child Krishna to Yashoda's house and brought the female child with him. He did all this as if he was in a trance. Radha, a small girl then, was a witness to the entire episode. It got imprinted on her heart. People think Radha was younger to Krishna and talk in derogatory terms about the relationship she had with Him. In fact, she was much older than Krishna, 26 months to be precise. Her feeling towards Krishna was very sacred and became stronger day by day.” 

With the receipt of this information, I am assuming that since Sai Baba’s followers accept him as an incarnation of God, Krishna Himself, they will take this information to mean that he is simply revealing a previously unknown fact of his own “past life.” Certainly to the devotees, this information is as authentic as it can possibly get. 

Well, it’s not actually that simple. 

There are two ways of considering it; one way is that the pastimes of Radha and Krishna are eternally going on in Their spiritual abode, while the other is that the pastimes are taking place in each universe successively. I will try to establish the basic framework first before we set about analysing if Sai Baba’s above quote is correct and true. Let us try to understand the former proposal first. 

When the pastimes are carrying on in the spiritual world (classically known as Vraja-dhama), material elements like time do not factually exist. Illusion does not exist, and neither does electricity. Based on Bhagavad-gita 15.6, Krishna Himself confirms that His abode is not in need of material necessities such as the sun and moon. One may ask that if time does not exist in the spiritual world, then how may the pastimes be carried out from day to night? The answer is that while time itself does not exist, the days and nights carry on by virtue of the Yogamaya potency which is the Lord’s agency that facilitates the pastimes. Ditto for the “non-existence” of the sun and moon in Vraja-dhama. While there is no sun and moon it is actually the Yogamaya potency that enables the pastimes to appear as if the sun and moon is present. Therefore if time does not factually exist in Vraja-dhama, it is automatically understood that the age of Radha and Krishna, as well as the inhabitants of Vraja-dhama, also remain eternal. This is the very meaning of ‘nitya-lila,’ eternal pastimes.  

The Sri Gaura-Govindarcana-Smarana-Paddhati clearly states that in nitya-lila, the age of Radha is 14 years, 2 months and 15 days. Krishna’s age is 15 years, 9 months and 7 days. 

So we can hereby glean that Sai Baba is certainly incorrect in ascertaining that Radha is ‘precisely’ 26 months older than Krishna. At least, in nitya-lila. 

The latter proposal relates to the appearance of Krishna within one of the many universes at any given time. Since time exists in the material world and since Krishna Himself is unaffected by time, the pastimes as revealed to earthly mortals and sadhakas appear to take on the quality of age. Thus to mortal eyes, Radha and Krishna appear to age as Their pastimes carry on. To mortal eyes, Krishna attains maturity, leaves Vraja-dhama behind to go to Mathura, kill the demon Kamsa, establish His kingdom of Dvaraka, found His own dynasty, etc. Interestingly, while all of this is going on, Krishna never ages beyond the age of 16 and maintains a young appearance, even though His mortal age may be 85 or thereabouts. But that is perhaps a topic we will perhaps leave for another paper.  

Since the earthly pastimes are a reflection of the eternal pastimes taking place in the spiritual Vraja-dhama, the ages of Radha and Krishna remain the same, viz., 14 and 15 respectively.  

In the earthly pastimes, the age difference of 1 year and 7 months is still existent. So once again, Sai Baba is completely and utterly wrong in authoritatively stating that Radha is older than Krishna. 

Sai Baba contradicts himself? 

One thing that was remarkable about Sai Baba’s “26 months older” statement was that it brought up a red flag with me considering that I had read contradictory information from him earlier. I checked it out and there it was: 

“Radha, in the bodily aspect, was nine years older than Krishna … Her daily routine was filled with work connected with Krishna. Krishna was a seven year old boy at that time.” – Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, p115. 

Just to clarify, in 1978 Sai Baba revealingly told the student audience that Radha was nine years older than Krishna. This means that at the time Krishna was seven years of age, Radha would have been sixteen years old approximately. Presumably, this nine-year difference in age carried on all the while Krishna was performing lilas in Mathura, establishing Dvaraka, etc. Not only does this 1978 information contradict the records as given in the scriptures, but it also contradicts Sai Baba’s “new revelation” in 2003! 

So which one is it, Sai Baba? Is Radha nine years older or 26 months older? Is your “divine memory” up to scratch? Or can you no longer remember? Granted, all of this happened a long time ago so perhaps it is a tall order to see if you can remember all these ‘small’ details.