What Are The Implications When A Guru Or Scripture Err?
Sanjay Dadlani repeatedly tries to make the case that Sathya Sai Baba is a "fraud" because of errors and inaccuracies that he found in the English translations to SSB's Telugu discourses. Since Dadlani does not speak, write or understand Telugu, he is making blind guesses (using the English translations) to what he thinks SSB actually and literally said in Telugu.
What is strange about this is that Brian Steel has written a voluminous article entitled "Dossier 3: The Packaging of Sathya Sai Baba's Telugu Discourses. A Stronger Case", in which Steel made a strong case that the English translations have been heavily edited and do not reflect what SSB actually and literally said in Telugu!
Although Dadlani has never dissented with Steel, Dadlani ignores Steel's conclusions and scours the English translations (to SSB's Telugu discourses) for any perceived inaccuracy he can find. Once an inaccuracy is found, Dadlani stabs it to death and immediately pickles it in formaldehyde of his online blog, proudly displaying it like a two-headed frog.
However, the poignant question arises: What do these errors imply about the Guru or Scripture that made them? The Bible has numerous contradictions and inaccuracies. Nevertheless, many Biblical scholars have argued that these perceived inaccuracies are due to hermeneutics and can be rectified through the original Hebrew or Greek texts. However, when it comes to Sathya Sai Baba's "inaccuracies", Anti-Sai Activists completely dismiss SSB's original Telugu discourses and focus exclusively on the English translations! Dadlani concludes that SSB is a "fraud" due to these inaccuracies in the English translations. Nevermind that Dadlani cannot verify these inaccuracies through the original Telugu discourses, Dadlani believes that since the English translations said it, this must mean those are SSB's inerrant and literal words!
However, when one applies the same standard (that is used against SSB) to Dadlani's Siksa Guru, Srila Prabhupada, or to the Srimad Bhagavatam, Dadlani flip-flops and ignores their errors and inaccuracies completely, stating that the focus should be on SSB and no one should change the subject!
Recently, on the SathyaSaiBaba2 Yahoo Group, there was a discussion about the story of Lord Krishna manifesting 16,000 separate forms and marrying 16,000 women. Sathya Sai Baba explained this miracle symbolically, using the example of 16,000 kalas / deities / entities / potencies in Sahasrara. Dadlani disagreed with SSB and argued that Lord Krishna literally manifested 16,000 forms and married 16,000 women because Sukadev Gosvami said so in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Dadlani cited the relevant passages (SB: 10.59.33-45) and concluded that SSB was wrong and the Srimad Bhagavatam was right.
I responded to Dadlani by arguing that the Srimad Bhagavatam is not an accurate or literal reference. For example, if one reads the Srimad Bhagavatam (Canto 5:22:7-18), one will read the following:
SB 5.22.7: The sun-god has three speeds -- slow, fast and moderate. The time he takes to travel entirely around the spheres of heaven, earth and space at these three speeds is referred to, by learned scholars, by the five names Samvatsara, Parivatsara, Idavatsara, Anuvatsara and Vatsara.
SB 5.22.8: Above the rays of the sunshine by a distance of 100,000 yojanas [800,000 miles] is the moon, which travels at a speed faster than that of the sun. In two lunar fortnights the moon travels through the equivalent of a samvatsara of the sun, in two and a quarter days it passes through a month of the sun, and in one day it passes through a fortnight of the sun.
SB 5.22.9: When the moon is waxing, the illuminating portions of it increase daily, thus creating day for the demigods and night for the pitas. When the moon is waning, however, it causes night for the demigods and day for the pitas. In this way the moon passes through each constellation of stars in thirty muhurtas [an entire day]. The moon is the source of nectarean coolness that influences the growth of food grains, and therefore the moon-god is considered the life of all living entities. He is consequently called Jiva, the chief living being within the universe.
SB 5.22.10: Because the moon is full of all potentialities, it represents the influence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The moon is the predominating deity of everyone's mind, and therefore the moon-god is called Manomaya. He is also called Annamaya because he gives potency to all herbs and plants, and he is called Amritamaya because he is the source of life for all living entities. The moon pleases the demigods, pitas, human beings, animals, birds, reptiles, trees, plants and all other living entities. Everyone is satisfied by the presence of the moon. Therefore the moon is also called Sarvamaya [all-pervading].
SB 5.22.11: There are many stars located 200,000 yojanas [1,600,000 miles] above the moon. By the supreme will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are fixed to the wheel of time, and thus they rotate with Mount Sumeru on their right, their motion being different from that of the sun. There are twenty-eight important stars, headed by Abhijit.
SB 5.22.12: Some 1,600,000 miles above this group of stars is the planet Venus, which moves at almost exactly the same pace as the sun according to swift, slow and moderate movements. Sometimes Venus moves behind the sun, sometimes in front of the sun and sometimes along with it. Venus nullifies the influence of planets that are obstacles to rainfall. Consequently its presence causes rainfall, and it is therefore considered very favorable for all living beings within this universe. This has been accepted by learned scholars.
SB 5.22.13: Mercury is described to be similar to Venus, in that it moves sometimes behind the sun, sometimes in front of the sun and sometimes along with it. It is 1,600,000 miles above Venus, or 7,200,000 miles above earth. Mercury, which is the son of the moon, is almost always very auspicious for the inhabitants of the universe, but when it does not move along with the sun, it forbodes cyclones, dust, irregular rainfall, and waterless clouds. In this way it creates fearful conditions due to inadequate or excessive rainfall.
SB 5.22.14: Situated 1,600,000 miles above Mercury, or 8,800,000 miles above earth, is the planet Mars. If this planet does not travel in a crooked way, it crosses through each sign of the zodiac in three fortnights and in this way travels through all twelve, one after another. It almost always creates unfavorable conditions in respect to rainfall and other influences.
SB 5.22.15: Situated 1,600,000 miles above Mars, or 10,400,000 miles above earth, is the planet Jupiter, which travels through one sign of the zodiac within the period of a Parivatsara. If its movement is not curved, the planet Jupiter is very favorable to the brahmanas of the universe.
SB 5.22.16: Situated 1,600,000 miles above Jupiter, or 12,000,000 miles above earth, is the planet Saturn, which passes through one sign of the zodiac in thirty months and covers the entire zodiac circle in thirty Anuvatsaras. This planet is always very inauspicious for the universal situation.
SB 5.22.17: Situated 8,800,000 miles above Saturn, or 20,800,000 miles above earth, are the seven saintly sages, who are always thinking of the well-being of the inhabitants of the universe. They circumambulate the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu, known as Dhruvaloka, the polestar.
Therefore, according to the Srimad Bhagavatam, Sukadev Gosvami Preached:
1) According to scripture, we live in a geocentric universe (the Sun rotates around the Earth).
2) According to scripture, the Moon is 800,000 miles FARTHER into space than the
Sun. This means that the Sun is closer to the Earth than the Moon and is no farther than 800,000 miles from Earth. This would also situate the Moon three times the distance from Earth, than what science has established.
3) According to scripture, there are 28 stars between the Moon and Venus.
4) According to scripture, Venus is 1,600,000 miles farther into space from the Moon. Venus is actually 25 million miles from Earth.
5) According to scripture, Mercury is 7,200,000 miles from Earth. Mercury is actually 48 million miles from the Earth. An error of 40.8 million miles.
6) According to scripture, Mars is 8,800,000 miles from Earth. Mars is actually 35 million miles from Earth. An error of 26.2 million miles.
7) According to scripture, Jupiter is 10,400,000 miles from Earth. Jupiter is actually 365 million miles from Earth. An astounding error of 354.6 million miles!
8) According to scripture, Saturn is 12,000,000 miles from Earth. Saturn is actually 746 million miles from Earth. Another astounding error of 734 million miles!
9) According to Sukadev Gosvami, many "learned scholars" agree with these calculations.
Now why would Sukadev, as an enlightened spiritual master, give us fake and inaccurate information? Since Sukadev is wrong about the planets, and a geocentric universe, what else is he wrong about? This casts a dark shadow over the literal interpretation of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Only brainwashed devotees will make excuses and try to justify the text.
Dadlani concludes that perceived inaccuracies (in the English translations to SSB's Telugu discourses) mean that SSB is a fraud. However, when Dadlani is confronted with inaccuracies in scriptures that he believes in, Dadlani ignores them! Using Dadlani's logic (illogic), if SSB is a "fraud" because of perceived inaccuracies (taken from English translations), then Sukadev Gosvami and the Srimad Bhagavatam are similarly "frauds" for their literal (direct from the Sanskrit) inaccuracies! In the case of the Srimad Bhagavatam, the Sanskrit is translated, word for word. So the inaccuracies, in the Srimad Bhagavatam, are direct from the source. With SSB, they are secondary from the source. So which is it? Do inaccuracies indicate "fraud"? Yes or no?
The Srimad Bhagavatam dedicated no less than 6 full chapters (in Canto 5 alone)
to the Universe and visible and invisible planets. Dadlani would rather defend a geocentric universe and the moon being farther away from the Earth than the Sun, than admit that Sukadev and the Srimad Bhagavatam are fraudulent! The fact of the matter is that the Srimad Bhagavatam is not an "literal" reference. So when the Srimad Bhagavatam talks
about Krsna manifesting 16,000 separate forms, how is one to conclude that this
number is true and accurate, except out of blind belief?
Dadlani never has dissented with his own "Siksa Guru", Srila Prabhupada, who made completely unscientific claims. For example, Srila Prabupada said, in his book "Life Comes From Life", "There are many invisible planets and stars. For example, when the Rahu planet passes before the sun and moon, there is an eclipse. But the scientists describe an eclipse differently. Actually, the Rahu planet causes an eclipse. There are many questionable points regarding the modern scientists' theory of the eclipse. Their explanation is incorrect according to Vedic information." Srila Prabhupada also said, in this same book, "If you drop a needle, it will fall immediately, but a bird weighing several pounds can float in the air. We must establish the origin of this floating. If we study nature, we find that every living entity has some mystic power." Of course, birds do not "float". Tie their wings and they will fall to the ground like any other object.
Even more disturbing is Prabhupada's description of the stars and sun. Prabhupada said, "Among all the luminaries twinkling in the sky, the sun is the chief, and in the Brahma-samhita the sun is accepted as the glowing eye of the Supreme Lord. There are fifty varieties of wind blowing in space...Among the stars, the moon is the most prominent at night, and thus the moon represents Krishna. It appears from this verse that the moon is one of the stars; therefore the stars that twinkle in the sky also reflect the light of the sun. The theory that there are many suns within the universe is not accepted by Vedic literature. The sun is one, and as by the reflection of the sun the moon illuminates, so also do the stars. Since Bhagavad-gita indicates herein that the moon is one of the stars, the twinkling stars are not suns but are similar to the moon." (BG: 10-20). However, you do not see Sanjay criticizing Srila Prabhupada! As a matter of fact, Sanjay openly defends Srila Prabhupada, mentally falling at his feet and shrieking out mushy, gushy and fervent obeisances and praises (Reference).
In conclusion, Dadlani has situated himself between a rock and a hard place. In one instance, Dadlani viciously attacks SSB and accuses him of being a "fraud" because of perceived inaccuracies in the English translations to Telugu discourses. However, when it comes to Dadlani's Gaudiya Vaishnava beliefs, inaccuracies coming from his Guru and Scriptures do not indicate fraud. Apparently, SSB devotees are not allowed to defend SSB and rightly ask that these perceived inaccuracies be traced to SSB's literal and actual words in Telugu. All of this points to Sajay Dadlani's one-way, selective and vindictive attacks against Sathya Sai Baba. What more can one expect from someone who requested Jesus pornography and who wrote some of the most vile, kinky, sleazy, slimy and trashy stories on his online blog (Reference)?
Update: December 22nd 2005: Click Here to view the thread I started (using the name KrishnaPetal) on the GaudiyaDiscusssions.com site. As one can see, several people responded to my comments using typical, religious fear tactics and resorting to very unusual and unbelievable explanations (just like Sanjay).