March 7, 1999 VNN3262 See Related VNN Stories
BY SRILA DASA
EDITORIAL, Mar 7 (VNN) A Personal Response to Tusta Krishna Prabhu's Xena's 'Krishna' - To Glorify Or Condemn.
I first want to acknowledge the genuine concern expressed by Tusta Krishna Prabhu and the WVA for attempting to defend the integrity of our Vedic faith. Hollwood's latest portrayal of Krishna and Hanuman certainly merits some words of correction. I would respectfully suggest, however, that Tusta's apprehensions may have been excessively voiced. I would further caution him about claiming to be a spokesperson for the entire world Gaudiya Vaisnava community without consulting his constituency first. I might add that when presumption is expounded repeatedly, it appears as nothing less than hubris. Such arrogance or pretension does not become a true Vaisnava, and certainly not the persons purporting to represent the society of Vaisnavas. No one can claim to authoritatively "represent" Vaisnavas without themselves first being first-class emblems of what it means to be a Vaisnava.
On a more practical dynamic, it is not what you say as how you say it. No one here has praised Hollywood's portrayal of Krishna and Hanuman as accurate and devotionally inspiring for orthodox believers. Rather, I think everyone will agree that, to varying degrees, it is distorted if not perverted. Nevertheless, that does not obviate the fact that there is indeed some piety in promoting Krishna as a favorable "god," however He may be scripted. Even traditional Hindus - including many of those who regularly patronize our temples in the West -- harbor significant misconceptions about the divinity of Krishna, considering Him a demi-god, arising out of the impersonal Brahman, or what-not. The entire academia (South Asian, religious studies, etc.) considers the Hindu pantheon hardly more than "mythology." Should we not condemn them? Why stop there? Everyone who does not accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a 'demon,' right? So what's new? What more should we expect from Hollywood?
What power do we have to change people's ideas anyway? People are free to think and speculate as they wish. There are few moral restraints on what Hollywood produces. I mean really, what planet do Tusta Krishna and his fellow PR men live on? (Sorry for the cynicism, Prabhus, but it seems well-deserved.) There are serious philosophical concoctions and deviations extant even within our present-day society of Vaisnavas, so what can we expect from the likes of uneducated, mleccha script-writers?
If we were to make solid contacts with Hollywood producers personally, then as they learn to respect us for what we are, they will naturally begin to accept us as some kind of authoritative source for Hindu religious beliefs. But as long as we over-react like some kind of Bible-toting fundamentalist conservative caucus, you can bet we will the last persons they will want to consult with about anything.
In sum, I suggest that Tusta Krishna's attempt to define the discussion, "Xena's 'Krishna' - To Glorify Or Condemn?" is a false dilemma. Like other respondents, I propose there is both truth and falsity in Xena's latest episode with Krishna and Indrajit. Again, what more can we expect? What has any of us done to merit a more veritable portrayal? Most importantly in my mind is the impression people are left with when they walk away: Is Krishna a 'good-guy' or a 'bad-guy'? Is He seen favorably or not?
Otherwise, a puritanical condemnation of Hollywood's a na•vete will produce consequences that are antithetical to our primary intention, which is to make people conscious of Krishna favorably. As long as that is achieved, we have little to condemn and much to praise. Certainly, Hollywood's script could be improved upon. But so could Tusta Krishna Prabhu's supercilious response.
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