Clarification About Arjuna, Krishna, and Coca Cola – Now With A Crucifix Of Candy

jesus candy crucifixion

A while back, the Ithaca Myth blog published an article with the title, Arjuna and Krishna Have A Coke And A Smile.

arjuna and krishna with coca colaThe article featured the graphic you see here, with Krishna and Arjuna drinking Coca-Cola instead of blowing conch shells to begin a battle against Arjuna’s cousins.

The article was intended to begin a discussion. The text accompanying the picture read: “How would the Baghavad Gita have been different if Arjuna and Krishna, instead of blowing on their conch shells, took a long drink of Coca-Cola? That’s the scenario that this mythological mashup imagines. Is it appropriate, or not?  Why do you think so?

The reactions to this very brief article have been extreme.

Some have suggested that the Ithaca Myth blog intends to pick on Hindus, while sparing iconography of other religions from similar mashups with popular commercial imagery. There never was any intent to target Hinduism exclusively. The purpose of the combination of popular religious imagery and popular commercial imagery was to provoke discussion about the similarities and differences between the two cultural categories. One Hindu writes, for example, “This is dirty gimmick and cheap work. don’t you think that this hurts sentiments of Hindus?, Do you dare to give a coke bottle to Jesus or Prophet?”

In order to dispel the notion that Hinduism was meant to be singled out in any way, we now offer up a similar image, but this time altering the Christian holy image of the crucifix, placing pieces of Halloween candy where the wooden beams of the cross are supposed to be.

jesus candy crucifixion

Other comments have demanded that the picture be censored and threatened legal actions if the image is not withdrawn. Such pro-censorship comments include:

“you can be booked for this image. Pay some respect for religious values and emotions”

“Warning : Delete this photo in 48 hours, this make Shame of Hinduism, otherwise we will take legal action on you.
(Hindu Nayay Petth)”

No legal action has been taken, of course, because there is nothing illegal about the picture. We have freedom of speech in the United States, which includes the right to satirical representations, even of copyrighted works.

Another set of comments by Hindus has threatened physical violence against the creator of the mashup image:

“How would it be if all Krishna devotees beat you like a dog…. Be in your limits…”

“these people should be hanged”

“How would it be different if somebody rapes your mother in a open street.”

That these threats do not reflect well upon Hindus is, I hope, obvious.

Another set of comments have suggested an activist campaign directed against Coca-Cola, under the belief that the image was created by Coca-Cola and used in an advertisement for Coke. “Hello every Hindhu,” writes Shiva, “let’s stop drinking coke. Please please please take it as a oath and follow it. Let’s teach them a lesson.

In fact, Coca-Cola neither created this image nor endorses it. The image is not used in any advertisement for Coke.

It’s worth noting that the the instinct of anxiety and outrage is strong in all manner of religious communities – not a unique trait of Hinduism. Christians have demanded that images of Jesus smoking a cigarette be banned. Muslims have engaged in violent protests in reaction to cartoons of Mohammed.

In the context of this specific image, there were members of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca who were outraged that a discussion series at the organization was being promoted through a web site at all. The idea of putting the discussion of religious ideas online at all was enough to send some members of that religious group into a tizzy – as if there was something morally polluted about the Internet itself.

The point is that it’s quite difficult to have any open and honest discussion of religion at all these days without someone getting upset about it. When religious beliefs are formed in insulated communities, it can be shocking for members of those communities to realize that their own assumptions are not regarded reverentially by everybody else in the world.

Yet, religious pluralism is increasing everywhere around the world – in India as well as in the United States. We all will have to get used to seeing our own cherished symbols reconstituted by others into forms that we regard as profane. One person’s profanity is another person’s sacred insight, and there is no single authority that has the right to declare what must be done and what must not be done with religious symbols.

To demand that a particular religious symbol be only presented in a single manner is to treat it as the exclusive property of just one group. If we were to go down that road, only the most insipid art could be produced: Watercolors of kittens perhaps would remain tolerable.

We live in a world where cultures meet and mix. The sacred images, words and ideas of one culture will be encountered by other cultures, and picked up, and used.

Is this a problem?

The use of religious imagery will offend some. It will bother even more.

Should, then religious imagery be off-limits in art, and for satire? Should mashups be banned?

One problem with the censorship approach is that it presumes that there exists a single central authority that is capable of approving or disapproving all images for any given religion. Who shall that be? Will the Pope be given the power to decide what is censored for all of Christianity, even though he only has authority over Catholics, and not protestants? Who gets to decide what kinds of Muslim imagery will be allowed – the Sunnis or the Shiites? Is there one person or one group within Hinduism or Buddhism that has the power to decide which pictures should be banned for all Hindus or Buddhists?

Beyond this simple political problem, there’s a cross-cultural problem. Who gives Hindus the authority to decide what everyone else in the world can do and cannot do? What gives Christians the right to demand that Jesus be depicted only in some ways? Since when do Muslims have the power to stop other people from drawing pictures of Mohammed?

Where would this leave atheists? Would they have to obey everyone else’s religious laws, even though they believe in no religions at all?

In a world where everybody else has to obey the taboos of other people’s religions, nobody has freedom of speech, and nobody has freedom of religion.

What’s to stop a group of Californians from declaring that they have formed a new religion, which believes that pictures of children should never appear in advertisements? Would everybody have to obey this new religious rule?

Where would this new standard for universal observation of religious laws end? Would non-Hindus be banned from eating beef? Would non-Muslims no longer be able to eat pork? Would non-Jews have to observe Kosher laws? Would everybody have to eat fish on Fridays during Lent, just because that’s what Catholics do?

A far easier solution is to embrace cultural diversity, and show respect for freedom. Free speech sometimes makes people angry, or feel disrespected, but the alternative is far, far worse.

POSTSCRIPT: A Hindu reader now responds that we ought to be showing an image of Mohammed that will offend Muslims, too. All right, here’s a picture of Mohammed with a face. Many Muslims object strongly to this kind of thing.

What’s next? Is someone going to demand that I step on an ant in order to offend Jains?

mohammed

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30 responses to “Clarification About Arjuna, Krishna, and Coca Cola – Now With A Crucifix Of Candy”

  1. Praful Dindorkar says :

    just stop using photos of any god, goddess from any religion for your stupid advertisement….

    • ithacamyth says :

      Praful, did you actually read the article?

      It’s not an advertisement!

      If you want to tell everyone else in the world what they can and cannot do, the least you can do is to have a factually-informed argument for that position. Please, if you want to discuss this article, read the article.

      • Tulasi-Priya says :

        Oh, it’s an advertisement, all right. It’s self-advertisement.

      • Madhavan says :

        Mate, I am a staunch Hindu. Your cartoon is funny. These other guys who are offended have no clue about Hinduism. One has no restrictions on the portrayal of Hindu Gods, it would not be wise to believe in a God that takes offence to a cartoon.

    • ithacamyth says :

      So, you believe that religions should be able to ban everyone everywhere from using images that are offensive to them…

      What do you do, then, with the Muslim belief that any depiction of a human being is sinful?

      Hindus frequently break this Muslim code. If you want me, a non-Hindu, to obey Hindu codes of censorship, are you willing to obey Muslim codes of censorship? Are you willing to demand the withdrawal of all visual depictions of human beings from newspapers, web sites, and books published by Hindus?

      If not, what justification do you have for the different standards?

      Is it okay for everyone to break Muslim religious laws about visual images, but then demand that everyone obey Hindu religious laws?

    • Tanja Cilia says :

      I bet that not all religious figures will be mocked in this way.

      • ithacamyth says :

        Actually, Tanja, I’d be happy to satirize any religious figure you care to offer. Jesus is mocked here already. Who do you have in mind? Mohammed, Buddha, the Pope?

  2. Tulasi-Priya says :

    How about just showing simple respect to religious groups? There’s a whole controversy right now about the use of the image and name “Redskins” as displayed by a football team, and rightfully so. Religious iconography is sacred to people and is not supplanted by your need for artistic expression. Or do you think your personal right to self-expression at others’ expense to be supreme?

  3. Mehul says :

    Shame on you guys. This is not good thing that you can publish.we don’t want to insult any religion but that doesn’t mean that any one can insult our god.😠😠

    • ithacamyth says :

      Mehul, I’d like to know more about what exactly there is about this image that you find to be insulting. I can see that it fails to observe the storyline of the Mahabharata, and that some transgression of religious laws is depicted, but how is that actually insulting, rather than something that you simply don’t expect?

  4. Mehul says :

    WE YADAVS have full belief on lord Krishna and we can not tolerate this type of things that you are doing.I am not saying that only our religion is good but you have no right 👉 to insult any religion’s god. Just stop ✋ this type of nonsense.

    • ithacamyth says :

      Mehul, what is the basis of your statement that people have no right to insult gods? Are you saying that in a legal sense? If so, you’re factually wrong. In the United States, we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, which means that people can insult whatever gods they want.

  5. Mehul says :

    Why only Krishna if it is fair then you can also put this type of photos of Mohammad. Is there any problem with him?

  6. Mehul says :

    What happened can’t you post this type of disgusting photos of Mohammad hmmm? If you can not then stop to harm anybody’s feeling okkk….

    • ithacamyth says :

      Oh, okay, Mehul. I’ll play your game. An image of Jesus that bothers Christians isn’t enough to satisfy your righteous Hindu fundamentalist rage? You really want to see other religions get offended, too?

      Okay, then. I’m adding a traditional image of Mohammed, typically shown without a face, with a face pasted back in, at the bottom of the article. This is the type of thing that gets Muslims just as angry as Shiv Sena.

      You see? The point is that religions like yours, or Christianity, or Islam, shouldn’t have the right to throw fits, or riots, and try to control what everyone else on earth says or does. If you can’t see the value of that freedom, maybe you need to reconsider the quality of your own religion.

      • Kumar says :

        Actually religious freedom only includes to follow the faith you want to follow. It does not mean you have the authority to libel or insult somebody else’s faith . Freedom of expression does not include freedom to insult . I agree that this image is not necessarily insulting but at the same time I can understand why it is taken as disrespectful.

        There must be a line drawn .if everything is freedom of speech then whats so wrong if people begin to target other communities with nothing but the sole intent to attack verbally . Who decides that their actions are ” freedom of speech” or not ….I am an artist as well and IMO a handfull religious icons and symbols can be left untouched without hampering my right of freedom of expression and while one can follow whatever religion or non religion he/she likes, there is nothing wrong with exhibiting simple respect for other communities.

  7. Nikhil says :

    Mr ithacamyth insensitive, you mock religious icons of all religion and claim to be proud of it by saying all you wanted/want to do is “create a discussion!”, But the truth is you are widely exposing your desperate attempt to gain some readership and “clicks” for your otherwise unrecognized blog. Its as simple as that, being insensitive to others feelings help you with that task and you go ahead putting up this mockery. And also, take some pills for your desperation. Start writing about something that’s really worth reading rather than just trying to make some controversy and gain popularity. Or if you cant, just quit what you are doing, cause definitely you arent good at writing relevant substance.!

    • ithacamyth says :

      Nikhil, you’re grasping at straws. This web site was created for the use of a local discussion group in a small city. Its purpose was never to gain attention in the larger world, and it has been inactive for quite some time.

      The only reason I wrote this more recent article was to address the blazing inaccuracies of the angry Hindus writing in to comment. When commenters like Mehul suggest that I am only willing to blaspheme against Hinduism, it’s important to show that’s not true. When others suggest that the original image was part of a Coca-Cola advertising campaign, I feel the need to set the facts straight.

      I gain nothing by having your “clicks”, as this isn’t an active blog, and I don’t intend it to become so. It isn’t monetized, so I gather no financial benefit.

      The only thing that I do wish would gain more attention is the danger of religious fundamentalists – from any tradition – who are willing to threaten violence and death as a response to free speech.

  8. Laksmi Devi says :

    Insulting God or His eternal devotees must be out of discussion!!! This is demons activities that all!! And must be punish and stop!!! hare krishna hare ram!

  9. satdat says :

    these are cheap tactics as the Englishmen when came to India and first destroyed the education system for which ample evidences are available,thieved our valuables,our ancient sanskrit literature and published all major researches in their name as they have invented that. In this case also cheap mind is depicted

  10. Prathmesh Balkrishna Shingade says :

    Your clarification does not have any sense… We asked you to put down those Images of our gods and ask for apology… And you are just consuming time to make those things go Viral??? Behave like a human Even Monkeys do the same that you did , and stop making us think about you as our tailed ancestors… We are already revolutionize ; and probably you aren’t!

  11. ketanparmar says :

    just stop using hindus goddes picture for get attention from world..dnt try to hurt our feelings…..use your god 4 publisity….

  12. chirag says :

    this writer of the article is mentally ill and coward
    do some thing about Mohammad and then see reaction

    musllims makes this writer naked and you know what then after …

    ha ha ha ah

  13. patel says :

    what the f*&k is ithca ????
    might be piece of s*@t !!!!!!

  14. Lamu Red says :

    If you believe on freedom of speech in America then why movie – Innocence of Muslims is being banned and removed from you tube and president have to make a press conference to give clarification………. ?

  15. Rohan Patel says :

    do with your jesus not to our Sanatan Dharma

  16. Jennifer says :

    Firstly: I’m sorry that you’ve had any kind of threatening and violent response. That is not acceptable and against the laws as well as the teachings of practically any legitimate religion, including Hinduism & the Vedic tradition.

    Secondly: Yes, you do have the full right of free speech. That is clear.

    HOWEVER, you also have the ability to voluntarily be considerate of others who do not share your beliefs and to be sensitive to religious sentiments.

    A little background that you may not be aware of: Many followers of the Vedic tradition do not take caffeine in any form. That includes tea, coffee, and yes, Coke. That Krishna and Arjuna are depicted in the picture as not only without their conchshells, but with something forbidden, makes it even more offensive.

    That image you used, the original image without the coke bottles, happens to be from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, an ISKCON (Hare Krishna) publishing outlet. The Hare Krishnas, as it so happens, generally do not take caffeine.

    Now, the Hare Krishnas are pretty tolerant, good-spirited people, and probably won’t be of the type to make huge campaigns or write nasty comments on your blog. But many Hindus are aware of their voluntary restrictions, and even those who do not follow such principles are happy to defend those who do.

    Furthermore, they aren’t the only followers of the Vedic tradition who choose to abstain from caffeine, as other do as well. Plenty of others also do. To them, it’s practically like an image of Jesus smoking pot: absolutely offensive, totally pointless, probably senselessly intended to provoke negative emotion, and not at all representative of Who the Person depicted is or what He is really like.

    Thirdly: You are also free to have a discussion about whatever you want. With all due respect, however, of this one I fail to see the point.

    It is not the conchshells that started the Mahabharata war; the conchshells were just to announce the start of an already pre-determined battle. Furthermore, Krishna and Arjuna weren’t the only conchshell blowers, as practically every other major fighter in the Mahabharata war also did. An even cursory glance at the first chapter of the Bhagavad-gita (available here http://vedabase.com/en/bg ) would tell you all of this pretty quickly.

    So what if Krishna and Arjuna decided to stop and take a cold drink while everyone else was blowing conchshells? Quite frankly, probably nothing would have been different. The battle was already practically ready to start at that point. Arjuna’s sudden shrinking back from the fight right at the start of the battle is what prompted the discussion that became the Bhagavad Gita. Neither that reaction, nor the actual start of the battle itself, likely would have changed, as a result of Krishna and Arjuna momentarily putting down their conchshells for a moment and taking a cold drink.

    Forgive me if I am missing the point here that you are trying to make. But to me, this seems to be filed neatly into the ‘pointless discussion’ category.

    If it were a discussion that produced something meaningful – that may raise important questions that lead to progressive improvement of society, for instance – then it might make sense. This, however, is not the case.

    That’s not to say that you don’t have the right to have it. You do. But why do it, if all it really serves to do is to offend people? It is unnecessary.

    Think about the Golden Rule: even outside of the context of religion, you would not want to unnecessarily hurt someone, offend them, or make them feel bad, just for the sake of doing so, or just because you have the ability or legal right to do so. Because you wouldn’t want that treatment by others of you.

    So, even if you have the legal right not to do so, why not apply that rule here?

  17. jeet chatterjee says :

    The problem with u people is, u do not believe in live and let live theory, and always create controversy !!

  18. your defeater says :

    dude seriously… are you just trying to stir a pot out of bordom?? you realy must have an exciting life.. sad.. of alll lllllll the things you could pick to screw with .. it would be the most heavy protected by the wealthiest and biggest population of earth .. I can promise you this for sure>>> what ever happens to you in the next year.. you will deserve every inch of it.! and I can also say you will regret your ignorantness… I look forward to seeing you in the news.

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