Letter to the producers of Xena from World Vaishnava Association
India: 146 Gopesvara Road, Dist. Mathura UP Pin 281121
United States: 3585 Red Dog Drive, Camino, CA 95709
February 21, 1999
Pacific Renaissance Pictures Ltd.
P.O. Box 90409
Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Xena: Warrior Princess
Dear Ms May
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon, in spite of the fact you were on the road.
The World Vaishnava Association (WVA) is an umbrella organization comprised of more than 30 different independently functioning missions who are actively preaching the message of Lord Krishna as authorized in the Vedic scriptures. Member organzations are active not only in India, but in nearly 100 other countries around the world. The combined strength of WVA missions numbers in the millions and our teachings are respected and supported by a few hundred million Hindus of the non-Vaishnava tradition as well. Our rich spiritual heritage dates back some 5,000 years.
During our conversation I expressed that Vaishnavas and Hindus are disturbed and alarmed by reports that Lord Krishna has been worked into the plot of next week’s episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, entitled “The Way.” Indeed I have already coordinated with Mr. Ajay Shah of the American Hindus Against Defamation, as well as three other Hindu and Vaishnava organizations.
Lord Krishna is worshipped by several hundred million people around the world. He is the Supreme Lord and should never be manipulated by script writers and portrayed as a fictional character. Lord Krishna is not a fictional or mythical character any more than Lord Jesus Christ, The Prophet Muhammed or Allah are mythical. The overwhelming majority of Hindus and Vaishnavas will be extremely offended if they learn that Universal Studios has invented a story line for the Supreme Lord and then plugged Him into it.
Even if Lord Krishna is portrayed in a “good” or favorable role, supporting the story’s heroine, it will still be offensive to his worshippers and devotees to see him speaking fictional words and engaging in fictional actions. Krishna is real. Krishna’s pastimes are real. It is insensitive and offensive to portray Lord Krishna either as a fictional character, or as engaged in fictional activities.
I understand you are hesitant to reveal the plot of the upcoming episode. This is understandable. However, as a gesture of good faith, you should be more than willing to answer a few simple questions which will let us know whether Lord Krishna is being dealt with in a manner that is insensitive and offensive to his devotees:
1. Are fictional words spoken by Krishna as part of the plot—words to do with the fantasy story, but which Krishna in truth never spoke?
2. Does Krishna engage in fictional activities as part of the story line? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then frankly speaking we have a problem.
We understand you may not have understood the specific concerns outlined above when you undertook the production. However, the fact that Universal Studios and the producers of Xena and Hercules were specifically advised by a number of Hindu groups (inside and outside New Zealand) in September of 1997, about our concerns that Hindu deities be treated respectfully and sensitively on your productions is not lost on us. In light of this fact, we feel more than justified in asking you to not air this particular episode unless we are able to confirm that it treats Lord Krishna in a dignified and non-fictional manner. If you comply with our wishes we will not only be grateful, but there will certainly be no hard feelings for the fact that the feelings of pious Hindus and Vaishnavas were not considered prior to production, as requested in September, 1997. Indeed if the producers of Xena or Hercules ever wish to deal with Hindu deities in future episodes, we will be more than happy to provide complimentary consultation to ensure that you do so tastefully and in a manner not offensive to followers of Indian or Vedic religions.
On the contrary if you choose to proceed with airing an episode that is offensive to Hindus and Vaishnavas, you can be assured there will be an organized international response. We don’t want this to happen. Indeed we would prefer to work with you and not against you. But this is not an issue that we take lightly.
I look forward to your prompt response.
Wishing you well,