Is Mohammed predicted in the Bhavishya Purana?
Question– Is Prophet Mohammed a demon named Tripurasura who was killed by Lord Shiva? Is this predicted that he would again come in Kaliyuga as Mohammed to propagate a religion, Islam, whose followers’ purification would come through warfare? After reading the Quran it seems that Islam is not a peaceful religion since it preaches that- Islam is the ultimate religion and fight till only Allah’s name pervades the whole world. Does this mean that Islam is a demon’s religion?
Answer–The references from the Bhavishya Purana which are quoted by you are of a questionable authenticity. Generally, we understand Vedic knowledge based on three foundations – guru, sadhu and shastra. Although, the Bhavishya Purana is one of the eighteen Puranas, but this particular Purana has been known by academic and traditional scholars to be subject of significant interpolation. For example, the Pratisarga Parva from which these prophecies of Mohammed and Jesus have been taken also contains references to the British government and to Queen Victoria. Neither of these two predictions was in any way spiritual and such predictions put a clear question mark on the authenticity of the whole section.
No doubt Bhavishya Purana is an authentic Purana but because the Puranas (apart from Shrimad Bhagavatam) are written in a relatively simple Sanskrit and because they are so vast and arguably one of the biggest traditions of literature in the whole world, if some verses have been added or removed to the main body, it is very difficult to find out. Jiva Goswami, one of the great acharyas in our sampradaya writes in his tattva-sandarbha, a systematic analysis of all the Vedic literature, that because of Shrimad Bhagavatam’s (SB) popularity and it being extensively used by the Vaishnava sampradayas, it is among the few Puranas that has many commentaries (at least 81 commentaries are known, not all of them may be existing now). Due to so many commentaries of SB the source verses are also very clear. However, for the other Puranas because they are so vast and there are many different versions, whether a particular verse was originally there or interpolated (added later), has to be carefully decided.
What is the means to decide this?
In general whenever we have any question about shastra we have to go to guru and sadhu. For us Srila Prabhupada is our guru and previous acharyas are the sadhus. Srila Prabhupada was quite respectful whenever he referred to Prophet Mohammed. Actually, he referred to him as Hazrat Mohammed and he also said that the Lord has sent different people at different places to raise God consciousness of the people. He would refer to Jesus and Mohammed often in the same sentence and in the same respectful way. Also, if you look at the previous acharyas whether it is Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati Thakur or Bhaktivinod Thakur, in general they have considered Mohammed to be a representative of God and they have considered Islam to be a religion that elevates God consciousness in a limited way.
Of course the historical track record of Islam (at least in India) often has some violence involved in it. Although Gaudiya Vaishnavism has suffered a significant brunt of the violence of Islamic fundamentalists in both Bengal as well as in Vrindavan (specifically because Vrindavan was very close to Delhi, capital of the Mughal empire), but none of the previousVaishnava acharyas in their writings have characterized Mohammed in a way this particular passage of Bhavishya Purana characterizes.
Therefore if shastra contains certain verses about which we cannot be sure of and the mood and message of those verses contradicts what the previous acharyas have said, then it is always safe for us to not quote those verses and give them undue authenticity.
It is possible that because Srila Prabhupada and the previous acharyas have not explicitly commented on these verses, different ISKCON devotees may arrive at different conclusions about these verses. In general we as followers of Srila Prabhupada should follow in the spirit of Srila Prabhupada, which was similar to the compassionate spirit of Vedic literature.
So is Mohammed the reincarnation of particular somebody who was a demoniac personality?
Not according to what we have learnt from our acharyas.
Of course there are other references in the Pratisarga Parva of the Bhavishya Purana which refers to Jesus meeting with Maharaja Shalivahan or Mohammed meeting with King Bhoja. Especially the reference of Jesus is not directly contradictory with the mood in which Srila Prabhupada referred him. It is said that Jesus was a teacher to the malechchas and he is considered to be a saint among them. In one sense that is a fairly reasonably accurate and broad-minded portrayal of Jesus. We don’t have to bother about the authenticity of such sections and it is possible that those could be authentic. It is also possible that in Pratisarga Parva some parts are authentic and some are interpolated. The spirit of the acharyas is to be kept in mind while discounting sections like this one about the past life of Mohammed.
The question may also arise why is this religion spreading all over the world?
Ultimately in this material world there are different schools of thought and they spread according to the vigour of its practitioners, especially the proponents. Islam after it got established in the 6th century through a combination of military invasion and aggressive conversion tactics, it has spread into significant parts of the world and its spreading to many parts of the world does not in any way prove it to be true or false. The school of thought essentially spreads based on the vigour of its proponents. Because Islam has been propagated, it has spread.
And is Islam violent? Is Islam exclusivist (i.e. Islam is the only way)?
In general there are references to the call for violence against non-Muslims in the Quran and we need to recognize them for what they are. The Prophet Mohammed himself had to fight many wars and at times he used techniques that we could consider ruthless. However, as far as exclusivist claims in Islam are concerned, actually every religion has some people who interpret such claims to be exclusivist and they use religion not to free themselves from their ego but to boost and inflate their ego further. We need to understand that the exclusivist claims of any religion are like a doctor’s claim to a confused patient who after visiting many doctors is still uncertain of the treatment to follow. To such a patient, sometimes the doctor may say- just forget everything else and follow this medicine you will get cured. The statement of a doctor – that you just follow this treatment – does not mean that all other doctors and treatments are wrong but to bring focus in the mind of confused patient. Similarly, such exclusivist statements in scriptures are made in a mood that you just follow and you will make some spiritual advancement. But people who are narrow-minded and egoistic within a religious community, they misconstrue these statements to conclude exclusivism and promote violence and fanaticism. But Srila Prabhupada has told us that we should hate the sin not the sinner. We saw that even in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s time how Chand Kazi and his Muslim followers were inspired to transform by the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
It is possible that if we practice Krishna consciousness properly and present it purely and appropriately then intelligent people whatever be their religious or cultural background will understand it and will appreciate its depth. Srila Prabhupada generally did not ask people to get converted from one religion to another – if a person was a committed Christian he would tell him continue following Christianity; follow what the Bible says properly. If he found that somebody is a committed follower of a particular religion then he is encouraged to stick to his path and make spiritual advancement. However, if somebody is a nominal follower of a religion or someone is born in a particular religion but never practiced, studied or understood it much, then Srila Prabhupada will inspire such people to practice Krishna consciousness.
Will people following Islam get purified by violence?
Actually jihad has two aspects. If you study the Quran carefully there is inner jihad and there is outer jihad. Prophet Mohammed considered the inner jihad to be the most important. Of course he lived in a time when outer jihad was also essential for him, he also had to fight the enemies and historically there have been many Islamic kings who have given far greater emphasis to outer jihad. But along with that there have been many saintly personalities, for example Sufis, who have tried to go deep into the esoteric essence of the Quran and they have actually considered the inner jihad – the war against our own misgivings and our own evil desires– as the most important aspect of one’s spiritual advancement.
Will Krishna or God take initiative to stop this violent religion?
It is not that the religion is violent, it is the propagators of that religion have tended to be of a violent nature and they have abused the provisions within the Quran to justify their violent agendas. Also, this human urge to abuse religious statements for one’s own purposes is not limited to Islam. Christianity has its own dark history where in the name of spreading the church, Christianity also has practically exterminated populations. When the Spanish people went to South America there was a thriving and ancient Mayan civilization and that was just brought down by the missionaries who en masse either converted or exterminated the people who were not ready to convert. All this was done in the name of God but it was to a large extent contrary to the example of Jesus of not killing but being ready to die.
For further understanding on such topics, I request you hear the lecture and read articles on my website on different religions: Why there are different religions? Why they lead or not lead to violence?
Ultimately in all religions God has given us the means for inner purification and those are the ultimate sources of stopping violence. Only when you become purified, free from anger (which is the cause of violence) and, equip others to also become free from anger, then we can minimize violence in this world.
In Kaliyuga Krishna has come as his holy name and chanting of his names will purify us. Similarly in all the other religious traditions the holy names are often glorified and their chanting can actually remove the anartha of violence.
Lastly, regarding your questions about Tripurasura, as I said, because the reference quoted in the Bhavishya Purana is of questionable value, the answer to these questions is not relevant because the whole storyline is suspect.