In a remarkable interfaith gesture, a coalition of Christian-Hindu-Buddhist faith leaders is seeking apology from singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for trivializing “karma”, a serious and ancient religious doctrine of Hindus and Buddhists, calling it highly inappropriate.
Senior Episcopal priest in Connecticut Father Thomas W. Blake, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, renowned Buddhist priest Rev. Matthew T. Fisher, Senior United Methodist Pastor Rev. Dawn M. Blundell; in a joint statement today, said that while Hindu and Buddhist seekers and devotees took the concept of karma very seriously; Swift seemed to have irreverently trivialized it in her “Karma” song in newly released album “Midnights”.
Swift handled “karma” frivolously; equating karma with a boyfriend, cat purring on the lap, guy on the screen, breeze in hair, etc.; and included a lot of cursing in the “Karma” song; Blake, Zed, Fisher, Blundell stressed.
Doctrine of karma had been pervasive in Hindu thought for thousands of years and found expression in ancient Hindu scriptures like Brhadaranyaka-Chandogya- Shvetashvatara and other Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, Puranas, Dharmasastra, Shatapatha Brahmana; and various sages delved into it. Even Lord Krishna in ancient Bhagavad-Gita talked about karma yoga, the active path of selfless service. But Swift treated it very flippantly, without any regard to the feelings of devotees; Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated.
Rev. Fisher emphasizes that a 2,600-year-old faith should not be trivialized for profit, but Swift chose to debase and thus harm the entire Buddhist tradition with her ignorant cultural appropriation in this deeply careless and hurtful song. In the Pali sutra, “The Great Exposition of Karma”, Lord Buddha clearly shows that the Law of Karma is the most powerful natural law in the universe and sentient beings ignore it at their peril. Our actions plant seeds and those seeds bear fruit.
We welcome Swift’s belief in karma, which seems like having a colossal place in Swift’s cosmos; but she should have handled the concept more appropriately, responsibly and thoughtfully; giving due respect to the emotions of Hindus and Buddhists spread worldwide, who take karma very seriously; Christian, Hindu, Buddhist leaders note.
Singers-songwriters should not be in the business of trivializing serious spiritual concepts, religious appropriation and sacrilege. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols, and thus hurting the devotees; Blake, Zed, Fisher, Blundell stated.
Rajan Zed further said that Hindus welcomed the entertainers to immerse in Hinduism and create projects about/around Hindu doctrines; but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning/redefining Hinduism concepts and symbols, as mentioned in the scriptures, for personal agendas. Moreover, any misrepresentation also created confusion among non-Hindus about Hinduism. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly help if industry needed any assistance in exploring Hinduism, Zed added.
Christian, Hindu, Buddhist leaders pointed out that they were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it displayed callousness towards the feelings of adherents.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. No faith, larger or smaller, should be mishandled, Zed added.
Lyrics of “Karma” include: “karma is my boyfriend”, “karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend”, “karma is a cat purring in my lap…flexing like a goddamn acrobat”, “karma is the guy on the screen”, etc.
“Karma” is track 11 on “Midnights”, the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on October 21 via Republic Records. Her online store is selling “KARMA is my boyfriend” (Cropped Ringer t-shirts) for $40 each.