Q&A: Miracles
3 December 2008

December 3 2008

miracles

Here’s an interesting question from Acyuta Krsna das in Perm, Russia:

perm_in_russia.jpg

 “Why during the last epoch there were various miracles which were made by the Lord and His devoted, sacred persons, and now – today there are no miracles? Why today we do not see miracles? Why now it is not observed at all any phenomena connected with acts of demigods . . . Earlier there were obvious proofs, which many could observe, and now all is reduced only to religious writings. Differently now it is necessary to take on all belief .”

Answer:
 First of all we should understand what ‘miracle’ means. Here is the dictionary meaning:

 ”miracle — an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause.”
 ”any amazing or wonderful event”

 I think most people will describe a miracle similarly.

 It is not a fact that such things are not going on nowadays. But in modern times most people are atheists or skeptics and will not accept such events even if they see it with their own eyes. Take the events at Fatima, Portugal for instance:

In 1916 three shepherd children reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

 fatima-small.jpg

She told them she would visit them again on specific dates, and give information about the future. The news became widespread. By the time of the third visit, on October 13, 1917, 70,000 persons had gathered to see the event. They were spread over several square miles of countryside.

Fatima crowd

An eyewitness account was written by Dr. José Maria de Almeida Garrett, a professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Coimbra, Portugal:
“It must have been 1:30 p.m when there arose, at the exact spot where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish, which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads, and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time, it came back to occur a second time, then a third time

“The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely.

 ”Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet…turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun’s disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl.

fatima sun

“During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described, there were also changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color.

“Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed all at once to loosen itself from the firmament and, blood red, advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was truly terrible.

“All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them. Finally, I must declare that never, before or after October 13 [1917], have I observed similar atmospheric or solar phenomena.”

 Despite this clear, reliable description by a science professor and hundreds of other corroborating statements, skeptics still claimed that it could not have happened. Such natural phenomena was not possible they said, and the huge crowd, who all reported seeing the same thing, was suffering from mass hallucinations.

 Apart from religious experiences, in the field of UFO or paranormal phenomena there are many ‘miraculous’ events recorded, and are still being reported almost every day. Our late godbrother Sriman Sadaputa prabhu wrote a book called Alien Identities: Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena.

Alien Identities 

It gives a comprehensive overview of UFO phenomena, and draws a strong correspondence between reported phenomena observed since about 1950 and the activities of Lord Krsna and his devotees in the Srimad Bhagavatam 5,000 years ago.

 There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of books about such kinds of miracles being performed even in the present times. Just go in any new age book store and you will find many, many examples. Or you can read Drutakarma prabhu’s book “Human Devolution” wherein he cites many examples of paranormal phenomena.

Human Devolution

 There are many yogis, swamis, gurus and healers who show such kinds of ‘miracles’ and in every religious or spiritual traditions you will find there are such things as miraculous healings, visitations from higher beings and angels etc. going on.

Of course, you can’t blame people for being skeptical. Much of the ‘miracle’ phenomena is fake, and magicians like Harry Houdini

 Houdini

who knew all the tricks of the trade, spent a good deal of time exposing the fraudulent practices of the “Spiritualist” movement in the early part of the 20th century.

exposing fake spiritualists

 But real or not, these ‘miracles’ are not the basis for real spiritual advancement. Krsna consciousness is not dependent on so-called ‘miracles’ and we do not put any emphasis on them. Just because someone has not seen a so-called miracle does not mean that God does not exist.

 The real miracle is getting out of the clutches of material life and never having to take birth again. These other phenomena are a distraction and are for the less-intelligent class.

Therefore Srila Prabhupada always stressed the simple, effective practices of real spiritual life.  He condemned so-called gurus and ‘god-men’ who gather up large followings by showing some so-called miracles or magic, as this exchange on June 15, 1976 in Detroit shows:

[TD2]  Pusta Krsna Maharaja showed Srila Prabhupada a newspaper Rddha prabhu had enclosed. It was a produced in Durban for the Indian population, which is about half a million strong. He read two articles aloud. “The man who is said to expose fraudulent practices amongst miracle workers is Dr. Abraham T. Kavoor, who recently held a spell-binding magic show at the Bangalore Town Hall to debunk the miracles of god-men. He claimed that several of the tricks demonstrated had, in fact, been learned from persons who had duped the public that they could perform miracles and other extraordinary acts. And this, he believed, would lead to an attempt on his life. ‘I am not afraid of gods. They don’t exist. But I am afraid of god-men, because they are alive. They have thugs as agents. If a good man like Gandhi could be assassinated, what keeps a Kavoor from suffering the same fate?’ Addressing a press conference, Dr. Kavoor implied that an attempt might be made on his life if he tried to expose the fraudulent practice by god-men because this would involve a physical search of the persons involved. Hence his insistence that his investigation would have to be preceded by their permission. To date, he said, he had written six registered letters to Satya Sai Baba issuing his famous challenge, but had no reply from him as yet. Asked how he produced ash and other objects out of nowhere, Dr. Kavoor indicated that one of the methods was by concealing the objects to be materialized inside of his coat. The rest was pure sleight of hand. Photographs of him [Sai Baba] exposing his coat have been published both in the national and international press, he said. Reporting that hatha-yogi L.S. Lal had confessed to him that his much-vaunted show of walking on water had been pure trick designed to make some money, Dr. Kavoor said, ‘How long can the government of India tolerate such hoaxers who claim to have supernatural powers and exploit the ordinary men?'”

Srila Prabhupada of course, has always complained about cheaters duping the innocent public and he told Pusta Krsna to file the article for future use. “You keep this. We shall have to show to the Indian government authorities.”

He was sometimes asked if he could show miracles and this is a sample of his usual reply, at a meeting at Krsna Balaram Mandir, on April 7, 1976:

[TD1] Vrndavana

Certainly it would be hard for anyone to find fault in Srila Prabhupada’s personal qualifications, and in fact, he mentioned that many people have complimented him as having performed a miracle. But he strove to impress upon his guests the qualifications of his disciples also.
“They give me so much credit that ‘You have done wonderful, miracle.’ I do not know how to play any miracle. Our Dipa Maharaja knows me from the very beginning. I do not know how to play magic. But only magic is that I don’t adulterate. That’s all. Krsna says, ‘Always think of Me.’ So I am teaching them, ‘Chant Hare Krsna. You’ll think of Him.’

And again, on his Vyasapuja day in Hyderabad on August 19, 1976

Vyasapuja 1976 

Srila Prabhupada stressed the same thing:

 [TD4]

“As to why one should accept a guru, he said that since the world is full of rascals, it requires many gurus to teach them the science of the spirit soul and thus deliver them. Informing his admirers and inquisitive onlookers that a guru is not a magician, he humbly submitted his claim as our guru and invited them to emulate his work according to their capacity.

Vyasapuja talk

“So practically I have done this. People are giving me credit that I have done miracles, but my miracle is that I carried the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu: yare dekha tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa. So this is the secrecy. So anyone of you, you can become guru. It is not that I am an extraordinary man, an extraordinary god coming from some mysterious place. It is not that—it is very simple thing. So I request you follow the Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction that you also, you become a guru at your home. It is not that you have to make a gigantic show of becoming guru. The father has to become guru, the mother has to become guru.”

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