Miracles? But Whose Miracles?

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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
I found this article on the blog of Rawel Singh Anand ji, and wanted to share it with the forum.

A miracle is any extraordinary occurrence that cannot be explained by the laws of nature. It is a display of supernatural powers. A miracle may take the form of someone escaping from almost sure death, an illness being cured by means other than medical intervention or a baby being safely transported by flood waters. Other examples could be a man flying like a bird, someone walking on water, and child prodigies performing amazing feats in fields of education, games or other skills. This word is also used for unexpected happenings like help arriving unexpectedly. In other words any event that causes surprise is a miracle. Miracles are of two types. The first types are a result of Divine action like saving of life, a child surviving a flood or help arriving when not expected. The only explanation for such occurrences is that God willed it that way. The second types are occurrences which are deliberately shown to be performed by human beings, the so called god-men. Almost in all cases the person showing a miracle tries to show himself or herself as a religious teacher. This is an attempt to show that miracles are inspired by God.

Miracles are mentioned in Hindu texts and the Bible. The former use the terms Ridhi (to have wealth on call); Sidhis (Miraculous powers), eighteen in all; and Nidhi (treasures), nine in number. Out of the eighteen Sidhis eight are major and the other ten are minor. The major Sidhis called Maha Sidhis are: 1. acquiring the form of someone else, 2. enlarging the body, 3. making it small, 4. becoming heavy, 5. having the power to attain any thing desired, 6. reading the mind of others, 7. being able to influence others and 8. being able to control others.

In the New Testament as signs. Jesus counts his miracles thus “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5, King James Version).

Those who do not subscribe to the concept of miracles believe that they represent hypnosis or magical tricks. They certainly display the ego of the practitioner.Almost in all cases people perform miracles to try to get followers and collect money. They have followers to pass around the word of their 'abilities'.

Some years ago, a gentleman, who claimed to be self-educated, said in a discourse that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion had performed miracles. I went to him after the discourse and submitted that Guru Nanak had in fact always spoken against performing miracles. It is recorded history that during conversation with the Yogis who practiced display of miracles, the Guru was asked to show a miracle but he declined saying he had no miracle to show. The Guru further said that everything happens as commanded by the Almighty and miracles take one away from God:

ਆਪਿ ਨਾਥੁ ਨਾਥੀ ਸਭ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਰਿਧਿ ਸਿਧਿ ਅਵਰਾ ਸਾਦ ॥ ੧ ੬
The Master has every thing on leash; Ridhis and Sidhis take the mind away from God (M: 1, SGGS, p 6).

Not only did the gentleman ignore all this but the next day told the congregation that one person had come to him and said as above. He further asked “Who would have accepted Guru Nanak if he had not shown miracles”? And went on, “The trouble with these people is that their preceptors have nothing to show”. I gave up on him.

The New Testament says that when two disciples of John the Baptist told Jesus “John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, art thou he that should come or look we for another”? (Matthew 11:3), Jesus counted his miracles as mentioned above. This would show that according to the Gospel attributing miracles to Jesus was enough to prove he was the Messiah.

I feel in both cases overzealous followers have tried to over-praise their preceptors. The Bible is on record saying that Jesus was tempted by the devil to command the stones to become bread, but he refused to do so (Matthew 4:3-4). Again after he cured a leper he told him “See thou tell no man” (Matthew 8:4). Jesus should be accepted what he is, not because of miracles but for his teachings. The fundamental requirement in spirituality is humility and to say that any preceptor boasted as above is being unfair to his sublime life, teachings and sacred memory. In the case of Jesus, it is possible that those who penned down the gospels had in their mind to let their preceptor be seen superior to those whom he had been criticizing.

It is surprising to see so much importance being given to miracles in Christianity that proof of miracles is required before any one can be declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Taking the example of the late Mother Teresa; she was a saint while she lived and served. I wonder if those who are to decide on her beatification have led a life more sublime in service than she did.

Ability to perform miracles is generally used by a practitioner to attract gullible people by showing himself as a spiritual teacher. He in fact tries to equate himself to God, but God he cannot be; instead he sets himself against God. The path of occult powers therefore leads away from God and is spiritually undesirable. Miracles can, if at all, give some gains, not take one forward on the spiritual path. They are therefore of no use to a spiritual seeker. In many cases nefarious activities like depriving people of their wealth, or indulgence in sex come to light. One pursuing a spiritual life refrains from showing any miracles even if he has the powers. He considers the practice of miracles equivalent to showing tricks to attract people:

ਕਿਨਹੀ ਸਿਧ ਬਹੁ ਚੇਟਕ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁ ਥਾਟ ਬਨਾਏ ॥ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਤੰਤ ਮੰਤ ਬਹੁ ਖੇਵਾ ॥ ਮੋਹਿ ਦੀਨ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ ॥੬॥ ੫ ੯੧੩
Some perform miracles like plays on stage; some wear various types of garbs and form seminaries. Others employ spells and mantras in their shows: I engage only in the service of my Lord and Master (M: 5, SGGS, p 913).

If a person has supernatural powers then he should be happy and contented because he should be able to have what he (or she) desires; he should not be running around to attract followers or collect offerings. A man of God is ashamed even to talk of them and says:

ਰਿਧਿ ਸਿਧਿ ਜਾ ਕਉ ਫੁਰੀ ਤਬ ਕਾਹੂ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਕਾਜ ॥ ਤੇਰੇ ਕਹਨੇ ਕੀ ਗਤਿ ਕਿਆ ਕਹਉ ਮੈ ਬੋਲਤ ਹੀ ਬਡ ਲਾਜ ॥੧॥ ਕ ੧੧੦੩
If you can perform miracles whenever you like; what have you to do with others? What can I say about your claims? I feel ashamed even to talk about it (Kabir, SGGS, p 1103).

In India in the late 17th and early 18th centuries there was considerable effort put in by the Mogul emperor Aurangzeb to convert all other communities to Islam. In this connection the oppressed Hindu Pundits of Kashmir came with this problem to the ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur for help. The Guru asked them to tell the emperor that if he (the Guru) could be converted they would follow. They did likewise, the Guru was arrested and asked to convert to Islam or show a miracle if he wanted to save his life. The Guru rejected both saying that everyone had a right to choose his religion, showing of miracles was only showmanship and his faith taught against it. He was beheaded.

Guru Nanak, not wishing to have miraculous powers, prays:

ਸਿਧੁ ਹੋਵਾ ਸਿਧਿ ਲਾਈ ਰਿਧਿ ਆਖਾ ਆਉ ॥ ਗੁਪਤੁ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ਬੈਸਾ ਲੋਕੁ ਰਾਖੈ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਮਤੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਭੂਲਾ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਤੇਰਾ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਨਾਉ ॥੩॥ ੧ ੧੪
If I were to attain powers to show miracles, have wealth on call, become unseen or seen at will, people are impressed and follow me, O Lord, spare me from these, for I might forget to remember You (M: 1, SGGS, p 14).

Only those people go the practitioners of miracles who do not have faith in God and in themselves. They are the victims of duality and for the sake of illusory comforts wander from place to place and person to person:

ਸੁਖ ਕੈ ਹੇਤਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਤ ਸੇਵ ਕਰਤ ਜਨ ਜਨ ਕੀ ॥ ਦੁਆਰਹਿ ਦੁਆਰਿ ਸੁਆਨ ਜਿਉ ਡੋਲਤ ਨਹ ਸੁਧ ਰਾਮ ਭਜਨ ਕੀ ॥੧॥ ੯ ੪੧੧
While chasing comfort people go through suffering trying to please person after person; they are like stray dogs going from house to house forgetting to remember the one Master (M: 9, SGGS, p 411).

Those who place faith in God have two types of experiences. Firstly they get an amazing sense of confidence for being in the care of the One Lord above whom there is none. That also translates into contentment and absence of craving. Secondly they find their needs being fulfilled even without asking for them. Any one who places faith in God therefore does not even have to wish. God’s hand of grace gives automatically; all the benedictions are there in that grace. At first sight this seems to be a prescription for doing nothing. No, God does not like an idle person. Every one must:

ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇਦਿਆ ਜੀਉ ਤੂੰ ਕਮਾਵਦਿਆ ਸੁਖ ਭੁੰਚੁ ॥ ਧਿਆਇਦਿਆ ਤੂੰ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਮਿਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਉਤਰੀ ਚਿੰਤ ॥੧॥ ੫ ੫੨੨
"Make efforts for a living; carry out Divine commands to be at peace; remember God to be with Him. This way all his worries will disappear (M: 5, SGGS, p 522).

It is beyond us mortals to evaluate why and how God makes wonderous things happen. The fifth Guru puts it thus in Sukhmani Sahib:

ਆਪਹਿ ਕਉਤਕ ਕਰੈ ਅਨਦ ਚੋਜ ॥ ਆਪਹਿ ਰਸ ਭੋਗਨ ਨਿਰਜੋਗ ॥ ੫ ੨੯੨
God performs the wonders and blissful plays: He enjoys doing them but Himself remaining unattached (M: 5, SGGS, p 292).

There was a saint named Namdev in India. He was asked by the then Muslim ruler to perform a miracle of reviving a dead cow. He stated that no one could revive a dead creature, man can do nothing; whatever God does happens. The ruler refused to accept that, set a deadline and told him that he would die if he failed. Namdev did nothing but sat in meditation. Nothing happened for quite some time but just as the deadline was approaching the cow stood up and was milked (Namdev, SGGS, p 1165-66).

Another Saint, Kabir, was also subjected to torture but was saved by Divine intervention. In his own words:

ਭੁਜਾ ਬਾਂਧਿ ਭਿਲਾ ਕਰਿ ਡਾਰਿਓ ॥ ਹਸਤੀ ਕ੍ਰੋਪਿ ਮੂੰਡ ਮਹਿ ਮਾਰਿਓ ॥ ਹਸਤਿ ਭਾਗਿ ਕੈ ਚੀਸਾ ਮਾਰੈ ॥ ਇਆ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਕੈ ਹਉ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੈ ॥੧॥ ਕਬੀਰ ੮੭੧-੭੨
They tied my arms and body together and threw in front of an elephant; the elephant was infuriated when hit hard on the head to attack me; it ran away crying and said “I pay obeisance to this embodiment of God" (Kabir, SGGS, p 870).

These two are examples of Divine intervention for the sake of devotees and represent real miracles. The second Guru says:

ਏਹ ਕਿਨੇਹੀ ਦਾਤਿ ਆਪਸ ਤੇ ਜੋ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾ ਕਰਮਾਤਿ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਤੁਠੈ ਜੋ ਮਿਲੈ ॥੧॥ ੨ ੪੭੪-੭੫
What benediction it is if when can get on his own? The real miracle is receiving grace of the Master .

Benedictions can only be granted by one who does not wish to gain from doing so. There is none else than God who meets this qualification.

God Bless!

More at this link http://www.sadhsangat.com/

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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Randip ji

Have you ever seen a squadron of sparrows challenge a hawk? I did once and it was truly amazing. I was dumbstruck.

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