"...a sign that a great
soul and descended"
On Thursday 21 September the news swept around the world of the extraordinary miracles of milk-drinking Hindu statues. Never before in history has a simultaneous miracle occurred on such a global scale. Television, radio and newspapers eagerly covered this unique phenomenon, and even sceptical journalists held their milk-filled spoons to the gods -- and watched, humbled, as the milk disappeared. The media coverage was extensive, and although scientists and 'experts' created theories of "capillary absorption" and "mass hysteria", the overwhelming evidence and conclusion was that an unexplainable miracle had occurred.
It all began at dawn in a temple on the outskirts of Delhi, India, when milk offered to a statue of Ganesh just disappeared into thin air. Word spread so quickly throughout India that soon thousands were offering milk to the gods and watching in amazement as it disappeared. Life in India was brought to a virtual standstill as people rushed to temples to see for themselves the drinking gods. Others claimed that small statues in millions of homes around the country were also drinking the offerings of milk.
At one of Delhi's largest temples, the Birla Mandir, Pandit Sunderlal was just coming on duty at 5.30am when he got a call telling him of the miracle in the suburbs. "I went and took a spoon of milk and put it to Ganesh's mouth. He drank it and it became empty. Then I gave Shiva a drink too."
Traffic in Delhi was halted as police struggled to control crowds who gathered outside hundreds of temples with jugs and saucepans of milk for the marble statues of Ganesh, the Hindu God of wisdom and learning, and Shiva, his father, God the Destroyer in the Hindu trinity. Across Delhi, society ladies with silver jugs and tumblers full of milk were standing alongside uneducated labouring women in mile-long queues, awaiting their turn.
At one Delhi temple a priest said more than 5,000 people had visited his temple: "We are having a hard time managing the crowds." A Delhi housewife who had waited two hours to feed the white marble statue of Ganesh said: "The evil world is coming to an end and maybe the Gods are here to help us." Even the cynical professed amazement. "It's unbelievable. My friends told me about it and I just thought it was rubbish," said a Delhi business woman, Mabati Kasori. "But then I did it myself. I swear that the spoon was drained." Parmeesh Soti, a company executive, was convinced it was a miracle. "It cannot be a hoax. Where would all that milk go to? It just disappeared in front of my eyes."
Suzanne Goldenberg, a Delhi-based journalist, reported that: "Inside the darkened shrine, people held stainless steel cups and clay pots to the central figure of the five-headed Shiva, the destroyer of evil, and his snake companion, and watched the milk levels ebb. Although some devotees force-fed the idol enthusiastically, the floor was fairly dry."
India was in pandemonium. The Government shut down for several hours, and trading ground to a halt on stock markets in Bombay and New Delhi as millions in homes and temples around the country offered milk to the gods.
Very soon the news spread to Hindu communities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Nepal, Thailand, Dubai, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Canada. Reports were flooding in from all over the world. In Hong Kong more than 800 people converged on the Hindu temple in Happy Valley to witness the drinking statues of Krishna and Brahma alongside the small silver statue of Ganesh which priests claimed had drunk 20 litres of milk.
In the United Kingdom, Hindus reported miracles taking place in temples and homes around the country. At the Vishwa Temple in Southall, London, 10,000 people in 24 hours witnessed the 15-inch statue of the bull Nandi and a bronze statue of the cobra Shash Naag drinking milk from cups and spoons. Sushmith Jaswal, aged 20, said she was sceptical at first but her doubts vanished with the milk. "It was like a blessing," she said. Nita Mason also witnessed the statue and said, "It is a miracle -- God is trying to show people that he is here." Girish Desai, a bank worker from Edgware said: "I had heard reports but didn't believe it. But I experienced it myself. I held a spoonful of milk to the lips of one of the idols . . . and the statue started sipping it. The milk disappeared as I watched it."
At the Geeta Bhavan Temple in Manchester a 3-inch silver Ganesh lapped up the milk. Rakesh Behl, 35, fed the silver elephant several times and said: "Did you see how quickly Ganesh drank? How can anyone not believe this miracle? This has really inspired my faith." At the Southall home of Asha Ruparelia, 42, a clay statue of Ganesh was drinking the milk in her living room: "It has drunk 20 pints of milk since last night. Nearly 600 people have come round to see it."
Another amazing manifestation occurred at a major Hindu temple in Wimbledon, South London. There, milk offerings to the statue of Ganesh disappeared, and, simultaneously, in a shrine room containing a large photograph of Sai Baba, vibhuti (holy ash) poured from Sai Baba's forehead, and amrit (nectar) flowed from His feet.
Many journalists actively participated in these miraculous events. Rebecca Mae, a DAILY EXPRESS journalist, wrote: "I had a good view from the side and all I can say is that the statue appeared to suck in half a spoonful while it was held level by the worshipper. The rest was sipped reverently by the devotee. A photographer from a national tabloid newspaper was right in front of the statue. And he was convinced it was drinking the milk. He said he could see no mechanism to explain the phenomenon, after scrutinising it at length. As a lapsed Catholic I don't believe in stories of the Virgin Mary shedding tears. Indeed, I would say I was as sceptical as anyone -- but it's difficult to dismiss something you have seen for yourself."
Journalist Suzanne O'Shea also witnessed the miracle. "Following the example of others I knelt on the floor beside the statue of the bull and placed a dessert spoon filled with milk beside its mouth, steadying it with both hands. Within seconds the milk had virtually vanished, leaving just a drop in the spoon that was emptied into my hands so that I could bless myself. I tried a second time, and again the milk seemed to vanish from the spoon within seconds."
Rikee Verma, a journalist from THE TIMES newspaper, wrote: "Being a religious person, I first went to the upstairs bedroom . . . and placed a spoonful of milk against a photograph of Ganesh and was astonished to find within seconds that the spoon was half empty. I checked to make sure that the glass frame of the photograph was not wet. It was dry. I could not believe what I was seeing. This was clearly a message from the gods saying: 'We are here, here's the proof.' I then went to the Sri Ram Mandir [Temple] in Southall. . . . I placed a spoonful of milk underneath the trunk and within seconds the spoon was empty. . . . Others who had witnessed the miracle were filled with emotion. 'Our god has finally come to us,' one said."
While the media and scientists still struggle to find an explanation for these events, many Hindus believe they are a sign that a great teacher has been born. Journalist Rebecca Mae writes: "Most of the worshippers said they only went to the temple occasionally and were certainly not religious fanatics. But they were adamant that a new god had been born to save the world from evil." Krishna Anratar Dubey, a respected Indian astrologer, explained that according to Hindu mythology such miracles happen when a great Soul arrives in the world.
At the Southall temple in London where thousands had witnessed the miracles, the chairman Mr Bharbari offered his explanation. "All I know is that our Holy Book says that wherever evil prevails on earth then some great Soul will descend to remove the bondage of evil so that right shall reign. We believe this miracle, and those happening at other Hindu temples, may be a sign that a great Soul has descended, like Lord Krishna or Jesus Christ."
(Sources: THE GUARDIAN; THE INDEPENDENT; THE TIMES; THE TELEGRAPH; THE DAILY EXPRESS; THE DAILY MAIL; UK)