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Pt.2.Miracles Sec.2.1
Date: Sat Jun 13 1998 - 12:20:14 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Presented below is Section 2.1 of Part 2 Miracles from my book "Myths,
Miracles and Mysticism".
Anbil Ramaswamy
============================================================Section  2 .1 :
Avatars  and Miracles

God manifests himself by descending down personally with a physical presence
called 'Avatar' for
three purposes as explained by him in Bhagavad Gita ( 4/ 8 )
( i ) Paritraanaaya Saadhunaam : for saving the virtuous
( ii ) Vinaasaaya cha Dushkritaam : for destroying evil and
( iii ) Dharma Samsthaapanaarthaaya :  for reestablishing Dharma

As stated by him (in BG 4 / 7), he takes Avatars whenever there is steep
decline in Dharma (i.e) beyond tolerable limits.

Why Avatars?

It may be asked whether the Almighty God cannot carry out all these purposes
by remaining in his high heavens without having to come 'down to earth'. The
answer is yes. He can. But, to give reassurance and instill confidence to the
(virtuous) for whom he would like to reveal himself at 'their level', talking
to them, mingling with them, he comes down to the world and to remind  others
like us of the eternal truths and turn our minds inward. Nothing can reinforce
faith and confidence so much as the physical proximity of beatitude which
would impact a reassurance to the virtuous that in spite of the decline in
Dharma and the preponderance of evil, man still has hope to salvage himself.
God descends to earth to give this much needed reassurance in times of crisis.
So, whenever God
descends to earth , the people of that time who have that sacred and
enlivening presence were indeed fortunate to worship him as God.

He ' touches down' earth so that we can ' take off ' to his high heavens
He 'demotes' himself to our level so as to ' promote ' us to his level
He 'descends' leaving his high pedastal to help us leave our mundane existence
and ' ascend ' unto him.
He 'steps down' so that we may ' step up '
He ' humbles ' himself to teach us how ' humble' we really are
He manifests himself in 'ridiculous' forms like fish, tortoise, boar,
halflion, dwarf etc to appeal to our ' ridiculous perceptions' and help us to
' sublimate' our lives.
He ' lowers' himself in order to ' lift ' us up.
He ' stoops' to our level so that we might ' rise 'up to his level.
He ' debases' himself in an attempt to ' ennoble' us.
He ' enters' our ' homes' to make us feel ' at  home'.
He 'condescends' to make us feel ' worthy' of him.

Rama Avatar

This God does in two ways. Of the numerous Avatars, those of Rama and Krishna
stand foremost. As Rama, he assumed the role of a man and reflected the mental
afflictions and agitations of man and also showed how to overcome them. By
personal, practical example of ideal conduct, he showed in the Tretayuga, the
way for men to tread on the path of spiritual evolution.On occasions, Rama is
known to have performed superhuman feats (e.g)

( i )   He not only lifted but also broke Siva's bow that was too heavy for
anyone  even to move.
( ii )  He killed the 14,000 strong mighty army of Kara and Dushana single
( iii ) He pierced with a single arrow a line of seven giant Sal trees to
convince Sugriva.
( iv ) He threw out far beyond sight, the skeleton of Dundhubi which even Vali
could not lift.
( v ) He stepped on a stone and the stone came alive in the form of Ahalya who
was redeemed from a
curse on her by her husband.- a feat that is possible only by the Paramatma.
( vi ) He granted Moksha to the bird king Jatayu, which only the Paramatma
could do.
( v ii)  He performed the crowning of Vibhishana, even before the war with
Ravana, indicating his    confidence in his own superhuman powers in
vanquishing Ravana. Even if Ravana were to surrender, since Lanka had been
offered to Vibhishana, Rama would have requested Bharata  to offer Ayodhya to
( viii ) In the case of Kakasura who tormented Sita, he merely pulled out a
blade of grass and hurled it at him and this chased him around all the worlds
and blinded one of his eyes as a punishment.

Compared to the miracles performed by him in Krishaavatara, these may look
less impressive but we should remember that at all times, he endeavoured to
act as on ordinary human being and the feats  reckoned by human standards,
stand out to be really superhuman.

Krishna Avatar

In his Avatar as Krishna in Dwapara yuga, he performed miracles after miracles
to instill confidence in the minds of men that he was very much for them and
with them to take solace and encouragement. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra,
he propounded his Bhagavad Gita in the last verse of which he unequivocally
holds out the assurance - " Having given up all your Dharma, the only course
open to you is to surrender yourself to me  and to me alone. If you do this, I
shall absolve you
from all sins and protect you. Have no doubt about this and do not grieve"

Some of the miracles performed by him are briefly indicated below:

( i )  Even at birth, he was born with four arms holding his conch, club, disc
and lotus flower, fully bedecked,  equipped with all the insignia of the
supreme personality of Godhead and  in the same effulgent form in which he
shines in his Paramapada. Devaki and Vasudeva, his  parents had to request him
to conceal them and assume his form as an ordinary child.
( ii ) As Vasudeva started from his prison cell to switch the baby boy with
the baby girl, Yogamaya born to Yasoda in Gokula, the shackles locking his
hands and feet  released, the prison gates opened ajar, the guards went into a
deep stupor and the flodded Yamuna river parted to give way to Vasudeva to
cross the river. Lord Sesha in the form of a serpent spread like an umbrella
his hood over the basket
in which Vasudeva carried  the baby to protect him from rain.
( iii ) As an infant, he drank the life force of Puthanai, the demoness who
plotted to kill him with poison smeared over her breast nipples, when she
attempted to breastfeed him like a fond mother.
( iv ) Once, when Yasoda came to know that the child Krishna had eaten clay,
she asked him to open his mouth and show. When he opened his mouth, she saw
the entire universe with its directions, mountains, oceans, rivers, planets,
elements of nature, gods, demigods, all living entities and different forms of
creation. She even saw herself and Krishna opening his mouth as if on a modern
movie scene. Naturally, she was bewildered.
( v ) Once, the demon, Sakataasura lurked in a  toy hung over his cradle.
Krishna playfully kicked the toy and killed  the demon who fell dead in his
huge original form.
( vi ) Once, a demon , Vatsaasura  appeared as a calf and mingled with
Krishna's herd and waited for an oppurtunity to pounce on Krishna. Krishna
caught hold of his hindleg, swirled and hurled it at a woodapple tree in one
of the fruits of which lurked another demon  also with the aim of killing
Krishna. Both the demons fell reeling down and were instantly killed.
( vii )  Once, a demon by name Bakaasura took the form of a crane and attacked
Krishna with his sharp and pointed beaks and in fact swallowed him. As he
swallowed, he felt an unbearable burning sensation in his throat and quickly
threw up Krishna. Krishna caught hold of his beaks and bifurcated his mouth
like splitting a reed and killed him.
( viii ) Once, a demon called Aghaasura used his yogic powers of 'mahima',
expanded himself upto about 8 miles and assumed the form of a huge serpent,
opened his mouth like a mountain cave and tried to swallow Krishna and his
cowherd friends. The boys along with the cows entered his mouth but Krishna
enetered last. As he was entering, he immediately began to expand within the
throat of the demon. Choked and suffocated, the demon dropped dead. Krishna
brought all the boys and the cattle out of his mouth.
( ix ) When Dhenukaasura and his fellow demons appearing in the form of
donkeys, prevented people from picking fruits in Talavana forest, , Krishna
and Balarama caught them by their hind legs and whirled them to the palm tree
tops. The demons fell like mountains in their original form  and were
( x ) When the hydraheaded poisonous snake, Kaalinga was threatening the life
of his peers in a pond, Krishna jumped on its hoods , danced till Kaalinga out
of sheer exhaustion begged to be excused. Krishna asked him to move out to the
sea with his wives and children and retinue.
( xi ) One night, there was a huge forest fire in the place where Krishna and
his friends were resting under a tree. The fire spread all over by the violent
gust of winds threatening to scorch the group.Krishna quietly swallowed up the
whole forest fire as easily as he swallowed butter and saved them.
( xii ) Once, a demon by name ssumed the form of a cowherd boy and joined the
partyof Krishna and his friends waiting for an oppurtunity to kill Krishna and
Balarama. In a game , it was the turn of Pralambaasura to carry Balarama on
his shoulders. And, the demon was happy that his chance had come to kill
Balarama. As he carried Balarama, Balarama became as heavy as a mountain and
literally crushed the demon. The demon assumed his original form. Balarama
struck him on his head with his fist and the demon fell down dead.
( xiii ) When Krishna asked his companions to offer worship to the Govardhan
mountain instead of to Indra, Indra got angry and summoned all the powerful
clouds and asked them to force a heavy downpour. Krishna lifted the huge
mountain and held it on the tip of his little finger as easily as lifting a
mushroom. The torrential downpour continued for a whole week and Krishna held
the mountain for the entire period like an umbrella under which his peers
assembled and were protected. Indra realized his folly and came down on bended
knees begging pardon.
( xiv )   He killed the mighty tusker, Kuvalayaapeedam and the invincible
wrestlers, Mushtika and Chaanura.
( xv ) He finally pulled down  the arch villain, Kamsa from his throne and
sitting on his chest banged him with bare fist and finished him.

The incidents from (vi ) to (xv) happened when he was a jeuvenile, hardly  8
to 10 years of age.

( xvi ) He brought back to life  of his Guru's son who had drowned in the sea
long time back.
( xvii ) Similarly, he brought back to life the children ( of a brahmin) who
died soon on birth.
( xviii ) When Draupadi was dragged to the open assembly for being disrobed by
Dussasana, Krishna enclothed her with an endless stream of clothing and saved
her modesty.
( xix ) On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, as he was advising Arjuna on his
duties as a Kshatriya, he revealed his Viswaroopam. Arjuna saw in him the
entire world even as Yasoda saw earlier and thereby instilled confidence in
Arjuna to take up arms again against the Kauravas.

There are innumerable other miracles performed by him in this as well as in
other Avatars (e,g) the saving of Gajendra who was caught by a crocodile and
was struggling for life in a tug of war with the crocodile.

God in human form is really Superhuman

It should be remembered that just because God in his Avatars has taken a human
form and moved with men as such, it does not mean that his body is made of the
stuff we are made of. His form is unique, ' sui generis' called ' Apraakrita
Sarira'. He takes these forms by his divine will (Sankalpa).

Since ordinary folk may not recognize his divinity when he acts as 'inter
pares', sometimes he has to perform supernatural feats to show his real super
self. Thus, we find in Rama Avatar, even though he claimed to be a mere human
'Aatmaanam Manusham Manye' , sometimes he did perform superhuman feats. In
Krishna Avatar, though he revealed himself as the supreme Lord by numerous
miracles, he also took care to camouflage them by his yogamaya (power of
illusion) to lull people into taking these incidents as natural.

(to be continued)