What is a Miracle?

Even in his times, Maharishi Dayanand was opposed by many Hindus and Brahmins, who accused him of trying to impose his own preferences on Dharma. The fact is that all Hindus without exception have the greatest faith in the infallibility of the Vedas, and all Hindu scripture claims to only clarify or explain further the Vedic Teachings. Therefore, the fact that the Rishi derived (or claimed to) derive his system from the Vedas is not a surprise, nor indeed the point on which he was opposed.

What then was the cause of this opposition?

In our estimation, on studying both the Rishi’s books and the pamphlets of his opposers, we have come to the conclusion that most of those who have opposed the Rishi, have never actually tried to read or understand what he spoke about, and what he was trying convey. Therefore, in this short note we shall try to dispel some such misunderstandings about the Rishi’s teachings.

We have seen how the concept of Miracles is not supported by the Vedas and opposed by Rishi Dayanand. Let us now clarify further what is meant by miracles, so that what we say can be understood better.

By Miracles is meant the violation of natural laws. That is, anything that is commonly observed, if one hears something contrary to it, one could call it a miracle. But since people often use a lot of words in a number of ambiguous ways, let us try and clarify further the specific sense in which the Rishi used the word.

For the Rishi, a miracle is to defined as an event where the natural laws of the Universe are specifically violated; and further, such violation is admitted to explicitly. Both parts of this requirement are essential – that the rules not only be violated, but that such violation must also be admitted to.

Why must an event meet both these conditions to be called a Miracle, and not otherwise? We shall illustrate with a few examples, and we crave the reader’s understanding.

Let us say, that we hear that some surgical procedure saved a person from dying; but the chances of success of the procedure were predicted to be very small a priori (before the event). That the procedure succeeded nevertheless, one may say that it is a miracle.

This usage, however, is not what is meant by the Rishi. In this example, neither requirement of the Rishi is met. No natural laws were, in fact, broken at all – the procedure was after all designed to save lives, and even though in this case, the chance of success was estimated to be small, this chance was not zero. This is not a miracle by the Rishi’s terminology, and if one reflects carefully, not a miracle by any sense of the term.

One group of Hindus the clashed repeatedly with the Rishi were the Tantriks. Tantra is an aspect of Hinduism that claims to be able to use some secret forms of energy. Their practices are often mysterious, and very rarely revealed.

Even in this case, however, we find that the clash was wholly a misunderstanding of the Rishi’s case by the Tantriks. In fact, one is tempted to say, that it was not only a misunderstanding, but an unwillingness to understand. The conflict is wholly a case of intellectual lethargy, that is, the Tantriks were simply unwilling to study even their own books in great detail.

The fact of the matter is that both Tantra, and Yoga have long treatises on the working of their sciences. If one studies the books of Yogis, one shall find that there is a whole theory behind the practices. The Yogis have a very thorough theory on the workings of the Universe, on the workings on the Human Body, and on the interactions between these two. The Science of Yoga is immense, and the books on it go into some great detail on the workings and reasoning of this science.

Therefore, it should not be hard for Yogis or Tantriks to answer the Rishi’s questions. They do have a science; but one speculates that 19th century India was so much in awe of its conquerors, and so morally and intellectually decayed, that every attack on the old beliefs was either accepted blindly, or responded to emotionally. [Is the case anything different today?]

In contrast, consider the example of Christian Priest, who says that by having a sip of his water, his Lord God shall heal the person; and further, refuses to submit to the scientific method – in fact, he explicitly refutes and refuses all such inquiry, and further holds it to be useless. The very method of healing if you ask him, is via an explicit and personalized interference in natural laws by his God.

This third case, it is clear to see is the only one that meets the Rishi’s test of what a miracle is.

The Rishi was working in difficult times, and in some aspects, he worked as an agent provocateur to force the Hindus to mount a challenge, and resist their enemies. [For if the Tantriks or the Yogis had built up a case against the Rishi, could not the same case have also been used to dispose of the Miracle-Claiming Missionaries?]

Alas, too many Hindus then, and even now, refuse to pick up the gauntlet, and continue to oppose him; and in doing so, find themselves in the company of the deadly enemies of Dharma.

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