Two Miracles That Fall Short In Their Applicability

[Sita-Rama]“Ghee can be churned from water and even oil can come from sand, but it is an established truth that one cannot cross over this worldly ocean without worship of Shri Hari.” (Dohavali, 126)

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बारि मथें घ्।र्त होइ बरु सिकता ते बरु तेल ।
बिनु हरि भजन न भव तरिअ यह सिद्धान्त अपेल ॥

bāri matheṃ gh।rta hoi baru sikatā te baru tela ।
binu hari bhajana na bhava taria yaha siddhānta apela ॥

1. Churning ghee from water

“Whoa, how did you do that? Is it an optical illusion? You must have cheated. But I don’t see any cows for miles. You were in that room and all you had was water. That was the only external source feeding into the repository. This ghee will be so useful to us, especially for yajna, which is the way towards prosperity.”

अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि
पर्जन्याद् अन्न-सम्भवः
यज्ञाद् भवति पर्जन्यो
यज्ञः कर्म-समुद्भवः

annād bhavanti bhūtāni
parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ
yajñād bhavati parjanyo
yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ

“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

2. Finding oil from sand

“Oh my goodness, you got oil from sand? How is that possible? What is the secret? Okay, maybe you are hesitant to reveal the magic. I get it. But just think of the possibilities. This oil will be so valuable to us.”

From a single collection of words, presented in a short, simple, and powerful couplet, Goswami Tulsidas sets the living experience in the proper focus. The starting point is a comparison to something that isn’t that valuable. That which is not, maya, brings the potency of illusion. This means that we take something at face value instead of actual value.

We put priority on temporary achievements. We gain confidence from temporary victories. We place value on stuff, when there is plenty of stuff to go around.

With the first example of ghee, we already know how to get it. Protect the cows. Let them roam freely. There is plenty of excess, as a result of the loving relationship between mother and child. Churn the cream into butter. Clarify the butter to produce ghee, which is valuable in many ways.

[Shri Krishna]We already have oil. We can get it from seeds. There are countless benefits, especially to the exterior of the body. There is a known process of extraction. There isn’t much need to hanker so much for supply.

What if we could get ghee from water? What if we could get oil from sand? What if we suddenly learned to walk on our hands? What if we could travel at a rapid pace through the use of intelligently crafted machinery? What if we could grow money on trees? What if we could produce endless gold from a single jewel?

Tulsidas accepts the possibility. It is not out of the realm of possibility. Granted, if we were to see such transformations we might consider them to be miracles. We would be amazed. We might want to reproduce the experiment on our own. We might grant high status to the person who is able to display such transformations.

You might be able to produce such miracles, but there is only one route towards liberation. Turning lead into gold is not going to help me cross over the ocean of suffering, samsara. This experience is like being stuck on a wheel which keeps spinning. Each turn is like a new iteration of the birth-to-death journey.

This world belongs to Hari, after all. He is the source of both material and spiritual worlds. Only through His favor can we escape the cycle of birth and death. This is the established truth, siddhanta.

दैवी ह्य् एषा गुण-मयी
मम माया दुरत्यया
माम् एव ये प्रपद्यन्ते
मायाम् एतां तरन्ति ते

daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te

“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)

The other so-called miracles will not be able to help me in the long term. I could have an entire mountain of gold sitting in my backyard. I might be able to use my hands for walking. I could sell the excess of oil that I produced from sand.

The elapsed time continues to mount. Old age will slowly creep forward. There will be eventual loss of physical ability. There will be increased vulnerability to disease. Death is still the guaranteed end. None of the so­-called miracles will be able to help me after I am gone.

[Sita-Rama]Whereas bhajana of Hari will continue for life after life. It will easily bring liberation, but there is also an engagement to last. The Supreme Lord is bliss personified, paramananda, and He shares that bliss with those who are connected to Him.

In Closing:

What with ghee to do?
Or consider excess oil too.

When death still to take,
All my possessions to forsake.

Rather worshiping Hari to gain,
The highest goal to attain.

Established truth from forever time,
That only way liberation to find.

Categories: dohavali 121-160, the two

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