Matthew 1:18-20 -Answering Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati

Is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ believable? How is it different from the story of Kunti being conceived of the sun in Puranas?


 Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.  


 

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was this wise: When as his mother Mary espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost…..behold the angel of the lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto the Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." (1:18-20)

C. ~ No educated man can ever believe in such things as are oppose to all kinds of evidence (such as direct Cognition. Inference, etc.) and to the laws of nature. Only people in a state of barbarism can believe them. It does not become educated and civilized men to do so. Breathes there a man who could violate the laws of God? Should anyone succeed in subverting His law, no one will ever obey His commandments, nor would God Himself break His own laws as He is Omniscient and infallible.

If this story of the birth of the Christ were held to be true, an unmarried girl that happens to conceive could say that she was with child of the Holy Ghost. She could also falsely say that the angel of the Lord told her in a dream "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost"! This story is as possible as that recorded in the Puraanas about Kunti being conceived of the Sun. Only those who have 'more money than brains' can believe in such things and fall an easy prey to superstition. It must have happened like this that Mary co-habited with someone and thereby became enceinte. She or someone else gave out (such an impossible thing) that she had conceived of the Holy Ghost.


Answer: There are different arguments that Maharishi tried to put forward against the virgin birth. Let us look at those one by one.

(a) This is opposed to the laws of nature: This argument is definitely not a Vedic wisdom but an argument borrowed from the “enlightenment” in Europe. David Hume wrote that: “A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined” (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X, Of Miracles Part I).

However, as C S Lewis pointed out that miracles are not violation of the laws of nature but only a suspension of a few laws of nature. This can be explained like this- a ball that is dropped must fall into the floor. Gravitational law demands it. But should it always? No. If someone can catch it, then the law of gravitation can be overruled. What overrules the law of gravitation is the human intervention.

Similarly, can God intervene in the nature? Unless someone is committed to deism (where God does not act in the world though He created it), pantheism (where god and nature are one) or atheism (where there is no god), this possibility cannot be ruled out.

God intervenes in the nature and therefore miracles are possible. So was the case of the birth of Jesus Christ.

This very question of how a virgin can conceive was first asked by none other than Mary herself. Mary asked the question from the point of view of the laws of nature. The reply was that it is possible through the supernatural intervention.

Luke 1:30-35 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"  And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 

So the question that Maharishi asked had already been answered in the Holy Bible. Natural law is suspended as there is a divine intervention.

We will go to the second aspect of the question.

(b) Are not the laws of nature made by God? If yes, why will the omniscient God violate it? If it can be violated, why cannot one violate the other laws of God?

Maharishi is confused between laws of nature which are descriptive in nature as against moral law which are prescriptive in nature. For example, natural law is the description of how things generally happen. Moral laws are prescriptions of how human behavior ought to be. Overruling a natural law only shows that there can be exceptions to general descriptions. In contrast, a violation of a moral law is a violation of a prescription, a value judgment and therefore wrong in itself. So, Maharishi has confused the general descriptions (natural laws) with prescriptions (moral laws).

That brings us to the  third aspect of the question.

(c) Was Mary simply lying? Can’t other girls say the same thing?

Let us look at closely the birth narrative of LORD Jesus Christ and the incidents that surrounded it to see if it was a case of simple lying.

Point 1: There were at least two witnesses who got the revelation apart from Mary to attest this. It was not simply Mary alone.

One was her betrothed husband Joseph who also got a vision and accepted it. It is highly unlikely that a righteous betrothed husband should accept such a story if there were no clear divine guidance which Joseph received (Matthew 1:18-22).

Second, it was not Joseph alone even Elizabeth, an elderly and godly woman, attested this (Luke 1:41-45). Remember when Mary visited Elizabeth, Mary was still an unmarried virgin.

So, it was not simply one unmarried girl saying something but there were attestations from two unlikely quarters – from a righteous betrothed husband and a godly elderly woman.

Point 2: This was prophesied well in advance.

This virgin birth was prophesied by Prophet Isaiah almost 600 years before the event took place.  

Isaiah 7: 4 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

There were other prophecies regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. That He will be born in Bethlehem-

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."

That He will be in the lineage of King David-

Jeremiah 23:5 "Beho

ld, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 

The fulfillment of these is recorded in the following ways:

Luke 2:1-7 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger.

Point 3: This was clearly recorded as a ONE TIME incident and not to be repeated again.

Not the only virgin birth of Messiah was prophesized; the incarnation was recorded as a once and for all event not occurred before or repeated after.  

Hebrews 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, ONCE at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 

So, if any girl claiming an equal conception can easily be disregarded in the clear light of the Holy Scripture. Thus, the virgin birth of Jesus was well attested by at least the witness of two, prophesized centuries before and recorded as a one time event.

Point 4: Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit supernaturally and miraculously without any hint of sexual relationship.

This point is important as we will shortly examine a story from Purana. God Holy Spirit, as the creator, does not fall into the category of procreators of either male or female.

When Mary asked how she can conceive when she has not known a man, the answer was depending on the omnipotence of the Holy God and not on any relations with any being.

Further, when one closely examines the passage in Luke, one can observe that the terminology that is used in the Gospel is same as the terminology that is used in the Old Testament for filling or anointment of the Holy Spirit which never carried any sexual connotation.

Luke 1:30-35 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"  And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.   

Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim. 

Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced [toward] the people of Ammon.

Judges 15:14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.

Isaiah 61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

Point 5: Son who was born is said to be God Himself without beginning. This must be again borne in mind as we examine the next aspect of the question.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."

Matthew 1:22-23 so all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."    

Luke 1:30-35 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"  And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, THAT HOLY ONE who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Having seen at six reasons why it cannot be a lie and a few unique aspects of the birth of Christ, let us now move the fourth aspect of the question.

(d) Is it same as Kunti being conceived of the Sun.

No. Any a careful reader of the text would see the significant differences.

Let me begin by quoting the relevant portion from Mahabharata.

Mahabharata 1: Adi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section 112 "Vaisampayana continued, 'There was amongst the Yadavas a chief named Sura. He was the father of Vasudeva. And he had a daughter called Pritha, who was unrivalled for beauty on earth. And, O thou of Bharata's race, Sura, always truthful in speech, gave from friendship this his firstborn daughter unto his childless cousin and friend, the illustrious Kuntibhoja–the son of his paternal aunt–pursuant to a former promise. And Pritha in the house of her adoptive father was engaged in looking after the duties of hospitality to Brahmanas and other guests. Once she gratified by her attentions the terrible Brahmana of rigid vows, who was known by the name of Durvasa and was well-acquainted with the hidden truths of moralit

y. Gratified with her respectful attentions, the sage, anticipating by his spiritual power the future (season of) distress (consequent upon the curse to be pronounced upon Pandu for his unrighteous act of slaying a deer while serving its mate) imparted to her a formula of invocation for summoning any of the celestials she liked to give her children. And the Rishi said, 'Those celestials that thou shall summon by this Mantra shall certainly approach thee and give thee children.' 'Thus addressed by the Brahmana, the amiable Kunti (Pritha) became curious, and in her maidenhood summoned the god Arka (Sun). And as soon as he pronounced the Mantra, she beheld that effulgent deity–that beholder of everything in the world–approaching her. And beholding that extraordinary sight, the maiden of faultless features was overcome with surprise. But the god Vivaswat (Sun) approaching her, said, 'Here I am, O black-eyed girl! Tell me what I am to do for thee.'

"Hearing this, Kunti said, 'O slayer of foes, a certain Brahamana gave me this formula of invocation as a boon, and, O lord, I have summoned thee only to test its efficacy. For this offence I bow to thee. A woman, whatever be her offence, always deserveth pardon.' Surya (Sun) replied, 'I know that Durvasa hath granted this boon. But cast off thy fears, timid maiden, and grant me thy embraces. Amiable one, my approach cannot be futile; it must bear fruit. Thou hast summoned me, and if it be for nothing, it shall certainly be regarded as thy transgression.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Vivaswat thus spoke unto her many things with a view to allay her fears, but, O Bharata, the amiable maiden, from modesty and fear of her relatives, consented not to grant his request. And, O bull of Bharata's race, Arka addressed her again and said, 'O princess, for my sake, it shall not be sinful for thee to grant my wish.' Thus speaking unto the daughter of Kuntibhoja, the illustrious Tapana–the illuminator of the universe–gratified his wish. And of this connection there was immediately born a son known all over the world as Karna accountred with natural armour and with face brightened by ear-rings. And the heroic Karna was the first of all wielders of weapons, blessed with good fortune, and endued with the beauty of a celestial child. And after the birth of this child, the illustrious Tapana granted unto Pritha her maidenhood and ascended to heaven. And the princess of the Vrishni race beholding with sorrow that son born of her, reflected intently upon what was then the best for her to do. And from fear of her relatives she resolved to conceal that evidence of her folly. And she cast her offspring endued with great physical strength into the water. Then the well-known husband of Radha, of the Suta caste, took up the child thus cast into the water, and he and his wife brought him up as their own son. And Radha and her husband bestowed on him the name of Vasusena (born with wealth) because he was born with a natural armour and ear-rings. And endued as he was born with great strength, as he grew up, he became skilled in all weapons. Possessed of great energy, he used to adore the sun until his back was heated by his rays (i.e., from dawn to midday), and during the hours of worship, there was nothing on earth that the heroic and intelligent Vasusena would not give unto the Brahmanas. And Indra desirous of benefiting his own son Phalguni (Arjuna), assuming the form of a Brahmana, approached Vasusena on one occasion and begged of him his natural armour. Thus asked Karna took off his natural armour, and joining his hands in reverence gave it unto Indra in the guise of a Brahmana. And the chief of the celestials accepted the gift and was exceedingly gratified with Karna's liberality. He therefore, gave unto him a fine dart, saying, 'That one (and one only) among the celestials, the Asuras, men, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, and the Rakshasas, whom thou desirest to conquer, shall be certainly slain with this dart.'

"The son of Surya was before this known by the name of Vasusena. But since he cut off his natural armour, he came to be called Karna (the cutter or peeler of his own cover).'"

Points we can observe:

a) There is a mantra that can be invoked to invite a deity to conceive: This is not recorded as a singular or unique event but any Swami with enough Yogic power may get to know of this mantra and pass it on to some girls. In other words, this can be a regular event.

b) Deity is a male and child is born through normal intercourse except that this male is not an ordinary male: Surya, here, attempts his best to persuade Kunti to have relation with him and finally succeeded in that. In other words, the conception is not miraculous except that the male involved is not an ordinary human being.  

c) There is absolutely no doubt in the mind of woman how she can conceive: Again, if it is similar to virgin birth, why was Kunti not surprised? Kunti knew how she would be conceived and she tried to dissuade Surya from having relationship with her.

(d) The child born is normal human being with many exceeding skills but is not said to be one without beginning in the sense of being the creator Himself. Karna, while surely be remarked for his generosity, strict adherence to vow, and exceptional skills as a warrior is no never said to be the creator God himself. This point is specific to this story while one cannot rule out similar claims for other Puranic stories.

Let us summarize the differences: 

# Aspect Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ Kunti’s Conception Through Sun
1 Conceived by Holy Spirit – God without gender Sun- a male
2 Conceived through Omnipotence of God- miraculously without any physical relationship Through normal physical relationship of conception
3 Initiation Prophecy by the Holy God centuries before Mantra as taught by a Yogi
4 Possibility of occurring in the future or having occurred in the past None. Recorded as a one time event with no past occurrence and no possibility in the future Kunti later taught this mantra to Madri, second wife of Pandava. Nakula and Sahadeva were born, from the twin gods the Asvins through Madri. If some girl can learn this mantra, this can be repeated again and again.  In the earlier Yugas of Hindu Puranas, many other also had children born through deities. In the past it occurred, it happened after this incident and can repeat again. 
5 Nature of the child Everlasting one without beginnin

g, the creator – Mighty God Himself

Normal human being with exceptional skills


Thus we see that Maharishi’s comparison of Virgin birth of Jesus Christ with Kunti’s conception through Sun was the result of a careless, shallow and superficial reading.

Before we move on to the next question, let us see if the Vedas (and not Puranas which Maharishi anyway derides) speaks of some unusual births.

Rig Veda 4:18:1-13

1. THIS is the ancient and accepted pathway by which all Gods have come into existence. Hereby could one be born though waxen mighty. Let him not, otherwise, destroy his Mother.

2 Not this way go I forth: hard is the passage. Forth from the side obliquely will I issue. Much that is yet undone must I accomplish; one must I combat and the other question.

3 He bent his eye upon the dying Mother: My word I now withdraw. That way I follow. In Tvaṣṭar's dwelling India drank the Soma, a hundredworth of juice pressed from the mortar.

4 What strange act shall he do, he whom his Mother bore for a thousand months and many autumns? No peer hath he among those born already, nor among those who shall be born hereafter.

5 Deeming him a reproach, his mother hid him, Indra, endowed with all heroic valour. Then up he sprang himself, assumed his vesture, and filled, as soon as born, the earth and heaven.

6 With lively motion onward flow these waters, the Holy Ones, shouting, as ’twere, together. Ask them to tell thee what the floods are saying, what girdling rock the waters burst asunder.

7 Are they addressing him with words of welcome? Will the floods take on them the shame of Indra? With his great thunderbolt my Son hath slaughtered Vtra, and set these rivers free to wander.

8 I cast thee from me, mine,—thy youthful mother: thee, mine own offspring, Kusava hath swallowed. To him, mine infant, were the waters gracious. Indra, my Son, rose up in conquering vigour.  

9 Thou art mine own, O Maghavan, whom Vyasa struck to the ground and smote thy jaws in pieces. But, smitten through, the mastery thou wonnest, and with thy bolt the Dāsa's head thou crushedst.

10 The Heifer hath brought forth the Strong, the Mighty, the unconquerable Bull, the furious Indra. The Mother left her unlicked Calf to wander, seeking himself, the path that he would follow.

11 Then to her mighty Child the Mother turned her, saying, My son, these Deities forsake thee. Then Indra said, about to slaughter Vtra, O my friend Vtra, stride full boldly forward.

12 Who was he then who made thy Mother widow? Who sought to stay thee lying still or moving? What God, when by the foot thy Sire thou tookest and slewest, was at hand to give thee comfort?

13 In deep distress I cooked a dog's intestines. Among the Gods I found not one to comfort. My consort I beheld in degradation. The Falcon then brought me the pleasant Soma.

We read that Indra was borne by his mother for thousand months and many autumns.

Shall we now say with Maharishi that “No educated man can ever believe in such things as are oppose to all kinds of evidence (such as direct Cognition Inference, etc.) and to the laws of nature. Only people in a state of barbarism can believe them. It does not become educated and civilized men to do so. Breathes there a man who could violate the laws of God? Should anyone succeed in subverting His law, no one will ever obey His commandments, nor would God Himself break His own laws as He is Omniscient and infallible.”

Or do Maharishi’s standards apply only when it suits him?

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