Matthew 8:2-3 -Answering Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati

If Christians accept the miracles of LORD Jesus Christ, why do the reject they miracles of 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.  


 

"And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." (8:2, 3.)

C. All these things are meant to ensnare ignorant men. If the Christians hold all these things, that are opposed to the dictum of knowledge and the laws of nature, to be true, why do they say that the stories about Shukracharya, Dhanvantri, Kashyap in the Puraanaas are false? For instance, it is recorded in the Mahabhaarat and the Puraanaas that the whole dead army of daityas friends was made alive. Kach the son of Vrilhaspat was cut into pieces that were eaten by fish and yet Shukracharya brought him back to life.

Again, the same sage killed Kach and gave it to be eaten and then made him alive in the stomach and brought him out as such. Shukracharya himself died and Kach brought him to life. The sage Kashyapa brought a tree and a man back to life that had been burnt to ashes.

Dhanvantri made hundreds of thousands of dead persons alive, cured millions of lepers, granted sight to hundreds and thousands of blind men and gave hearing to millions of deaf men. If these stories be false, why is not the story of Christ's having performed miracles also false? Why should a man not be called obstinate and unjust who calls whatever another person says, to be wrong and declares himself to be right, however wrong he may be? In like manner, all that the Christians say about the miracles of Christ is based on wrong-headed ness and injustice. It is a mere childish prattle.


Answer: As for the miracles being against the laws of nature, I have already answered it in the question on Matthew 1:18-20.

In this question, I will specifically answer on the differences between the miracles in Puranas and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let us begin by briefly mentioning about important characteristics of a myth as against ancient biography.

Mary Magoulick of the Georgia College & State University defines myth as:

From the Greek mythos, myth means story or word. Mythology is the study of myth. As stories (or narratives), myths articulate how characters undergo or enact  an ordered sequence of events. The term myth has come to refer to a certain genre (or category) of stories that share characteristics that make this genre distinctly different from other genres of oral narratives, such as legends and folktales. Many definitions of myth repeat similar general aspects of the genre and may be summarized thus: Myths are symbolic TALES OF THE DISTANT PAST (often primordial times) that concern cosmogony and cosmology (the origin and nature of the universe), may be connected to belief systems or rituals, and may serve to direct social action and values. The classic definition of myth from folklore studies finds clearest delineation in William Bascom’s article “The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives” where myths are defined as tales believed as true, usually sacred, set in the distant past or other worlds or parts of the world, and with extra-human, inhuman, or heroic characters. Such myths, often described as “cosmogonic,” or “origin” myths, function to provide order or cosmology, based on “cosmic” from the Greek kosmos meaning order (Leeming 1990, 3, 13; Bascom, 1965). Cosmology’s concern with the order of the universe finds narrative, symbolic expression in myths, which thus often help establish important values or aspects of a culture’s worldview.  For many people, myths remain value-laden discourse that explain much about human nature. (http://www.faculty.de.gcsu.edu/~mmagouli/defmyth.htm, emphasis mine).

Further, Mary Magoulick gives some of the important characteristics of the myth as:

1. A story that is or was considered a true explanation of the natural world (and how it came to be).

2. Characters are often non-human – e.g. gods, goddesses, supernatural beings, first people. 

3. Setting is a previous proto-world (somewhat like this one but also different).

4. Plot may involve interplay between worlds (this world and previous or original world).

5. Depicts events that bend or break natural laws (reflective of connection to previous world).

6.  Cosmogonic/metaphysical explanation of universe (formative of worldview).

7.  Functional: “Charter for social action” – conveys how to live: assumptions, values, core meanings of individuals, families, communities.

8. Evokes the presence of Mystery, the Unknown (has a “sacred” tinge).

9. Reflective and formative of basic structures (dualities: light/dark, good/bad, being/nothingness, raw/cooked, etc.) that we must reconcile. Dualities often mediated by characters in myths.

10. Common theme: language helps order the world (cosmos); thus includes many lists, names, etc.

11. Metaphoric, narrative consideration/explanation of “ontology” (study of being). Myths seek to answer, “Why are we here?” “Who are we?” “What is our purpose?” etc. – life’s fundamental questions.

12. Sometimes: the narrative aspect of a significant ritual (core narrative of most important religious practices of society; fundamentally connected to belief system; sometimes the source of rituals).

Miracles of the Gospels may have some similarities with these characteristics but it has numerous fundamental differences. However, having some characteristics of myth does not make anything a myth. For example, the philosophy attempts to answer the 11th characteristics mentioned above. Science itself tries to answer the first one in the list of characteristics. One of the fundamental differences between a myth and history/biography is that the myth happened in a previous age or previous world whereas history/biography is concerned about this age and world.

Now, let us see some of the differences between the Puranas and the Gospels.  

   
Author and the background of writing Ramayana:

Ramayana 1:2 The four-faced God, to meet the sage
Came to Válmíki's hermitage.
Soon as the mighty God he saw,
Up sprang the saint in wondering awe.
Mute, with clasped hands, his head he bent,
And stood before him reverent.
His honoured guest he greeted well,
Who bade him of his welfare tell;
Gave water for his blessed feet,
Brought offerings, 1 and prepared a seat,
In honoured place the God Most High
Sate down, and bade the saint sit nigh.
There sate before Válmíki's eyes
The Father of the earth and skies;
But still the hermit's thoughts were bent
On one thing only, all intent
On that poor curlew's mournful fate
Lamenting for her slaughtered mate;
And still his lips, in absent mood,
The verse that told his grief, renewed:
'Woe to the fowler's impious hand
That did the deed that folly planned;
That could to needless death devote
The curlew of the tuneful throat!'

The heavenly Father smiled in glee,
And said, 'O best of hermits', see,
A verse, unconscious thou hast made;
No longer be the task delayed.
Seek not to trace, with labour vain,
The unpremeditated strain.
The tuneful lines thy lips rehearsed
Spontaneous from thy bosom burst,
Then come, O best of seers, relate
The life of Ráma good and great,
The tale that saintly Nárad told,In all its glorious length unfold.
Of all the deeds his arm has done
Upon this earth, omit not one,
And thus the noble life record
Of that wise, brave, and virtuous lord.

His every act to day displayed,
His secret life to none betrayed:
How Lakshman, how the giants fought;
With high emprise and hidden thought:
And all that Janak's child   befell
Where all could see, where none could tell,
The whole of this shall truly be
Made known, O best of saints, to thee.
In all thy poem, through my grace,
No word of falsehood shall have place.
Begin the story, aud rehearse
The tale divine in charming verse.
As long as in this firm-set land
The streams shall flow, the mountains stand,
So long throughout the world, be sure,
The great Rámáyan shall endure.
While the Rámáyan's ancient strain
Shall glorious in the earth remain,
To higher spheres shalt thou arise
And dwell with me above the skies!
 He spoke, and vanished into air,
And left Válmíki wondering there.
The pupils of the holy man,
Moved by their love of him, began
To chant that verse, and ever more
They marvelled as they sang it o'er:
'Behold, the four-lined balanced rime,
Repeated over many a time,
In words that from the hermit broke
In shock of grief, becomes a s'loke.'
This measure now Válmíki chose
Wherein his story to compose.
In hundreds of such verses, sweet
With equal lines and even feet,
The saintly poet, lofty-souled,
The glorious deeds of Ráma told.

Mahabharata:  Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Section 1

The son of Satyavati having, by penance and meditation, analysed the eternal Veda, afterwards composed this holy history, when that learned Brahmarshi of strict vows, the noble Dwaipayana Vyasa, offspring of Parasara, had finished this greatest of narrations, he began to consider how he might teach it to his disciples. And the possessor of the six attributes, Brahma, the world's preceptor, knowing of the anxiety of the Rishi Dwaipayana, came in person to the place where the latter was, for gratifying the saint, and benefiting the people. And when Vyasa, surrounded by all the tribes of Munis, saw him, he was surprised; and, standing with joined palms, he bowed and ordered a seat to be brought. And Vyasa having gone round him who is called Hiranyagarbha seated on that distinguished seat stood near it; and being commanded by Brahma Parameshthi, he sat down near the seat, full of affection and smiling in joy.

Demigod Ganesa was the Scribe: Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Section 1

"Ganesa, upon hearing this address, thus answered, 'I will become the writer of thy work, provided my pen do not for a moment cease writing." And Vyasa said unto that divinity, 'Wherever there be anything thou dost not comprehend, cease to continue writing.' Ganesa having signified his assent, by repeating the word Om! proceeded to write; and Vyasa began; and by way of diversion, he knit the knots of composition exceeding close; by doing which, he dictated this work according to his engagement.

The Gospels

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Luke 1: 1-4 “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”

Purpose of the writing Ramayana 1:1

Of hermit saints, these words addressed: 1
'In all this world, I pray thee, who
Is virtuous, heroic, true?
Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,
To every creature good and kind?
Bounteous, and holy, just, and wise,
Alone most fair to all men's eyes?
Devoid of envy, firm, and sage,
Whose tranquil sou

l ne'er yields to rage?
Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,
Do Gods embattled fear and fly?
Whose noble might and gentle skill
The triple world can guard from ill?
Who is the best of princes, he
Who loves his people's good to see?
The store of bliss, the living mine
Where brightest joys and virtues shine?
Queen Fortune's  best and dearest friend,
Whose steps her choicest gifts attend?
Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
With Indra,  Vishnu,  Fire, and Air?
Grant, Saint divine, the boon I ask,
For thee, I ween, an easy task,
To whom the power is given to know
If such a man breathe here below.'

Then Nárad, clear before whose eyeThe present, past, and future lie,
Made ready answer: 'Hermit, where
Are graces found so high and rare?
Yet listen, and my tongue shall tell
In whom alone these virtues dwell.
From old Ikshváku's   line he came,
Known to the world by Ráma's name:
With soul subdued, a chief of might,
In Scripture versed, in glory bright,
His steps in virtue's paths are bent,
Obedient, pure, and eloquent.
In each emprise he wins success,
And dying foes his power confess.
Tall and broad-shouldered, strong of limb,
Fortune has set her mark on him.
Graced with a conch-shell's triple line,
His threat displays the auspicious sign.

Mahabharata Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Section 1

Purpose- (check the characteristics of myth 1 & 6-12 and read the following): Then the greatly glorious Vyasa, addressing Brahma Parameshthi, said, "O divine Brahma, by me a poem hath been composed which is greatly respected. The mystery of the Veda, and what other subjects have been explained by me; the various rituals of the Upanishads with the Angas; the compilation of the Puranas and history formed by me and named after the three divisions of time, past, present, and future; the determination of the nature of decay, fear, disease, existence, and non-existence, a description of creeds and of the various modes of life; rule for the four castes, and the import of all the Puranas; an account of asceticism and of the duties of a religious student; the dimensions of the sun and moon, the planets, constellations, and stars, together with the duration of the four ages; the Rik, Sama and Yajur Vedas; also the Adhyatma; the sciences called Nyaya, Orthœphy and Treatment of diseases; charity and Pasupatadharma; birth celestial and human, for particular purposes; also a description of places of pilgrimage and other holy places of rivers, mountains, forests, the ocean, of heavenly cities and the kalpas; the art of war; the different kinds of nations and languages: the nature of the manners of the people; and the all-pervading spirit;–all these have been represented. But, after all, no writer of this work is to be found on earth.'

"Brahma said. 'I esteem thee for thy knowledge of divine mysteries, before the whole body of celebrated Munis distinguished for the sanctity of their lives. I know thou hast revealed the divine word, even from its first utterance, in the language of truth. Thou hast called thy present work a poem, wherefore it shall be a poem. There shall be no poets whose works may equal the descriptions of this poem, even, as the three other modes called Asrama are ever unequal in merit to the domestic Asrama. Let Ganesa be thought of, O Muni, for the purpose of writing the poem.'

"Sauti said, 'Brahma having thus spoken to Vyasa, retired to his own abode. Then Vyasa began to call to mind Ganesa. And Ganesa, obviator of obstacles, ready to fulfil the desires of his votaries, was no sooner thought of, than he repaired to the place where Vyasa was seated. And when he had been saluted, and was seated, Vyasa addressed him thus, 'O guide of the Ganas! be thou the writer of the Bharata which I have formed in my imagination, and which I am about to repeat."

The Gospels:

John 21: 24 “This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” 

Events Happened- Time Period: Myths in the previous ages. Check the definition of a myth:

Ramayana

(Treta Yuga, before Dwapara Yuga and therefore much before this present age-Kali Yuga)

Mahabharata: 

When Krishna died and returned to his abode, Dwapara Yuga ended and the Kali Yuga began.

Bhagavad Purana 12:2: 25-34 “Thus I have briefly described all the kings of the past, the present and the future who belong to the solar and lunar dynasties. Beginning from the birth of your good self up until the coronation of king Nanda eleven hundred and fifty years will pass]. When the constellation of the seven sages (Ursa Major, the Great Bear) rises are the first two of them (Pulaha and Kratu) seen in the sky, in between them on the same line [northwest] in the night sky is their [ruling] lunar mansion seen. The sages [the stars] connected remain with that lunar mansion for a hundred human years. Now, in your time, are the twice-born situated in the nakshatra called Maghâ. With Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, the sun known as Krishna having returned to heaven, this world has entered the age of Kali in which people delight in sin. For as long as He, the Husband of Ramâ, touched the earth with His lotus feet, Kali couldn't really take possession of her. When the [constellation of the] seven sages among the gods enter[s] Maghâ, Kali-yuga begins. That period covers twelve hundred [godly] years. When the seven sages pass from Maghâ to the lunar mansion of Pûrvâsâdhâ, will from the time of [Mahâpadma] Nanda and his descendants on, this age of Kali gain its full strength. The historians say that the day that S'rî Krishna left for the spiritual abode, the age of Kali commenced. At the end of the thousand celestial years of the fourth age, will Krita-yuga start again, the time when the minds of man are self-luminous.”

The Gospels– the present history period:

Luke 2: 1-5 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 firs

t 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. 

Main Characters: Myths- many supernatural beings Check the second important characteristics of the myth:

Ramayana

In Ramayana, many characters apart from Rama were not ordinary human beings but were the children of some other deities.

-Sita- avatar of Lakshmi.
-Lakshmana- avatar of the thousand headed serpent- Ananta Shesha.
-Hanuman- Son of the deity wind.

Mahabharata

In the Mahabharata, not only Krishna who was said to be an incarnation even  many other main characters in this story were not ordinary human beings but the children of some deities. A few examples are:

– Bhishma- son of the goddess Ganga.
– Karna- son of the Vedic deity Sun (Surya) through Kunti.
– Yudhisthira- son of the deity Dharama through Kunti.
– Bhima- son of the Vedic deity Vayu.
– Arjuna- son of the Vedic deity Indra through Kunti. – Nakula and Sahadeva, from the twin gods the Asvins through Madri.

Gospels of Jesus Christ Apart from LORD Jesus Christ, who is the incarnation of second person of Triune Yahweh God, all other main characters are ordinary human beings whether it is His adopted father Joseph, or mother Mary, brothers and sisters, or the twelve apostles etc.


The Hindu Puranas thus perfectly fit into the definition of myths which were common in other parts of the world whether in Greece or in Rome.

However, the New Testament Gospels do not fit into myths rather they fall under the history or biography.

So, for the question as to why a Christian would reject the stories in the Hindu Puranas is simple- they are mere myths with no connection to reality.

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