LETTER: Milk miracle was no `sinister Hindu plot'

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The Independent Online
From Mr P. Gupta

Sir: The sensational news and television pictures of Hindu idols imbibing milk offered by devotees has generated a mixed reaction in the media, and various explanations for the phenomenon have been proffered. Capillarity seems to be the most popular one. Why then did it not happen before, and on a regular basis all over the world, given that the idols were of different densities and were composed of different cavities?

Why also the bizarre coincidence that the episode took place over the same period of time (between Friday and Saturday, 23-23 September), when it was observed in disparate parts of the world separated by thousands of miles? Given that the temperature, humidity and other climatic conditions vary greatly in different places, why is it that all the supposed cavities in the supposedly porous idols responded identically and simultaneously when milk was given? What scientific theory can plausibly explain why and how idols made of marble, various stones, bronze, silver and clay all began to drink milk over the same period of time the world over?

Most idols are ritually bathed in milk and water on a daily basis and, as a consequence, the argument that the idols were bone dry and thus highly absorbent before the milk was offered on Friday is a non-starter. Also the idols, once they had had their fill of milk, would have had their structures so weakened that they would have collapsed on their own accord or could have been easily crushed with minimal force. This was clearly not the case. How also do you account for the fact that many tiny idols drank several times their volume of milk? Where did the milk go?

If an unscrupulous guru had orchestrated the entire episode, that must imply he had global powers that extended into the living rooms of ordinary households in faraway places. That sounds rather far-fetched.

When people claimed that various Madonnas had shed tears, there were no theories propounded of a Catholic plot. Why has the milk miracle been equated with a sinister Hindu plot?

Are miracles the preserve of the so-called monotheistic religions or the religions of the book alone? Is the milk miracle such a great blow to the iconoclasts and to the followers of other faiths that supposedly do not believe in idols, despite the fact that Christians have their crucifixes and statues and Moslems have their Kaaba?

Does the affirmation of belief and faith by the Hindu masses have to be a body blow to the religious beliefs of people subscribing to other persuasions? While the idols worshipped in the West are either rock stars or thespians and largely restricted to the temporal plane, idol veneration in India tends to be mainly theological.

Yours faithfully,

P. Gupta

London, W1

26 September