Do you like this website?
Please support Integral World!
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
David Christopher Lane
Professor of Philosophy, Mt. San Antonio College Lecturer in Religious Studies, California State University, Long Beach Author of Exposing Cults: When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical
(New York and London: Garland Publishers, 1994) and The Radhasoami Tradition: A Critical History of Guru Succession
(New York and London: Garland Publishers, 1992).
SEE MORE ESSAYS WRITTEN BY DAVID LANE
The Skeptical Yogi
Part Eight:Kriya Yoga, Reincarnation,
and Lahiri Mahasaya's Miracles
26. KRIYA YOGA
The following is a veritable minefield of good information encased in questionable historical exegesis and hyperbolic pretensions that plunge off the cliff of plausibility. It is a literary package that should come with a warning emblazoned in bold: reader beware! You are entering into an astral mix of sense and insensibility.
“Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.
Kriya is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his guru, Babaji, who rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.
'The Kriya Yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century,' Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, 'is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples.'
Kriya Yoga is referred to by Krishna, India's greatest prophet, in a stanza of the Bhagavad Gita: "Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control.' The interpretation is: 'The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control.'
Krishna also relates that it was he, in a former incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to Manu, the great legislator. He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father of India's solar warrior dynasty. Passing thus from one to another, the royal yoga was guarded by the rishis until the coming of the materialistic ages. Then, due to priestly secrecy and man's indifference, the sacred knowledge gradually became inaccessible.
Kriya Yoga is mentioned twice by the ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, who wrote: 'Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Aum.' Patanjali speaks of God as the actual Cosmic Sound of Aum heard in meditation. Aum is the Creative Word, the sound of the Vibratory Motor. Even the yoga-beginner soon inwardly hears the wondrous sound of Aum. Receiving this blissful spiritual encouragement, the devotee becomes assured that he is in actual touch with divine realms.
Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or Kriya technique thus: 'Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.'
St. Paul knew Kriya Yoga, or a technique very similar to it, by which he could switch life currents to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: 'Verily, I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ, I die daily.' By daily withdrawing his bodily life force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of maya.”
A Skeptical Analysis
Let me say right at the outset that I think Kriya Yoga works, but not for the reasons that Yogananda thinks. I have noticed that in many spiritual practices from around the world that advocates tend to believe that their specific discipline is also found in all (or most) of the world's religions, but under different names. They want to find a universality to their particular sadhana, but in so doing tend to either overstate their case or completely misunderstand the stark differences between them.
For example, Yogananda alleges that Krishna, Patanjali, Jesus, St. Paul (New Testament), Elijah (Old Testament), Kabir, “and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.”
Let's unpack Yogananda's most audacious claim first: 1. these past mystics were able to “dematerialize at will.” There is no substantiated evidence that Kabir or St. John or Patanjali could actually deconstruct their material corpus by conscious will power. This is pure and simple hyperbole which has no basis in historical fact. Moreover, there is also no evidence (outside of Yogananda's peculiar hermeneutics at play) that the Kriya Yoga technique was employed by Jewish or Christian mystics. Yes, they may have had their own spiritual disciplines, but it is a stretch, lacking hard proof, that these were almost exactly the same as “Kriya Yoga [which] is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers.”
2. While Kriya Yoga is undoubtedly helpful to those fortunate to take up its system of exercises, the reasons for its efficacy may have nothing to do with “transmuting cells into pure energy.” The exact science behind how and why Kriya Yoga works is still open to scientific investigation and discussion. Some suggestive studies have been conducted and the results are encouraging, but they shouldn't be overly hyped.
Erik Hoffman in his article, “Mapping the brains activity after Kriya Yoga,” has summarized some of the results so far:
“The considerable increase in alpha and theta activity in most regions of the brain after meditation (fig. 4) indicates that the brain is deeply relaxed and focused following Kriya Yoga. It also shows that, through the meditation, the subjects have obtained a better contact with their subconscious and their emotions. The great increase of alpha in the right temporal lobe is an interesting finding. Recent research in the US has shown that depressed, introvert people have more alpha in the left fronto-temporal region, while optimistic, extrovert people have more alpha in the right side. According to the research, an increase of alpha in the right side, as found in this study of Kriya Yoga, counteracts stress and depression. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that theta rhythms in the EEG (mixed with alpha) correlate with the appearance of previously unconscious feelings, images and memories. Brain researchers claim that a person in the high alpha/theta state is able to confront and integrate unconscious processes. This knowledge from modern research supports the experience that yogis have had from Kriya Yoga over thousands of years, that the meditative state, characterised by high alpha/theta activity, can bring about a release or “cleansing” of unconscious material in a person. This study demonstrates that Kriya Yoga is an extremely effective technique for raising the alpha/theta activity in the EEG and therefore it also strengthens the associated positive effects.”
Another study was conducted on “Effect of Sudarshan Kriya (meditation) on gamma, alpha, and theta rhythm during working memory task” which was published in the International Journal of Yoga. The authors, Sushil Chandra, Greeshma Sharma, Alok Prakash Mittal, and Devendra Jha explains the gist in their published abstract,
Aims: The present study focuses on analyzing the effects of Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY) on brain signals during a working memory (WM) task. To envision the significant effects of SKY on WM capacity (WMC), we chose a control group for contriving a cogent comparison that could be corroborated using statistical tests.
Subjects and Methods:
A total of 25 subjects were taken in the study, of which 10 were allotted to a control group and 15 to an experimental group. Electroencephalograph was taken during a WM task, which was an automated operation span test before and after SKY with 90 days intervals. No SKY was given to the control group.
Statistical Analysis Used: t-test and one-way ANOVA were applied.
Results: SKY promoted the efficient use of energy and power spectral density (PSD) for different brain rhythms in the desired locations as depicted by the gamma (F8 channel), alpha, and theta 2 (F7 and FC5) bands. It was found that gamma PSD reduced for both phases of memory in the experimental group. Alpha energy increased during the retrieval phase in the experimental group after SKY. Theta 1 rhythm was not affected by SKY, but theta 2 had shown left hemispheric activation. Theta rhythm was associated with memory consolidation.
Conclusions: SKY had shown minimized energy losses while performing the task. SKY can improve WMC by changing the brain rhythms such that energy is utilized efficiently in performing the task.
As a lifelong practitioner of shabd yoga, I understand from my own personal experiences that listening to the inner sound current is an invigorating practice and has much to recommend. However, I think we should be cautious before making absolute claims about what it ultimately means and its final ontological status. Yogananda himself may have first learned how to perform shabd yoga exercises from an initiate of the Radhasoami path. The technique is extremely simple. Sitting in a comfortable posture, the neophyte plugs both his ears and concentrates on the subtle inner sounds he/she hears from the center or right side of their head. The key, after long practice, is to listen to progressively subtler sounds, particularly a bell sound in the beginning which becomes more refined over time.
Yogananda's organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, uses a wooden T stick known as an Aum Board which allows the student to rest his elbows while plugging each ear. I too have used the same device and have even built a number of them as well.
The catch here is that we tend to conflate our inner experiences with an outward theological doctrine, believing that the latter is necessary for the former. Because of this unnecessary conflation we interpret inner phenomena as happening beyond our brains, when on closer inspection they may be part and parcel of our own neurological potentials. In sum, we tend to elevate our meditational experiences into wild eyed testimonies for the divine or our chosen path, neglecting a more grounded and reasoned approach to what may be happening.
28. THE REINCARNATED SOUL
This a heart wrenching story of how a young boy, Kashi, unexpectedly dies and Yogananda goes in search of his new incarnation. The questions it raises about reincarnation is deeply troublesome and controversial, particularly as how it can influence our treatment of others who believe in such a doctrine.
“After answering many questions, I was addressed by a lad named Kashi. He was about twelve years old, a brilliant student, and beloved by all.
'Sir,' he said, 'what will be my fate?'
'You shall soon be dead.' The reply came from my lips with an irresistible force.
This unexpected disclosure shocked and grieved me as well as everyone present. Silently rebuking myself as an enfant terrible, I refused to answer further questions.
On our return to the school, Kashi came to my room.
'If I die, will you find me when I am reborn, and bring me again to the spiritual path?' He sobbed.
I felt constrained to refuse this difficult occult responsibility. But for weeks afterward, Kashi pressed me doggedly. Seeing him unnerved to the breaking point, I finally consoled him.
'Yes,' I promised. 'If the Heavenly Father lends His aid, I will try to find you.'
During the summer vacation, I started on a short trip. Regretting that I could not take Kashi with me, I called him to my room before leaving, and carefully instructed him to remain, against all persuasion, in the spiritual vibrations of the school. Somehow I felt that if he did not go home, he might avoid the impending calamity.
No sooner had I left than Kashi's father arrived in Ranchi. For fifteen days he tried to break the will of his son, explaining that if Kashi would go to Calcutta for only four days to see his mother, he could then return. Kashi persistently refused. The father finally said he would take the boy away with the help of the police. The threat disturbed Kashi, who was unwilling to be the cause of any unfavorable publicity to the school. He saw no choice but to go.
I returned to Ranchi a few days later. When I heard how Kashi had been removed, I entrained at once for Calcutta. There I engaged a horse cab. Very strangely, as the vehicle passed beyond the Howrah bridge over the Ganges, I beheld Kashi's father and other relatives in mourning clothes. Shouting to my driver to stop, I rushed out and glared at the unfortunate father.
'Mr. Murderer,' I cried somewhat unreasonably, 'you have killed my boy''
The father had already realized the wrong he had done in forcibly bringing Kashi to Calcutta. During the few days the boy had been there, he had eaten contaminated food, contracted cholera, and passed on.
My love for Kashi, and the pledge to find him after death, night and day haunted me. No matter where I went, his face loomed up before me. I began a memorable search for him, even as long ago I had searched for my lost mother.
I felt that inasmuch as God had given me the faculty of reason, I must utilize it and tax my powers to the utmost in order to discover the subtle laws by which I could know the boy's astral whereabouts. He was a soul vibrating with unfulfilled desires, I realized-a mass of light floating somewhere amidst millions of luminous souls in the astral regions. How was I to tune in with him, among so many vibrating lights of other souls?
Using a secret yoga technique, I broadcasted my love to Kashi's soul through the microphone of the spiritual eye, the inner point between the eyebrows. With the antenna of upraised hands and fingers, I often turned myself round and round, trying to locate the direction in which he had been reborn as an embryo. I hoped to receive response from him in the concentration-tuned radio of my heart.
I intuitively felt that Kashi would soon return to the earth, and that if I kept unceasingly broadcasting my call to him, his soul would reply. I knew that the slightest impulse sent by Kashi would be felt in my fingers, hands, arms, spine, and nerves.
With undiminished zeal, I practiced the yoga method steadily for about six months after Kashi's death. Walking with a few friends one morning in the crowded Bowbazar section of Calcutta, I lifted my hands in the usual manner. For the first time, there was response. I thrilled to detect electrical impulses trickling down my fingers and palms. These currents translated themselves into one overpowering thought from a deep recess of my consciousness: 'I am Kashi; I am Kashi; come to me!'
The thought became almost audible as I concentrated on my heart radio. In the characteristic, slightly hoarse whisper of Kashi, I heard his summons again and again. I seized the arm of one of my companions, Prokash Das, and smiled at him joyfully.
'It looks as though I have located Kashi!'
I began to turn round and round, to the undisguised amusement of my friends and the passing throng. The electrical impulses tingled through my fingers only when I faced toward a near-by path, aptly named "Serpentine Lane." The astral currents disappeared when I turned in other directions.
'Ah,' I exclaimed, 'Kashi's soul must be living in the womb of some mother whose home is in this lane.'
My companions and I approached closer to Serpentine Lane; the vibrations in my upraised hands grew stronger, more pronounced. As if by a magnet, I was pulled toward the right side of the road. Reaching the entrance of a certain house, I was astounded to find myself transfixed. I knocked at the door in a state of intense excitement, holding my very breath. I felt that the successful end had come for my long, arduous, and certainly unusual quest!
The door was opened by a servant, who told me her master was at home. He descended the stairway from the second floor and smiled at me inquiringly. I hardly knew how to frame my question, at once pertinent and impertinent.
'Please tell me, sir, if you and your wife have been expecting a child for about six months?'
'Yes, it is so.' Seeing that I was a swami, a renunciate attired in the traditional orange cloth, he added politely, 'Pray inform me how you know my affairs.'
When he heard about Kashi and the promise I had given, the astonished man believed my story.
'A male child of fair complexion will be born to you,' I told him. 'He will have a broad face, with a cowlick atop his forehead. His disposition will be notably spiritual.' I felt certain that the coming child would bear these resemblances to Kashi.
Later I visited the child, whose parents had given him his old name of Kashi. Even in infancy he was strikingly similar in appearance to my dear Ranchi student. The child showed me an instantaneous affection; the attraction of the past awoke with redoubled intensity.
Years later the teen-age boy wrote me, during my stay in America. He explained his deep longing to follow the path of a renunciate. I directed him to a Himalayan master who, to this day, guides the reborn Kashi.
A Skeptical Analysis
This may come as a jolt to my more contemptuous readers, but a major part of Yogananda's story rings true. I say this because it is obvious that when he blurted out that young Kashi would die, Yogananda didn't intend to make such a prophecy. And when he did, it bothered him for being so careless.
I remember Faqir Chand, the famous “unknowing” sage of Hoshiarpur, telling me that he would often make predictions and say them aloud spontaneously, not quite sure why he said what he did. It was an intuition on his part and oftentimes his auguring turned out to be true. This made him more careful in the future since he sometimes spoke things that caused pain both to himself and the recipient.
Given Yogananda's belief in psychic powers and the like, it is not hard to imagine that he would speak impulsively, probably sensing something psychologically about one of his students. As a college teacher for the past thirty-six years, I too often have hunches about students I teach and what their future prospects may hold. We all do this as human beings, but we know too well that it has nothing to do with paranormal abilities.
In this case, after Yogananda says that the young boy was going to die, he tries to make sure that his prophecy doesn't come true and apparently tries to keep a close eye on his whereabouts, but eventually to no avail since he contracts cholera and dies. It is by any measure a sad story and one which must have been gut wrenching for Yogananda.
The next part of the story, however, seems questionable at best. In Yogananda's quest to find the newly reincarnated boy, he initiates a “secret” yogic technique whereby, “I broadcasted my love to Kashi's soul through the microphone of the spiritual eye, the inner point between the eyebrows. With the antenna of upraised hands and fingers, I often turned myself round and round, trying to locate the direction in which he had been reborn as an embryo. I hoped to receive response from him in the concentration-tuned radio of my heart. I intuitively felt that Kashi would soon return to the earth, and that if I kept unceasingly broadcasting my call to him, his soul would reply. I knew that the slightest impulse sent by Kashi would be felt in my fingers, hands, arms, spine, and nerves.”
I don't doubt that Yogananda may have employed such a procedure, but his explanation for how and why it worked is (how to say this civilly?) naïve since it relies purely on his own subjective feeling which cannot be divorced from his own paternal desires and/or guilt feelings concerning the boy. Interestingly, I too have used a similar technique (trying to be overly sensitive to my own peripheral nervous system and the “psychic” intuitions it may impress upon my mind) to find a dear friend in London, England, back in 1999. I did end up finding her near Oxford street, and even felt it was somehow mystically orchestrated. But considering this event more sedately and disinterestedly after it happened, I realized that I already had suspicions about which locations my friend might frequent and at what times. Yes, it was a truly remarkable coincidence when I found her on a very busy day in London, but that doesn't make it miraculous or completely out of the realm of probability. Likewise, with Yogananda, he obviously went to those neighborhoods that he knew or had access to and where pregnant women may be found. Out of these numbered possibilities, Yogananda felt drawn to one particular household and on the basis of what he learned from the parents became convinced that Kashi had been reborn there.
But was it really Kashi? Or, more pointedly, is reincarnation true? Do we inhabit new human (or animal) bodies after death? Moreover, even if we accept transmigration as possible do yogis have the ability to discern who the newborn baby was in a previous life?
I realize that nearly half the planet believes in some form of transmigration and that almost all Indian based religions (from Hinduism to Sikhism) believe in it. Even some Western philosophies and religions subscribe to the idea that we live more than one life on planet earth. While such a concept is attractive and offers a viable explanation for why we find such a disparity in life where what we sow we eventually reap in an intricate web of karma, there has yet to be overwhelming verification that it is more than just wishful thinking.
To be sure, there have been a number of suggestive studies in this area, ranging from Ian Stevenson's Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation to Jim Tucker's Life Before Life and Return to Life. Even the distinguished astrophysicist, the late Carl Sagan, argued that reincarnation studies deserved serious attention, even if he was himself not persuaded.
However, it is one thing to believe in transmigration, but quite another to allege that you can “know” where a disembodied soul will next incarnate. Of course, Tibetan Buddhism has a long history of searching out where and when deceased lamas will be born again and to which household. The often-told story of how the current Dalai Lama was found is a fascinating one, even if not wholly believable.
The problem is that there are no truly objective standards to adjudicate the truth or falsity of reincarnation claims, much less a universally acknowledged science on how to follow souls through the afterlife back to earth. Undoubtedly, we should keep an open mind, but at this stage much of transmigration lore is enveloped in wooly superstition. Lest we forget, even the Dalai Lama says that he cannot remember his own past lives.
31. LAHIRI MAHAYASA'S DIVINE INTERVENTIONS
We haven't tallied how many miracle stories there are in the Autobiography, but in a book of 48 chapters almost each section has at least one or more. In this part Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukestwar's guru, performs three.
“His wife was not the only woman disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya; there were hundreds of others, including my mother. A woman chela once asked the guru for his photograph. He handed her a print, remarking, 'If you deem it a protection, then it is so; otherwise it is only a picture.'
A few days later this woman and Lahiri Mahasaya's daughter-in-law happened to be studying the Bhagavad Gita at a table behind which hung the guru's photograph. An electrical storm broke out with great fury.
'Lahiri Mahasaya, protect us!' The women bowed before the picture. Lightning struck the book which they had been reading, but the two devotees were unhurt.
'I felt as though a sheet of ice had been placed around me to ward off the scorching heat,' the chela explained.
Lahiri Mahasaya performed two miracles in connection with a woman disciple, Abhoya. She and her husband, a Calcutta lawyer, started one day for Benares to visit the guru. Their carriage was delayed by heavy traffic; they reached the Howrah main station only to hear the Benares train whistling for departure.
Abhoya, near the ticket office, stood quietly.
'Lahiri Mahasaya, I beseech thee to stop the train!' she silently prayed. 'I cannot suffer the pangs of delay in waiting another day to see thee.'
The wheels of the snorting train continued to move round and round, but there was no onward progress. The engineer and passengers descended to the platform to view the phenomenon. An English railroad guard approached Abhoya and her husband. Contrary to all precedent, he volunteered his services.
'Babu,' he said, 'give me the money. I will buy your tickets while you get aboard.'
As soon as the couple was seated and had received the tickets, the train slowly moved forward. In panic, the engineer and passengers clambered again to their places, knowing neither how the train started, nor why it had stopped in the first place.
Arriving at the home of Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares, Abhoya silently prostrated herself before the master, and tried to touch his feet.
'Compose yourself, Abhoya,' he remarked. 'How you love to bother me! As if you could not have come here by the next train!'
Abhoya visited Lahiri Mahasaya on another memorable occasion. This time she wanted his intercession, not with a train, but with the stork.
'I pray you to bless me that my ninth child may live,' she said. "Eight babies have been born to me; all died soon after birth."
The master smiled sympathetically. 'Your coming child will live. Please follow my instructions carefully. The baby, a girl, will be born at night. See that the oil lamp is kept burning until dawn. Do not fall asleep and thus allow the light to become extinguished.'
Abhoya's child was a daughter, born at night, exactly as foreseen by the omniscient guru. The mother instructed her nurse to keep the lamp filled with oil. Both women kept the urgent vigil far into the early morning hours, but finally fell asleep. The lamp oil was almost gone; the light flickered feebly.
The bedroom door unlatched and flew open with a violent sound. The startled women awoke. Their astonished eyes beheld the form of Lahiri Mahasaya.
'Abhoya, behold, the light is almost gone!' He pointed to the lamp, which the nurse hastened to refill. As soon as it burned again brightly, the master vanished. The door closed; the latch was affixed without visible agency.
Abhoya's ninth child survived; in 1935, when I made inquiry, she was still living.
A Skeptical Analysis
Do gurus really alter lightening strikes? Can they make trains stop at will? Are they able to save a young baby's life? According to Yogananda's recounting of Lahiri Mahasaya's life and work, they do.
Yet, each one of these fantastic tales, embellished as they may be by their continued retelling, can be rationally explained without resorting to divine intervention. Indeed, the supposed miracles of Lahiri Mahasaya seem directly related to chance. For instance, we are told that a woman fearing for her safety from an electrical storm prays to a picture of Lahiri Mahasaya, who had just days prior given her a photograph of himself. The lightening then avoids hitting her and her companion and instead strikes the holy book they were reading right then, the Bhagavad Gita. It is quite understandable that the devotees would attribute their safety to their beloved guru, but that doesn't mean it wasn't simply a random event divinely interpreted after the fact. Or, is it more plausible that Lahiri Mahasaya consciously changed the direction of a bolt of lightning because someone was pleading to his photograph?
In the next story, we are informed that Abhoya and her lawyer husband were delayed for their train connection to Benares to see their master, Lahiri Mahasaya. She prayed for a divine intercession, since the train was starting to move away from the station. But right then, something mysterious occurred and somehow the train stopped, even though we are told that the wheels were moving round and round.
Abhoya and her husband were then allowed to board, and were later slightly reprimanded by their guru who said wisely, “As if you could not have come here by the next train!”
Since Indian trains were (and are) notorious for being delayed at various times, it is not at all startling that in this instance that the train was slightly postponed. Or, once again, is it more reasonable to hold that Lahiri Mahasaya stopped the locomotion so that two of his disciples wouldn't be inconvenienced, even though other passengers had to wait?
The third and last marvel concerns how Abhoya's personal tragedy of losing eight children in a row, shortly after birth. She desperately wanted her ninth child to live and asked for her guru's divine intercession. This, naturally, is quite an understandable prayer and one which any parent can sympathize with. Abhoya is instructed to keep a lamp filled with oil and make certain it doesn't not go out. But she and her nurse fall asleep and the light is just about to fade away when a vision of Lahiri Mahasaya appeared and informed them about the flickering lamp “which the nurse hastened to refill.” The guru vanished and the child was safe.
What is most remarkable about this narrative is why so much importance was given to an oil lamp, as if this object was a surrogate doctor. It is wonderful that the child lived, but perhaps the real reason is that the mother and nurse paid more (not less) attention at a pivotal time just after the child's birth.
What these miracle stories neglect to mention is all the other times that prayers to various gurus, deities, and gods, don't work. In fact, these types of supplications almost never do accomplish the desired aim. It is only when we do have unexpected results and recoveries that we attribute it to a sacred force outside of ourselves, conveniently forgetting the countless times our heartrending pleas came to nothing.