Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
"In regard to the numerous miracles wrought by Crishna, it should be remembered that miracles are never wanting to the decoration of an Indian romance; they are, in fact, the life and soul of the vast machine; nor is it at all a subject of wonder that the dead should be raised to life in a history expressly intended, like all other sacred fables of Indian fabrication, for the propagation and support of the whimsical doctrine of the Metempsychosis."[254:3]
To speak thus of the miracles of Christ Jesus, would, of course, be heresy—although what applies to the miracles of Crishna apply to those of Jesus—we, therefore, find this gentleman branding as "infidel" a learned French orientalist who was guilty of doing this thing.
Buddha performed great miracles for the good of mankind, and the legends concerning him are full of the most extravagant prodigies and wonders.[254:4] "By miracles and preaching," says Burnouf, "was the religion of Buddha established."
R. Spence Hardy says of Buddha:
"All the principal events of his life are represented as being attended by incredible prodigies. He could pass through the air at will, and know the thoughts of all beings."[254:5]
Prof. Max Müller says:
"The Buddhist legends teem with miracles attributed to Buddha and his disciples—miracles which in wonderfulness certainly surpass the miracles of any other religion."[254:6]
Buddha was at one time going from the city of Rohita-vastu to the city of Benares, when, coming to the banks of the river Ganges, and wishing to go across, he addressed himself to the owner of a [Pg 255]ferry-boat, thus; "Hail! respectable sir! I pray you take me across the river in your boat!" To this the boatman replied, "If you can pay me the fare, I will willingly take you across the river." Buddha said, "Whence shall I procure money to pay you your fare, I, who have given up all worldly wealth and riches, &c." The boatman still refusing to take him across, Buddha, pointing to a flock of geese flying from the south to the north banks of the Ganges, said:
They ask not as to fare of any boatman,
But each by his inherent strength of body
Flies through the air as pleases him.
So, by my power of spiritual energy,
Will I transport myself across the river,
Even though the waters on this southern bank
Stood up as high and firm as (Mount) Semeru."[255:1]
He then floats through the air across the stream.
In the Lalita Vistara Buddha is called the "Great Physician" who is to "dull all human pain." At his appearance the "sick are healed, the deaf are cured, the blind see, the poor are relieved." He visits the sick man, Su-ta, and heals soul as well as body.
At Vaisali, a pest like modern cholera was depopulating the kingdom, due to an accumulation of festering corpses. Buddha, summoned, caused a strong rain which carried away the dead bodies and cured every one. At Gaudhârâ was an old mendicant afflicted with a disease so loathsome that none of his brother monks could go near him on account of his fetid humors and stinking condition. The "Great Physician" was, however, not to be deterred; he washed the poor old man and attended to his maladies. A disciple had his feet hacked off by an unjust king, and Buddha cured even him. To convert certain skeptical villagers near Srâvastî, Buddha showed them a man walking across the deep and rapid river without immersing his feet. Pûrna, one of Buddha's disciples, had a brother in imminent danger of shipwreck in a "black storm." The "spirits that are favorable to Pûrna and Arya" apprised him of this and he at once performed the miracle of transporting himself to the deck of the ship. "Immediately the black tempest ceased, as if Sumera arrested it."[255:2]
When Buddha was told that a woman was suffering in severe labor, unable to bring forth, he said, Go and say: "I have never knowingly put any creature to death since I was born; by the virtue [Pg 256]of this obedience may you be free from pain!" When these words were repeated in the presence of the mother, the child was instantly born with ease.[256:1]
Innumerable are the miracles ascribed to Buddhist saints, and to others who followed their example. Their garments, and the staffs with which they walked, are supposed to imbibe some mysterious power, and blessed are they who are allowed to touch them.[256:2] A Buddhist saint who attains the power called "perfection," is able to rise and float along through the air.[256:3] Having this power, the saint exercises it by mere determination of his will, his body becoming imponderous, as when a man in the common human state determines to leap, and leaps. Buddhist annals relate the performance of the miraculous suspension by Gautama Buddha, himself, as well as by other saints.[256:4]
In the year 217 B. C., a Buddhist missionary priest, called by the Chinese historians Shih-le-fang, came from "the west" into Shan-se, accompanied by eighteen other priests, with their sacred books, in order to propagate the faith of Buddha. The emperor, disliking foreigners and exotic customs, imprisoned the missionaries; but an angel, genii, or spirit, came and opened the prison door, and liberated them.[256:5]
Here is a third edition of "Peter in prison," for we have already seen that the Hindoo sage Vasudeva was liberated from prison in like manner.