I had been teaching in Bombay. It had been several weeks since I’d seen the Pateriya family. My Hero bicycle lurched about as I navigated the potholed dirt road leading to Pateriya’s house in the far corner of the ashram. I was bringing my friends a framed picture of Krishna, but the lumpy road made it almost impossible to carry the gift and ride at the same time.
“Steveji, have you heard?” bubbled Pateriya as I walked into his living room.
“Ganesh drinking milk in temples all over India.”
“What do you mean?” I hadn’t heard the news.
The miracle was so widespread that the Indian government closed down, and the Bombay Stock Exchange stopped trading so everyone could visit the temples.
“He’s drinking. Come.” Pateriya led me barefoot into his puja room where we sat in front of his bronze Ganesh statue. My friend prayed for a moment and then took a small spoonful of milk from a bowl and put it up to Ganesh’s mouth. Then something amazing happened. The milk slowly disappeared as if the elephant god were drinking it.
“But that’s incredible, Pateriya.”
“Steveji, you try it,” Pateriya suggested, and so I filled the sugar spoon and put it up to Ganesh’s mouth. Again the milk disappeared, except for a small amount, which Pateriya and I shared as prasada. “It’s a miracle,” enthused Pateriya.
“Only in India,” I replied, shaking my head.
“No,” countered Pateriya. “It happened in a temple in London and Hong Kong too.”
“In a Hindu temple, no doubt.”
The next day I read about it in the newspaper. Ganesh temples all over India were reporting the exact thing I had witnessed at Pateriya’s house. Thousands lined up outside temples with jugs of milk to feed their beloved god, but apparently not only Ganesh was thirsty; Siva also drank the offered milk. The miracle was so widespread that the Indian government closed down, and the Bombay Stock Exchange stopped trading so everyone could visit the temples. Wealthy Delhi women with silver pitchers lined up alongside street urchins carrying plastic pouches of milk. Millions of people claimed to have seen what we had seen in Pateriya’s puja room. The news was reported all over the world. A wave of inspiration swept India. For Hindus it was proof that their gods were here on earth.