On September 21, 1995, there were side reports that statues of the Hindu deity Ganesha were drinking milk offerings. Witnesses sent video tapes from various Indian and American cities, followed by footage from the United Kingdom, Canada, UAE, and Nepal, which caught the international media’s attention. The incident was known as The Hindu milk miracle. A smaller, but no less intriguing incident is being claimed at the five-year old Shirdi Sai Temple in Tarzana, Calif., a where a second Shiva lingam is “now bleeding/sweating amrutham,” according to the July 23rd posting on the temple’s official Facebook page. The group had not publicly disclosed the first incident, but “shortly after last Monday’s amazing Shiva Rudram, within two days this liquid began coming from one of the Lingams,” the Shirdi Sai Temple announced on their Facebook page.
You can see video of it here.
A lingam is an abstract or iconic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva. The word Amrutham means Ambrosia in Telugu languages, and describes a beautifully sweet liquid. Den of Geek spoke with Paul Aryeh, founder of the Shirdi Sai Temple, after hearing about the incident from someone who regularly attends services. The most burning question was: did anyone get to sample the ambrosia and what did it taste like?
The Amrutham liquid was described as “sweet and sticky, kind of like honey, actually,” by temple founder Paul Aryeh. “I only let one person test it last night. Generally, what you do in situations like this is leave it alone. You don’t attack it.” Even so, the surprised clergy still “just wanted to have somebody else to kind of be a witness besides me.”
“This is the second. We have two lingam,” Aryeh says. “The first one actually started about 3-1/2 weeks ago and then it stopped. I have video of that. I didn’t want to post it because I don’t want it to appear like this big PR thing.”
Lord Shiva, with his female counterpart Shakti, the Great Goddess Kali Ma, is realized as both the sexual partner and innermost animating soul of man or god in the Hindu faith. Shiva is not worshiped as an idol, like most Hindu deities, but in the form of a representation of the male and female union. The lingam is a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself. Often resembling a phallic symbol, it usually sits on a disc-shaped platform called a yoni, conjuring the dynamic cosmic energy that is Shakti and the static life that is Shiva.
“Every Monday we do what’s called a Rudra Abhishekam,” explains Aryeh. “We put different types of sacred things on there like sugar, water, stuff like that. Yesterday it was just so evident that it was just kind of coming out of the top of the head and then coming out the sides like the way a human being sweats. We were about to do another abhisheka check, and I said, ‘Let’s just wait.'”
Miracles don’t happen on command, and they don’t follow any timetable. The sweating “just happens whenever the high energy is around,” Aryeh says. “It just seems like whenever there’s really very high vibration or divine energy around, like at critical times like Navratri, Guru Purnima or Christmas, and times where it’s a more cosmic cycle. It’s kind of like full moon, new moon cycles, stuff like that. It seems to manifest during those times. It also depends on the vibrations of the place, as well.”
“It was quite interesting, actually,” says Aryeh. “As we were doing it, and uploading one of the other videos, it happened within 15 minutes. It’s as if they were sweating. We were just sitting there watching it. All of a sudden liquid started coming out, like through a person’s pores. I’ll be very frank with you. I’m so glad somebody else was there besides me.”
This isn’t the first time the temple’s founder experienced spiritual phenomena. During his 14 years of study with the late saint Sri Kaleshwar at his Shirdi Temple and ashram in Penukonda, India, Aryeh was present for another manifestation. “I personally witnessed a similar thing with another Shiva lingam in India which was bleeding a lot heavier,” Aryeh remembers. “Literally there was a tray and there was an emerald lingam that was there and it was just kind of oozing out of nowhere. In this tradition, miracles are part of the terrain, so to speak.”
The founder of the Temple offers no concrete explanation for the cause of the incidents. “These manifestations are more a function of the cosmic divine energy manifesting because,” Aryah starts before grinning and admitting “I don’t know the reasons why. I guess it’s just divine manifestation of cosmic energy and it comes in different ways and shapes and forms. You have to understand that Shirdi Sai Baba, as well as my master of Sri Kaleshwar, performed a lot of miracles. Miracles are more like a manifestation to remind people that the divine energy is still around.”
“There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this. It just manifests. Literally, 3-1/2 weeks ago the other lingam started moving. We all kind of were shocked because it was the first time. It’s not the first time that a miracle but the first time that these Shiva lingams because we just brought them here maybe about six weeks ago. We have two smaller lingams which the videos, you saw that are in the temple. It actually is in front of a Jesus statue. We have five other larger Shiva lingams outside that we created a platform and making a small covering so that there will be a temple there, as well.”
Aryeh lived in India from 1998 to 2012 “studying with the late saint of Sri Kaleshwar, Shirdi Sai Baba. Shirdi Sai Baba was like the grandfather of this particular tradition, lineage. A very distinct similarity between both of them was that they were able to manifest and perform miracles in front of people.”
Paul was trained extensively by Sri Kaleshwar to establish a Shirdi Baba temple in Los Angeles. “My directive was to go to Los Angeles, create a temple, and everything else would come out it,” Aryah says. The temple has been in Tarzana since 2013. The current location has three structures laid out on a half-acre of residential property. They chose Los Angeles county because it serves a large surrounding community of devotees. “Thursday nights we get around 75-100 people,” Aryah said. “They just come, and we just feed everybody. Our mailing list is a lot larger than that because it’s not just Los Angeles. It’s just a lot of people that are on our list. Our community is several hundred, actually.”
“It’s a pretty unique temple,” Aryeh says. “Because we’ve had several miracles happen. I am intelligent enough to actually video tape people’s experiences of things that have happened here in the temple. It’s kind of like a vortex, essentially, that all this stuff starts happening. It’s just a very high divine place. Let’s put it that way.”
The temple is “non-denominational,” Aryeh says. “We do not call ourselves a Hindu temple because Shirdi Sai Baba, who is the main deity, basically said all religions are one. My teacher who is Sri Kaleshwar said the same thing, that basically God exists in everybody’s heart. He didn’t discriminate between any sect, cast, or religion. We’ve got a statue of Jesus here. We have a statue of Durga. We have a lot of different power objects that represent more of the mystical aspect of India.”
Shirdi Sai Temple USA was created to bring the ancient knowledge, spiritual meditation and healing energy as taught by the Saints and masters of India to the west. Shirdi Sai Baba’s teachings “encompassed and acknowledged many traditions, paths; Holy Saints, Siddhas and Sadhus which have been the heritage of India for thousands of years,” according to the Temple Website. “As an incarnation of Dattatreya, Shirdi Sai Baba’s teachings expressed his mastery and unity with the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.”
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According to the temple website, Shirdi Sai Baba understood all aspects of the Divine Mother, represented by Saraswati, Laxmi and Durga. “Durga is the original divine mother goddess,” explains Aishwarya Luna Lakshmi, a Shakti tantrica channel and constellational and Vedic astrologer from Kolkata, India. “The origin of her roots come from Kali, the dark source center goddess and Adi Shakti, the source Shakti deity. They are all different faces of the core Shakti. Durga comes in her warrior goddess protective mother divine form. Lakshmi and Saraswati are her children. Lakshmi is responsible for infinite wealth creation, knowledge and prosperity blessings.”
The “wife of Narayana, Saraswati brings knowledge, purity, awareness of all the source bodies of understanding, literature and art,” Aishwarya Luna continued. “Together Lakshmi and Saraswati, as extension of Durga, balances the commerce and light of knowledge to create true awareness, civilization and prosperity. So as extension of divine mother durga they are seen as the infinite resource bringers of earth in all these vital dimensions.”
The saint for whom the temple was created mastered the “five great elements” of Hinduism: earth, water, fire, wind, space and void, which is zero and apparently not numbered. “Interestingly enough, the most relevant thing I can say about the 5 Elements is that Kashmir Shaivism recognizes many elements,” celebrity psychic Marie Bargas, who regularly attends the temple, says. “For example in Chaitanya, shiva or supreme consciousness is the first of 36 elements. You can’t look at Hinduism through the eyes of a Western Witch or Occultist and think that there are only five. It’s a different way of thinking. Hence, mastering only 5 elements that we recognize through the limitations of our 5 senses seems more suitable for the western mindset than embracing 36.”
When the statue of Ganesha drank a spoonful of milk held to its trunk at a temple in south New Delhi In 1995, it led to a 30 percent increase in milk sales. Science explained the Hindu milk miracle by saying the material was pulled up from the offering bowls by capillary action, but mostly appeared to have been caused by a mix of surface tension and capillary effect. The open-ended findings allow people to believe what they want to believe.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.