The last of the nursing Babars....

James Randi --- Wizard (
Sat, 23 Sep 1995 17:29:08 -0400

Okay, I've had it with the plaster/marble/alabaster/ceramic/metal
milk-drinking idols of humans with elephant heads. A reader has
reminded me that elephants don't drink with their trunks, and many
of these thirsty figures are said to have sipped the offerings that
way. My response is that if a man can have the head of an
elephant and be a god, he sure as hell can also snort his milk.
So there.

Journalist Andrew Brown of the Independent newspaper in the U.K.
has looked into these bizarre claims there and found nothing but
(my evaluation, not his) rather stupid wishful thinking on the part of
devotees of elephant gods, starry-eyed worshipers who exaggerate
the events, ignore the real, obvious evidence, and fawn over media
lackeys who bring back to their editors the kind of juvenile accounts
that sell newspapers and keep people tuned through endless
commercial messages until the Silly Session airs at the close of
the evening's newscast.

Brown found that milk offered to Nandi (that's Lord Shiva's personal
cow, in case you're not up on this mythology) was just running
down the chin of the 18-inch-high marble bovine, and mixing with
the water of the running fountain below the figure. At another
location, an apparently ceramic figure of the Elephant Man was
being fed by adoring attendants who poured the milk into his trunk
from teaspoons. Says Brown:

Yet at the same time, I couldn't help notice that
Ganesh stood on a shining metal tray in a
puddle of milk, and as the teaspoon emptied,
the milk puddle inexorably grew.

Reporter Brown displeased a worshiper with his close attention to
this detail. She said to him,

There is probably an explanation, but there is
probably also a divine force coming in.

That woman should be on O.J. Simpson's team.

>From Belfast (yes, even there!) comes a newspaper account that
quotes a worshiper as saying that it is evident, from this event, that

The gods have come down to earth to solve
our problems.

How wasting vast quantities of milk on statues solves any of the
world's problems, is quite beyond me. But one restaurant in the
vicnity of one of these feeding frenzies has taken advantage of
the elephant god Ganesh (credited with bringing prosperity) by
selling those wee containers of milk that some renegade tea-
sippers use to adultrate their beverage -- an offense to proper Brits.

The Belfast paper ended with a comment that

Priests at the temples would not allow anyone
to inspect the statues for any devices that
could consume the milk.

Why am I not surprised?

In closing off this ridiculous subject, I will quote my friend Jim
Gardner, who borrowed from a popular advertising slogan used
by the milk industry in the U.S.A. Said Jim:

Milk! It's good for the Buddha*!

And he suggested that the next Indian god to evolve may well be
the Great God Loofa. With the head of a sponge, you see.....?

Well, we'll see.

James Randi.

* Yes, I know I'm mixing my religions here. Please don't scold
me for it.

(For my non-American readers, I must explain that the milk folks
here declare "Milk! It's good for the body!)


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