THE AVATAR ON HIMSELF
As we all know,
an Avatar is an Incarnation of God. In a broad sense,
everything in the Universe is a manifestation of God. Yet,
the term Avatar is reserved for those Incarnations
wherein the Lord deliberately assumes a specific form for
a specific purpose.
About the meaning of the word Avatar, Swami says:
The word Avatar means
descent. It is not coming down from the peak of a mountain
or the top story of a tall building. It is a descent from
the state of the Atma to the level of the body.
There is nothing infra-dig about the descent, as Bhagavan
points out. He says:
blemish attaches to the Divine as a result of the descent.
There is no diminution in Divine power either. Let us say
there is a child playing on the ground. If the mother feels
it is beneath her dignity to bend and tells the child to leap
into her arms, the child cannot do so. The mother does not
ask the child to do such an impossible thing. Instead, full
of love, the mother stoops and lovingly picks up the child.
Likewise, the Lord incarnates assuming a human form to bless
and rescue those who cannot rise to the level of the Divine.
Incarnation is an act of benediction.
What about the name Sai Baba of the present Poorna Avatar?
Swami has this to say:
The name Sai Baba means
Divine Mother and Divine Father. Like mother, I will be tender
and soft and give you happiness, and like father I will punish
you when needed. Through these methods I shall take you to
a high level.
Why does God incarnate? No doubt Krishna has already outlined
the reasons, but Swami goes deeper into the subject. He says:
To elevate man to the
level of Supreme Consciousness, God has to incarnate as man.
God has to speak to man in his own style and language. He
has to teach mankind the methods that it can adopt and practice.
Birds and beasts need no Divine incarnation to guide them
for they have no inclination to stray away from their respective
Dharmas. Man alone forgets the goal of life.
In other words, God comes to play the role of a teacher and
a Guru. As Swami elaborates:
essential quality of an Avatar is to teach you to make good
and proper use of your thought, word and deed. Depending on
the conditions and the environment in the country, the Avatar
will teach and show the right use of the Divine faculties
gifted to man.
In earlier incarnations, the Lord physically annihilated
the evil. What about this time? Swami has the answer:
In this Kali Age, the
wicked have to be reformed and reconstructed through Love
and Compassion. That is why this Avatar has come unarmed.
The Avatar has come with the Message of Love.
My objective is to
establish unity in mankind, to reveal the aspect of the Divinity
latent in man, and that God must be the only goal in life.
It is also My duty to make you realize the kind of relationship
that should exist between fellow human beings.
This is something very important, and all of us would do
well to remember it. The first items on the agenda of this
Avatar is to make each and every one of us realise
our intrinsic Divine nature. Swami goes on to add,
There is considerable
change in human outlook that I have to bring about. No one
can stop Me or deter Me from fulfilling these tasks for which
I have come, namely the establishment of the one unchanging
Truth. In this task, you have a part to play.
Playing a role in Swami's global Mission calls for a proper
attitude and frame of mind. Many people are carried away by
Baba's miracles, but that is not correct, as Swami warns.
You must take a path
by which you can see deep in My heart, and experience the
various Divine aspects of Mine. You must understand the all-knowing
power in Me. Do not be led away by people who always talk
of having got a locket or a watch or a ring from Me. These
things have no deep meaning.
is Love, in fact, Pure Love. No surprise in that since God
is Love and Love is God. Swami adds that all Incarnations
are embodiments of Pure Love, as indeed man also is. He says:
Divine Love is associated
with Immortality. It is to teach mankind the truth about this
Divine Love that Love itself incarnates on earth in human
It is to drive home the point that we all are sparks of the
Divine, that Swami invariably begins His Divine Discourses
with the words: EMBODIMENTS OF DIVINE LOVE, or EMBODIMENTS
OF THE DIVINE ATMA.
Because the Avatar has a human form, man thinks [mistakenly
of course] that the Avatar too is just another human
being. In this context, Swami points out that
When Narayana takes
the form of a man and wants to help humanity, He will act
like a man.
Just because God comes in human form, it is no excuse for
man to be indifferent. He must realise that all the Poorna
Avatars are incarnations of the same Formless, Eternal, Supreme
Consciousness and the Cosmic, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and
Omniscient God. Swami conveys this idea in the following manner:
Rama, Krishna, and
Sai Baba appear different because of the dress donned, but
it is the selfsame Entity, believe Me!
It has always happened that many people around the Avatar
knew that the Avatar was God in human form; yet, they often
forgot that fact. Why? Swami explains:
the Avatar appears in human form, we find that He exhibits
human consciousness along with Divine Consciousness. Ordinary
people cannot grasp the Divine Consciousness of the Avatar.
God appears to be an ordinary human being to the limited intelligence
of lay people because of the co-existence of the Divine and
the human aspects of the Consciousness exhibited by Him. Man's
perception is limited to the level of human consciousness.
Therefore human comprehension is restricted by the limits
of human consciousness. But the Sages of yore were able to
cognise the Formless God in the visible Form because they
had imbued themselves with Divine Consciousness. Thus, according
to their levels, different people regard an Avatar as a mere
human being or the Cosmic Reality.
All the above are quotes of Swami's pronouncements about
Avatars in general. Let us now look at some of the things
that Swami has said about the current Sathya Sai Avatar. He
Because I am like an ordinary individual when I am talking
with you and playing with you, many people do not understand
My true nature. Even people with great strength of mind cannot
recognize the true nature of Sai, and the difference between
the external appearance and the internal aspect. Sai knows
everything. That people are in doubt is due to the Maya of
There is no use telling
people who refuse to know. For people who know, there is no
need to tell. But for people who know and yet do not know,
it becomes necessary to present what I call My visiting card.
Therefore, if today I have chosen to tell you about Myself,
it is with a view to present you with My visiting card. In
the whole of our spiritual history, we find that only Krishna
had proclaimed His Divinity in this manner.
Miracles no doubt have a powerful effect on all those who
witness them. Since miracles are considered super-natural,
miracles alone are regarded as a sign of Divinity. Swami emphatically
declares that miracles alone are not the signature of Divinity.
He says in this context:
talk of the Vibhuti that I give or to talk of the things that
I materialize and the miracles I perform is not correct. Sometimes,
I feel like laughing at the ignorance of people when they
attach such importance to My miracles. People talk only of
such things and forget the much bigger aspect in Me. The most
sacred quality in Me is Prema. This Prema is immeasurable!
I am Love, Love and
Love. I am always Love! Love is everything but people do not
Yes, God is Love and Love is God. Thus, Love is the true
form of God, and we would do well to always see our beloved
Swami as nothing but the embodiment of Purest Love.
Back to the Maya business. Warning devotees not to be deluded
by His finite form, Baba cautions,
Since you see me in
close proximity, you are not able to assess Me properly. Familiarity
has deceived you to the point of delusion. Swami's form is
BIG, VAST and INFINITE!
One of the reasons why all of us fall into the trap of Maya
is that most of the time, Swami acts just like an ordinary
human being - there are no miracles. People then tend to forget
the Infinite Divine Power latent in Him. About this, Swami
The attributes and
the power of the Avatar remain unaltered in their pristine
amplitude. The Divine manifests His powers according to the
needs, the circumstances, and the conditions prevailing at
a particular time or place.
for example, the case of a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
He has the power both to protect or punish. These powers can
be exercised only when he is sitting in the judicial chair.
The same Chief Justice, when he is at home, confers joy on
his grandson by letting him ride on his back. By allowing
the grandchild to play in this manner, does the Chief Justice
forfeit his judicial powers? Similalry, the Avatar does not
forgo any of His Supreme Powers merely because He lives and
moves amongst human beings as a man.
An Avatar is capable
of all things at all times. Yet, the Avatar will not undertake
to demonstrate His powers all the time. The Avatar will exercise
such powers only when exceptional circumstances demand it,
and will shed Grace on a deserving person alone.
There is no limitation
to My Power. There is no reason to limit or confine My Power
and My Grace to any one place. Infinite Power and Infinite
Grace are present in My hands. To state these things with
regard to Myself becomes necessary at times.
People are sometimes confused. Why are there at times, setbacks
in the life of an Avatar? Actually, there are never any setbacks.
There cannot be. What seems to us as a set back is all a part
of the Divine Drama. Sometimes we may understand the mystery
but most of the time we do not. About this business of so-called
apparent impediments to the Mission of the Avatar, Swami has
this to say:
In an Avatar, there
never will be a situation in which you can find fault with
Him. The individual who accuses an Avatar will be hurting
himself in his eye with his own finger.
At this stage, we would like to quote from
a remarkable discourse given by Bhagavan during the Summer
Course in 1974. This Discourse appears as Chapter 16 of Part
II of the Proceedings and is entitled: WHO IS SAI BABA?
In this, Bhagavan says:
Inherent beauty and
attractiveness are obvious in His playing and in His singing.
These are the aspects of SIVASHAKTI that is immanent in Him.
How is it possible for anyone to understand Sathya Sai merely
from His external Form?
One very important characteristic of an Avatar is
that He is totally selfless. Divinity knows no selfishness.
God is ever compassionate, ever ready to sacrifice, and is
totally free from desires. As Swami puts it,
There is no desire
in Sai. Where is the space for desire in Sai? Everything is
already Mine! Sai does not think. My will is instantly realized.
Whatever it may be, it immediately appears.
To put it all simply, no one can understand the Avatar and
His actions. As Swami once declared,
If Balarama [the brother
of Krishna] himself could not understand Me, how can you?!
So it is a futile exercise to try to understand Swami and
analyse His actions. Instead, one must concentrate on His
teachings, absorb them, and follow them. We must appreciate
that God has come on earth as man for an exalted purpose.
We must not, even if it be unknowingly, trivialise the Divine
Mission by asking Swami for trinkets. Swami of course does
not mind. He gives us all that we ask for, even if they are
useless. Why does He do so? Swami Himself has given the answer.
I readily give you
what you want, so that you may want what I have come to give.
And what is it that He is so eager to give us? The very same
thing that He gave to Arjuna five thousand and odd years ago
on the battle field - the Knowledge of the Universal Self
or Atmavidya. That is what the Avatar has come
to give us and that really is what we must seek earnestly