CONCERNING THE AVATAR
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from
How time flies! It seems as if it
was just the other day when we were getting so busy to celebrate the 80th
and now already, the 81st is with us! Even as time flies, so do good
thoughts from our fickle minds. So this Sunday, we thought we would put
together many of the things Swami has said at various times about Avatars in
general and about the Sri Sathya Sai Avatar also.
Krishna has no doubt explained in a few crisp Slokas in the Gita why God
comes down to earth as an Avatar. Krishna says that God comes down as man to
give humans an important lesson and adds that since man forgets that lesson,
God has to incarnate repeatedly. But Swami has added many crucial footnotes
such as this one:
To elevate man to the level of Consciousness, God has to incarnate as man.
He has to speak to them in their own styles and languages. He has to teach
them the methods that they can adopt and practice. Birds and beasts need no
Divine incarnation to guide them for they have no inclination to stray away
from Dharma. Man alone ignores the goal of life.
And Swami goes on to explain what precisely the word Avatar means:
The word Avatar means descent. It is not coming down from the peak of a
mountain or the top story of a building. It is a descent from the state of
the Atma to the state of the body.
The descent of the Avatar means the Divine coming down to the level of the
human. No blemish attaches to the Divine as a result of the descent. There
is no diminution in His puissance. Here is the example of a child playing on
the ground. If the mother feels it is beneath her dignity to bend and calls
upon the child to leap in her arms, the child cannot do so. But out of love
for her child, the mother stoops to pick up the baby. Likewise, the Avatar
descends to the level of the human to bless and rescue those who cannot rise
to the level of the Divine. It is an act of benediction.
Humans are used to thinking of God as being supremely powerful, who can do
all sorts of things. And yet, when they see God in human form, many doubts
assail them such as, “Is the Avatar really as powerful as the unseen God?”
Swami gives the answer:
The attributes and the powers of the Divine 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. Take, for example, the case of the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court. He has the power to protect and to punish. These powers can be
exercised when he sits 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 he forfeit his
powers as a Chief Justice? Similarly, the Avatar does not forego any of His
supreme powers merely because He lives and moves among human beings as a
An Avatar is capable of all things at all times. Yet the Avatar will not
undertake to demonstrate His powers at all times. An Avatar will undertake
to such powers when exceptional circumstances demand it and will shed His
Grace on deserving persons only.
It is common for humans to accept that God knows everything; however, when
it comes to the Avatar, there are all sorts of doubts. For example, we
frequently find devotees wondering whether Swami would be aware of the good
deeds they have done, etc. Such doubts are a reflection of the duality
inherent in Creation. While at their core, all humans ARE Divine, yet their
perception is mostly dictated by their senses. In other words, humans
function mainly through “human Consciousness” whereas the Avatar exhibits
both the Divine as well as human Consciousness as the Divine Drama dictates.
This is how Swami comments on this:
Because the Lord takes the human form, we find that He exhibits human
consciousness along with Divine Consciousness. Ordinary people cannot grasp
the Divine aspects of an 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 human consciousness in the Avatar. Human comprehension is
restricted by the limits of human consciousness. But the sages who were
divine human beings were able to comprehend Divinity. They recognised the
Formless God in the visible form, because they had imbued themselves with
Divine Consciousness. Thus, according to their levels, different people
regard the Avatar as a mere human being or Cosmic Reality.
Turning now to Krishna’s declaration about the decline of Dharma, the
appearance of the Lord in human form, etc., Swami has this to say:
Avatars never come to re-establish Dharma. Dharma was never destroyed but
the practice of Dharma periodically goes into decline. It is to rekindle the
practice of Dharma that God appears on earth as man.
A common doubt: Rama fought with many demons and annihilated them. Krishna
in His own way, helped to eliminate many of the bad guys. Right now, the
world is full of these bad guys who would make the earlier ones look like
saints. Why on earth then, is the Avatar not slaying them? Why has He come
without any weapon? A popular question and here is 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. It has come
with the Message of Love.
Coming to think of it, it is a bit surprising that when humans who are
talking about eliminating weapons of mass destruction, want the Avatar slay
the wicked, without realising that if the Avatar were to do so, there would
be a HUGE blood bath! Then there is the question, favourite with overseas
devotees: “Why does God have to incarnate only in the sub-continent? What
about Europe, America, Japan, New Zealand, etc? Are they not good enough for
Him?” This is what Swami told Dr. Hislop:
Where gold is found, there gather the geologists, engineers and miners. The
gold is mined there and then it is taken all over the world.
Swami constantly emphasises the human aspect of the Avatar, as the following
quotes illustrate. In this context, we strongly urge devotees to read
carefully the book Summer Roses on the Blue Mountain, which contain the
discourses Swami delivered during the Summer Course conducted in 1976.
The 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 in the
country and the environment, the Avatar comes to teach you and show you the
right use of all your organs.
This is the reason why Krishna came in human form, created a bodily
relationship with Arjuna and others, and pretended as if He was the
brother-in-law of Arjuna…. Krishna wanted to deal with Arjuna in a manner in
which a human being will deal with another human being.
If we regard Krishna as God, we will never be able to understand the inner
significance of the Mahabharatha. It is only when we pay attention to the
human aspect of Krishna and look at the whole story from the angle of
Krishna in the human form, that we will be able to understand His greatness.
Every Avatar has His detractors and this Avatar is no exception; in fact,
this is a part of the Divine Drama! What does Swami have to say about that?
Just read this.
In an Avatar, there will never be a situation in which you can find fault
with Him. The individual who accuses an Avatar will be hurting himself in
his eyes with his own fingers.
People think that just because the Avatar has come, He will “fix it all”. No
way! He has come to “fix our minds” because that is where the problems all
start – the human mind! So, it is OUR business to use the opportunity to get
transformed and then go about fixing the problems we humans have created in
such abundance. This is what Swami has to say on this matter:
The best that a guidepost can do is to tell you that if you travel that way,
you will reach such and such a destination and if you travel another path,
you will reach another destination. But the actual ups and downs along a
particular path will be understood only by people who undertake the journey.
Decade after decade, Swami has been tirelessly teaching us, but most of us
seem more preoccupied with wanting to see miracles or getting fixes for our
own particular problems. And when sometimes there is disappointment , then
doubts also set in. All this is because of a lack of understanding of the
nature of the Avatar and the purpose of incarnation.
With regard to Sai, some people draw conclusions based only on external
appearances. They are not making any effort to recognise the basic truth,
the unchanging qualities such as Sathya, Dharma and Prema that are in Sai.
All powers are in the control of Sai….
There is no limitation to My power. Infinite powers and infinite Grace are
present in My hands. To state these things with regard to Myself becomes
necessary at times.
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 recognise the difference between the
external appearance and the internal aspect.
Sai knows everything. That people are in doubt is due to the Maya of the
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, ………. INFINITE!
As the 81st approaches, let us count our blessings and realise how fortunate
we are. Commenting on the uniqueness of the Sai Avatar, Swami says:
During the lifetime of Shirdi Baba, not much attention was paid to Him.
Recognition of Him as an Avatar, and interest in His life developed only
after His “death”.
This Sai Avatar is the only such where His Divinity is known to people of
all religions. Never has there been that before. With Krishna, only the
Gopis were aware of Him as God; but they were Rishis reborn.
This Avatar is obviously different, with people being aware of His Divinity
in real time, all across the globe, as Swami pointed out to Dr. Hislop. Is
Swami partial? He may appear so to some but He really is not.
The name Sai Baba means Divine Mother and Father. Like mother, I will be
tender and soft and like father I will punish you. If an individual who has
good qualities comes close to Me, I am sweet to him. On the other hand, I am
harsh to one who has bad qualities and I do not let him come close to Me. It
is not that I like one more than the other but I give medicine to cure bad
qualities when they are present.
So what do we do when the Avatar is around? Any work for us? Sure!
There is considerable change in human outlook that I have to bring about. No
one can stop Me or deter Me from fulfilling the task for which I have come,
namely the establishment of the one unchanging Truth. In this task, you have
a part to play…
Once again, an Avatar is an Avatar – God in human form. No merit in trying
to argue which one is “better”.
Rama, Krishna and Sai Baba appear different because of the dress each has
donned, but it is the selfsame Entity, believe Me!
If there is one word that describes Swami fully, that is LOVE!
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 form.
Offering you our Love from H2H, we wish that you would enjoy this coming
Birthday in Love, and in the fullest measure. Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,