Meaning of Avatar or Incarnation
Meaning of Avatar
The term 'AVATAR' means one who was descended, but descended from where and to what? It means descended from Godliness to human form. Avatar means those who descended to Earth from the Spiritual world for the establishment of Dharma, preservation of the human race and promulgation of Sastra. Avatar means the person who descends, as a fully or partially empowered incarnation of Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi, from the spiritual realm for a particular mission. An Avatar is also called a Savior, that is a person who saves or rescues mankind from the danger of deterioration. When a savior appears on this Earth all are saved through his grace.
Whenever virtue subsides and wickedness prevails; whenever there is unrighteousness or Adharma and whenever there is catastrophe and unrest in the world; the Divine Mother manifests Herself. That is, Adhiparasakthi comes down to this earth, or physical plane, to establish virtue and Dharma and to destroy the evil and save the good. When She comes down to the physical plane She takes human form and is called an Avatar or Incarnation.
An Avatar is also called a Messenger of Divine Mother because an Avatar transmits pure unselfish Divine Love from the Divine Mother to man and gives a taste of the unadulterated nectar of heavenly bliss to the arid souls scorched by the fire of worldliness. The all-pervading Mother Adhiparasakthi who is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss, by Her special grace manifests Herself as a common being during the Avatar period. During this period the Divine mother assumes a human form and manifests Herself to set an example of Divine Life before us in this world. It is Her peculiarity that she, in spite of being boundless, becomes very small.
The Avatar or Incarnation of Adhiparasakthi descends from the Spiritual world for material manifestation. The particular form of personality of Divine Mother who descends is called an Incarnation or Avatar. Such incarnations are situated in the Spiritual World. When they descend to the material creation they assume a common name Avatar.
The Avatar assumes various names and forms such as Rama, Krishna, Christ, etc at various places in various times, but all are the same Adhiparasakthi. All the Avatars that have come to this world are one and the same Adhiparasakthi. The Supreme personality of Godhead, Adhiparasakthi takes various incarnations and many sub-incarnations as well, but she is the original personality of Godhead known as Adhiparasakthi and She incarnates personally also.
Adhiparasakthi, although one without a second, manifests Herself in innumerable forms. All these multifarious forms are understood by the pure unalloyed devotees, but not by a simple study of the Vedas. Devotees are constant companions of Divine Mother and whenever Divine Mother incarnates, the associate devotees also incarnate in order to serve the Divine Mother in different capacities. The Divine Mother works through them and propagates the religion. The associate devotees spend their lifetimes assisting the Avatar and work for the welfare of the Jivas. However, there is a difference between the Divine Mother and the Devotees. Therefore, a living entity, however great he may be in the material estimation, can never equal the Supreme Mother. Anyone who is a constant companion of the Divine Mother is certainly a liberated person but he cannot be equal to the Divine Mother.
The Divine Mother is infallible, in that she never forgets Herself even though she is in material contact. Therefore, the Divine Mother and the living entity can never be equal in all respects, even if the living entity is a liberated soul. As such, when the Avatar comes, with him are born liberated persons as helpers in his world-play. However, only Avatars have the power to displace the darkness of a million souls and give them salvation in one lifetime. This is known as grace.
A devotee of the Divine Mother sometimes forgets the nature of the Divine Mother, but by divine grace, a devotee can at once understand the infallible condition of the Divine Mother. However, a non-devotee cannot understand this transcendental nature.
It may also be noted here that a living entity forgets everything due to his change of body, but the Divine Mother remembers because she does not change Her Sat-Chit-Ananda body. She is advaita, which means that there is no distinction between Her body and Herself. Everything in relation to Her is spirit, whereas the conditioned soul is different from his material body. Because the Divine Mother's body and self are identical, Her position is always different from that of the ordinary living entity, even when She descends to the material world.
How to know an Avatar
Truth and love absolute are the essence of the divine. In an Avatar, we find the expression and exposition of the Love of God. Know for certain that God is incarnate in a man in whom the Love of God is surging, overflowing and all absorbing (this maddening sentiment of life). Such teachers of spiritual truth are always the fairest flowers of human life and they are the ocean of mercy without any motive.
One can attain realization of God through worship of the Avatar. Divine Mother reveals Herself to Her devotees in a variety of ways. She assumes the very form that the devotee has chosen for his worship. If you worship Her as Adhiparasakthi, she will come to you as Adhiparasakthi. If you worship Her as Christ, she will come to you as Christ. If you worship Her as Allah, she will come to you as Allah. If you worship Her as Krishna or Buddha, she will come to you as Krishna or Buddha.
All are aspects of one Adhiparasakthi. Under whatever name and form, it is Adhiparasakthi who is adored. Worship goes to She who dwells within. It is ignorance to think that one form is superior to another. All forms are one and the same. All are adoring the same Divine Mother. The differences are only due to differences of name and due to the differences in the worshiper, but not in the object of adoration. The real Adhiparasakthi or Allah or Jesus or Krishna is in your own heart. She lives there forever. She is your Indweller. She is your partner always. There is no friend like the Indweller (Antharayamin). Resort to Her. Take Refuge in Her. Realize Her and be free.
Some people want to have contact with Avatars without being endowed with proper qualifications. Even if an Avatar appears before you, you will not be able to find him out. You don't have the eyes to see him as such. You will take him for an ordinary man only.
After accepting the Avatar as Sadgur, if anyone can not be in his company due to his staying in a far off place or due to other reasons, usually the Sadguru will contact him in Sukahma and will give him instructions. Otherwise, without giving up the method of Sadhana taught by the Guru, he can, if necessary, receive instructions from some other great soul. Once attached to a Sadguru, he will ensure that you are attached to the group of unseen masters or great souls or Siddhars known as Thondar Kuzham, and get the instructions in Sukahma. A neophyte or beginner in the spiritual path should prepare himself gradually. If necessary he may get spiritual instructions from some other great soul that is from various Sub-Gurus or subsidiary teachers or Upa Gurus and follow them strictly. In the Sastras there are incidents of excepting as many as twenty-four Sub-Gurus. With the help of a Sub-Guru, one should make himself fit to approach the Avatar. He should practice meditation and see the Divine Mother in meditation.
If you are endowed with the four means of salvation; if you have Vairagya; if you possess forgiveness and patience; if you have devotion, you can contact and realize the Avatars and sages right this second. If you can serve humanity; if you can obey; if you can be generous; if you can have endless devotion to the Divine Mother, then you will have self-realization this very second and you will contact Avatars, Adepts and Incarnations this very second. First deserve and then desire.
For those who are against the concept of guru and are against worshipping a man and want to realize God directly, I have to emphasize the following. The Avatars are higher and nobler than all ordinary ones and are the highest manifestations of Adhiparasakthi through human beings. We can see the Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi only through them. We cannot see the Divine Mother except through them. We cannot help worshipping them and indeed they are the only persons whom we are bound to worship. No man can really see Adhiparasakthi, the Supreme Goddess, except through these human manifestations. Whenever we try to think of Adhiparasakthi as She is in Her absolute perfection, we invariably meet with the most miserable failure, because as long as we are human beings we cannot conceive Her as anything higher than human forms and human perceptions. The time will come when we shall transcend our human nature and know Her as She is. But as long as we are men and women we must worship Her in men as a man or in women as a woman. You can talk as you may but you cannot think of Adhiparasakthi except in a human form. By our present constitution we are limited and bound to see Her in a human form and therefore we are bound to worship her in a human form. There is no other way.
Only one type of person can worship the Supreme Goddess as She is. This is the sage or Jeevanmukta (free soul) who has risen beyond all the weaknesses of humanity and has transcended the limits of his own nature. To him all nature has become his own self. He alone can worship the Goddess as She is. Anyone who says that it is wrong to worship God as a man is misleading you. The absolute cannot be worshipped so we must worship a manifestation such as one who has our nature.
The Four Kinds of Jivas
All men and women, or in short all Jivas, are equal. Yet they can be classified into four groups as given below:
- Bound Souls (Bandha)
- Souls struggling for liberation (Mumuksha)
- Emancipated Souls (Muktas)
- Ever-free Souls (Nitya Siddhas)
1. Bound Souls
Bound Souls are those in the lower levels of evolution. They are obstinate, stubborn and inflexible, with the characteristic of animals. They don't heed the Avatars, Sastras, Vedas or spiritual teachings and lack the capacity to do so. Even if they hear, they don't follow. When this type of person gets the spiritual look or vision or Arul Parvai of Avatars, their sufferings are reduced within the frame of the Law of Karma. The intensity of their sufferings are reduced to the extent of their Bakthi or faithfulness to the Almighty. They have gotten the grace of Avatars to get good future births in the preliminary stages of their spiritual evolution and to have Bakthi Marga, Jnana Marga, Karma Marga, etc., in due course. The possibility of attaining Brahma Jnana or knowledge of Brahman is very remote. How they will heed the advice of Adepts is a question mark. In short, this group of people is so deeply engrossed in the world of the senses that they are least interested in the life of the spirit.
2. Souls Struggling for Liberation
Those of the second group are souls struggling for liberation. They have just crossed the animal characteristics and have yet to stabilize in Divine life. We may call them Sadhakas.
3. Emancipated Souls and
4. Ever-Free Souls
These two groups are born to teach mankind. An Avatar is the ever-perfected divine free man or soul whom the Vedanta speaks of as the free one who assumes a body for the good of humanity.
It is the second group that needs special attention. They have just passed through the preliminary stages of spiritual evolution. They are capable of identifying Avatars and are ready to follow their teachings. At this stage the grace of the Avatar makes them strife to reach the goal of life. It shines on them and they realize their identity with Brahman and Adhiparasakthi. Thus, transmigration will come to an end for such Jivas.
However, each individual must undertake this evolutionary journey by himself. His progress will depend on the efforts he himself puts in. Nobody else, however near and dear to him, can work out his destiny. He can receive guidance from the Avatars and more advanced souls but he himself will have to take the steps on the evolutionary journey. Nobody can carry him along.
Aim of Manifestation
Adhiparasakthi, The Supreme Brahman, manifests Herself in order to protect the good because they destroy unrighteousness and propagate righteousness. The good are those who are naturally inclined towards the good of others, who remember and chant the name, form, qualities and glories of Adhiparasakthi, the Divine Mother and propagate them among people while depending on Her. He whose only aim is realization of God is good while those who hanker after worldly pleasures and property are not good.
Those who because of so many desires remain absorbed in vices such as falsehood, fraud, deception, dishonesty, etc; who exploit the virtuous; who remain engaged in doing evil to others; who don't know what ought to be done and what ought not to be done; who always condemn God and the Scriptures; such persons of demonic nature have been called wicked. The wicked propagate unrighteousness and destroy righteousness so the Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi manifests Herself for the destruction of such wicked people.
The Avatar comes to this world with a particular mission which is the main objective of the Avatar called Avatara Nokkam. The Avatar preaches many things and waits for the time to fulfill the main objective. In the meantime other things required for the fulfillment of the main objective are completed. Such things as the training of various cadre of people to perform and complete the main objectives are done step by step without overruling the Theory of Karma as far as possible. During this period some of the minor objectives are also carried out and completed. As soon as the main objective is completed the Avatar goes back to the kingdom of God that is Sukshma world, in the predetermined way.
Cause and Occasion of Her Manifestation
Whenever and wherever there is decline in religious practice and a predominant rise of irreligion, Adhiparasakthi descends Herself. When there is decline of righteousness and a rise of unrighteousness, She manifests Herself for the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of true righteousness. Thus, if necessary, she manifests Herself in different forms at this time. However, she manifests herself only as and when there is need for Her manifestation.
There is a decline of righteousness from the Satya Yuga, or Golden Age, to Treta Age, Dvapara Age and Kali Age respectively. In the Satya Age, Dharma, or righteousness, flourishes. In Treta Age the decline begins and becomes rapid in Dvapara Age. In Kali Age, the most evil of the ages, unrighteousness or Adharma prevails. In this age the Godhead, the Divine Mother, manifests Herself for the establishment of righteousness.
There is descent of Divine Mother for the ascent of Man. As an Avatar, She puts on a fleshly body out of Her own free will for the upliftment of mankind. She is quite independent and has absolute control over Maya. Meanwhile, Jiva, men, are slaves of Avidya, or Maya, so long as they have no self-realization. She is completely free to act in many ways at Her will and has no obligation to adhere to such rules and regulations. Therefore, She appears by Her own will whenever there is irreligiousity and a disappearance of true religion. It is a recognized fact that from time to time messengers and incarnations of the Almighty Adhiparasakthi are born on earth to shed the light of righteousness and dispel the darkness of evil and injustice.
Dharma is the base on which the edifice of life is built and the Divine Mother takes it as Her special mission to see that it does not decay. Whenever Dharma is assailed, She incarnates to set an example to the world and remove the hurdles in the path of Dharma or righteousness. Whenever there is a setback in Dharma it becomes the primary concern of the Divine Mother to re-infuse and revitalize the vigor into Dharma.
In assuming birth, Divine Mother does not abrogate Her intrinsic nature of being the birth less and deathless Mother of all existence. Her fundamental infinitude of perfections undergoes no diminution the process of incarnation. The form She assumes, the body in which She incarnates, is a particular configuration of Her own radiant and transcendental form, untouched by Rajas Tamas. It is material in so far as it transcends to the taints of terrestrial matter. In time of crisis, for the moral regeneration of the world, the grounds for Divine incarnation are not the necessity of Karma but free resolve transcending it.
The re-establishment of Dharma is accomplished in two ways. Firstly, the righteous ones on earth who are languishing for want of direct communion with Divine Mother, the object of their loving adoration, are granted the vision they long for, by Divine Mother in Her incarnate form. They are thus rescued from their spiritual affliction and sustained by the life-giving grace of Divine Communion. Secondly, those who are evil and antagonistic to the call of the Divine, are released through apparent destruction to get a new embodiment favorable to their turning Divine. The essence of righteousness is love of God, which is fostered by the self-revelation of God through the Avatar.
What is Unrighteousness?
When the righteous, innocent, weak, pious and spiritual people are exploited by the unrighteous, cruel, strong, wicked and mundane people and when moral values are lost and morality prevails: that state is the state of decline of righteousness and the rise of unrighteousness. When there is a decline of righteousness and a rise of unrighteousness, by God's order, saints come to the earth and true strivers are revealed. They both work to reestablish righteousness. Sometimes liberated souls, who have realized God, come to earth as representatives of God to help the people attain salvation. Where there are such strivers and saints, there is neither so much decline of righteousness, nor so much rise of unrighteousness, as in other places where there are neither strivers nor saints. When people don't follow the teachings of strivers and saints, but start to kill them, leaving only a few righteous persons to propagate righteousness, there is a decline in righteousness and Adhiparasakthi, the Brahman, manifests Herself.
What is Irreligious?
The principles of religion are laid down in the Vedas and any discrepancy in the matter of properly executing the rules of the Vedas makes one irreligious.
Establishment of Dharma or Righteousness
Because unrighteousness propagates due to the performance of actions with a selfish motive and attachment to the unreal, the establishment of righteousness consists of preaching and propagating the selfless performance of actions. The Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi manifests Herself in order to propagate the performance of selfless actions through Her deeds. When this sort of feeling is propagated, righteousness is naturally established.
The Divine Mother is the abode of Dharma, or righteousness, so She manifests Herself in order to establish righteousness well. In fact, righteousness never perishes. It only declines. Whenever there is a decline the Divine Mother reestablishes it.
To establish true Dharma and peace, She comes down as the World teacher. She shows Maya bound Jivas the true path of Mukti, or liberation, by coming down in a human body. Although She is on Earth in human form, She is not bound by Maya. She thus embodies Herself in different bodies at different times but the incarnations are not different. She is one. She only appears in different forms out of necessity. She teaches man by appearing in a form that is suitable for that particular time of Avathara.
She has appeared in India many times and has taught us many things. That is why India was and is the fountain of knowledge. In the past, whenever it was necessary, she has lifted India, upholding her by Her hands of Dharma. It is for this reason that even today in this downtrodden, oppressed and famine stricken India so many heroic souls, righteous and enterprising, are taking birth and guiding us. That is why our country has, even now, the true ideals of Gnana and Bakthi compared to those in other countries.
The Power and Capacity of an Avatar
An Avatar as epoch maker functions as a perennial source of power and beneficence for a whole epoch. An Avatar can transmit spirituality with a touch or even a mere wish. By his look, wish, or touch, people are saved. The lowest and most degraded characters become saints at the command of the Avatar. When an incarnation comes, a tidal wave of spirituality breaks upon the world, and people feel spirituality almost full in the air.
His message, Gospel or Arulvakku, and power transcends age and time. People look upon him as an eternal source of faith, hope, love, strength and inspiration. The milk of Divine love streams and flows to us from the Avatar. The Avatar is the meeting ground of personal and impersonal, of Divine and human. He is at once individual and universal. The Avatar is the teacher of all teachers, the highest manifestation of Divine Mother through a human form.
An Avatar is a mighty person. He removes the veil of ignorance of thousands of men and women and takes them to the land of eternal rest and bliss. The Avatar is one with the Supreme. An Avatar is not like an ordinary individual soul. The Avatar is the rays of Divine Mother Adhiparasakthi. When the work of the Avatar is over, he disappears from the world.
Adhiparasakthi has two manifestations. In one, She reflects through the universe and is called Nature. The second manifestation is through the great Incarnations of Adhiparasakthi that are the various Avatars such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Mohammad, Chaitanya, Guru Nanak, Kabir, etc. These two manifestations of Adhiparasakthi are:
- Karana Brahman
- Karya Brahman
Karana means cause. Karya means effect. Karya Brahman, also known as Hiranyagarbha, is the creative aspect of Adhiparasakthi. Avatars descend from Karya Brahman. There cannot be any descent of Avatar directly from Karana Brahman. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the three Murtis, belong to the Karya Brahman aspects of Adhiparasakthi. Brahma is the creative aspect; Vishnu is the preservative aspect; and Siva is the destructive aspect. There is no polytheism in the Hindu religion because polytheism means worship of more than one God and this is not the case.
As per the doctrines of our ancient Rishis of yore, there are sixteen rays or sixteen digits or sixteen planes of manifestation or sixteen expanding Kalas emanating from Adhiparasakthi, the Supreme Brahman. One ray is needed to maintain the animal kingdom. Two rays maintain the animal kingdom and five to eight rays are required for human beings. One can rise from savage to a higher spiritual status only according to the number of rays. For Avatars, nine to sixteen rays emanate from the Supreme Mother. Avatars are classified according to the number of rays. The different kinds of Avatars are as follows:
- Purna Avatar
- Amsa Avatar
- Lila Avatar
Purna Avatar means full Avatar, in whom all sixteen rays are present. Lord Krishna was a Purna Avatar. There are also Amsa Avatars with partial incarnations. Sri Sankaracharya was an Amsa Avatar. Lord Rama was a Lila Avatar with fourteen rays. Ancient Rishis, modern philosophers, and theosophists mention seven rays, twelve rays and so on when they describe the stage of spiritual development of their Gurus, Spiritual Masters and Adepts.
Whenever the Avatar requires secret details of past and future events, or any clarification, the Avatar contacts Karana Brahman through ecstasy known as Arul Nilai. The Avatar goes into the Nirvikalpa Samathi, the highest superconscious state, and then comes back to the conscious state. This superconscious state is the Thuria Nilai, or Fourth State. This is the state in which the individual soul rests in his own Sat-Chit-Ananda Svarupa, the highest Brahmic consciousness during Nirvikalpa Samathi. Only Jeevanmuktas or sages can attain this state. The glory of the state of Thuria is ineffable. Its splendor is indescribable. This is a very special form of occult trance and the Avatars call it Yoga-Nidhrai, or "Temple Sleep." This is a very special type of trance because the Avatar who has studied this under temple conditions knows what he is doing and can throw himself deliberately into the trance state as and when required. In this state he is under his own control and cannot be obsessed by others.
This is only an outline and there are a number of Divine requirements and steps in attaining such a state. Please note that under the surveillance of Avatars we can also attain such a state if we have the basic requirements of Bakthi, Devotion, Purity of Mind, etc.
The superconscious state is attained only in absolute samadhi and by cessation of all bodily functions. Normally, there is no return from this state. A person who goes into the superconscious state remains in that state for about twenty-one days and then passes away. However, a few who are destined to teach mankind return to the ordinary plane of consciousness by keeping a trace of egoism, without which corporeal existence is impossible. The Avatars cherish a few desires for the betterment of the world. By taking hold of this and through the special divine grace of Adhiparasakthi, they come down from the superconscious state to the conscious state.
Incarnations are always conscious of their own divinity. They know it from the moment of their birth. They assume human form and human limitations for a particular period of time in order to teach us. In reality they are never limited. They are ever free but appear to be limited to the eyes of ordinary human beings.
From their very birth, the Avatars are knowers of Brahman, the Divine Mother. It should be noted that there is no difference at all between Brahman and the knower of Brahman, "He who knows the Brahman becomes the Brahman" - Mundaka Upanisad. The Atman or Brahman cannot be known by the mind because it is itself the knower. Therefore, man's relative knowledge reaches only up to Avatars, who are always established in Atman or Brahman. The highest ideal of Adhiparasakthi that the human mind can perceive or grasp is the Avatar. Beyond this there is no relative knowledge. Such knowers of Adhiparasakthi or Brahman are rarely born in the world and very few people can identify and understand them. Attainment of knowledge of Adhiparasakthi is the highest object of life. By deep devotion to the Avatars, who are world teachers, that knowledge will manifest itself in time. "The lives of great men all remind us that we can make our lifes sublime!" By great men, the poet means the Avatars. Avatars come to us not only to remind us but to actively enable us to sublimate our lives. Avatars provide glorious and spectacular examples that anybody can assiduously imitate and follow. They are landmarks like beacon lights to catch our attention, stir our curiosity, evoke our admiration, shoot up our imagination, and are launching pads to shoot us to their own heights. In our upward climb, these paragons give us a steady helping hand. By following their lives and principles, we can leave footprints on the sands of time.
Incarnations can give religion in one glance, one touch, or just one wish. That is enough for anything and everything. That is the power of an Avatar. Similarly, the power can be transmitted to the disciples by the Avatar. The way for those who have not been blessed with the sight of the Avatar is to call on him. By calling on him, many are blessed with a vision of him in human form just like ours and can obtain his grace.
To reestablish the Dharma, Avatars come down from Almighty Adhiparasakthi in forms that are suitable for the needs of the time and society. Call them anything you wish: Avatars, Adepts, Incarnations, Mahapurushas (great teachers of humanity), or Siddhars, it matters little. In his life, each reveals the ideal. Then, by degrees, shapes are molded in their matrices and men are made. Gradually, sects arise and spread over the world. As time passes, these sects degenerate and similar reforms come again. This has been the law, flowing in uninterrupted succession, like a current, down the ages.
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