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
About the meaning of the word Avatar, Swami
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
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:
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 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. He
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
Swami 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.
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.
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 once
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 the Avatar.
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
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 understand
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
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
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
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,
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
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. He says,
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 from Him.
Source: Radio Sai E-Magazine