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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Avatar

  The Role of the Avatar

By Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Extracts from the Divine Discourse, August 14, 1990 - Krishna Janmasthami Day

The Lord has a myriad heads, a myriad eyes and a myriad feet. The entire cosmos and every living being in it are reflections of the Divine.

Oblivious to the presence of this sacred Divinity within himself, man embarks on the quest for God. He behaves like a man who goes to his neighbour for milk, forgetting the wish-fulfilling cow in his backyard. Avatars are of two kinds: One, Amsaavatar; two, Poornaavtar. All human beings are Amsaavatar; partial incarnations of the Divine.

"A part of My eternal soul Self has become the Jiva_the individual soul_in the world of living beings", says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. These partial incarnations, caught up in Maya (illusion), develop egoism and possessiveness and lead worldly lives. The Poornaavatars, however, subduing and transcending Maya, manifest their full divinity to the world in their lives. The Poornaavatar may behave, according to the circumstances, as if He were subject to Maya, but in fact He is free from Maya at all times.

In the Treta Yuga [over 10,000 years ago], Rama came as the very embodiment of Sathya (Truth) and Dharma (Righteousness). In the Dwapara Yuga [over 5,000 years ago], the Lord incarnate as Krishna, the embodiment of Santhi (Peace) and Prema (Love). Today the Avatar has come as the embodiment of all the four_Sathya, Dharma, Santhi and Prema.

In the understanding of the role of Avatars, the easiest, and the sweetest means was revealed by Krishna Avatar to the largest extent. This does not mean that other Avatars are irrelevant. Each Avatar is appropriate for the time of its advent. This may be illustrated by a small example: When there is a petty quarrel in the street, a policeman's intervention is enough. When there is riotous crowds, a Police Inspector may be necessary to deal with it. In an insurgency, the Inspector-General of Police will have to take charge of the situation.

When Righteousness was showing signs of decline, Rama appeared to protect dharani (the earth), dharma patni (his consort) and dharma (righteousness). It was for these three-fold purposes that Rama Avatar took place.

By the time of Krishna Avatar, the forces of wickedness had grown to greater proportions. Krishna was not concerned much about the earth or the wife. His main concern was with dharma. When dharma is firmly established, the earth and the dharma patni are also duly protected.

In this context, Rama is described as Maya maanusha vigraha (illusion in human form). In the story of Rama, it is related that Rama lamented over the loss of Sita. In Krishna Avatar the picture is different. Women were in distress for the sake of Krishna.

In Rama Avatar, Rama was provoked to take arms against evil doers. In Krishna Avatar, Krishna provoked the conflict and fought the evil doers. In Rama Avatar, duty came first and joy later. In Krishna Avatar, joy came first and then duty.

There is a vast difference between Divine bliss and momentary pleasure. What is called happiness is incidental to a situation and is not permanent. But ananda (bliss) is different. It is lasting. When you are hungry, you go to the canteen and feel happy after taking food. But that does not last long. Permanent happiness can be got only through devotion to the Divine. Avatars make their advent only to confer Divine bliss to mankind.

Every Avatar is an amazing phenomenon. Not to recognize the Avatar is equally a matter for amazement. Even more astonishing is the incapacity to experience the presence of the Avatar. Most astonishing of all is to be in the presence of the Lord and feel miserable. To be in the proximity of the Avatar, to move about with the Avatar, to sing and sport with the Avatar and yet fail to understand the truth of the Avatar is indeed a remarkable phenomenon! When the Avatar principle is understood, you experience real bliss.

When you have faith in the Divine, life becomes a victorious journey.

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