In Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Sri Krishna, declared:
“Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavathi Bharatha,
Abhyukthanam adharmasya Thadathmanam Srujamyaham.”
“Parithranaya Sadhunam Vinashaya cha Dhushkrutham
Dharma samsthapanarthaya Sambhavami Yuge Yuge”
“Whenever there is a decline of Righteousness and rise of evil, the Lord incarnates from time to time to uphold Righteousness, to protect the Virtuous and to uproot the evil”
The fulfilment of the assurance given more than 5000 years ago, at the dawn of the Kali Age became reality on 23rd November 1926 when Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Swami), the Avatar of the Age, was born at Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India.
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; formless God takes a form and descends upon the Earth as an expression of His boundless love and affection towards humanity.
Why does God incarnate? 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 Dharma. Man alone forgets the goal of life.
“God is Love and Love is God”. 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 are sparks of the Divine; Swami invariably began His Divine Discourses with the words: “Premaswaroopo (Embodiments of the Divine Love), or “Atmaswaroopa (Embodiments of the Divine Atma)”.
In earlier incarnations God physically destroyed the evil, What about this time? Sri Sathya Sai Avatar walked on Earth with no destructive weapon in HIS possession, like the Kodanda (Bow) of Rama or the Sudarshana Chakra (Discus) of Sri Krishna. He relied on Education than Elimination; Instruction than Destruction. The good were encouraged to become better, the better to enter the region of the best and the blessed. The bad were encouraged to shed the coil of cowardice, which kept them in fear. Avatar came to play the role of a teacher and a Guru. The essential quality of the Avatar was to teach us to make good and proper use of our thoughts, words and deeds. Depending on the conditions and the environment in the country, the Avatar would teach and show the right use of the Divine faculties gifted to man.
Swami pointed out: “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. There is considerable change in human outlook that I have to bring about”.
Many people around the Sri Sathya Sai Avatar knew that HE was God in human form; yet, they often forgot that fact. Why? As the Avatar was in a human form, so the man mistakenly thought that the Avatar too was just another human being. This Avatar was mysterious and delightful blend of Individual Consciousness and the Divine Consciousness. HE behaved in a human way so that mankind could feel kinship with Him, but rose to His Super-Human heights so that mankind could aspire to reach those heights. Swami said, “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”.
Further elaborating, why HE had come?, HE said, “I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added lustre. I have not come to speak on behalf of any particular Dharma (Religion), like Hinduism. I have not come on any mission of publicity for any sector creed or cause; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into My fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this Universal Unitary Faith, this Atmic principle (Principle of the Spirit), this Path of Love. This Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind as one family through the bond of brotherhood, of affirming and illumining the Atmic Reality (Reality of the Spirit) of each being, in order to reveal the Divinity which is the basis on which the entire cosmos rests, and of instructing all to recognise the common Divine Heritage that binds man to man, so that man can rid himself of the animal in him, and rise into the Divine, which is his goal.”
Not to be deluded by His finite form, Swami cautioned, “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 fell into the trap of Maya was that most of the time, Swami acted just like an ordinary human being – there were no miracles. People then tend to forget the Infinite Divine Power latent in Him. About this, Swami says: “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 Chief Justice of the Court has the power both to protect and 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? Similarly, 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”.
One important characteristic of the Sai Avatar was that He was totally selfless. Divinity knows no selfishness. God is ever compassionate, ever ready to sacrifice, and is totally free from desires. As Swami said, “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.”
Simply, no one could understand the Avatar and His actions. As Swami once said, “If Balarama [Krishna’s brother] could not understand Me, how can you?!” It was a fruitless exercise to try to understand Swami and analyse His actions. Instead, one must concentrate on His teachings, absorb them, and follow them.
We must not belittle the Divine Mission by asking Him for trinkets. He gives us all that we ask for. Why does He do so? Swami said, “I give you whatever you want, so that you may want what I have come to give.”
What was that He was so eager to give us? The same thing that He gave to Arjuna just before the Mahabharata war, ‘Atmavidya’ (the Knowledge of the Universal Self). That is what the Avatar did come to give us and that really is what we must seek earnestly from Him.