Role of the Avatars - Part I
Divine Discourse by my Lord Bhagwan Sathya Sai Baba
Date:14 Aug 1990
Like a feast to a starving man,
Like rain for the parched earth,
Like a child to one yearning for a son
The Lord comes to protect Dharma
And save the virtuous and the good.
Sahasrasirsha Purusha Sahasraakshas Sahasrapaad. The Lord has a myriad heads, myriad eyes and myriad feet. The entire cosmos and every living being in it are reflections of the Divine.
Oblivious to the presence of this sacred Divine within himself, man embarks on the quest for God. He behaves like a man who goes to his neighbor for milk, forgetting the wish-fulfilling cow in his backyard. Avatars are of two kinds: One, Amsaavatar; two, purnaavatar. All human beings are Amsaavatar (partial incarnation of the Divine). "Mamaivaamso jeevaloke jeevabhutah-sanaatanah" (A part of My eternal soul Self has become the Jiva--individual soul--in the world of living beings), says Krishna in the Gita. These partial incarnations, caught up in Maya, develop egoism and possessiveness and lead worldly lives. The Purnaavatars, however, subduing and transcending Maya, manifest their full divinity to the world in their lives. The Purnaavatar may behave, according to the circumstances, as if He were subject to Maya, but in fact He is free from Maya at all times.
The Lord manifests in different Avatars
In the Rama Avatar, for instance, Rama conducted himself as if he was subject to Maya, but upheld Dharma for promoting the welfare of the world. The Krishna Avatar was different. Keeping Maya under control, He manifested His leelas (miraculous deeds). This was why Vyasa, in his Bhagavatha, characterized Krishna as "Leelaamaanusha Vigrahah" (The Divine manifesting as man for performing His Leelas). The Bhagavatha has described in detail the leelas of Krishna and proclaimed His glory to the world.
In the Krishna Avatar, Krishna not only performed many marvelous deeds, but also taught the Supreme Wisdom to the world. He was one who had transcended the gunas, but, for the sake of regeneration of the world, behaved as if He was influenced by the gunas, and delighted the world by His deeds. Sanjay Sahani (who had spoken earlier) said that whatever Krishna did was for the welfare of the world. Krishna did everything, whatever He spoke or whatever action He did, for the good and well being of the world. But some people, not understanding this truth owing to their own limitations, attributed wrong motives for some of Krishna's actions. In this they reflected their own feelings.
The Parama Bhakti of the gopikas
Prema (Love) is nectarine in its sweetness. Bhakti (Love for the Lord) was the highest expression of devotion among the gopikas (the cowherdesses of Gokulam) because they were saturated with the sweetness of Divine Love. They did not seek liberation or higher knowledge. The ecstasy they derived from merely seeking Krishna, they did not get from any other source. Narada coined the phrase, "Parama Bhakti" (Supreme Devotion) to describe the devotion of the gopikas. These supreme devotees regarded the Lord as their companion and most precious treasure. So intense was their devotion that they used to go about as highly intoxicated persons who were unmindful of the world. Leaving their homes, on hearing the music of Krishna's flute, they rushed to the forest in search of Krishna, oblivious to everything.
The Gopikas realized that Jnana (supreme wisdom) consisted in experiencing oneness with the Divine and that all other knowledge was only mundane and related to the physical. Krishna was everything for them. In their feeling of oneness with the Divine, they made no distinction between the animate and the inanimate. They saw the Divine in everything. Pothana (author of the Telugu Bhagavatham) has beautifully described the feelings of the gopikas when they went in search of Krishna in the forest. (Bhagavan recited the poem in which the gopikas describe Krishna and ask the jasmine creepers to tell them whether Krishna is hiding in any of their bushes). Having tasted the nectar of the devotion of Krishna, the gopikas would not think of seeking anything else.
Krishna is said to have stolen butter from the houses of the gopikas. The butter, which He stole, was the pure, milk-white hearts of the gopikas. Butter is pure and soft. The hearts of the gopikas were like butter. (Bhagavan recited poems in which Yasoda tells Krishna about the complaints she had received from the gopikas against Him and says she will tie Him to a mortar so that He may not go to other houses for stealing their butter). Yasoda did not realize the divinity of Krishna, though even in small things Krishna used to reveal His Divine powers.
In the Treta Yuga, Rama came as the very embodiment of Sathya and Dharma (Truth and Righteousness). In the Dwapara Yuga, the Lord incarnated as Krishna, the embodiment of Santhi and Prema.
The world cannot so easily understand how the Love principle works. The Bhagavatha has clearly expounded the connection between Samsara (family life) and the world. Family life is concerned with the bringing up of a family, the acquisition of properties, the enjoyment of comforts and other material benefits. Nature provides alt that a man needs, air to breathe, land for shelter, water to drink, and food to eat. But man is forgetting how to live in harmony with nature according to Nature's laws. Man craves for all kinds of artificial comforts. This was the teaching of Suka to Parikshit (in the Bhagavatha).
The world is full of egoism and acquisitiveness, lust and hatred. When man tries to utilize Nature to get rid of these bad traits, then he will be able to experience peace, love, and forbearance. Love can be got only though love and by no other means. Hence, spiritual aspirants should develop Divine love. Love is Divine. It seeks no return. Its only aim is to realize God.
What is Dharma? It is the harmony of thought, word and deed. This is the mark of true humanness. What kind of man is he whose thoughts, speech and actions are not in accord with each other? Today man must strive for this triple unity. Dharma cannot be destroyed. But what is happening is the decline in the practice of Dharma. Today, the practice of Dharma is itself true sadhana. For the practice of Dharma, the triple purity--purity of thought, word and deed--is essential.
Embodiments of the Divine! Do not think that celebration of the birth of Krishna relates to what happened some millennia ago in the Dwapara Yuga. Everyone has to cherish the Krishna consciousness in one's heart every moment ceaselessly.
(To be contd..)