Archives for category: Avatar

 

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( Photo Credit: iskcondesiretree.com )

According to the Gita, the Avatar is a manifestation of the Absolute Unmanifest (Brahman) arriving periodically on the material plane to redress and reform His atrophying creation. The Hindu concept of God is not just of an omnipotent, omniscient, heavenly being, rather it is that of an intimate and familiar even friendly and companionable personage, not merely a father figure but a friend and even a beloved, indeed even the essence of ones being, the Soul within. It is interesting that while one Avatar (Krishna) was a cowherd another (Christ) is spoken of as a shepard.

Q  U  O  T  E  S

”I am the father of this world, the mother, the sustainer and the grandsire;….I am the goal, the supporter, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the shelter, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the treasure-house and the seed imperishable.”

”Though I am unborn, imperishable, and the Lord of beings, yet subjugating my Prakriti (Nature), I take birth by my own Maya (power of illusion).”

”Whenever there is decay of virtue and the rise of lawlessness, then I embody myself, O Bharata ( Arjun).”

For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of Dharma (righteousness) I am born from age to age.”

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incarnating soul 2

Credit: soundofheart.org

                                                                                                                                           

                                      A    VA LIANT     CHOICE

                                         (A   One -Act -Play )

 DRAMATIS   PERSONAE

Gayatri :  A soul preparing to incarnate

Prashant:  A Guide soul

Gambheer:  A Teacher soul

Yogini, Nirvana, Advait:    Souls assisting the incarnating soul

Voice of Siddharth: Voice of a Master, The Buddha from a higher realm

THE   SETTING

A small group of soul forces are engaged in discussion and preparation for the reincarnation of one of them.

The stage is laid out in a simple setting with a rockery in the middle on which five figures are seated at different levels as people would on a picnic. One of them, Gaitri is seated on the floor in the space which the rockery encircles on three sides, except the side facing the audience. She is seated in the lotus position, eyes closed in Yogic meditation. Most of the spirits are dressed in similar white silken robes and sandals, irrespective of sex. The incarnating spirit Gaitri seated on the floor is dressed in a cotton saffron robe of the same type. The guide spirit Prashant is dressed in cream silk and the Teacher spirit Gambheer is in blue silk.

The scene opens in virtual darkness with very dim pools of light to the accompaniment of strains of a Sitar playing Raga Parameshwari as the curtain swings open. The music then dies out  before the dialogue begins.

THE    PLAY

Yogini:    Even after so much preparation, it is difficult when it finally comes to take the plunge as if into an abyss, a bottomless pit. Not all one’s knowledge of physical reality and experience of eternity prepares one for the jolt of matter, the bombardment of the senses, the metamorphosis. 

Nirvana:    It is remarkable that we do so despite the fact that there never is any compulsion in the choice of whether to enter Earth life or to remain in equilibrium. The choice of incarnation has therefore always been a valiant one.

( Gaitri stirs from her meditation, looks around and slowly rises to her feet turning to where Prashant is seated at the lowest extremity of the rockery. She goes and stands beside him, casually placing her hand on his shoulder and addressing him)

Gaitri:    I always quake with fear before making entry, every single time, unfailingly, but have always opted in favour of going again and never because I enjoyed the experience.

Prashant;    On the other hand, I have never felt your kind of compulsion. Perhaps I am not courageous enough.

Gambheer:    ( seated at the highest point in the rockery) Or because you are not in need of  the experience for such growth which you manage to attain on the basis of other strengths.

Yogini:    Once you commence, there is no end to the need for repeated reincarnations revealing some more subtle aspect of matter which one quickly realizes has in it the inherent dynamics for ascent to higher levels.

Nirvana;    I have always felt that it is an act of great courage to want to experience embodiment, the imprisonment of being, the subjection to physical senses, the lessons of pain, the shocking displays of the law of opposites. Discounting of course the  experience of sex ( Chuckles).

Prashant:    Nirvana, you surely need to reincarnate precisely because you have yet to overcome your lingering memories of carnal relationships.

Gaitri:    In my view the sublimation felt in sexual ecstasy is hardly something to be frowned upon. Providence has created it not merely for ensuring procreation but to give the earthly persona a foretaste of the higher ecstasy that we experience when ultimately merging with the supreme spirit at the highest levels.  Sexual love derives from Spiritual love which is the prototype for sex.

Gambheer:    I did not mean to denigrate sexuality. After all it is a great motivating force that can help overcome the ego and to sublimate its baser attributes, particularly when it gives rise to a kind of profound love. I believe it was conceived for that very purpose rather than merely for procreation which earlier was possible through simple regeneration. That kind of world would have created horribly inflated egos where each entity was entirely self sufficient creating a clone of itself and in opposition to other clones which differed. What I meant was that hankering after it as a motive for reincarnation was completely misplaced.

Nirvana:    Hey, I was only joking, but I’m glad we have analysed its value on the physical plane.

Gaitri:    Returning to choices of reincarnation – we have available, unlimited number of choices of gender, circumstances of birth, strengths, weaknesses, life-span, race, social status, familial relationships – the spectrum is indeed very broad. What is important is to arrive at the right combination for the kind of experience one wishes to have for a certain kind of growth.

Gambheer;    It is not easy subjecting oneself even to one’s own choices.

Prashant:    Even linking up as a guiding force has been an overwhelming experience. How much more must be witnessing and enacting one’s reincarnation?

Yogini;    You choose for instance, whether you wish to work out with the domination of being a male or experience the  ‘passivity’ of womanhood – differing parameters and compulsions making for different settings.

Nirvana:    Conceptually, the plan always appears a good one for the purpose for which it is created with positive sustaining features and negative ones representing trials and obstacles. But the results are quite often unpredictable and traumatic. I still carry the ache for someone I dearly loved whom i left behind.

Prashant:    It is precisely in such situations that the Guides play a crucial role. For instance in averting suicides, depressions, addictions and morbidity, though it is hard work creating the right volition at the material level to avert an untenable situation. You certainly need dear Nirvana, to rise above your lingering cravings. Both sex and attachments need to be overcome and sublimated. Attachments are a form of love which have to serve a purpose, not become a purpose in themselves. Love for a son/daughter should not become an obsession even after that love has secured them in life.  In all earthly scriptures such obsessive attachments have a name – in the Hindu scriptures it is called ‘Moh’ – infatuations which arise from ego and are evil, hampering the progress of the Soul. Other scriptures also define such infatuation as being negative.

( Gaitri turns away from Prashant and faces the audience)

Gaitri:    It is really hard infiltrating the material world even to get to your own incarnation. It is as if  you are dealing with insensitive beings who neither heed, hear or obey. The physical gravity, electromagnetism, time-frames and compulsions of organic life produce the extremely stubborn phenomenon of ego.

Yogini;    Nothing is as startling there as to witness the possession of one’s incarnation by its ego, the force of the ego-personality. It is a force that pegs it down and gives it a novel motivation, dimension and twist. The sheer weight of ego and its compulsions are at time overwhelming.

Gaitri;    Yes, it is at the heart of the challenge – the challenge of the primary experience of matter and also the ultimate one – the fetter of fetters which makes you appreciate so starkly the return to the freedom of equilibrium.

Yogini;    Can you imagine the trauma of possession, of being possessed or wanting to possess. The continual violation of subliminal will by the force of ego and procreative desire which is only another manifestation of ego. The appalling dependence, the reliance, the submission to another’s will (pausing) in exchange for making the imposer submit to yours later. ( laughter all around). Bilateral control dramas that go on endlessly.  At the time of release, as the material desire slips away with the possessions, what an overwhelming sense of relief returns! How strange that love and compassion should find such a gross manifestation in matter.

Prashant;    Yes, how quickly desires and attachments arouse murderous rage. You could kill for the hand of your love or for ensuring that your progeny gets ahead of others – love for family, one’s ethnic group or community of believers could lead people and nations to war in the name of love or even faith! The mortal world confronted by the uninhibited flux of opposites runs riot prior to our equilibrium.

Yogini;    Yet as our incarnations experience the grinding weight of ego, the workout strangely, inexplicably, enhances our luminescence and the equilibrium becomes more meaningful.

Gambheer:    Indeed, it would appear paradoxically that the interface with matter is always alleviating. We Teachers have always been supportive of those willing to experience matter, having ourselves incarnated infinitely, we feel satisfied and able to play our role in helping others with choices and settings.

Advait:    Never having considered materialization, I must ask what is the distinction between a planned negativity and one that is spontaneous?

Gambheer;    On the material plane, negativities arise with every challenge because of the nature of ego. Anger unchecked reaches murderous proportions. depression leads to suicide. Jealousy to injury, greed to cheating, lust to betrayal and so on. On the other hand where these interactions have been planned to produce a challenging situation, as when two soul forces incarnate as enemies by agreement to work on the hate syndrome, then there is no problem. but when an extremity arises involuntarily, as in the case of murder, suicide, genocide – then we have reached a dangerous crossroads, often out of control and these end with fall in luminescence for the incarnating spirit involved, its Guides and Teachers.

Advait;    Of course, there are other ways of enhancement than reincarnation, such as, a study of the great Masters and their mysterious purposes – what on the material plane is taken as pure devotion and spiritual communication.

Gambheer:    True there are those safe alternatives for the timid and reluctant souls but without the roller coaster ride I’m afraid their evolution remains stunted even for the best intentioned.

Gaitri: (addressing Gambheer) It is only by your love that I mustered courage to incarnate again and again Sir, secure in the knowledge that your strength,  guidance  and wisdom would see me through when the rhythms become most disturbing.

Gambheer:    At such points of material crisis when the incarnation is no longer able to sustain the shocks and threatens to abort, we reluctantly enter the Auric field around the embodied spirit with a strong beam of healing light but interfere only when such a point arises because the trials and problems, their experience and resolution are part of the master plan of the incarnating spirit, chosen for a purpose. But choice does not mean that situations will be predictable and the risk is always there of a situation running out of control, leading ultimately to a severe dimming of luminescence as after a suicide or murder or the accumulation of enormous negativities which are not in the plan.With such dimming of luminescence there is only one choice left for the poor volunteer soul-force – to devise an immediate return to another incarnation to dissipate the accumulated negativities. However that option is frowned upon and is really an admission of failure.  At that point the poor incarnating soul has already descended to a lower realm of resonance – the obverse of what it intended.

Prashant:    (addressing Gaitri)  I shall always volunteer as your Guide, dear Gaitri, were you to wish re-entry – the experience earned in being a Guide or Guardian has been quite as fulfilling for me as the experience of incarnating itself, though less courageous.

Gaitri: ( moving to centre stage facing audience with arms out stretched) I need to choose womanhood to fight subjection and experience patience. I need to learn about equitable treatment of siblings, of powerful relations of sacrifice , of overcoming deep hatred, jealousies and animosities and in the face of these trials to overcome addictions of one kind or another that inevitably develop. What are the cardinal points that I must choose for this, what relationships, what addictions, climaxes in life and what circumstances of birth and death?

Nirvana:    ( suddenly animated with an inspirational thought ) I volunteer to join Gaitri, incarnating as her domineering and violent husband.  Let Advait and Yogini be the siblings between whom you are to exercise equity. Let the circumstances be the changing norms in which liberalization of women is the issue. Let the times be the end of the 20th century on Earth in the Solar System. Let your earthly goal be dissemination of greater understanding of the spiritual world through an appreciation of the growing metaphysical orientation in science and technology. Let the climax of your life be the separation from the domineering spouse. Let the ultimate isolation be betrayal of your love by friends and relatives. Let the resultant cynicism and anguish lead you to drug addiction and finally suicide from which you are saved. Then would begin your rehabilitation and total transformation with the growing spirit of social and humanitarian service. May you then grow in prestige and power and become instrumental in  initiating the fundamental transformation of the material world through the propagation of  a paradigm shift away from gross materialism towards a holistic appreciation of reality and the first steps in social transformation away from violence towards a peaceful planet with an equilibrium almost matching our own. Let such transformations occurring here and there be finally crowned by the appearance of a Master to lead the world into a new age of expanding consciousness, signalling the end of the childhood of man. ( sighs after the long speech comically raising his eyes upwards )

( As Nirvana completes his  speech the group of souls break out in spontaneous applause )

Prashant:   Bravo Nirvana, very creative suggestions. That is indeed a beautiful theme – a fundamental revolution and transformation of material consciousness,  the very transformation of man’s destiny. ( sighs deeply) but such a  metamorphosis would surely need more than a single incarnation.?

Gambheer: Granted that it would be most enobling an assignment and most enlightening. But , yes, would it not be too ambitious a task to expect Gaitri’s incarnation to move the entire material world?  After  all she is no prophet or Avatar.

Yogini;    Yes but we can reach out to other groups with what Nirvana  has proposedoposed – it could have a chain reaction of universal responses from several levels of the spirit world.

Gaitri:    Indeed I can sense  a rising crescendo of responses coming  in our direction even as we speak from every ethereal level – great and glorious luminescences pooling in their assent.

( flickers of light flash on the backdrop in all the colours of the rainbow from all directions  to denote responses from different levels, to the accompaniment of thunder and the positive and assenting strains of Raga Desh  in orchestra in rising volume – then the lightening flashes cease and the melody is reduced to a background accompaniment. )  

Prashant:    How energizing the spontaneous responses are. Let us then together invoke the blessed Lord Siddharth to help us in our venture from his highest realms.

( Gambheer leads the invocation and chanting with the Mantra ”Om Mani Padme Hum” – We follow his lotus jewel footsteps – as the others join him in harmony in a circle as the pools of separate light upon them converge into one brilliant spot at the centre )

All:    Om Mani Padme Hum – O Lord of the spheres, grace us with your presence. ( A point of bright blue light on the backdrop enlarges like a blue-white sun while the light upon the gathered souls dims in obeisance. )

buddha

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Voice of Siddhartha:    ( sonorous ) You envisage a historic coming in an age of transition from the Information Age to a Consciousness Age to mark the evolution of man to super-manhood on earth. This is indeed more than a simple incarnation of a soul experiencing material existence for enhancing its level of luminescence. Your proposal would involve the incarnation of  a galaxy of souls in such a fundamental transformation of the very essence of matter and material existence – a most worthy if ambitious project.

Prashant:    Master, your august presence in our midst does us great honour and we are already overwhelmed with luminosity and motivation to do your bidding. The interaction of numerous soul forces has already created an ambiance in which such a historical event as your incarnation would become the nucleus for a fundamental transformation of the human material, leading to other far reaching transformations. On Earth there has always been a legend of the coming of a new messiah for more than a millennium.

Yogini;    Great seer, as your glorious light infuses me, I wish to devote myself only to serving you in your descent to the world of matter.

Nirvana:    O  omnipresence, I delight in your compassionate visitation. Our naive  invocation was indeed presumptuous in  suggesting  that you  incarnate.  you are beyond such a need. I do hope we have not disturbed your supreme equilibrium.

Gaitri:    Glorious master, your sudden appearance in answer to our simplistic exchanges has already filled me with so much light that I no longer wish to experience reincarnation, let alone dare to suggest that you too descend to transform the realm of matter.

Gambheer:    O  compassionate one, we cannot presume that you have illuminated our quarter merely heeding our limited exchanges. Rather I sense that you have superior purpose and would like us to conform to your great and glorious design. Indeed all the realms of spirit bow to your holy purpose. what better can we do than incarnate and prepare for the descent of your glorious Avatar.

( All fold hands and bow to the glorious presence signified by the glowing light on the backdrop)

maitrya

Bodhisatva Maitrya – the messiah to come Credit: Norton Simon Museum – triadvisor.com

Voice of Siddharth:    The time is nigh when a part of me shall make its descent into the material world in the mountainous region of pious Tibet, even as a new millennium dawns on planet Earth in the Solar System of the Milky Way galaxy.  Soul forces will move to incarnate high and low in these regions as we begin the process of ending the childhood of man and creating a new material equilibrium. Numerous soul forces will endeavour  to structure and restructure the material plane as an ideal gymnasium for their enhanced evolution, till the environment is right again for matter to rise to its fullest potential.

( With these prophetic words, the blue-white light fades and disappears. The pool of light on the gathered spirits brightens again. They now congregate around Gaitri  as she prepares  for her own reincarnation. She is seated concentrating her being in deep thought in the lotus yogic posture. They surround her, hold and support her, a spirit in ‘labour’. Prashant stands behind her in his role as the guide spirit with both hands on her shoulders. linking with her thoughts. The others hold her with compassion from all sides. An Earthly yellow light glows around Gaitri and Prashant. )

Gaitri:    ( with eyes closed ) I can see her in labour and i can feel my descent into the heavy medium. I am now within the fetus as it stirs to be born. I shall now maintain silent contemplation and immobility to the exclusion of all other thoughts, watching over my incarnation’s passage till its completion. Prashant will be with me always through the experience, free to use all his resources.  Together we shall guide my incarnation. I shall inspire my material form and personality with intuition, which it may choose to act upon or ignore. while Prashant shall assist in the unfolding of the basic plan through the use of coincidences and guidance of other companion incarnations who are to interact with mine. Gambheer shall oversee our joint sojourn and use his power to avert irretrievable malfunction of the plan, assisting finally in aligning the progress of this life within the larger context of the descent of the Master, even as several other Teachers do likewise in the infinite reaches  with other wards, in other groups.

( As Gaitri falls into deep meditation and Prashant and Gambheer now stand on either side of her with a hand on each shoulder , the others contemplate her, concentrating their thoughts on her incarnation in compassionate communion, as all lights begin to fade except the broad yellow beam on the figure of Gaitri in meditation, before this too begins to fade and go out even as the sound of wailing of a new born child grows louder and louder. )

incarnating soul

Credit: soulbirth.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

Credit ISKCON

Credit ISKCON

The popular saying goes, to see is to believe. We all want and need to have a vision, be it at the cinema, the TV, a photograph, or best, in real just looking around at the beautiful world and its beautiful inhabitants. Like, if the subatomic world is a reality, I must look at it through the microscope to satisfy myself that it is. It is through the telescope that we get a vision of what the galaxy and the solar system and beyond may be like.

When all the discourses were done, knowledge imparted of the here and beyond, Gita’s  hero Arjun turned to his dear friend Krishna and expressed a simple but fundamental wish. The abundant information, wisdom and insights remained somewhat academic to him. All the metaphysical, philosophical and poetic explanations failed to satisfy the urge to experience the truth by being afforded a grand vision of that reality –  we cannot blame him for his childlike desire to see it. In such a circumstance we would too.

Arjun here is being real cute and careful in his pleadings. first with a hint of flattery, he expresses his profound gratitude for the discourses. He acknowledges this lovingly, by calling Krishna ‘lotus eyed’ , then summoning courage he blurts out: ‘yet I desire to see your sovereign form’. then he is afraid he may have asked too much and qualifies it by adding: ‘ if you O lord think it possible for me to see it, then do… show me your eternal form.’

”But you cannot see me with these eyes of yours” replies Krishna.

Here I am reminded of ‘The Black Cloud’, a Science Fiction novel by astrophysicist Fred Hoyle about a mysterious cloud that arrives above the Earth. Scientists struggle to decipher its message and finally receive from it the technology to communicate with it. They set up the apparatus as instructed. It wishes to communicate knowledge about itself and the mysterious universe to any representative. A volunteer is seated before the instrument panel and he is connected to it. As the information comes in, the volunteer’s brain cannot handle the complexity and overload, resulting in his brain short circuiting into insanity.

Likewise, limited by our mental capabilities, one can only absorb so much of reality and make sense of it. Scientists are familiar with the mysteries of Quantum Physics but can they truly comprehend it to make sense of it for us in our daily lives? Astronomers can conceptualize Black Holes and Supernovas but can they comprehend them in their totality? When a concept goes beyond our understanding we seek to symbolize it mathematically as a convenient way of simplifying the ultra-complex. A simple equation, E=MC square, makes us feel we have understood the inconceivable.We need giant telescopes to look at distant cosmic phenomena, electronic microscopes to look at the subatomic world, computers to engage in complicated math to understand Quantum facts.

No wonder Krishna realizes the severe limitations not only of human vision but of the human mind as well. He alone ‘knows Himself by Himself’ as Arjun puts it. But Arjun is a dear disciple and friend and his request has to be honoured. Therefore through his generosity and magical Yogic powers (Yoga Kshemum), Krishna confers divine sight on him – celestial eyes (Divyam Chakshuhu).

 Then, before him, now looking through the divine protective facility of celestial eyes, Arjun sees his friend and companion the charming Avatar Krishna begin to metamorphose into a cosmic colossus with hundreds of thousands of shapes glowing with a myriad colours. He sees the whole universe and everything else there is to see integrated within the form. One of the most beautiful passages of the Gita follows:

” If the splendour of a thousand suns were to blaze forth all at once in the sky, that would be like the splendour of that mighty being. There in the body of the God of Gods he then saw the whole universe with its many divisions drawn together into one” (Ch. XI- 12/13)

 Even the one sun in our world is so brilliant that were we to stare at it we would be blinded, though we like to bask in its light and warmth. The radiance of a thousand suns shining at once is beyond conception – it would be death to look upon such brilliance. Therefore Arjun was fortunate to have the filter of divine sight to sustain the experience and enjoy such mind-blowing brilliance of the Super Conscious Essence.

 The form adopted to show Arjun the universal vision was necessarily anthropomorphic, with eyes, mouths, heads, hands and legs, the multiple colossi stretching all ways. Doubtless to safeguard against jolting him into insanity like the one suffered by our Science fiction volunteer with the mysterious cloud. But in fact a form was not relevant to the content which conveyed the substance of the message of divine reality. Arjun remarks that he sees an infinity of forms on all sides without a beginning a middle or an end. We cannot then think in terms of one form only. He sees the ‘sun and the moon in the eyes’, in other words the planetary systems and the physical universe. He sees beings flowing into him in the fires of dissolution and beings flowing out in the catharsis of creation.

 Arjun is overwhelmed and fearful and his hair stands on end (Romanchit). Trembling, he confesses that looking upon this awesome reality he is bewildered and fearful. Yet he is courageous enough to ask:

”Who are you, I know not your purpose and desire to know you”. The vision has not sated his curiosity, rather he now dares to ask that cosmic colossi ‘without beginning or middle or end’ and planetary systems orbiting in what must be His eyes, who He is! Like a courageous soldier he demands to know Him. For that mighty eternal colossus the impertinence of the puny but brave soul must have been endearing.

From that radiating cosmic vision comes a deep sonorous reply:

”I am the mighty world destroying time”

 He doesn’t say much more. In the Gita, rather than the universal form speaking of His infinite greatness, it is Arjun who overawed, begins to describe Him. Wide eyed he calls out: ” You are the primal cause, abode of the universe, the imperishable, the being and the non-being, the primal god, the ancient one, the one who pervades the universe, the adorable, the greatest Guru and implores his forgiveness for his inadvertent transgressions and presumptuous behavior as a friend, asking the Lord to be compassionate ”as a father to a son, a friend to a friend and as a lover to his beloved”( not overawed enough to give up friendship and love).

 He admits that while he ”rejoices” at having seen what has never been seen before he is confounded with fear at what he is witnessing and can no longer bear to look upon such immense glory and fearful splendour and pleads that he would once again like to see his mortal friend. How very touching the melodramatic scene must have been.

 Thereupon the Great Lord, as it were, collapses in a moment the ‘Virat’ form with the brightness of a thousand suns resuming his mortal form of the Avatar, the gentle Krishna, touchingly consoling and comforting the terrified Arjun. The wonderful Arjun, quite like a Greek hero, courageous and righteous, rejoices on seeing his own familiar gentle friend Krishna once again.

The cosmic vision may appear weird to those not brought up in Hindu culture, but we must remember that it was explained in an indian scripture for an Indian audience over 2000 years ago. The vision would have been different, say like Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, painted at the Sistine Abbey, if a disciple of Christ had asked him the same question. In the Gita Krishna clarifies this in a simple verse:

‘In whatever way men seek me, in the same way do I carry out their desires, men pursue my path O Arjun, in many ways.

‘Whatever divine form any devotee with faith wishes to worship, the same faith in him I make unwavering.’

‘Endowed with that faith, he engages in the worship of that form and from it obtains his desires, which are actually ordained by Me.’

The Avatar KrishnaAs a young cowherdCredit: ISKCON

The Avatar Krishna
As a young cowherd
Credit: ISKCON

The idea of Avatar was borrowed by the West from India, more particularly Hinduism, much like the concepts of Guru and Pandit were. James Cameron adapted it for his blockbuster film of the same name and PCs the world over for the abstract representation of users in the virtual world, but with modifications. The Hindu concept is actually neither of ones extension through a transporting machine into an alien world, nor of an imaginary portrayal of one’s persona on the web. The Sanskrit word simply means ‘descent’ and has come to mean divine manifestation through incarnation.

But every soul’s reincarnation from the spiritual realms to the material world does not qualify. The incarnation of the Universal Essence (Brahma). as an anthropomorphic saviour on the physical plane, alone qualifies to be called an Avatar. In the Gita, Krishna the Avatar, assuming the deep sonorous voice of his true Self, the Universal Essence, explains when such a descent into the world becomes a painful necessity – the extraordinary embodiment of the Godhead, making it subject to all the trials and tribulations, pains and pleasures, fortunes and misfortunes of a mortal existence ( Christ on the cross), subject to all the earthly conditions, save one. The Avatar remains exempt from the Law of Karma and accumulates no effects, which would otherwise necessitate enforced rebirth under Karma’s inexorable and inflexible regime of cause and effect. Why the exemption, one may ask? Because the Law cannot touch or take into account actions that are dispassionate and made with no egotistical purpose. The Avatar’s actions are all altruistic and meant to ameliorate the sorry plight into which the material world has degenerated at the moment necessitating its incarnation.

The Avatar is in fact the Hindu counterpart or approximation for  prophet, messenger or ‘son of God’ concepts in other cultures. The difference being that the Avatar is not regarded as a representation of divinity but divinity incarnate itself, God in a human guise.

The most popular of such Avatars are Rama of the Epic Ramayan and Krishna of the epic Mahabharat, whose discourses on the battlefield become the message of the Bhagawad Gita. The Hindu pantheon also includes (apparently without permission) the Buddha, as its latest Avatar, without dwelling on his teachings or philosophy, which quite often is at variance with Hindu thought. Like other cultures, Hinduism also holds out the hope for the coming of yet another saviour. The present age is called the Age of Kali, Kaliyug, the age of vice. The Avatar to come as saviour in this age, Kalki is portrayed as a warrior on a horse with sword in hand ending evil with the apocalypse which accompanies him.

Kalki , the avatar to come.Credit: yoga-philosophy.com

Kalki , the avatar to come.
Credit: yoga-philosophy.com

Except for sages, philosophers, yogis and mystic-saints, most ordinary Hindus, while acknowledging a formless God (Nirgun) as the Universal Essence, generally engage in adulation and worship of the Avatars Rama and Krishna, while others worship the incarnated form of the Universal Energy (Shakti), depicted as a female deity riding a tiger or lion.

ShaktiCredit: shaktiwomyn.com

Shakti
Credit: shaktiwomyn.com

The Avatar is etched deeply in the Hindu psyche and arouses a range of emotions from admiration, adulation, ecstasy and love, expressed through worship, prayer, meditation, song, poetry and dance.

 The Avatar then is an extraordinary phenomenon. On the one hand it has the charm and charisma of a leading film star, breathtaking to view and irresistible to the surging mob of fans. On the other, he has also the dignity, majesty, serenity and power of a king of kings into whose audience you are ushered, overwhelmed and awestruck. He has also the compassion and humility of a saint, melting your ego like a candle in tears and the love of a mother you meet after years of yearning separation. He is also Superman with supernatural abilities he is loath to use but of which one is aware. This film star who happens to be a king, a saint and Superman, all rolled into one finally is also your best friend who arouses unbearable emotions of love and intimacy. If you can succeed in conceptualizing all these amazing attributes together in one person for a moment, then you can picture an Avatar standing before you.

1445buddha

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