Last time we were speaking of Sri Krishna receiving the message from Rishi Ghora:
Udvayam tamsaspari svaha pasanta uttaram
Devam devatra suryam aganma jyotir uttamam (Rigveda 1.50.19,20)
That was the verse from the Rig Veda which was indicative of the kind of knowledge that He received from his teacher. As I pointed out last time, there are three things in the Bhagavad Gita which are central if you want to understand the whole teaching. One is the fact that the teacher is the divine teacher, that the student is the human student, the human disciple, and third is the occasion. The occasion is a sanguinary battle and a huge war of men and nations, who have come together with different motivations to settle a very big national issue. An occasion of a great crisis in which the hero of the crisis undergoes a personal crisis, there was a national crisis and the hero of that crisis also undergoes a personal crisis. And it is in that national and personal crisis the teaching emerges, which is crucial for the settlement of both the crises national and the personal.
Now, when we say that the teacher is the divine teacher, there are three things which are conveyed by this expression: `divine teacher'. The first is that there is an implicit affirmation that the Divine Himself, the supreme Lord Himself, can become incarnated in a human body, that this incarnation can be historical in character, and thirdly, that although this incarnation is presented as a historical event, the emphasis is not laid upon the historical Avatar but upon the essential Avatar. Now let us elucidate this very important point.
First of all the Bhagavad Gita maintains that Reality is one without the second – there is only one Reality. This is a distinction from many other philosophies, which are called `dualistic' philosophies, or `pluralistic philosophies, or `materialistic' philosophies, and this philosophy is not a mental philosophy. It is not by speculation that the conclusion is arrived at that there is only one Reality; it is based upon a direct spiritual experience: "That Reality is one without a second". And yet this Reality, which is one, is complex in character. In one of the expositions of Sri Aurobindo, we find that Reality is described as simple–complex, simultaneously. When we were discussing the whole concept of Satchidananda, the very fact that we regard reality as Sat, Chit, Ananda, it is already a complex of three things; it is mobile and it is immobile. In this context therefore, the Supreme is present everywhere and in a sense, you might say that everything in the world is an avatar of the Lord. If Lord is present everywhere, everything incarnates Him and yet every incarnation has its own specific quality. What we call the embodied human soul is also the supreme Divine; what we call Vibhutis are also in some sense incarnations of the Divine. And the supreme Avatar – the direct Avatar – that also is his own distinguishing mark. The human soul which is embodied in the human body is nothing but the Divine's own fire; the Divine fire. Vibhutis are special manifestations, when the Divine manifests specially with a special emphasis of Power, or Love, or Joy, or Beauty or some special manifestation. That is also the way by which the Divine manifests, but neither the Divine, neither the human soul, nor the Vibhuti can be equated with a special manifestation of consciousness and power of the Divine which centrally takes possession of a human body, and the Divine Himself acts through the human body, no more as a soul would act, no more as a Vibhuti would act, but as the supreme Lord Himself acting. This is the special mark of what we call Avatar.
Question: Do Avatars have a soul?
Question: I also would like to ask one question. Is the Vibhuti uncovering of a manifestation or is it a special manifestation?
Answer: In fact everything in this world is uncovering because everything in the world is filled with the Divine.
Question: So the differentiation between an ordinary manifestation and a Vibhuti is an evolution?
Answer:...a greater evolution through which the uncovering is much greater and as a result you find a special manifestation.
Question: Do you mean to say that from the beginning it was quite uncovered?
Answer: No. Not necessarily from the beginning. It may grow through the law of growth but the growth is a very special kind of growth. As parents may have two or three children all of them grow together, but one of them, like Vivekananda who had also another brother, but Vivekananda becomes a Vibhuti, the special manifestation.
Question: Is the Avatar one who chooses to be born again... on purpose?
Answer: The Avatar has also past births, as Sri Krishna Himself says in the fourth chapter, when he tells Arjuna, "You had many births in the past but you do not know them; I too had many past births but I know them all." The Bhagavad Gita also speaks of Sri Krishna: sam bhavami yuge yuge, (chap.IV, 8) where he says: I come again and again from age to age.
So there are three special phenomena connected with the special manifestation of the Divine: a manifestation of the Divine as the soul, the manifestation of the Divine as Vibhuti, and the Divine's manifestation as the Avatar. And the speciality of what we call Avatar is that the Divine Himself takes a human birth or assumes the body and acts through that body with the fullness of the authority of the Avatar – as the Lord Himself. That is also the Vaishnavism, one school of it which speaks of nara narayana, a relationship between the human soul and the divine soul – the Divine Himself. Man in God is nara, God in man is narayana. Now, in this concept we have a new introduction: God in man that is to say, there is a soul, in that soul also there is avatar of the Divine. As a result of that, when the human soul, the individual soul gets in search of finding himself through the morass of ignorance of the self, he can discover himself, find himself, only when the companionship with the Lord is realised. I cannot recognize myself except as a friend of God, who is always with me. That is the inner Divine is the eternal Avatar of the Lord; the `inner' avatar of the Lord is different from the `cosmic' Lord and the `transcendental' Lord. The transcendental Lord also is there above everything, irreducible, supreme. The Lord is also in the cosmos, everywhere – the cosmic Lord. But there is also the eternal Lord, seated in the human creatures, and when the individual grows and the veil is cut asunder between him and the companion then the individual soul discovers and finds himself – what he is, is known. A stage comes when he really can see God face to face, can talk to Him, can receive the Divine voice. And then, the Divine Himself, who is always present, the inner Divine who was always present, occupies the outer body of the individual, occupies him occasionally or partially, and this is a very special kind of phenomenon which is created when the veil between the individual and the inner Divine is rent asunder. Then, two kinds of phenomena occur. One is that the individual feels that a higher power is acting through him all the time, but the other phenomenon is where occasionally or for a long time, or permanently, you might say, the individual feels that he is no more being acted through by the Lord, but the Lord Himself is acting. So this is one series of experiences one can have. When one is in the process of getting into contact with the inner divinity and as one moves forward , one first of all gets in touch with the Divine , one can speak face to face to the Divine.