Similarly, if you see the development of India, in the social and political life, it is Buddha’s teachings, which had a tremendous effect upon the abolition of caste system in India: whatever anti castism as a reason, this is only in social and political life; we can trace it to Buddha. Although His teaching was basically teaching centred on Dharma, and spiritual matters, but in the outer life it had a tremendous effect, to such an extent that although Buddhism disappeared greatly from India, the social and political consequences of Buddhism remained in India very powerfully. Every Avatar therefore, whenever He manifests has always these two aspects: the spiritual aspect, and the social and political aspect.
In His own time the Avatar may not have been recognised as an Avatar. Christ for example: had only twelve disciples. Outwardly speaking He had hardly great effect upon the humanity around Him. If people were largely following, it was because of many miracles like healing, which He performed, but to know Him as an Avatar, the real Son of God, it was not widely spread. And even when Christ was being carried, and some of His disciples were asked, they shrunk from accepting that they were cognisant of Christ. As Christ had predicted of one of the disciples that, “Before the cock crows, thrice he will deny Me”, and this is exactly what happened.
In His own time the effect was very limited, and yet you may see now that if humanity is at least half humanised, it is because of Christ: such a tremendous effect on the life of the world. In the case of the Buddha, the following was tremendous, not as an Avatar, but His effect, the way in which he influenced the people, and thousands of people flocked at His discourses and gave up everything to follow the path of Buddha: it is a tremendous phenomenon, there is no parallel to the effect of Buddha in His own personal life, during His own living life, what effect He produced among the people.
Merely seeing the following or not following is not the mark of the Avatar: whether many people follow Him or a few people follow Him that is not the way by which you can judge whether he is an Avatar or not. There are many people who claimed to be avatars and there are thousands and lakhs of people following him, but they may not be Avatar at all. At the most he may have some powers of miracles or some powers by which you can heal and you can do some things and people feel that you are an avatar.
With regard to every Avatar there are three things, which remain as it were as a kind of a consequence: the figure of the Avatar, the people associated with the Avatar, and the doctrine. As in the case of Buddha, it is the figure of Buddha, it is Dharma, the doctrine, and Sangha. In Christianity it is the Christ, it is the Christian doctrine and the Christian World. In the case of Sri Krishna, there is the doctrine, there is the figure of Sri Krishna, there is not any Sangha as such, as far as Sri Krishna is concerned, but that is because He says that every path is my path, therefore the whole humanity may be regarded as Sangha for Sri Krishna.