The Supreme Lord Himself is likely to be misunderstood if you look at Him only in His human aspect, and very often, we who are blind are not able to understand the Avatar. It is said that even in Sri Krishna’s own time, there are only three who knew Him as the Avatar: Arjuna, Draupadi and Vidura, (although in the later accounts of the Mahabharata and the Puranas and so on, we have many others who recognised Him as the Avatar), it is a said, (I am only telling you what is said, in many accounts, many more, for example Gopis knew that He is the Lord, Radha knew that He is the Lord, but these are later accounts), but if you keep only to the story of Mahabharata itself, it is said that in Mahabharata only three people seem to have recognise Sri Krishna as the Avatar.
For others, He was an extraordinary personality, and not necessarily something divine even, because He was seen mostly as a diplomat, or as a politician, or a warrior, or a leader, or a friend, or an advisor, counsellor, but to know Him as the Supreme Lord…in the case of Arjuna, it is only during the war itself, in the battlefield that Sri Krishna reveals Himself that He is the Lord, and that is why Arjuna himself confesses that, “I have all the time called you as a friend and very ordinarily I have talked to you so far, and now I realise that you are the Supreme Lord”.
On the other hand there are many people who claimed to be Avatars, (but they are not really avatars), and they are only partial manifestation of Vibhutis. So, to understand the Avatars, you must have the inner sight, inner experience. But this is a field, which is so mystical that intellectually it is difficult to speak about it. It is only in our experience that you find out, as when the Mother met Sri Aurobindo for the first time, in that very first meeting, Mother declared: “He is the Avatar”. It is by direct experience of the Supreme Himself being present, one who has assumed the human form for a great action on the earth.
We shall leave this mystic aspect, which was the internal aspect of the Avatarhood and come to three important things that happened with regard to every Avatar.
Whenever the Avatar comes on this earth, there is a remarkable manifestation of spiritual consciousness. At the same time, there is a remarkable transition from one level of social and political life, to a higher social and political life: this is a double phenomenon, which takes place, although in the outer life of the Avatar, one or the other may predominate.
If you take the life of Rama and Krishna, in the outer life that dealt with social life and political life: they both were chieftains, great kings assigned with the work of social and political life of their nations; so, certainly they powerfully affected and influenced the social and political life. But imagine the consequences in spiritual life as a result of the coming of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. In fact, the spirituality of India is inundated by the work of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna; although basically they were in the field of social and political life. But the spiritual consequences of their life are so incalculable that we cannot understand the true spirituality of India without these two important figures.
On the other hand, both Christ and Buddha were the Avatars, and their works were in the field of spiritual development, directly. Sri Krishna did not give any spiritual advice excepting in the Bhagavad Gita in such a large way. Sri Rama hardly gave any kind of discourse on spiritual matters. But Christ and Buddha, in their whole life time they dwelt on the spiritual matters, and gave spiritual doctrines and Dharma was the fundamental thing in the Buddha and the Christian doctrine is fundamental in Christ’s life, and yet the social and political consequences are tremendous even in the case of Buddha and Christ.
It is because of Christ for example that you can say that the whole of Europe, and today even the whole of the world, is filled with the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. If you analyse these three great ideals of today in social and political life, at the root of that you will find ‘Christ’. The Christian teaching, and therefore the teaching of Christ Himself is at the root of the idea of Equality and Fraternity, and of Liberty.