Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 8. Avatarhood

This is such a mystery. It is itself, it is other than itself, other than itself is also itself, in itself it does not move, it is movable, movable by consciousness, but movable in the consciousness of the other. You can see the complexity now. That's the whole crux of the ultimate reality. Only these three words give you the entire mystery of the universe. That’s why Veda is something so supreme. It is a condensation of the highest possible experience.

न नूनम् अस्ति नो श्वः कस् तद् वेद यद् अद्भुतम् |
अन्यस्य चित्तम् अभि संचरेण्यम् उताधीतं वि नश्यति ||

na nūnam asti no śvaḥ kas tad veda yad adbhutam |
anyasya cittam abhi saṃcareṇyam utādhītaṃ vi naśyati ||

Rig Veda 1.170.1

Utādhītaṃ means if you try to contemplate on it, vi naśyati it does not get grasped. If it is graspable it is not wonderful, wonderful is that which exists and whenever you try to reach it, it escapes you. It's like Sri Krishna standing here and we try to grasp him and he's getting away, he's not to be found. This is the adbhutam adbhutam, marvellous nature of reality.

So we start with a basic proposition. Unless we understand this, we don't understand Avatarhood, that is why I had to take you into this so-called metaphysical terrain to some extent. Such is the nature of reality. There is nothing else in it, yet it is something else than it. Therefore, the supreme lord can be all over in which he can manifest himself here in another’s body. Why? Because such is the nature of reality, it is capable, when we say reality is omnipotent, what does it mean? Omnipotent—there is something capable of something which you can't even conceive. Normally, it escapes our understanding. Now all this is in a certain sense given in the Gita, but not sufficiently expounded. Gita is not a very great metaphysical book. It’s an answer in an episode, suddenly a question has arisen in the mind of Arjuna. Arjuna, of course, is quite an intelligent being, so he asks good questions which are metaphysical also. Therefore, there are many questions which involve metaphysics. Therefore, to that extent is metaphysical, but not a complete metaphysical system, as you find in The Life Divine for example, The Life Divine is a direct metaphysical book. The greatest metaphysical book on the earth isThe Life Divine.

Now to come back to this main point about Avatarhood. Sri Aurobindo says that the Supreme Reality, when he manifests on the earth, there is one way by which he is taking birth. We are all born, we are born by another method. Both of us are born because of the power, as I spoke of power, that which is movable. Now that which is movable has two capacities. All engineers understand many capacities of power, so here also it is many capacities. As far as we are concerned, the power pushes us down as it were. There is a supreme power and this supreme power has a height and has a bottom you might say. Now when we are to be put on this earth, we are put down as it were, we are pushed down. When the Avatar wants to come down, he will rest on this power. He is not pushed down, he is a master of power. So when he comes down on the earth, he comes with his higher power, he rests upon the higher power and therefore all that is lower does not cloud him. In our case, what happens is that we also come from the higher, because we are actually according to the Gita, we are not different from the supreme, mama eva ansha sanatana which is the famous word in the Gita; mama eva ansha sanatana, that is to say that the jiva is in each one of us, what we are truly, individually, is nothing but he himself, his own person. So when we are on this earth in a sense you might also say we are also avatars, that we have also come from the Supreme. But when we come down on the earth we are given a certain type of work. It’s an division of labour. We are also him. So when he wants to work out something on this earth, he has one process, so that that work is done when he comes here. He comes also by another process and another work, another purpose, so he has a different way of coming. That is all. Otherwise actually we are also an avatar. We are also coming from the height.

The origin of all of us, Gita says, all of us are children of Para Prakriti. Sri Krishna says, this is another surprising thing in the Gita, Sri Krishana says: I have got two natures, not one nature, but I have got two natures. It’s also another surprising thing in the Gita. Sri Krishna says I have got two natures: one is higher nature, another is lower nature. Lower nature is ashodha prakriti, the eightfold prakriti is my lower nature, but there is a higher nature, Para Prakriti and Aparaprakriti, Aparaprakriti is lower nature, Paraprakriti is higher nature. So it is the same prakriti, but having two phases, phase one and phase two. Phase two is Aparaprakriti, phase one is Paraprakriti. In Paraprakriti the supreme consciousness is fully manifest. There is no deviation in the supreme nature. In the lower nature, something has happened, something that has happened, that the Gita doesn't tell you. This is one of the important questions which the Gita does not answer. You might say, because Gita is not a metaphysical book, Arjuna did not raise this question. If you are both, if you have got higher nature and also lower nature, how did you happen to acquire this lower nature? from where does it come? It is a question which has not been answered in the entire history of the world until you come to Sri Aurobindo, this question has not been answered, which I can tell you from all my studies as an objective fact. There is no book in the world which answers this question. In the Gita it is said that we have got two natures and we all accept there are two natures. But how? How Supreme who has got supreme nature, how does he have the lower nature? How does it come about, this aspect? It is only in The Life Divine that too in all the books of Sri Aurobindo it is only in The Life Divine that has been able to answer this question. In no other book in the whole history, nobody has been able to answer this question: How does this happen? At present we are not going into that, but let us say that there are phase one and phase two. Now this phase two is what we see in this world in which we see Matter, Life, Mind and we find ourselves struggling in this world. This is what our normal experience is. We are here on this earth, struggling on this earth, seeing all around Matter, Life and Mind, and we don't know what it is, what we are, what is human being, nothing at all, it’s like blindfolded moving about, groping in this world. This is our real condition, but we also are actually supreme reality, ansha, and  ansha is not something different, it is not divided either. It’s a very important concept, ansha is different from the part, part is something that is cut, divided from the whole. You should take an apple and you cut it into five pieces, each piece is something when you take out the one piece that whole thing also becomes diminished. Now, when we are portions of the Divine, our personality is such that he is not divided, it is called indivisibility. It's very adbhutam. This reality is very adbhutam. We are his portions, but we are such portions that when we have made portions of him, he remains the whole, he himself becomes a portion. Now how is that? If you ask a question, how does it happen? Because it's the nature of reality. This is the adbhutam nature of the reality that he remains entire. Therefore, the world is not, I am part of it. He says I am a portion of it. That is to say, I am such a mysterious portion that I can be united with him, I can be separated from him, I can be again united with him, but he always remains as he is. Such is the nature of that Reality.

So there was some work which the Divine wanted to do for that we were sufficient. He had no need to come. These portions were sufficient. So Sri Krishna says who are the jivas which are all of us? He says:

ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः ।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥ 15.7

It is an eternal portion of Me that becomes the Jiva in the world of living creatures and cultivates the subjective powers of Prakriti, mind and the five senses.

Bhagavad Gita 15.7

Paraprakriti jivabhuta, it's a very interesting word. We are all manifested from the paraprakriti and yet we are ममैवांशो सनातनः. So we have got as it were two origins, paraprakriti and Purushottama himself. But Purushottama and paraprakriti are not different, paraprakriti is that anya of the Veda. Paraprakriti is also supreme, but supreme as power and power which can manifest and which cannot manifest. That is called paraprakriti: the power which can manifest and which does not manifest or can manifest whenever it is decided by him. It is only when he decides, then this can manifest, but he remains unmanifest without her and she has no existence without him, because paraprakriti is he. Such is the relationship between purusha and paraprakriti. Therefore, we actually have got a very special position. We are portions of him manifested by the paraprakriti, but in manifestation our stuff is aparaprakriti stuff. This is the nature of what we are.

Now in order that aparaprakriti, how it came about we shall not go into it, but let us say aparaprakriti exists and the Supreme Lord wants to repair this aparaprakriti. This is the work that the supreme lord has got on this earth, this aparaprakriti which is full of Matter, Life and Mind, it has to be repaired. According to Sri Aurobindo, this world is a world which requires repair and it requires to be transformed into paraprakriti. So we are incomplete here in this world. World is incomplete and this is to be repaired. So Purushottama said to all of us, we are all portions, and now you go and repair this world, so we have come here like masons, repairers. This world, which is not working properly, we all come here, but when you have come here, you can work only on one condition. We can't work very effectively. You can work effectively if you become concentrated upon the work. This is the condition of our work. This is required for every work. Actually, if you become concentrated upon the world, then you can work effectively. If you are not so concentrated, you cannot work effectively, but when you become concentrated there is one difficulty because you become concentrated, you forget yourself. This is what happens in all concentrated work, you forget yourself, because you are absolutely purely identified with the work, acutely identified with the world. This is what has happened to us.

We all have come from above and as Sri Krishna says, I put them down into aparaprakriti and then aparaprakriti begins to raise them. That is our real nature. We are all amritasya putrah, we are all children of immortality, but for all of us, we are missioned to come on the earth so that we work on this earth effectively. Now, according to evolution, that work, which you wanted to do with forgetfulness, that time is over. When you are working on Matter, Life, Mind that complete forgetfulness, which was necessary for the work, is now over. At a human level we have reached a point where we are to now remember what we are. That is why the further work that we have to do, can be done only if you can remember. That’s why yoga consists of our recovery of ourselves. This is what is called self-realisation. You are, but you have to realise what you are. So, as far as we are concerned, our work is to repair this world and we have come to such a point of evolution that that work is half done and now further work can be done only if you recover yourself, therefore, the need for all of us to do yoga. This is for everybody. Every human being has come to such a state that now it is right for him to recall what he is.

Avatar's work is different. Whenever there is a great difficulty in recalling ourselves, because recalling ourselves is not easy, we easily get completely deluded, completely overpowered by the flood of the Matter, Life and Mind. In fact, you can say that you're already flooded with Matter, Life and Mind. We don't even know that we are drowned and we are struggling to come up. But when we come to a very critical stage, then the supreme says I will come. But while I come down, I will not forget myself, because my role is different, not that he has a superior privilege. His portion of work is different, so he will not forget when he comes down. He knows what he is and he comes at that critical point when we are so much drowned and we really need his help, then he comes down. This is Avatarhood.

So he comes down, avastabhya, I come to all the prakriti. He is not drowned, whereas we are all drowned because we can work effectively by being drowned. Not that there is a punishment or any kind of wrong work, it's a question of division of labour and whenever there is a need for us to come to a critical point, then he is always there. Therefore, sambhavami yuge yuge, whenever there is a problem he always comes down, but when he comes down this is the process. In the process of Avatarhood, the Avatar knows that he is an Avatar. Therefore Sri Krishna as a child knew that he was an Avatar, and that is why even Jesus, for example, he is also an Avatar in the history of development, and he is also worshipped as a child, and that is not something wrong. It is quite right. Jesus was an Avatar, a special kind of Avatar because when Avatar comes down, in every Avatar there is not the same kind of work. There are different times of history and there are different kinds of work. Therefore, he comes down in every Avatarhood, he has a special work and appropriate to that work, he has one form or the other, one mission or the other, and Christ has another kind of mission which had to be fulfilled appropriate to that he was that kind of an Avatar.

Now this background is necessary to know that Mother is an Avatar and she knew in her deep inner consciousness. Now Sri Aurobindo also, he has never said that I am an Avatar, even this word he has not used only. There is one letter of somebody where he says: O Lord, I feel that you are an Avatar and kindly correct me if I am wrong. So Sri Aurobindo has answered: keep faith in it and you will not be misled. So you can see that Sri Aurobindo was very reticent. He did not come here to announce that, look, I am superior, I am supreme and I can do anything. And the Lord does not come here to display his miracles. How he works in the world is also a very special kind of working, but we shall come to now, because when you consider what is Mother, what is Sri Aurobindo and Avatar, we must know what exactly the intricacy of the knowledge of the Avatar and how he works on the earth.

It is said about Ramayana that Rama has never announced that he's an Avatar, in the whole of Ramayana. Krishna, of course, announced very clearly that I am an Avatar, not very often, but at least at certain moments of his life he has announced and of course in the Gita we have “Bhagavan Uvacha”. So it is Glory Himself speaking. There he is absolutely free because it is revealed to Arjuna at a critical point. It was necessary to tell him very clearly so that he has no doubt in his mind. But Rama had no such a need, so he has never spoken of him as an Avatar. Sri Aurobindo has made a very interesting remark that Rama knew very well that he was an Avatar but he was not talkative of it. So Rama was an Avatar and Sri Aurobindo says that when you read Valmiki’s Ramayana you find the afflatus of the supreme doing his actions. Sri Krishna also when he did his actions, he had the supremacy of his action.

Now similarly when you see the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, this is now you are coming to the central core of your question: what is the Mother’s role in the sadhana? It is this that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother knew that they are Supreme on this earth and they have certain specific work to do, to work out, and this work is an extremely difficult work because this work is not something which can be done by ordinary means.

Now, what does it mean: ordinary means? There are three regular means of work. One is the ordinary means of whatever is established on the earth. For example, we have, this is only example, there is a court system, the judiciary. I have a problem, I want to solve the problem. Then somebody tells me that if you go to the lower court, you will get an answer, go to the higher court, you get an answer, you go to supreme court, and then there's no further. This is the established system. Now, if you want to go beyond it, then what happens? Supposing you are still not satisfied? You still feel unjust. There is no means in the world today available if two nations fight with each other. At one time there were no recourse, now the United Nations is created, you can say now something is created, machinery is created now, it's established, and you can go to the United Nations to resolve your problem, but even with that Iraq could not solve the problem. Now Iran is also suffering with that kind of problem, because there is nothing beyond the United Nations, who can hear and who can decide. Therefore, this is one means of resolution of problems: established means of arrangement in the world. What’s called ordinary means.

Second is: what is called vibhuti. Vibhuti is any individual who becomes an extremely magnificent personality, majestic person, like French Revolution it took place, it was going to be drowned because all the kings of Europe rose against the French Revolution, because they knew that the tide will come to their countries also, so they wanted to douse it and the spirit of revolution could have been doused. Nobody would have even heard now of any effects of the French Revolution. But then came Napoleon and obviously Napoleon became monarch himself, dictator and emperor, but for one principle: the principles of French Revolution—Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity—to spread it and to impose it upon Italy and other countries. He could do it. These three ideas he could establish and ultimately, even now today, what has remained of the French Revolution are these three ideals, even in our own constitution of India. Our constitution starts with this Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, even today. So the French Revolution was necessary to be preserved. It could not have been preserved. Therefore, a vibhuti comes and it’s also one of the means, according to me it’s one of the ordinary means, then a vibhuti comes and vibhuti does the work. Then there is a third means, ordinary means, third is some kind of natural event taking place suddenly, surprisingly, it doesn't happen normally, but even in nature sometimes it happens, like lightning taking place, lightning doesn't take place every time, it can suddenly take place, but it's within the nature itself, nothing beyond it. So such extraordinary events also can take place and certain things can be done.

Those are three ordinary means by which things in the world can be accomplished, but if something is to be done, if mankind has come to a stage where there is a blockade and in all the established means there is no alternative but a supreme to come down on the earth. This is, you might say, the final authority in the world. He comes down. Therefore, परित्राणाय साधूनां:

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ॥ 4.8

For the deliverance of the good, for the destruction of the evil-doers, for the enthroning of the Right, I am born from age to age.

Bhagavad Gita 4.8

All those who are actually feeling drowning, feeling unjust and there is no established means by which justice can be done to them, then only he has to come. He has to break, he creates a new wave, a new movement and धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय, he establishes a new law, a law which was not there at all before. He establishes a new law, not that the same law is established, every time an Avatar comes, he gives a new law. Christ comes and gives a law which was not in Moses. He says, as I say, you are told eye for eye, truth for truth, but I say no, when somebody beats you on one cheek, then gives another cheek, love thy neighbour. As I said, it's a new law that he gives. It’s not in any written law, but he gives a law. He says this is what I tell you. This is law to be established and he came here on the earth to establish a new law of existence. Similarly, if there is a need, Sri Krishna came there, there was a certain limitation under which people like Kansa could thrive, people like Duryodhana could thrive. That was the law at that time. It was such a law that, if Duryodhana says to Draupadi that you now come here and be disrobed, even Bhishma could not say anything at all, it was such a law. Why Bhisma could not say because Bhisma says it is a law that if the king orders, and Duryodhana is king now, because Dhritarastra doesn't see anything at all. So Duryodhana's word is the final word and I am not a king. Now such was a law, so he couldn't do anything about Draupadi. If things of this kind were happening in the world and..