Now, we are coming to the 4th chapter. The 4th chapter has one very famous verse, so famous all over the world that if you read only that particular verse, and not take into account what was before, and what goes after, there is a possibility of not fully understanding that particular verse. In other words, it overshadows others, and to be able to properly understand all the drift of the teaching of the Gita, we should be free from that spell, and we should take into account all that goes before, and all that goes after.
This particular chapter is fundamentally a chapter on divine birth and divine work: divyaṁ janma, and divyaṁ karma; these two things are important. At the end of the 3rd chapter, by the practice of yajña, as the central means of Karmayoga, we gradually arrived at a condition where we can do, not only work ‘for’ the Divine, but we arrived at the work done ‘by’ the Divine Himself: this is our condition.
Now, it is to elucidate this divine work, and to bring its full implications that we have 4th, 5th , and 6th chapters basically; but 4th is so fundamental that we must concentrate on this 4th chapter as much as possible, even if it takes quite some time.
So, let us read first of all that particular Shloka, which is so famous, and which overshadows all the others and that is the Shloka (4.7). It says:
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata |
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham ||4.7||
paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām |
dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge ||4.8||
This is a verse which is extremely famous. And the meaning of this verse has to be understood properly both in terms of what it says in itself, and what is said before it, and what is said after. So, first of all let us only translate in simple terms what these verses mean.
He says: “O Bharata! Whenever there is decline of Dharma and rise of Adharma, I manifest Myself as an embodied being. To protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked, and to establish Dharma I come into being in every age.”
Now, in simple terms, this word declares that there is in History of the world, Divine Himself taking the human body. The birth of the Divine means assumption of the human body by the Divine Himself. This is the first statement: the Divine Himself assumes the human body, human mind, human life.
Secondly it says the conditions when this happens. And in normal terms it means that whenever Dharma declines, and whenever Adharma becomes powerful, this is the condition in which the Divine assumes the human body. And then it says what purpose, this is the condition in which the Divine takes the human body and then it says what is the purpose. So, the purpose is ‘to protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked and to establish Dharma’: this is the purpose, the conditions, purpose and the process of the assumption by the Divine of the human body.
Now, this particular verse comes as a result of a question that arises in the mind of Arjuna, which itself arises because of a statement that Sri Krishna makes at the very beginning of this chapter.
So let us go back to it. As I said we have to understand both, that goes before this verse and all that comes after that verse in order to understand this very important and famous verse.
Now, Sri Krishna having explained all that has to be explained about Karmayoga, in which he has said that by doing sacrifice you first do works for the Divine, and then at the highest level the Divine himself begins to work through you: this is the secret of Karmayoga, so that even while doing works, you are free. Having expounded this, now Sri Krishna makes a statement that this is the Karmayoga, this is the secret, which “I” had expounded to… “This was first proclaimed by me to Vivasvan.” If you read the first verse of this chapter (4.1):
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam |
vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākave ’bravīt ||4.1||
That means: “This yoga”, which He calls ‘imperishable yoga’ the great secret of yoga, “it was first proclaimed by Me to Vivasvan, Vivasvan told it to his son Manu, and Manu spoke it to his son Ikshvaku.”
And then it says:
evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ |
sa kāleneha mahatā yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa ||4.2||
parantapa, is the destroyer of the foes, enemies; paramparā-prāptam, “this yoga was then traditionally received from generation to generation and the kings who became Rishis were perfected because of the acceptance of this Yoga and practise of this Yoga, but this Yoga, kāleneha, in time, in course of time, mahatā yogo naṣṭaḥ, this Yoga was lost in the tide of time in due course.”
And then Sri Krishna says:
sa evāyaṁ mayā te ’dya yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ |
“This ancient yoga, mayā te ’dya yogaḥ proktaḥ, this yoga has been now declared to you by Me today…” Why?
bhakto ’si me sakhā ceti rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam ||4.3||
“You are my devotee, you are my friend, and therefore, I have told you this secret Yoga.”
By this means of declaration, a question is impelled in the mind of Arjuna.And he says:
aparaṁ bhavato janma paraṁ janma vivasvataḥ |
katham etad vijānīyāṁ tvam ādau proktavān iti ||4.4||
“How can it be that you are the first declarer of this Yoga, you are now, whereas Vivasvan was so early, Manu was so much in ancient times, Ikshvaku was so much in ancient times, so, how can it be that you told them this Yoga. You are born recently while earlier was the birth of Vivasvan, how then am I to understand that you taught this to Vivasvan in the beginning?”
It is in the answer to this question that Sri Krishna now answers and says:
bahūni me vyatītāni janmāni tava cārjuna |
tānyahaṁ veda sarvāṇi na tvaṁ vettha parantapa ||4.5||
bahūni me vyatītāni: “Many, many births have been crossed, have been spent by Me, and many have been crossed by you, O Arjuna; tānyahaṁ veda sarvāṇi, I know all of them; na tvaṁ vettha parantapa, but you do not know them, because you do not know them therefore you have asked this question. If you knew your past births, and also My past births then this would not have been a question in your mind.”
Now He declares the secret. He says, and this is a very important statement before coming to the most famous sentence, this particular statement is very important:
ajo ’pi sann avyayātmā bhūtānām īśvaro ’pi san |
prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā ||4.6||
He says: “I am ajo, I am unborn, avyayātmā, I am imperishable; bhūtānām īśvaro ’pi, I am also the Ishwara of all the bhūtā(s); sarvo bhūtānaṁ, of all the creatures; in spite of all this, prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya, I have my own Prakriti, svām prakṛtiṁ.” Not the ordinary Prakriti of three Gunas, but beyond these three Gunas there is a higher Prakriti: prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya: adhiṣṭhā, is one of the most important words in the Bhagavad Gita, in this context.
adhiṣṭhātā is the one who dwells and yet presides: dwells inside and presides, that is called adhiṣṭhātā. When you are a ruler of a kingdom, you dwell in the kingdom, and yet you overpower the kingdom, you supervise it: this is the meaning of the word adhiṣṭhā; adhiṣṭhātā or adhiṣṭhātṛ, feminine is adhiṣṭhātṛ, the masculine is adhiṣṭhātā. So when somebody is given the designation of adhiṣṭhātā or adhiṣṭhātṛ, it means that you dwell in a kingdom or in a household or wherever you are, you dwell in the field and yet you supervise that field; you are not under the control of the field, you are not controlled by the field, but you control the field.
So, prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya, “I dwell, I come to dwell in my Prakriti, but adhiṣṭhā, I remain the powerful master of that Prakriti, of my own Prakriti. I do not get clouded, I do not get possessed: I possess that Prakriti.”
This is something different from what happens to us, the individuals. Later on Sri Krishna will tell us how all the creatures, all of us happen to be where we are. There, the word used is avaṣṭhāya, that is to say: we enter into the Prakriti, but then we become overpowered, it is the word ava, here the word is adhiṣṭhāya; that is avaṣṭhāya. Here it is adhiṣṭhāya.
So, all the other creatures when they are born, they become overpowered by the Prakriti, but in the case of this particular birth, the Divine is not overpowered by the Prakriti, but adhiṣṭhāya: He remains, overpowers, He remains the possessor and overpower his Prakriti, therefore He is not clouded, he does not become subject to anything. Even while entering into the, even the lower Prakriti afterwards, when it assumes the body, life, and mind of human consciousness, even then it does not get overpowered. This supreme consciousness remains intact.
Now this is one of the most important statements in the Bhagavad Gita:
prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā ||
“By my own Maya, which is the higher Prakriti, with that power, I sambhavāmi, I become. Although I remain unborn and yet I assume, I take birth, sambhavāmi, I become, and I come into this birth.”
We shall come back to this verse afterwards because there is so much to be said about this, and without this we will not be able to understand a very important element of the Bhagavad Gita itself.
It is after this that now Sri Krishna gives us the conditions, when He comes into this human body, and the purpose for which He comes, and the declaration that, “I myself”, (that is the supreme Lord Himself) enters into the human body.
And then, He concludes, (in a sense concludes, although it is still longer), but in the next verse, that is (4.9):
janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ |
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna ||9||
This is divyam janma karma: divya janma, and divya karma. In other words in these verses, He has already declared the secret of the Divine birth and Divine action. In Karma yoga, while you are doing work for the Divine, there is a certain kind of action that you can do. But when you attain to a condition where Divine Himself acts, then, what kind of action He does? What is the nature of Divine work? How do you recognize the Divine work? Sri Krishna says: “I already now explained to you”. Although in two words or five words, only in one verse the conditions of His birth, and purpose of His birth, and purpose tells you the divine work, why, what is the divine work for which the Divine comes and assumes this human body.
So He says, janma karma ca me divyam: who ever, yo vetti tattvataḥ, who ever understands tattvataḥ, fundamentally, basically, in principle, truthfully, in his essence, essentially; yo vetti tattvataḥ, who ever understands this divya janma, and divya karma, the divine birth and the divine action, he gets free from the cycle of birth and death, mām eti so ’rjuna, and he comes to me. Now we shall come back again to this verse after reading further.
vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhā man-mayā mām upāśritāḥ |
bahavo jñāna-tapasā pūtā mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ ||4.10||
It may seem as if this particular verse has nothing now to do with the divine birth, and divine work. It comes now, refers to human beings, and what is the connection between the previous verse and this verse is not very easy to see. But let us try to understand that although now in this sentence, in this verse, there is now reference no more to Himself, why He comes on the earth, and what is the process of His coming, suddenly there is a kind of a jump and now, He speaks of the other individuals, of the Sadhakas, not of Himself but of those who are doing Sadhana:
Vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhā man-mayā mām upāśritāḥ |
baḥavo jñāna-tapasā pūtā mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ ||
They all get free, vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhā, they all get rid of the rāga and bhaya and krodhā: attachment and fear and anger; man-mayā mām upāśritāḥ: they become Mine as it were, they centre on Me; mām upāśritāḥ: they become fully surrendered to Me; baḥavo jñāna-tapasā pūtā mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ: they become My minded, they become fully surrendered to Me because they have given up all the attachment and fear and anger; and not only that, but the most important word is mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ: they have arrived at My nature.
You can do divine action only when you have divine nature. So long as you are approaching the Divine, you are still human and trying to approach the Divine. But once the Divine begins to act, then your own nature begins to assume the divine nature. This assumption of the divine nature is one of the very important purposes for which the Divine comes on the earth.
Therefore, when we say that, in the previous verse, (4.8), the purpose of the coming of the Divine is already expounded: it is expounded partly or essentially but not fully. The purpose for which the Divine comes on the earth is not only to manifest Himself, and to protect the good people, and to destroy the wicked people, and to establish Dharma, but for a much greater task: to lead individuals to arrive at the divine nature. If this does not happen, then the purpose of the divine birth is lost. Merely protection of the good people, and merely destruction of the wicked people can be done in many ways: the Divine Himself does not need to come only for that purpose, even the heroes can do it, great men can do it, great leaders can do it, but if the Divine comes on the earth, it is: mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ, it is to make individuals arrive at the divine nature. It is not only to protect but to lift them up so that they become filled with the divine nature; they become free from human nature completely and they become transformed into the divine nature. This transformation into the divine nature… this verse is often not understood and not taken into account while speaking of the verse 7. But this one is extremely important, and it continues the argument, it is not as if the argument is completed in 7. This argument continues.
Now, we shall stop at this point and read these verses once again, since they are extremely important. And first of all, let us ask ourselves two or three important questions, which arise out of this. It concerns with the central question: can the Divine Himself take human birth? This is the central question. As you know in this world there are many views on this very important subject. Even many religions, which believe in the existence of God, deny the possibility of the divine birth in human body. They believe that Divine cannot and does not take human body: ‘cannot, and does not’. Some religions, which believe in this kind of divine birth, believe that He takes birth only once. And once He has revealed, and given the message, there is no further need for another birth.
Whereas here Sri Krishna says: “sambhavāmi yuge yuge, I come again and again.” So, this sentence also jars on those who believe that Divine comes only once. There are some who believe that it is a kind of blasphemy to say that the Divine, the supreme Lord, He can come in this dirt of this human birth: it’s a blasphemy; it’s a kind of an insult to God. God is God, and world is world, the gulf between the two is so great. He can rule; He can command; He can be above; He is master ever pure, perfect. How can He enter into this imperfection? This also is a question raised.
Even in Hinduism there are those who believe that this whole theory of God coming as a human being is impossible: the Divine being infinite, how can He become finite? In Arya Samaj for example, there is a belief that the Divine does not take birth; it’s not a possibility that Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, all those who are regarded as Avatars, are great men, but so great, so super human that you can say they are gods. But God himself coming in the human body is not possible. So even in Hinduism, where the doctrine of Avatar and repeated Avatar is a generally accepted doctrine, even there, there are those who believe that this is not possible.
For Materialism of course, this question does not arise: there is no God, therefore the question of Divine birth does not arise. To heathens, (heathens are those who do not accept Christianity)…in the Bible because the Bible spoke of God, son of God coming on the earth; so, in Christianity there is a belief in incarnation, although only one incarnation in the whole history of mankind. So, for the heathens it is foolishness. To the dualists, that is the philosophy of Dualism, which says that there are two Realities, God on one side and Soul on the other; and the two cannot be equated. So even for them, there is a great difficulty in accepting the Divine birth: all births are human births. All this world is nothing but human, material, vital, mental, that is all. The Divine can be above but not here. According to Islam, God can send a prophet, a human being who can be a prophet, but God himself coming on the earth is a very hard saying.
To those who are rationalists, even those rationalists who believe in God, because there are rationalists who are materialists; there are rationalists who believe in God. But even in their highest conception, there is a distinction between the infinite and the finite, between the formless and the form, and according to them the Supreme is by definition ‘Infinite’, is by definition ‘Formless’. How can a formless take form? All forms, all formations belong to the world. So even to rationalists there is a hard saying if you say: “God Himself comes here on this earth”.
It is also argued that the purpose which have been given for the Lord Himself coming, according to all these people even those who favour existence of God, but cannot accept the birth of God on the earth, they believe that these propositions, which have been made that, “Whenever there is a decline of Dharma and rise of Adharma, and for the destruction of the wicked and for the protection of the good”, they believe that this work first of all can be done in two ways: God Himself is omnipotent. What is the need for an omnipotent to come back, come on the earth? To exercise his omnipotence. If He finds some difficulties on the earth, His omnipotence should be great enough to destroy whatever evil is here on the earth. Or, He can infuse His own potency, a portion of His potency in some human beings, make them great, powerful and destroy all the wicked, and sustain the development of Dharma. What is the need for God himself to come on the earth? What is it that cannot be done by God without coming into the birth? Is there something special that He cannot do without coming into the birth? If He is omnipotent, what is the need for Him to come on the earth?
Now, all these questions have to be answered, because this is such an important statement. In fact Sri Krishna declares first of all that He is an Avatar Himself, and He Himself says that, “sambhavāmi yuge yuge, I come back again and again”, and He gives a process by which He can come: svām prakṛtiṁ adhiṣṭhāya, supervening upon His own Prakriti, svām māyayā, with My own Maya, He gives a process of His coming, and the necessity of His coming, the conditions in which He has to come. Now, all these arguments that I just now levelled would seem to mitigate against this statement of Sri Krishna; and then, Sri Krishna declares that “Who ever knows the secret of My birth and the secret of divine action, it is he who knows”, you have not attained to the highest knowledge unless you also include in your knowledge, the knowledge tattvataḥ, “essential knowledge of My divine birth and My divine action”. So, such a tremendous prize is given, you might say such a great importance is given to this idea and therefore I stopped here, that we should not pass over such an important statement without sufficient understanding and appreciation of it.
Now, to understand the idea of the Avatar, we must realise that according to the Bhagavad Gita, there is only “One Reality”. There are not two realities or three realities: there is only one Reality. In other words, this is a book of Vedanta, and the basic tenet of Vedanta is “There is only one Reality, one without a second”, ekamevādvitīyam, (Chhānd. U. 6. 2. 1). Now, if you start with this statement, then you might say that ‘All here is God’. If the world has finite forms, if the world has forms at all, then even form is nothing but the Divine, even the finitude is nothing but the Divine. Therefore, the gulf that is being made between the infinite and the finite, and then, to say: ‘How can the infinite become finite?’ the gulf that is being made between the formless and the form, and then say: ‘How can the formless become form?’ This question is simply answered by saying that not only this form in which God comes but all forms are divine forms; all that is finite in the world is nothing but finite form of the Divine Himself. There is no gulf between the finite and the infinite.
In every finite, the Divine can manifest Himself, just as analogically, in every mirror you entire being can be reflected and there can be thousand mirrors and in each one of them you can be manifested; and your whole being can be manifested. In every form the Divine Himself can be manifested. So it is not as if Sri Krishna says that: “I come only with one special body.” The basic point is that all bodies in the world are in a sense My bodies; all forms are My forms. In fact there is nothing, which is not divine in this world. A perpetual avatar-hood basically is a fundamental principle of the Bhagavad Gita. It is in the context of ‘all as avatars of God’; everything is an avatar of God, it’s a speciality, so a special formation among all formations, which are also avatars.
There is one thing, which Divine cannot do, even though He is omnipotent, and for which He has got to manifest as an Avatar. It is true that for destruction of the wicked, for protection of the good, many things can be done, and God omnipotently can do, and He is doing all the time in fact. Therefore if you simply keep yourself only to those words in verse 7, and not read them between the lines, the argument against it can be quite powerful that by omnipotence of the Divine all these purposes can be fulfilled, but there is one thing the Divine cannot do. If it is the purpose of the Divine to manifest ultimately fully in the entire world, (not only in one form), but if it is the aim of God to manifest Himself in all finite forms, fully, at present He already manifest in finite forms but veiled, imperfectly, but if it is the purpose of the Divine to manifest Himself in all the forms, then you cannot deny Him in His omnipotence the power to do so. He is omnipotent therefore He can manifest also Himself in all the forms, and if He can manifest Himself in all the forms, why can he not manifest in one form? Particularly if His purpose is to manifest Himself fully, gradually, and not all at once. You cannot deny that power of God to manifest Himself gradually, or to manifest Himself fully. If it is His purpose to manifest Himself gradually, then at one stage He will manifest Himself fully in one form, and then gradually, through that “yuge yuge”, He will go on progressively manifesting until a point will be reached where the manifestation will be so complete that there will be no need of an Avatar after all because He is fully manifest.
That is why the conception of sambhavāmi yuge yuge is that the Divine manifests Himself gradually, and in every Avatar He manifests much more than what He manifested earlier. It’s a gradual manifestation of the Divine, until you reach, according to the Indian tradition, the idea of “Kalki”. When you reach the manifestation of Kalki, then it is the last Avatar. Why is it last? Because with His coming the full manifestation of the Divine becomes complete, and once that is done, the path is opened up as how everyone in the world can be fully manifested as the Divine. He takes special births in one special form so that He becomes fully manifest in one form, and once that is done, the passage is opened up, then all can follow that path.
That’s right, that’s right, you are right, absolutely. Adharma, which rises up at every subsequent stage is of a harder kind, much more fierce as you develop more and more manifestation, the resistance to it also becomes very great and therefore a greater power has to manifest to meet that power of opposition.
Now, I have spoken to you in a very rapid manner about the objections and the answer. But let us try to understand this answer gradually, step by step. The Avatar-hood cannot be understood unless we understand: why this world? What is this world itself? We are here now not taking up the position of a materialist, which does not recognise anything else than matter at all. Let us grant that there is God. Let us grant that He is omnipotent. Let us grant that He is infinite. Let us grant that He is formless. Because all these propositions are true: the Divine is formless; the Divine is infinite; the Divine is omnipotent. Secondly, that there is nothing but the Divine; let us grant that proposition also that there is only nothing but the Divine:
ekamevādvitīyam, (Chhānd. U. 6, 2, 1): “The Divine alone exists”
Then: what is the position of this world? What is the position of all of us who do not seem to be divine? If there is only one Divine, then why don’t we think, and why don’t we believe, and why don’t we experience that we are Divine? If there is only one Divine we must be experiencing it! Why does this world not seem to be Divine, why does it seem to be full of evil and wrongdoing and pain and suffering and so on if there is really one Divine only, and He is omnipotent? And again if He is Sachchidananda, why Sachchidananda is not experienced here?
So unless you answer these questions we will not be able to enter into the mystery of the Avatarhood. Now, the answer to this question is that Divine is first of all so perfect, omnipotent, that He can decide not to manifest at all: there is no compulsion on the Divine that He must manifest; no compulsion either on Him that He should not manifest. If He is omnipotent, and if He wants to manifest, there must be no compulsion on Him not to manifest.
Now, since the whole manifestation is before us, we can conclude the Divine decided one day to manifest Himself. That is why this world exists here. Why should He decide to manifest? Because He is capable of it, that is the answer, He is omnipotent. So, if He decides to manifest, He can manifest.
Second proposition will be that if He can manifest, He can manifest fully, or partially, or even less than partially: all the three possibilities are there: He is omnipotent, He can either manifest Himself fully, or He can manifest partially or even less than partially.
Suppose He decides not to manifest Himself fully, and if He does not manifest you cannot argue that He should necessarily manifest Himself fully, because that would be a contradiction of the omnipotence. That He cannot manifest Himself except fully would be a limitation on Him. So, if He decides His manifestation in a particular manner, it is up to Him to decide, which way He wants to manifest Himself.
Now, the way in which the world is, we must understand how He is manifesting. So, we find in this world, if we examine the world, that in this world there is first a manifestation only of matter; then there is a farther manifestation of life coming afterwards, very gradually, then, there is a manifestation of the mind: all human beings are a manifestation, but partial manifestation. But the partiality of the manifestation of the Divine in matter is a very limited partiality, a very small manifestation you might say. In human beings there is a greater manifestation. In other words we can detect in this world that Divine has decided to manifest Himself gradually, in a graduated manner.
Now, this graduated manner is what is called ‘evolution’. Evolution is nothing but a graduated development of forms, which manifest greater and greater capacities as later forms begin to be manifested: this is what we discover in the world. So, one thing is clear that Divine has decided to manifest Himself gradually, and this is how He is conducting the world.
Now, when He is conducting the world and manifesting Himself gradually, it does not mean that He Himself ceases to be Divine and omnipotent. He Himself can remain omnipotent and full, perfect, even while His manifestation can be incomplete.
It is like a great poet who has his full poetic vision in his consciousness, even though he writes word by word, he cannot write all his poetic vision in one stroke: our method of writing itself is such that it limits your manifestation, you have got to write little by little, but even when you write little by little, it does not mean that your full poetic vision does not exist: your full poetic vision exists, it is there but in manifestation it is limited; it is gradually that you are manifesting your poetry. But while you are writing that gradual poetry, it is guided, supervised by your full poetic vision; similarly, this world, which is evolving is evolving under the supervision, adhiṣṭhāya. There is adhiṣṭhātā who has the full vision of what is to manifest gradually.
In other words it would mean that even when the manifestation takes place, it is divine manifestation. In a certain sense we might say, it is divine Avatar: Avatar is nothing but Divine who is so high, He becomes avatāraṇa, he becomes descending, he descends and manifest partially. So, in a sense you might say that the whole world is nothing but Avatar of God, but partial manifestation.
Now, this is one line of our detection of the design of the world. Then, we find that there is in this world a very close connection between what happens in the form, (you take any form and see what is happening in the form), and what happens as a result of what is happening in the form: in other words, there are two states of any given form. A form manifests something of consciousness: in matter the consciousness manifestation is the least; in life the manifestation of consciousness is greater; in mind the manifestation of consciousness is still greater.
And every human being has within him or her, a certain thing happening in the form of consciousness. All our activities, all our planning, all our desires, all our emotions, all our will, ‘saṅkalpa’, and all activities that we perform, all of them make an effort to achieve something, to manifest further. In other words, every form in the world is attempting to manifest: it is a drive towards manifestation. Even what is called sleep is nothing but a rest in the process of manifestation: you are taking rest for sometime so that you are ready afterwards to again further come forward with a greater force of action and manifest.
Now, in this manifesting process, there is also a kind of a law of process, a certain rhythm. What is that rhythm? There is an element of what is called ‘aspiration’. Before you manifest, you ‘aspire’ to manifest. This aspiration takes many forms. The lowest form is impulse: curiosity is an impulse, desire to know what is happening. If somebody is talking very, very privately, the curiosity in the other one arises, and then begins to strain the ears to try to know what is happening, what is being talked: it is curiosity, it is an impulse. So, there is an aspiration to know, to find out what is happening, automatically.
Then, there is desire, which is also another form of aspiration, which is evidently an aspiration: desire is always a kind of…very evidently desire means that there is a great burning in the heart to achieve something, to do something.
Then, there is attraction. Even greater than desire is attraction. It is something so irresistible that even if you give ten preachings to the attraction it cannot be stopped. It must go to the target; it must achieve the target. There is also the opposite: ‘repulsion’, which is also a kind of an aspiration. Even repulsion is the negative movement, but it is also a kind of a minus point you might say, in your development, but towards something else.
Then, there is preference: that is also an aspiration. You prefer this instead of the other one; that is also an aspiration.
And then, there is the will, saṅkalpa, “I want to do this”: that is also an aspiration.
Now, depending upon the different forms of this aspiration…if you examine the whole world movement you will detect again like a scientist that there is here a special way of development. The aspiration is always answered. You detect in this process of development that aspiration is always answered: this is the law of the process. And it is answered from somewhere else, not merely within the compass of the form in which the aspiration rises. The answer may be quick, the answer may be slow, the answer may not be exactly corresponding to what you aspired for, but there is an answer one way or the other. Even denial is an answer; even affirmation is an answer; but there is an answer, which is not dependent any more upon the form in which the aspiration takes place: out sided. And from there, the answer comes. And that answer fills you, and makes you more capable to move forward. Sometimes of course there are negative answers in which you are weakened, not that you become more capable, you are weakened; but as a result of weakness a further aspiration arises. And ultimately, by this process of plus and minus movements, gradually there is ultimately an ascending movement: from matter came life; from life came mind. From the point of a consciousness ultimately, there has been a gradual ascent, even though in the process there may have been many ups and downs. But ultimately the result is that manifestation of consciousness has risen to the level where we are now.
In other words we find that in this world, there is not only a gradual development, but a gradual ascending development: it is a new detection that we find that this world is a world in which there is a gradual ascending movement. And this ascent is obtained by an aspiration, which is answered from outside. Now, that outside may be the outer world as we know, and if we are more careful we can find that even from the world as we know, that answer comes, but from something that is not known in the physical world: all answers do not come necessarily from our surroundings as we know them, but even beyond them. That is why it is said that the whole world movement is nothing but a gradual manifestation of the Divine in which every developing form aspires, which is answered by the Divine. In other words, the Divine manifests more and more by this process. There is an aspiration and then there is an answer.
Now, having detected so much…
Question: why is there a difference in the aspiration, because of the self-will or the will of the Divine?
It is because every form has its own limitations, its own specialities: whatever form in which the aspiration takes place that particular form has its own specific nature. If I am an animal form, I cannot aspire what you are aspiring in a human form. First of all the animal may not have the brain, which your human body possesses: its capacities are much more than the capacities of the brain of the animal may have; So, the form in which you are working, that form has its own limitations and capacities, and each form tries to manifest to the maximum that it can within the limits. If you see even an insect, which is on the verge of death, the last gasp, it makes its maximum effort to remain alive; the tremendous effort it makes; every form makes tremendous effort within its own limits to manifest more of what it is capable of now. Have I answered your question?
Question: Does that again mean the stage of evolution?
That’s right. The level at which you have evolved depending upon the stage where you have reached, you have a more or less capacity to aspire.
So, once you detect in this world a process of design, you find out the Divine has design this world to manifest Himself first of all very partially, then more lively, and then still further more lively, and in this process there is a further design that aspiration comes from the form, and then the answer comes from above.
It is as it were, there is a carburettor and drop by drop what is needed is supplied, and as a result of which the engine further moves. So you might say that there is in this design of the world, the law of the ascent, and the law of the descent; and this is constantly going on. So, Avatar is not only once in a while, the descent from the Divine is constantly taking place in answer to the aspiration from below. So, you might say, that there is a constant descent; in ascent therefore, there is a constant descent, an Avatar of the Divine.
But, in this process, there are critical stages. Now the critical stage is reached when all that you aspire meets with such a closure, such a resistance that it becomes difficult to get the answer from above: the form in which you are closed is not capable of receiving what is coming from above. You try your utmost which is not sufficient to break the limits of your form. It is then that from above there is a special force, which breaks that limit and becomes manifest. It is only this, which you call a special Avatar. Otherwise avatar takes place every time, there are all descents, all movements in the world, which are results of the answers from above and descents and avatars. But at a critical stage in this manifestation, if there is an obstruction, which is so great that by all our utmost efforts, we cannot break that limitation, then there is a special force: this special descent is what is given this name of “Avatar”.
Question: What is this limitation?
Take an example of a child: the child is learning how to write. Now there are some children who have got a tremendous limitation: they can talk a lot, they can listen to a lot, but the moment you say: “now write down”; the child is not able to write, has no interest in writing even an alphabet, even in learning an alphabet; there is an aversion in the child. Now, if you find the child has this dog-head obstruction, it is a limitation: and what do you do? How to make the child write?
Then as a parent you have to make a special effort; previously also you were making effort and you are descending every time in helping the child to bring him up. Similarly, here also you are descending but there is a special effort you are making. You might even take the child’s hand in your hand and you write and several times you go on writing with his hand, but actually you are writing, and you say: “Now, look how easy it is!” All the aversion, all the limitations of the child are over-passed. Now, when you yourself take the hand and put his hand in your hand, it is a special descent you might say.
So, all Avatars are simple in this way. When there is a tremendous obstruction, tremendous limitation, you have reached the limits of your capacities and you can do no more and yet you must have more, you must manifest; then, what is to be done? What is the method? Therefore, the method of the Divine is to descend Himself fully, take up the human form, and all the obstructions that are there are concentrated into the human form that it takes up.
It is for that reason that in every Avatar, the life of the Avatar is the most difficult life. Why? Because the form that it takes up is a form which has reached its utmost limitations and wants to move forward but cannot. Such a form the Divine takes up: it is not as if to show His miraculous powers. He does not need to display how great He is, because He is the only one to see actually, because He is the only one Reality. It is not to display His miraculous powers or to amaze people: “Look what you cannot do, I can do”, it is not that. The purpose being to manifest Himself more and more, and if that manifestation is now obstructed, then what is the method?
This is what the omnipotent power has to do which otherwise He cannot do: it is not something opposed to His omnipotence, this is the very method by which He has selected the method of gradual manifestation. If His method is aspiration and the answer from above, then a time may come where aspiration is not enough to break the limitations, the drop by drop what is coming is not enough, if such is the obstruction then what is to be done? Then He comes full fledged; even this full fledged is not full fledged actually, because there is a gradual development, even there.
The Avatar as Rama is mariada puruṣottama and Krishna is puruṣa puruṣottama, even there the manifestation is not as complete as it would be in one Avatar as against the other, but whatever is needed, it is as if the Supreme Himself comes, takes a human form and breaks the limitations, drills the hole, and then manifest through that form. Unless therefore, we understand this development of ascent from below and descent from above, if this is the real design of the world movement, then Avatarhood becomes inevitable, at a certain stage of critical development. That is why Sri Krishna says: “sambhavāmi yuge yuge” (4.8), ‘not at every time I come down’.
Otherwise there are many methods by which He can cross the limitations. Even vibhūti, development of Vibhuti is enough to cross many limitations: He can stand behind a Vibhuti, gives special powers to a Vibhuti and through him, He can work out. But when even with a Vibhuti it is not possible, even Vibhuti itself like Arjuna comes to have trouble and he cannot cross the border, then what is to be done? It is in that critical stage that Sri Krishna Himself manifests in His fullness: that is called the Avatar.
Question: But the limitation that He tries to break is the limitation of the yuge symbolised in one.
That is right. Exactly, that is to say, every form basically is symbolic of the cosmos, but each one manifests that cosmos in a special limited manner. So, the form that He assumes is a particular form. It is not anybody in any form He takes up. The form in which that limitation becomes acutest, it is there that He descends: it is not an arbitrary selection that He can take up any person and manifest. This is another aspect of our exposition in fact.
Avatar: What is the process of Avatar? We have seen now the possibility of Avatarhood and general method but now, the actual process of Avatarhood. Possibility of Avatar-hood is one thing, the method of Avatar-hood, but now the actual process of Avatar-hood.
Question: Human beings were much better before but in spite of Avatar, of God coming on this earth, why is it that man has become more evil and there is a lot of evil still in this world?
Well there is a view of seeing how you view the world’s movement. The question otherwise is: Has mankind progressed? Or has it regressed? If you want to examine this question, and give the right answer…I think next time, if you keep this question alive…I don’t want to postpone the question, but since I have to move out early today, you keep this very important question, we shall ask this question in greater detail.
Has mankind progressed, or has it regressed? And we shall see how to answer that question, because in answering you should take all the facts into account. Then we shall take all the facts into account and see whether mankind has progressed or not. And then, we shall answer further questions as to whether Avatars really fulfill what is being proposed. If they have really taken mankind in progressive steps and how: it is a most important question in fact, and we shall come to it next time.