We are still in the 4th chapter and still towards the beginning of the 4th chapter. It is because this chapter has many aspects and the subject that this chapter aims to explain, is the culmination of Karma yoga. And in this culmination, there are three important elements: Karma yoga at the top gives you the secret of Divine birth, Divine action and synthesise between Action and Knowledge.
There are many paths of Karma yoga and the most famous path of Karma yoga is the one which gives you a method of offering works to the gods, and to gain the results by offering to the gods in which action alone is enough, action of offering is enough to produce the results.
But in the Gita’s view, Karma yoga consists of offering to the Supreme and that too with the Knowledge of the Supreme. Karma yoga is not Karma yoga if it is not the path of offering action to the Supreme, not only to the gods, but to the Supreme, and that too by the Knowledge of the Supreme. You have to have the Knowledge of what the Supreme is, what is the Divine birth, which Karma yoga really implies. The ordinary Karma yoga in which you have to offer things to the gods, the question of Divine birth does not arise. That is to say the question of growing into the Divine birth does not arise; nor do you know what the Divine work is. Offering to the gods does not require you to find out what actually is the nature of the Divine work: that is how the Divine Himself works in the world.
That is why in verse 9, if you open this verse 9, page 181:
janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ |
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna ||4.9||
yo vetti tattvataḥ: he who understands, tattvataḥ, essentially, fundamentally, basically, in its root; he who understands, he who knows, the word is “knows”,(not one who believe, but one who knows), yo vetti tattvataḥ: one who knows fundamentally, essentially, in its real terms; janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ, janma karma ca me divyam, my Divine birth, janma divyam, and karma divyam, one who knows my Divine birth and my Divine work fundamentally, only ‘that’ really comes to Me, mām eti so ’rjuna, it is only ‘he’ who comes to Me; and for him there is no binding to punar janma, when he lives the body tyaktvā dehaṁ, when he lives the body, then he has no binding on him to be born again and he comes to Me.
Now this is the fundamental purpose of the whole chapter: to explain what is the meaning of ‘Divine birth’, and what is the ‘Divine work’. We must remember that the 3rd chapter was already an exposition of Karmayoga. It already explained what sacrifice is and how sacrifice reaches its culmination so that instead of your offering to the Divine a stage is reached where Divine Himself takes you and performs actions through you, this is already explained in the 3rd chapter.
But the 4th chapter takes you to the mystery of this Divine Action: how the Divine enters into you, and then what kind of action He does through you. That exposition is not done in the 3rd chapter; it is now given here in this 4th chapter: how the Divine enters, how the Divine invades you. Now, this invasion of the Divine is actually concerned with the Divine invasion on the earth, on the whole world: the Divine is a constant invader on this earth, invader in this world. And this is the secret, which we do not know. We only see the events in the world; we do not see how the Divine is involved in these events, how God Himself is working constantly in this world: we do not know the design of the world.
It is here that Sri Krishna explains and explains with some kind of a striking note, where He says that, “I not only act in the world, constantly, and you must know how I act in the world”, but He even says that, “From time to time, I myself enter into the human body”; this is a special kind of action of the Divine. The Divine not only acts in general in the world, but there are occasions, there are circumstances, there are purposes for which the Divine Himself assumes the human body. Now, this also is a secret. Therefore it is called: divyam janma, there is a kind of divya, the Divine birth. This Divine birth is a constant phenomenon, because the Divine is constantly working in the world, therefore you might say, divyam janma, is constant but you must know where exactly this birth is taking place, of the Divine all the time. But you should also know that there are occasions where I take a special kind of birth in the human body. Now, this special kind of birth, which is called “Avatar”, because the Divine Himself descends: avatār, is one who descends, comes down; this descent of the Divine and having descended into the human body, how He acts. And the question is: why does He do it?
Now, usually the answer to this question is supposed to have been contained only in 2 verses in this chapter: verse 7 and verse 8. And the other passages, which follow these 2 verses, are ignored, or not emphasised sufficiently. But actually the answer to this question is from verse 7 to verse 15. So, there are 9 verses actually, which answers this question as to what is the Divine birth, what is the Divine action. So, before proceeding further, I would like to read these 9 verses, just the text, so we are on firmer grounds, and we shall see the inter-connection between these 9 verses. 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.” (4.7&8)
“O, Arjuna! He who know thus in its true nature that My birth and My actions are divine, is not born again when he leaves his body, but comes unto Me.” (4.9)
“Free from attachment, fear and anger and absorbed in Me, seeking refuge in Me, many of My faithfuls purified by austerity of wisdom, have attained to My state of Being.” (4.10)
“O, Son of Pritha! In whatever ways faithfuls approach Me, I accept them in the same way; all human beings follow My path alone in every way.” (4.11)
“Those who desire fruition of their actions on earth, offer worship to the gods because in this world fruition of action is gained easily.” (4.12)
“The four fold order of human beings has been created by Me on the basis of qualities and actions. Though, I am the creator of all creation, know Me to be actionless and imperishable.” (4.13)
“Actions do not bind Me, nor do I have yearning for the fruit of actions. He who knows Me thus is not bound by actions.” (4.14)
“Knowing thus the seekers of liberation performed deeds in ancient times. In the same way, you also perform actions as done in the past by your forefathers.” (4.15)
Now, there is an interconnection among all these verses. At the first sight, they might seem to be jerks; and one verse does not seem to be connected with the other. But actually, if you study them properly, with the right clue, we shall find that all of them are interconnected. Let us see the interconnection of these verses.
First of all, in verses 7&8, we are told that whenever there is decline of Dharma, and rise of Adharma, the divine Lord assumes a human body; and what does He do? He protects the virtuous, destroys the wicked, and establishes Dharma. Now, these are very important statements: this is the nature of divine Karma. The first tells you the conditions in which the divine birth takes place: divyam janma. When there is decline of Dharma and rise of Adharma, these are the two conditions in which the Divine takes birth. And then, having done it, what is the work for the Divine work? To protect the virtuous; to destroy the wicked; and to establish Dharma.
But, that is not enough. Very often it is supposed to be a complete statement by itself, and the other verses are not taken into account. Now, Sri Krishna explains further that he who understands my birth and the divine action…in other words, He comes to the earth, not only to protect the virtuous, not only to destroy the wicked, not only to establish Dharma, but in order that ‘people come to know’, tattvataḥ, this is also the purpose. He does not come on the earth merely to make a fire work of miracles on the earth, but He comes here to give an example, so that people may come to know: in order that ‘people become liberated’, and they may attain to the Divine. This also is a part of the purpose of the divine birth in the world.
And then, in the next, next one, it is expounded further, that also is a purpose: to show to the people to become god-ward, manmayā, so that people may become free from attachment, fear and anger; they become mām upāśritāḥ, they become surrendered to Me; manmayā, they become My minded, and by jñāna-tapasā, they may attain My knowledge. And the most important word in these verses: mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ, so that they may become themselves divine, mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ; they become mad-bhāvam, bhāva means: nature. They become of the same nature as the Divine. So, the purpose of the Divine birth on the earth is ‘to make people of the same nature as the Divine’.
Now, the question is: how does one become imbued with divine nature? So, Sri Krishna says, and the next one and next other remaining verses explain the process by which one can become imbued with the divine nature. So, first He says that, “First of all, human beings are of various kinds”, and they approach…whatever they are doing actually they are approaching the Divine, whether they know it or not; and as they approach, the way in which they approach, “So do I adjust and return to them in the same way”.
If you think that God is angry with you, then God will answer you as if He is angry with you. If you think that God is pleased with you, then God will answer you as if He is pleased with you. If you think that God is invisible, He remains invisible. If you think that God can be seen, He becomes visible. If you think that God takes a long time in answering your prayer, He takes a long time in answering your prayer. If you think He takes no time at all, as soon as you pray an answer is immediately available, it will happen: you just pray, and on the spot the Divine will answer. All these are the different ways by which the Divine acts: such is the nature of God, so that all human beings are lifted; the whole purpose is the lifting of each one, and the Divine does not disturb anybody. As he approaches the Divine, so the Divine adjust Himself, and answers in the same way.
And therefore, He says, “All the paths are my paths”. It is not as if, “My path is the one special path”; it all depends upon the path that you take, and you find that the Divine is leading you on that path. If you go on other paths, it is not as if you have gone away from the Divine’s path; there also Divine is leading you on the same way: such is the nature of the Divine work and Divine nature.
Now, He says that actually speaking there are human beings who want quick results in the world, and who do not want to spend time in Knowledge, Tapasya, they simply are enamoured of results, fruits of action: even this is allowed, even this is also a path. If you offer all your offerings to gods, you do not need Knowledge, you do not need Tapasya, and results are available immediately on this earth: do not expect results to come somewhere else, on this earth at least immediately in your field the results will come very quickly. If you want only that, then this is the path.
But if you want the highest results, if you want the “mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ”, if you want to be of the same nature as the Divine, then there is another path, and for that He says, “I have created a kind of an order in the world; this order is a four fold classification of human beings:
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ | (4.13)
Those who want to attain to the higher reaches of the divine nature, divine action, for them I have given a ladder. According to your own Guna, according to your Karma, you will find your place in the society. Now, this four fold society is also… “I am the creator, although you must also know I am akartā; I am the doer and yet I am the non-doer”. It is also a secret to be found out: unless you know the Divine is the doer and also the non-doer, you have not known the Divine. This is also a part of the Jnanayoga, which is involved in Karmayoga: you will not be a true Karmayogi unless you know the Divine is the doer, and yet the non-doer. And the Divine has created a four fold ladder on which you have to work, and you have to ascend from plane to plane.
And then He explains how He is the doer and the non-doer. He says:
na māṁ karmāṇi limpanti na me karma-phale spṛhā | (4.14)
“I have no desire for fruits of action, and therefore, no actions cling to Me.”
iti mām yo ‘bhijānāti, “he who knows Me in this way that I am the doer and the non-doer that even the individual who knows Me become the doer and the non-doer. And therefore he becomes free.”
evaṁ jñātvā, “Having known this…”,now, the emphasis is upon Knowledge. Mere Karmayoga is not performance of action: it is a lower Karmayoga. The real Karmayoga of the Gita emphasises Knowledge: evaṁ jñātvā, “having known this way”, kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ. “Even in the ancient times people have been doing their Karma in this Knowledge, and therefore, kuru karmaiva tasmāt, “therefore do this action”; pūrvaiḥ purvataraṁ kṛtam, “Just as in the past people have done it, even so, you also do it.” (4.15)
Now, it is in these verses that Sri Krishna gives you the Knowledge as to why the Divine takes birth, what is the purpose of that Divine’s birth. And the main purpose is to give an example of Himself, and show how we can make people of the same nature as the Divine.
Now, let us go into further depths. I am taking a lot of time on these verses because they are extremely important. The most important word in these 9 verses is: mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ. It is a very short word but it is of greatest importance. If this word is missed then all the 9 verses seem devoid of fundamental significance. All that Sri Krishna says in verse 8, “To protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked and to establish Dharma, I come into being in every age.” Now, this is the important sentence, which can be understood fully only when the word mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ is understood.
What is the meaning of protecting the virtuous? What is the meaning of destruction of the wicked? And what is the meaning of the establishment of Dharma? All this has only one meaning: ‘to make human beings imbued with the divine nature’. This is the real purpose. If this sentence is taken merely as it is without this important suffix, then it might mean that God comes and destroys like Rama came and destroyed Ravana. Sri Krishna came and destroyed Kansa, and got Duryodhana and others killed. Even the meaning of Dharma establishment is taken in a very ordinary sense; because the word Dharma has three meanings: the ordinary ethical meaning; the higher philosophical meaning; and third, a spiritual meaning. Now, normally, not knowing that there are three meanings of the word ‘Dharma’, we take it in a very ordinary sense, ordinary ethical sense.
What is the ordinary ethical sense of the word ‘Dharma’? Ethical sense of the word ‘Dharma’ is: ‘the act of righteousness’. Dharma is only an act of righteousness, so that justice is protected, injustice is combated and destroyed: this is all that is meant by Dharma. So, it may mean that the divine Lord comes on the earth just what you and I can do in our higher moments of life. We also work for Dharma. So, if that is the only meaning of Dharma, then surely the purpose of God, Himself taking the birth on the earth is as limited as our own coming on the earth and doing our activities; there is no special purpose for it: it is not a very great aim to be established.
Therefore, Dharma is to be understood in his higher philosophical sense and much more in the spiritual sense. And that spiritual sense is understood only when you come to this word: mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ. Dharma is really speaking nothing but “manifestation of the divine nature”. It is not only to do righteous act, or to do justice, but to possess the divine nature, so that human beings…, He comes on the earth basically…so that human beings can imbibe, can manifest, can be transformed into the divine nature.
Now, this is not a very easy thing to do. To change human nature, which is normally Tamasic, Rajasic and Sattwic. And even, to rise from Tamas to Rajas is difficult; to rise from Rajas to Sattwa is difficult; but divine nature lies even beyond that. It transcends triguṇātmaka prakṛti. The present nature Prakriti is only triguṇātmaka. And in the Prakriti there is no further going beyond, in Prakriti. Prakriti as we know it, at the highest it is only Sattwic. So, if you are only to take human beings from Rajas to Sattwa, that is the real meaning of Dharma, because Dharma is limited only to Sattwic level. That is surely not the meaning of Dharma that Sri Krishna wants to imply, therefore it is explained: mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ. They become something beyond human nature, beyond Prakriti and that is the main purpose for the Avatar.
Now, let us delve upon this important point because everything else is subordinate. That is why I said, this one word is most important: mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ. The real purpose of the Divine is to lift human beings towards the divine nature. First of all, it explains that the purpose of the whole world is to lift human beings from level to level, until they are all fully transformed into the divine nature: this is the first statement. If you ask the question: why this world at all? And why this terrible world as it is? The answer is that this world is an evolving world. There is an evolutionary movement in the world. In this evolutionary world there are stages after stages; and all these stages are to be crossed until you reach a point where human beings can be turned into the divine beings, so they really act in the world as the Divine Himself would act on the earth.
And how does He act in the world? How does the Divine act in the world? That is explained in the subsequent verses. That, “I am the creator of an ascending order, cātur-varṇyaṁ, is I have created as ascending movement”, so Divine acts in ascending manner. How does He act? He acts in such a way that the whole world moves in one direction and in whichever direction human beings move, the Divine Himself comes forward and takes every human being into His own paths: whichever paths human beings make, it is made into the divine path, (that is also the divine way of working in the world): there is an ascending path, and every path is the Divine’s path. At every stage the Divine adjusts His own way to the human way: “As the human beings approach Me, so do I approach them”. It is like a good mother who deals with every child, specifically for each child, without disturbing his or her consciousness. This is the second way.
Third, which is a very, very difficult one: “I am the doer and yet I am the non-doer”. This is also a part of the divine nature: even when you act, you still have the experience of ‘not-doing’, this alchemy where action ceases to be action, and out of non-action, action arises. That is the path of divine nature. The divine nature is at once akṣara and kṣara. Therefore, unless you balance in you, both the immobility and the mobility, so that even in the thickness and the highest activity, you are inwardly completely inactive, completely quiet, silent.
And all that you call mokṣa is nothing but this state, the state in which: na karma lipyate nare,( iśa upn. 2), in which “action does not cling to you”. The silence is such a great quietude that all action as it enters there, it dissolves. Such is the nature of the Divine, therefore, to lift human beings by an ascending path, and to make human beings full of Knowledge, evaṁ jñātvā. The purpose of the divine birth on the earth is to make human beings aware, and to transform them into divine nature. When that is done it is called ‘establishment of Dharma’, that is the inner meaning of dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya.
Now, let us delve again a little more on this question of Dharma. Dharma in the highest sense of the word is that which holds: it comes from the word dhṛ; dhṛ dhārayate, ‘to hold’: that which holds, that is called ‘Dharma’. In this world as it is, you find the things are not holding; the world is in a constant flux in which things are formed and then broken. The greatest loss that we experience in life is the breaking: we are not able to hold. The moment there is a movement, then that which was previously there gets broken. And yet while we want to hold, we also want to progress and progress means breaking.
Dharma really means: “That which can hold even when you make progress”. You make progress and yet you are not broken. There is something in you, which will remain permanent: therefore, Dharma is called permanent. We use the word sanātana dharma, the meaning thereby is there is a Dharma, which is sanātana, which is eternal. And if you know this, you will know you will never be broken because it will hold under every circumstance: that is because the Divine is at once akartā and kartā. He is Himself the Supreme immobile, therefore, can never be broken; and all movement proceeds from that immobility.
If you therefore, become like the Divine you have attained the Dharma, and you establish Dharma; therefore there will be no breaking. To attain constant progression, without dissolution is the secret of Dharma. You become as vast as the universe and yet you remain yourself: there is no breaking. To attain to this secret is the establishment of Dharma. But because human beings are ignorant, while they want to hold, the moment they move forward, which they also want to, and they must, the dissolution comes about. And this is the greatest threat in human life.
Why is death for example so much resisted by human beings? Because it is a threat of dissolution. Everyone wants to preserve, and wants to create conditions in which preservation is achieved. But because you do not know how to achieve preservation, even in this mobile world, that is why we are in constant difficulty. Therefore in the whole movement of the world there is a constant dissolution, and they require someone to hold.
Now, when this movement of dissolution reaches a very climatic point, and with all ordinary means, which are available to humanity, holding becomes difficult or impossible, then the Divine birth takes place. That is the real meaning of dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya. Sri Krishna says: “I come from age to age when a situation arises that Dharma has declined, people are not able to hold on, therefore to give a holding stand, I come on this earth and really keep the earth, the world in a stable condition. I do not allow dissolution.”
Sri Krishna will tell us also in the Bhagavad Gita that the highest action of the Divine is loka-saṁgraha; loka-saṁgraha means: saṁgraha means to keep unity; loka means people. To keep people united is the highest action of the Divine, which is the same thing as Dharma; loka-saṁgrahārthāya, or dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya, they have the same meaning: to keep people together, and to establish Dharma are the same thing. Whenever therefore, there is a danger of the dissolution of the society, of people, they are breaking ground, saṁbhavāmi yuge yuge, “I come from time to time”.
But why from time to time, as Deepika raised the question? Once he comes and Dharma is established, why should He come again and again? The reason is that this world is an ascending world. This why Sri Krishna says: cātur-varṇyaṁ sṛṣṭaṁ mayā: this world is an ascending movement. Therefore, this sentence is very important. Because this world is a movement in which there is an ascent step by step, in which human beings are asked to run, and attain to the perfection by Knowledge, they will not be able to ascend truly, they will not attain to the supreme divine Knowledge, unless a true Knowledge is given to them. Because there is an ascending movement, therefore even when Dharma is established now, and people are held together, the moment you make a further step of ascent, the previous will break down. In this sense you might say that Dharma is a progressive development.
Just as there is sanātana dharma, there is an eternal law, which holds everything, there is also what you may call yuga-dharma: the Dharma which is ready for this yuga. It is not sanātana dharma, it manifests something of it but it is not full sanātana dharma: it is yuga-dharma. So, whenever Divine comes on this earth, He establishes Dharma, but it is yuga-dharma: it is enough for that moment, because this world is an ascending movement. The moment there is a farther ascent, that Dharma will again decline, and the society will again go down into breaking point; therefore there will be a need for the Supreme to come again, and to manifest a higher Dharma.
In the concept of India, the Avatar Himself evolves, and evolves by marking specific points of ascent. There is the concept that the first were the animal Avatars: matsya, varāha, kūrma, these are the animal births, but the divine births. Because in each case that particular evolutionary movement had reached a critical point, even to manifest a fish in a physical form out of pure waters was an extremely difficult task. It was the big jump: from water to create a form was a very big jump in the evolutionary movement.
So, whenever there is a great jump to make, which the present whatever is manifested is not able to do, whatever is manifested tends to remain with the law of that particular movement. The Dharma of the present species cannot lead you to move beyond your species. At the most, you can perfect your species and its capacities; but to move beyond, and yet you need to go beyond, it is a world of ascent; the world is an evolutionary movement. So, when you have to move forward from one level of evolution to a higher level of evolution, which is beyond the capacity of the given species, then, the Divine manifests, and takes up the whole burden of evolution, and concentrates the difficulties of the present in their acutest form, and in the same form in which others are struggling, shows how while remaining in that form, you can still work out an ascent. Not like a miracle saying that, “Look I can be different from you”. The same form is kept, accepts all the difficulties of that form, and through that He makes a kind of a passage, He digs a tunnel as it were, and shows how you can move from that lower level to a higher level.
And then, from animal forms we have the idea of vāmana Avatar: even a human form but in a dwarf form. And then the paraśhu rāma, the Rajasic man followed by Sattwic man that is Sri Rama, and then Sri Krishna, the perfect divine human being. And kalki will manifest the fullness of Krishna-hood you might say. All that Krishna wanted to manifest, the full manifestation of Sri Krishna, so that Krishna consciousness spreads over the whole world fully, becomes generalised, just as today the human consciousness is generalised all over the world.
The most undeveloped human being and the most developed human being, they all have one thing in common to them: the capacity to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Whether they do arithmetically or otherwise, but this is a natural tendency in all human beings. You do not need to teach anybody basic arithmetic; even a child when he is given a little, he knows that he needs more. Even though he may not know what addition is, the concept of addition in mathematics, but that he wants more, it is the normal consciousness of the child, even an untaught child. That something is taken away, he understands it is taken away: subtraction, (or division or multiplication). This is generalised all over humanity.
Similarly something of Krishna consciousness, when it is generalised that is the aim of evolution. Ultimately mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ, what is the divine nature, the divine nature should be spread and generalised in mankind, and that is the Indian idea of kalki. Once that is done, there is no need of an Avatar because the aim of Avatar is only to lead you towards that, and once that is done, then, there is no further need; it is already whenever you need further, it is already given; it is an open book fact: there will be now no blockade. The divine birth is needed to break the blockade, to dig out a tunnel, but when all the tunnels are opened up for the divine manifestation, then there is no need of an Avatar. That is why in the Indian concept, we have not one Avatar, but a series of Avatar needed, and also the culmination point of Avatar, after which there is no need of an Avatar.
If you want to summarise the whole thing that we have said is that there is in this world a law of ascent, and a law of descent. Man continues to ascend, and the Divine continues to descend in response to ascent.
…arise and you descend, that is a part of the ascending movement: that kind of descent is a part of the ascending movement. You move forward, then you come down where you were earlier, again you move forward, again you come down to where you were earlier; this kind of ascent-descent is a normal part of our ascent vertically.
But when we speak of descent of the Divine, it is to bring down on the earth that which is valid of the highest. The higher comes down, and then lifts up all that is below. So, in other words, there is in this world a movement of ascent, and then, there is a response from the Divine. But when this critical point is reached in the full movement of ascent, then the descent of the Divine takes a special form. It is as if there is a real invasion of the Divine with a tremendous pull, so that all the obstacles then can be broken. In other words, there is a role of the Divine on this earth’s evolution.
According to the Gita’s view, God is not merely a supervisor of the world. There are many views of God. According to one view, God is only a supervisor, God is only a judge: you do actions and God comes and judges whether you are right or wrong, then He gives you awards and punishments: this is also one view of God.
According to Gita, God is not a judge, He is not a supervisor; or even if He is a judge or a supervisor He is not only merely that: God is a labourer, along with all His creatures, because these creatures also are not different from Him. All the creatures are labouring their different manifestations of God Himself. Therefore, God Himself is a labourer along with all the labourers. In this movement of labour, He has one very special function: that when this labour comes to a critical point, and the task that has to be performed cannot be done, then he specially comes down, and shows how the labour can be done; and in spite of being human, how you can still cross the borders of Humanity. Because basically we are all divine; so, if there is a limitation it is only a temporary limitation; and by our limitations we are not able to break, although we are divine we are not able to break the limitations.
Therefore, the Divine descends and breaks the limitations, and shows how we can all move forward. He does not come on the earth to show that, “Look I am Divine!” That is not His purpose. He wants to show how you all can become divine, so that mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ: you come to My nature, you become My natured: this is the real purpose. It is not merely to show that, “What you cannot do, I can do, and now I have done; now you move forward”. It is not merely that. “You are Me, I am you, but you are ignorant, you are not to put forward that labour, so I now show you that in spite of being what you are, I take your form, I assume your form, accept all the limitations that you have, and tell you that just as in Me there is divinity, so is divinity in you, and I break the ground, and show you that, ‘now look you also can do and you can move forward’, and you become My natured.”
This is the real purpose of Dharma; this is the real meaning of Dharma: Dharma is the law of ascent. As I told you Dharma also means: ‘Eternal Law’. Dharma also means the law of ascent. Dharma is, spiritually speaking, a law by which we establish our relationship with everybody in the world. Law is the law of development, law of upward movement, law of relationships: there are three meanings of the word “Dharma”. You establish the right relationship with everybody. At present we do not know ‘relationships’.
There is a beautiful sentence of Tagore where He says: “The whole life is relationship: there is nothing but relationship in the world.” There is a novelist who has written a novel and there is one forward line, which says only one word: “There are connections”. The whole world is nothing but connections. And all problems of human life arise because we do not know how to connect, how to relate, how to relate harmoniously.
As Sri Aurobindo says, “All problems are essentially problems of harmony.” We do not know how to harmonise. And Dharma is nothing but a principle of harmonious relationship; Dharma is that by which relations are built in such a way that even when there is a progressive development, the relationships remain, they do not break, they are not broken. They can be reformulated; they can be enriched; they can be greater.
Now, it is in this deeper sense of Dharma that Sri Krishna says: “dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya”, it is not merely to set right some wrong which is done by Duryodhana against Yudhishthira. That also is included, but there is a deeper malaise, a deeper malady, that the whole world at that time is sinking: sinking because an ascent has to be done, and this power of ascent is not coming forth. And if that does not come forth the whole world will sink. Therefore, the Avatar comes, and establishes a Dharma. And that is why also, whenever an Avatar comes, He gives a Dharma, which is not the final Dharma: it is an ascending Dharma. That is why each Avatar gives a new Dharma, not necessarily contrary to the previous one, but certainly something that gives you a new path, a kind of a new orientation.
The Dharma given by Sri Rama is called “a Dharma of limitations”: if you want to remain limited to humanity only, to human consciousness, and reach the highest of human consciousness; and the highest of human consciousness is Sattwa. If you want to develop the highest Sattwa, this, Sri Rama has established. When humanity had the difficulty of crossing from Rajas to Sattwa, and established the Sattwa consciousness, (not that Sattwa consciousness was not there at all) many great men had come before, many Rishis had been there, but what is called “Establishment of Sattwa”: there is a difference between ‘Ascending Sattwa’, and ‘Establishment of Sattwa’. Many might have ascended to Sattwa, but they could not sustain the Sattwa: there is a downward movement. You reach the higher point, and then you come down. A point is reached in evolution when you have got to establish it so that afterwards, it becomes so easy that human beings even after reaching Sattwa does not need to come down.
Therefore, if you want to reach a level of Sattwic consciousness and you do not want to come down from Sattwic consciousness, if this is a need of your being, then that path is shown by Sri Rama: He has established it. And therefore, whenever you turn to Sri Rama, this is the one gift you will get; you will get Sattwa consciousness established in you: if you want to be an ideal father, and ideal son, ideal husband, ideal king, full of Sattwic consciousness: then Sri Rama has already accomplished on this earth.
But to go beyond Sattwa, there was a need for another Avatar, and Sri Krishna represents that. That is why we make in India the distinction between mariyada puruṣottama and purṇa puruṣottama. Sri Rama is mariyada, is a limitation of human nature, the highest limitation: you go to the maximum of human nature, but if you want to go beyond it…because it is also the intention of the Divine in the ascending movement. So, the earth when it came to a point when there was a need of action, which cannot sustain the loka-saṁgraha, unless we go beyond mental consciousness, if such is the situation where the world could be upheld only by the manifestation of a consciousness that transcends human limitations, goes beyond Sattwa: that is why in Sri Krishna we find ‘Divine Nature’.
Parashurama also was an Avatar, but His nature was Rajasic. Sri Rama also was an Avatar but His nature was Sattwic. And below that, was Tamasic, and even the animal nature, even they were also Avatars; but each Avatar was maximum at that point of evolution, in which that particular Avatar manifested. But when you want to go farther, as it was necessary…
Mahabharata, if you read Mahabharata from this point of view, the war had come to such a climax that it could not be fought successfully without the presence and guidance of a consciousness that was not limited to Sattwic nature. Yudhishthira represented, you might say, great qualities of Sri Rama already: you might say he was already a leader, but merely by those qualities of Yudhishthira that war could not have been fought. You required a consciousness much vaster than the mental consciousness.
And if you read the Mahabharata, the way Sri Krishna intervenes, first of all you must see that Sri Krishna must have got a full knowledge of all the leaders of the war. He knew the strength and weakness of each one of them. He knew the interrelationship of all of them. He himself had a relationship with each one of them. He knew the art of relationship so well that although He was a king or a chieftain of a small state in western India, He had relationships with all leaders of Mahabharata of the war.
And He knew how to weave the relationships: this is another great ability; it is like a super-chess; not this chess on which you play in which there are so many combinations and permutations. But Mahabharata was a super-chess in which He knew exactly when Duryodhana was going to meet his mother, and before he could do so He was already present at the right moment; when Kunti should be sent to Karna at the right moment: why not earlier? Why not later? It is only a few illustrations to show how Sri Krishna was aware with a kind of a thousand eyes: not with two eyes of the human consciousness, but thousand eyes. And He knew how to interweave them, how to bring them together.
In fact Mahabharata should be studied from this point of view: to understand the consciousness of Sri Krishna. How a very critical stage had been reached, and if He was not present, you can see the consequence. The limitations in which humanity had reached, they could not have been broken. Ultimately the balance between those and these was so narrow that ultimately only five of these survived and all the rest…such a balance, this is called ‘critical point’: a critical point is where the elbow room is the minimum, and yet in that minimum you work out, and dig the tunnel so that dharma-rajya was established; ultimately Yudhishthira could established dharma-rajya and humanity could move forward.
Once again this humanity has come to a critical point where even a greater consciousness, you might say, all the full manifestation, complete manifestation of Krishna, where Kalki is needed: that is where we are today. The manifestation has taken such a point! Imagine for example the criticality of this present humanity where a war greater than Mahabharata…Mahabharata war was one in which only the nations of India combated. But from 1914 to 1918, nations of the world combated together in one great field, and even a greater soon after that war was over 1939 to 45, a stupendous war in which the fate of the world stood in a balance, and Hitler who represented like Duryodhana, the forces of Adharma, he was in a triumphant wave, and country after country he was conquering. And if the war came through as it were, sure it must have been because of Kalki.
A consciousness was at work; otherwise you cannot imagine these two world wars being past, and humanity, and we also surviving today in the way in which we are. A great tunnel was dug as it were at that time, and humanity has been taken on a forward stride: that also means that there is an Avatar. We have to find out that there must have been an Avatar on this earth at that time who acted. Avatar always acts in a different way according to the need of the hour. The way in which Rama acted was quite different from the way in which Sri Krishna acted. Maybe in His own time Sri Krishna was not known as an Avatar at all, we now, with the insight, we can see that here was Sri Krishna, and without Him the whole world would not have been able to move forward, and here was an avatar.
As Sri Aurobindo says, “Every Avatar comes at a most critical point, which cannot be crossed by the human limitations or limitations of humanity as they are able to move forward”.
And every Avatar summarises in his own human body, in his human consciousness the best and the worst, because basically all the crises are due to a conflict between the best and the worst. So, the Avatar has a kind of a body, kind of a life and a mind where the best and the worst are, as it were, summarised in their fullness, and with the descent of the Divine in that very consciousness, in that very field, becomes a master battlefield of that moment, and then works out, and defeats the worst, and establishes the best.
In an Avatar…the psychology of Avatar has got two aspects: a frontal consciousness, and an inner consciousness. In the frontal consciousness are the human body, life and mind, in which the complexities of the problems of humanity of that time are fully summarised, and then there is the descent, the consciousness, which has descended from above, which is the master-consciousness. And this consciousness works out in the human form, in the human consciousness, not by a miracle.
If only one had to do a miracle, Christ would not have been needed to go on the gallows; He would have avoided it and shown, “Look nobody can put me onto the gallows”: this is not the purpose. Accepting the human limitations, working through those limitations, to work out that much, which is needed for the manifestation of the Divine, of a higher consciousness, even while retaining what is still at a lower level; even the defeat, even the failures He accepts, because that is the lot of that level of consciousness. But what He succeeds in Him is that even through that failure, even through that limitation, even through ‘defeat’, He succeeds in penetrating the limitations, and allowing a ray of light to move forward: such is the life of every Avatar.
Therefore, every Avatar’s life is the most difficult life: Sri Krishna even in His birth, at the time of his birth, He was to be killed. Even at the age of twelve He is taken to Mathura, the purpose was to get Him killed by wrestlers. And throughout His life you can see the most difficult trials are given to Sri Krishna. Even to become a peacemaker before the Mahabharata had started, as emissary of peace, He goes from the side of Pandavas; He goes to Duryodhana who was advised by Shakuni where there was no possibility of His escape from the palace where He had gone for peace mission. He could have been easily imprisoned and murdered: such a difficult task was given to Him. He undertook that task, and in the story of Mahabharata we see that actually Duryodhana tried to imprison Him; and it was at that time that He manifested the Divine form as a result of which He could escape.
But the conclusion is not that He could do it because He was God, and therefore He was saved. No, the idea is that even if human consciousness is put in that situation, he can himself manifest it. So, whatever is possible for humans to do, even that He does: only He shows only how it can be done, with what force it can be done. Therefore, He is a real leader in the true sense of the term. He shows to human beings mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ: how you can arise, you can lift yourself into the true Divine nature: this is the real purpose, which is described in these 9 verses. We shall still take one more hour next time, to delve upon this phenomenon of Avatarhood because it is so important. Today we stop here.