Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18

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This article is an excerpt from the book, Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna.


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This article is an excerpt from the book, Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna.


What is a Divine Incarnation? 

703. An Avatara (Incarnation) is a human messenger of God. He is like a viceroy of a mighty monarch. As the king sends the viceroy when there is any disturbance in some far-off province in order to quell it, so whenever there is waning of religion in any part of the world, God sends there His Avatara to guard virtue and to foster its growth.  

704. Think not that Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha, are mere allegories and not historical personages, or that the scriptures are true only in their inner or esoteric meaning. Nay, those personages were human beings of flesh and blood just as you are; but because they were divinities, their lives can be interpreted both historically and allegorically. The Avataras are to Brahman what waves are to the ocean.  

705. The Avatara is always one and the same. Having plunged into the ocean of life, the one God rises up at one point and is known as Krishna, and when after another plunge, He rises up at another point, He is known as Christ.  

706. On the tree of Sachchidananda (Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss) there hang innumerable bunches of Ramas, Krishnas, Buddhas, Christs, etc. Out of these, one or two now and then come down into this world and produce mighty changes and revolutions.  

707. The Avataras are born with Divine powers and Divine qualities. They can go into, and stay in, any state of realisation from the highest to the lowest. In a king's palace a stranger can go only to the outer quarters, but the king's own child, the prince of the house, is free to go to every corner.  

708. It is a thin ego that personages like the Incarnations possess. Through this ego God is always visible. For example, a man is standing on one side of a wall, on either side of which are boundless stretches of land. If there is an aperture in the wall, the whole of the other side is visible, and if this be big enough, one can pass through it as well. The ego of the Incarnations resembles that wall with the aperture. Even though the Incarnations be on this side of the wall, they can see the boundless extent of land on the other. The meaning of this is that though they have taken up bodies, they are always in a state of Yoga, and can, if they like, enter into Samadhi on the other side of the big aperture. Again, if the aperture be big enough, they can come and go through it; that is to say, they can come down to a lower plane of consciousness even after Samadhi.  

Difficulty of recognising Divine Incarnations

709. A Divine Incarnation is hard to comprehend. It is the play of the Infinite on the finite.  

710. When Bhagavan Ramachandra came into this world, only twelve sages recognized that He was an Incarnation of God. So when God incarnates in this world, only a few recognize His divine nature. 

Incarnation as a Revelation of God 191 

711. What is the reason that a prophet is not honored by his own kinsmen? The kinsmen of a juggler do not crowd round him to see his performances, while strangers stand agape, looking at his surprising tricks.  

712. The seeds of the Vajrabantula plant (euphorbia) do not fall at the root of the tree. They are carried by the wind far off, and take root at distant places. So the spirit of a prophet manifests itself at a distance from his native home, and he is appreciated there.  

713. There is always a shadow under the lamp, while its light illumines the surrounding objects. So men in the immediate proximity of a prophet do not understand him. Those who live far off are charmed by his spiritual glow and his extraordinary power.  

714. The elephant has two sets of teeth, the tusks visible externally, and the grinders inside the mouth. Similarly God-men like Sri Krishna have an external manifestation and behave like common men in the view of all, while internally they rest in transcendental peace far beyond the pale of Karma.   

715. God is indeed infinite. But He is omnipotent. He may so ordain that His divinity as love may be manifest in flesh, and be among us as God Incarnate. Love streams to us from God Incarnate. Divine Incarnation is a fact. Of course, one cannot make this perfectly clear by means of  words. It is a fact to be seen and realised by spiritual eyes.  One must see God to be convinced of this. By analogy we  can at best faintly apprehend the matter. Suppose one  touches the horn of a cow, or her feet, or the tail, or the udder. Would not this be the same as touching the cow  herself? For us, human beings, the chief thing about the cow is its milk, which comes from the udder. Well, the milk of Divine love streams for us from the Incarnations of God.  

716. Who can know God fully? It is not given to us, nor is it required of us to know Him fully. It is enough if we can see Him-feel that He is the only reality. Suppose a person comes to the holy river Ganges and touches the water. He would say, "I have been blessed with the vision and touch of the holy river from Gomukhi to Gangasagar-from its source to the estuary !"  

717. Do you seek God? Then seek Him in man. His divinity is manifest more in man than in any other object. Look around for a man whose heart overflows with the love of God, a man who lives, moves and has his being in God-a man intoxicated with His love. In such a man God manifests Himself.  

718. He is the Absolute, and again His is the Lila (relative existence conceived as a sport of the Divine). This Lila is of four kinds-Isvara Lila, Deva Lila, Jagat Lila and Nara Lila1.  In Nara Lila His incarnation becomes possible. Do you comprehend the nature of the Nara Lila? One may well say that it is like the gushing out of the water of a vast terrace in a big torrent through a wide channel. It is the power of that Absolute, the Sachchidananda, which flows out-becomes manifest-through a channel, as it were. All cannot truly recognise the Avataras. Only seven Rishis Bharadwaja and the rest---could recognise Sri Rama as an Avatara. God incarnates in the human form to teach man true Jnana and Bhakti.  

Nara Lila1  =  God has four distinct aspects of manifestation. One aspect of His is Isvara, the supreme Lord of the Universe; the Devas, another aspect of His, form the superhuman agencies who maintain the world-functions under the control of the Lord; the third aspect of His manifestation is the universe; and the fourth is man.  

719. A Siddha (an ordinary perfect man) is like an archaeologist who, by removing the superincumbent earth and dust, lays open an old well that has been covered up by disuse. The Avatara is like a great engineer who sinks a new well even in a place where there was no water before. Whereas the former can give salvation only to those men who have the waters of salvation near at hand, an Avatara saves him too whose heart is devoid of all love and is dry as a desert.  

720. When the tidal wave comes, it inundates alike rivers, streams and land, and all the adjacent area presents one watery surface; but rain water merely flows away through the usual channel. When a Saviour appears, all are saved through His grace. But Siddhas can only save themselves with much pain and penance.  

721. When a mighty log of wood floats down a stream, it carries on it hundreds of birds and does not sink. A reed floating down may sink with the weight of even a single crow. So when a Saviour appears, innumerable men find salvation by taking refuge in Him. The Siddha can only save himself with much toil and trouble.  

722. As a large and powerful steamer moves swiftly over the water, towing rafts and barges in its wake, so when a Saviour comes, he easily carries thousands to the haven of safety across the ocean of Maya.  

723. The locomotive engine not only moves on and reaches its destination but also takes with it a long train of wagons behind. So are our Saviours. They carry multitudes of men burdened with sin, to the presence of the Almighty.  

724. In ordinary seasons water from wells can be drawn  from great depths and with much difficulty; but when the  country is' flooded with water in the rainy season, water is obtained with ease everywhere. So, ordinarily God is attained with great difficulty through prayers and penances; but when the flood of Incarnation descends on earth, God is seen everywhere.  

725. There was a place enclosed by a high wall, and men outside did not know what sort of a place it was. Once four persons made up their minds to scale the wall with the help of a ladder, and find out what was inside. As soon as the first man ascended to the top of the wall, he laughed out, "Ha ha! ha!", and jumped into the enclosure. The second person also, as soon as he ascended the wall, laughed aloud and jumped in like the first; and so did the third. When the fourth and last man got upon the wall, he found stretched before him a large and beautiful garden with pleasant groves full of delicious fruits. Though strongly tempted to jump in and enjoy the scene, he resisted the temptation, and coming down the ladder, spoke of the glory of the garden to those outside it. Brahman is like that walled garden. Whoever sees Him forgets his own existence and rushes headlong to Him to be absorbed in His essence. Such are the holy men and the liberated saints. But the Saviours of humanity are those who see God, and being at the same time eager to share their happiness of Divine vision with others, refuse the opportunity of passing into Nirvana (state of extinction of individuality), and willingly undergo the troubles of rebirth in the world in order to teach and lead struggling humanity to its goal.  

726. In fireworks there is a type of flower-pot which sends off one kind of flower for a while, then another kind, and again still another, thus seeming to possess an infinite variety of flowers, as it were. Like unto this are the Avataras. Then there is another kind of flower-pot which, when lighted, burns a little and then goes off all at once. Similarly, ordinary Jivas, after long practice and devotional exercises, go into Samadhi and do not return.  

727. Q Why should God incarnate Himself in the human form?  

A. To make manifest to man the perfection of Divinity.  

Through these manifestations man can talk with God and see His play. In the Incarnation, God fully enjoys, as it were, His own transcendent sweetness. In the saints, God manifests Himself only in part, like the honey in a flower. You suck the flower, and get a little honey. In the Incarnations, it is all 'honey' -all sweetness and all blessedness.  

728. Nothing is problematical to the Incarnation. He solves the most difficult and intricate problems of life as the simplest of things in the world, and his expositions are such as even a child can follow. He is the sun of Divine knowledge, whose light dispels the accumulated ignorance of ages.  

729. Sometimes there appears that unique composite light which may be called the lunar-solar light, and to this may be compared the unique Incarnations like Chaitanya Deva, who are marked alike by Bhakti (Love) and Jnana (Knowledge). Their case is like the sun and the moon appearing in the firmament at one and the same time. The manifestation of Jnana and Bhakti in one and the same person is as unique an occurrence as the phenomenon referred to above.  

730. The Lord takes the human body for the sake of those pure souls who love the Lord.  

731. Those who come with the Avataras are either souls who are eternally free, or souls who are born for the last time.   End of the excerpt from the book, Sayings of Sri Ramakishna.

According to traditional accounts, before his death, Ramakrishna transferred his spiritual powers to Vivekananda and reassured Vivekananda of his avataric status. Ramakrishna asked Vivekananda to look after the welfare of the disciples, saying, "keep my boys together"and asked him to "teach them". Ramakrishna also asked other monastic disciples to look upon Vivekananda as their leader. Ramakrishna's condition gradually worsened and he expired in the early morning hours of August 16, 1886 at the Cossipore garden house. According to his disciples, this was mahasamadhi. After the death of their master, the monastic disciples lead by Vivekananda formed a fellowship at a half-ruined house at Baranagar near the river Ganga, with the financial assistance of the householder disciples. This became the first Math or monastery of the disciples who constituted the first Ramakrishna Order.  ----Wikipedia