If there is one joy that earthly beings can experience which is coveted even by the gods it is the joy of feeling the touch of the Divine Advent. This unparalleled joy is given to earth and humanity as a saving Grace. If this were not, life upon earth would become unbearable with passage of time. Aimless and directionless it would soon hurl towards the abyss as is told in the myths of old wherein the twin Asura brothers Hiranayaksha and Hiranayakashipu try to drown the earth below the waters from which it had emerged. But the anguish of the over-burdened Earth goddess reaches the throne of the Almighty who comes down in response to her cry. This special Grace is given to Earth since unlike the other gods and goddesses, she alone has chosen to submit herself to the great evolutionary adventure. All other powers assist from behind; they extend their help from their station above. But Earth alone has accepted the burden of manifesting the fullness of the Divine who is concealed within creation. No doubt the Divine is everywhere, in the distant stars and galaxies drifting billions of light years away, as much as in the worlds beyond and below our mortal sight. But it is only here upon earth that the drama of His unfolding takes place. It is only here that the two of existence meet in a single house of flesh. It is here that the wrestle and the embrace of opposites takes place in the battlegrounds of life.
In this sense the Earth is indeed a central focal point for a great work. It is a special formation created for this work. All the elements of the cosmos converge upon Earth and all the worlds lean towards it for fulfillment. All the forces enter Earth’s arena to test their strength and thereby grow stronger and wiser. But most of all the Earth is a blessed place for many a times the Divine Himself has descended upon Earth and chosen to worn the obscure robe so that this matter may be transmuted by His alchemic Touch. Matter has responded and each time the Divine has come down, Matter has awakened to some new possibility. This new possibility is then stabilised and slowly turned into the norm by lineage of seers, sages, yogis and saints who knead matter further, press it to extract the New grain of Light implanted upon earth. The Avatara prepares the soil and sows the seeds. He waters it with His love until the plant has taken roots and then leaves the field for the generations to follow to see the tree grow and enjoy the fruits of His coming.
Each time the Divine descends upon Earth He brings some special gift for earth, a breath of Grace and Love that stays as a promise and a possibility after He withdraws from the earthly scene. He brings with Him the gift of divine Justice and strength embodied as Rama, the gift of Beauty and Bliss as Krishna, the gift of Peace and Compassion as Buddha, the gift of Love and Forgiveness as Christ. These gifts are meant to liberate the earth from the load of inconscience and obscurity that weighs upon its breast as humanity choses darkness and prefers ignorance over Light and Knowledge. While the earth rejoices at the gifts divine, humanity meets it with suspicion and fear as if these would disturb its established ways of life. It offers, in return for the Divine boons, the poison that gnaws at its heart and the bitterness that eats him from within. These too the Divine accepts with a smile and begins to transmute these dark elements of human nature into something nectarous and sweet, It takes time, sometimes quite a long time but eventually the Divine sacrifice bears its fruits and humanity takes one step forward towards a higher state of being and a better way of living. The animal-man begins to change into a human being and the human begins to aspire and open itself towards a nobler and godlike humanity. These effects are not visible at once or even during the lifetime of the Avatara. For unlike the social reformer, the Divine does not work so much by external means as much as by inner ones. His action is often silent and occult and even if none were to know of Him, He would still accomplish His work. He touches something deep inside the human heart where the secret springs of human nature lie. Regardless of how the world and men look upon Him when upon Earth, it is with passage of Time that His effect and influence begins to become evident and humanity changes as if naturally from within. This change has little to do with the institutions that spring around the Avatara’s Name or the cults and sects that monopolise His legacy. The Avatara does not come for Name and Fame though it is impossible for Him to hide for long and go unnoticed. He does not come to establish a new religion or preserve an old religion since He knows that all religions are subject to Time but the spirit is eternal and the seeking of the soul takes as many forms as there are human beings. To shut God into a fixed formula or confine the Divine Advent into a creed or Church swearing by His Name and turning His vast catholic teachings into a small and narrow doctrine is to do a disservice to the very Persona whom we claim to admire and worship. The Avatara comes for the whole earth and none is specially privileged to have access to His chamber of Love and the Mansion of truth.
But humanity does not make an even response and thereby a difference is created. Some resist the Divine Advent, others look upon Him with awe and Fear as we look towards someone much more powerful and mighty. Some try to take advantage of the Avatara’s coming, not so much to change ourselves as to have His beneficent Hand upon our everyday routine life with its share of struggle and pain. We recognize the Divine Advent but not for what it means or for the work He has come to do. We simply wish to claim Him for our personal benefits, for our selfish gains. We do not fully profit by the Coming. We do not take the plunge and the leap and cross the perilous abyss across which the Avatara has built the bridge. We fear this passage since it has its own dangers and it means moving out of our comfort zones. It means undertaking a great adventure whose end is sure victory but the path is strewn with unforeseen difficulties. We prefer the safety of our everyday life than the delight and danger of the New and the Unknown. We even turn the Avatara of the Future into an Avatara of the Past. We relegate Him to dead pages of history even while He comes to build a new and unprecedented future for us. To each there comes a like response. For as is our faith so does the Divine responds. Even though the Avatara comes to open the doors of the Future for earth and men, the choice is still left with us whether we would step with courage and faith and pass through the doors opened for man or else stay within the safe limits of the known past whose forces we have become accustomed to and a fate we have accepted. But the Avatara does not come to perpetuate the dead past or to move the wheel of fate a little faster. He does not come to revive the dead forms of the past but to rescue its spirit and give it a new form appropriate to the Age, a new yugadharma. He comes to cut through the many layers of forces that weave and spin the fate of earth and men and turn the direction of the tide of destiny. He comes to change the future Time rather than simply resuscitate the Past.
But just as His coming is the greatest joy that the Earth knows, His departure is also the greatest of losses that the Earth experiences. The Avatara comes during the darkest of human hours often manifested through a crisis of outer events and ‘impossible’ seeming situations threatening mankind and circumstances that appear beyond redemption. But when the Avatara withdraws the Earth experiences another kind of darkness. There is once again a sudden rush of the dark forces that were held at bay simply because of the Divine Presence in the forefront of the human march. For a moment it seems that the Hope He brought for earth and man is lost. But the Avatara’s withdrawl is also a deliberate act, a divine action just as His birth and life are a divine Action. His birth and life are a sacrifice since in this assumption of a limited form and name, the Supreme consents to enter into a small and narrow field. He enters the prison house of matter not merely to release few faithful persons out of the prison but to transform the prison itself into a garden house of the Divine. Similarly He enters into the fields of darkness and death so that the darkness releases from within its dumb womb the Light that it hides behind the veil and death itself becomes an instrument of change of mortal nature into a divine nature.
If His birth is an assumption, a conscious choice, His ‘death’ too is a seeming, an assumption, a conscious and deliberate act, a strategic withdrawl. He does not withdraw from the work He has undertaken; He simply withdraws from the range of human sight. This too is important since otherwise humanity happy of the constant divine support may become lazy and void of effort. Of course the support is always there, even when He steps behind, but it is no more unconditional. Effort is needed, an effort that eventually feeds the evolutionary flame until the fire grown intense by the ‘absence’ prepares the human clay for the right reception of the Divine if life. But before doing so, He sets new forces into motion, breaks the back of darkness on which Evil rides, fortifies the heart of Goodness with Hope and Courage for the fresh endeavor and leaves a undying influence upon earth as His stamp, the signature and seal that authorizes the intended change. Earth is never again the same. The vibrations released by the Feet Divine continue to nourish and nurture the flame-child and keep spreading farther and wider as an occult divine influence that changes the course of human destiny.
Of course it needs a special Grace to know about the Divine Advent and a still greater Grace to be able to follow the flute of His calling! The Avatara enters into birth consciously and leaves the physical field willfully when His work and mission is over. The rest is left to the workings of all-fulfilling Time and the human instruments that come onto the scene to reap the harvest and distribute it to all who are called. Even in ordinary circumstances, Death is merely an appearance, a mask that the Eternal has worn to conceal this earth from too sudden an awakening to the Light lest we, unable to bear the original Flame are blinded by the blaze. But when it is the Eternal Himself who assumes the process of birth and passes through the portals of death then life upon earth is never again the same. A decisive leap is taken, a jump across the gulfs of Time. A bridge is built between the world of yesterday and the world of tomorrow. The Avatara watches over the future course of humanity as the upholder of the New dharma of the Age. His work and action, released from the bounds of the physical sheath, become even more active and powerful. It is only left upto man to now walk the way armed with the staff of faith or, better still, allow himself be carried upon the wings of love and devotion for the incarnate Divine.
Sri Aurobindo reveals:
The inner fruit of the Avatar’s coming is gained by those who learn from it the true nature of the divine birth and the divine works and who, growing full of him in their consciousness and taking refuge in him with their whole being, manmayā mām upāśritāḥ, purified by the realising force of their knowledge and delivered from the lower nature, attain to the divine being and divine nature, madbhāvam. The Avatar comes to reveal the divine nature in man above this lower nature and to show what are the divine works, free, unegoistic, disinterested, impersonal, universal, full of the divine light, the divine power and the divine love. He comes as the divine personality which shall fill the consciousness of the human being and replace the limited egoistic personality, so that it shall be liberated out of ego into infinity and universality, out of birth into immortality. He comes as the divine power and love which calls men to itself, so that they may take refuge in that and no longer in the insufficiency of their human wills and the strife of their human fear, wrath and passion, and liberated from all this unquiet and suffering may live in the calm and bliss of the Divine.2 Nor does it matter essentially in what form and name or putting forward what aspect of the Divine he comes; for in all ways, varying with their nature, men are following the path set to them by the Divine which will in the end lead them to him and the aspect of him which suits their nature is that which they can best follow when he comes to lead them; in whatever way men accept, love and take joy in God, in that way God accepts, loves and takes joy in man. Ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmyaham.
janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ,
tyaktvā dehaṁ punarjanma naiti mām eti so’rjuna.
vītarāgabhayakrodhā manmayā mām upāśritāḥ,
bahavo jñānatapasā pūtā madbhāvam āgatāḥ.
Sri Aurobindo: Essays on the Gita. Page 176
The Mother makes it simpler for us:
If you rise high enough, you find yourself at the heart of all things. And what is manifest in this heart can manifest in all things. That is the great secret, the secret of the divine incarnation in an individual form, because in the normal course of things what manifests at the centre is realised in the external form only with the awakening and the response of the will in the individual form. Whereas if the central Will is represented constantly and permanently in an individual being, this individual being can serve as an intermediary between this Will and all beings, and will for them. Everything this individual being perceives and offers in his consciousness to the supreme Will is answered as if it came from each individual being. And if for any reason the individual elements have a more or less conscious and voluntary relation with that representative being, their relation increases the efficacy, the effectiveness of the representative individual; and thus the supreme Action can act in Matter in a much more concrete and permanent manner. That is the reason for these descents of consciousness—which we may describe as “polarised”, for they always come to earth with a definite purpose and for a special realisation, with a mission— a mission which is decided upon, determined before the incarnation.
These are the great stages of the supreme incarnations on earth.
CWM 10. On Thoughts and Aphorisms. Page 73
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