The Avatar and You - By Howard Murphet

Howard Murphet and Sri Sathya Sai at Brindavan

“There shall move on earth embodied and fair, the living Truth of you”

-Sri Aurobindo

By the title I mean the Avatar and all of us — how His life — style and power and remarkable love of all souls, collectively and individually, is related to all of us, not only in the way it helps us, but also how it shows us something very important about ourselves. How He reveals us to ourselves. 


First let us consider what we mean by the word 'Avatar'. In the broader sense it has come to mean one who comes down from on high voluntarily. 

Bhagavan teaches, Vedanta teaches, and other spiritual philosophies teach that we have all descended from God, basically we are all one with God. Why then can't we all be called Avatars? The difference is that we have not come voluntarily, and we do not realize who we are. We have come into incarnation by necessity, through the dictates of our own karma and the requirements of our evolution. We are conscripts. The Avatar, on the other hand, is a volunteer in the human army. He has not come through karma, but through compassion or Prema for the human race. 

The word is often used to refer to the descent of saints who are self-realized, but not considered a part of the God-head. But, more generally, an Avatar is a descent of one aspect of the Triune Godhead. Many people consider that all Avatars come from the Vishnu aspect, and ten major Avatars of Vishnu are accepted. The Shrimad Bhagwat says, however, that the descents of the Lord are innumerable, and the Linga Purana states that Lord Siva has assumed 28 Avatars. Or he had up to the time it was written. But there is no restriction on the number of God's descents and no time limit. 

Shirdi Sai Baba said that he was an Avatar of the saint, Kabir (15th century), but he is also considered to be an Avatar of Siva. Likewise, the Form known as Sathya Sai Baba is considered by his followers to be an Avatar in both these saintly and divine senses. He is considered, and he himself has confirmed, that He is an Avatar of Shirdi Sai Baba, and of Shiva as Shiva/Shakti, or both male and female aspects. Yet we often think of him as Krishna or Rama come again to earth, and both these were Avatars of Lord Vishnu. I once asked Bhagavan about this seeming illogicality. His reply was that there is no difference in reality between Vishnu and Shiva. A descent of either is in truth an Avatar of the One Supreme Divine Being. 

Now, I said earlier that the difference between us and the Avatar is that he knows his true identity and has come as a volunteer, while we are still behind the veil of ignorance on this all-important matter, and for that reason come again and again as conscripts. 

One of the Avataric purposes of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba fundamentally His main purpose — is to help us through the veil of Ignorance and Illusion, so that we will know our true Divine entity. Then we will cease to be conscripts in the army of earth, and if we ever come again it will be as volunteers. 

“You are the Atma; you are God”, He says over and over again. This is a profound teaching, once kept for the few who were worthy to sit close to the feet of the Master. Some who hear it, today, will not accept it. But even those who do accept it, and believe it as a great Truth of Spiritual philosophy have only gone part of the way. The seed fell on fertile ground, the crop had grown, but it still requires the summer airs and the sun to ripen it. 

In the spiritual sense these conditions are the Sadhana, the elements of the Sadhana that Bhagavan teaches. They consist of such practices as control of the thinking deeper, occult laws that transcend the laws of nature. These laws are only the explanations formulated by science, based on its limited knowledge. When a deeper knowledge comes, such laws are found to be only partial or even erroneous explanations. 

You don't need to go in for an interview to witness Bhagavan's power of materialization. You will almost certainly see it when He walks around the Darshan line and stops to produce some Vibhuti with a wave of His hand for someone who needs it. But there are many other things. 

One of the Divine powers over the phenomenal worlds, often exemplified by Bhagavan is the power to change His form, or even manifest multiple forms of Himself. This power is sometimes hard to accept by the rational mind. But Bhagavan demonstrates it and He appears in many parts of the world to people sometimes at the same time usually in His subtle but also occasionally in His physical body, while He is carrying on his usually busy activities at His ashram. Also there are many examples of His showing Himself in one of the well-known forms of God, to appropriate people. He has thus appeared as Krishna, Rama, Subramanian, Christ, and others. 

Now let us think for a moment of that other Divine Power that Bhagavan shows so wonderfully and liberally Prema. All who have visited Him, and been ready for it, have felt in their own individual way this supreme aspect of Divinity. No one can really put into words this experience. It is like a stream of warm oil that passes through you, melting all the hard crusts in your heart. You are liquefied, and then remade. This is, of course, a very inadequate description. But the thing that can be known and seen definitely is the way it changes one's outlook and life. For one thing it makes one realize that the most important thing in life is Love — self-less Love of God, and all of God's children, which means the whole human race. 

One of the concrete ways in which Bhagavan demonstrates His Divine Love is in taking over the illnesses of devotees who would not be able to bear them. 

Though Divine Love will naturally be ours when we reach Self-realization, we should strive to reach it before then. Though we do not actually feel true Love, which is a realization of our Oneness with All - we should use our will-power to practice that Divine feeling towards everyone. Bhagavan says: if you can't feel love, at least don't feel hate, envy, jealousy, and such negative emotions. 

One of the several ways of helping the birth of Love is and Bhagavan emphasizes this — surrender to God by erasing the personal compounded ego. This ego is a self-image, an infatuation with one's own limited individual power. Some of its ingredients are pride, desire, and attachment to worldly things. It is a false self. 

You must dig deep to find it, however, because it hides away under various types of camaflouge. It does not want to be crucified, but it must be sometime. The ancient Egyptians taught this in their ritual of the crucifixion. In the esoteric sense the crucifixion and resurrection of Lord Jesus was symbolic of this necessary death of the ego, so that the true self may be born. 

We must all do this unpleasant job sometime, so the sooner we start the better. Make a decision now to practice sincere objective self-enquiry, daily. And each day put into practice the Sai aphorism that I, personally, like best of all: 

Start the day with love

Fill the day with love

End the day with love

This is the way to God.

When you have reached Divine Love you have reached God. You have cast off those terrible bonds of earthly desire that, like strait-jackets, hold you in the limited life of phenomenal, Samsaric existence. 

About The Author:

Mr. Howard Murphet was a teacher, journalist and publicity writer before becoming a British Army Officer during World War II. Having worked as Director of Publications in an advertising organization in Europe and later in the same capacity for an Industrial Complex in Australia. Later travelled as a free-lance writer in Europe. He came to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba first in March 1965. He is author of several books prominent among them: 'Sai Baba, Man of Miracles; Sai Baba, Avatar' and 'Sai Baba, Invitation to Glory', which have been translated into many languages throughout the world. His other books are Yoga for Busy People; Hammer on the Mountain; When Daylight Comes and Beyond Death; The Undiscovered Country. He was a Member of Central Council of Australia Sathya Sai Organization.

Source: Sai Vandana 1990

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