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Sri Ramakrishna On Incarnation – Avatar

Thoughts on incarnation or avatar by Sri Ramakrishna. It is compiled from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

There is only One without a second.

  • The Vedas speak of It as ‘Om Sachidananda Brahma’,
  • the Puranas as ‘Om Sachidananda Krishna’, and
  • the Tantra as ‘Om Sachidananda Shiva.’
From that one Om have sprung ‘Om Shiva’, ‘Om Kali’, and ‘Om Krishna’.

The Incarnation (Avatara) is the play of the Absolute as man. Do you know how the Absolute plays as man? It is like the rushing down of water from a big roof through a pipe; the power of Satchidananda—nay, Satchidananda Itself—descends through the conduit of a human form as water descends through the pipe.

God’s play on earth as an Incarnation is the manifestation of the glory of the Chit Shakti, the Divine Power.

Brahman alone is real and the world illusory—that is reasoning. And everything but Brahman is like a dream. But this is an extremely difficult path….That is why God incarnates Himself as man and teaches people the path of devotion. He exhorts people to cultivate self-surrender to God. Following the path of devotion, one realizes everything through His grace – both Knowledge and Supreme Wisdom.

However great and infinite God may be, His Essence can and does manifest itself through man by His mere will. God’s Incarnation as a man cannot be explained by analogy. One must feel it for oneself and realize it by direct perception. An analogy can give us only a little glimpse.

By touching the horns, legs, or tail of a cow, we in fact touch the cow herself; but for us the essential thing about a cow is her milk, which comes through the udder. The Divine Incarnation is like the udder. God incarnates Himself as man from time to time in order to teach people devotion and divine love.

God, incarnating Himself as man, behaves exactly like a man. That is why it is difficult to recognize an Incarnation.… He has the same hunger, thirst, disease, grief, and sometimes even fear. Rama was stricken with grief for Sita. Krishna carried on His head the shoes and wooden stool of His father Nanda.

Not all, by any means, can recognize an Incarnation of God…. Only twelve sages, Bharadvaja and the others, recognized Rama as an Incarnation of God.
By meditating on an incarnation of God one meditates on God Himself. The body is a mere covering. It is like a lantern with a light burning inside, or like a glass case in which one sees precious things.