Shri Datta Swami

Jnana Saraswati – Avatara Sutras (Points on Incarnation)

(Click here to read Avatara Sutas by Shri Datta Swami)

Commentary on Avatara Sutras by Dr.Nikhil

1. The enquiry about the Incarnation begins.

अथातो नोह्यावतार जिज्ञासा॥१॥
athāto nohyāvatāra jijñāsā॥1॥

Then and therefore, [we begin] the enquiry about the Incarnation of the unimaginable God.

The word athāto is made of two words atha (then) and ataḥ (therefore) Atha (then) refers to the condition after knowing that the absolute God is unimaginable. Ataḥ (therefore) refers to the reason for beginning the enquiry (jijṇāsā), which is that some devotees wished to see and speak with God directly to clarify their doubts. When devotees came to know that the absolute God is unimaginable, they realized that they could never see or interact with Him. But they strongly wished to speak with God directly to clarify their questions. So, the unimaginable God (nohya) came down (Avatāra) to the imaginable plane of the devoted souls.

2. The unimaginable domain is the highest.

नोह्याधिक्यात् उपसर्गः॥२॥
nohyādhikyāt upasargaḥ॥2॥

The unimaginable plane being higher [than the imaginable plane,] the prefix [‘ava’ in Avatāra is used.]

The unimaginable domain, being the absolute reality, is naturally considered to be the higher plane compared to the imaginable domain, which is the relative reality. The absolute God, who is identical with the unimaginable domain is therefore, said to descend to the imaginable domain. The Sanskrit word for an Incarnation of God is Avatāra, which means ‘the Descent’. The prefix (upasarga) ‘ava’ means down and ‘tara’ means coming. Thus, the Avatāra is the unimaginable God who has ‘come down’ to the imaginable plane in which souls exist. The unimaginable domain is thus, inferred to be a higher plane (ādhikyāt) from the prefix ‘ava’.

3. Scriptures declare that God is unimaginable.

अनूह्यं श्रुतिभ्यो गीयतेच॥३॥
anūhyaṃ śrutibhyo gīyateca॥3॥

[God is known to be] unimaginable from the Veda and from what is sung [in the Gītā].

The Veda is the primary scripture that was ‘heard’ by the sages from God. It was further passed down the generations from the preacher to the disciples through the tradition of oral recitation. Thus, the Veda is called Śruti, which means, ‘that which was heard’. From the Veda (Śruti), we clearly come to know that the absolute God is unimaginable (Yatovācaḥ, Naiṣā tarkeṇa; Neti neti; Avijñātaṃ vijānatām; Na medhayā, etc.).

The Bhagavad Gītā is the song sung by God. Also, from that song (Gītā) sung by God (gīyate), we come to know the same fact that God is unimaginable (Māṃ tu veda na kaścana). Scholars do not treat the Gītā to be a primary scripture. But this is only because it was not preserved by the tradition of oral recitation, which makes it vulnerable to potential corruption. However, it is basically a primary scripture since it was directly given by God (God Kṛṣṇa). Since both the Veda and the Gītā agree that God is unimaginable, the Gītā too can be considered to be a primary scriptural authority on this point.

4. God’s unimaginability can be inferred from science and logic.

तर्क विज्ञानात्॥४॥
tarka vijñānāt॥4॥

From logic and science [too, we infer that God must be unimaginable].

Let us see how the unimaginability of God can be inferred using logic. God is defined as the Creator of the entire creation, including space. Since God created space, space could not possibly have existed in God before its creation. Hence, God must be beyond spatial dimensions. Any entity beyond spatial dimensions naturally becomes unimaginable, since our imagination is only limited to the space-time domain, which is the imaginable domain.

The unimaginability of God can also be inferred on the basis of science. Anything upto the boundary of the universe is imaginable to us. But whatever lies beyond the boundary of the imaginable universe must be different from the universe. It must be unimaginable. This is because, any boundary is defined on the basis of a difference in nature. For instance, the boundary between land and the sea is defined on the basis of the difference between the natures of land and the sea (water). A swimmer swimming in the sea is said to have reached the boundary of the sea (shore), when he encounters land, which is different from the sea. So, reaching the boundary of the imaginable universe would mean reaching the unimaginable God. However, we know from science that it is impossible. The universe appears to be continuously expanding. Its boundaries appear to be infinite.

Actually, the infinity of the universe is not its characteristic. It is only an apparent property of the universe arising due to the unimaginability of God. It only means that you can never reach God (unimaginable domain) who stands at the boundary of the universe (Sarvamāvṛtya tiṣṭhati—Gītā). If you attempt to reach the boundary of the imaginable universe, the universe constantly keeps expanding. It makes it impossible for you to reach its boundary, beyond which, the unimaginable God exists. The apparent expansion of the universe simple means that the boundary of universe is beyond the reach of any human being, no matter how many advanced instruments are used. The universe by itself is finite. It is fully known and controlled by God. But it is relatively infinite to human beings, whose capabilities of even reaching its boundary are highly inadequate. This fact was stated by God Kṛṣṇa (Nānto’sti) in the Gītā while showing the cosmic vision to Arjuna.

5. Parabrahman specifically means God.

ब्रह्मणो नानार्थात् परब्रह्म॥५॥
brahmaṇo nānārthāt parabrahma॥5॥

Due to the many items that can be called ‘Brahman’, the word Parabrahman, [which specifically means the unimaginable God, is introduced].

The word Brahman means that which is the greatest (Bṛhi vṛddhau). Any item which is the greatest in its category can be called Brahman. The term Brahman, has been used to refer to several items (nānārthāt) like the Veda, food, life, mind, intelligence, bliss, etc. because each of them is the greatest in its respective category. But God is greater than all these greatest items in each category. For instance, in the category of scriptures, the Veda is the greatest and hence, it is called Brahman. But God, the author of the Veda, is greater than the Veda. If God too is indicated by the same word, Brahman, it leads to confusion. Hence, a separate term, ‘Parabrahman’, for God is introduced.

We saw that Brahman means, that which is the greatest. The prefix ‘para’ also means great. Parabrahman, thus, means, the One who is greater than Brahman. It refers to the unimaginable God, who is greater than the greatest. Para can also mean ‘other’. In that sense, Parabrahman can mean the other kind of Brahman. All the other greatest items within each category are Brahmans, but they are all imaginable items. God too is Brahman because He is greater than them all. However, He is a different kind of Brahman since He is the only unimaginable Brahman. Hence, He can be called Parabrahman. Thus, the prefix ‘para’ in Parabrahman can mean ‘greater’ or ‘other’ and both meanings are applicable in the case of God. The Veda, food, bliss etc. can all be called Brahman (Brahmākṣara samudbhavam—Gītā). But the unimaginable God alone is called Parabrahman. This word Parabrahman was used by Śaṅkara (Mauna vyakhyā prakaṭita Parabrahma tattvam).

6. Previous conflicts occurred due to multiple ‘Brahmans’.

पूर्वेषांहि नाना ब्रह्माणि कलहाय॥६॥
pūrveṣāṃhi nānā brahmāṇi kalahāya॥6॥

Previously, conflicts have arisen due to multiple ‘Brahmans’.

Since the word Brahman can be used for any item that is the greatest in a particular category, multiple items (nānā) were called Brahman. So, in the past (pūrveṣām), people mistook each of these items to be the ultimate Brahman or God. Pūrva Mimāṃsakas mistook the Veda to be God. Others, who were fond of some other items, mistook those items to be God. This led to the multiplicity of God and consequently, to quarrels (kalaha) between the various groups.

7. Brahman can mean God.

ब्रह्मणोऽपि तद्योगः॥७॥
brahmaṇo'pi tadyogaḥ॥7॥

Brahman can even mean God.

The unimaginable God (Tat) is the ultimate greatest. He is the greatest among all the greatest items within all the various categories. All the greatest items of each categories can be put into one category of the greatests (Brahmans) and in this category of Brahmans, God is the greatest. Hence, the word, Brahman can certainly mean (yogaḥ) God (Tat). The special term Parabrahman is used to indicate the unimaginable God, only to avoid the above-said confusion.

8. The Unimaginable Entity alone is God.

नोह्यमेकं सर्वाधिकम्॥८॥
nohyamekaṃ sarvādhikam॥8॥

The unimaginable Entity alone is the ultimate greatest (God).

All other items which are the greatest in their respective categories are created items belonging to the imaginable domain. God is their Creator and He is the unimaginable Entity. Being their Creator, He is greater than all of them (sarvādhikam). The unimaginable domain is only one. There cannot be multiplicity in the unimaginable domain. Any attempt to imagine a division or multiplicity in the unimaginable domain fails. Thus, the unimaginable Creator (nohyam) alone (ekam) is God. All the imaginable greatest items (Brahmans) cannot be God. This, naturally establishes the oneness of God and eliminates all quarrels arising out of the multiplicity of God.

9. The imaginable domain consists of awareness, matter and energy.

ऊह्यं त्रिधा चिद्द्रव्यशक्तयः॥९॥
ūhyaṃ tridhā ciddravyaśaktayaḥ॥9॥

The imaginable domain consists of three components [namely] awareness, inert matter and inert energy.

The imaginable domain (ūhyam), which is this entire creation, consists of three components (tridhā). The first two are matter (dravyam) and energy (śakti) and both of them are inert. Creation also contains living beings. The bodies of living beings too are made of matter and energy. But another—third component—is also found in living beings. This third component found in living beings is awareness (cit) and it is the third component in the imaginable creation (ūhyam).

10. The primordial energy is the root cause of creation.

मूलन्तु प्रकृतिः सूक्ष्मशक्तिः प्रथमा॥१०॥
mūlantu prakṛtiḥ sūkṣmaśaktiḥ prathamā॥10॥

Prakṛti, the root cause [of the three components of creation] is the extremely subtle inert energy, which was the first [creation of God].

The word prakṛti means the root cause (prakṛtir mūla kāraṇe). The root cause of all these three components of creation is the extremely subtle inert energy that was created by God in the very beginning. This first subtle energy created was inert; it has no awareness. Awareness, specifically the awareness found in the living beings on earth, was created much later in the sequence of creation (Ātmanaḥ ākāśaḥ sambhūtaḥ…annāt puruṣaḥ—Veda).

11. Awareness is dependent on energy and matter.

चिदस्वतन्त्राहि द्विधा॥११॥
cidasvatantrāhi dvidhā॥11॥

Since awareness is dependent [on matter and energy], there are two types [of awareness, namely, awareness produced in material bodies and the awareness produced in energetic bodies].

Awareness cannot exist independently. Awareness is a coverted form of inert energy. On earth, the conversion of inert energy into awareness occurs only in the brain and nervous system of living beings having material bodies. The material nervous system is matter. Inert energy flows through the nervous system in the form of electrical impulses. This energy is derived from the material food consumed and digested by the living being (Annāt puruṣaḥ—Veda). In the functioning nervous system, the inert energy gets converted into awareness. Inert energy does not get converted into awareness anywhere other than in the material nervous system of living beings on earth. So, on earth, awareness is strictly dependent on both matter (nervous system) and energy. If any one of them is absent, awareness is not produced.

In the upper worlds, there is some difference. These worlds are energetic worlds. The living beings there do not have material bodies. They have bodies made of energy. They do not consume food to obtain energy. They directly absorb radiant energy. The mechanism of producing awareness in energetic bodies is different from material living beings on earth. Nevertheless, even in the energetic upper worlds, the conversion of inert energy into awareness only occurs in the energetic bodies of energetic beings. Inert energy, by itself is not aware—either on earth or in the upper worlds. So, awareness is a converted form of inert energy and it is dependent on inert energy (energetic beings) or on both matter and energy (material beings). Awareness cannot exist independently.

Thus, in creation, there are two types of awareness (i) Awareness produced by the conversion of inert energy in the material nervous systems of material living beings on earth. This awareness is dependent on both matter and energy (ii) Awareness produced by the conversion of inert energy in the energetic bodies of energetic beings in the upper worlds. This awareness is dependent on inert energy alone.

12. Energy and matter are independent of awareness.

तृतीयोहि जडः॥१२॥
tṛtīyohi jaḍaḥ॥12॥

[Apart from the two types of awareness,] the third category of inert [matter and energy] also exists.

Apart from the two types of awareness discussed above, the third category (tṛtīyaḥ) consisting of inert energy and inert matter (jaḍaḥ) also exists. No awareness exists in inert matter and energy inherently.

13. Only Earth has living beings with material bodies.

भूमावेव चिद्द्रव्यम्॥१३॥
bhūmāveva ciddravyam॥13॥

Only on earth is awareness found in material [bodies].

Living beings possessing awareness (cit) produced by the conversion of inert energy in a material body (dravyam) are only (eva) found on earth (bhūmau).

14. All other worlds have living beings with bodies of energy.

परत्रतु चिन्मयी शक्तिः॥१४॥
paratratu cinmayī śaktiḥ॥14॥

In other worlds, only energetic bodies with awareness exist.

Other worlds (paratra) are energetic worlds and the living beings there only have energetic bodies (śakti) possessing awareness (cit). These energetic living beings are awareness-containing energetic bodies (cinmayī śaktiḥ).

15. Matter and energy exist in all worlds.

सर्वत्र तृतीयः॥१५॥
sarvatra tṛtīyaḥ॥15॥

All worlds contain the third category [of inert matter and inert energy.]

In all worlds (sarvatra) including earth, the third category (tṛtīyaḥ) consisting of inert matter and inert energy exists.

16. God Datta is the first Energetic Incarnation of God.

प्रथम शक्ति रूपं दत्तः॥१६॥
prathama śakti rūpaṃ dattaḥ॥16॥

The first energetic form [in whom the unimaginable God is merged] is Datta.

Parabrahman, the unimaginable God, created the first energetic form (prathama śakti rūpaṃ) at the beginning of the creation. The first energetic form called Datta consisted of an energetic body containing a soul (awareness). The unimaginable God merged with that first energetic body and soul of Datta to become God Datta, the first Energetic Incarnation of God. Datta means ‘given’. The unimaginable God has ‘given’ Himself to all the souls in creation in the form of God Datta, the first Energetic Incarnation. The energetic form of Datta is the medium through which the unimaginable God gave Himself the souls. The unimaginable God is unexpressed (Avyaktam) to souls. But through the medium of the first Energetic Incarnation, He becomes expressed (vyaktam). The unimaginable God (Nirguṇa Brahman) becomes imaginable and perceptible to souls in the form of God Datta (Saguṇa Brahman). The name Datta is not merely a name meant for identifying the first Energetic Incarnation. But it also indicates the concept of the unimaginable God expressing Himself to souls in creation in the form of the first Energetic Incarnation (God Datta).

17. God Datta is the Divine Trinity.

स एव हिरण्यगर्भ नारायण सदाशिवाः क्रियाभिः॥१७॥
sa eva hiraṇyagarbha nārāyaṇa sadāśivāḥ kriyābhiḥ॥17॥

The same God Datta is called Hiraṇyagarbha, Nārāyaṇa and Sadāśiva owing to His performance of the three cosmic activities [of creation, maintenance and destruction.]

God Datta, the first Energetic Incarnation of God, further created three more energetic bodies containing awareness. They were Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, respectively. God Datta completely merged into their energetic bodies and souls to make the three of them also Energetic Incarnations of God. Since the unimaginable God was already present in God Datta, when God Datta merged with these three energetic forms, the unimaginable God also merged with them. Thus, they are equally Incarnations of the unimaginable God. God Brahmā, God Viṣṇu and God Śiva are known as the Divine Trinity (Trimūrtis) and they carry out the creation, maintainence and destruction of creation respectively. These three cosmic activities are impossible for any created being to perform. Yet, these three energetic beings are able to perform these cosmic activities. This is only because God Datta, the expressed form of the unimaginable God, is carrying out these activities through them. So, God Datta is the single Actor acting in these three roles to create, rule and destroy creation. Of course, even through God Datta, it is ultimately the unimaginable God alone who is performing these three cosmic activities. The terms Hiraṇyagarbha, Nārāyaṇa and Sadāśiva, generally refer to God Brahmā, God Viṣṇu and God Śiva respectively. But more accurately, they refer to the single Actor, God Datta present within each of them. God Datta is thus, the embodiment of the Divine Trinity.

18. God Datta is the source of divine knowledge.

सर्वत्र ज्ञानमूल तात्पर्यं श्रुतेः॥१८॥
sarvatra jñānamūla tātparyaṃ śruteḥ॥18॥


Everywhere in the Veda [and other scriptures], the essence is that [God Datta] is the source of [true and wonderful spiritual] knowledge.

Hiraṇyagarbha is the Possessor of the greatest gold, which is spiritual knowledge (Nahijñānena sadṛṣaṃ—Gītā). Nārāyaṇa means the source of spiritual knowledge. Nāram means spiritual knowledge and ayana means the source. Sadāśiva means the purest One since He is the Giver of the purest spiritual knowledge (Sarvaṃ jñāna plavenaiva—Gita). The Veda (Śruti) says that the inseparable characteristic of God is that He gives wonderful true knowledge (Satyam jñānam…; Prajñānam Brahma). Thus, everywhere (sarvatra), in the Vedas (Śruti) and other scriptures, we find the essential concept (tātparyam) that God Datta, the incarnated unimaginable God, is the source (mūla) of true and wonderful spiritual knowledge (jñāna).

19. There are two types of Incarnations.

अवतारो द्विधा॥१९॥
avatāro dvidhā॥19॥

God’s Incarnations are of two types [(i) Energetic Incarnation and (ii) Materialized Human Incarnation.]

There are two types of Incarnations of God—Energetic Incarnations and Human Incarnations of God. They are the result of God entering and merging with selected energetic beings and selected human beings, respectively.

20. Datta alone enters all Incarnations.

सर्वत्र दत्तो विशति॥२०॥
sarvatra datto viśati॥20॥

In all Incarnations, God Datta alone enters [other beings; be they energetic or materialized beings].

We have said above that God enters and merges with selected energetic or human beings to form Energetic or Human Incarnations. But the question is, which form of God enters these beings to form other Incarnations? The unimaginable God directly entered and merged only with the first energetic form of Datta, at the beginning of creation. The unimaginable God does not directly enter and merge with any other other subsequent energetic or human being. He enters and merges with them only through God Datta. It means that God Datta enters and merges with selected energetic beings in the upper worlds to become Energetic Incarnations. Then, either God Datta Himself or the other Energetic Incarnations enter and merge with a selected human being to become a Human Incarnation. Thus, Datta alone is the direct Incarnation of the unimaginable God. All other Incarnations are only indirect Incarnations of the unimaginable God. They may be direct Incarnations of God Datta or indirect Incarnations of God Datta.

21. Datta’s entry is similar to a guest in the house.

अनुप्रवेशो दत्ते गृह प्रवेशवत्॥२१॥
anupraveśo datte gṛha praveśavat॥21॥

[The unimaginable God’s] entry [into creation] is only in Datta; like a guest in a house.

The Veda says that the unimaginable God (Tat) entered into creation (Tadevānuprāviśat). This entry only denotes the entry of the unimaginable God into the first energetic form called Datta. The first energetic form is made of inert energy and awareness. This energetic form of Datta was created only after the creation of subtle energy. The creation of subtle energy also means the creation of subtle space since without the prior existence of space, an energetic form cannot be created. Space itself is the subtlest form of energy. When the energetic form of Datta was created, awareness was also created. Matter, however, had not yet been created. But even without a material nervous system, the conversion of inert energy into awareness can take place in energetic bodies through a super-technology that is unknown to humans. The unimaginable God entering into creation should not be mistaken to be a homogenous entry and pervasion of the unimaginable God into the entire space of creation. Whenever a person enters into a house, the person is only present in one particular room within the house. The person does not pervade the entire space within the house. Likewise, when it is said that the unimaginable God has entered into creation, it means that He is only present in the Incarnation and not anywhere else.

22. Only the first entry is unimaginable.

नोह्या विलीन क्रिया दत्ते परत्रतूह्या॥२२॥
nohyā vilīna kriyā datte paratratūhyā॥22॥

The unimaginable God’s entry into Datta alone is unimaginable; other subsequent entries are imaginable.

The direct entry (vilīna kriyā) of the unimaginable God into the first energetic form called Datta (Datte) alone is unimaginable (nohyā). This is because it was the case of one unimaginable item entering into an imaginable item. No other example of such a case is available in the whole creation for us to understand. But (tu) when God Datta enters into any other energetic or human being to become an Energetic or Human Incarnation (paratra), the process of entry is imaginable (ūhyā). This is because, it is only a case of one imaginable item (form of God Datta) entering into another imaginable item (energetic being or human being).

23. Unimaginable awareness was considered to be God.

चिदपि नोह्या ज्ञान क्रिया मात्रा गृहिता त्रिभिः नबहिः॥२३॥
cidapi nohyā jñāna kriyā mātrā gṛhitā tribhiḥ nabahiḥ॥23॥

The unimaginable awareness, taken only in the sense of the process of knowing, [was said to be the absolute God] by the three [divine preachers]; nothing beyond [i.e. not as the Entity doing the thinking].  .

All the three divine preachers—Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja and Madhva—considered awareness to be the absolute God in their philosophies. However, people have misunderstood this awareness to be the relative awareness found in living beings. The awareness we find in living beings, including human beings, is part of the relative world and hence, it is called relative awareness. It is produced by the conversion of inert energy in the material nervous system. This relative awareness is not the awareness which the three divine preachers considered to be God. The three divine preachers were referring to the unimaginable awareness of God, which is the absolute awareness; not the relative awareness. They considered (gṛhitā) the awareness (cidapi) of the unimaginable God (nohyā) as His inherent characteristic. By pointing to that unimaginable awareness, they were trying to point to the unimaginable God.

What does ‘unimaginable awareness’ mean? Awareness is simply the ability to think or know something. So, awareness is only an imaginable item. The term, ‘unimaginable awareness’ (cidapi nohyā), which stands for God, does not mean the awareness itself, because the awareness is only imaginable. The unimaginable awareness only means the activity of thinking or knowing (awareness) done by an unimaginable Entity. In this unimaginable awareness, you can only come to know the activity of knowing (jñāna kriyā mātrā), which is called awareness. But you can never know the nature of the Entity who is carrying out the process of knowing.

What exactly is meant by the statement that God’s activity of thinking or knowing is knowable? When a human being sees an object, the image of the object falls on the retina of the eye. The nerves carry the signals to the brain and the brain gets the knowledge of the object, due to the activity of the nerves in the brain. This is the detailed physical mechanism of how humans perceive objects. The unimaginable God also gets knowledge of objects. But He has no eyes, retina, nerves or brain. He does not need any of them. He can perceive and know objects perfectly, without eyes, nerves or the brain (Apāṇipādo javano grahītā paśyati acakṣuḥ sa śruṇoti akarṇaḥ—Veda, Śvetāśvatara Up.). Then what is the exact mechanism by which He gets knowledge of objects? That mechanism is certainly beyond our imagination. It is an unimaginable mechanism. But even though the mechanism of God’s thinking or knowing is unimaginable to us, the final effect is that He is able to think and know. That ability to think and know itself is called awareness and God possesses that ability. We know that God possesses that ability. So, only in that superficial and effective sense, we can say that God’s process of thinking or knowing is known to us. Hence, the term ‘absolute awareness’ or ‘unimaginable awareness’ means this superficially-known process of knowing (awareness) carried out by the absolute unimaginable Entity. When it is said that God is the unimaginable awareness, it means that He is the absolute unimaginable Entity who has the ability to know (awareness). The three preachers said that God is awareness only in the sense that He has the inherent ability to know (jñāna kriyā mātrā gṛhitā).

In the case of the relative awareness, the process of knowing is fully knowable. Its exact mechanism, involving the external senses, the signals in the nerves and brain activity, is also knowable. Furthermore, the entity which is doing the action of knowing is also knowable. The awareness of a human being is an example of relative awareness. The entity which does the action of knowing, is the self or soul of the person. The person’s self or soul itself is also relative awareness. That relative awareness is known to be a specific converted form of inert energy. So, both the process of knowing and the nature of the entity carrying out that process are known, in the case of the relative awareness. In the case of the absolute unimaginable awareness, the Entity performing the action of knowing is unknowable and unimaginable. His action of knowing is superficially knowable, in the sense that we know that God is able to know things, even though we cannot imagine how He is able to know.

Thus, the common point between the absolute awareness and the relative awareness is that the process of knowing is knowable, in both cases. Of course, the commonality is highly superficial. It is limited to that fact that both God and the soul have the ability to know. The difference between the unimaginable God and the human being is vast. God can know any object through an unknowable, unimaginable mechanism, whereas, the human being can know an object like a pot through a known mechanism. Moreover, in the case of the absolute awareness, the Entity doing the action of knowing is totally unimaginable, whereas, in the case of the relative awareness, the entity doing the action of knowing is fully known. Thus, the difference between the unimaginable God and the soul is predominant. The commonality is only superficial and insignificant.

However, people disregarded the predominant difference between the soul and God. They got carried away by the insignificant commonality. Hence, they misunderstood the absolute awareness of God discussed by the three divine preachers to be the relative awareness of a human being. Surprisingly, even this misunderstanding of people had its own benefit. It gave an address to God. The three preachers said that God is awareness—in the sense of the unimaginable awareness. People misunderstood it to be the relative awareness, which is easily observable. This made it impossible for the public to deny the existence of God. So, people’s misunderstanding of God to be the relative awareness, prevented the spread of atheism.

24. The unimaginability of God was hidden to avoid atheism.

अन्यथा नास्तिकत्वापत्तिः॥२४॥
anyathā nāstikatvāpattiḥ॥24॥

Otherwise, there is a risk of atheism.

The absolute God is beyond the imagination of any soul in creation. But if the absolute God is introduced as the unimaginable God, then there is a risk of people thinking that there is no God. While the nature of God is totally unimaginable to all souls, His existence can certainly be known (Astītyevopalabdhavaḥ—Veda). But people who are inclined towards atheism are likely to jump to the wrong conclusion that God does not exist. So, in stating the fact that God is unimaginable, there is the risk of promoting atheism. Therefore, the total unimaginability of God was hidden by the three divine preachers. Instead, they declared the absolute God to be awareness, in the sense of the unimaginable awareness, as explained in the previous sūtra. The thinking process of the unimaginable God (unimaginable awareness) is barely imaginable. It is almost unimaginable. So, it is the closest approximation to the unimaginable God. Hence, the unimaginable awareness was considered by the three divine preachers to be the absolute God.

25. Merging of the awareness of the host and the guest in an Incarnation.

अवतारे लीयते नोह्याचिदूह्यायाम्॥२५॥
avatāre līyate nohyācidūhyāyām॥25॥

In the Incarnation, the unimaginable awareness dissolves in the imaginable awareness.

When unimaginable God enters the first energetic form of Datta containing relative awareness, the absolute awareness of unimaginable God dissolves in the relative awareness of Datta. God Datta then enters other media (body and soul) to become the subsequent Incarnations. The other media into which God Datta enters could be energetic media or human media. Thus, He becomes both Energetic Incarnations and Human Incarnations. In becoming these subsequent Incarnations, God Datta’s relative awareness, which is already united with the absolute unimaginable awareness, further dissolves into the relative awareness of the other media. When God Datta withdraws Himself from any such subsequent Incarnation, the relative awareness of the Incarnation alone remains. Similarly, if the unimaginable God were to (hypothetically) withdraw from the medium of Datta, the relative awareness of Datta alone would remain.

26. Datta is the permanent Incarnation.

न दत्ते परत्र स्यात्॥२६॥
na datte paratra syāt॥26॥

[The unimaginable God will never withdraw from] Datta, [even though He may withdraw from] other Incarnations.

The withdrawal of the unimaginable God from Datta will never happen. God Datta is the first and eternal Incarnation of God. However, when God Datta enters into other forms (energetic or human media) to become the subsequent Incarnations, He may withdraw from them. But this happens only in the case of temporary Incarnations (Āveśa Avatāras). This means that God Datta too will not withdraw from any other Incarnation unless It is only a temporary Incarnation.

27. Incarnation termed as Ātman and Puruṣa in the Veda.

आत्म पुरुषौ श्रुतौ व्युत्पत्तेः॥२७॥
ātma puruṣau śrutau vyutpatteḥ॥27॥

Ātman and Puruṣa in the Veda mean [Incarnations of God].

In the Veda, the Incarnation is referred to by the terms Puruṣa and Ātman. Puruṣa means He who pervades all over the body. The word Ātman is usually understood to mean the soul. But it can also mean the body, as per the Sanskrit dictionary. So, we can say that Ātman means a person. In the Veda, Ātman is said to be the Creator (God) of all creation. It means that the Veda is referring to God as a Person. Hence, both the terms—Puruṣa and Ātman—used in the Veda for God refer to Incarnations of God. They can mean Energetic Incarnations or material Human Incarnations.

28. God enters a body; not the whole world.

साम्यात् जगति दोशाय॥२८॥
sāmyāt jagati dośāya॥28॥

Due to the [qualitative] similarity [between a body and the world], there is a misunderstanding [that God entered the entire world].

Energetic bodies and human bodies are both finite and both contain souls (awareness). They contain the three fundamental components of creation (prakṛti), namely sattvam (awareness), rajas (energy) and tamas (matter, inertia). Any such finite body containing a soul (awareness) is called a piṇḍāṇḍa (microcosm) and it can be the medium for God’s entry. The entire world known as brahmāṇḍa (macrocosm) is qualitatively similar to the finite body (piṇḍāṇḍa) since both are made of the three fundamental components of prakṛti. Hence, when the Veda declares the entry of God into His creation, it is easy to misunderstand this statement. The Veda is actually referring to the entry and merging of the unimaginable God into the finite energetic form (piṇḍāṇḍa) of Datta created by the unimaginable God. The Veda is not saying that the unimaginable God entered into the whole of creation and merged homogeneously into it. But many people have misunderstood it to be so, due to the qualitative similarity between the individual (piṇḍāṇḍa) and the cosmos (brahmāṇḍa). However, noting the vast quantitative difference between the two, such a misunderstanding should be avoided.

29. If God pervades the entire world, good and bad become indistinguishable.

गुणदोष विवेको न स्यात्॥२९॥
guṇadoṣa viveko na syāt॥29॥

Good and bad would be distinguishable, [if God had pervaded all over the world].

God’s homogeneous merging with the world can also be rejected on the basis of logic. If the unimaginable God had entered and pervaded all over the world, it would be impossible to distinguish between good and bad. If both Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna were God, it would mean that that God was preaching the Gītā to God! Similarly, when God Narasiṃha killed the demon Hiraṇya, it would mean that God killed Himself, because both would be God!

30. God’s entry into a body is described in the Gītā.

गीयते च॥३०॥
gīyate ca॥30॥

It has also been sung [in the Gītā that God only entered and merged with a finite human body.]

Even the Gītā, which is the essence of the Veda, clearly states that God only enters into a finite human body (Manuṣīṃ tanumāśritam).

31. God’s centrality is misunderstood to be all-pervasiveness.

केन्द्रेतु सर्व भूताशय स्थितः॥३१॥
kendretu sarva bhūtāśaya sthitaḥ॥31॥

[God’s] central position [as the Controller of creation, is the meaning of the statement], “God is situated in all the bhūtas”.

The Gītā says that God is situated in the central position, controlling the entire world (Ahamātmā…bhūtāśaya sthitaḥ). Āśaya means the central internal place. Bhūtas means the five elements (pañca bhūtas). The entire creation is constituted of the five elements. God lying at the center of the five elements means that He is the central controller of the whole of creation. This statement is commonly mistaken to mean that God is present in the heart of every living being or every human being. However, that is not a valid interpretation since it would lead to objections, including the logical objection raised in Sūtra 29.

32. The confusion is avoided by correctly interpreting the term bhūta.

भूतार्थ विवेकात्॥३२॥
bhūtārtha vivekāt॥32॥

[The misunderstanding that God is all-pervasive in creation can be avoided] by correctly understanding the word bhūta.

The word bhūtas should be taken to mean the five elements. Creation includes both living beings and non-living matter and energy. God controls all of creation. Bhūtas could also be taken to mean just living beings, but that would limit the scope of the statement. God is not only the controller of living beings, but also of the inert creation. So, considering the term bhūtas to mean the five elements is more meaningful.

Those who take bhūtas to mean living beings intend to prove that everyone including themselves, is inherently divine. They say that the relative awareness found in all living beings, itself is the absolute God.This is not true since the relative awareness is also created from the five elements, as per the Veda (Ākāśāt vāyuḥ…annāt puruṣaḥ). The relative awareness is only a specific work form of inert energy that gets converted into awareness in the nervous system. It is certainly not the absolute unimaginable awareness or the unimaginable God. Hence, bhūtas should be taken to mean the entire world made of the five elements, which includes both inert and non-inert items. The statement from the Gītā stating that God is situated in the bhūtas should therefore, be correctly understood (artha vivekāt) to mean that God is the central controller of all creation.

33. Unimaginable awareness means the unimaginable God.

नोह्य चित्पदार्थोऽपि नोह्यो न द्वितीयः॥३३॥
nohya citpadārtho'pi nohyo na dvitīyaḥ॥33॥

The unimaginable awareness means the unimaginable God due to non-duality [in the unimaginable domain.]

As seen earlier, the term ‘unimaginable awareness’ means the unimaginable Entity that does the activity of knowing. It does not mean the mere process of knowing, even though awareness usually just means the process of knowing or thinking. The fact that God possesses the ability to know is not unimaginable. It is knowable. Even though the mechanism of His process of knowing is unimaginable, we certainly know that He possesses the ability to know. The main point here is that in the case of the unimaginable awareness, the Entity that does the activity of knowing is God, who is unimaginable. So, the term ‘unimaginable awareness’ means God Himself.

In the term ‘unimaginable awareness’, if the word ‘awareness’ is merely taken in the sense of the ability to know, then it is imaginable. It becomes the same as relative awareness. But if the word ‘awareness’ is taken in the sense of the Entity doing the activity of knowing, it means the unimaginable God. Since any attempt to define two unimaginable items fails, there must be only one single unimaginable item. In other words, the unimaginable awareness means the unimaginable God Himself.

34. Awareness, soul and creation are all the activity of God.

चित् क्रियैव जीवोऽप्यात्म शक्तिः॥३४॥
cit kriyaiva jīvo'pyātma śaktiḥ॥34॥

Awareness, soul [and all creation] are the activity [of God].

Awareness simply means the process of knowing (cit kriyaiva). This is in the context of the awareness found in the world (relative awareness). Awareness is, thus, an activity. It is not an entity or the item doing the activity. Only the term ‘unimaginable awareness’ points to God, who is the Entity doing the activity of knowing. Otherwise, in general, awareness only means the process of knowing.

Let us now focus on the awareness of an individual. As seen above, that awareness is only an activity. Who is the entity performing that activity? The individual soul (jīva) is the performer of the activity of knowing. But that individual soul itself is also awareness. It means that the individual soul must also be an activity. It is true that the individual soul (jīva) appears to be the entity who is carrying out the process of knowing. It appears to be different from the process of knowing. But it is only a superficial difference. The individual soul is awareness, and the process of knowing that it carries out, is also awareness. That awareness is basically an activity. Thus, the individual soul, who is the namesake-entity doing the activity of knowing, is also part of the activity itself.

If an individual’s process of knowing as well as the individual soul itself are both activity, then who is the performer of the activity? There are only two possibilities in the world—an item could either be awareness or else, it must be inert. If awareness is only an activity and not the entity doing the activity, then let us try to see if any inert item is the entity. Is the basic soul (ātman) the entity doing the activity of knowing? Ātman is the inert energy which is the cause of the jīva (awareness) produced in the nervous system. That energy is also dynamic. It is also an activity. In the Gītā, the ātman is said to be inert (Sthaṇuracalaḥ), which confirms the idea that ātman means inert energy.

If ātman or the basic soul, being energy is also an activity and not the performer of the activity, then could matter be the performer? The individual’s body is made of matter, after all. Unfortunately, matter too is only a condensed form of energy. It too is characterized by dynamism, as seen from the constant movement of the fundamental particles. Thus, the whole individual consisting of matter, energy and awareness is only an activity.

What is true in the case of the individual (microcosm) is also true in the case of creation (macrocosm). Creation too is made of the same matter, energy and awareness, which are all part of the activity. There is no entity within creation that is the performer of that activity. All entities that appear to be the performers of the activity found within creation, themselves get reduced to activity, upon analysis.

The final outcome of this analysis is that the unimaginable God or Creator alone is the Entity who is doing all the activity observed in creation. The whole of Creation is His activity. He is the single Actor and all creation is His acting or activity. He is the sole Dancer and all creation is His dance.

35. Creation is non-existent for God.

परमार्थतो जगदसत् क्रियासाध्यात्॥३५॥
paramārthato jagadasat kriyāsādhyāt॥35॥

[From the perspective of God, who is the] absolute existence, creation is absolutely non-existent. [This is inferred from God’s] omnipotent capability of acting [in creation].

As seen in the previous sūtra, the unimaginable God is the only Entity performing all the activity which constitutes creation. He is the single Entity who creates, rules and destroys creation and He is omnipotent with respect to creation. From this, we must conclude that the unimaginable God is the absolute existence and the entire creation, which is imaginable to us, is non-existent to Him. This is because any existent entity can only have total omnipotence over a non-existent item. One existent entity can never have total omnipotence over another equally-existent item.

36. Creation is not non-existent for the soul and the Incarnation is like an electric wire.

न जीवात्मनो भागात् विद्युत्वल्लिवत् गीतायाः॥३६॥
na jīvātmano bhāgāt vidyutvallivat gītāyāḥ॥36॥

[The non-existence of creation is] not for the soul, which is a part [of creation. The Incarnation is] like an electric wire, as per the Gītā.

Creation is non-existent for the unimaginable God. However, it is not non-existent for the soul. Irrespective of whether one considers the basic soul, ātman, which is inert energy or whether one considers the individual soul, jīva, which is awareness, creation is very much existent for the soul. This is because, the soul is a part of this creation. After all, both parā prakṛti (higher creation, awareness) and aparā prakṛti (lower creation, inert creation) are only prakṛti (creation), as per the Gita (Bhūmirāpo’nalo… prakṛtiraṣṭadhā). Awareness and the inert creation are both only creation. They are not the Creator. The soul (jīvātmano), being part (bhāgāt) of creation always experiences creation to be real and existent.  

The only exception is the case of the Incarnation. God enters an energetic or materialized body containing a soul to become an Incarnation. That body and soul are only a finite part of creation. But God identifies with that particular body and soul. It is like electricity entering the metallic wire and identifying with the wire. Despite the identification, note that neither does electricity get transformed into the wire nor does the wire get transformed into the electricity. This point is stated in the Gītā (Avyaktaṃ vyaktimāpannam manyante māmabuddhayaḥ). The unimaginable God does not get transformed into the body and soul of the medium. He only gets identified with it. Identification means that, for all practical purposes, the wire is treated to be electricity itself. In that sense, that medium (body and soul of the Incarnation) is the unimaginable God. To that Incarnation alone, creation can become unreal (non-existent), whenever He wishes to perform a miracle. At other times, creation continues to be existent even for God, so that He can derive full entertainment from it. The reality of creation for God is only a granted reality and not an inherent reality. Inherently, creation is always unreal (non-existent) for God. Such a granted reality despite the inherent unreality is called a relative reality. Creation is thus a relative reality (relative existence).

37. The existent God identifies with the non-existent medium in the Incarnation.

स्वयं सत् परम् त्यत् श्रुतेः॥३७॥
svayaṃ sat param tyat śruteḥ॥37॥

God, who Himself is existent [identifies with] the non-existent different item [medium, as told] in the Veda.

When God enters and pervades a medium (body containing a soul), God, retaining His own absolute existence (Sat) also becomes the non-existent body (tyat) due to His identification with it. This is said in the Veda (Sat ca tyat ca abhavat). It does not mean that the existent God literally gets transformed into the non-existent medium. It only means that He identifies with the medium. So, the medium effectively becomes God. In an electrified wire, electricity always remains a stream of electrons and the wire always remains a chain of metal atoms. Yet the wire is effectively treated to be the electricity since it exhibits the property of electricity. It gives an electric shock, wherever you touch it. Thus, God, who Himself is existent (Svayam Sat), ‘becomes’ the non-existent medium (param tyat) as told in the Veda (Śruteḥ).

38. The only way to attain God is through His Incarnation.

नान्यः पन्था अयनाय जगत्भाग भक्ताय॥३८॥
nānyaḥ panthā ayanāya jagatbhāga bhaktāya॥38॥

There is no other way to reach [God] for a devoted soul who is part of creation.

The devotee is the non-existent soul in creation. It is part of the non-existent creation. God is the absolute existence. The non-existent devotee can never attain the existent God since the absolute God is totally unimaginable to any soul in creation. So, the only way is for God to also ‘become’ a non-existent soul through the process of incarnation. Then the devoted soul can can attain God (Incarnation). Except for this one way, there is no other way (nānyaḥ panthā) for devotee, who is part of creation (jagatbhāga bhaktāya) to attain (ayanāya) God (Nānyaḥ panthā ayanāya vidyate—Veda).

39. Incarnation is necessary for devotees and possible for God.

अवसर सर्व शक्तिभ्यां न निरोधः॥३९॥
avasara sarva śaktibhyāṃ na nirodhaḥ॥39॥

[Devotees’] need and [God’s] omnipotence rule out any opposition [to the concept of incarnation].

The Incarnation of God fulfills the need of some devotees, who strongly wish to see and talk to God directly to clarify their doubts. The omnipotence of God can easily make anything happen in creation, including the manifestation of an Incarnation. Thus, the need of devotees (avasara) and omnipotence of God (sarva śaktibhyām) rule out any opposition (Na nirodhaḥ) to the concept of God incarnating in creation in the form of Energetic Incarnations and Human Incarnations.

40. Devotees attain the four fortunes through the Incarnation.

सन्दर्शन-सम्भाषण-संस्पर्श-सहवास भाग्य चतुष्टयम्॥४०॥
sandarśana-sambhāṣaṇa-saṃsparśa-sahavāsa bhāgya catuṣṭayam॥40॥

Seeing, speaking, touching and living [with God] are the four fortunes [attained by devotees from the Incarnation.]

The few devotees who strongly wish for the Incarnation of God attain the four greatest fortunes (bhāgya catuṣṭayam). These four greatest fortunes are: (i) Sandarśanam: seeing God with one’s own eyes (ii) Sambhāṣaṇam: speaking with God to clarify doubts, (iii) Saṃsparśa: touching the feet of God and (iv) Sahavāsa: living with God. These four fortunes alone bring complete fulfillment to the devotion of these devotees. The unimaginable God or God as formless energy cannot yield such complete satisfaction to devotees. Only the relevant contemporary Incarnation can yield this complete satisfaction. The word ‘relevant’ will be explained in the following sūtra.

41. Human and Energetic Incarnations are relevant for Earth and upper worlds respectively.

द्विधा यथा सम्बन्धः॥४१॥
dvidhā yathā sambandhaḥ॥41॥

Two-fold [are God’s Incarnations—energetic and human—] as per relevance.

God descends in the form of Energetic Incarnations into the upper energetic worlds for the sake of the souls there, who too have energetic bodies. On Earth, He descends in the form of Human Incarnations, for the sake of souls having materialized human bodies. Only when both God and souls are present in a common medium—energetic or material—can souls meaningfully attain God. God’s Incarnation in the common medium alone is relevant (yathā sambandha) to souls. Souls on earth in material human bodies cannot get much benefit from Energetic Incarnations of God. They can get the complete benefit only from the material Human Incarnation of God, which is relevant to them. In the energetic worlds, souls in energetic bodies, similarly, can get complete benefit from the Energetic Incarnations of God, which are relevant to them. Although the same God exists in both Energetic and Human Incarnations (dvidhā), Energetic Incarnations are relevant for the energetic worlds and Human Incarnations are relevant for Earth.

42. The common medium’s merit is enabling good interaction.

ईप्सित मिश्र सौलभ्यात् समोपाधिः॥४२॥
īpsita miśra saulabhyāt samopādhiḥ॥42॥

For mixing easily [with devotees], as desired by them, [God incarnates in] the common medium.

God’s relevant Incarnation is His Incarnation in a common medium (samopādhiḥ). When both God and souls are present in a common medium, God can easily mix (miśra) with the souls as desired by them (īpsita) and uplift them. This means that the Energetic Incarnation can easily mix with energetic souls and the Human Incarnation can mix easily with human souls. This easy mixing or easy interaction is the merit (saulabhya) of the common medium and it allows the souls to attain the four greatest fortunes.

43. The common medium’s defect is causing mutual repulsion.

साम्योपाधि विकर्षणं दोषः॥४३॥
sāmyopādhi vikarṣaṇaṃ doṣaḥ॥43॥

The common medium causing repulsion [from the Incarnation in the devotee’s mind] is its defect.

Along with the above-mentioned merit of the common medium (sāmyopādhi), there is also a defect (doṣaḥ). Since both God and the devotee are in the same medium, the devotee feels that the Incarnation is also just an ordinary person. This is because, the medium of God exhibits the same characteristics as that of the devotee. God’s medium also undergoes all the natural changes such as coming into existence (conception), birth, growth, maturation, deterioration, and death (Asti, jāyāte, vardhate, vipariṇamate, apakṣīyate, naśyati). Mistaking the Incarnation to be an ordinary person, the devotee feels that he or she is greater than the Incarnation, in some way. This is ego. The other side of the devotee’s ego is jealousy. When the devotee finds any greatness in the Incarnation, the devotee gets jealous of the Incarnation. The common medium between God and the devotee gives rise to this ego and jealousy, which is natural and unavoidable. This natural ego and jealousy felt by the devotee towards the Incarnation owing to the common medium is called the common medium repulsion (vikarṣaṇam). It is simply the repulsion between likes. Under the influence of this common medium repulsion comprised of ego and jealousy, the soul rejects the Incarnation. This is the defect of the common medium adopted by God for His Incarnation. This common medium repulsion is applicable not only in the material world, but also in the energetic worlds. Human devotees are affected by ego and jealousy towards the Human Incarnation and energetic souls (angels) are affected by ego and jealousy towards Energetic Incarnations (Parokṣa priyā iva hi devāḥ; pratyakṣa dviṣaḥ—Veda).

44. God uses both the merit and the defect of the common medium.

उभयत्र गुणदोष समन्वयः॥४४॥
ubhayatra guṇadoṣa samanvayaḥ॥44॥

Both the merit and the defect [of the common medium are] used beneficially [by God].

Both (ubhayatra) the merit (guṇa) and the defect (doṣa) of the common medium are put to the best use (samanvayaḥ) by God. Using the merit of the common medium, God’s Incarnation mixes with the few devotees who had sincerely wished for God to appear directly to them. He interacts freely with them and provides them with the four greatest fortunes. Using the defect of the common medium, He drives away those devotees who do not want God to appear in human form. If such devotees try to approach the Human Incarnation, observing His common human medium, they develop ego and jealousy towards Him. Due to the repulsion, they go away from the Incarnation and do not unnecessarily disturb the divine program of the Incarnation, by begging for undeserved boons from Him.

45. Angels, humans and demons among human beings.

देव मनुष्य दैत्याः मर्त्येषु॥४५॥
deva manuṣya daityāḥ martyeṣu॥45॥

Angels, humans and demons exist in the mortal world.

The few devotees who want to directly interact with the Human Incarnation of God are angels-in-human-form (devāḥ). They experience only a minimum amount of repulsion from the contemporary Human Incarnation. The devotees who never want God to incarnate in human form are demons-in-human-form (daityāḥ). They experience the maximum repulsion from the Human Incarnation. In between these two types of devotees, there is also a middle type. They are humans-in-human-form (manuṣyāḥ). They experience only a moderate amount of repulsion from the Human Incarnation. Thus, angels and demons also exist among with human beings in this mortal world (martyeṣu) called Earth.

46. Devotees treat the Incarnation as God, Son or Messenger.

दैव तत्पुत्र तद्दुतः क्रमेण मतत्रयात्॥४६॥
daiva tatputra taddutaḥ krameṇa matatrayāt॥46॥

[Devotees treat the Human Incarnation as] God, Son of God or a Messenger of God, reflecting the three philosophies, respectively.

Devotees view the contemporary Human Incarnation of God differently, depending on their levels of ego and jealousy. Broadly, the views of devotees fall into three categories, corresponding to the three Vedantic philosophies (mata trayāt). These three views belong to devotees having different levels of ego and jealousy, in increasing order (krameṇa). Devotees with negligible ego and jealousy, treat the Human Incarnation as God Himself. The medium of God, which includes the soul, is treated to be identical with God. This is the view of monism between God and the soul (medium). It matches with the Advaita philosophy preached by Śaṅkara.

Devotees with a moderate amount of ego and jealousy, cannot accept the Human Incarnation to be God Himself. But they do accept some partial divinity in Him. They accept the Incarnation to be the Son of God. This matches with the Viśiṣṭa Advaita philosophy preached by Rāmānuja. Rāmānuja’s philosophy declares a partial identity between God. According to it, God is the whole and the soul is a part. This is a special type of monism—a monism due to inseparability.

Finally, devotees who have a high level of ego and jealousy can neither accept the Incarnation to be God nor as His Son. They can at the most accept Him to be a Messenger, Prophet or Servant of God. The servant is always separate from the master. So, this is a dualistic view between God and the soul, matching with the Dvaita philosophy of Madhva.

47. God enters the drama of creation for complete entertainment.

लघु विनोदः साक्षी प्रविष्टो रमते नटवत्॥४७॥
laghu vinodaḥ sākṣī praviṣṭo ramate naṭavat॥47॥

As a spectator [of the drama of creation, God gets] little entertainment. On entering it as an Actor, He gets full entertainment.

Apart from fulfilling the desire of the few devotees who yearn to interact with Him, there is another purpose behind God’s Incarnation. Upon incarnating in creation, God gets complete entertainment. God, the absolute existence, created this creation, which is non-existent for Him. The non-existent creation appears quite unreal to Him. It is like seeing an unclear and faded image, which gives very little entertainment (laghu vinodaḥ). In this stage, God is the mere Spectator (Sākṣī), as stated in the Veda (Sākṣī cetā—Veda). So, God enters (praviṣṭo) into the world and identifies with certain energetic beings and human beings, to become Energetic and Human Incarnations. Then creation appears very real to Him. It is like watching a clear and bright image, which gives full entertainment. As an Incarnation, God participates in the creation-drama as an Actor (Naṭavat), which gives far more enjoyment (ramate) than merely being a Spectator.

48. God’s entry does not change the properties of the medium.

नोपाधि धर्म भङ्गः प्रवेशात् गीयते॥४८॥
nopādhi dharma bhaṅgaḥ praveśāt gīyate॥48॥

The medium’s properties are not disturbed by [God’s] entry, as sung [in the Gītā].

Devotees should understand that the unimaginable God does not actually get modified into a human being in the process of Incarnation. He only becomes a human being for all practical purposes, just as electricity becomes the electrified wire, for all practical purposes. The natural properties (dharma) of the medium or body (upādhi) like birth, thirst, hunger, sleep, growth, maturation, ageing, disease, death, and so on, do not change (na bhaṅgaḥ) by the entry (praveśāt) of God. Due to the entry of electricity into a copper wire, the physical properties of the copper wire like its leanness, its red colour and so on, do not change.

It might appear that God’s entry into the medium changes one quality of the medium, which is the medium’s natural ego and jealousy. The medium of God, which is a human being or an energetic being, does not have the natural ego and jealousy towards fellow-beings. But it should be noted that the loss of ego and jealousy is not the result of God’s entry. The absence of ego and jealousy is in fact a prerequisite for God’s entry into the medium. God only enters the human being or energetic being who has completely overcome ego and jealousy. As long as ego and jealousy exist in the medium, God does not enter that medium. Even after God’s entry, if the medium develops ego, God immediately exits the medium. This is seen in the case of Paraśurāma.

Initially, God entered into Paraśurāma only because Paraśurāma was free of ego and jealousy. Through Paraśurāma, God accomplished the divine work of eliminating the evil kings on Earth. After completing this work, ego entered into Paraśurāma and hence, God left Paraśurāma. Similarly, when Narasiṃha killed the demon Hiranyakashipu, He too developed some ego. To subdue that ego, God Śiva took the form of a rhinoceros (śarabha) and fought with Him, until His ego subsided. Both Paraśurāma and Narasiṃha were true Incarnations of God and they did not actually develop any ego or jealousy. They were only playing roles to teach a lesson to the world of souls. They wanted to emphasize the seriousness of ego and jealousy and the extreme difficulty involved in overcoming them. They wanted us to think that when even Incarnations like Paraśurāma and Narasiṃha developed ego, where do we ordinary human beings stand? We must be doubly careful and make extreme efforts to overcome ego and jealousy.

In short, no quality of the medium, including ego and jealousy, is lost due to the entry of God. The unimaginable God neither changes any properties of the medium nor does He Himself get transformed into the imaginable medium. He only identifies with the medium, so that the medium becomes God, effectively. The Gītā clearly says (gīyate) that God only enters the body (medium) to become an Incarnation and that God does not actually become the body (Tanumaśritam…; Avyaktam vyaktimāpannaṃ…—Gītā).

49. Energetic Incarnations are only momentarily visible.

दीर्घ तपसा किञ्चित् कालीनमेव तैजसम्॥४९॥
dīrgha tapasā kiñcit kālīnameva taijasam॥49॥

Energetic Incarnations appear after long penance, and only for a short while.

When human beings with material bodies perform severe penance (tapasā) for a long time (dīrgha), Energetic Incarnations (taijasa) do appear. But they disappear in a short while (kiñcit kālīnameva) after speaking just a few words. This very brief guidance obtained after a very long and strenuous penance is not sufficient to get full clarity about the right direction to be followed in the spiritual path.

The reason why getting a vision of an Energetic Incarnation is difficult is that Energetic Incarnations are relevant only to energetic worlds. They are not relevant to Earth, which is a material world. The human devotee is expected to approach the relevant Incarnation of God, which is the contemporary Human Incarnation. Devotees are discouraged from approaching irrelevant Incarnations and encouraged to approach relevant Incarnations. Meeting the Human Incarnation is extremely easy, most beneficial for getting guidance, and fully satisfying for the human devotee.

50. Preachers rejected the concept of Incarnation due to its risks

दयानन्द यवन गुरुभ्यां न तीव्र दोषात्॥५०॥
dayānanda yavana gurubhyāṃ na tīvra doṣāt॥50॥

Dayananda and the Islamic Prophet rejected [the concept of Human Incarnation] due to its serious risks.

Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj and Prophet Mohammed (Yavana Guru) rejected (na) this concept of Human Incarnation, in their respective times, even though both of them were Human Incarnations of God themselves. The reason for this was the serious risks (tīvra doṣāt) that would arise if this concept were accepted.

One serious risk of the concept of Incarnation is that fraudsters also start claiming that they are incarnations of God to exploit the public. Due to this reason, Dayananda rejected the concept of Incarnation and did not claim to be God, even though He was an Incarnation Himself.

The other serious risk associated with the concept is the danger to the life of the true Human Incarnation. Prophet Mohammed had many enemies due to His bold and true preaching that went against the longstanding blind and selfish traditions of the public. If He had further stated that He was an Incarnation of God, it would have caused tremendous repulsion in the minds of the public. People, overcome by the ego and jealousy, would have risen against Him even more and they would have harmed Him. Jesus was brutally crucified by egotistic people who could not tolerate His truthful claim of being God. The people who killed Him, incurred incalculable sin. Instead of being uplifted by the Incarnation, they fell into the deepest sin. So, Mohammed, who came soon after Jesus, rejected the concept of Incarnation, to avoid personal danger to Him and to prevent egotistic devotees from falling into deep sin. Even though He only claimed to be a Prophet, His opponents continuously kept attacking Him.

To avoid these serious risks, Dayananda and Prophet Muhammed rejected the concept of Incarnation.

51. The rejection was like a surgery in an emergency.

सिद्धान्त विरोधः शस्त्र वैद्यवत्॥५१॥
siddhānta virodhaḥ śastra vaidyavat॥51॥

Rejecting the concept [of the Human Incarnation of God] was like a surgery [done in an emergency].

Dayananda rejected the concept of the Human Incarnation of God due to the risk of the concept leading to the exploitation of innocent devotees by false human incarnations. Mohammed rejected the concept due to the risk of devotees harming a true Human Incarnation like Jesus. Devotees are quite capable of harming or even killing the Incarnation, when they are blinded by ego and jealousy. The rejection of the concept of Incarnation was an extreme step. It was taken to avoid the serious dangers involved in accepting the concept. It was like an emergency surgery done to remove an organ posing a serious threat to the life of the patient.

52. The concept must be retained, avoiding the risks by analysis.

नियम्यते मूष पेटि गृहदाह परीक्षार्थवत्॥५२॥
niyamyate mūṣapeti gṛhadaḥ parīkṣārthavat॥52॥

[The concept of Incarnation should be retained and the risks should be eliminated. It is like] trapping and eliminating rats, instead of burning the entire house [or like eliminating examination malpractices instead of completely abolishing] examinations.

In normal situations, when there is no emergency, Datta Swami feels that the original concept of the Human Incarnation should not be eliminated. The risks associated with the concept alone should be eliminated through analysis (niyamyate). This is similar to the trapping of rats in a rat-trap (mūṣapeṭi) and eliminating them from the house. There is no need to burn down the entire house (gṛhadāḥ), just because the house is infested with rats. Similarly, just because one or two students were caught cheating in the examination, the whole examination system need not be abolished. The examination malpractices alone should be eliminated, while retaining the examination system (parīkṣārthavat).

53. Miracles and spiritual knowledge eliminate false Incarnations

क्रिया ज्ञानाभ्यां प्रथमः त्याज्यः॥५३॥
kriyā jñānābhyāṃ prathamaḥ tyājyaḥ॥53॥

Through miracles and spiritual knowledge, the first risk can be eliminated.

The first risk (prathamaḥ), which is the risk of the public getting exploited by false incarnations can be controlled through analysis. False incarnations can be filtered out (tyājyaḥ) since they are unable to perform miracles (kriyā) or deliver true and excellent spiritual knowledge (jñāna). Those who claim to be Incarnations, should first be tested for their ability to perform miracles. This filters out 99% of the false incarnations since they do not have any miraculous powers. Those who can perform miracles alone remain. They could either be true Human Incarnations or demons who have acquired miraculous powers from God. The demons can be filtered out easily since they do not have the capacity to deliver excellent and true spiritual knowledge. Only the true Human Incarnation of God can both perform miracles and deliver excellent and true spiritual knowledge.

54. Incarnations can avoid personal harm by controlled behavior.

द्वितीयस्तु नियत उचित वाच्यः॥५४॥
dvitīyastu niyata ucita vācyaḥ॥54॥

The second risk [associated with the concept of Incarnation can be] controlled by the use of appropriate words [and behavior].

The second risk (dvitīyastu) associated with the concept of Incarnation is that devotees may brutally attack or kill the Incarnation. This risk can be eliminated (niyata) by the Human Incarnation by the careful (ucita) use of words (vācaḥ) and by practically behaving only like a messenger (duality). When the Human Incarnation claims to be only a messenger and behaves like one too, the risk is eliminated. The messenger is just like any other human being. Egotistic and cruel devotees will not attack the Incarnation who speaks and behaves like a mere Messenger or Servant of God. The Human Incarnation can reveal Himself to be either the Son of God or God Himself only to devotees whose ego and jealousy are sufficiently low. Thus, the Incarnation must speak and behave like a Messenger of God, Son of God or God Himself, depending on the levels of ego and jealousy of the devotees before Him.

55. Repulsion of the common medium is seen even in angels.

मद मत्सरावजेयौ देवेष्वपि श्रुतेः॥५५॥
mada matsarāvajeyau deveṣvapi śruteḥ॥55॥

Ego and jealousy are unconquerable even by the angels, as per the Śruti.

Ego and jealousy (mada-matsara) towards God in a common medium is unconquerable (ajeya) and sometimes, it is even seen in angels (deveṣvapi). Due to this common medium repulsion, Indra once tried to kill Lord Śiva with his diamond weapon (Vajra)! The constant presence of the relevant Incarnation near the devotee leads to negligence in the mind of the devotee. When the relevant Incarnation is only rarely available, the devotee develops devotion. Thus, nearness brings negligence while distance builds devotion. This is stated in the Veda (Śruteḥ) as “Parokṣapriyā…pratyakṣa dviṣaḥ”.

56. People are usually fascinated by the energetic medium.

इन्द्रे न कृष्णे पीतकञ्चुकवत्॥५६॥
indre na kṛṣṇe pītakañcukavat॥56॥

[The villagers of Bṛndāvanam wanted to worship] Indra and not Kṛṣṇa; which is like [respecting] the silk shirt.

The villagers of Bṛndāvanam wanted to worship Indra, who is an energetic being (angel). He is only a servant of God. But he has an energetic body that is extremely rare to see on Earth. So, the villagers had a lot of fascination for him. Kṛṣṇa, was the actual Human Incarnation of God. He was the Master of Indra, but He was neglected by the villagers merely because He was present in the human form, which is constantly seen by everyone. The rarity of seeing energetic forms produced a lot of respect and devotion in the villagers’ minds towards Indra. The same villagers neglected God Kṛṣṇa, just because He was present in the commonly-seen human medium. People who only possess cotton shirts respect even a peon wearing a silk shirt (pītakañcukavat), whereas, they do not respect even the district collector wearing a cotton shirt!

57. Nearness leads to negligence.

लोकेऽपि दृष्टम्॥५७॥
loke'pi dṛṣṭam॥57॥

[Nearness leading to negligence] is also seen in the world.

The fact that nearness or easy availability leads to negligence is seen (dṛṣṭam) in the world too (loke’pi). Parents do not show any care for their son who is constantly present before their eyes at home. But they show a lot of care for the son who studies in a faraway city, when he comes home for a short vacation.

58. Lord Kṛṣṇa’s theft and affairs were not exploitation.

जार चोरत्वादिति चेन्न तदेषणा परीक्षैवान्त्या॥५८॥
jāra coratvāditi cenna tadeṣaṇā parīkṣaivāntyā॥58॥

If you think [that Kṛṣṇa’s] love affairs and theft were [exploitation], it is not so. They were only the final tests of the worldly bonds [of the Gopikās].

If you think (iti cet) that Lord Kṛṣṇa’s theft (coratva) of the butter of the Gopikās and His romantic dance (jāra) with them, were cases of the exploitation of innocent devotees by a false incarnation, it is not so (na). They were only the final tests (parīkṣaivāntyā) of the strongest worldly bonds (eṣaṇās) of the Gopikās. Kṛṣṇa was testing whether their single bond of loving devotion for Him was stronger than their worldly bonds. The three strongest worldly bonds are the bonds with wealth (dhaneṣaṇā), children (putreṣaṇā) and life-partners (dāreṣaṇā).

Butter was the wealth of the Gopikās, since they were cowherd women. They used to store their butter in pots to save it for their children. By stealing their saved butter, Kṛṣṇa directly competed with the bonds they had with their wealth and children. If they enjoyed Kṛṣṇa’s stealing of their butter, it proved that their loving devotion for Him was stronger than their combined bond with their wealth and children. If they complained, it meant that their love for Kṛṣṇa was not stronger than their bonds with wealth and children.

Similarly, the Gopikās who willingly came to the banks of the Yamunā at midnight for the romantic dance with Kṛṣṇa, proved that their love for Kṛṣṇa was greater than their bonds with their husbands. Thus, Kṛṣṇa’s stealing and romantic affairs were not negative or exploitative at all. In fact, they were the final tests of the Gopikās, who were reborn sages, before liberating them and granting them the highest fruit of their spiritual effort.

59. Lord Kṛṣṇa was testing reborn sages.

दीर्घ तपस्विनो नान्यत्र॥५९॥
dīrgha tapasvino nānyatra॥59॥

[The Gopikās were] sages who had done long penance [for God. Kṛṣṇa never repeated such acts] anywhere else.

The Gopikās were sages, who had done penance (tapasvinaḥ) for God, over millions and millions of their previous births (dīrgha). Their birth as the Gopikās, was their final birth and it was specially meant for testing them before liberating them and granting them the highest fruit of their spiritual effort. Every soul is not at that highest stage as the Gopikās. Hence, Kṛṣṇa never conducted such tests for any other devotee, anywhere else (nānyatra), throughout the rest of His life.

60. The non-repetition of the apparently illegitimate acts proves that they were not illegitimate.

अपुनर्दर्शनात् न तथा॥६०॥
apunardarśanāt na tathā॥60॥

[Kṛṣṇa’s] non-repetition [of the apparently illegitimate acts proves that] they were not [illegitimate].

Kṛṣṇa’s non-repetition (apunardarśanāt) of the apparently illegitimate acts proves that they were not actually illegitimate (na tathā). They were only the final tests for exceptional devotees as explained before. Saying that Kṛṣṇa was a thief or had illegitimate affairs is totally wrong. The reason is that if Kṛṣṇa were so, He would have repeated those acts elsewhere, sometime later in His life, even after leaving Bṛndāvanam. But He never did so. This means that they were indeed the tests of exceptional devotees as explained in Sūtra 58.

61. Lord Kṛṣṇa’s commitment to righteousness is proven through His life


[Kṛṣṇa’s commitment to justice is seen] from the account [of His life].

Kṛṣṇa always remained loyal to His legally wedded wives. He was neither involved in any illegitimate affairs at any other time in His life nor did He support such affairs in any way. He even punished Śiśupāla with death for forcibly having sex with the wife of king Babhru. When king Satrājit falsely blamed Kṛṣṇa for stealing his divine gem, Syamantaka, Kṛṣṇa went to extreme lengths to recover the gem. He returned the gem and proved His innocence. Thus an account of the life of Kṛṣṇa clearly proves that He was always committed to justice and that He never committed nor supported any illegitimate acts.

62.Lord Kṛṣṇa was not different from Lord Rāma

नैवमभिन्नो रामात्॥६२॥
naivamabhinno rāmāt॥62॥

[Kṛṣṇa was] not at all [a supporter of injustice. He was] not different from Rāma.

Kṛṣṇa never supported or committed any injustice at all (naivam). He behaved exactly like Rāma throughout His life, after leaving Bṛndāvanam. Rāma was an embodiment of virtue and justice and Kṛṣṇa was not different (abhinno) from Rāmā. Hence, Lord Kṛṣṇa cannot be brought under the category of false incarnations.

63.Salvation means the liberation from worldly bonds

एषणा मोक्षाय भागवतम्॥६३॥
eṣaṇā mokṣāya bhāgavatam॥63॥

The Bhagavatam [is meant] for the liberation from worldly bonds, [which alone is salvation].

The Bhāgavatam, which tells the historical story of Kṛṣṇa and Gopikās, gave salvation to king Parikṣit, in just seven days. The reason is that it teaches us the most valuable concept necessary for salvation. The tests of Kṛṣṇa conducted for the Gopikās demonstrated and proved that salvation means the total liberation from the strongest worldly bonds. By understanding this concept and practically succeeding at it, one attains salvation.

64. Jealousy towards the Incarnation is the main hurdle.

प्रतिमायामपि मूलमसूया॥६४॥
pratimāyāmapi mūlamasūyā॥64॥

The root cause of the repulsion from the fellow-human form is jealousy.

People’s jealousy towards the fellow-human form of God is extremely strong. Meera only worshipped the statue of Kṛṣṇa, who was the past Human Incarnation. Yet her family members could not tolerate her devotion for Kṛṣṇa. She had to face a lot of troubles and was even given poison. Hence, the root cause (mūlam) for the common medium repulsion (pratimāyāmapi) is the jealousy (asūyā) towards the fellow-human form of God—be it the contemporary Human Incarnation or the statue of a past Human Incarnation.

65. The Incarnation directly accepts devotees’ service and sacrifice

सेवा फल ग्रहणं न प्रतीकेषु॥६५॥
sevā phala grahaṇaṃ na pratīkeṣu॥65॥

[The contemporary Human Incarnation] accepts the offered service and donation, which representative models cannot.

Practical devotion means service (karma saṃnyāsa) and the sacrifice of one’s hardearned wealth (karma phala tyāga) to God. Practical devotion alone yields the divine fruit. But the service (sevā) and donation (phala) offered to God can only be received (grahaṇam) by God directly through the contemporary Human Incarnation. This is the unique point of contemporary Human Incarnation. Inert statues and idols cannot (na) receive the offerings. They are only representative models (pratīkeṣu) to be used to develop theoretical devotion in the beginning.

66. The Incarnation repels undeserving devotees.

क्षिपति मायया च॥६६॥
kṣipati māyayā ca॥66॥

[The Human Incarnation] throws out [undeserving devotees] using His māyā.

God-in-human-form throws out (kṣipati) undeserving devotees, not only by exhibiting the natural properties of external medium, but also by deliberately exhibiting negative qualities (rajas and tamas). The undeserving devotees who have high levels of ego and jealousy and selfishness only approach the Incarnation for fulfilling their selfish benefits. On observing the natural properties of the medium of God they are repelled. This is the common medium repulsion. But over and above that natural repulsion, the Incarnation creates additional repulsion in their minds towards Him by exhibiting negative qualities (māyā). That powerful māyā (deception) can only be crossed by the first type of devotees, who have a negligible amount of ego and jealousy and who had prayed intensely to meet the Human Incarnation of God (Māyāmetāṃ taranti te—Gītā). Others, come under the influence of the māyā (negative qualities) shown by God and they even insult the Human Incarnation of God, as said in the Gītā (Avajānanti māṃ mūḍhā…).

67. There are five types of Incarnations.

कलांशावेश पूर्ण परिपूर्णः॥६७॥
kalāṃśāveśa pūrṇa paripūrṇaḥ॥67॥

[Human Incarnations are of five types namely], Kalā, Aṃśa, Āveśa, Pūrṇa, and Paripūrṇa.

Human Incarnations are of five types: (i) A Kalā Avatāra or a Ray Incarnation, is an Incarnation in which a fraction of God’s unimaginable power, equal to 1/16th of the total power, enters a certain devotee. An example of such an Incarnation is Sage Vyāsa, (ii) An Aṃśa Avatāra or a Partial Incarnation is one in which a larger fraction of God’s unimaginable power enters a devotee. An example of this type of Incarnation is Sage Kapila. The Kalā and Aṃśa Avatāras are said to be Incarnations of God’s power and not actually Incarnations of God Himself. (iii) An Aveśa Avatāra or a Temporary Incarnation is one in which, either a part of God’s power or God Himself with His full power, enters into a devotee temporarily to accomplish a certain task. Once the task has been completed, God or His power, leaves the devotee. An example is Sage Paraṣurāma. (iv) A Pūrṇa Avatāra is a Complete Incarnation, in whom God Himself enters and expresses 12/16th fraction or more of His power. God remains in such an Incarnation lifelong. Lord Rāma is an example of a Pūrṇa Avatāra. (v) A Paripūrṇa Avatāra is the Most Complete Incarnation. In this case, God Himself enters the devotee and also expresses His full power (16/16). Lord Kṛṣṇa is an example of a Paripūrṇa Avatāra.

68. Incarnations differ only in the extent of the power expressed.

न सत्त्वे प्रदर्शनादेव भिद्यन्ते भिद्यन्ते॥६८॥
na sattve pradarśanādeva bhidyante bhidyante॥68॥

[Incarnations] are different, not in terms of the possessed power, but only in terms of the exhibited power, as per their different situations.

All these five types of Incarnations differ (bhidyante) only in terms of the divine power of God exhibited (pradarśanāt), not (na) in terms of the power possessed by them (sattve). The fraction of the total power exhibited by God through different (bhidyante) Incarnations depends on their respectively different (bhidyante) situations. The power possessed by God in all these types of Incarnations is one and the same, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Hence, the same unimaginable God, with His fullest unimaginable power exists in all these types of Incarnations. The difference is only in terms of how much of that power is exhibited, which is determined by the situation.

A professor might be teaching a kindergarten class at a certain time. At another time, the same professor might be teaching a postgraduate class. The standard of his teaching will be lower or higher depending on the level of the students he is teaching. The knowledge possessed by him is the same, no matter which students he teaches. The knowledge expressed by him alone varies, depending on the standards of the students he is teaching. Rāma did not exhibit any miracle since He was demonstrating the behavior of an ideal human being (Ādarśa Mānuṣa Avatāra) through the example of His own life. Kṛṣṇa performed several miracles to teach to mankind about the wonderful potency of God. He is called a Līlā Mānuṣa Avatāra. Neither is Rāma less than Kṛṣṇa nor is Kṛṣṇa more than Rāma. Both are one and the same God.