Written by Jack Barratt

Sathya Sai Baba is widely regarded as an Avatar. During my life up until now, always veering more towards Shirdi Sai Baba, I was never so much connected with the avataric form known as Sathya Sai Baba. Just because we walk the path of connecting with the Supreme Consciousness, it doesn’t mean that we need to be connected equally to every representative, past and present, of that Supreme Consciousness. So, in this issue, I have decided to talk about Sathya Sai Baba via talking about Avatars in general. 

The word ‘Avatar’ is typically taken to be descent—the descent of high frequency, non-dual consciousness into a realm dominated by lower dual frequencies. However, because, in an absolute sense, there is no such things as higher and lower, it may be better to talk about Avatars simply as natural manifestations, or emanations, of the Supreme Consciousness, within its own dream-like play of interweaving frequencies that we call ‘life’. 

First of all, are all spiritual Masters Avatars? In my opinion—no. A spiritual Master is a being who is fully established in the Supreme Consciousness. An Avatar, on the other hand, is somebody who is A) established in the Supreme Consciousness, and B) has manifested themselves consciously in order to play a specific key role in the spiritual affairs of the time. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛijāmyaham 

~

Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, O Arjun, at that time I manifest Myself on earth.

Thus, from this statement, we can even assume that Avatars are like automatically occurring elements within this creation as a whole. When the balance shifts too far to the side of adharma on a mass level, then Avatars manifest in order to rebalance things and restore dharma. It is my opinion that Avatars are constantly present on Earth. Or, that is to say—there is a constant stream of high frequency beings that take birth specifically for the purpose of keeping the frequencies of life on earth in balance. 

Are Avatars born enlightened? Not necessarily. If an Avatar takes a body that is composed of the genetic material of a man and a woman, then he also necessarily inherits various karmic aspects from those two beings and from their entire lineages. This inherited lineal karma will immediately act like a weight upon the Avatar. From being like a speck of pure light, this karmic inheritance will act like layers of clothes that insulate and temporarily obscure that light from shining to its fullest potential. 

So even though Avatars come to this Earth with little need for any personal karmic refinement, their initial task is simply to burn off, or unload, the karmic weight that they have inherited through the process of taking a physical body. This differs from the process that non-avataric beings undergo, where their process of spiritual evolution involves mainly refining a mass of individual karma that is also tightly enmeshed with their lineage karma. It is for this reason that the sadhana that some avataric beings seem to undergo will not be like the sadhana that ordinary beings undergo. In fact, an Avatar may not undergo any sadhana whatsoever in a traditional sense. Why? Because their original light is already so pure, bright and powerful, that from the moment they take birth in that world, that light begins to burn rapidly through all of the layers of patterns that they have inherited. This may lead to early awakenings, realisations and transformational processes that seem to be totally uncaused or ‘unearned’. An Avatar doesn’t need to earn anything; they come accomplished. Already established in Reality as It is, they are in fact the source of all possible merit and an absolute blessing for the entire world and universe as a whole and for all beings who have the good fortune of encountering them. 

Thus Avatars can be seen like this—as extremely bright lights, which can never be truly, essentially challenged by the darkness of ignorance in this world. At a pre-ordained time, the light of the Avatar will pierce through and dissolve all apparent layers of individual karma and they will come to realise themselves as they are—as a perfect speck of the Supreme Consciousness with all of its power, brightness and bliss intact. Once this happens, and the Avatar becomes re-established within their own original state, then their light begins to expand and start working upon the collective consciousness within which they incarnate. The initial, gestative period of Avatar’s life involves refining and burning all karmic detritus that temporarily imprisoned them within the perspective of individuality, and the second part of the Avatar’s life involves refining and burning through the karmic detritus that holds the entire world, and even the universe, with the prison of dualistic perception. 

In these times that we are living in—Kali Yuga—the collective consciousness is extremely dark and dense. The majority of beings that incarnate in this time only incarnate for the purpose of having low frequency fragmented experiences. Those who are eligible to connect to Avatars are those who have also raised themselves to a higher level in their prior incarnation in previous eras, or they are from other non-earthly realms that have also declined in their consciousness frequency. The work of such beings is to resist the gravity of the collective consciousness of the time and determinedly bind themselves to the consciousness of an incarnate Avatar. By doing this, their frequency gradually increases over time and they eventually harmonise their frequency with the Avatar’s

In order to accomplish this work, of being present during highly dense times, the Avatar necessarily has to suffer a tremendous amount through body and mind. The Avatar actually processes the karmic detritus of the world through his own vehicles of body and mind. The Avatar could be compared to an air or water filter in this way. He cleans and purifies the beings that are connected to him but often catches some of some of the dirt within his own filtering mechanism. However, the fact that such a being is permanently established in the Supreme Consciousness means that he always remains in bliss despite the apparent suffering on the level of body and mind. Thus, the bodily life of the Avatar is really like a sacrificial life that is given for the benefit of the beings that are to connect to him. Being one with the Source, the Avatar sees the vehicle body as a mere vehicle for accomplishing a certain work on Earth. He has no specific attachment to the body. When his work is done, or the filtering mechanism that is the body, is simply worn out and used up, the Avatar drops the body and returns to the Source in a non-projected state. The physical form of the Avatar may continue to function on a subtle level based on the needs of the people who still remain connected to him. Also, it is necessary to mention that the Avatar does not continue to exist as any kind of individual karmic entity in any sense whatsoever after leaving the body. Once the Avatar leaves the body, any further activity on his part is simply a reflection of his devotees’ habit of connecting to Reality through his physical form/personality. As long as we connect to Reality through a specific form, like Lord Krishna’s or Shirdi Sai Baba’s, for example, then that form will continue to function as a vehicle for transmitting grace even a long time after that being has physically departed. 

So, if we have the good fortune of connecting to an Avatar, then what can we do for them? Nothing. Avatars need nothing from us. We should make the most of the opportunity by using their presence to purify, refine and eventually dissolve all of our limited patterns of perception. This is the opportunity given to us by the appearance of an Avatar. Avatars appear in human form for the sake of those whose minds are too dense to be self-penetrated and opened up to the light of our naturally pure, spotless and free awareness. Avatars are bridges to the Supreme Consciousness. Avatars are the Supreme Consciousness. When those who are ripe and qualified consistently park their minds at the Lotus Feet of Avatars, then they too become one with the Supreme Consciousness. This is the fulfilment of the Avataric promise to wake people up to their real nature as Supreme Consciousness and provide the support to allow them to become fully stabilised in that state. 

It has been done. It is happening now. It will continue to happen.

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