The Avatar’s Birth In Relation to the Rest of the Manifestation

Having made the case that the entire creation is a manifestation of the Divine Being and Consciousness, it is next the task of the Gita to help us understand how the birth of an Avatar takes place and what differentiates it from the normal manifestation of forms and beings in the creation.

Both the normal birth of creatures and the birth of an Avatar follow a similar process. Sri Aurobindo explains: “Now it is notable that with a slight but important variation of language the Gita describes in the same way both the action of the Divine in bringing about the ordinary birth of creatures and his action in his birth as the Avatar.” Both involve the action of Divine Maya, in this case the mechanism of limiting the infinite omniscient consciousness into limited forms and beings.

The difference is that while the creatures are controlled as to their self-conscious status of the divine Consciousness, and thereby each one is strictly limited by the action of the modes of Nature in its form, the self-conscious creation that is the Avatar takes birth without that limitation and thus, remains aware of its divine connection and has access to the greater consciousness of that divine Being. “Therefore in the normal birth that which is loosed forth,–created, as we say,–is the multitude of creatures or becomings…; in the divine birth that which is loosed forth, self-created, is the self-conscious self-existent being….”

“In both cases Maya is the means of the creation or manifestation, but in the divine birth it is by self-Maya…, not the involution in the lower Maya of the ignorance, but the conscious action of the self-existent Godhead in its phenomenal self-representation, well aware of its operation and its purpose,–that which the Gita calls elsewhere Yogamaya. In the ordinary birth Yogamaya is used by the Divine to envelop and conceal itself from the lower consciousness, so it becomes for us the means of the ignorance….;but it is by this same Yogamaya that self-knowledge also is made manifest in the return of our consciousness to the Divine, it is the means of the knowledge,….;and in the divine birth it so operates–as the knowledge controlling and enlightening the works which are ordinarily done in the Ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 15, The Possibility and Purpose of Avatarhood, pp. 146-147