The Significance of Avatarhood

As he concludes this chapter, Sri Aurobindo points out that while Avatarhood is not the major focus of the Gita, it nevertheless plays an essential role in the teaching being presented and in the sequence of development that is proposed. He summarizes it this: “…the very framework being the Avatar leading the vibhuti, the man who has risen to the greatest heights of mere manhood, to the divine birth and divine works.”

Of course, the true significance of the Avatar is to open a door for the next stage of evolutionary development and show the possibility, method and steps to achieve that. “No doubt, too, the inner descent of the Godhead to raise the human soul into himself is the main thing,–it is the inner Christ, Krishna or Buddha that matters.”

The manifestation of an Avatar is an opportunity for humanity to exceed its current limits and make the evolutionary leap that is required in the time and age of the Avatar’s birth. “The consummation in the mental and physical symbol assists the growth of the inner reality; afterwards the inner reality expresses itself with greater power in a more perfect symbolisation of itself through the outer life. Between these two, spiritual reality and mental and physical expression, acting and returning upon each other constantly the manifestation of the Divine in humanity has elected to move always in the cycles of its concealment and its revelation.”

As the Gita points out, whenever the upward progress of spiritual development requires a serious support and impetus, and when the forces of opposition are standing firmly in the way of that development, the Avatar manifests to help break through the obstacles, provide guidance and direction and set the stage for a new upward movement through manifestation of a concrete spiritual force in the human world. These manifestations take place when normal human action is either ineffective or insufficient to carry out the needed evolutionary development.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 16, The Process of Avatarhood, pp. 157-158

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