Study of Hindu Religion
Avatharas - Manifestations of God
they do not contradict but complement each other in Practice
of the Unmanifest Supreme Brahmam
of Paramathama to uplift the Jeevathma
a question arises in our mind that, if the Vedas teach
us of One God, why do we have several images as different "Gods".
Are they one and the same? Do these `gods' just represent people who once lived
on this earth in ancient times, very much like us amongst our ancestors and are
raised to a high position for prayers? The earliest verses of Rig Veda, later
Vedantha theories of Vyasa Maharishi and Sankara's Advitha Philosophy teach us
of One God as Paramathma who is unmanifest and all the Jeevathma or Souls of all
created beings including humans, animals and plants and all inanimate objects
of universe. They are considered as part of this Universal soul of Paramathma
or the unmanifest Divine in His manifest form. The concept of Avathara is explained
in all the Agamas, Ithihasas and Puranas. As the religious Dharma is practiced
over the years, some amount of lust and greed occurs among the people with the
decline of wisdom and peace, and injustice prevails over righteousness. This
is the time, when God, as Creator and Preserver, wishing to ensure the continuance
of this Universe, incarnate Himself in various forms through his Yogamaya.
of the other theories like those of Dwaitha, Panchrathra Agama and the followers
of Vaishnava Sampradhaya believe that Paramathma is never Nirguna or unmanifest.
He is actually manifest but not comprehensible. Sri Vasudeva or Narayana is the
Savisesha Brahmam or Iswara who takes the various forms to be understandable for
our prayers. Similarly, Saivas according to their Agamas, believe Siva as the
Supreme God, as Nirguna Siva in the form of Sat-Chit-Ananda. He created the Universe
and is the cause and effect of all beings with all His grace, force and energy.
Sakthas worship Sakthi as the Supreme Deity, as the Mother of the universe, who
created the world and all the forms of Gods for our worship. They consider Sakthi
as the dynamic force of Brahmam and the Creative energy or Force behind Siva in
His manifestations. Smarthas perform Vedic rituals to 'Devas'and perform prayers
to Siva, Sakthi and Vishnu and to their various manifestations as "Ishtadevatha"
God in Many Forms as Our Choice
Gods Incarnations or Superhumans
and modern day religious researchers are quick to "prove" that these "gods" were
ordinary people who were living in this society in ancient times and were popular
by their social service. They were remembered through monuments, marker stones
and statues in Temples, with prayers being offered to them as "Gods". They often
quote other Religious and Mythological stories and historical events to support
their theory. Do they really represent God Himself or just a fiction? The Puranas
with various manifestations of God through the ages may appear as mere fictional
stories to a Tamasic
person with ignorance and limited knowledge. The Rajasic
persons with their avidya or false knowledge consider them as ordinary people
with super human powers who have been elevated with fame to the levels of Divine.
The Knowledgeable Satthvic
person with true understanding of the teachings realizes that the various Deities
described are truly manifestation of the Divine. He only knows that God Himself
takes these forms from time to time as His incarnations to protect the pious,
to destroy the evil and to save the world from calamity and what is told in "Mythology"
is true and factual narration of historical events.
of Avathara is explained in all the Agamas,
Ithihasas and Puranas. Avathara
or Divine Manifestation is the descent of God on earth for the ascent of man,
with the establishment of rule and spiritual discipline.
The Bhagavathas followed Panchrathra Agamas, with prayers to God as Vasudeva.
emphasized the doctrine of Avathara and popularized the immortal texts of Harivamsa,
Vishnu Purana and Bhagavatha Purana. They were based on God's Grace to erring
humanity. Similarly, Saiva Agamas and Sakthi Agamas gave rise to the several Puranas
and the many manifestations of God. Worship of Deities in these Avatharas and
studying their texts helps to get high spiritual attainment and God-realization.
Swami Sivananda says: "Worship
the Avatharas at all times with all your heart and all your mind. Glorify
Him in your heart and keep Him ever in your Thoughts. He will soon reveal Himself
to you and you will feel His presence. This will lead on to attaining immortality
and eternal bliss."
Manthra - OM
Meaning and the Significance