Now, there is another speciality about Divine Incarnations. It is found that they actually fulfil the need of their times. That is an astonishing thing about them. What a people have knowingly or unknowingly been seeking as the fulfilment of an ideal becomes realized in the Divine Incarnation. And then, if a people think about him and contemplate the teachings he gave, they come closer and closer to the realization of that ideal. A prophet or a saint is not so comprehensive; he doesn’t represent the total ideal for which a certain age is struggling. These, then, are several special things about Divine Incarnations.
We find that Christian ideas on this subject are almost parallel to the ideas that we have been entertaining in India. As you know, only these two religions Christianity and Hinduism believe in the Incarnation of God, and we find that the underlying idea in both religions is that, although God is everywhere, men because of their human nature, in which there is a great deal of limitation and impurity, are not able to apprehend Him. Man’s mind is so intractable that it is very difficult I should say almost impossible for him to change his mind or his nature by his own effort. What is the answer to it? As we look at human history, we always find two forces working: just as evil flourishes here, good also flourishes; just as there are some minds that go downhill, there are other minds continually climbing upwards. That’s the glory of human nature on the whole it never admits defeat. We always find men and women who represent in their lives those ideals after which we aspire, and such men and women become a source of great encouragement to us. In the case of a Divine Incarnation, of course, the ideal becomes a million times more magnified and real. There God Himself is visible; therefore it is said that the purpose of a Divine Incarnation is to make the invisible God visible, the hidden God present before us. It is as though God in His infinite mercy had come to our normal mind to be known and perceived by it. Psychologically speaking, a normal mind cannot perceive God; it is too limited and crude. And yet God comes closer to this normal mind, so that without much effort on its part it is able to feel His presence. You see, that is one of the reasons God becomes incarnated. And that is a very extraordinary thing.
Let me repeat myself: One way we can know God is through bringing about a profound change in our mind through meditation and other spiritual practices so that we become ready to perceive Him, but that is a very difficult task; so God comes to our own level. He rises, as it were, from some profound depths of reality and comes up to the surface where we dwell; He makes Himself known to us and felt by us. We cannot resist Him any more. We feel His peace, we feel His joy, we feel His great love. He becomes like a man amongst us. He showers His blessings upon us. He shows that He doesn’t take any offence at anything, He forgets all our faults, all the wrong things we have done; He ignores them. He just says, Go and sin no more’ finished! With a gracious smile He breaks the bondages of our soul and grants us freedom. And we find, also, that in our distress and difficulties He comes and grants us security, rescues us from difficulty. All these things He does, and it becomes real to us that He is indeed the one who loves us most. If a person were to come to you and say, Don’t worry; in life or in death, in safety or in danger I shall forever abide by you’ if someone says that and proves it from time to time, wouldn’t you think the greatest thing had happened to you and wouldn’t your whole heart go to such a person? You could never forget him. You see, a Divine Incarnation does that; he comes and he gives all these assurances to us. A prophet or a saint may give you advice, he may help you by watching over you, and so on, but he can’t say, AH right, I shall take all your difficulties away this moment; don’t worry.” He just doesn’t have the authority to say that. But a Divine Incarnation can say all those things. That is one difference.
The basic differences between a Divine Incarnation and a prophet or saint, however, are those which I mentioned first: Divine Incarnations do not have an ordinary history; they have always been Incarnations of God, they always remember themselves to be God; they always know that they have come to this world with a mission. And from time to time they manifest their divine nature in power as well as in compassion and love and wisdom. These are the basic demarcations.