Well, of course, the opponents might. But they would say, What difference does it make? On the phenomenal level differences are always there. That is what creation is; everybody is different from everybody else, and if you make much of these differences of power you are not propounding a new principle, you are only affirming, in regard to saints, the same principle of differences and distinctions, which seems to be the very basis of creation. What new thing are you saying?’ But, you see, the point is that some saints do make a basic distinction. If you ask them, What was your past birth?’ they would not say, In my past lives I struggled, and this time I have become perfect.’ They never say that. They will probably say, Previously I was born as such and such a Divine Incarnation.’ Or they will say, I didn’t have any past history.’ That is where the real fight comes in.
As I have told you, we find that in ancient times a sage would realize his complete identity with God. Now, sometimes someone among such sages would say, I am the Lord of the universe; it is through my power that everybody functions as he does. The gods have been created through my power’, or sometimes, I have become the sun and the moon’. They would say that kind of thing. And of course those are tremendous statements. You may think they were indulging in imagination, as poets do getting into a sort of frenzy and saying things that should not be taken literally but should just be enjoyed. But our philosophers have not held that view; they have taken these claims to be literally true. And you must remember here that when people progress in spiritual life, some do come to this kind of experience. They call it the experience of the Bhuman, the experience of the Vast One. They realize themselves as this Infinite One. Now, would you not call such people
Divine Incarnations? That’s the point. Strangely enough, however, such people were not called Divine Incarnations in those early days. It was only later that that idea took shape in India.
When we think of the history of the doctrine of Divine Incarnation, we find that while the philosophy of monistic Vedanta, of the identity of the soul with Brahman, was developing, not merely through speculation I should say least of all through speculation but through contemplation and direct experience, the idea of Divine Incarnation was also developing. It must have taken at least two to three thousand years to formulate monistic ideas in India. You see, without any help, without any precedents, those ancient sages had to grope their way into a truth about which they had never even heard anything. Somebody had to be the first to find it, and that kind of finding takes a long, long time. Well, while this was going on, several parallel developments were also taking place. One was of the Bhagavata religion the worship of the Bhagavdn. The Bhagavdn is one who is endowed with all kinds of glories; He is not only the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, He is also the beloved Lord of the heart, the Compassionate One. He is the Lord who is worshipped today by the devotees of many different religions Christianity, for example. One of the ideas embodied in this Bhagavata religion was the idea of the Divine Incarnation. We do not know when that idea first originated; it was there in India at an early time, although it did not take prominent form until much later. Let me here refer to a book which is considered to be one of the most authoritative scriptures of this school the Bhagavad-Gita, which was written long before the Christian era. There we find that the doctrine of Divine Incarnation has taken very clear form and is well enunciated. Sri Krishna, who gives this teaching, is himself the Bhagavdn; he is the Lord, the Glorious One, and he is also considered to be the Incarnation of the Lord.