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"In the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism, it is said
that there are ten Divine Avatars, and that cosmic history has
already witnessed the appearance of the first nine."
Nine months before the birth of Avatar Adi Da Samraj, the great Indian Realizer Upasani Baba made a remarkable utterance.
Speaking in February 1939 to the head of one of the most important Hindu monastic orders (the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math), Upasani prophesied that an Avatar would "soon be born in a European ", or a Western, rather than Eastern, "country ".
"He will be all-powerful ", Upasani declared, "and bear down everything before him. And he will see to it that the Vedic Dharma ", meaning the pure and original Teaching of Truth, "is firmly reestablished in India." *
In prophesying the advent of an avatar, Upasani Baba would have been well aware of Krishna's proclamation in the Bhagavad Gita.
"Whenever a decrease of righteousness exists ... and there is a rising up of unrighteousness, then I give forth myself....
For the sake of establishing righteousness, I come into being from age to age. "†
As the Bhagavad Gita indicates, such a one appears at unique moments when Divine Intervention is necessary to guide or save humankind. Therefore, the appearance of an avatar is an epochal, historic matter.
In the Vaishnavite‡ tradition of Hinduism, it is said that there are ten Divine Avatars, and that cosmic history has already witnessed the appearance of the first nine.§
As Arthur Osborne, an English devotee of the great twentieth-century Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, wrote some decades ago:
The time for his [the final avatar's] advent is when materialism and confusion have dominated the world....
The completion of the downward trend may result in crass materialism and the loss of spiritual paths, like rivers drying up in the desert. The result of this is a secular civilization with no spiritual basis for life, either public or private, and no spiritual scale of values.
Material values are enthroned and moralism, which may have survived spirituality for a while, gives place to amorality. This is the type of spiritual decline which has arisen in the West in recent centuries and has overspread the world in the present century....
[Thus], today, for the first time in known history, an event such as the coming of an Avatar would have to affect not one civilization only but the whole world.¶
The degeneration of culture that Upasani Baba was observing in India had its root in the secularism of the West, as he well knew. But his prophecy was not premeditated.
According to the account, it was a spontaneous outburst. Without thought for Hindu orthodoxy, he was pointing to a World-Teacher, capable of Mastering both East and West.
He was foretelling the appearance of One who would bring a unique clarification and completeness to all the Dharmas of the past. The Knee Of Listening is about the making of a Wisdom-Teaching of precisely that magnitude.
In Hindu mythology, it is said that the avatars of Vishnu appear when evil outweighs good in the world. The first nine of the avatars of Vishnu are:
- Matsya, the fish incarnation
- Kurma, the turtle incarnation
- Varaha, the boar incarnation
- Narasingha, the man-lion incarnation
- Vamana, the dwarf incarnation
The tenth avatar is called "Kalki ".
Revealing the Dharma Beyond "Point of View"
The Ruchira Avatar, Adi Da, as His story shows, was a deeply enquiring child. The way in which He, as a child, investigated Reality is dramatically captured in Adi Da's literary masterwork, The Mummery Book — a "prose opera ", the original version of which was written in late 1969.
The hero of The Mummery Book, Raymond Darling, is modeled on Himself — and, in many ways, The Mummery Book is a poetic rendering of the meaning of His own Life, which is told in literal terms in The Knee Of Listening.
In the early chapters of The Mummery Book, Raymond, as a young boy, is seated in the attic of his parents' house, absorbed in noticing and feeling every aspect of the room.
Raymond sat on the floor, in front of the windows. There was bright Sun-light, coming in, through the frames. And the Sun-light seemed to pour into the room — in rectangular solid-shapes, marked out by the shape of the windows.
There were millions of small particles, in the air — floating, in the rectilinear volumes of the windowed Sun-light. Raymond noticed that — if he Breathed, and Blew! the air, around the floor — the particles would increase, and Fly! about.
Raymond Breathed his Blows! of air. And all the particles were Blown!, to Fly! about — in the geometric Sun-light, in front of Raymond's eyes.
As he did this, Raymond felt he was looking at the Basic Form of Reality!....
Raymond sat, in his new attic-room. All day. Every day — and night. Sometimes, Raymond saw the Sun-light-shapes, again. As before.
But, in time, the Sun did not come so bright, so very often. And, so, he became interested in the room, itself.
He cleaned the room. And he put everything in order.
He wondered, what was Really Happening — in the room. And, so, he sat in it — all the time. And he looked at the room — itself....
He knew that everything was — merely, and simply — existing.
There was, for now, no Deep. No Higher. No other. No distance.
No past. No future. No serious suffering.
Then, Raymond forgot it — all. And he wondered, how to fill his room.
He put himself on the floor, and enjoyed the ceiling.
The ceiling was made of many angles and planes, like a complex vault.
It would make an interesting floor! — he thinks. So many forms, to lean against. The wonderful chairs and slides — to lie in, hanging over windows. The little lamps of day-light — growing in the floor. The climb-up closets. The point-of-view is lying on the floor — and looking down, at the Sun.
There seemed to be a Mystery — behind the walls. Behind the Naked! angularity of multi-planes. Behind the room, itself....
A Mystery conceals the room. The Captive-room, that hides the Mystery of me, with things and walls.
And Raymond looked at the room.
He thought — there Is no Consciousness, in the room.
And he thought — how to put It, there?
Raymond's attic, in The Mummery Book, is the primal room, the space, the "theatre " of all human life. This "room " of life and mind can be perceived from many points of view, depending on where one is placed in the room.
And so the question arises: What does the real room look like — beyond this or that point of view? What is the context of the room? What is the meaning of the room — the meaning and source of human existence? Where is the Consciousness — the Living Force of Reality — that the heart seeks to identify in the midst of the myriad personal and cultural viewpoints potential in human experience?
¶ Arthur Osborne
Buddhism and Christianity in the Light of Hinduism
(London: Rider and Company, 1959), 84-85, 154.
* See B. V. Narasimha Swami and S. Subbarao,
Sage of Sakuri, 4th ed.
(Bombay: Shri B. T. Wagh, 1966), 190-91, 204.
† Withrop Sargeant, trans.,
The Bhagavad Gita, rev. ed., ed. Christopher Chapple
(Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1984), 207-208.
‡ Hinduism has several main "branches ", or traditions, based on identifying the highest Divinity with one or another of the pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses. The Vaishnavite tradition is focused in the devotional worship of the Hindu god Vishnu (understood as the "Preserver " of creation) and his avatars (see note below).
§ The tenth and completing Avatar remains to come. And He will appear, the tradition declares, in the "late-time " of the present world-cycle, the "dark " time of the Kali Yuga, when the Divine is forgotten and denied.