This article is a chapter from the book Swami Sivananda, Our Loving Awakener.
It is Knowledge of Self which helps man to attain that state of eternal satisfaction or Nitya Tripti which is the Swarupa or Moksha. But for Self-knowledge Moksha will be impossible. And Self-knowledge itself will be impossible of attainment, but for those Divine Messengers who throw light on the path of our lives.
REVIVAL OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE
It is impossible to weigh the deep debt of gratitude we owe to these Divine Messengers who bring balance and sanity to a world which gets into pitiful imbalance every now and then. Whenever true knowledge, spiritual knowledge, begins to vanish from the face of the earth, and tends to lapse into oblivion, the Divine Messengers revive that knowledge and nourish it with the vitality of their own inner experience. If Vyasa wrote the Prasthana Traya, the eighteen Puranas and the Bhagawata, it was for this purpose only. Bharatavarsha is what it is today only because of the great sage Vyasa, the Avatar of Vishnu, and the great Brahma Vidya Gurus who followed him. The life-aim of Divine Messengers like Sri Aurobindo and our Gurudev is the same, viz. to bring back once again the Divine Knowledge which God Himself gave at the beginning of creation through Chaturmukha Brahma. These Divine Messengers seek to awaken man to the knowledge of his real heritage.
THE AMSA AVATARAS
The great Gurus are Avataras of God. They are Amsa Avataras. There are different kinds of Avataras. Avatara Vada is the Science of Incarnation. Apart from the ten main Incarnations of God, He often incarnates partially also. While the Purna Avatara of God will manifest all the sixteen kalas or rays of the Lord, the Kala Avataras manifest only one ray of the Lord. There are then Shakti Avataras who manifest any one aspect of the Lord. Sometimes, God speaks for the time being through an otherwise ordinary human being. This is known as Avesh Avatara. Again, God can be seen manifesting in a special form through some honoured deity as in the case of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, Mother Kali in Dakshineshwar, Vittala of Pandarpur, Krishna of Udipi and Ramachandra of Bhadrachalam. These are Archa Avataras. Lastly, great men who are the living and moving forms of God, the great Satgurus, are classified as Amsa Avataras.
The vital role of the Amsa Avataras, apart from other acts of mercy which they may perform, is to keep alive in this world the current of Jnana, of spiritual knowledge. Fortunately for us, the children of Bharatavarsha, not a century has passed in which we have not been blessed with such God-men. The wandering fakirs in the North, the saints of Maharashtra, the Bhaktas in Bengal–all of them, in their own way, have kept up this current of Jnana ever vibrant in this holy land of ours.
But for Gurudev, we would be devoid of the spiritual knowledge that we possess today. Even if you are a master of the Sanskrit language, it is not easy to understand the subtle truths contained in the Prasthana Traya–what is Kshara, what is Akshara, what is Purushartha and so on. And Gurudev, as you all know, has explained everything in such a way that even a person with average intelligence can understand them easily. This is how God, through His Divine Messengers, gives us back His own words which we forget and lose. All Divine Messengers have done this before. Jnaneshwar explained the sublime wisdom of the Gita in his immortal Jnaneshwari. Potana rendered the Bhagavata in Telugu. The Ramayana was re-written in Tamil by Kamban and in Hindi by Tulsidas. Ekanath again gave his Bhagavatam to Maharashtra. Nischalanath gave to the North his famous Vichar Sagar.
How can we–ordinary mortals–offer our worship to these Divine Messengers who have given their lives to re-educate us, to re-kindle the divine wisdom in us? The only way and the true way in which we can obtain their grace is to walk along the path chalked out for us by these God-men out of their divine compassion.