He says that Formless God takes a form and descends upon the Earth as an expression of His boundless love and affection towards humanity. The Avatar is an enigmatic, yet delightful blend of individual consciousness and the Divine Consciousness. The Avatar behaves in a human way so that mankind can feel kinship with Him, but rises to His super-human heights so that mankind can aspire to reach those heights.
In Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Sri Krishna, the Avatar of the Dwapara Age, declares thus:
"Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavathi Bharatha
Abhyukthanam adharmasya Thadathmanam Srujamyaham.”
“Parithranaya Sadhunam Vinashaya cha Dhushkrutham
Dharma samsthapanarthaya Sambhavami Yuge Yuge"
Whenever there is a decline of Righteousness and rise of evil, the Lord incarnates from time to time to uphold Righteousness, to protect the Virtuous and to uproot the evil.
The Avatar appears whenever the world is passing through a spiritual and moral crisis. The Avatar comes in order to uphold Dharma (Righteousness) and raise the universal consciousness.
Why does He incarnate?
One may ask - why should the Lord Himself incarnate? Why should He not set about the task of restoring Dharma through the many minor gods and angels that He has at His command? The Mughal Emperor Akbar once posed the same question before the courtiers, for he scoffed at the Hindu idea of the Formless adopting a Form and descending into the world as an Avatar to save Dharma. Birbal (the celebrated courtier in Akbar’s court, known for his wit and wisdom) asked for a week's time to answer the question. A few days later, when he was in the pleasure boat of the emperor, sailing across the lake with his family, Birbal threw overboard a doll made to look like the emperor's little son, crying at the same time, "O, the prince has fallen into the water!" Hearing this, immediately the emperor jumped into the lake to rescue his son. Birbal then disclosed that it was only a doll and that the prince was safe. He allayed the anger of Akbar by explaining that he had to perforce enact this drama in order to demonstrate the truth of the Hindu belief that God takes human form to save Dharma without commissioning some other entity to carry out that task. Akbar could have ordered one among the many personnel he had on board to jump in and rescue his son. But his affection was so great and the urgency so acute that the emperor himself plunged into the lake to save his son from drowning. The decline in Dharma is so acute a tragedy and the intensity of affection that the Lord has for good men is so great that He Himself comes to the rescue.
The Triune Sai Avatar
The Divine mysteries cannot be fathomed by the human mind, unless God himself chooses to unlock them out of His immense love and compassion. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in a landmark discourse on 6th July, 1963, the Guru Poornima Day, declared the secret behind His advent. He revealed that the Sai Avatar is a triple incarnation of the Shiva-Shakthi Principle – Shiva as Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva and Parvathi embodied as Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Shakthi Principle that will incarnate as Prema Sai in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka.
Even in His childhood days, Swami used to refer to ‘The Saint of Shirdi’ in the songs that He taught His companions. Very few in that region had ever seen or heard about Shirdi or Sai Baba. Little did they realize that the child in their midst, singing and dancing so captivatingly would, in a few years, make their village another Shirdi to which hundreds and thousands would come seeking the same Baba!
Sai Baba of Shirdi was born in a remote village called Pathri in Maharashtra on September 28, 1835 to the couple, Gangabhavadiya and Devagiriamma. Gangabhavadiya, overcome with a feeling of intense renunciation immediately after the child’s birth, decided to retire into a forest. With Devagiriamma religiously following her husband, the newborn was left in nature’s care. A pious Muslim and his wife took care of the abandoned child till He was four years of age. Then they handed Him over to a spiritual master by name Gopalrao Deshmukh (also known as Venkusa). For 12 years, till 1851, Baba stayed in Sri Venkusa's ashram. One night in 1851, for the first time, Baba came to Shirdi. However, He left after a two month stay. He returned to Shirdi again in 1858 and stayed there for 60 long years. Just prior to His shedding the mortal coil in 1918, Shirdi Baba told some of His devotees that He would reappear in the Madras Presidency in 8 years time. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, born in 1926, declared that He was Shirdi Baba come again.
Sathya Sai Baba invariably refers to Shirdi Baba as 'my previous body' whenever He speaks about Him. He often describes to His devotees, how He in His previous body dealt with people and situations, what illustrations He gave to clarify certain points, what questions were asked, etc. Many devotees of Shirdi Baba have had experiences confirming the unity of the two Sais
"Bear all and do nothing;
Hear all and say nothing;
Give all and take nothing;
Serve all and be nothing."
"Children of Immortality! Remember that You are created in My Image and Likeness. Perfect. Live up to this Image in all planes. Live like Masters! Walk this Earth with Your Heads held high, Your Spirits soaring, Your Hearts open to Love, and believe in Yourself and GOD with You. Then all will go well. See Me everywhere, talk to Me and Love Me who is in Each. Then from Each I will respond and bring You into Glory".
- Sathya Sai Baba