Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda are said to be incarnations of God. Is there any such incarnation currently living among us?
From history it is evident that whoever revives Dharma in difficult times almost single-handedly is being considered as Avatar of God. Going by this definition in the recent past, in Mughal era, Chhatrapati Shivaji in Maharashtra could be called as an Avatar.
Similarly, at the time of Vivekanand, Christian missionaries were raising huge funds in the Western countries for missionary work in India to convert poor and illiterate Hindus. Even literate Hindus had started disbelieving Hinduism because of their misunderstanding of nature of dharma, especially as compared to western philosophies.
Vivekanand and, much before him, Adi Sankara revived the Hinduism, thus can be called as Avataras.
You might have heard of Mahavatar Babaji, the immortal saint who was born on 30 November 203 CE and is alive till date.
He was the guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, the famous Kriya Yogi. It was Babaji who gave initiation to Adi Shankaracharya. Jesus Christ came to India and met him. He also had a disciple Maheshwarnath Babaji who in turn was the guru of Sri M, a yogi who currently lives in Madanapalle, near Bangalore.
In Sri M's autobiography "Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master", he wrote that once he went to Mount Kailash, he met Mahavatar Babaji who was none other than Lord Shiva himself. His form was changing continously between infinity(zero) and Bholenath.
To his disciples, Mahavatar Babaji is known as Sri Guru Babaji. He lives near Neelkanth Hill and around the areas of Badrinath with his disciples. Still he cannot be seen by the general public. He can only be seen if he wants you to see him. The great yogis of the past are all disciples of Babaji including Guru Nanak, Guru Rinpoche, Gorakshanath etc..
Yes, http://buddhamaitreya.org. The Buddha Maitreya, the Buddha of this Age, in the reincarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ (and has been recognized and enthroned in every major Tibetan Buddhist lineage).
Fortunately Hindu Shastras are very specific on concept of "Avatar"
Based on the dimensions (known as ‘rays’) which they possess, Avatars are classied as:
- Purna Avatar - 16 dimensions e.g. Sri Krishna
- Lila Avatar - 14 dimensions e.g. Sri Rama
- Amsa Avatar - 12 dimensions e.g. Adi Shankaracharya
Garga Samhita, the sacred Vedic text that extols the glory of Avatars, describes the Avatars in
Canto 1, text 16-27.
The great sage Narada explains that the Lord descends in six forms:
amśamśo’mśas tathāveśaḥ kalā purnaḥ prakathyate |
vyāsadyaish ca smṛitaḥ śaṣṭhah paripūrnātmah svayam || 16 ||
- Amshamsha (a part of a part)
- Amsha (a part)
- Avesha (entrance into a jiva)
- Kala (a full part)
- Purna (full or complete)
- Paripurnatama (absolutely complete)
The amshamsha incarnations begin with Marichi, the amsha incarnations begin with Brahma, the avesha incarnations begin with Parashurama and the kala incarnations begin with Kapila and Kurma.
pūrno nṛsimho ramaś ca śvetadvīpadhipo hariḥ |
vaikunṭho’pi tathā yajno nara-narāyanaḥ smṛitaḥ || 18 ||
The Smrti-shastra explains that the purna incarnations are:
- Lord Hari, the ruler of Shvetadvipa
The paripurnatama or absolutely complete form of the Lord is Sri Krishna, who is the original Supreme Divinity Himself. As the master of countless universes, He is splendidly manifest in His imperishable and blissful abode. The amsha incarnations are said to oversee the execution of the Lord’s mission (in the world). The amshamsha incarnations are understood to perform the work of executing those missions.
In the various avesha incarnations, the Divine enters a jiva, an individual body, executes His mission, and then departs. His kala incarnations teach and establish the principles of religion and then disappear.
Some Attributes of the Avatar
- Kalpataru (Wish-ful lment)
- Perpetual Completion (Enlightenment)
- Healing (Realigning the bio-memory)
- Deeksha Akarshana (Transfer of bio-energy)
- Akashic Readings (Accessing past and future)
- Vijnana Akarshana (True knowledge)
- Shiva Akarshana (Space of Shiva)
- Shakti Akarshana (Kundalini energy)
- Ardhanarishwara (Beyond all duality)
- Susadha (Beyond pain)
- Divyasharira (Divine body)
- Surabhi (Fragrant physiology)
Based on the criteria from Hindu Shastras there are multiple avatars in existence simultaneously.
Avatars involved with public are "disruptors" of status-quo hence are almost controversial.
Mother Meera as Sai Baba claim to be avatars, it is this claim along with their many deeds that underpin their avatorial status. Ramakrishna and Vivikenanda whom I love dearly were not avatars, their evolution, through meditational and mantra practices to spiritual heights shows this. This is also why I know Buddha was not an avatar, his story is one of human spiritual growth. Avatars descend full of perfect knowledge. Krishna is back again now with some few other avatars helping us find our spirituality during this confusing time.
In order for any personality to be called an "Avatar" of Bhagavan, three criteria must be fulfilled.
1) There must be references to them in the scriptures (either in Upanisads or Puranas).
2)They must have divine markings on their hands and feet (all avatars have divine marks naturally on their body such as fish, conch, plough, lotus etc)
3) The personality must be able to perform extraordinary activities which no one else in the past can do.
Based,on this three criterion, Babaji, Vivekanada and Sai Baba cannot be called Avatars as they are found nowhere in scripture. At most they were very powerful personalities which great yogic Siddhis, but not God himself.
The latest Avatar of God was one thousand years ago as Bhagavan Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in Bengal. The prediction of Lord Chaitanya's appearance can be found in many scriptures and the Lord was seen to have divine markings on his body too.