MISCELLANEOUS

The purpose of avatars

Chennai: Nammazhvar marvels at the grace of Lord Narayana that made Him take many avatars. But the question might arise, why Lord Narayana should take any avatar for any purpose whatsoever, since He is Omnipotent. After all, can He not, with His power, achieve what He wants, with the least exertion on His part?

The Lord took many avatars, because He wanted to dispel doubts in the minds of people, regarding His injunctions. If He came to the Earth, and lived amongst human beings, would they not be more disposed to accept His teachings?

As Lord Rama, He demonstrated His kindness by befriending Guha and by including Vibheeshana in His fold. One of the important tenets that God showed in His Rama avatar was the importance of an Acharya, said M.V. Anantapadmanabhachariar. Ahalya may be taken to be the representative of a Jivatma. Rama, the One who liberates her, is the Paramatma. But who was the one who brought about the liberation of Ahalya? It was Viswamitra, who took Rama to the forest, and thus made it possible for Ahalya to be released from her curse. Thus it is an Acharya who leads the Jivatma to liberation. While it is the Lord who liberates, it is the Acharya who shows us that He is the One who liberates.

Despite the advice of elders, there are those who doubt and question the Sastras and the scriptures. The arguments of those in doubt are defeated by the Lord, when He assumes different forms to save the world. For example, even in the Ramayana, there is the dissenting note struck by Jabali, who advances arguments to persuade Rama to get back to Ayodhya, violating the promise He had given to His father. Jabali’s atheistic statements are rejected by Rama.

The believer does not doubt the scriptures, and believes the Lord unquestioningly. But what of the non-believer, or the agnostic? He will give up his intransigence only when he is witness to the Lord’s greatness.In the Rama avatar, Rama shows to the world His Paratva, when He vanquishes Tataka, releases Ahalya from her curse, accepts the offerings of Viswamitra, breaks the bow at Janaka’s court, and marries Sita.