Chapter Four: 8
|For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age.|
What does God do when he manifests himself? He protects the good, destroys the evil and establishes righteousness. Please note that "the good" need not be confined to "good people." "Protection of the good and destruction of the evil..." (Fill in the blanks, as you like!) Even good and evil tendencies may be brought within the meaning of this verse. Only the good are protected: not a privileged community. Hence, "be good; do good" if you want God's protection!
There is no real destruction even of wicked people - they have to be purified and redeemed. Only the evil nature or tendencies have to be destroyed. Hence even the good people whom Rama and Krishna protected, died, and the wicked ones whom they killed went to heaven (because their evil nature had been removed).
This is the only definition of the purpose of avatara. The criterion that determines who is an avatara is not supernatural birth or deeds, not supernatural appearance or disappearance, but the power to establish righteousness. Hence we regard the human Rama as an avatara and not the powerful and "superhuman" Ravana. In this light, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Zarathustra, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Mahavira, are all avataras of God.
We admit that the son of God is even as God; the son of a lion is lion. We admit that the Prophet of Islam, too, is an avatara; the messenger sent by light is light only. When a candle gives birth to another, it is also a candle - not son of the candle or the messenger of the candle.
Since this avatara effectively veils himself with his own maya, he may behave as God or man, he may proclaim his divinity or hide it - if he upholds righteousness, he is God.
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