“The incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead appear continuously, like the waves of a river or an ocean. There is no limit to the Lord’s incarnations, but they can be perceived only by devotees who are fortunate.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.2.42 Purport)
Friend1: What was your first reaction to hearing about the different incarnations?
Friend2: Which incarnations? Of Bhagavan?
Friend2: I’m not sure I remember. Maybe I was happy that the Divine descends so many times. It is an extreme act of kindness. If you think about it, appearing before the eyes shouldn’t be necessary. He is already in the superior position. The very presence of life is evidence of His existence. Bhagavan shouldn’t have to prove Himself.
Friend1: But we forget. That is the issue.
Friend2: Forgetfulness is the root cause. It leads to the shift in consciousness. As we’ve discussed several times, material existence is really a mindset. When you forget God, when you think that you or someone else can carry out the same functions and reach the pinnacle in areas of opulence, you have fallen from the spiritual world.
Friend1: I know a common reaction to hearing about the avataras is lamentation. Specifically, people wonder why Bhagavan can’t descend right now. Come save us, today. Don’t put it off until the future.
Friend2: Yes, I’ve certainly heard that appeal before.
Friend1: As an example, based on shastra the next avatara is scheduled for a long time into the future.
Friend1: And He’s supposed to just kill. No teaching. No converting. No sweetness, necessarily.
Friend2: The situation on earth will be so bad that the only way to rectify is to punish, and severely at that.
Friend1: There is also the issue that Kalki may not appear in this cycle of the creation of population.
Friend2: Right. Some say Kalki will appear and some say He won’t, since Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended in this Kali Yuga already.
Friend1: Either way, there doesn’t seem to be any hope in sight.
Friend2: It’s the wrong way to look at it, of course. The holy names are an incarnation and they manifest at any time: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend1: That is sound. I understand its potency, but people typically rely on something they can see for rescue.
Friend2: Remember, shastra only lists the major incarnations, or those which are meant to be prominent. In reality, there is no way to count the total number. As many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many incarnations can appear.
Friend1: You mean it is possible for Bhagavan to come and save us soon?
Friend2: Absolutely. Just study the lives of the saints. So many of them met Krishna directly. They saw Him in a dream or the deity worshiped in the temple started speaking to them. You know of the famous Sakshi-gopala story.
Friend1: Yes. The deity became the witness. It vouched for the word of a brahmana, who was telling the truth in a dispute.
Friend2: These things can happen. Bhagavan is all around. There is no reason to feel helpless and alone. The spiritual master is there to help us recognize the presence of God. From recognition comes connection, and from connection comes the eradication of fear and worry, as the most powerful person is known to be close by, ready to protect.
Appearing in this world and in others far,
As many waves as in ocean there are.
Kalki scheduled the incarnation next,
But not after many years to expect.
So what to do right now,
Who to save us and how?
Actually Bhagavan already around,
Rescue through holy names’ sound.