“The hair on Narasimhadeva’s head shook the clouds and scattered them here and there, His glaring eyes stole the effulgence of the luminaries in the sky, and His breathing agitated the seas and oceans. Because of His roaring, all the elephants in the world began to cry in fear.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.32)
सटावधूता जलदाः परापतन्
ग्रहाश् च तद्-दृष्टि-विमुष्ट-रोचिषः
अम्भोधयः श्वास-हता विचुक्षुभुर्
निर्ह्राद-भीता दिगिभा विचुक्रुशुः
saṭāvadhūtā jaladāḥ parāpatan
grahāś ca tad-dṛṣṭi-vimuṣṭa-rociṣaḥ
ambhodhayaḥ śvāsa-hatā vicukṣubhur
nirhrāda-bhītā digibhā vicukruśuḥ
“You have probably heard this question many times before, but I have to ask. The concept of an avatara is really awesome. Not the son of God. Not a divinely inspired person. Not someone who is in contact with beings from a different dimension.
”This is the Supreme Lord Himself. Bhagavan, descending to the world of duality. He remains above. A less intelligent person may distinguish between saguna and nirguna, seen and unseen, but the external perspective has no impact on the actual existence.
“I also understand the conditions which trigger a descent. Shri Krishna presents the truth plainly. When the sadhus, the saintly people, get harassed. When there is a decline in dharma paired with a rise in adharma, at that time God the person arrives to deal with the situation.
“The obvious question relates to today. Where is He? Why isn’t He here to save us? Where is the avatara to provide rescue, especially to the cows and the brahmanas. Sure, the priestly class may have degraded into a system of privilege based on accidental birthright, but the cows surely are innocent. Where is their protection? Why isn’t Bhagavan addressing the situation directly, as He has done countless times in the past?”
1. Perhaps the asuras of today aren’t up to the standard of Jaya and Vijaya
In the past the corresponding parties actually fell from the spiritual world. Technically, they did not fall in the sense that they were doomed due to personal desire, but there was some transgression arranged by the Great Coordinator that led to a curse resulting in multiple inauspicious births. This was the case with Jaya and Vijaya, two gatekeepers in the spiritual kingdom.
Perhaps the asuras bringing harassment today are not fixed residents of Vaikuntha, where they eternally serve the Supreme Lord. One contributing factor to the Divine descent is a desire to fight. Since there are no contravening emotions in the place free of anxieties, any such conflict would have to take place in the land of duality.
The asuras of today may be considered less distinguished in a sense, perfectly capable of being dealt with by the material energy, who is depicted as a powerful lady seated on a tiger, holding a trident. Each of the three prongs in that weapon represents a source of misery. Though the bad people, so to speak, may be in positions of power today, they are actually suffering, with the final blow arriving at the time of death. That moment will be painful and unwelcome, and most likely unexpected to the victim.
2. The demigods are still worshiped to an extent
One of the first things the powerful asuras described in Vedic literature do is stamp out any remaining traces of worship of the devas. These are the demigods, who are something like the administrators of the material creation. Their strength is maintained through the oblations offered in yajna, which is sacrifice.
The Rakshasa named Ravana was so vile that the men under him would travel to remote areas looking for brahmanas and munis. The man-eaters would then sneakily attack right at the time of yajna, thereby rendering the religious efforts fruitless. In a similar manner, the Daitya named Hiranyakashipu actually took over the position of the demigods and prevented them from receiving their just share of offerings from sacrifice.
While today there is undoubtedly a general decline in adherence to dharma, there is still some worship taking place. In certain pockets the devotional spirit is flourishing. There is constant recitation of the hymns of the Vedas and derived works, and the people are generally pious. They understand the concept of an afterlife and they pay respect to the laws passed down for man’s overall wellbeing.
3. Look at the precedent set
The most obvious distinction to consider is that the asuras from today may simply not be wicked or powerful enough. From the likes of Ravana and Hiranyakashipu we see the precedent set. The latter had boons sufficient for protection almost to the point of immortality. The idea was that only the Supreme Lord could handle the situation. No one else was capable.
All hope is not lost. Simply because the present time period does not correspond with an avatara in the enumerated list does not mean that connection to the Divine is impossible. On the contrary, the golden avatara known as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu provided a means for every person to be rescued, even while living in the dark age known as Kali.
That way is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The sound vibration is equivalent to the person called out; this unique property applies only to Bhagavan. He is actually always around, and through the help of the bona fide guru we gain the vision necessary to perceive.
From guru vision to receive,
So that Divine to perceive.
Not waiting for avatara to come,
Who many times has done.
Attention perhaps not catching,
Since not yet to Ravana matching.
Today’s asuras not totally to scare,
Opportunity from Chaitanya there.
Categories: the three