re: avatars...(Sai Baba)
> 2. I understand the concept of an "avatar". What signs are
> supposed to indicate such a person. How do Mother Meera, Sai
> Baba, and the others manifest these?
An avatar is supposed to manifest 16 characteristic signs -
ranging from control over nature to *total* omnipresence, omnipotence
and omniscience. All 16 qualities are to be found only in a
POORNA ("full") avatar - the last poorna-avatar is believed to
be Lord Krishna.
I'm ignorant about Mother Meera, but Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been
profusely manifesting signs of omnipotence, omniscience etc. since
over 50 years now. You allude to the detrimental effects of
publicizing one's "siddhis" (mystic powers). That is doubtless
valid in the case of an aspirant (like you or me). But Sai Baba says
that these "powers" or "miracles", as we may call them, are
nothing but his nature. They are not external to him. Being an
Avatar, he is not 'depleted' by showing powers, nor does he need to
'replenish' himself by meditation or any such practice. He has come
to show mankind that there is indeed something beyond this world
perceived by our 5 senses - that there the last word on life and its
meaning lies in spirituality. If God, the source of all power, doesn't
manifest these 'miracles', who else should?
Sai Baba cautions devotees that these 'miracles' etc. are but a tiny
fraction of his glory, and that these only serve the purpose of 'visiting
cards' to attract curious people like us who have a gut feeling that eating/
earning/sleeping can't be the end of life. While 'miracles' are what catch
the eye of most "passers-by", there is little emphasis on it INSIDE
the Sai organization. If you visit a center or read his discourses,
the focus is spiritual effort and service to mankind.
The reason he shows these 'miracles' (paraphrased from his words,
as I remember them):
If I had come down with 4 hands, a conch, discus... [that's how
Lord Vishnu is usually depicted] then you would have consigned me
to a museum and charged a fee from people who come to see me. If I
came as an ordinary man, you would disregard my words. So I
came as a man, to establish closeness with you, but
I perform acts which are super-human, so that you may realize the
kinship you have with divinity, the state you should aspire for.
In reference to the earlier post by someone describing the
"Dasha (ten) Avatars" of Lord Vishnu, the last avatar (Kalki)
is supposed to come in this age (Kali Yuga) to redeem mankind
of the burden of unrighteousness. Devotees of Sai Baba believe
that he is this Kalki avatar.
Sai Baba himself has said often that he is an avatar, a
poorna-avatar at that, an embodiment of Siva-Sakthi, the *total*
manifestation of God embodying all names and forms ever ascribed to
God by mankind.
Books, audio cassettes, videos, pictures etc. of Sai Baba are
available at the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Book & Information Center,
Toronto, CANADA. I could send you their phone and mailing address
if you wish. I don't know of any place closer to Urbana.
Finally, you were pondering what one should do to make
oneself "ready" for a Guru: This may sound too premature, but if
you are genuinely interested in Sai Baba, that speaks of your
"readiness" and the end of your search for a Guru. "No one can
come to Me unless I call them, unless they are ready..."
are his own words.
4th year Electrical Engg.
U. of Waterloo, ON, CANADA