An Avatara is a living soul who descends from the spiritual plane, the transcendental world. Either they appear in Their same spiritual form, or incarnate in an earthly body. An Avatara can be either the Supreme Self, Krishna, or a liberated entity like us.
The spiritual sky is our original home. It is eternal, full of knowledge and joy. There is no suffering there whatsoever. The ancient Vedas talk a lot about the spiritual sky, here are some references:
"That abode of Mine is not illumined by the Sun, Moon, or Fire, one who goes there never returns to this material world." (Bhagavad Gita 15th chapter)
"Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is." (Bhagavad Gita 8th chapter)
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." (Bhagavad Gita 4th chapter)
Read about the spiritual sky above, in that eternal spiritual sky, which is beyond our present vision, there are planets. The planets in this material world, Earth, Mars, Venus, etc., are reflections of the original prototypes. This material world is a mirror image of the original eternal nature, spiritual nature.
There is variety all around us because there is variety in the spiritual world, in the Godhead. The source of everything must contain the potential for it's creation. As there are planets with inhabitants in the temporary world, so there are in the eternal spiritual sky. Here are some exciting references from the Vedas:
"The inhabitants of the spiritual planets are described as having a glowing sky-bluish complexion. Their eyes resemble lotus flowers, their dress is of yellowish color, and their bodily features very attractive. They are just the age of growing youths, they all have four hands, they are all nicely decorated with pearl necklaces with ornamental medallions, and they all appear to be effulgent." Bhagavat Purana 2.9.11
"As quoted by Srila Jiva Gosvami, we can know from the Narada-pancaratra that the transcendental world or Vaikuntha atmosphere is enriched with transcendental qualities. These transcendental qualities, as revealed through the devotional service of the Lord, are distinct from the mundane qualities of ignorance, passion and goodness. Such qualities are not attainable by the nondevotee class of men. In the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, it is stated that beyond the one-fourth part of God’s creation is the three-fourths manifestation. The marginal line between the material manifestation and the spiritual manifestation is the Viraja River, and beyond the Viraja, which is a transcendental current flowing from the perspiration of the body of the Lord, there is the three-fourths manifestation of God’s creation. This part is eternal, everlasting, without deterioration, and unlimited, and it contains the highest perfectional stage of living conditions. In the Sankhya-kaumudi it is stated that unalloyed goodness or transcendence is just opposite to the material modes. All living entities there are eternally associated without any break, and the Lord is the chief and prime entity. In the Agama Puranas also, the transcendental abode is described as follows: The associated members there are free to go everywhere within the creation of the Lord, and there is no limit to such creation, particularly in the region of the three-fourths magnitude. Since the nature of that region is unlimited, there is no history of such association, nor is there end of it.
We can go back to Godhead if we want. We can go to Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, or Africa if we want. We go where we want. Godhead is eternal, full of happiness, without any trace of problems, like we find constantly in our everyday life. We can go there, and it would seem sensible to do so.
It is entirely possible to "....go back to Godhead", and the process for doing is described in the Vedic scriptures. This is dynamic, priceless knowledge. Some references:
"And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt." Bhagavad Gita 8.5
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunté, that state he will attain without fail." Bhagavad Gita 8.6
"But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Prtha—for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death."
In many cultures of the world people have a sense of our identity being more than just a bag of bones. Ask your self, right now, "Am I this leg, if this leg is cut off, will I still be here." "Am I this finger, nose, liver, kidney, or toe.?" "What if I lost one of these parts of the body, would I still be here as a person.?"
The answer is resoundingly, "YES!". I would still exist without certain parts of the body. In fact, we all generally speak in terms of, "This is my foot, my finger, my tongue." We all speak of the body being seperate from our self, and it is. We, as personalities, ARE different than the body. We are eternal beings who hate to die and grow old. We are embodied in this "car" called the body.
Reincarnation means the process of leaving our body when it grows worn out in old age, and transferring to another body. We often see people with phenomenal skills as very young children, being very capable in sports, math, music, dance, etc. Why? Because that experience is accumulated in the previous life.
This human body gives us a rare chance to break from the repeated cycle of birth, growing old, dying and then getting another body. The Vedic scriptures give clear, detailed information all about this, and the simple process of breaking free from this unnatural suffering, to return home, back to Godhead. Some references:
"Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." Bhagavad Gita 2.12
"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change." Bhagavad Gita 2.13
"Just as the fruits and flowers of a tree in due course of time undergo six changes—birth, existence, growth, transformation, dwindling and then death—the material body, which is obtained by the spirit soul under different circumstances, undergoes similar changes. However, there are no such changes for the spirit soul."
Bhagavat Purana 7.7.18
Yoga is a Sanskrit word. Yoga is a word first set down in writing by the author of the ancient Vedic scriptures, Srila Vyasadeva. According to him, who first wrote the word, yoga literally means, "to link". Just like linking a horse to a plow. Yoga means to connect our consciousness to the Supreme Consciousness.
Yoga does NOT mean various exercises and sitting postures. Yoga does NOT mean breathing techniques. According to the person who originally founded the yoga system, yoga means "to link our consciousness with the Supreme", and there are many practices which help us to do so.
The results of yoga, or linking with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are better mental and physical health, sense of joy and peace, increase powers of concentration, and sense of love for the world and everyone in it. Srila Vyasadeva advises that in this current period of time, such that it is, the most efficient method of yoga is mantra meditation or chanting of the Transcendental Names of Godhead. He wrote the book on yoga, and that is his advice.
Such chanting and singing is called "Sankirtana", or congregational chanting. Of course it can be done alone. And the great efficiency of it is that the mantra meditation requires no prior qualification, and it can be done anywhere and everywhere. The Vedas give many mantras, the Maha-Mantra, or the Great Mantra is stated as:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Softly repeating and listening to this Maha-Mantra will bring tangible results.
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