Attempting to Understand an Avatar’s Attainment


This is more of a technical question. In Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 33, Sri Yukteswarji says that Babaji’s "spiritual state is beyond human comprehension" and that "one attempts in vain even to picture the avatar’s attainment. It is inconceivable." I am assuming that Sri Yukteswarji is saying that even he himself cannot picture Babaji’s attainment. But I know that both were liberated (had Cosmic Consciousness) at the time he said that. Aren’t liberated ones equally able to see All?

—Rush, USA



I can’t help but chuckle! Good question and, in a way, a fun one, too.

I can imagine that he’s saying it for our benefit and from our perspective, perhaps not his own! I chuckle because just as he says “beyond human comprehension,” that’s exactly my response in regards to your question. The consciousness of an avatar (one who is completely free) is, indeed, beyond (at least “ordinary”) comprehension. But it’s also true, too, to consider that we cannot know what such a one knows at any moment. That fact is true with respect to any other person, in fact!

An example: in the chapter “Cauliflower Robbery” in the Autobiography of a Yogi we see that one day Sri Yukteswarji has x-ray vision and the next day when they can’t find the kerosene lamp he has no clue as to its whereabouts, and comments, with some laughter, that “I’m not even a good Sherlock Holmes!” Go figure that one out!

Paramhansa Yogananda revealed (see Conversations with Yogananda) that what “freedom” means (at any given moment or in any given incarnation of an avatar) is that one retains his sense of “inner freedom.” What this means, in part, is that an avatar is not necessarily roaming the ether of Infinity while cooking his rice and vegetables. So perhaps the statement you quote is applicable even to Sri Yukteswar in the sense that one avatar does not perceive (in any given moment) the state of mind of another avatar, at least without the grace to do so, the inner, divine impulse to do so, or some particular “effort” to do so.

I imagine that an avatar always has his “mind” where it needs to be at any given moment and that where it “needs to be” is guided by and in tune with the overarching wisdom of God. Cooking his meal he may be simply mindful, feeling bliss within and presence of mind without. At times of meditation, he may have the luxury or opportunity to roam the ether united in Bliss with the Infinite Spirit. At each time and place and circumstance, the avatar is simply “present” while not limited to identification with body, time or space. Well, what else can one say…

Babaji clearly occupies a particular and exalted role and one which is bereft of most aspects of mundane life or obvious service in the world of humans (as a teacher, a guru, an organizer, etc.). Lahiri, Sri Yukteswar, and Yogananda all had their day-to-day lives in the world to fulfill — not because of karma in the usual sense, but as befits their given role in the divine drama.

This doesn’t mean one is higher in spiritual consciousness than the other. It means, rather, that each has his role and in Babaji’s case, his role is quite etheric (and difficult to relate to)!

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman