The Purnahuti of the Vishnu Maha-Avatara
His Supreme Rasa-lila Marks the End of Kali Yuga
When Heaven Came Down to Earth
Every once in a great while an extraordinary and enlightened being appears on Earth when righteousness becomes the exception rather than the rule for human conduct. We call such a personality an Avatar, and in the particular context of Hindu cosmology, a Vishnu Avatar.
Lord Vishnu is one of the three primary deities within the Hindu trinity who pervades all of Creation and maintains the universe. Since His last several appearances on Earth, He has been continually revered and loved as a living embodiment of God by His countless devotees the world over.
There have been nine major incarnations of Lord Vishnu, according to most Hindu philosophers and historians, among His twenty plus earthly appearances that have been identified throughout the current race of humanity. The last three to appear prior to the modern age, beginning with the most recent human incarnation, are Lord Buddha, Lord Krishna and Lord Rama.
The tenth and final divine incarnation, known as Lord Kalki, has been foretold for centuries and portrayed in the spiritual lore of various cultures and religious traditions. Particularly as the Kali Yuga (our current era also known as the Iron Age) draws to a close, speculation about “the Kalki” is reaching a crescendo of hopeful expectation as well as apocalyptic apprehension.
“When the disciple is ready, the Master will appear.”
Rarely does the Lord Himself incarnate and descend into human affairs. When Lord Vishnu does, he does so out of great love and compassion for His devotees. His explicit purpose for taking human birth is to transform the existing order (one person at a time) so that life for truth seekers will once again permit, and even encourage, the pursuit of one’s spiritual journey back to the Godhead.
Such a time has occurred on this planet during the last century in the wake of World War II. That Earth-shattering war produced a generation of extraordinarily disaffected souls who would never again accept the world as it was represented to them. They were known as the Beat Generation, and they were called Beatniks.
Many of the Beatniks constituted an idealist, introspective and free-thinking group of highly evolved souls who were extraordinarily determined in their search for the Truth. These folks were fiercely independent from societal norms to the point of being the most iconoclastic and countercultural generation of the era. They were equally avid in their pursuit of social equality, economic justice and political reformation. However, it was their ardent truth-seeking that set them apart; for it was Beat Generation’s dogged pursuit of the eternal spiritual truths and classic philosophical ideals that readied them to participate in one of the GREATEST stories of all time – a story that will be told, and retold, with more passion and enthusiasm than any to come before it.
Whenever the Lord chooses to fulfill His preordained earthly mission, none would be more fortunate than those whose destiny it is to cross His path. Oh, what absolute bliss and divine rapture it is to lay one’s eyes upon the Lord! Truly, what wonderful and great good fortune it is!
Such was the great good fortune of the Beat Generation, as well as their younger, hippie brothers and sisters – the Baby Boomers. Whereas the Beatniks were often the newly trained swamis, teachers and mentors of the numerous Eastern spiritual traditions that took root in American society back in the 1950’s, 60s and ’70s, their junior Baby Boomer collaborators became their quite willing, industrious and devoted students. The Boomers were always willing to render selfless service for a truly noble cause as an outworking of their individual spiritual paths. But before we tell any more about this highly auspicious meeting between the Lord and His disciples, let us review some history which will both inform and contextualize this unparalleled modern-day rasa-lila.
The American Awakening
The “American chapter” of this story seems to have begun with a most propitious invitation to one Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji was the foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa of Calcutta, a highly revered Bengali mystic and Hindu saint in the tradition of the Goddess Kali (also known as the Divine Mother). Vivekananda was an extremely accomplished and learned Vedantin who represented India as a delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.
After his initial speech to a wowed congress, Vivekananda’s talks and further participation in this event were quite eagerly anticipated by the mostly Christian audience with the excitement normally afforded to a rock star. In a word, the Swami was the hit of the whole Parliament, and he received effusive accolades from every corner for his profound spiritual wisdom, fully baked understanding of world scriptures and truly ecumenical spirit. Subsequent invitations to speak flowed in from around the globe in the wake of his preeminent international reception.
The fortuitous occasion for Swami Vivekananda to speak at this unique gathering could be construed as one of the most consequential happenings in the religious and spiritual history of the United States of America, and because of its many far-reaching ramifications, the entirety of Western Civilization. In a phrase, this single event could even be considered an act of collective ‘Shaktipat diksha’ (or national spiritual awakening) on the same order that any spiritual master or true prophet had on their cultural audience during their public ministries.
How is it possible that such greatness could so quickly be attributed to an Indian holy man steeped in an Eastern philosophy so foreign to the American mindset, religious sensibilities and general spiritual orientation as Vivekananda’s primary teaching of Advaita Vedanta?
Before this question is answered in Chapter I, it ought to be pointed out that Swami Vivekananda is only the first in a long procession of high spiritual beings from India who, by gracing American shores, served to quite exquisitely and selflessly set the stage for the most sublime and impactful spiritual event of the 20th century, and arguably of the last five thousand plus years. Each of these Kundalini Yoga masters – to include Swami Ram Tirth, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Rama, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa – had a profoundly uplifting and lasting effect on the American consciousness as the inimitable Swami Vivekananda did.
We speak, of course, of the same effect that Jesus the Christ had on Judea, the Prophet Mohammed had on Mecca and Medina (as well as the entire Arabian Peninsula), and The Buddha had on those who peopled the plains of the Ganges. Further comparisons can be made to Confucius’s influence on classical Chinese culture, Moses on the Hebrews, and Lord Krishna and Lord Rama on their ancient Indian kingdoms, among many other divine incarnations throughout human history.
It should also be acknowledged that, as we telescope back through time and space, we see a whole firmament of celestial beings who likewise had much influence on the momentous events we are about to describe. In fact, there are many more saints from India who never left that subcontinent who, by the sheer power of their high states of being, have had an enormous impact on this “Supreme Rasa-lila”.
Here we honor, with the utmost reverence and respect, the likes of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and Sai Baba of Shirdi. We also acknowledge Neem Karoli Baba of Vrindavan, Anandamayi Ma of Haridwar and Ramana Maharshi of Arunachula, to name but a few of these distinguished Masters of Self-Realization. Lesser known are the great Siddha masters of Maharashtra such as Siddharudha Swami and Akkalkot Swami, Zipruanna and Hari Giri Baba, as well as Ranga Avadhut and Ranchod Bapuji.
Lord Kalki, Avatar and Sadguru
It has long been prophesied throughout all the major religious traditions of the world that there would come a time when humankind would find itself in the throes of an end-time scenario. Each set of scriptural prognostications seems to have as its central character a divine personage who comes to the aid of faithful devotees in their time of greatest spiritual need and mundane desperation. No matter where the religion, society, nation or culture is located, or predominates, somehow this larger-than-life savior is expected to show up right in the nick of time to save the day, and especially the God-fearing devotees.
All of us throughout Christendom have heard of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, just as those in the Orient have heard the prophecy about the coming of Lord Maitreya – the equivalent and future coming of the Gautama Buddha. Likewise, Imam al-Madhi is well known throughout the Muslim world as the eventual redeemer of Islam just as the coming Messiah has been long predicted by those who practice Judaism.
What is much less known in Western civilization is the common eschatological belief wherever Hinduism is either practiced or understood. Hindu scriptures speak of a uniquely great and divine being who will likewise appear on the world stage to enact a drama that has been foretold countless times. He is known as Lord Kalki, but very few, even among His closest disciples and many devotees, will recognize him as the most influential, life-transforming and powerful personality that the Lord will assume throughout the Kali Yuga. The relevant predictions about “The Kalki”, including the astrological circumstances of His birth, are presented in the sacred Hindu scripture known as the Kalki Purana*.
So, this is where we are heading – to the end of the Kali Yuga to meet the tenth major incarnation and final fulfillment of the Vishnu Maha-Avatara – Lord Kalki. Could it be that He is the very same Great Deity, Almighty God and Supreme Being fervently prayed to and eagerly awaited by all the world’s faithful and pious truth-seekers? Only His “Supreme Rasa-lila” is capable of revealing such a long-sought-after truth.
* “The Kalki Purana is a prophetic work that details the life and times of Sri Kalki, the tenth and final Maha Avatara of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. … The work primarily describes the onset and exponential increase of evil and sin on the earth during the Kali Yuga, and the life of Kalki, who is said to bring an end to the darkness of the Kali Yuga, destroying evil and sin, and beginning a new yuga (age) of sinlessness and peace known as the Satya Yuga.” (Wikipedia – Kalki Purana)
**Before such a Vishnu Avatar can manifest on Earth there must first be a Shiva Avatar and Sadguru whose primary function is to transform his greatest disciple into God Incarnate—the Supreme Lord. Bhagavan Nityanada of Ganeshpuri was such an Shiva Avatar who was also known as a living incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. Lord Dattatreya is the embodiment of Parabrahman who is recognized as an extremely powerful incarnation of the Hindu Divine Trinity of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma.