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Sikh Research and Education Center: Articles on Sri Dasam Granth Sahib:

Chaubis Avtar - 38 Clarificatory Points on Avtars by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee

Chaubis Avtar - 38 Clarificatory Points on Avtars by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee has given the Concept of God in the beginning of his Composition Jaap Sahib (repeated this concept numerous times in his Writings), which is given below –
“God, You have no specific physical appearance, nor You have any varna, caste or sub-caste. No one can describe Your features, complexion, Your outlines or Your garb. Eternal Being, Self Effulgent, Possessor of Infinte Powers – this is how You are addressed. You are the Supreme among millions of Indras, the God of gods, and the Ruler of rulers. The Ruler of Three Worlds, You are called neti neti – this is not He, this is not He, by the gods, humans and demons as well as by every leaf of grass in the forest: they all acknowledge your Infinity. Who can express all of Your names, and that is, why the wise men have described only Your functional names. (1)”
God does not take birth as such; He is in Spirit Form or Formless. All that we know and see of our physical Universe, has been created by the God’s Light shed by Him – JOT creates both Life and Matter. Human body is  created by God, Who puts His Ray of Light in it to make it alive to grow and function. The accumulation of desires, aversions, beliefs, disbeliefs, instincts, passions, etc. emanated from our body organs, is called MIND, which has the material Base; while God’s Light is verily God Himself present in all in all Perfection. So long we are led by our Mind or Self, we go astray as these are all self motivated desires, which cause conflicts in dealing with others. Rationality and Morality can be achieved when we reflect our Mind on the Divine present in us and associate with Him. To the extent we lived with God within us, we become Moral and Rational.

God’s Light (Jot) in all, is God present in all. God’s Light (Jot) is called Sat Guru Poora in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and also verily God Himself in His Immanent Form. In the Blessed Persons, His Jot manifests in full Blaze, become manifest. Such persons are ever attuned with Him; their Mind becomes submerged in the Jot in them. It is God, Who acts and speak through them. Such Blessed Person was Sri Guru Nanak Dev. Guru Nanak was not God, but God like, “Jot roop har aap Guru Nanak kahaio.” God is present every where and in all bit of things, but His Light becomes manifest in Blessed Ones only, where God is witnessed.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee in the beginning of the Composition titled, “CHAUBIS AVTARS”, has given 38 Introductory Clarificatory Points, which explains the purpose of giving the description of these Avtars or incarnations of god Vishnu.

P Thomas in Chapter 2 of his book, "Epics, Myths and Legends of India", stated

“The number of deities in the Hindu Pantheon are thirty three crores and three. Practically every aspect of life has been deified and the pantheon enriched by animism, ancestor-worship and idle imagination. …
Hindu pantheon has undergone many changes and as it stands today in an evolved system(if it can be called a system) of deities. Gods who occupied high positions lost their importance and were replaced by others; while the worship of some of them was totally discarded, others were given subordinate positions and remembered once or twice a year. Some gods fell with the defeat of their devotees in the battlefield and sectarian quarrels sealed the fate of many others.”
The three important gods of Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva quail before the curses of pious mortals. These gods have their moments of passion, weakness, elation and sorrow. They weep over losses as human do; and tell lies. In one place a god is depicted as a sage and philosopher and, in another as a simpleton. There are the examples that these gods committed crimes and incest. Brahma committed adultery with his own daughter, and one of his five heads was slashed by god Shiva, which  remained struck to his hand. Indra seduced Rishi Gautam’s wife, Ahalya, and as a punishment came to bear the marks of a thousand female organs on his body.

The description of 24 Avtars given in Sri Dasam Granth are the incarnations of god Vishnu. The most important of all the Avtars are Rama and Krishna; It is mistaken belief of Hindus to call them as the Supreme God. It was to clarify the Mistaken Beliefs of people that the Avtars were God, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee took pains to write about these 24 Avtars, giving their limitations and pitfalls. It was never the intention to teach to worship them, but to enlighten people to Worship One Creator God Alone, Who is Infinite and is the Ultimate.

Hereunder are the 38 Introductory Points of the 24 Avtars, as stated by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee, which should ever be kept in Mind while  examining the translations of Hindu Sacred Books made by the Guru and included in  Sri Dasam Granth. It was due to these translations of Hindu sacred books of Hindus having different approach from the Sikh; the Guru decided that his Compositions to remain separate from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. These translations make a Sikh to appreciate GURMAT more clearly than otherwise, if any one would read judiciously.

1. Chaupai – Now I recite as I have seen the feats of the 24 incarnations.O Saints! Listen to it attentively; Poet Shyam will describe them according to wisdom blessed him by God.

2. As and when many inimical persons emerge (and the spirit of righteousness decreases), it is supposed that the incarnation of god Vishnu take place. The Time aspect of the Lord God (Kal) beholds the feats of all and ultimately perishes one and all.

3. Kal is the ultimate Creator of all and ultimately subsumes all in Him. He assumes His many forms and at the end merges all in Him.

4. KAL created the Ten Incarnations and in all of them pervades Himself (The Transcendent Lord). Beside ten, fourteen other incarnations have also been created and the feats they have performed are delineated here.

5. Kal (Supreme Lord) keeping His Own Name concealed and not shouldering any blame holds all others responsible for their evils. This fact I know already that He keeps Himself detached from the temporal activities of this world.

6. Kal Himself creates, Himself destroys but making others the efficient CAUSE FOR THE GOOD AND EVIL HOLDS THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DEEDS.

7. The so called 24 incarnations, O Lord, could not maintain even an iota of You. Becoming worldly kings they got deluded in the worldly affairs and are known by many names.

8. O Lord! You have been deluding one and all but You Yourself were never deceived by anybody. That is why You are called the Deluder (Chaliya) also. Seeing the saints suffering, You become anguished and that is why You are called Friend of the poor (Deen-bandhu).

9. Time to time You annihilate the whole Universe and that is why this world calls You KAL also. On different occasions and in different Ages You have been helping the saints and accordingly these Avtars have been counted by the saints.

10. Seeing the helpless, You show Your kindness and realizing this we call You the Friend of the poor ones. Your compassionate sentiments rain upon the saints and that is why the world calls You the Treasure of Compassion.

11. You always wipe out the troubles of the saints and that is why Your one Name is Trouble Wiper, Sankatharan. You have been destroying the suffering of the saints and that is why You are called Perisher of the Suffering.

12. You are ever Eternal and none could know Your mystery. That is why Your Name is Infinite, and is also known. In the world You through Your Light assume the forms of all and that is why Your Name is called the Creator also.

13. None could perceive You so far, so Your Name is Imperceptible, is also known. You never take birth in the world and that is why You are called Unborn by the people.

14. In the process of knowing Your mystery, the poor fellows, Brahma, Vishnu, Mehesh etc. have got tired. Moon and Sun also ponder upon You, that is why You are known as their Creator.

15. You also remain without any guise so the world says You are beyond ALL THE GARBS. Your Invisible Form is not known to anybody and that is why You are delineated as Imperceptible.

16. Your Beauty is Incomparable and Form Infinite, guise or no guise You are different from all. You are the Giver to all and You Yourself beg from nobody. That is why we know you in the form of Creator.

17. You do not get influenced by the omens and the auspicious time etc., this s known to whole world. No Mantra, Yantra or Tantra can make You happy and even through different garbs none could attain You.

18. The Creatures of the world are deeply engrossed in their own selfish ends and none has identified the Transcendent Lord. To attain You many go to the cemeteries or the cremation grounds but in both these places no Lord is there.

19. These both types of persons engrossed in their infatuations and oral debates are waste, but O Lord! You are different from these both. Attaining Whom one clears away the delusions of the heart, before that Lord, no one is Hindu or a Muslim.

20. One uses beads and the other keeps rosary; one recites the Holy Koran and the other Purans. Persons of both these sects are dying while opposing each other and none of these have got the fast color of the love of the Lord.

21. Those who have dyed the fast color of the Lord, their repudiating the worldly shame dance in sheer happiness. Those who have identified the one primal Lord from their hearts the sense of duality has perished.

22. Those who are absorbed in the sense of duality i.e. who consider them separate from the Lord are in fact away from meeting Lord, the Supreme Friend. Who has even a BIT UNDERSTOOD THE Lord in fact has understood Him as the Supreme Reality.

23. As much as yogis, ascetics, the shaven heads and Muslim Fakirs are there, they assuming their different guises are looting the world. The saints whose total base is the Name of the Lord, never become manifest before the people and keep themselves concealed.

24. The worldly creatures show their hypocrisies just for the sake of bread and butter because without hypocrisy they do not get any monetary profits. The person who has concentrated upon one supreme reality, has never shown any pretensions to anybody.

25. Without pretensions the selfish ends are not attained and none bows before anybody. Has this belly not been there attached with the body, no body would have been king or a pauper in this world.

26. Those who have accepted God as One, have never shown pretensions to anybody. Such person gets his head cut but never repudiates the Truth. And only such person accepts this body as a particle of dust.

27 Split ear, the individual is known as Yogi, who being variously hypocritical goes to the forest. If he has not realized the essence of the Name of the Lord, he is neither useful in the forest nor he remains of any use for the household.

28 How long this poet can describe because one tongue cannot know the mystery of the Infinite. May be somebody has crores of tongues, even then the end limit of Your ocean of qualities cannot be known.

29 The Primal Lord, called the KAL is the Father of the whole Creation. It is from Him emerged the tremendous radiance, which is known by the Name of Bhavani. This God’s Light (Jot) is called Bhavani or Durga or Kali, etc., which created this Universe. (In Gurmat God’s Light (Jot) in all is called Guru, Satguru or Satguru Poora, verily God Himself).

30 First He articulated Oankar and this resonance became diffused in the whole world. From this and the combination of Prakriti and Pursha, the world got expanded.

31 The creation got created and since then this is known as the world. Grossly the four mines of creation are described (these are, egg, fetus, sweat and vegetation). I have not that much of power that could describe their various names.

32 The Lord created both powerful and the weak and cleared the distinction of the high and low. The Mighty Kal (Lord) assuming bodies through His Light (Jot), manifested Himself in different forms.

33 As and when He assumes the body by putting His Light, He becomes popular in the forms of different incarnations. But ultimately all merged in the Supreme Form of the Lord.

34 As much as the number of the Jivas are there in the world, consider them all enlightened by the One Flame of the Lord. Whole of world subsumes in the Lord God, Who is known in the form of KAL

35 Whatever is perceptible is given the name of Maya by our mind. He, the One pervades through all and people have established Him according to their own understandings.

36 The Invisible Lord permeates all, and all the creatures according to their station in life due to their karmas beg of Him. Whosoever has known that Lord as One, only he has attained the Supreme Reality.

37 His One Formless Form is superb and He only is at one place, a King and at other a pauper. He has entrapped all variously but Himself is detached from all, and none could know His mystery.

38 In different forms He has created all and He only annihilates them differently. He never takes any responsibility of any wrong done; jivas are rather held responsible for their evils.”

The Guru at the onset clarified his views, called Gurmat, which has no commonality with any other ideology. After these Introductory clarificatons, follows the translation of Hindu Puranic stories on 24 Avtars. Invariably the Guru at the end of translation of the life of each Avtar, gave his views where he differed. The views expressed in the translations of the life of Avtars, are not the views of the Guru.

The 24 Avtars are the incarnations of god Vishnu, who himself was full of limitations. These three Trinity gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva had their weaknesses; they even committed crimes, told lies and indulged in adulterous affairs.

Points 1 –6, 32 and 29 given above are Most Important. KAL is GOD, Who subsumes all the Creation. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib it is repeatedly stated that there is NO OTHER DESTROYER EXCEPT GOD. God’s Light (Jot) in all creatures, we call it Guru, Satguru and Satguru Poora; verily God Himself. Here the Guru states goddess Chandi , Bhaviani, Durga, Bhaawati, Kali,  etc. are none else but God’s Light (Jot), which created the Universe, the Immanent or the Functional God, as part of the Transcendent God. This will explain the Guru’s version of Chandi Chritrars. Chandi or God’s Light or God in Man fights with the temptations of the instinctual passions, depicted as varied names of Demons.

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