Many people believe that God has appeared on earth only once, while others believe that there have been multiple incarnations of the Lord. He has been called Savior, Prophet, Sage, Buddha, Teacher
and Avatar, and his more familiar names have included Jesus, Mohammed, Gautama, Rama, Krishna, Zarathustra. In the twentieth century, a man taking the name Meher Baba and the title Avatar worked in silence, saying mankind had been “given enough words.” This book, subtitled
Meher Baba’s Perspective on the Descent of God on Earth, is a compilation of seven avataric stories deftly woven together by Jim McGrew, an attorney and longtime follower of Meher Baba.
In a collection of this kind, the temptation is always to look up your “favorite” of the subjects in the book. Meher Baba often spoke of Jesus of Nazareth, and one of the pronouncements he made was that Jesus did not die after his crucifixion. Meher Baba corroborated the theories of some alternative Christian scholars who have postulated that Jesus worked miracles not to prove his power but to ensure that he would be crucified, and that his disciples
- including Judas - were fully complicit in his plan. Meher Baba supported the theories of many sincere Christians and others (see, for example,
Jesus' Tomb in India: The Debate on His Death and Resurrection by Paul Constantine Pappas) who have found, they believe, credible evidence that the tomb of Jesus is located in India, where Jesus traveled and taught for some years after he recovered from his horrific experience on the cross. Meher Baba always stressed that the significance of Jesus was not in his death but in the life he led. For instance, Baba stated, “Christ said, ‘Leave all and follow me.’ What did he mean by that? He did not mean leave the body, food, sleep and all that. No. He meant leave all thoughts of possessions, all worldly thoughts, and think only of him.”
In these religiously polarized times, some Christians would be surprised, perhaps dismayed, at the idea that Muhammed, whose followers founded the large world religion of Islam, was said by Meher Baba to be of the same spiritual stature as Jesus. Meher Baba had many Muslim followers, and he wished them to understand their religion in a mature way, as he did with those who followed Christ. Meher Baba related that Muhammed
- like Jesus, Buddha, and the other avataric figures - was an incarnation of God but never chose to make that declaration, instead taking the title and role of Prophet and maintaining that there was a separation between himself and God. Meher Baba taught that to enter into any meaningful dialog with Muslims, it is necessary to “explain that Truth is beyond Shariat” [religious ceremonies and laws] and further amplified, “It is not necessary to convert the instructions of the Prophet into inflexible and eternal rules of discipline.”
Meher Baba once spoke of the different avataric incarnations as comparable to visits from a doctor to his patient at different times of day. At one point the patient might need tea, at another time milk, at another time water. The thirst is the same, but that which satisfies the thirst changes with the patient’s needs through the day. Baba indicated that the Avatar returns about once every 700-1400 years and teaches and functions according to the times and the culture in which he is born. One common theme of each incarnation appears to be that the religion of the people has grown materialistic, rule-bound and dry, no longer refreshing their spiritual thirst. It is to satisfy that thirst with a fresh dispensation of wisdom and an example of a life perfectly lived that the Buddha, the Prophet, the Savior, will always return, in a different human body yet encompassing the same eternal soul of God-infused love.
Avataric Advents: Meher Baba's Perspective on the Descent of God on Earth is filled with information both historical and personal about these great spiritual leaders as set forth by Meher Baba, who was considered by some to be the very same soul as those he was describing. As such, it offers a new light on many long unanswered questions and a fresh way of looking at religious tradition: how it comes into being, becomes codified, fades, and is again and again revitalized. As Baba commented in 1937 about the process of interpreting and misinterpreting the words of the Avatars, it would seem to be something like the child’s game of “gossip”:
“The original thought is sometimes lost sight of, or made irrelevant, but yet each [follower] clings to his own different interpretations as the original…thus it is that there are always quarrels between fanatic followers of different religions over words and explanations that the Prophets never uttered.”Avataric Advents: Meher Baba's Perspective on the Descent of God on Earth is a guidebook that can help spiritually-minded persons discover the essence of all the world’s great religions by elucidating the lives and teachings of their founders. It is unique in adding to the mix the words and insights of an enlightened soul of modern times and should be read and pondered by anyone looking for a handle on the Truth.