space. There is always a relatively little-known childhood and youth; the moment of God-Realization (always given by another Master), the gathering of the first few disciples; the esoteric (inner) and exoteric (outer) teachings to the disciples and the masses of the time; the ‘acts’ or movements of the life itself which may end in persecution or death at the hands of others, especially in a group or culture in which the tradition of God-men or God-realization is not strongly established, as in the Semitic groups who rejected their Avatars, Jesus and Mahomet. The Hindu culture, older by thousands of years, and rich in the tradition of God-realization since prehistoric times, has not been so violently opposed to its Avatars, such as Ram, Krishna, and Buddha, though evil, naturally, always resists this tremendous influx of the Divine Good. No Avatar is free from opposition to his Divine Mission, in fact, he encourages it. After all, he is the actor in his own drama, and to strike his great blow at the evil or retrogressive consciousness of his time, he must objectively collect the forces of evil into one opposing mass or group. Subjectively, of course, he is dealing with this unregenerated mass all the time. Actually, it is for the sake of history and for the limited minds of men that he performs and creates his historical acts; he could do the same Divine work without any overt drama at all.
All the historic Avatars — Ram, Buddha, Krishna, Mahomet, Jesus, Zoroaster, have had their own immediate circle of disciples. Around the disciples and strung out in an ever widening human chain are the devotees and followers — those who have met and known him, or known the disciples. It is only by this fragile chain of human links that the Avatar’s life and teachings eventually become known and viable down the centuries. It is unbelievable, really, that the terrific spiritual force and influence of the great world religions which finally arise, depend in the beginning on these first few and haphazard links. But it is by this final historic effect that one can judge the true status and power of the Avatar from a mere saint or other Master of the time, who may have had much more influence during the contemporary culture. But within that contemporary culture, it is a rare person who can predict or calculate this final effect; least of all, what historic form the ‘religion' built on his life will eventually take.
No society can be considered guilty for rejecting an Avatar; man is always and everywhere guilty of neglecting God. Neglecting the God-man or the descent of God in the human form is only an accentuation of the eternal condition of the world — Avidya — spiritual ignorance. Christ said "Forgive them for they know not what they do". The one who knows, and then turns away (in Sufi terminology, a mardood or apostate) brings on himself a much more serious spiritual 'karma'; as in the story of Judas* or of Devadatta in the life of the Buddha.
We live today, for those who can discern it, at just such a dividing-point in human history — that is, we are at the end of one Cycle or Yuga and at the beginning of another. At this junction The Avatar always appears. Each cycle is roughly from 500 to 700 years** long. He comes to give God-realization to the few who are ready; illumination to many others, and a general spiritual push to the whole of humanity, which will bring it forward on the path of evolution. Man's evolution is an advance in consciousness, not in control of nature and environment, nor in the creation of the various cultures and civilizations, religions or artifacts. These are by-products of his continual advance in internal awareness and integration. The work of the Avatar is to further this inner advancement; thus, he is essentially concerned with the individual, works on individuals, and works through individuals, on history. It is through the transformation of his immediate circle disciples that others gradually become transformed, and eventually, the life of millions is touched, most of whom, are however, born long after the Avatar has died.
Shri Meher Baba, as he is known to his disciples and followers, is considered by them to be the Avatar of this age, Christ, or Messiah. He is considered the 'Kalki Avatar' of the Hindus; the 'Imam' of the Muslims, the 'Second Coming' of the Christians, perhaps — for the Jews, their long-awaited Messiah; and the 'Maitreya' of the Buddhists. He is still living, although he is 62 years of age and his life is drawing to a close.
*In 1952, Baba explained the role of Judas and that he also attained Realization. See Awakener, Vol 14 No. 2 p. 9.
**700-1400 is correct.