In spiritual terms, taarana is upward movement or progress to higher quarters. Avatarana is the conscious descending of the already elevated soul to the lower “lokas” (realms), to help select. Thus, the first is “interested” trying to move up, and the second is a select elevated soul purposefully trying to improve the lot of such desiring souls. Both these events happen at all times. The embeddedness in worldly matters often makes people not notice the avatarana. Only a few recognise and benefit.
Scriptures name the seven “urdhva” (upward) and equal-numbered “athaha” (downward) lokas. The seekers are often curious to find out what differentiates the broad classification of upper and lower lokas, and secondly subsequent to the physical journey here, where do we “move” and on what criteria? If life is continuous, then what is the period of discontinuity, if any? Another question that often crops up in the minds of seekers is whether continuity/ discontinuity is only from the point of view of physical existence. From the soul’s point of view, there may not be any discontinuity.
Avatars or incarnations of the known forms of God are well known. Dashavataras of Vishnu are the most known. Gitacharya averred that whenever there is a need, then “tad-atmaanam srujami-aham” (my appearance happens then). There is also a classification of purna-avataras and amsha-avataras. In Dattatreya tradition, many avadhutas are said to be amsha-avataras. In the Puranas, it is said that forms/rupas emanate from the Devi/Shiva, and for a specific purpose. They may fulfill the specific purpose and continue to exist in definite forms to help the seekers who are in need and appeal to them for help and guidance.
The elevated who reached the advanced lokas may be asked or get self-motivated to “descend” (do avatarana) and help the despair-filled seekers. They may choose to come individually, or in small groups. Either way, they retain their awareness of who they are, and what purpose for which they descended, and act accordingly. As long as they exist in their form, they always “give”. They give with love and kindness. The vibrations of love, empathy, and humaneness distinguish them from others. Avataranas facilitate the process of taarana, help the evolution, and make this world better.
Prof S Ainavolu is a teacher of tradition and management. He is with VPSM, Navi Mumbai. Views are personal. You can read more at
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