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“What is the difference between an Avatar and a Vibhuti?

We said the other day that “Vibhutis” are aspects, qualities (what are called in occultism emanations) of a being. They are like certain forces, powers, qualities, attributes which are put in contact with an outer form — a physical form, for instance — and which manifest themselves through this form. This may be a human form. The Avatar (at least when understood in the true sense) is the incarnation upon earth of the supreme Truth.”[1]

“What does “Vibhuti” mean?
(“The four Powers of the Mother are four of her outstanding Personalities, portions and embodiments of her divinity through whom she acts on her creatures, orders and harmonises her creations in the worlds and directs the working out of her thousand forces. For the Mother is one but she comes before us with differing aspects; many are her powers and personalities, many her emanations and Vibhutis that do her work in the universe.”[2])

It means the incarnation of an emanation. An emanation of the Mother incarnates in a being and this being becomes a Vibhuti.”[3]

“An Avatar or Vibhuti have the knowledge that is necessary for their work; they need not have more. … [T]he Vibhuti need not even know that he is a power of the Divine. Some Vibhutis, like Julius Caesar for instance, have been atheists.”[4]

“[T]here is something beautiful, attractive, splendid or powerful in these exceptional persons which shines out in their personality, character, life and work. These men too work in the type of their nature-force according to its gunas, but there is something evident in them and yet not easily analysable which is in reality a direct power of the Self and spirit using to strong purpose the mould and direction of the nature. The nature itself thereby rises to or towards a higher grade of its being. Much in the working of the Force may seem egoistic or even perverse, but it is still the touch of the Godhead behind, whatever Daivic, Asuric or even Rakshasic form it may take, which drives the Prakriti and uses it for its own greater purpose. A still more developed power of the being will bring out the real character of this spiritual presence and it will then be seen as something impersonal and self-existent and self-empowered, a sheer soul-force which is other than the mind-force, life-force, force of intelligence, but drives them and, even while following to a certain extent their mould of working, guna, type of nature, yet puts its stamp of an initial transcendence, impersonality, pure fire of spirit, a something beyond the gunas of our normal nature.”[5]

  1. Questions and Answers 1950-1951, p.397
  2. The Mother, p.14
  3. Questions and Answers 1954, p.273
  4. Letters on Yoga – I, p.478
  5. The Synthesis of Yoga, p.741, “Soul-Force and the Fourfold Personality”

See also