People have varying explanations about the world, its origin, sustenance, and its dissolution. One view is that the universe emerged “naturally”. When other reasoning fails, the term “naturally” is a very good scapegoat. Scientists believe that the universe resulted from a “big bang”, where a limited mass of unfathomably high density exploded to create the universe. Some religions expound that the universe was created by an almighty God. Gauthama Buddha said that the universe, its inception, existence, and dissolution are beyond the comprehension capacity of the mundane human mind. In fact, Buddha included a few other subjects too as incomprehensible. Among them are Nirvana, Buddha, and Karma, which are the foremost, and He named such subjects as “Avyakrutha”. Buddha advised people not to analyze such subjects and attempt to comprehend the true meaning of such subjects. Those who try will get into deeper confusion and entanglement.
Vedic scriptures provide a totally different view of the birth, existence, and dissolution of the universe. Before the universe came into being, there was nothing visible or even imagined. There was only the formless and attributeless Brahman. For a reason that the human mind cannot fathom (Avyakruhta), the Om! Or the primordial sound emerged. Immediately, the space, followed by Air (Vaayu), Fire (Agni), Water(Jal), and Solids(Prithivi) resulted. The combination of these five elements was not conducive to life until they reached a reasonable balance, millions of years later.
The universe so formed exists for 4.3 billion years according to scriptures and will be dissolved again into the formless and attributeless state. Everything in the universe exists in a cyclic pattern. We inhale and exhale in very short cycles. The average per day is 21600 cycles. We are born, live, die, and reborn. This is a fairly long cycle that may extend to about 100 years. The earth, on which we live exists in four cycles or “Yugas”, Kretha or Sath Yuga (Golden Age), Thretha Yuga, Dwapara Yuga, and finally the Kali Yuga (Dark age). We live in the Kaliyuga today, which began some 5500 years ago.
When humans alone fail to reestablish dharma in the human society, Divine advents or Avatars appear in human form. The formless and attributeless Divinity assumes a human form to facilitate the affinity, visibility, and faith among the masses. Swami points out that,
When Narayana (Supreme God) takes the form of a man and wants to help humanity, He will act like a man. Just because God comes in human form, it is no excuse for man to be indifferent. He must realize that all the Poorna Avatars are incarnations of the same Formless, Eternal, Supreme Consciousness and the Cosmic, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient God.
Swami conveys this idea in the following manner. He says:
Rama, Krishna, and Sai Baba appear different because of the different Swaroopa, dress, but it is the selfsame Entity!