Any intelligent person can understand the characteristics of an avatāra by understanding two features—the principal feature, called personality, and the marginal features. In the scriptures there are descriptions of the characteristics of the body and the activities of an incarnation, and the description of the body is the principal feature by which an incarnation can be identified. The activities of the incarnation are the marginal features. This is confirmed in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.1) where the features of an avatāra are nicely described. In that verse, the two terms param and satyam are used, and Lord Caitanya indicates that these words reveal Kṛṣṇa's principal feature. The other marginal features indicate that He taught Vedic knowledge to Brahmā and incarnated as the puruṣa-avatāra to create the cosmic manifestation. These are occasional features manifest for some special purposes. One should be able to understand and distinguish the principal and marginal features of an avatāra. No one can declare himself an incarnation without referring to these two features. An intelligent man will not accept anyone as an avatāra without studying the principal and marginal features. When Sanātana Gosvāmī tried to confirm Lord Caitanya's personal characteristics as being those of the incarnation of this age, Lord Caitanya Himself indirectly made the confirmation by simply saying, "Let us leave aside all these discussions and continue with a description of the śaktyāveśa-avatāras."
No one should be accepted as an avatara unless he is referred to by scriptures
- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 4 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 5 Lectures
- 6 Conversations and Morning Walks
- 7 Correspondence
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
From the Bhāgavatam we understand that Lord Buddha is the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa who appeared when materialism was rampant and materialists were using the pretext of the authority of the Vedas. Although there are certain restrictive rules and regulations regarding animal sacrifice for particular purposes in the Vedas, people of demonic tendency still took to animal sacrifice without reference to the Vedic principles. Lord Buddha appeared to stop this nonsense and to establish the Vedic principles of nonviolence. Therefore each and every avatāra, or incarnation of the Lord, has a particular mission, and they are all described in the revealed scriptures. No one should be accepted as an avatāra unless he is referred to by scriptures. It is not a fact that the Lord appears only on Indian soil. He can manifest Himself anywhere and everywhere, and whenever He desires to appear. In each and every incarnation, He speaks as much about religion as can be understood by the particular people under their particular circumstances. But the mission is the same—to lead people to God consciousness and obedience to the principles of religion. Sometimes He descends personally, and sometimes He sends His bona fide representative in the form of His son, or servant, or Himself in some disguised form.
SB Canto 7
The Brahma-saṁhitā describes the avatāras. Indeed, all the avatāras are described in the authentic scriptures. No one can become an avatāra, or incarnation, although this has become fashionable in the age of Kali. The avatāras are described in the authentic scriptures (śāstras), and therefore before one risks accepting a pretender as an avatāra, one should refer to the śāstras. The śāstras say everywhere that Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead and that He has innumerable avatāras, or incarnations. Elsewhere in the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said, rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan: (Bs. 5.39) Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha and many others are consecutive expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After Kṛṣṇa comes Balarāma, after Balarāma is Saṅkarṣaṇa, then Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Nārāyaṇa and then the puruṣa-avatāras—Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. All of them are avatāras.
The scriptures call them incarnations as devotees (bhakta-avatāra). The position of being such an incarnation is above all others.
“An actual incarnation of God never says "I am God" or "I am an incarnation of God." The great sage Vyāsadeva, knowing all, has already recorded the characteristics of the avatāras in the śāstras.
In this verse it is clearly stated that a real incarnation of God never claims to be a real incarnation. According to the symptoms described in the śāstra, one can understand who is an avatāra and who is not.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
Renunciation Through Wisdom
We would like to inform Dr. Radhakrishnan, however, that when the Supreme Lord empowers a jīva with His divine potency so that the jīva can carry out some specific work, then that jīva is known as a śaktyāveśa avatāra. But this is not the only type of incarnation. The scriptures describe innumerable incarnations of the Supreme Lord, such as svayaṁ-rūpa, svayaṁ-prakāśa, āveśa, vilāsa, prābhava, vaibhava, yuga-avatāra, puruṣa-avatāra, guṇa-avatāra, and manvantara-avatāra. If we calculate the duration of one manvantara-avātara's life, it comes to an incredible number of years—more than three hundred million. And there are other incarnations who live longer. The scriptures give details of the Lord's authorized incarnations—the purposes for their appearance, their forms, the places of appearance, their pastimes, etc. There is no room for the vox populi whimsically choosing an ordinary mortal as an incarnation. And if despite the scriptural injunctions some people still accept a human being as an incarnation, it is easy to surmise the extent of their scriptural knowledge.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: "Therefore each and every avatāra, or incarnation of the Lord, has a particular mission, and they are all described in the revealed scriptures. Nobody can be accepted as an avatāra without references to the scriptural indication. It is not a fact that the Lord appears only on Indian soil. He can advent Himself anywhere and everywhere and whenever He desires to appear. In each and every incarnation He speaks as much about religion as can be understood by the particular people under their particular circumstances, but the mission is the same: to lead people to God consciousness and obedience to the principles of religion. Sometimes He descends personally, and sometimes He sends His bona fide representative in the form of His son or servant."
Prabhupāda: So there are some protagonists. They say that God cannot come personally. Why? Why God should be restricted? Is God under your regulation or restriction? Then what kind of God He is? Yes. God can come personally out of His compassion. That is possible. Yes. And He comes. He says here in this verse that "I come." But it is not that somebody will imitate and he will say that "I am God." No. That also not. You have to test actually. That test, if you have got, if you are conversant with the principles of God appearance, disappearance, incarnation, then you can understand who is a pretender and who is actually representative of God, by action.
Pramāda means "illusion," and vipralipsā means "cheating," and karaṇāpāṭava, "inefficiency of the senses." So śāstra means above these defects. Where there is no such defect, that is śāstra. And you can understand how five thousand years ago Lord Buddha's appearance was predicted. Similarly, still there is prediction about kalki-avatāra, which will take place about four lakhs and 27,000 years hereafter. Kalki-avatāra's name, his father's name and where he will appear, everything is there. This is called śāstra.
So Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām (BG 4.8). To kill the miscreants and to protect the devotees, He descends. That is avatāra. They have two business. Not that avatāra means keeping some long beard or having an artificial helmet. Rascals may be allured by them, but those who are sensible, who have got sense, they will see with reference to the śāstra, the avatāra, every avatāra...
We are reading so many avatāras. The activity of that particular avatāra is also mentioned, that "This avatāra will, incarnation will appear accepting such and such person as father and mother, and His activities will be like this." So how any rascal can come out and say, "I am the avatāra, I am the incarnation"? So that some other rascals may believe, but those who have sense, they will not accept. Here it is clearly mentioned, Lord Rāmacandra. He appeared just like ordinary human being. Nara-devatvam āpannaḥ, accepted. There were many other kings as good as Lord Rāmacandra, but why people are after Rāmacandra? Because He is God. Unfortunately, there are so many rascals. They pose themselves as incarnation of Rāma, incarna..., Kṛṣṇa. And people are all foolish śūdras, no education, no knowledge, and they are accepting.
So the human society is becoming so degraded that they are trying to forget God. That is their advancement of civilization. The more you deny existence of God and become a so-called rascal scientist, then you are advanced. This is the position. So this position will degrade so much after, say, 400,000's of years, gradually degrading, that at time, Kṛṣṇa will come in His incarnation as Kalki. At that time the Kalki's business will be simply to kill. That's all. No more. No more preaching of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Simply kill them. That is Kalki avatāra. That Kalki avatāra is given the father's name. This is called śāstra. This is called scripture. Four hundred thousand's after, 400,000's of years after, Kalki will come. Now, His father's name is given there. Just like Lord Buddha's mother's name is there. So you cannot imitate that "I am Kalki avatāra." You have to give evidence, what is your father's name. Just see. This is called śāstra. Any rascal comes, "Oh, I am Kṛṣṇa. I am this avatāra and that avatāra," but where is the evidence from the śāstra? We cannot accept. Just like any gentleman comes, we want to see the credential. Just like in politics, when some ambassador comes to a new country, then he has to officially present his credential so that he will be accepted that "This gentleman is representative of such and such country." That is nice. Unless you give credentials, identity, how I can accept you? So... But people have become rascal. Anyone comes, he says that "I am incarnation of God," because the people are rascals, they accept another rascal. But if you follow the śāstras and scriptures, then there you will find all the avatāras, their credentials are there—What is the father's name, what is the name of the place he takes birth or appears, what is his business. So... What is the time. Everything is given there. So why should you be misled?
We should not be misled that "Here is another avatāra, here is another avatāra, here is... So many avatāras." No. So this is called śāstra: what will happen after 400,000's of years, that is mentioned. Future. Just like Lord Buddha's name was there. Bhaviṣyati yuga-sandhyāyām. Bhaviṣyati. Bhaviṣyati means "He will come." He was not visible. This is śāstra. Śāstra means tri-kāla-jña. The writer of śāstra should be a full cognizant of past, present, and future. That is called unmistakable. Past, present, and future. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā that "I know past, present, and future."
Here it is said, tathāyaṁ ca avatāras te bhuvo bhāra-jihīrṣayā. Avatāra does not mean a big beard or big hair. We do not like to see such ugly avatāra. We kick on their face, this avatāra. This is not avatāra. Avatāra must be mentioned in the śāstra. Caitanya Mahāprabhu, when He was talking with Sanātana Gosvāmī, so Caitanya Mahāprabhu described about avatāra. So just to make a little joke, because they are personal devotees... So he knew that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the avatāra. Still, he inquired from Caitanya Mahāprabhu, "How we shall know one avatāra?" So Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "Why? It is all mentioned in the śāstra." So avatāra should be understood from the śāstra, not by jugglery or magic. This is rascal. As soon as one wants to establish his avatarship by jugglery and magic, kick him out, immediately on the face, directly. Kick him. Let the avatāra take steps. I don't mind. If he's avatāra, let him kill me, all right. But I shall kick him on his face. Not that avatāra.
The God's incarnation, that is incarnation, not a manufactured incarnation. There must be reference to the śāstra. So what is the incarnation? Pracchanna-avatāra. In this Kali-yuga the incarnation is Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. It is stated in the śāstra, kṛṣṇa-varṇam, kṛṣṇa
varṇayati: "He is simply chanting 'Kṛṣṇa,' although He is Kṛṣṇa Himself." Kṛṣṇam-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇam. Therefore He has hidden Himself. His bodily color is more Kṛṣṇa, but golden. That is also stated. Kṛṣṇa has got four colors. Śuklo raktas tathā pīta idānīṁ kṛṣṇatāṁ gataḥ. When Gargamuni made the horoscope of Kṛṣṇa, that "This child has three other colors, śuklo raktas tathā pītaḥ. He had His color. Red color and white color and now..., and yellow color. Now He has assumed black color." Śuklo raktas tathā pīta idānīṁ kṛṣṇatāṁ gataḥ. So therefore His name was Kṛṣṇa. So Kṛṣṇa has another color. Pīta. Pīta-varṇa-gauraḥ. That is Lord Caitanya. Therefore tviṣā akṛṣṇa: "Bodily complexion, not kṛṣṇa." Such Kṛṣṇa, chanting Kṛṣṇa... Kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam (SB 11.5.32). Followed by many devotees, Caitanya Mahāprabhu. At least followed by Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Gadādhara Prabhu, like that. So this is the description of the incarnation of God in Kali-yuga. Pracchanna-avatāra. There is another avatāra, Kalki.
Kapiladeva and Kṛṣṇa the same. Kṛṣṇa has many form. Kapiladeva is one of the form, āveśāvatāra. There are many incarnation. Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a list of different avatāras, and the conclusion... Lord Buddha's also name is there. Kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati, sura-dviṣām. So Lord Buddha's name is there, and Jayadeva has also given his poem Daśa-vidha, Daśāvatāra-stotra. In that Daśāvatāra also, Lord Buddha's name is there: keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare. So Vaiṣṇavas, they know, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, how many avatāras are there. They do not accept therefore any bogus avatāra. Some rascal will say that "I am avatāra." The Vaiṣṇava will not accept. Tasmāt śāstra-vidhānoktam. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that śāstra-vidhānoktam, kāryākārya. We have to accept and reject according to the śāstra, not that any bogus man comes and says that "I am avatāra." That is not acceptable. The Vaiṣṇava will not accept. A foolish man may accept; that is a different thing. So certainly, the Supreme Personality has got many avatāra, but each avatāra has, has been mentioned in the śāstras, different avatāras. So Kapiladeva is avatāra.
When Caitanya Mahāprabhu was instructing Sanātana Gosvāmī in various subject matter, and He also described the incarnation in Kali-yuga from śāstra that,
- kṛṣṇa-varṇam tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ
- yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtanaiḥ-prāyair
- yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ
- (SB 11.5.32)
He quoted from Bhāgavatam, "This is the incarnation of Kali-yuga." So He is Himself yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtanaiḥ-prāyaiḥ. So Sanātana Gosvāmī was prime minister, very intelligent man. So he had inquired from Caitanya Mahāprabhu that "How we can accept the avatāra?" So Caitanya Mahāprabhu also said, "From the śāstra." And Sanātana Gosvāmī got it confirmed that Caitanya Mahāprabhu was... He stopped, of course. When he inquired that "Shall I accept this personality who is now preaching saṅkīrtana movement and along with His associates, He is the Supreme Lord?" Then Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "Let us go on further. We don't..."
So this is the way, not whimsically accept any rascal as avatāra. No. That is not the process. Or any rascal as God. This rascaldom has killed the whole human society to become atheist. You should be very, very careful of these rascals. As soon as somebody says that "I am God," you shall immediately take him as dog, not God.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures
Try to understand. Here it is said that svayaṁ bhagavān kṛṣṇa ekale īśvara. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kṛṣṇa also says. Mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat: (BG 7.7) "Nobody is superior than Me." And how these rascals, they think that "I am equal to Kṛṣṇa"? Kṛṣṇa cannot be two. Kṛṣṇa is one. But He can expand. Rāmādi-mūrtiṣu-kalā-niyamena-tiṣṭhan (Bs. 5.39). Kala, aṁśa-kala, avatāra. There are description in the śāstra.
So this astrological calculation were then; still there are. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, when Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was written, it was five thousand years before. It is stated there that in the beginning of Kali-yuga, there will be buddha-avatāra, incarnation. Vabhisekha (?). Vabhisekha means "there will appear." These are śāstra, these are astrological calculation, everything perfect. The other day, when I was discussed about Sanātana Goswami, how even an ordinary hotel keeper, he kept an astrologer who told the hotel keeper that "This man has got eight golden dollars." Just see. This is astrology. Even a thief could be conducted, guided by astrologer, and what to speak of others. So that was their system in India. So that example is being placed here by Lord Caitanya that the Veda, that is astrology for your guidance. For your guidance, the scripture is your astrologer. He knows your future, he knows your past. So therefore you should consult, you should consult, for our guidance.
Gunāvatāra is according to the modes of this material nature there are three guṇāvatāras. So first, Himself, Viṣṇu, and the second, Brahmā. Brahmā is also guṇāvatāra, incarnation of the quality. There are three qualities in the material world. Brahmā is the incarnation of the passion, mode of passion, and Viṣṇu is the incarnation of the mode of goodness, and Śiva, Lord Śiva, is the incarnation of the mode of ignorance. So all these three avatāras, although they are different manifestation of God, still, in the scriptures this is recommended that if anyone wants to get out of this material entanglement, then he has to worship These incarnation in the modes of goodness, Viṣṇu-avatāra. That is... These things are described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
He's asking very frankly because he's very intelligent. He was minister.
- 'ati kṣudra jīva muñi nīca, nīcācāra
- kemane jāniba kalite kon avatāra?'
"My dear Sir, Lord Caitanya, I am the lowest of the lowest. I am very fool number one. So I may inquire from You that how can I understand that this is the incarnation of this age, Kali-yuga?"
- prabhu kahe—anyāvatāra śāstra-dvāre jāni
- kalite avatāra taiche śāstra-vākye māni
"Oh, why you are in confusion? As other incarnation are to be understood from the indication of the śāstras, similarly, we have to understand from the indication of the śāstra who is incarnation." Sarvajña munira vākya-śāstra-'paramāṇa'.
Now śāstra, the scripture, is the most first-class evidence, sarvajña munira vā..., sarvajña... Because śāstras are written not by ordinary person. Not by Rabindranath Tagore, a sex play. (?) No. (laughs) Śāstras are written by liberated persons. Therefore śāstra, scripture, have got so many advantages and so much respect. So therefore Lord said: sarvajña munira vākya-śāstra-'paramāṇa'. Śāstra paramāṇa. Just like (we) see in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, four hundred thousands of years after there will be avatāra, Kalki, and His father's name, His birthplace, is already mentioned there. This is called śāstra. Five thousand years before Bhāgavata was written, and there is indication that in such and such age, in such and such province, in such and such family, Lord Buddha will appear. That is written there. And five thousand years before, ago, the, the symptoms of Kali-yuga is already written there. And we are experiencing.
So Lord Caitanya advises... Sanātana Gosvāmī's inquiry is how to know that he, here is a avatāra. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu says the medium is śāstra, and direction is the guru. Śāstra also we cannot understand any book, what to speak of the scripture. Sometimes we find contradiction in the scripture. That is not contradiction; that is my poor fund of knowledge. I cannot understand; therefore assistance of guru, a spiritual master, is required. So far incarnation is concerned, here Lord Caitanya says that we have to see through the śāstra whether a person is incarnation or not. We should not blindly accept anybody as incarnation because there are, nowadays, numberless incarnations.
So here Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, avatāra nāhi kahe-'āmi avatāra'. Actually who is avatāra, incarnation, he'll never say that "I am avatāra." Muni saba jāni' kare lakṣaṇa-vicāra. Muni, those who are thinkers, they are actually in the line, they see the symptoms and, with symptoms, they specify, "Yes, here is a avatāra." The symptoms... How the symptoms are analyzed of avatāra? The symptom is, first symptom is that there is reference in the śāstra, scripture, that in such and such time, such and such personality will come. He will be incarnation of God. Even his father's name, his birthplace, everything is written in the scripture. So we have to identify, lakṣaṇa. Then he'll act like this. He'll come like this, and he'll act like this. So these things we analyze, whether he is actually avatāra. Now, even there are characteristics, somebody does not accept also. Just like Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He never said that "I am avatāra." But from His symptoms, from His characteristics, later on great sages, great philosophers, they decided that He's avatāra. Just like here. Sanātana Gosvāmī's stressed Him, testing, and he's trying to confirm it by Lord Caitanya.
There are different kinds of authorities. First authority is śāstra, authorized śāstra, scripture. There the description of avatāra, the characteristics and his work, they are mentioned there. And prabalaiś ca śāstrair. Prabala means the very powerful. Just like Vedānta philosophy, it is very powerful. Bhagavad-gītā, it is very powerful. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is very powerful. So even we give evidences from these powerful śāstras, not only that, prakhyāta-daiva-paramārtha-vidāṁ mattaiś ca, with the opinion of great stalwarts like prakhyāta, very famous.
So taṁ sila rūpa caritaiḥ. Rūpa. It is mentioned that Kṛṣṇa, is mention... His... Just like Lord Caitanya's rūpa is mentioned, tviṣā akṛṣṇa: by complexion He's not black. Similarly, everything is mentioned. So Yamunācārya, that "Your character, Your beauty and Your wonderful work, and accepted... You are accepted by great authorities. You are mentioned in śāstras. In spite of all this, those who are atheists, they'll never accept." So the characteristics of avatāra are there in the śāstra. So we should follow that and, in that way, we shall select... That question is being asked by Sanātana Gosvāmī. We discussed this point yesterday and today also, because it is important point, and further we shall discuss tomorrow.
So Lord Caitanya says that incarnation, He never advertises Himself that He is avatāra. But experienced munis, those who are liberated souls, those who are expert in Vedic knowledge, they understand that this is avatāra, or incarnation, by the symptoms, as they are stated in the scriptures. In the scripture, the color, the activities, the time and the place and the parents—everything is described about the incarnation. So, so that, just like everything has to be understood by the symptoms, that is the scientific advancement. Just like a drug is tested in the laboratory and the drug, the symptoms and the taste, how it is, how the color changes, how it tastes in the tongue, everything is described there, so scientists proves, understands the genuineness of a particular chemical by testing. Similarly, nobody should be accepted as incarnation. That is foolishness. Incarnation, they are stated in the scriptures. Their symptoms, everything is there, and one should understand from that. The avatāra never advertises. Anyone who advertises himself that "I am incarnation," he should be at once rejected. He should be at once rejected.
So Caitanya Mahāprabhu's color is yellowish golden color. Therefore it is said, "He is Kṛṣṇa, but now He has appeared in golden complexion." Kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣā akṛṣṇam. And sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam. "He is always surrounded by His associates." Aṅga, upāṅga. Aṅga means personal, and upāṅga means expansion of the expansion, which is called kalā. The first expansion is called avatāra, and when there is another avatāra from avatāra, that is called kalā. Rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan (Bs. 5.39). Very scientific analysis in the śāstra. Not that any rascal comes, "I am God." This is not acceptable. We have to understand śāstra-vidhi, as śāstra it is said. So about Śrī Cai... Because Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so many rascals have imitated: "Well, this Nimāi Paṇḍita, if He can become avatāra, then why not Gadādhara Paṇḍita?" This Ramakrishna, his name was Gadadhar Chatterjee. So he was also imitation of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Where is the reference in the śāstra? So far Caitanya Mahāprabhu is concerned, there are so many innumerable references, in Mahābhārata, in Bhāgavata, in Purāṇa, in Upaniṣad. Therefore we accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not by rascal's vote that "Let us vote this man is God; then he becomes."
Conversations and Morning Walks
1972 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: So sādhu śāstra guru vākya. So we have to accept the authority of śāstra, guru, and sādhu. So those who are sādhu, they accept Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The guru in the..., they accept. And śāstra, there is acceptance. So, therefore, it is confirmed. Not only He, any avatāra, he must be confirmed by these three sources: sādhu, śāstra, guru. I accept Caitanya Mahāprabhu because my Guru Mahārāja accepted. He accepted Caitanya Mahāprabhu as Kṛṣṇa; his Guru Mahārāja accepted. And the śāstra is there. When guru says that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa, he quotes śāstra. The śāstra, guru, and those who are actually devotees, sādhu, they also accept. This is the evidence.
1973 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: A sādhu means titikṣavaḥ kāruṇikāḥ suhṛdaḥ sarva-dehinām, ajāta-śatravaḥ śāntāḥ sādhavaḥ sādhu-bhūṣaṇāḥ (SB 3.25.21). Everything, there is definition, who is sādhu, who is guru.
Prabhupāda: ...what is śāstra. Everything is there. You have to know it. What is avatāra. That is my business, how to know. But there is, everything's there.
Prabhupāda: Lord Caitanya. He is Kṛṣṇa, He came as Kṛṣṇa's devotee.
Guest (1): I see, and that was five hundred years ago.
Guest (1): Is it...? Do you expect Him to come again?
Prabhupāda: Yes. That is not very soon.
Guest (1): Not very soon.
Prabhupāda: No. That is mentioned in the scriptures, that at the end of this millennium, this yuga, Kalki avatāra will come. Kalki avatāra.
Guest (1): Now, because I am only versed in the Western sense of the old and new Testament, I understand that Christ is coming again at the end of this non-believing age in the world. Does that coincide with the son of God that you understand or is that a different sort of coming?
Haṁsadūta: Actually in the Bible there's, someone mentions there the description that the Lord will come and He will ride on a white steed, on a white horse. And at that time he will kill all the nondevotee people. It's also in the Bible.
Guest (1): Yes.
Prabhupāda: So this Kalki, this incarnation of Kṛṣṇa which comes at the end of this age, He's described, He will come and ride on a white horse all over the world, and He will...
1974 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Mama deha. So the so-called incarnations of God, they should show in their body all these things. They must be accepted by the śāstra that he is avatāra. Otherwise, why so cheap avatāra, we shall accept?
Indian man (2): The śāstras were also made by men, sages.
Prabhupāda: No, no, then which one you will accept?
Indian man (2): ...by the realized person.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Śāstra means...
Indian man (2): But you cannot say that in this age there are no realized persons.
Prabhupāda: No. It must corroborate.
Indian man (2): Corroborated by whom?
Prabhupāda: Corroborated by you. By you. If somebody says that "I am correct," then you have to refer to the śāstra whether he is correct or wrong. Just like a medical man. There is characteristic of certain chemicals. That is mentioned. So when accepting some chemical, the medical man tests in his laboratory whether it is correct. Not that somebody brings some chemical, some bunch of lime, and he says, "It is sodium chloride," or "Something, something." It must be tested. So the testing method is mentioned there, that the avatāra means, "This avatāra means his feature of body is this, his work is like this, he will come on such and such." Just like Kalki avatāra. Kalki avatāra, it is mentioned in the śāstra... Although He will come after four lakhs of years, it is stated in the śāstra that in Sambal... Sambal, in the house of Viṣṇu-josi, Kalki-avatāra will come.
1976 Conversations and Morning Walks
Indian man: Sir, what is your opinion about Sai Baba? (laughter)
Prabhupāda: (Hindi) Jugglery.
Indian man: No avatāra has declared so far that "I'm avatāra."
Prabhupāda: He is... What is called avatāra? He has no, nothing on the śāstra basically. And anyone who has no śāstra basics, he's useless. Yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya vartate kāma-kārataḥ na sa siddhim avāpnoti (BG 16.23). He can cheat so many fools and rascals, it has no meaning. That is described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam about this kind of guru. They have been condemned in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. I think you'll find out at the end of the Twenty-fourth Chapter, Eighth Canto. They have been condemned. (break) Now what is the benefit? From rational point of view, suppose he can manufacture gold. That is his jugglery. Eh? He can manufacture some gold? So far I have heard. I've not seen.
Indian man: You don't agree with what has been preached...
Prabhupāda: Why shall I agree? Because there is no such thing in the śāstra. Is there word, any word, in the whole Bhagavad-gītā, daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā?
Indian man: No, but what Ramakrishna Paramahaṁsa...
Prabhupāda: Ramakrishna, how he become paramahaṁsa if he does not know the śāstra? That is the difficulty. Everyone becoming self-made guru, self-made avatāra, self-made saint. That is the difficulty. Without any reference to the authentic śāstra.
So far your questions: No one can be avatara. unless he is authorized in the scriptures. We have no such record of avatara. in the present age, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam. Real God means he accepts a spiritual master, even He is God Himself. Like Krishna, His Spiritual Master was Sandipani Muni. And Krishna confirms in Bhagavad-gita, IV, that the supreme science is only received in disciplic succession, so where is the question of receiving this knowledge in nay other way? Are these people greater authority than Krishna?