Of those Great souls who are still worshipped as incarnations of God, all except Sri Ramachandra and Lord Buddha began their lives in sorrow, poverty, and hardship. Here are some examples: Although Sri Krishna belonged to a royal dynasty, he was born in a prison and spent his early life in a community of poor cowherds, separated from his relatives. Lord Jesus was born in the stable of an inn, glorifying his poor parents. Sri Shankara was born after his father’s death, the son of poor widow. Sri Chaitanya’s parents most ordinary people. Finally, the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, also came from a poor family. All of these great souls were born in families where there was contentment amidst suffering and poverty; where there were selflessness and love in the midst of hardship; and where the hearts of their poor parents were filled with a blend of renunciation, purity, steadfast humaneness, compassion, charity and other noble qualities.
Through careful reflection one can see a subtle connection between the avatar’s births in poverty and future courses of their lives. If they had no previous awareness of and sympathy for the condition of the poor, how could they in later life accomplish their mission to give solace and peace to society’s afflicted, poor, and persecuted? However, this is not the sole purpose for their advent. We have previously discussed the fact that avatars come to halt the decline of religion. To fulfill that mission, they first become intimately familiar with the traditional religious law; after reflecting upon the causes of religion’s present degradation, the avatars discover a new dispensation according to that particular time and place in order to revive those ancient laws. The huts of the poor, not in the palaces of the rich, offer the opportunity to become intimate with religious traditions. It is the poor person, deprived of worldly enjoyment, who always holds fast to God and His dispensation. Therefore, in spite of widespread religious degradation, a glimpse of the ancient religion keeps the poor person’s hut luminous. That is why, it seems, the great teachers of the world are attracted to take birth in poor families. The same situation occurred in the life of Sri Ramakrishna.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions have shown that devoutly worshipping God is the easiest way to attain liberation. As they all hold the same premise, a question spontaneously arises in mind of an impartial investigator as to whether there is any truth underlying this assertion, and if there is, how much of the life stories of those great teachers is to be accepted or rejected.
Reason implies that there may be some truth in the nativity stories of the great souls. Modern science concedes that highly evolved parents are capable of begetting children of noble character. It is therefore to be admitted that the parents of great souls like Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus were endowed with divine qualities. Moreover, it is clear that when these great souls were born, the minds of their parents dwelt in exalted planes of consciousness that ordinary minds cannot reach. As a result, they had wonderful visions and spiritual experiences.