The status, needs or interests of the “helped” are superior to those of the “helper”; the “helper” is an “assistant” rather than “one who confers a benefit”: bottom-up, rather than top-down. The human avataras, though gifted with superhuman strength, have voluntarily given up their divine attributes when they take birth on earth.
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Mary Brockington is an independent scholar and a Research Fellow of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies. This article first appeared in Cosmos: The Journal of the Traditional Cosmology Society (2010), and is republished here with thanks.